Like A Natural Woman

Seems like you can’t tour the feminist blogosphere for long before running up against some perennial, contentious arguments. Arguments whose origin is both without and within feminism. Arguments about: physical appearance/beauty, sex, birth control, birth plans, reproductive justice, breastfeeding, parenting, marriage or other partnerships, children, homekeeping, work, school/education, religion, family, age, Second Wave/Third Wave, how-the-hell-can-I-catch-a-wave when I don’t even know how to surf? And you can’t follow Lubu around the blogosphere without hearing at least one round of (all together now), “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

Why are these disagreements so contentious? Easy. They mark exactly when and where you enter. Nothing will illustrate where your identities intersect faster than stepping into the ring of one of these arguments. They show where our paths converge, diverge, and cross us—individually and collectively. These paths are our past, present and future. And we walk on them with our own rhythm, at our own pace. The common thread in these arguments? Who is—or what constitutes—the Natural Woman? What would the Natural Woman look like and be like without patriarchy?

‘Nother words, these arguments are another field of power play. And there is no more frequent field of this play than on female bodies and female lives.

Here’s my take on the landscape upon which these arguments are taking place:

  • Capitalism—that the presence or absence of capital defines us, gives us mobility, options, creates and justifies demands
  • Consumerism—that purchasing power can be a substitute for institutional power; that we can buy freedom, liberate ourselves in increments on the installment plan, buy into the illusion of chump change as power
  • Colonialism—the invasion and theft of land and peoples and the cultural appropriation and corruption of cultural philosophies, art, creations
  • Racism—the creation of “races” and the classification of humans along hierarchical lines according to “race”
  • Nature As Opponent or Subject—the idea that humanity must “fight” and “subjugate” the rest of the environment, rather than be and act as an intrinsic part of that environment
  • Hyper-individualism—that individual decisions don’t have the same effect as communal decisions even when writ large; that we stand alone, even in the presence of others
  • the Eternal Now—the lack of responsibility and/or stewardship toward future generations
  • Dualism—critical questioning and discernment which lend themselves more easily to concepts of moderation, balance, multiplicity fade in a prevailing atmosphere of all or nothing
  • One Truth—whether with Deity or without, the idea that there is One True Way (probably a legacy of patriarchal monotheism)
  • Feel free to add—hell, it’s Sunday morning and I’m only on my second cup of coffee. I’m putting forth these institutional power practices as the backdrop we work against—or with. See, I purposely left out Essentialism—the idea that everything has an “essence” that reveals its perfect expression.

    From the outside, feminism is often critiqued for giving a nod to multiplicity, for not being quick to strictly define and set forth Dogma, the better to separate the Sinners from the Saved. From the inside, too. From where I stand, multiplicity is our strength; multiplicity gives us the room, the skills, and the people to fight for our liberation on many fronts simultaneously. (Side note: liberation. Don’tcha just love that word? It wasn’t so long ago that we used the term “Women’s Liberation”. I like to reclaim that.)

    Occasionally, I participate in these threads, like the ones on menstruation….but shit, most of the time I avoid this like the bubonic plague, like with the “appearance” threads. Sometimes, a discussion ain’t just a discussion for some us—it’s a painful reminder of how close to the bone some subjects are, and how little relative power or privilege we have. It’s easy to assume there can’t be a Feminist Beauty until after the Revolution, when your version of beauty is being televised right now. Age enters into this too; I’ve noticed a distinct trend over the years of postmenopausal working class women—the women who would never get a manicure before, because it was “a waste of money” (ain’t that somethin’ we learn early—spending what little we have left after bills on ourselves as being a “waste of money”?!) and they wouldn’t last long without chips anyway, getting their nails done. Why? Because of painful splitting of their nails, down to the quick. The lacquer and wraps prevent that from happening—with the side benefit of looking pretty. Giving them the opportunity to feel pretty, in a world that says older women are inherently ugly. Women who’ve never had “pretty” hands, because their hands were too busy showing the effects of years of hands-on work, getting the chance to get compliments on their hands. Feminism damn well better have room for that.

    Frankly, I’d like to see every bone of contention in the feminism world start off with a blunt answering of the question: who holds the key to power here?, and then go from there. I got the impression from my brief look at the “appearance” threads that too many folks were answering that unspoken question, “the individual woman, as a consumer.” And that’s ludicrous.

    There is no Natural Woman. Only natural women. All of us. Whenever and wherever and however we enter.


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    148 comments for “Like A Natural Woman

    1. Alecto
      October 29, 2006 at 1:24 pm

      *applause*

    2. dream_operator23
      October 29, 2006 at 2:00 pm

      Great post!

      I think why I don’t even bother with the appearance threads is because they seem to have little to do with me. I do nothing except take a shower, comb my hair and wear clean clothes to affect my look. The reason being is I am one of those women that am not very attractive to the patriarchal gaze anyway. Being young and sexual this at times upsets me, confuses me, yet also in a way liberates me. I have no desire to spend any money on make-up or any beauty products at all, nor spend my time applying them. I often wonder if I was slender and “hot” if I too would try everything in my power to up my attractiveness even more. And knowing me I would.

    3. October 29, 2006 at 2:09 pm

      *ovation*

    4. October 29, 2006 at 2:44 pm

      *joins in the ovation*

    5. joholly
      October 29, 2006 at 3:00 pm

      I don’t really care to decorate myself very often, but I enjoy looking at those who do.

      I think instead of going for “women shouldn’t” we should instead go for “men should”.

      How I would love to see men in lace and ruffles, makeup and even skirts. There’s historical precedent for all of it. And really, why shouldn’t they?

      Perhaps if we all decorated and there were no generic “men’s uniform” of boring clothing and absent of style, maybe the sexual aspect could just get lost in the joy of everyone wearing lovely fabrics and bold flourishes.

      Hey, I’m an optimist. I can dream, can’t I?

    6. October 29, 2006 at 3:57 pm

      ain’t that somethin’ we learn early—spending what little we have left after bills on ourselves as being a “waste of money”?!

      Oh yes. OH, YES. It’s selfish! It’s vain! It’s taking money away from your family! Adding “it’s selling out the feminist movement” to that long, long list is just stupid and counterproductive.

      I can’t say enough how much I love this post. Bless you, La Lubu.

    7. exangelena
      October 29, 2006 at 5:06 pm

      Why don’t men need to feel validated for their attractiveness, and get attractive from buying things or modifying their bodies? (I know that with the whole metrosexual thing this is changing a bit, but I doubt most men feel as much pressure as women to be “beautiful”.)
      My job requires me to wear latex gloves that dry out my skin and to frequently wash my hands with alcohol and hot water – and the dry rough skin is in addition to rather large hands with chipped nails. I don’t think it should matter whether my hands are sightly or not.
      That being said, I did get my mom a manicure at an expensive salon for her birthday awhile ago (her hands are very red and dry from washing dishes by hand until her mid forties). She didn’t like the nailpolish much, but she said the hand massage/bath felt great.

    8. DAS
      October 29, 2006 at 5:26 pm

      Being young and sexual this at times upsets me, confuses me, yet also in a way liberates me. I have no desire to spend any money on make-up or any beauty products at all, nor spend my time applying them. I often wonder if I was slender and “hot” if I too would try everything in my power to up my attractiveness even more. – dream_operator23

      At the risk of getting flamed for being an objectifying male pig, why do I have this suspicion that you are perhaps being a bit too hard on yourself and that, FWIW, many men do, in fact, find you attractive?

    9. DAS
      October 29, 2006 at 5:30 pm

      Why don’t men need to feel validated for their attractiveness, and get attractive from buying things or modifying their bodies? – exangelena

      I’m no metrosexual (too cheep to feel anything but worried about finances to feel attractive from buying things and too lazy to modify my body temporarily and too afraid of pain to take any such permanent measures) … well, actually, I have been called metrosexual … anyway, I do feel the need to be validated for my attractiveness and all too rarely receive such validation (’cause I’m, um, not really all that attractive).

      I do wonder how much of the “male gaze” is a matter of “do unto others”. Many men do feel a need to be validated for their attractiveness and thus go overboard in signaling their validation of the attractiveness of others as they think they want this done to themselves. I wonder if men were more often objectified by the female gaze whether they would be less likely to be objectifying towards others.

    10. DAS
      October 29, 2006 at 5:38 pm

      How I would love to see men in lace and ruffles, makeup and even skirts. There’s historical precedent for all of it. And really, why shouldn’t they? – joholly

      One of the members of the synagogue to which I belong often wears one of those contemporary kilts on casual occasions. He just doesn’t like pants, and he’s not gonna wear them unless if there is a reasonably socially acceptable alternative. It’s only a matter of time before he gets a nice kilt to wear to shul.

    11. Chuckie K
      October 29, 2006 at 6:25 pm

      Frankly, I’d like to see every bone of contention in the feminism world start off with a blunt answering of the question: who holds the key to power here?

      In feminism? Hell, every bone of contention everywhere!

    12. October 29, 2006 at 7:29 pm

      I can’t speak for dream_operater23, DAS, but frankly, I’m more than a little annoyed that any time a woman is honest about her average appearance — you know, jumps off the I’M-PRETTY-PRETTY-PRETTY-PRETTY-MAYBE-DESPITE-WHAT-YOU-SAY train — someone has to come along and say, oh no, of COURSE you’re pretty, don’t say that.

      Conversations where women, feminist women, happily “rank” themselves always baffle me, for the usual reasons and also because almost everyone rates themselves as, all things said and done, “attractive.” As in, “I hate the beauty industry and such, but I’m still fairly attractive myself!” As in, “I may be fat/disabled/old/otherwise-outside-of-patriarchal-beauty-standards, but I’m still fairly attractive!”

      I understand the desire to Let The Beauty Debate Die. I can’t, though, because my dream is to see feminists not only STOP assessing themselves according to standards of beauty — like by FORGETTING OUT BEAUTY “RANKING” ENTIRELY, much as we forget our high school GPA and other things that have NOTHING TO DO WITH US (your face is not you your hair is not you your body is not you) — I would like to see women ACTIVELY insisting that they are, in fact, UNATTRACTIVE and PROUD of it. Even women who are, according to some people, incredibly beautiful. I think if we could do this, we would completely castrate the entire system. If every woman didn’t think “somewhere someone will find me beautiful” but instead “somewhere someone will find me ugly” then I do believe that would lead to kind of situation dream_operater23 finds herself in, one where you are “free” to dress however you want because you “know” that however you decorate yourself, you are still “ugly.” Then, all of a sudden, before you even know what’s happening: liberation. You finally don’t care.

      Does that sound really, really negative and fucked up? It’s actually not, but it is categorically different from what most people will tell you, which is to “find yourself beautiful” — you know, still hold physical beauty as something you need to be happy. Being proud of ugliness is just the first step in learning how to stop giving a damn. Learning to be at peace with yourself even if you are “ugly” to someone is extremely important to letting go of what’s-my-number beauty rankings.

    13. October 29, 2006 at 7:30 pm

      And oh god, sorry: I love this post. I meant to mention that straight away!

    14. October 29, 2006 at 7:56 pm

      But there’s still a difference between finding YOURSELF beautiful and waiting for someone else to validate you (or not).

      “I don’t care what any given people think about what I look like” (including my fellow feminists) =! “I don’t care about how I dress or what I do with my body.”

      yeah, okay, call yourself unattractive if you like; but if someone’s doing it just because she thinks, what, it’ll make her a better feminist, I’m not sure how that’s much of an improvement, honestly.

      anyway, women putting themselves/ourselves down is also part of female conditioning.

    15. October 29, 2006 at 7:58 pm

      and frankly, the ranking doesn’t go away; it just becomes diverted into something else.

      neither does the beating-ourselves-up (maybe now it’s beause gosh darn it, I just can’t stop comparing myself to other women!…)

      Just fuck it, you know? Fuck it -all.- Get on with it.

    16. October 29, 2006 at 8:05 pm

      Nothing will illustrate where your identities intersect faster than stepping into the ring of one of these arguments. They show where our paths converge, diverge, and cross us—individually and collectively. These paths are our past, present and future. And we walk on them with our own rhythm, at our own pace.

      I love this part in particular and the whole damned post in general. Thank you.

    17. Linnaeus
      October 29, 2006 at 8:16 pm

      Why don’t men need to feel validated for their attractiveness, and get attractive from buying things or modifying their bodies? (I know that with the whole metrosexual thing this is changing a bit, but I doubt most men feel as much pressure as women to be “beautiful”.)

      While I don’t think men deal with the attractiveness game as much as women do, you’d be surprised what pressure there is on men to look a particular way. There certainly are culturally reinforced patterns of male attractiveness that men are expected to fall into. The men I know who exercise regularly don’t do it just for their health, but because they think it makes them look better to others. One man I know in particular confessed to me that the health benefit was of secondary importance to him; he started lifting because he believed it would make him more attractive to women. Several years down the road, he believes his experience has validated this.

      It’s funny, but I’ve even heard this reinforced by feminist women. I recall reading a feminist woman in a blog comment make the claim that too many feminist/pro-feminist men were “skinny, sensitive types” and she wished more of them looked like football players. Now, that’s just one anecdotal example, and I don’t begrudge her having such a preference, but the football player physique seems to me to be a rather dominant image of what makes a man physically attractive.

      Even if men aren’t, objectively, being looked at in this manner by women, a lot of men think they are, and act accordingly.

    18. October 29, 2006 at 8:19 pm

      But if there’s no one else around, why the fuck would you care if you were beautiful? If you don’t need someone else to validate you, why do you care if you make good decoration or not? Is it really putting yourself down to admit that no one measures up to the standard? Feminine women continue to be a mystery.

    19. exangelena
      October 29, 2006 at 9:06 pm

      Linnaeus – I don’t deny that men feel pressure about their appearance (the so-called “reverse anorexia” complex) nor do I deny that some women can be shallow about said matters. But I think men aren’t pressured to pursue attractiveness to the extent women are, nor are they reduced solely to their attractiveness. I don’t have a link, but I remember that at Hugo Schwyzer’s blog he said that he’d been accused of a lot of things – like being gay or being a horndog posing as a feminist to get laid – he’d never gotten called ugly, whereas many feminist bloggers have.
      To go a little further, we have lad mags in wide circulation that are plastered with pictures of half naked “beautiful” women, but we don’t have equivalent magazines for women. Cosmo can be pretty raunchy, but oddly, the cover tends to be of a beautiful woman flashing lots of cleavage; I guess you have Men’s Health, but the muscle-bound physique is linked to health and wellbeing, not attractiveness to the opposite sex. Most men aren’t obligated to go through the same beauty rituals as women – makeup, hair removal (see the whole metrosexual thing, but I’ve seen all these articles declaring the hairy manly man “in”), plastic surgery, high heels and uncomfortable fashions, dyeing their hair when they get old (well, some do, but the gray haired look on men=gravitas, whereas on women=old hag), etc. Nor are men presented as often as sexual displays for female consumption – note that people often say “male” prostitute/stripper/model, as though the default is female.

      PS. Edith, Shannon, great posts!

    20. RenegadeEvolution
      October 29, 2006 at 9:10 pm

      Great post.

    21. October 29, 2006 at 9:22 pm

      There is tremendous pressure on men to conform to male fashsion norms (yes, they do exist) in whatever group they participate in. In office environments the questions implied and exlplicit include: Where did you get your suit? Is it the latest style? How do you tie your tie? Don’t you have custom tailored dress shirts? Casual dress has its own standards. Even factory environments have theirs.

      The pressure comes from other men and from women — and, of course, from ourselves. Sadly I think it will be decades, if ever, before society as a whole grows beyond this sort of juvenile behavior.

      Then there’s the issue of hair plugs and other treatments for baldness.

    22. sophonisba
      October 29, 2006 at 9:27 pm

      women putting themselves/ourselves down is also part of female conditioning.

      Edith made it quite clear that the point is, not needing to believe you’re “pretty” is not “putting yourself down” in any way, shape, or form.

    23. Linnaeus
      October 29, 2006 at 9:29 pm

      Exangelena:

      I agree that women feel the pressures far more and in many more ways when compared to men, and I hope I wasn’t sounding like I was minimizing that. I was just pointing out that men weren’t entirely unaffected by such pressures.

      Which may have been obvious anyway.

    24. sophonisba
      October 29, 2006 at 9:30 pm

      and the whole “you’re putting yourself down!” or “you just have low self-esteem” thing in response to a woman who doesn’t need to be, to believe that she is, or to be told that she is pretty-pretty-pretty all the time is about as cluelessly sexist as it gets. Whether it’s kindly meant or not makes no difference.

    25. October 29, 2006 at 9:43 pm

      Edith in 13: “…one where you are “free” to dress however you want because you “know” that however you decorate yourself, you are still “ugly.” Then, all of a sudden, before you even know what’s happening: liberation. You finally don’t care.”

      Bingo.

      Then, when you notice that people find the people they’re attracted to attractive (a logic-loop of obviousness that somehow hasn’t made it into the boutiques) you also come to realize what a great filter it is, looking ugly. You start wondering why people don’t just send their clothes and paint out without them some days; who exactly are they trying to attract? The Average Generican?

      And you can have a lot of fun with clothing if you start thinking about what you like to be in, what feels good when you’re by yourself. There are so many gorgeous textiles in the world!

      belledame in 15: “yeah, okay, call yourself unattractive if you like; but if someone’s doing it just because she thinks, what, it’ll make her a better feminist, I’m not sure how that’s much of an improvement, honestly.”

      No reason to posit that motivation, really, any more than “if she’s doing it” to make lemon meringue pie appear magically on her lap.

      On a plate, preferably, I suppose.

    26. October 29, 2006 at 9:59 pm

      “Ovulation”

    27. October 29, 2006 at 11:34 pm

      You know, I really think we’ve been saying pretty much the same thing, except for the emphasis on semantics. Yes. Because you enjoy the way it feels, the -aesthetic- pleasure. Of this fabric, of that paint, of wearing nothing at all, perhaps. And yes, (perhaps this is where we disagree, some of us) that includes visual; and yes, that can even include yourself.

      As for “you’re putting yourself down!”

      …look. I’m not saying to -say- that to anyone, especially. If someone else says, “I’m ugly and I feel great! I am one with my ugliness!” then, swell. If someone else says, “”i’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, dammit!” then, terrific. If someone else wants to work the Birks and the arm and leg fur and the tribal tattoos, woo for her. If soneone else loves her red lippy and her stockings and garters: more fucking power to her. -It’s not up to me.- That’s the -point.-

      Want to be left the hell alone? Wear and look what -feels- right to you? Lead by example, and leave your sisters the hell alone.

      That’s my philosophy and I’m sticking to it.

    28. October 29, 2006 at 11:36 pm

      And Ron, women sure as shit do change their clothing and other ways of being in order to please other women, other -feminists.- I see it all the bloody time. Sure, not nearly as -much- as the more traditional form of pleasing, but at the end of the day: so the fuck what? People-pleasing is people-pleasing. -That’s- the feminine training.

    29. October 29, 2006 at 11:45 pm

      …and so, might i add, is the practice of -criticizing- each other. –Picking.- Withholding approval. Circling the wagons. And o yeah: indirectness. Yeah, yeah, I know. “No one’s telling you what to do!” O-K. It’s just… It’s just… it’s JUST…

      just.

      “Examine.” That it? “Examine your choices.” Please, tell me that one again; maybe after the four or five hundredth time it might sink into my simple little brain. Because -I’d never considered any of this shit before.-

    30. October 29, 2006 at 11:51 pm

      Oh, personally, p.s.? I don’t give a fuck about attracting men. Never have done, really. Maybe that’s, you know, part of the disconnect I keep having, I don’t know.

      It still doesn’t mean I don’t want to be attractive to -other people.-

      it just means that i’ve been comfortable with let’s say -different- standards of attractiveness for quite a while now.

      Because, you know what, it does -sometimes- play out a -tad- differently.

      And sometimes it plays out rather similarly. Sometimes we might -look- quite similar.

      And yet, and yet.

      It’s not about the fucking -men.- Never has been. Not for -me.-

    31. October 30, 2006 at 12:01 am

      >Why don’t men need to feel validated for their attractiveness, and get attractive from buying things or modifying their bodies? (I know that with the whole metrosexual thing this is changing a bit, but I doubt most men feel as much pressure as women to be “beautiful”.)>

      So, just an observation: this would be taking “straight men” as a given, I think. because that’s what “metrosexual” means, right? a straight or at least ambiguously-ID’d (by others) man who likes to dress snazzy and get facials and so forth.

      And I won’t overgeneralize on behalf of all my gay brothers here. But I will say this: you go down to say Chelsea of an evening, I guarantee you will see -plenty- of men very much needing to feel validated for their physical attractiveness. Buying things, modifying their bodies…being “objectified,” and objectifying, in turn.

    32. October 30, 2006 at 12:11 am

      so, finally: sure, okay. If embracing your inner “ugly” is the path to freedom for you, then by all means, follow your bliss. It’s not particularly what my own path has been, but you know: as la lubu says: the beauty of multiplicity and all that.

      Actually, you know, for me, that’s a little closer to my own path.

      Finding beauty.

      Finding -more- beauty.

      Extending beyond what I thought was “beautiful” and really trying to see with fresh eyes, from multiple perspectives. Myself -and- others. And much of the world.

      that, I found quite freeing.

    33. October 30, 2006 at 8:02 am

      It still doesn’t mean I don’t want to be attractive to -other people.-

      Amen! I’m also tired of centering the discussion on appearance around what men (at large) find attractive. Sometimes what I find most attractive is distinctly at odds with what many men find attractive. Case in point? Short hair. I’ve got my hair cut short now (think: Ladybug of the Digable Planets in the video of “Where I’m From”), and I think it looks fabulous. And I have yet to meet a woman who hasn’t complemented me on my short hair. But men? The common refrain is “Awwww, why’d ya cut your hair?”

      Women understand—the short hair is freeing. Not just from the time factor of doing one’s hair, but how the focus goes from one’s hair to one’s face. And besides, I can show off my dangly earrings that tend to be hidden under all that hair. (s’pose that loses me some bigtime feminist points right there—the admission of having a jones for dangly earrings. How do we keep track of this shit, anyway? Does my short hair get me “butch points” that offset the “femme strikes” for the earrings? Are chunky heels more feminist than slim heels? And do my work boots offset the heels, anyway—even though those are heels of a sort?)

      Damn….forget the hair. Just think of the time we could save saying “fuck all that”.

    34. October 30, 2006 at 9:54 am

      Ahhh! So the analysis is different. So belledame doesn’t think that women can be agents of patriarhical norms just as much as men are! Shannon is not saying what belledame really believes, she is just trying to say what she thinks she said. Is this the same strain of “I’m a woman, it’s fun*, and therefore it’s feminist” or is it a different one?

      I still don’t get it. Let’s misapply some Kohlberg here. So the random ‘judgments’ of people you don’t know have moral force? Does this apply only in the domain of girl stuff or does it apply to everything? If someone doesn’t like the same TV shows you like, do you stop watching it? Hey! What if someone says Halloween is devil worship, do you sock away your costumes and stop eating your candy?

      *I’ve found that claims of ‘liberation’ are the same as claims of fun. Yes I’m trying to be nice, but it’s really hard to buy what you are selling this early in the morning. Later in the day I would have been more diplomatic.

      *I wonder if there are crosscultural differences in strains of feminism. I associate the above noted with white women.

    35. Sally
      October 30, 2006 at 10:30 am

      s’pose that loses me some bigtime feminist points right there—the admission of having a jones for dangly earrings.

      I believe there is a separate checklist to determine the feminist appropriateness of your dangly earrings. Are they suitably “ethnic” and earthmother-y? If not, please return your feminist card to aisle three. If so, are you sure you’re not participating in cultural appropriation? Were they made under fair trade conditions? Were they purchased at a retailer that guarantees access to emergency contraception and only supports worthy candidates or causes? Are the employees of that retailer unionized? Were the dangly earrings produced using processes that are environmentally friendly? How about the packaging?

      “Examine.” That it? “Examine your choices.” Please, tell me that one again; maybe after the four or five hundredth time it might sink into my simple little brain. Because -I’d never considered any of this shit before.-

      Well, I’ll try.

      I would say that I’m pretty ordinary looking. If I put in a lot of effort, I can look pretty good, and with my usual minimal effort, I look ok. I’m not going to stop traffic, but nobody barks at me while I’m walking down the street, either. (I was an ugly early teenager, and I did get that at one point in my life.) And until two years ago, I would have told you that I don’t care that much how others see me and that the (often minimal) effort I put into my appearance is just for my own satisfaction, and a little bit because it makes me look older and makes people take me a bit more seriously. I resented it when anyone suggested otherwise. I’m a member of the brave new generation for whom makeup is optional; when I’ve used a lot of makeup and hair dye, it’s often been to make myself *less*, rather than more conventionally attractive; I have worked through my body issues; just because you have issues doesn’t mean I do. All that crap.

      And then, two years ago, I was prescribed medicine that altered my appearance profoundly. In the space of two weeks, I went from ordinary to really pretty hideous. And I was taken aback by how much I minded. I was taken aback by my impulse to tell random strangers that this wasn’t how I usually looked. I found being ugly utterly humiliating. I felt like a diminished person. For several months, I avoided people I knew and places I had used to frequent. I went to Sephora and poured out my entire, boring-ass medical history to some poor saleswoman, just so she’d know that it wasn’t my fault that I was such a repulsive specimen, and then I spent a hundred dollars that I really couldn’t afford on makeup that I convinced myself would make me look a bit better. I spent a half an hour every day putting on that makeup, and I still found it painful to leave the house. I’m pretty sure I would have made my peace with my new appearance if I’d looked like that for the long term, but the fact that it caused me so much angst proved that I wasn’t as evolved as I thought I was.

      So now I get that my rationalizations were rationalizations, that I do absolutely care what other people think of me, and that it’s not just about attracting the potential romantic/sex partners of my choice, either. There are rewards that come from being non-hideous, even if you’re not especially gorgeous, and I am not immune to those rewards. I’d “considered” my choices up the wazoo, but I still think the conclusions I came to were wrong, which became clear to me when my “considering” became a bit less hypothetical.

      Now, I’m not exactly sure there’s anything really profound to do with this new insight. I still slap on mascara most mornings, and I don’t think that makes me a tool of the patriarchy. My feminism is never going to center on the terribly pressing question of makeup: fun or evil, because honestly, there are more important issues in my life. But I realize that I’ve internalized some shit, even when I’m not aware of it, and it’s made me a bit less self-righteous.

      I’m sure that you’re a vastly superior person to me, and you’ve never internalized anything. But feminism is also about those of us have not yet reached nirvana, I’d like to think.

      Sorry. I’d hate to see this interesting intervention into the pretty wars be lost because we reverted to the same old fight. But I did want to say that.

    36. October 30, 2006 at 10:35 am

      O yah, “butch points.”

      Someday I’d love to talk more about the femme invisibility thang. or, well.

      I know many a gay girl who’s cut her hair short and adopted other signifiers because, well, she wasn’t really signifying otherwise. or not as much as she wanted.

      I admit I’ve considered it. especially in the summer: besides everything else, my hair’s so heavy and long it can feel like a small lapdog is sitting on my head.

      but i always chicken out, because, if I’m honest with myself, it’s really not what I want. I don’t think it’d suit me, and it’d take literally years and years to grow out. (curls; also means short hair doesn’t have quite the same butch cachet either, on account of it gets all poofy; unless i were to go for, like, a buzz).

      One can work the femme thing, too, of course, and i often do, and enjoy it.

      ‘course, one’s more likely to catch the attention of the butch girlz, and while they can be hot, i…tend to prefer the femmier end of the spectrum.

      which brings us back to female/feminine socialization. in this case, the annoyance is the “lesbian sheep” thing.

      http://www.polyamory.org/~howard/Poetry/lesbian_sheep.html

      …which, let’s face it, at the end of the day: if you’ve got -that- going on, it kind of doesn’t much matter -what- you look like.

      Somebody still has to make the first move, bottom line.

      You know what I’d wish? If I were gonna put in a wish for Class Woman or whatever the fuck we’re collectively supposed to all be (all 3,546,709,001 of us, especially the one with the terminal hangnail)? Instead of worrying so damn much about what we do and don’t signify to others, we could focus more on learning to say what we want. Well, first identify it, what we, each and every one of us, respectively, -want- (which in my experience comes from saying -yes- as well as -no-), and then, or simultaneously, learning to -speak the hell up.- -Directly.- -Loudly.- -Constantly.-

      Be! Aggressive! Be Be! Aggressive!

      or assertive, at least.

    37. October 30, 2006 at 10:41 am

      No, Shannon, that’s not what I’m saying. I am saying that–well, yes, there are different cultural strains of feminism, of being a woman. My sexuality informs mine as well as my whiteness and class background (and personal idiosyncracies, etc).

      And to reiterate:

      I don’t think expressing femme is “feminist.” I don’t think it’s -not- feminist either. I think what would be really feminist would be learning to speak for one’s damn self, and -respecting that one’s sisters are just as capable of doing so as one is oneself.-

    38. October 30, 2006 at 10:45 am

      >I’m sure that you’re a vastly superior person to me, and you’ve never internalized anything. But feminism is also about those of us have not yet reached nirvana, I’d like to think.>

      Okay, this right here. No, I am not vastly superior to you. And you’re not vastly superior to me. I think however I am -different- from you; and what I’ve internalized is not what you’ve internalized. And in turn, what each of us has internalized is different from that woman over there has internalized; and we each have different ways of adapting to the culture we’re in, -because we each have different experiences of it.- -That- is my point. Certainly not to invalidate your story, which makes a lot of sense to me.

    39. October 30, 2006 at 10:46 am

      You know what I internalized? That I had no right to be sexual. At all. That my sexuality didn’t exist or didn’t matter. That’s -my- hot button.

    40. October 30, 2006 at 10:50 am

      and yeah, I got the barking thing sometimes, too (among other things); I internalized messages to look, well, -normal-, if not necessarily like the cover of Cosmo. To fit in. That, yes. Bigtime.

    41. October 30, 2006 at 11:01 am

      Just on a meta note, though, the “I’m sure you’re vastly superior” thing–see, I think this sort of bears out the point that it doesn’t have to be about looks, this…thing, whatever it is, that’s been plaguing…us. Competitition, right? But, Sally, honestly, that was not my intention: “I’m more evolved than you.” Because, like I said, I don’t think that’s true. Honestly never even crossed my mind. I speak out of my own experience because I can’t speak for anyone else, not really; and I speak with the tone i use sometimes because, well, I feel defensive. Too.

      I do pick up on that a lot, though, in general, ’round the femsphere. this weird sort of competitive vibe. “Who’s the most feminist/evolved of all?” That’s kind of what I was trying to get at. It doesn’t go away just because we become conscious of how we physically present; ’cause that’s just -one thing.- It’s a symptom, not a cause, maybe, even.

    42. October 30, 2006 at 11:33 am

      Ah, then that’s where we differ! To me, it’s white woman’s syndrome, because I hear an echo of the BUT WHY CAN’T I DRESS UP AS AN INDIAN AT MY WEDDING!!!1 in this insistance that we pretend that everyone’s manner of presenting is compatiable with feminism Instead of making one’s behavior compatiable with one’s beliefs or changing one’s beliefs so that they aren’t bound by ideals of behavior, white people try to redefine things by shuffling words around. Thus such ridiculousness as feminism being about fun or supporting women in their personal choices* Either you want to accept that you have a mixed up life with all sorts of diverse influences in and make your peace with it or you want to be purely one thing(which you do by DOING. not SAYING). That’s what I think. I put the emphasis on doing because I note that white people believe that saying things is enough to make things be different things.

      I think doing the first would be better for you, because you may be too constrained by trying to live a purely feminist life.

      *other common strains among white women.

    43. October 30, 2006 at 11:40 am

      Also, as a younger feminist, I have to react against the relativism of the times here. Now, republicans try to say that it’s OK if you’re a republican, and now women try to say that in sum, the idea of feminism has no meaning because it has no boundaries. Women all have voices, but not all of them are feminist voices. Actually, let’s make an argument by analogy. I’m black, but I understand that while all black voices are black voices, not all of them are anti racist voices.

      So some may call me the black police for saying none of that OMG! all black people but me can’t read nonsense, but there are indeed levels of antiracistness, as there are differing amounts of feminism. Why? Because they have meanings, even though they are big meanings there’s still more to it than just listen to black voices and trust them.

      Of course, I feel that me and belledame have been arguing for so long that I have started using the long repeated posts like her.

    44. October 30, 2006 at 12:27 pm

      Shannon: there isn’t just one feminism, is the thing. And while I readily admit I probably have more in common with many of my white sisters than not, we’re not the Borg, either.

      And frankly, m’dear, as per those two choices you’ve presented me with (the technical term there would be “false dilemma”), thanks for your concern, but it’s not up to you. Sorry.

    45. October 30, 2006 at 12:33 pm

      And, as far as I’m aware of, you have no idea of what i DO or don’t DO. for that matter, i don’t really know what you DO or don’t DO either, or even what you consider to be DOING as opposed to TALKING ABOUT.

      I mean, I consider my LGBT peer counselling DOING (as well as inextricably woven with my feminism, thank’ee kindly), but technically I guess we’re only exchanging words, so.

    46. piny
      October 30, 2006 at 12:39 pm

      Either you want to accept that you have a mixed up life with all sorts of diverse influences in and make your peace with it or you want to be purely one thing(which you do by DOING. not SAYING). That’s what I think. I put the emphasis on doing because I note that white people believe that saying things is enough to make things be different things.

      First of all, I think that the duality of purity is a controversy in this discussion, not a settled premise.

      But we’re not talking about individual choices, are we? We’re talking about a movement, a community enterprise. Belledame seems to have made her peace with her, erm, impurity. The problem is with the inability of other people to see that as valid even for purposes of prioritizing, and with their consequent inability to focus on something else. That doesn’t mean that she’s insecure, or that her ability to be herself depends on their approval of her.

    47. piny
      October 30, 2006 at 12:43 pm

      Also, as a younger feminist, I have to react against the relativism of the times here. Now, republicans try to say that it’s OK if you’re a republican, and now women try to say that in sum, the idea of feminism has no meaning because it has no boundaries. Women all have voices, but not all of them are feminist voices.

      It’s relativism to insist that there’s no significant difference between a departure from one putative objective standard (e.g. Sarah Hoagland’s) and a refusal to accept any pretense at consensus on any level.

    48. October 30, 2006 at 1:08 pm

      Sally: Thank you for your post.

      I like makeup. I also like choosing not to wear it. This confuses the hell out of my mother, who is the sort of woman who wears makeup to the gym.

      Standards of beauty are mostly a crock of shit. It all comes down to the individual. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been attracted to someone (man or woman), who is a perfect example of what is not “my type.” It happens.

      I recently made the conscious decision to lose weight. I am now, to my utter surprise, what the random stranger on the street would deem “skinny.” My brain hasn’t quite caught up. Outwardly, I may now fit the standards, but in my own mind, I’m “not there yet.”

      Furthermore, due to several surgeries in childhood, my torso and legs are covered with scars. I like them and I’m proud of them.

      I don’t think either that pride, or my liking to wear makeup marks me as a good or bad feminist. I like to look good, and it’s not for a man or anything like that. If it’s for anyone, it’s probably for my mother.

      Last year, before an early morning flight, she asked why I wasn’t wearing makeup.

      “Because it’s seven in the morning and we’re about to go on a plane!”

      “Yes, but what if you meet your future husband at the airport?”

      “If he’s supposed to be my future husband, he won’t give a shit.”

    49. cicely
      October 30, 2006 at 1:18 pm

      which brings us back to female/feminine socialization. in this case, the annoyance is the “lesbian sheep” thing…

      …which, let’s face it, at the end of the day: if you’ve got -that- going on, it kind of doesn’t much matter -what- you look like.

      Somebody still has to make the first move, bottom line.

      Oh, for real. I have a few stories about this one! I put no effort into my appearance in terms of make-up, but of course I dress up in my own way at times and I like to look attractive – at least or especially to someone I’m attracted to myself. I’m a butchy femme – you understand. This can be rather problematic. One story. Many, many moons ago when I was making much more of an effort on the charm front than I do now (I was 19), I managed to attract the woman I was attracted to, not knowing she actually had a boyfriend. She left him to move in with me and share my room in a shared house – and not because I asked her to. It took me completely by surprise. We were wildly attracted to each other though, and spent many very pleasant – even very hot hours out in bars and at parties, flirting outrageously over a period of weeks. But when it got right down to the business – nothing ever happened – and we couldn’t talk about it. She got to the point of utter frustration before I did. One night she suddenly threw herself on top of me in our bed – hands everywhere – I’m getting all feverish and thinking ‘At last…’ when she rolled off just as suddenly and said “That’s all I want you to do – is that so hard?” Well, yes, impossible actually, for me. (Stone-femme for those of you who know what that means…)

      A few nights later her ex- boyfriend came round to visit and actually asked her, in front of me, ‘what can she do for you that I can’t?’ Well, not much as it happened!

      Point being – I’ve quite often been mistaken for a dominant lover because of the way I present in the world. (which is really very barely ‘butch’. Strangers or work colleagues have very rarely assumed I’m a lesbian before I told them I was.) When androgyny was the expected way to present – the lesbian-feminist uniform – this stuff could be very tricky indeed – for a lot of lesbians. No signifiers and butch and femme presentation or ‘role-playing’ behaviour of any sort was severely frowned upon. I managed quite nicely, overall, over the years, to find compatible partners (so no tiny violins please), and a polyamorous partner suits me best – so I now know exactly who I am – but the lesbian world abounds with stories like this. We can laugh about it all in retrospect, but there’s been a lot of confusion, shame and pain around that deeply personal stuff, for a lot of lesbians, in reality.

      I’ve recently discovered that many lesbians seem to have become a whole lot less judgemental (politically), more free and articulate about their dress and sexual preferences than we used to be – upfront – and I’m very glad about that. I don’t imagine there would be a repeat of the disapproving looks I once saw given to a newly out lesbian who made the mistake of walking into a lesbian collective in a dress, high heels and sporting long painted fingernails to meet her partner. One woman said to another – in an audible whisper- ‘she can’t be a lesbian, can she? I think she’s wandered into the wrong room.’

      And yet, these debates still go on. I’m very much of the opinion that there are far more important feminist issues to be dealt with, and I like the idea (and think it’s a feminist one) that women be comfortable with themselves and not have to answer to anyone but themselves about how they choose to present in the world.

      Instead of worrying so damn much about what we do and don’t signify to others, we could focus more on learning to say what we want. Well, first identify it, what we, each and every one of us, respectively, -want- (which in my experience comes from saying -yes- as well as -no-), and then, or simultaneously, learning to -speak the hell up.- -Directly.- -Loudly.- -Constantly.-

      In a nutshell, belledame.

    50. October 30, 2006 at 2:45 pm

      >The problem is with the inability of other people to see that as valid even for purposes of prioritizing, and with their consequent inability to focus on something else. That doesn’t mean that she’s insecure, or that her ability to be herself depends on their approval of her.>

      Well, yah, and there’s also an inconsistency with the position. I mean, seems to me if you’re going to acknowledge that there is such a thing as social pressure, then it shouldn’t be that difficult to understand that it can come in a number of forms and from a number of places, no? I mean,

      >So the random ‘judgments’ of people you don’t know have moral force? Does this apply only in the domain of girl stuff or does it apply to everything? If someone doesn’t like the same TV shows you like, do you stop watching it? Hey! What if someone says Halloween is devil worship, do you sock away your costumes and stop eating your candy?>

      …is this saying, pfft on anyone who feels affronted or judged on their liking for girlie stuff? Who feels pressure to conform, and resents it? Because if that’s the case, then why not extend it to pfft on anyone who feels pressured by, you know, “patriarchal standards of beauty?” I mean, either other people are capable of influencing you or they’re not, no? Or are you saying that any other influence, i.e. certain strains of feminists’, is so piddly that it doesn’t count, compared to the Big Bad Monolithic Patriarchy?

      And if so, how do you propose to judge such a thing objectively?

      Finally: you know, I get the problem people are having with “gee, I like so and so, so [even though i might otherwise see your point], that makes it okay,” IF that were an argument the femme-inists were actually making. From where I’m sitting it actually isn’t. Certainly it isn’t the one I’m making. I don’t happen to shave my legs. I just don’t give a shit if someone else shaves hers or not. If she wants to talk about how -she- feels pressured to shave and is making the decision to stop, well and good; I’m sympathetic. If however she talks as though -all women- are as one with her struggle, and insists that -any woman- who shaves must be deluded, as she herself once was; well, no. I mean, that’s really irritating, at best.

      And for me it opens up: okay, so you want to talk about examining one’s pleasures. How one’s own personal preferences might color one’s politics. Consider this: the pleasure of -mocking.- The pleasure of feeling, as Sally alluded to earlier, -superior.- The pleasure of feeling one belongs to an exclusive club. Anybody have any of that? Are you sure? Would you care to, say, -examine- more closely? Or is that just, you know, a jolly good time?

    51. October 30, 2006 at 2:48 pm

      I’ve recently discovered that many lesbians seem to have become a whole lot less judgemental (politically), more free and articulate about their dress and sexual preferences than we used to be – upfront – and I’m very glad about that.

      *nod* As i’ve said, when I was a member of Dyke Drama Collective, I remember all kinds of intranecine fighting that droe me absolutely up the wazoo (and eventually out the door); but this kind of thing, beauty wars, even “pornstitution,” at least as I’ve seen it in the straight-dominated blogosphere, nah, not really. I did wonder if that had to do with being in New York as well as being young & queer. (and yes, there was a generational divide within the collective, I would say; I just wasn’t really tweaking this stuff as being -the- thing; we had a lot of other shit to thrash out)

    52. October 30, 2006 at 2:54 pm

      “Yes, but what if you meet your future husband at the airport?”

      “If he’s supposed to be my future husband, he won’t give a shit.”

      Heh!

    53. October 30, 2006 at 3:10 pm

      and I like the idea (and think it’s a feminist one) that women be comfortable with themselves and not have to answer to anyone but themselves about how they choose to present in the world.

      See, this to me would actually be more -radical-: you’re a feminist? Swell. Help your sister feel more comfortable in her skin. Let -her- tell you what she needs; don’t do it for her. And if what she needs right now is simple affirmation that she’s just fine, especially when it comes to something as basic and -personal- as how she decorates her body: well, you know what, to me, simply giving it to her is a lot more feminist than finding yet one more way to pick her apart and tear her down. Even if it does come all wrapped up in this or that kind of “feminist” jargon. If sister-friend goes away from you feeling worse than when she came in, know what? You didn’t help.

    54. October 30, 2006 at 3:49 pm

      In fact, most white women(and men for that matter) claim whatever they are saying at the time is unique, but it actually is almost like the Borg, especially when you talk about race or racism. It is probably part of the culture, a sort of myth of uniqueness, like the personal fable one has when they are a teen. The feminism I am complaining about is White Pop/Proto Feminism. Basically, it’s about saying that your individual choices are feminist too! And buying things! Personally I’m suspicious of it, but I’ll allow it to be called a feminism.

      Piny is being technical here, but I’ll explain what I mean. I say it is relativistic because it’s a feminism centered around defending one’s personal choices. My view is that feminism is a movement for social change. This mean the status quo can be challenged. But! women invested in the status quo often act like challenging the status quo and beauty culture is attacking them. It’s weird to be so aligned with something like that personally.

      I think people stretch the idea of feminisms a bit too much. At the end of things, there must be some boundaries. Personally, for example, I am against women cheering on date rapists and consider it counterfeminist.

    55. October 30, 2006 at 4:14 pm

      It’s because a power analysis is important to me, and central to my feminism, not about making other women feel good about themselves. I’m aware of what women will risk and and what they;ll do to achieve beauty, which is often seen as your source of worth. To be beautiful, you must be compliant. Don’t ask about how your boyfriend date raped a girl last night. To be beautiful, you must live in the land of a thousand lies. Because I am young, I have not forgotten why I began shaving. It was not because of a mysterious desire to have clean shaven legs that appeared out of nowhere, no, it’s called girls reacting to society’s dictates that all women must shave, even if they are twelve. I swear even at that age, I wanted to spork girls who were good girls and complained about how fat they were. Because that’s what matters. Your fat, not your mind.

      Feminism is a circle you enter of your own choice, and you can leave it as well. You can’t leave society, which has been there since you were first dressed in pink and petticoats. People are happy wearing save the date rape frat shirts, but even if it hurts a woman’s feelings, it’s more important to say that date rape is wrong and what were you thinking supporting those guys.

      What makes a woman feel good is not a moral compass or a political one. Belledame, I must in fact, take out a bit that I have not said. It is not very nice. You like being the victim of the mean feminists. It allows you to feel the sort of emotions you feel.

      Shannon’s critical parent is very strong, and so it’s hard to resist attacking the sort of childishness there. It’s the adapted child of wanting everyone to approve of you all the time. Shannon of course is trying to study her transactional analysis by applying it to this situation. But what I am really trying to say is that the hugglybear thing really brings out my urge to criticize. I sound harsh because I feel harsh.

      My value system is in that ‘justice’ takes priority over making others feel good. Some may assign one way of relating to one sex and one to the other. But the truth of the matter is that what rules can we have for a movement if the only goal is to make other women feel good?

      Some women feel good because they are outlawing the gay marriage of homosexuals and putting women back in the kitchen. I think most of the women here don;t like that. So what are we to do?

    56. October 30, 2006 at 4:23 pm

      well, i would agree that there needs to be boundaries. on the other hand, deciding what those boundaries are can be difficult, since no act occurs in and of itself in a vaccuum.

      for an example, one could make the argument that the act of putting on heels, pearls, makeup, and blowdrying/styling one’s hair to the latest upper-class white standard of fashion is not a feminist act.

      on the other hand, what if the woman who is doing this is a legislator on her way to work passing some sort of bill that has profound positive effects on women, like toughening domestic violence laws or mandating paid maternity leave or something like that? and furthermore, if she doesn’t show up in the appropriate uniform, if she did choose to wear birkenstocks or doc martens, dreadlocks or a buzz cut, a tee-shirt that says “f&ck the patriarchy”, well, there’s no way she would achieve her objective?

      then i would say it is a feminist act.

      and yes, that’s a rare example. but like the working-class women that la luba talked about going to get manicures, you can’t take these things out of context.

      a manicure is never just a manicure. it’s a frivolous waste of money & resources & a reinforcement of repressive beauty standards in some instances & in others — it’s hard-working women taking a little of their money that’s left over & treating themselves. and maybe it’s a mixture.

      that’s why people get defensive, i think.

    57. piny
      October 30, 2006 at 4:31 pm

      Piny is being technical here, but I’ll explain what I mean. I say it is relativistic because it’s a feminism centered around defending one’s personal choices. My view is that feminism is a movement for social change. This mean the status quo can be challenged. But! women invested in the status quo often act like challenging the status quo and beauty culture is attacking them. It’s weird to be so aligned with something like that personally.

      No, I’m not. I’m saying that your arguments are based on a refusal to distinguish between difference and difference, even though you apparently make some distinctions between types of feminism you don’t want to disqualify. All this, right here, is a straw-woman.

      Feminism is a circle you enter of your own choice, and you can leave it as well. You can’t leave society, which has been there since you were first dressed in pink and petticoats. People are happy wearing save the date rape frat shirts, but even if it hurts a woman’s feelings, it’s more important to say that date rape is wrong and what were you thinking supporting those guys.

      Except, of course, that you keep talking about feminism as redemptive and vital, remember? All kinds of subcultural communities have deep value to their members, particularly if those members are alienated for other involuntary reasons from society as a whole.

      I cannot understand someone who thinks that “society,” which I suppose translates to “the mainstream,” has the only shell game going. I don’t know what your life has been like, or what affinities you’ve set up for yourself, but they’re pretty distant from mine.

      Some women feel good because they are outlawing the gay marriage of homosexuals and putting women back in the kitchen. I think most of the women here don;t like that. So what are we to do?

      Oh, obviously, stop criticizing them or their political beliefs in any way shape or form. I mean, that’s the only logical conclusion here, right?

    58. October 30, 2006 at 6:30 pm

      Belledame, I must in fact, take out a bit that I have not said. It is not very nice. You like being the victim of the mean feminists. It allows you to feel the sort of emotions you feel.

      Excuse me. You don’t live inside me, last I checked. You have no idea what sort of emotions I feel, much less my reasons for them.

      As for “mean:” honey, you really have no idea who you’re talking to, do you?

    59. October 30, 2006 at 6:35 pm

      Except, of course, that you keep talking about feminism as redemptive and vital, remember? All kinds of subcultural communities have deep value to their members, particularly if those members are alienated for other involuntary reasons from society as a whole.

      I cannot understand someone who thinks that “society,” which I suppose translates to “the mainstream,” has the only shell game going. I don’t know what your life has been like, or what affinities you’ve set up for yourself, but they’re pretty distant from mine.

      Hello.

      Or unless I don’t know someone thinks “society” is somehow separate from…people. You know, a THING.

    60. October 30, 2006 at 6:50 pm

      And while it would be lovely if we could all indulge in our urge to stick a spork in whomever was irritating us at the time–personally, Shannon’s tendency to speak of herself in the third person at odd junctures makes me want to strap on the pointy steel stilettos with the violet wand attachment–sadly, at the end of the day, we are called upon to restrain ourselves, or at least insofar as our moral codes permit.

      Mine, well, I shan’t try to elucidate all the nuances right now. Believe me, however, when I tell you that if at any given time, I have -not- sliced any particular “mean feminist” into a heap of small translucent quivering slivers, it’s not for lack of ability -or- desire.

    61. October 30, 2006 at 7:16 pm

      and I really don’t know how many different ways to fucking try to explain that queer (femme included, YES) =! “the status quo”?!

      i mean, I guess I could just flat out Blame the Straight People, or even the at-least-apparently-blindingly-heteronormative-people-even-if-they-do-ID-as-other-than; but y’know, after a certain point that also tends to kind of go nowhere useful, fast.

    62. October 30, 2006 at 10:18 pm

      So let me understand this here- you don’t interact with your family, you don’t go to work, you don’t watch television, you don’t go to school, you don’t ever go to public events of any kind? And your friends have no friends that are connected to the mainstream? You live in a feminist commune which is cut off from everything? Yea that’s likely.

      belle, you do the white woman syndrome shit a lot, so I don’t see you as mean. I really don’t think you’re a special snowflake who lives on an all feminist commune cut off from all reality. That’s not mean, that’s reality.

    63. cicely
      October 30, 2006 at 11:22 pm

      It’s because a power analysis is important to me, and central to my feminism, not about making other women feel good about themselves.

      There’s a lot in this sentence, Shannon. Feminism has been central in my life since the mid-70’s. There have been many, many positive gains for women (putting aside for the moment that some are being rolled back), and I feel I have played a part in creating some of those gains myself – but – exactly *because* of the centrality of feminism in my life, I have also experienced feminism’s power to hurt me, as a woman but more paticularly as a lesbian, and I think an analysis of *that* power – how it has and does play out in women’s lives – is overdue. Feminism doesn’t acknowledge its own power over women.

      Also, the power analysis of the patriarchy, some of the conclusions that have been reached by some feminists about it, is exactly the source of the problems many women have with feminism in relation to their own lives. The questioning that they can have any agency at all when they make choices that go against some radical feminist grain.

    64. October 31, 2006 at 12:31 am

      Shannon–
      When and where did Belledame assert anything resembling these ideas? She’s repudiated having claimed anything of the sort, multiple times. Are you willfully misreading her, or are her explanations for her positions not clearly-worded enough?
      Also, out of curiosity, are you, yourself, white? You seem to be bringing this up a lot, and as a woman of color, I’d be intrigued as to where, exactly, your perspective is rooted.

    65. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 1:43 am

      So let me understand this here- you don’t interact with your family, you don’t go to work, you don’t watch television, you don’t go to school, you don’t ever go to public events of any kind? And your friends have no friends that are connected to the mainstream? You live in a feminist commune which is cut off from everything? Yea that’s likely.

      Uh, no. But it’s equally inaccurate to argue as though mainstream approval is the central pressure in our lives. That’s surreal. You don’t have to be a female–or feminist–Unabomber in order to have a different place in the world than the one you see. It’s possible to be most interested in maintaining a position in a different hierarchy with different mores than the ones you seem to believe put the only real pressure on anyone.

    66. La Lubu
      October 31, 2006 at 7:15 am

      – exactly *because* of the centrality of feminism in my life, I have also experienced feminism’s power to hurt me,

      and:

      Feminism doesn’t acknowledge its own power over women.

      That could be a whole ‘nother post, right there. Lemme think on that.

    67. October 31, 2006 at 8:30 am

      For fuck’s sake. Yeah, shannon: are you actually reading/processing what I’m actually saying, here? Because I’m getting a little tired of repeating the same damn thing only to be answered as though I’ve said something else entirely, over and fucking over again.

      Exactly when did I say there is no such thing as mainstream pressure? What I said is that there are -multiple- pressures. You are talking as though there is only one “patriarchal” source of pressure; everything else is, well, white ladies whining on account of being too sensitive. Maybe I should start saying you have “Straight Woman’s Syndrome.” Except I don’t actually think that’s the problem here. I don’t know -what- your problem is, Shannon, but whatever it is, I can’t fix it. And I’m beginning to lose my patience.

    68. October 31, 2006 at 8:57 am

      And yes, La Lubu, that is at least one whole ‘nother post. And it’s totally disingenuous and, frankly? stupid, of feminists to act as though they don’t have it, -any.- Power. -Yes.-

      1) You* are trying to build a movement. You are alienating people. I could (but won’t, for their sake) name three-four women right off the top of my head who -were- ID’ing as/with radical feminists, agreed and I think still do with the anti-pr0n position, cared and care passionately about the main cause(s) of feminism…and have been so utterly dispirited not just the constant sniping (that may be inevitable) but, yes, the PRESSURE to conform, that they pulled the plug on their blogs and even started to doubt their own beliefs and possibly sanity. Are feeling demoralized and cynical. Was that the goal? Sure, go ahead, point your finger and snicker and roll your eyes and say that gee whiz they’re just too SENSITIVE, or they never were -real- feminists in the first place, can’t take the heat, yadda mcfucking yadda. Right? I see that all the bloody time, not just from Shannon. Oh, well, then. Not pure enough. Go find some other movement and/or label, then, if you’re so unhappy. Byieee.

      Well excuse fucking me, but it seems to me that FEMINISM, as Shannon said? was supposed to be about DOING, not belonging to some girls’ exclusive treehouse club. That there are, as pretty much -everyone- seems pretty clear on, more important issues on the table than what Mary Sue wears or doesn’t wear, who or how she fucks or doesn’t fuck. Right? So why keep fucking harping on it–on HER– if it’s so very -not important?- And, are you -sure- this is important for the reasons you think it’s important?

      You’re not going to be terribly effective if you keep alienating good people–and these, I will say, are and were good people, sound mind and all the rest of it. If they’re feeling put off, it’s not through any fault of theirs, from where I sit. But sure, go ahead: keep clinging to, -unexamined-, your NEED to mock and twitter about “sexbots” and “breeders” and “sensitive ladies” and women who wear those shoes and say they like blowjobs and enjoy the feel of shaving and pink frills and whatever the flying fuck else is on the List this week. Because clearly that’s much more important than -supporting other women.- And clearly, keeping the movement -pure- is more important than, you know, building it or even maintaining the numbers you already do have, much less actually accomplishing anything remotely useful. Which leads me to

      2) If you don’t have power, not -really-, certainly not the piddling amount of power it would take to gang up on another woman and make her feel sufficiently crappy that she leaves; pray tell, exactly how did you think you were going to overthrow the Patriarchy? (or however the hell you want to define Big Bad Impersonal Uber-Powerful Monolith). It’s, just, what. Going to magically change somehow, some day? Thirty-odd years of doing the same exact fucking thing and strangely enough -not- getting different results just means keep plugging relentlessly away, on account of you’re so very -sane?-

      Or is it secretly that in fact you -don’t- believe anything’s ever going to change, and you just enjoy the solidarity of huddling together and playing “Ain’t it Awful?” Because, if that’s the case, well, far be it from me to take away your pleasure; but it’s a bit rich to then be sniped at for enjoying my own (as far as I’m concerned, frankly) more straightforward pleasures, on account of it’s just so -unfeminist.- Boo-ya! And if everyone finally gets so sick of the bullshit that they just go, fine, screwit, you’re right, I -do- care more about my selfish pleasures (lipstick, blowjobs, what have you) than being a feminist, if this is all there is to feminism, then what? Fresh round of “Ain’t It Awful” among the remaining fourteen members or so (the ones who are still speaking to each other), how no one wants to commit anymore, and say, where have all the feminists gone? Where O Where are the Feminists of Yesteryear?

      head. desk. bang.

      o i know, let’s blame some more! Outside provocateurs! The pr0n industry! A couple of rotten apples! Quick, purge ’em! Okay! Everything’s sure to be smooth sailing -now!-

      -crickets-

      Examining. Yeah. That’s a fine thing, sometimes. Only “I don’t thnk that word means what you think it means,” in many cases.

      *my use of “you,” here, as they say: if you don’t think it applies to you, why, then, it doesn’t; ergo, no need to protest. Right?

    69. October 31, 2006 at 9:26 am

      And by the way, as long as i’m throwing all this shit out: y’know, Jim Jones was never exactly what you’d call “mainstream” either. He may have had aspirations, but ultimately, as we know, he didn’t have to be. All he needed was a few dozen faithful hardcore followers and a handful of tried-and-true techniques. And, eventually, some Koolaid.

      I mean, if convincing a bunch of people to follow you to the ends of the earth and then kill themselves isn’t power, what -is?-

    70. October 31, 2006 at 10:08 am

      I’m black. White woman’s syndrome is when white women do the oh I’m so weak, oh I can’t take it act. To deflect from their flaws they start crying and acting a fool. Like these fun feminists try to have it both ways. For some reason, you’re immune to the SYSTEM of sexism, but a few women who said sexbot(which I didn’t even say!) has the power to ruin your lives and make you feel crappy about yourself. You somehow are able to ignore the messages you got since childhood, but OMG! one lady said something mean! Your life is ruined! Basically, white women want to pretend they are children. That they need to be coddled before they’ll take any step in….THEIR OWN INTEREST.

      Belle, if a movement can only be built by ignoring the system of sexism and focusing on the fact that someone was oh so mean, well, fuck that. I don’t do that in anti racism. When whites throw a fit and say that they can’t be antiracist unless all black people give them a hug and a blowjob and say they are great just the way they are, I tell them to go fuck themselves.

      That’s what I mean by whiteness. It’s not about getting any real analysis done- it’s about sparing the feelings of these delicate little flowers. But while we’re sparing their feelings, 12 year olds are starving themselves, 15 year olds are being pressured into sex they don’t want, 21 year olds are supporting date rapists because that’s the only way they feel they can have worth.

      But you can’t help any of these if you want to merely make them feel good about what they are doing already. Sometimes you gotta bite the bullet and do the hard work. Even if it makes people who ‘joined’ feminism to talk about how they are special snowflakes leave.

      If they thought it was a trendy way to look cool, tough. If you don’t like feminism, leave. Because all you ever seem to contribute is more whining about how the mean mean feminists hurt your fee fees.

    71. October 31, 2006 at 10:57 am

      1) Do you think anti-racism and feminism exist in separate spheres?

      2) Do you really think that 90% of the bullshit done in the name of “examining” around the blogosphere is actually “analysis?”

      3) Have you understood a single word I’ve ever typed?

      4) Have I mentioned the part where you are cordially inivited to go fuck yourself?

      signed,

      delicate FUCKING flower

    72. October 31, 2006 at 11:06 am

      You somehow are able to ignore the messages you got since childhood

      Yes, Shannon. That’s EXACTLY what I have been saying.

      Are you constitutionally incapable of understanding that WE DON’T ACTUALLY ALL RECEIVE THE EXACT SAME MESSAGES? I mean, not just not -agreeing- with this; it’s like, I say this I don’t know how many ways, and you react as though I’d said

      ..blah blah blah GINGER.

      It’s very disconcerting. I won’t say I’m offended by it; honestly, Shannon, I don’t rate your opinion enough to be offended by you. Irritating, though, yes. And: strange.

      It seems particularly odd given that you yourself hold yourself separate from mainstream -white- feminism in certain ways; one might think that you of all people would understand how, gee, it’s actually not ONE MONOLITH; there are -multiple- layers here. Curious; yet not enough for me to continue bashing my head against a brick wall.

    73. October 31, 2006 at 11:22 am

      THEIR OWN INTEREST.

      And are you of the opinion that you are better tuned into what’s in my (for example) OWN INTEREST than -I- am? Curious.

      It rather seems to me that the -adult- position is in accepting that IN fact at a certain point one is best able to determine such things for oneself. If one finds that one -shares- a particular interest with other adults, well and good; that is how one builds a movement.

      What -isn’t- a movement is one person attempting, one way or another, to continue to -attempt- to put other adults into the position of “child.” By scolding, blaming, shaming, patronizing (“I know you better than you”), dismissing, and belittling.

      Shannon: you have, several times now here, brought up the adult-child dynamic. I did not. But since you mention it: IN the name of “examining,” perhaps you might consider that this is, how you say, your problem? In any case: I’ll leave you to it. And whatever it is you actually consider “work.” Or DOING.

    74. October 31, 2006 at 11:26 am

      1)I’m talking about the movement.. The oppression is in the same sphere and sometimes you get a nasty mix of them. Antiracism’s cooptation is of course pretty obvious to the people inside the movement. We all understand that that guy saying that MLK would be against affirmative action is a faker and treat him/her accordingly. Same with the person who says that one black person was mean to her in middle school, so why don’t we focus on that instead of the systemof oppression against people of color. We’d laugh that person out. But many feminists don’t fight against their movement being coopted. They think that well, the more the merrier! So basically we end up with people who think feminism is a big bubble bath party and is about silly stuff like women having fun, or supporting women, which is all well and good, but not something you need a movement for.

      2)Yes, when I say that you don’t need beauty rituals to have fun or be sensual, even though many women believe that thier only chance is to do whatever is the approved ‘pampering’, you could cry and say I’m soooo mean!! Or you could go hmm… how do our systems work to inhibit the finacial and emotional health of women. It’s all about whether you’re open to learning new things or not, but if you’re not, don’t make a big fuss about it.

      Also, you forgot that I am a bisexual with hetro appearing priv! It’s hard to remember, but I don’t go and say to gay folk, well, once some gay guy on the internet called someone a breeder and once my gay history teacher was in a lesbian feminist commune and called some other lady a buckhead dyke, so I can’t be part of your movement because you’re tearing down other people!! No, because I understand that gay people have more important things to think about than whether everyone feels good.

      *If you’re in TN, vote no on one.

    75. October 31, 2006 at 11:26 am

      But you can’t help any of these if you want to merely make them feel good about what they are doing already.

    76. October 31, 2006 at 11:26 am

      a few women who said sexbot(which I didn’t even say!)

      …oh. You mean: you are protesting perhaps being implicitly included in sweeping statements which may or may not actually represent -you,- personally? Gee. Unfair, isn’t it. I feel just sick about it, really.

    77. October 31, 2006 at 11:27 am

      crap. what happened to my comment?

      some sort of comment euthanasia, obviously.

    78. October 31, 2006 at 11:31 am

      An adult expresses their feelings in a mature manner. If they don’t want to be in the feminist movement, with all that nasty not being nice to people, they just say Ok, I’m not in. They don;t demand everyone give a hug. My problem is that women like you are hanging most women out to dry by thinking that just because the rhetoric says that women choose to starve themselves, choose to be date raped, choose to hurt themselves, well, that’s their choice and we can’t say hey, that really sucks.

      I’m a very maternal person, so I can’t get with letting people be hurt so that a few white women can feel good about themselves. You lack a sense of scale. While you’re whining about not getting a kiss for being born, women are being hurt by sexism. And you don’t give a flip.

    79. October 31, 2006 at 11:32 am

      But what were you going to say antiprincess? Belledame continues to be childish, while today a sorority girl is waking up and trying to convince herself that it’s ok that she’s not a virgin anymore.

    80. October 31, 2006 at 11:49 am

      take two (apologies if this results in a double post – feel free to delete as needed):

      But you can’t help any of these if you want to merely make them feel good about what they are doing already.

      there’s a big difference between “making them feel good” and refraining from cutting them off at the knees, shutting them out, punishing them.

      I know you’re all toughlove and all. I know your feminism is small-tent feminism, stand-for-something-or-fall-for-anything taken to whatever extent you are comfortable with. That’s your thing, and you do it better than anyone else.

      However, I don’t feel it’s inappropriate for people to speak up when they’re hurt. Speaking up is a feminist value. we wouldn’t have a feminist movement if women accepted the criticism “you’re all too sensitive!” and just went back to shutting up and taking it, or modifying their behavior to conform to the standards of their critics.

      And if I speak up when I’m hurt, I may also be speaking on behalf of others who are also hurt. Altruism is also a feminist value.

      Part of why I “joined” feminism is because I got the impression that my life mattered. my experience mattered. my voice mattered. Not over and above other voices, but certainly alongside them.

      So I get the impression from you, Shannon, that my voice does not matter so much today. OK – I can complain about that (choking on my toxic whiteness) but I can also generalize that if MY voice does not matter today, then maybe HER voice, or HERS, or HERS, or THEIRS may not matter tomorrow…how long before there are no more voices? How long before YOUR OWN voice no longer matters?

      If you keep shrinking the size of your tent, there will be no one in it but you. and who will defend you when someone finally hurts YOUR fee-fees?

      Remember, even Robespierre was guillotined.

    81. October 31, 2006 at 11:50 am

      while today a sorority girl is waking up and trying to convince herself that it’s ok that she’s not a virgin anymore.

      why wouldn’t it be ok, all things being equal?

    82. October 31, 2006 at 12:04 pm

      O I see! You’re -maternal.- And I’m being “childish.” You know, much as I love the armchair psych, this is getting a bit…something… even for me.

      Shannon: to repeat: you have, apparently, not understood a single word I’ve typed. Not. One. Word. When you figure out a way in which I can translate into whatever syntax/system/planet it is you live on, you let me know. I’m worn out.

      and of course: “pressure” has nothing to do with “fee fees.” -Oppression- has -nothing- to do with -feelings.- That hypothetical sorority girl? (and just savoring: Shannon, Maternal Defender of Sorority Girls; that right there’s an image one might want to examine from a sociological perspective, if one cared to) Well, that’s got nothing to do with -feelings;- that’s just, well. Reality.

      Reality; feelings. Reality; feelings.

      Have nothing to do with each other.

      And -I- of course am -all about- defending the date rapists of the world. how astute.

      And as soon as I admit that yep, okay, mocking women for their footwear choices and so forth is an essential part of Feminism, or at least the One! True! Feminism!, the Work can go forward! Date Rapists of the world, -tremble!- We’re out to analyze you to death! Or at least mock you! Or at least mock…somebody! Women who wear cheap, badly made commerical costumes! no, no, -not- them, the PATRIARCHY, which the women in question are just, well, helping to prop up. On account of they don’t know what’s best for them. Or some goddam thing.

      why, I can feel the pillars of Patriarchy foundering in their supports even as I type! YEE-HA

    83. October 31, 2006 at 12:05 pm

      and when the fuck did I or anyone ask for a “hug?” Because right now especially, I’m thinking: “ew.”

    84. October 31, 2006 at 12:10 pm

      And by the way, Shannon: the fact that you, personally, apparently don’t care for bubble baths and so on kind of doesn’t really earn you any points for eschewing them in the name of Feminism, much less lecturing other people on what they do or don’t “need.”

      And the reason I “forget” that you’re bi is because you, like many of the non-het feminists who talk this way, constantly speak as though there were -no other possible dynamic- than Class Man and Class Woman. I mean, let’s just start with “virginity;” your apparent assumptions about what that actually means are not my assumptions, nor many other peoples’.

      the word of the day is “heteronormative.” Can -you- say “heteronormative?” I knew you could!

    85. October 31, 2006 at 12:11 pm

      If they don’t want to be in the feminist movement, with all that nasty not being nice to people, they just say Ok, I’m not in. They don;t demand everyone give a hug.

      1) it seems lately that “all that nasty not being nice to people” has become the main course, not just a side dish. I personally find that disturbing. Maybe you yourself are not guilty of that, I don’t know for sure. But the prevalence of nasty-for-nasty’s-sake has me a little suspicious of anything that looks like it’s trying to disembowel me FOR MY OWN GOOD.

      you can’t destroy a village to save it, is all I’m saying.

      2) I’m not sure that Belle can accurately be characterized as being all that warm and fuzzy. you may have her confused with me.

      My problem is that women like you are hanging most women out to dry by thinking that just because the rhetoric says that women choose to starve themselves, choose to be date raped, choose to hurt themselves, well, that’s their choice and we can’t say hey, that really sucks.

      Although your heart’s clearly in the right place, the only message that I hear getting through, more often than not, is not “THAT sucks” but “YOU suck”.

      I’m a very maternal person, so I can’t get with letting people be hurt so that a few white women can feel good about themselves. You lack a sense of scale. While you’re whining about not getting a kiss for being born, women are being hurt by sexism. And you don’t give a flip.

      so you’re maternal for Woman A, but not for Woman B? I hope Woman B has someone to feel maternal for her.

      and how do you know Belle doesn’t give a flip about sexism?

    86. October 31, 2006 at 12:17 pm

      Finally, per “fun:” you are, perhaps, familiar with “Give us bread, but also give us roses?” Roses are pretty girlie, too, last I checked. Some of them are even PINK. The horror.

      and by the way, there are those who have called “patriarchy-blaming” “fun,” in so many words.

      Might I suggest that such people give at least as much examination to their idea of “fun” as us girlie-girls (straight -or- queer or any goddam thing else) are constantly exhorted to do?

      I mean, what -I- don’t understand is how my wearing red lipstick and stilettos is somehow more “hurtful” to some other hypothetical woman than is ganging up and mocking a random woman mercilessly, much less how either one serves “feminism,” especially. And no, that was not a request for an explanation from you, Shannon; as I’ve said, apparently you and I exist on different planets.

    87. October 31, 2006 at 12:20 pm

      my or anyone’s wearing red lippy or stilettos, I should say; truthfully, I very rarely wear either, and it’s been years since I’ve worn both at once.

      i am now tempted to start doing it more often, however. Just because.

    88. October 31, 2006 at 12:25 pm

      My problem is that women like you are hanging most women out to dry by thinking that just because the rhetoric says that women choose to starve themselves, choose to be date raped, choose to hurt themselves, well, that’s their choice and we can’t say hey, that really sucks.

      Where did any feminist ever argue anything like this? I haven’t heard Belledame support date rape or starvation or self-injury in the name of “choice.” You’ve been setting up a lot of strawfeminists here, but this is perhaps the biggest.

      In the meantime, you argue that feminism isn’t about supporting women. I disagree — I think that’s exactly what feminism is about. Supporting women doesn’t mean giving the a-ok to every single thing that women do; it means that we look at the underlying causes and motivations for what we do, and we try and change those things instead of continuing to put the burden on women. So we don’t shame the woman who starves herself by saying, “You’re buying into beauty culture you moron, you’re a bad feminist!” And we don’t shame the woman who’s been date-raped by saying “You let yourself get date-raped, stupid girl,” and we don’t shame the teenage girl who cuts herself by tellilng her that she’s a bad feminist for doing it.

      We don’t shame the woman who shaves her legs. We don’t shame the woman who goes to church every Sunday, or has 10 kids, or puts on painful high heels every day. None of those things are productive. And to me, none of those things are feminism.

      You can pat yourself on the back for being a “mean feminist” who wants to purge the movement of all the impure ladies who live their lives in ways you don’t approve. But there are more important things than picking on your allies. And while it’s fair game to criticize anti-feminist behavior (like supporting date rapists), it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to attack behavior that isn’t feminist, but isn’t necessarily anti-feminist either. And the knocking down of the strawfeminist is getting awfully tiresome.

    89. October 31, 2006 at 12:34 pm

      Well, to be fair, it’s not her insistence on setting ’em up and knocking ’em down that’s tiresome to anyone -else;- it’s (for instance) my apparent inability to stop trying to pick the fucking thing up, hold it out at arm’s length, and go, “Look! This! Straw! Me! Over here!–oh, there it goes again.”

      i’m trying to quit, really

    90. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 12:34 pm

      Also, you forgot that I am a bisexual with hetro appearing priv! It’s hard to remember, but I don’t go and say to gay folk, well, once some gay guy on the internet called someone a breeder and once my gay history teacher was in a lesbian feminist commune and called some other lady a buckhead dyke, so I can’t be part of your movement because you’re tearing down other people!! No, because I understand that gay people have more important things to think about than whether everyone feels good.

      You’re a bisexual who apparently has very little need for the queer community, who does not depend on it for human connection. Don’t assume that everyone else is working from as comfortable a standpoint.

      Actually, gay people talk about this stuff all the time. (And bisexuals talk about biphobia from the gay community all the time.) What is gay identity from a relational standpoint? What ties us together? What kind of support can we offer each other? What kind of influence, positive and negative, can we have on each other? A lot of us see the queer community as a surrogate family, or at least as a sort-of home. We have to, since so many of us no longer have the families we grew up with, and no longer always belong to them. I don’t miss the approval of the straight world. I am devastated when I encounter cruelty or prejudice from other queers.

      Also, what Belledame said. I’m about done with this discussion, since you seem hellbent on ignoring what everyone else is saying to you, but listen: Some of us have built our lives around different cultures. It’s not about “feeling good.” It’s about the pressure that people can put on you when you depend on them. It’s about the double vulnerability of marginalization, and about the starvation economies that can be exploited just as easily by fellow freaks. Like Dorothy Allison says,

      The women who hate me cut me
      as men can’t
      Men don’t count.
      I can handle men.
      Never expected better
      of any man anyway.

    91. October 31, 2006 at 12:38 pm

      no, no, antip. I am all about the warm and fuzzy. I am a delicate little flower. Particularly when it comes to defending date rapists. And I don’t give a flip (how cute) about other women. Except apparently for the ones it isn’t worth giving a flip about. Shannon is just too MEEN for my delicate sensibilities. particularly since she hasn’t actually taken my suggestion and gone and fucked herself yet. That’s okay, though; I can say whatever I want to or about Shannon and it won’t matter; Shannon doesn’t -need- anyone to be maternal or anything else on her behalf. Shannon actually has no fee fees. Right, Shannon?

    92. October 31, 2006 at 12:39 pm

      yeah, Dorothy Allison, that’s right: that “fun feminist” who’s all about the materialism and shallow ways of “feeling good,” never did anything for any other woman and has no idea what -real- suffering is.

    93. October 31, 2006 at 12:41 pm

      o yeah, and of course, how could i forget: all about the MENZ. Is Dorothy. Allison. yes indeedy.

      I mean, she likes getting fucked! she calls herself a “sex-positive feminist!” she might even wear lipstick once in a while! What else could it -possibly- all mean, dear?

      by the way: is “asshat” gender-neutral? I think it probably is, but thought it might be worth mentioning at this juncture.

    94. October 31, 2006 at 1:33 pm

      that women choose to starve themselves, choose to be date raped, choose to hurt themselves, well, that’s their choice and we can’t say hey, that really sucks.

      Well, besides everything Jill said–suddenly we’ve gone from lipstick and heels and such crap to anorexia and date rape and I don’t know, cutting, is it? “hurt themselves,” well, that covers a lot:

      as I’ve said before, there are ways and ways.

      Sure, go up to that random stranger with an eating disorder and start lecturing her about how she’s HURTING HERSELF -and- OTHER WOMEN with her CHOICES. How she’s DELUDING HERSELF (because women with eating disorders have -never heard such things before-). Throw in some jargon-laden bullshit about the Patriarchy while you’re at it. Maybe sling around words like “breeder” and “godbag” before you’ve even ascertained where she’s coming from and how she’s likely to take this.

      You just let me know how that works out, mkay? I mean, in terms of actually “helping” -her.-

      “choosing to be date raped” is, as I understand it, an oxymoron.

      anyway.

    95. October 31, 2006 at 3:15 pm

      I will be able to stand up for myself without trying to blackmail other people about being nice. I live in the black community, but we never delude ourselves into believing that just because we live in a different community that somehow reality disappears and we’re not part of the larger society. That’s what I mean by whiteness- you have convinced yourself that a few feminists are more important than the system of sexism that is hurting women. By silencing any feminist who is like hey, you don’t need beauty rituals to be OK, you can hold on to a sort of privilege.

      And Jill, you get at the nub there. By not being able to point out how one can hurt themselves and other women, by muting our feminists voices when it seems like it might challenge the status quo, we are throwing most women in my generation(and yours) to the wolves.

      The I’m not a virgin anymore comment was verbatim from a sorority girl who had been convinced that her worth was in hooking up with guys(even when they used their male privilege to think it was ok to rape her) and dieting herself thin. By ‘shaming’ her, by noting that the privilege you gain by leaning on ‘beauty’ and by leaning on male approval is a two sided sword, maybe we could help.

      But we must remain silent. Saying “you have many other talents in life that you could use” would be shaming. Noting that she has worth in other parts than just her body- that would shame.

      Belle, it’s all of a piece. First you mutilate your feet to fit in, you shave your legs to be acceptable and to get the job, you starve yourself to be OK, because a woman’s worth is tied up in this society to how much pain she’ll endure to fit the beauty standard. Not even feminists seem to be able to see their worth outside of that.

      But we can’t talk about that. So young girls start the cycle again. And we who have seen the suffering- we can’t talk about that.

      Piny, I don’t see how white women are dependant on feminists to tell them it is ok to harm themselves for beauty and to harm themselves for ‘love’. Doesn’t TV, magazines, and their family do the job?

    96. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 3:25 pm

      I will be able to stand up for myself without trying to blackmail other people about being nice. I live in the black community, but we never delude ourselves into believing that just because we live in a different community that somehow reality disappears and we’re not part of the larger society. That’s what I mean by whiteness- you have convinced yourself that a few feminists are more important than the system of sexism that is hurting women. By silencing any feminist who is like hey, you don’t need beauty rituals to be OK, you can hold on to a sort of privilege.

      “Blackmail?” “Silencing?” Didn’t you just spend some several comments arguing that feminists have no real power? Don’t turn around and argue that Belledame has the ability to intimidate other bloggers, yourself included.

      She’s not saying that other women should be silenced, and she isn’t actually silencing them. And if a bunch of women have managed to convince themselves that shame from feminists is more important than shame from the mainstream, then those feminists do have power. Geddit? They have the ability to manipulate people into doing things not because they are beneficial for them or for women, but because they’re necessary to gain the approval those people actually want.

      Piny, I don’t see how white women are dependant on feminists to tell them it is ok to harm themselves for beauty and to harm themselves for ‘love’. Doesn’t TV, magazines, and their family do the job?

      Because those women, for political and other reasons, have abrogated their place in the mainstream hierarchy and entered another culture with other standards. They have thrown in their lot with a different group, and are the target for different messages. Why is this so hard for you to get? Seriously, have you never met anyone who identifies as and with a subculture, and who therefore feels normative pressure from its other members? This comes up over and over and over and over again during these stupid fucking discussions, and I usually end up either making trollish comments or just walking away. My inner life does not begin and end with the latest issue of Cosmo. It never did. Somehow, rejecting all of that hasn’t actually given me–or belledame–entrance into a magical post-pressure world. It’s just reoriented the shame a little bit.

    97. October 31, 2006 at 3:32 pm

      But we must remain silent. Saying “you have many other talents in life that you could use” would be shaming. Noting that she has worth in other parts than just her body- that would shame

      No one said that we have to remain silent. No one said that we shouldn’t tell this woman that she has other things to bring to the table. Emphasizing the various talents and positive aspects of women’s lives isn’t shaming them. Encouraging women to value themselves beyond their beauty isn’t shaming them. But framing is important. What shames her is feminist discourse along the lines of, “Look at the dumb sorority girl sexbot!” That doesn’t help her, and it doesn’t help us, either.

      Belle, it’s all of a piece. First you mutilate your feet to fit in, you shave your legs to be acceptable and to get the job, you starve yourself to be OK, because a woman’s worth is tied up in this society to how much pain she’ll endure to fit the beauty standard. Not even feminists seem to be able to see their worth outside of that.

      But we can’t talk about that. So young girls start the cycle again. And we who have seen the suffering- we can’t talk about that.

      Who’s not talking about it? How many times have we read feminist pieces on the politics of body hair, and beauty culture, and social standards? We talk about this stuff all the time. What I’m arguing is that how we talk about it matters. I haven’t heard very many feminists arguing, “I like it so it’s ok.” What I have heard feminists arguing — and what I’ll argue — is that it isn’t productive to tell women who adhere to beauty culture that they’re brain-washed idiotic sexbots who aren’t good enough feminists to fit into the movement. It’s a whole lot more productive to realize that a woman can wear lipstick and still be a feminist; that she can be a sorority sister and still be a feminist; that she can be religious and still be a feminist; that she can be anorexic and still be a feminist. At the same time, it’s ok to attack the beauty culture that promotes anorexia — but it’s not particularly helpful to attack her.

    98. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 3:33 pm

      And what the fuck, seriously? So a sorority girl who accepts date rape and anorexia as her lot is bowing before a cultural onslaught, but a woman who decides that other women and/or feminists may also be right about the whole lesser/bad/stupid thing is just being oversensitive?

    99. October 31, 2006 at 3:43 pm

      What Piny’s been saying (right on), plus this:

      “CHOOSING TO BE DATE RAPED”?
      I will defer respectfully to the moderators of this blog, and not just pour a stream of invective at you, but this is one of the vilest things I’ve read in a while. What, is it those women bowing to patriarchal pressures who’re “asking for it,” now, instead of the women in short skirts or the ones travelling alone or the ones who dare to have a drink?
      I’m sorry, but anyone who says that the women whose choices she disapproves of are asking for rape, as far as I’m concerned, has nothing more interesting to say. You can shout about feminism all you want, but I don’t want you in my feminism. I’ll be over here having a movement that cares about protecting actual women on the ground, and not just abstracts, thank you.
      Movements are for making our lives lives better. When you start harming people in the name of the Movement, you just failed, sister.

    100. October 31, 2006 at 3:46 pm

      “By silencing any feminist who is like hey, you don’t need beauty rituals to be OK, you can hold on to a sort of privilege.”

      yeah – if it were that gentle of a suggestion, you’d have a point.

      maybe at one time it was that gentle of a suggestion. but not anymore.

      responding to this:
      “you don’t need beauty rituals to be OK”
      with this:
      “well, true, but neither do beauty rituals necessarily make you a tool of the patriarchy”
      or with this:
      “I know that, but I like lipstick”

      does not count as silencing, in my opinion.

      I may have missed something along the way (extremely likely), but I don’t see where it’s fun-bots like me that are doing the silencing.

      and really, how many times have you heard someone say “oh, thank you, Shannon, for setting me straight! You have liberated me from the tyrrany of lipstick!” or whatever tyrrany-du-jour you’ve liberated her from.

    101. Sally
      October 31, 2006 at 4:17 pm

      Seriously, have you never met anyone who identifies as and with a subculture, and who therefore feels normative pressure from its other members?

      Sure. But I believe in power, and I don’t believe that power is distributed evenly, so I think that very few members of oppositional subcultures are completely insulated from the mainstream. I’m not just saying that the multi-million-dollar beauty industry has more power than feminist blogs, although you’re never going to convince me that it’s not true. (It may not be true in your life, but I don’t believe the industry would be spending millions of dollars on advertising if it weren’t convincing lots of people to do stuff.) I’m saying that it’s a pretty remarkable member of a subculture who never has to deal with a mainstream-identified person who has significant power over the subcultural person’s life. One may be lucky enough to have a job or go to school at a place dominated by members of your subculture or allies, but chances are that at some point you’re going to have to deal with doctors (who may not be the doctors you would have chosen if you’d had complete freedom to choose), cops, parole officers, your kid’s teachers, the people at the social security office, etc., etc., etc., and they are probably not going to bring your subculture’s values to the table. The less privileged you are, the more likely it is that these people’s judgments about your appearance are going to seriously affect your life. And at that point, it’s not just a matter of personal preference whether you look “professional” or “trashy” or whether you look suitably self-denying or like you squander your money on beauty products to which people like you aren’t entitled.

      So I guess what I’m saying here is that I feel like piny and belledame are talking here as if power doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter and as if “the mainstream” and “subcultures” are just two different sides of the same coin. I’m pretty sure that piny, at least, doesn’t believe that, but it’s what you sound like here. And I think it’s problematic to talk about this stuff as if we’re all free, equal actors, making our own choices, independent of coercive social factors. Moreover, I’m not convinced that these coercive social forces are always completely obvious to us. And while I agree that “examining one’s choices” isn’t a very useful exercise, I also think “but I just happen to like lipstick and stilettos” isn’t a very nuanced or helpful way of analyzing these issues, either. And I say that as someone who isn’t going to apologize for shaving my legs, anymore than I’m going to pretend that I just happen to like shaving my legs and that it matters not a whit to me that the mainstream culture construes unshaven legs as icky.

    102. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 4:24 pm

      So I guess what I’m saying here is that I feel like piny and belledame are talking here as if power doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter and as if “the mainstream” and “subcultures” are just two different sides of the same coin. I’m pretty sure that piny, at least, doesn’t believe that, but it’s what you sound like here. And I think it’s problematic to talk about this stuff as if we’re all free, equal actors, making our own choices, independent of coercive social factors. Moreover, I’m not convinced that these coercive social forces are always completely obvious to us. And while I agree that “examining one’s choices” isn’t a very useful exercise, I also think “but I just happen to like lipstick and stilettos” isn’t a very nuanced or helpful way of analyzing these issues, either. And I say that as someone who isn’t going to apologize for shaving my legs, anymore than I’m going to pretend that I just happen to like shaving my legs and that it matters not a whit to me that the mainstream culture construes unshaven legs as icky.

      I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that there are other pressures in play, and those pressures are not insignificant. They’re not two different sides of the same coin, but forces operating in concert and in conflict at different times–and the mainstream kind can inadvertantly reinforce the subcultural kind. Shannon is arguing that any pressures but mainstream pressure–and a pretty limited definition of “mainstream,” too–are negligible, across the board, no matter what your affiliation. I think that’s ridiculous. I also think that this argument depends on a pretty shallow reading of the kind of vulnerability marginalization creates.

      Plus, “I just happen to like them,” is a strawfeminist.

    103. October 31, 2006 at 4:29 pm

      So, Shannon, you see my disagreement with you as “silencing?” Really.

      and, what antip asked.

      You know, it occurs to me that actually, there’s a lot of projection going on here: the one who doesn’t want to “examine her behavior” is actually: you. You and the other “not-fun” (and how; god, it’s like having a root canal with some people, what passes for “discussion”) feminists. It’s -your- “fee-fees” that must needs be protected at all costs. Specifically: your anger.

      I mean, since we already opened up the armchair psych box.

      Yeah. It’s -fun,- isn’t it? Venting. No. Not just as a start of an ongoing process, but as an endless self-fanning feedback loop. Escalating into: Raging. Mocking. -Blaming.- Endlessly. That’s what you mean by “silencing,” isn’t it? That’s what mustn’t be interrupted. Your power trip. For once in one’s disempowered life: ahhhhh. Here’s a taste of power! A very…very…small…but it’s damn tasty, isn’t it?

      No thank you; we don’t want to do the work of examining our carefully nurtured all-encompassing theory to see if it actually, like, -works-; we don’t want to consider whether our actions, are words, are, you know, -hurting women.- We just want to huddle around the fire and blame some more. Draw the circle tighter and tighter if need be; goddam, WE NEVER GET TO BE MEAN! WE NEVER GET TO SCREAM AND SHOUT AND RAGE! HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT US!! HOW DARE YOU TRY TO TAKE THIS OUTLET AWAY FROM US!!

      and you know what? As I’ve heard so many, many times before? Let’s turn this around: if you don’t have the power to kick me out of feminism, I certainly don’t have the power to “silence” you.

      It goes like this. Call and response.

      You say what you want. And you get a response.

      Don’t like the response? Consider saying something else. Or saying it in a different way. Consider, for a change, your audience. Your -goal.-

      Or, accept that this is the response, and keep on saying it, aware that you’ll probably get the response again.

      Or you can even swear up and down HELP HELP I’M BEING OPPRESSED even as you do unto others; keep doing the same goddam thing over and over and fucking OVER, never understanding why it isn’t producing a different result.

      This has been a message brought to you by the reality-based community (which encompasses some awareness of this thing you call “feelings,” among other things).

    104. October 31, 2006 at 4:30 pm

      Plus, “I just happen to like them,” is a strawfeminist.

      THANK YOU.

    105. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 4:33 pm

      One may be lucky enough to have a job or go to school at a place dominated by members of your subculture or allies, but chances are that at some point you’re going to have to deal with doctors (who may not be the doctors you would have chosen if you’d had complete freedom to choose), cops, parole officers, your kid’s teachers, the people at the social security office, etc., etc., etc., and they are probably not going to bring your subculture’s values to the table. The less privileged you are, the more likely it is that these people’s judgments about your appearance are going to seriously affect your life. And at that point, it’s not just a matter of personal preference whether you look “professional” or “trashy” or whether you look suitably self-denying or like you squander your money on beauty products to which people like you aren’t entitled.

      And this is the wrong read. The less insulated you are from the dominant culture, the more likely you are to care about subcultural acceptance, and the more likely you are to be tied to a fragile subcultural community. Look at the scenarios you describe: what happens, then, when the only people who support you disappear?

    106. October 31, 2006 at 4:34 pm

      The above, p.s. would be what’s known as “confrontation,” in certain circles. “You” statements, armchair psych, accusatory tone, all that happy crappy. I expect it to go down a treat; after all, we all like that sort of talk, right? Builds strong feminists twelve different ways, ‘n’ all.

    107. October 31, 2006 at 4:56 pm

      …sorry, la lubu; but, you know, ‘twouldn’t be a proper meta discussion without devolving into the actual petty arguments being examined. It was nice while it lasted, though…

    108. October 31, 2006 at 4:57 pm

      107 referring to 104; slippage.

    109. October 31, 2006 at 4:58 pm

      ’m saying that there are other pressures in play, and those pressures are not insignificant. They’re not two different sides of the same coin, but forces operating in concert and in conflict at different times–and the mainstream kind can inadvertantly reinforce the subcultural kind. Shannon is arguing that any pressures but mainstream pressure–and a pretty limited definition of “mainstream,” too–are negligible, across the board, no matter what your affiliation. I think that’s ridiculous. I also think that this argument depends on a pretty shallow reading of the kind of vulnerability marginalization creates.

      “What he said.”

    110. October 31, 2006 at 5:04 pm

      Moreover, I’m not convinced that these coercive social forces are always completely obvious to us.

      That, I agree with. But I also think that there are ways that are relatively more and less useful of trying to shine the light on those obliquer forces.

      as it happens, what I’ve been doing right here has been -attempting- to look at -some- (obviously not all) of those obliquer forces within this our little subculture(s). How successful that attempt is/was is, well, heh, we’ll see, won’t we.

      sooner or later comes the moment when i take my own damn advice and move the hell on…

    111. October 31, 2006 at 5:06 pm

      actually, correction: that’s what -la lubu- was doing, to begin with: attempting to look at–examine– some of those obliquer forces within this our little subculture. I got sucked back into the actual drama (surprise).

      but within it, i maintain, are also useful examinations. they just don’t happen to be the exact same ones that have by now become BlogFeminist Boilerplate.

    112. October 31, 2006 at 5:10 pm

      The whole mess about what is productive always bothers me. It seems to predispose us to thinking that women are children. That they somehow can’t take one lady on the internet saying something against the whole big large tide. Really, dame, if someone is so weak as to be hurt because I didn’t give them their strokes for doing what the entire society wants them to do, why do I want them in my movement? The second things get tough, they’ll run away and become whatever is the new poppy fun ‘subculture’ at the moment. I mean, if it’s that important to them to be whatever is in this second, why do I care?

      And tog, I said that because of the idea that every thing a woman does is her choice(a cant often used by the poppy types in college classes) even though mainstream society, as represented by the male privlege that thinks it’s cool to rape somebody, really exerts an influence.

      I really can’t buy what you’re selling that you suddenly go outside of a society just because you say you’re in a subculture, or that you can ignore your whole life before you were 16 or 25 or whenever you went into the subculture and it’s weird to not contact anyone outside of it either.

    113. Momma2babies
      October 31, 2006 at 5:12 pm

      I don’t understand something. Seriously. Please explain!!
      There were 100 comments on this post. Most of them dealt with the subject of some good(belledame)\ not femimst enough (shannon) ppl who are being pushed\are in need of being pushed out of FEMINISM. BUT HOW? How is feminism something that somebody can be accepted to\pushed out of? i mean, I have a certain set of values and convictions regarding the status of women and women rights which is compatible, I belive, with some of the dogmas of the feminist movement (actualy i think most of them), hence I think i’m a feminist. However I understand that maybe some ppl think that feminism is something else and i’m not a feminist. But why should I (or you) care? Feminism is just a word! If somebody decides I’m not called this word, what does it f-cking matter to me – my set of convictions is still the same!
      So maybe instead of bickering about WHO IS A FEMINIST and even more ridiculously DON”T DARE TO CALL ME A NON-FEMINIST just discuss what is right and what is wrong to do? Say, belledame can explain (if she wants) why does she dress femininly and puts on make-up (I know she tried but it’s all so mangled up i didn’t understandwhat’s the reason). And Shanon can explain why does she think it’s maybe detrimental to the status of women.
      COMMON feminism is just a term without a clear defined meaning. It’s completely up to a personal opininon whom to consider feminist and whom not!
      So belledame, it seems that shannon doesn’t consider you a feminist. That’s fine, that’s up to her. It’s just personal, like maybe she doesn’t even like you at all as a person (btw, from your comments, including the mad rave about skirts and pants in the other thread, i also don’t). So what? What do YOU care?

    114. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 5:15 pm

      The whole mess about what is productive always bothers me. It seems to predispose us to thinking that women are children. That they somehow can’t take one lady on the internet saying something against the whole big large tide. Really, dame, if someone is so weak as to be hurt because I didn’t give them their strokes for doing what the entire society wants them to do, why do I want them in my movement? The second things get tough, they’ll run away and become whatever is the new poppy fun ’subculture’ at the moment. I mean, if it’s that important to them to be whatever is in this second, why do I care?

      This is a really self-serving definition of influence, and a pretty insulting understanding of subcultural affiliation. Who’s fishing for cookies?

      I really can’t buy what you’re selling that you suddenly go outside of a society just because you say you’re in a subculture, or that you can ignore your whole life before you were 16 or 25 or whenever you went into the subculture and it’s weird to not contact anyone outside of it either.

      Yeah, you just keep bashing that scarecrow.

    115. October 31, 2006 at 5:18 pm

      But I mean: let’s take the shaved-leg thing for a minute. Sally, you’re right in this, if this is what you’re saying: that there are circumstances which will make one’s sensitivity to mainstream pressure more acute, and that that probably has to do with various privileges. If I’m applying for an office job, for instance, I need to conform to the job’s standards of mainstream beauty or at least “normality.” That message will quite probably be overt as well as covert. Overtly, there’ll be a dress code. Covertly, there may or may not be anything that specifically says “shave your legs,” but if I’ve only grudgingly conceded to protocol and you can see my dark fur outlined through the ‘hose, then…well, that may well affect my chances of employment. And how likely I am to shave next time depends at least in part on how badly I need that job. So, yeah. That’s one thing.

      On the other hand, if I go home in tears because I didn’t get the job, and my girlfriend/friends start yelling at me for even trying to become part of the dominant culture like that, what was I even thinking, why can’t I get a nice job sweeping peelings at the co-op or working at LavenderGoddess bookstore (which is about to close like all the other indies in town, but never mind that now) like everyone else, what’s wrong, am I -too good for them- now, (this perhaps coming from someone who’s in a better position to decide whether or how to work or not than I am; or not), well….

      Let’s just say that at minimum? -Doesn’t help.-

      And if I know that I have the option to call my parents, but any sympathy (or more concrete offers of assistance) wrt the job situation will come with pressure to not only shave like the nice office manager wanted me to but leave those friends of mine who are only a bad influence and say, there’s a nice boy they’ve been meaning to set me up with…

      …or if i actually -don’t- have the option to call my parents because i gave up -that- option when I moved in with girlfriend (who’s still shouting in the background()

      …well.

    116. October 31, 2006 at 5:19 pm

      M2B: That’s an excellent point. Say, wat R U waring?

    117. October 31, 2006 at 5:23 pm

      By the way, shannon: I realize that your use of “lady” is meant to connote “white lady,” but on the subject of sounding mature, I’ve been meaning to tell you: from here at least, it makes you sound like you’re about twelve. Yes, the mean ladies; they don’t offer cookies or hugglybears. Quite right.

      now all we need is a fucking lullaby.

    118. October 31, 2006 at 6:02 pm

      “CHOOSING TO BE DATE RAPED”?
      I will defer respectfully to the moderators of this blog, and not just pour a stream of invective at you, but this is one of the vilest things I’ve read in a while….

      To be absolutely fair, I believe the argument Shannon was making here was -against- the position that a woman might “choose to be date raped” (whatever that actually means). As Jill notes, the suggestion that anyone here actually -is- arguing that women “choose to be date raped” is one BIG heaping helping o’ straw, even in the considerable pile that’s already been built.

      I think I know the specific thrash Shannon has in mind here, but I shan’t allude to it any further, as I think re-opening that particular can of worms would not please the hosts.

      Let’s just say that a hypothetical situation which I -think- resembles what Shannon -might- be talking about goes something like this: a woman describes a particular sexual situation, claims she didn’t experience it as rape. A whole bunch of women go “my God, woman! of COURSE that’s rape!” Woman expresses mild perplexity, repeats that she didn’t experience it as rape. Whole bunch of other people start jumping all over the woman’s case, calling her self-deluded insisting it is, it IS TOO RAPE; she’s hurting herself and (somehow) other women, too, by claiming otherwise. Comparisons to surgery are made; the gist is that this whole little exercise is for the woman’s “own good.” Or, not; but it’s doing someone some good, somehow, in a “feminist” sort of way; and anyone attempting to say otherwise (admittedly, eventually anyone starts including a whole lot of swearing and flaming) is “silencing debate.” And anti-feminist, and a concern troll, and…

      oh, say, it just hit me (I am slow); perhaps that -is- what Shannon meant by the “date rape” example; apparently that’s -not- hypothetical, I, in fact, in Shannon’s world, am apologizing for date rape? -Is- that what you were alluding to, Shannon? Because -if- that’s the case. Do you remember what I said to the group at the time? Consider that re-applied to you specifically ten times, and after a week’s worth of moldering in the trash to boot.

    119. Maureen
      October 31, 2006 at 6:15 pm

      belledame, not all of us are good typists. Leave momma alone; she probably just made the most rational comment of the last fifty comments in this thread, in a sense: Shannon is merely some person with a computer in an undisclosed location whom you may never meet in real life, and will probably have no effect on your future happiness.

      On the other hand, if you’re surrounded only by Shannons when you’re more of a belledame, then what the Shannons say does affect you. And yes, Shannon, you do have power over others; have you read any Foucault? (History of Sexuality, part I is probably his easiest read) In a nutshell: Power is not something that one person has and another person doesn’t have; it’s more of a lattice–a person who doesn’t have much political power can have a large amount of moral power (if those with political power recognize it), which is probably a decent explanation for how nonviolent resistance works. The Patriarchy may have the political and economic power, but within certain localized spheres of influence Shannon has moral power.

    120. October 31, 2006 at 6:29 pm

      You may be right wrt M2B, Maureen; my knee was jerking wrt not so much this comment but her previous incursions onto this blog.

      as for the rest: yes, exactly.

    121. Sally
      October 31, 2006 at 6:29 pm

      Look at the scenarios you describe: what happens, then, when the only people who support you disappear?

      What happens to you at the doctor’s office, the social security office, a parent/ teacher conference, etc. when the people who support you disappear? Well, you try to convince the doctor, social security person, teacher, etc. that they should take your point of view seriously and support you. And I would submit that whether you succeed or not depends quite a bit on how that powerful person reads your appearance.

      Look. I just can’t be the only person who has realized that doctors treat me better when I wear makeup and nice clothes than when I look sick and tired and messy. And so even though I often am sick and tired when I go to the doctor, I wear my nicest, most conventional clothes and do my eyeliner just right, so that the doctor will look me in the eye and explain what’s going on, rather than just shooing me off like I’m a fucking moron. I wish I could go to doctors who were more understanding, but I can’t, so there you go. I do that, in fact, when I’m dealing with anyone in a position of power or authority. I get a better hearing when I’m wearing makeup. It stinks, but I’m convinced it’s true.

      On the other hand, if I go home in tears because I didn’t get the job, and my girlfriend/friends start yelling at me for even trying to become part of the dominant culture like that, what was I even thinking, why can’t I get a nice job sweeping peelings at the co-op or working at LavenderGoddess bookstore (which is about to close like all the other indies in town, but never mind that now) like everyone else, what’s wrong, am I -too good for them- now, (this perhaps coming from someone who’s in a better position to decide whether or how to work or not than I am; or not), well….

      Ok, that’s really interesting, because I realize that this is very much how I’m reading your and piny’s side of this debate. I’m reading you as not very sympathetic to those of us who are trying to deal with those kinds of pressures.

      I work in an office. There are two tracks in my office: professional and admin. Professional is vastly better in every respect: it pays more, the work is more interesting, the professionals have more say in their hours and don’t need to take a personal day if their kids get sick or they have a parent-teacher conference. And when you look at the photos in the staff directory, it becomes clear that every single woman on the professional track looks pretty much identical. They are not fat. They have short to mid-length, groomed, highlighted hair. They wear quite a bit of makeup, but it’s subtle and neutral. They look, in a word, professional. The admin women are much more diverse: they can wear garish makeup or no makeup or look like funky art-school people or whatever.

      So a month or so ago, I went shopping with a work friend who is in the admin track but would very much like to move into the professional one. (Most people start out in admin, and some move out.) We talked about what kind of clothes she should buy to make herself look like someone who’d get promoted into the kind of job she wants. It wasn’t subtle. It is very clear to her that what clothes she wears will help determine how quickly she pays off her student loans, when she can buy a house, whether she gets good or not-so-good benefits, all that good stuff. I don’t think she particularly likes boring, professional clothes, but that’s what she has to wear to achieve her goals. Ditto with haircuts and makeup.

      (I’m admin, and I don’t want a career in this area, so I can pretty much wear whatever I want, as long as it meets a minimum standard of appropriateness.)

      I thought about mentioning this anecdote, but it seemed to me that you and piny would basically say that it was her choice to work in a conventional career in which she’s subject to mainstream pressures. Power works in so much more complex and multifaceted ways in your lives. Why didn’t she make choices that would grant her freedom from these pressures?

      I take it that isn’t what you would say. But I guess I’m wondering whether there’s any legitimate way to talk about the lives of people who are subject to mainstream pressures in one way or another. Can we discuss those pressures without invalidating people who are also subject to other pressures? Can we discuss those pressures without reducing people to tools of the patriarchy or whatever? Because, just talking about me here, I see those pressures at work in my life, although not always in straightforward ways. I’m not saying that my life is the only one that matters, so how do we proceed here?

    122. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 6:44 pm

      I thought about mentioning this anecdote, but it seemed to me that you and piny would basically say that it was her choice to work in a conventional career in which she’s subject to mainstream pressures. Power works in so much more complex and multifaceted ways in your lives. Why didn’t she make choices that would grant her freedom from these pressures?

      You’re right–that isn’t what I would say.

      I haven’t argued that my choices–which aren’t exactly free themselves, being based on things like gender identity and sexual orientation–exempt me from mainstream pressure, just that they change the equation, and open me up to different kinds of attack. And neither of us has argued that the new boss is necessarily a better boss, or that there’s much point in leaving behind one fraught circumstance for another if freedom is the only motive.

      I take it that isn’t what you would say. But I guess I’m wondering whether there’s any legitimate way to talk about the lives of people who are subject to mainstream pressures in one way or another. Can we discuss those pressures without invalidating people who are also subject to other pressures? Can we discuss those pressures without reducing people to tools of the patriarchy or whatever? Because, just talking about me here, I see those pressures at work in my life, although not always in straightforward ways. I’m not saying that my life is the only one that matters, so how do we proceed here?

      …Some bloggers and myself have actually been tossing around some ideas. I’d mostly like a little more inclusion, and maybe less of the assumption that a woman who says, “But I’m femme, not feminine,” or whathaveyou isn’t attempting to derail the discussion but to bring it home on a personal level.

    123. piny
      October 31, 2006 at 6:53 pm

      In a nutshell: Power is not something that one person has and another person doesn’t have; it’s more of a lattice–a person who doesn’t have much political power can have a large amount of moral power (if those with political power recognize it), which is probably a decent explanation for how nonviolent resistance works. The Patriarchy may have the political and economic power, but within certain localized spheres of influence Shannon has moral power.

      And if you’re already virtually powerless, it’s not difficult for morally bankrupt people at whatever level to take advantage of your weakness.

    124. October 31, 2006 at 10:33 pm

      As so often: what piny said.

      Well, the way you’re talking about it right here, Sally, I think is doing it in a way that doesn’t invalidate anyone else; that is, at least, I don’t feel invalidated by what you’re saying, at all.

      To identify why: you’re owning your stuff. You’re saying, “this is my experience.” You don’t go on to say, “and this is Woman’s experience, and if you don’t experience it this way, you’re deluding yourself.” You leave room for someone else to go, as we have here, “well, I relate to this bit; this bit, not so much; this is how -I- experience it.”

      -That- to me is what consciousness-raising is. It’s not that there’s no such thing as a collective movement or a (type of) experience that many share; it’s more that, you know, one has to be careful to make the distinction between saying, “okay, this is how it is for me; anyone else relate?” and extrapolating from one’s own experience before anyone else gets a chance to say yea or nay.

      I-statements, to be simple about it. No, it doesn’t always work; some people are always going to take “well, such and such happened to me” as offensive, somehow; but for the most part, I think (“I think”) it helps, somewhat at least.

      And yeah, sure, it’s possible to throw out generalizations, maybe even necessary sometimes; just be aware that when one does, chances are good that someone’s gonna raise hir hand and go, “yahbut that’s not -me.-” And that rolling one’s virtual eyes and essentially saying that that’s irrelevant is probably not going to win one friends or influence people. That it’s probably better to at least acknowledge “okay, I said ‘all blah is blee’ but you’re saying ‘not so,’ so perhaps i ought to amend that posit somewhat, or at least clarify, okay, i didn’t mean -all-, and yes, that’s valid, (although it may be tangenting from what i wanted to discuss right now).” At least, that’s how I’ve seen/experienced it playing out.

    125. October 31, 2006 at 10:43 pm

      Speaking personally, then: yeah, reading me as not very sympathetic to people who deal with appearance-related bigotry is really not correct. Or empathetic; I deal with it myself. I’m fifty pounds (at least) overweight. I hate wearing bras. I LOATHE corporate wear. I have “not good” hair. These things all matter. And yes, I got the “honey, you look so pale, put on a little makeup” from good ol’ Mom (interesting, personally my experience of appearance policing has largely come from other -women-, with the exception of the odd asshole yelling shit on the street) and all the rest of it. And I’ve participated in plenty of discussions about how that plays out: how much it sucks to have to force on pantyhose in the heat of summer to please some office manager troll. How much more difficult “looking professional” is when you’re already tagged “fat” or “different” in some way. How much of a pain in the ass underwire can be, and why the fuck is it such a damn big deal to be “flopping” that it’s more important that i wear unwieldy, painful, restrictive garments than some stranger be made uncomfortable for the time sie spends -looking- at me? And why is it so hard to find comfortable shoes at a decent price, and why are womens’ clothes often made so much more crappily for more money and with NO pockets to boot (I just bought three mens’ sweaters and a mens’ jacket myself; you’d never know, and who cares if you did? much roomier, more comfortable, better made…and POCKETS). And so on, and so on, and so on.

      I’ve never, ever had a problem talking about that stuff, or anything else.

      What I have a problem with is someone else effectively telling me they know me better than me. That my personal experience doesn’t count, at least not as much; because it must be subsumed into the collective experience that is Class Woman, or whatever it’s supposed to be. That if I say in so many words, “well, my experience is blah blah,” there’s an excellent chance I will be told by some genius that I’m deluding myself, or mocked (in the name of feminism), or at minimum, “countered” in some way (i.e. no, you don’t or shouldn’t feel that way, or here’s what you should’ve done, or blah blah blah).

      Really, that doesn’t have to be about appearance or Teh Sex or anything else; it just plays out that way because, well, those are the hot buttons around here. It could be anything, though, really.

    126. October 31, 2006 at 11:09 pm

      Also, Sally, what I’d wanted to say, I really appreciated your post in 36. it probably got a bit lost in the shuffle, because i was in the middle of (as i was feeling it) trying to shovel my way out of a whole stack of someone else’s straw. life on the Internets. that, too.

      but, so

      So now I get that my rationalizations were rationalizations, that I do absolutely care what other people think of me, and that it’s not just about attracting the potential romantic/sex partners of my choice, either. There are rewards that come from being non-hideous, even if you’re not especially gorgeous, and I am not immune to those rewards. I’d “considered” my choices up the wazoo, but I still think the conclusions I came to were wrong, which became clear to me when my “considering” became a bit less hypothetical.

      Now, I’m not exactly sure there’s anything really profound to do with this new insight. I still slap on mascara most mornings, and I don’t think that makes me a tool of the patriarchy. My feminism is never going to center on the terribly pressing question of makeup: fun or evil, because honestly, there are more important issues in my life. But I realize that I’ve internalized some shit, even when I’m not aware of it, and it’s made me a bit less self-righteous.

      See, that makes total sense to me.

      And what you followed that with, “I’m sure you’re vastly superior to me,” well, that kind of stung, but it made me realize that to you, I was apparently reading like -I- was being self-righteous.

      Which, well, I’m not really capable of being totally objective about that just yet.

      But again: I was, I thought, reacting against what has been feeling like a lot of self-righteousness coming from the “examine your choices” as a -prescriptive- crowd. Examine, and more bluntly: “you’re making us all look bad,” your defense of lipstick or whatever is “classist,” the endless parade of straw-feminists, and, well, a generally moralizing tone.

      And I admit that I’m plenty moralizing myself. Self-righteous, what you will.

      But at -least- I want to make it clear that i don’t center my moralization in what you (general “you”) wear or even what you want to talk about as part of your experience of feminism.

      I mean: there is a difference between “I don’t think there’s such a thing as mainstream pressure to shave your legs” (not what i am saying) and “I personally don’t care what any other woman decides to do about that pressure, and am getting increasingly fed up with the suggestions from various quarters that one way is always preferable to, ‘more feminist’ than, another.”

    127. October 31, 2006 at 11:11 pm

      What I have a problem with is someone else effectively telling me they know me better than me. That my personal experience doesn’t count, at least not as much; because it must be subsumed into the collective experience that is Class Woman, or whatever it’s supposed to be.

      and: I also have a problem when I see someone else telling this sort of thing to another woman, who’s reacting pretty much the way I would react, have reacted, says in so many words that she feels ___ at this treatment, and is only further derided for her pains.

    128. October 31, 2006 at 11:47 pm

      Really, dame, if someone is so weak as to be hurt because I didn’t give them their strokes for doing what the entire society wants them to do, why do I want them in my movement? The second things get tough, they’ll run away and become whatever is the new poppy fun ’subculture’ at the moment. I mean, if it’s that important to them to be whatever is in this second, why do I care?

      Okay: who here is not familiar with the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conundrum presented by (as much as it can be considered as a monolith) mainstream society ™ to women?

      If so, how on -earth- could it -possibly- be helpful to pick one side of the do/don’t and use it to club another woman over the head with? How is that different from the crazy-making crap we all -already- get? How is that -feminist?-

      And Shannon? It’s not “your” movement, at least not any more than anyone else here. It existed before you were born; it will continue, I expect, long after some of us shuffle off this mortal coil. I’d just like to think that -at- that time, -maybe- “we” might have finally moved on from the exact same Eternal Thrashes that have been autocannibalizing the “movement(s)” for approximately the last THIRTY YEARS (if not more).

      Should I even say anything about the “weak” business? Is that even worth mentioning? Sure, okay: people/sites like Volsunga and Vociferate and Kaka Mak and the Shouty Woman (just right off the top, blogs -only-): worth losing, no problem. They were “weak.” Sane, smart, empathic, pretty much on board with most of the precepts of not only feminism but radical feminism (depending of course on -just how stringent- you are, of course) and give a flying crap about actual women and the actual issues; but “weak,” I guess; what else could it be? Buh-bye; nice seeing you. Instead the “hardcore” of the One Twoo Feminism online is now people like, I guess, what: the troll who stumbles around pretending to be a dinosaur and randomly crapping on other peoples’ blogs with inane incoherent spammage, and the all anti-pr0n all the time people (some of whom are now actively courting Christian fundamentalists as worthy allies in the Great Battle), and the echo chamber who hang on a certain blogger’s every word and even name themselves after her now fercrissakes. That would be your “small tent” right there. Getting smaller all the time, from the looks and sound of it; certainly more stifling. Hey, don’t take -my- word for it; ask around. Look around. Where is your “movement” moving -to-, exactly?

    129. November 1, 2006 at 11:09 am

      Thanks for the mention Belledame. And thank you for expressing my point of view in this thread so much more eloquently than I ever could myself.

      Lucy (Shouty Woman)

    130. November 1, 2006 at 11:32 am

      Let me explain my background. White people in antiracism are always talking about how in some tiny little part of the world blacks are super powerful and thus racism doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. And this sounds like the same idea. That because one person was shocked that you said the n word, that the institutional power of white supremacy vanishes, and we should focus only on how a black person once was mean to a white person. So basically it seems to me like you don’t care about the 99.999999999% of the people who don’t live in a feminist commune(like wtf? Most *feminists* don’t live on a feminist commune let alone most women. If you’re feeling a bit pot bound, go out and volunteer in the community instead of insulting people who don’t want to recreate the same old mainstream values) because you only focus on some ladies that were mean on the internet. And the problem belledame is that what you react to is not what I react to. “Your movement won’t be large!!” doesn’t scare me. There are not a lot of anti racists. But one’s thoughts do not become invalid if there’s not a lot of them. If most women thought that we shouldn’t be able to vote, I’d still think that should, even if it was mean.

      I also see your people who would quit feminism because someone said something mean about someone’s halloween costume on the internet as poppy trendoids because for fuck’s sake, if that’s all you need to stop being committed to feminism, you weren’t committed in the first place. If some shitty consumer product that costs too much anyway is more important to you than feminism, fine. But stop whining because someone cares about something more than just reproducing the same old gender roles and calling it subversive.

      And yes, sometimes you gotta be like fuck, that’s rape, go to the god damn police instead of oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it. I’m suspicious of the OH!!!1 I shave my legs, but I’m oh so feminist crowd, because it just seems to me like they want to have the same old gender roles for women, with us as decoration and having to nuture no matter how stupid or ridiculous someone is, but call that feminism.

      I want to change the gender roles so that women don’t always get the shitty stuff and it pisses me off that we as feminists are mean if we want to not be feminine and girly. And yea, you still can’t negate the power of cultural conditioning, even if you joined a subculture. You still bring around your value system from before that, even though you think you have changed.

    131. November 1, 2006 at 11:36 am

      And I say weak because if you can’t stand up to a few people you don’t know on the internet, how are you going to be brave in real life? Also, I say it’s a weak act because they are trying to deflect criticism by saying it hurts their feelings instead of just saying “you know, I really am entrenched in my mainstream values, and so when you attack mainstream values, I feel attacked because I identify myself as makeup and shaved legs, not as a woman who merely wears makeup and shaves her legs”. When you’re growing as a feminist, you gotta understand where your hurt feelings come from, such as I am hurt because the experiences of 99% of women are being ignored here, instead of saying waaah, that hurt my feelings, so it shouldn’t be said.

    132. November 1, 2006 at 11:56 am

      I also see your people who would quit feminism because someone said something mean about someone’s halloween costume on the internet as poppy trendoids because for fuck’s sake, if that’s all you need to stop being committed to feminism, you weren’t committed in the first place.

      you know, that’s probably true in many cases.

      HOWEVER.

      at least some of the “poppy trendoids” who are deploring the overwhelming mean-ness (even to the point of disavowing feminism because of it) are actually not poppy trendoids, but women who have done a lot of legwork, armwork, throatwork, brainwork and checkbookwork in their local feminist movements and for wider feminist causes.

      So to dismiss us all as poppy trendoids with no committment to the Important Things is insulting.

    133. November 1, 2006 at 12:11 pm

      how does age factor in here?

      I’m going to be 39 in a few days. I read stuff like this:

      When you’re growing as a feminist, you gotta understand where your hurt feelings come from,

      and I think – wow. so true. so very true.
      and then I think – Fuck! what have I been doing for the past 25 years but understanding where these hurt feelings come from?

      on the one hand, no one has a lock on wisdom just by virtue of the aging process. I accept that people who are younger than me can be significantly smarter/wiser/cooler than me, and that I may have lost sight of some key concepts along the way, or maybe there were places where I didn’t have a good grasp on things in the first place. for I am only human, and fallible, and should not be afraid of learning The Truth, even from those who are younger than I am.

      on the other hand – it may be possible that I had my own “I am TruthBearer! Tremble at the Feet of Truth, weak and puny mortals!” period, and have since learned that people’s tender feefees have meaning and relevance at the same time as larger issues have meaning and relevance.

      Which is NOT to say “oh, she’s just going through a phase.” that would be insulting. But I do wonder if the “my way or the highway” attitude is somehow a function of, or relevant to, age.

    134. piny
      November 1, 2006 at 12:15 pm

      And I say weak because if you can’t stand up to a few people you don’t know on the internet, how are you going to be brave in real life? Also, I say it’s a weak act because they are trying to deflect criticism by saying it hurts their feelings instead of just saying “you know, I really am entrenched in my mainstream values, and so when you attack mainstream values, I feel attacked because I identify myself as makeup and shaved legs, not as a woman who merely wears makeup and shaves her legs”. When you’re growing as a feminist, you gotta understand where your hurt feelings come from, such as I am hurt because the experiences of 99% of women are being ignored here, instead of saying waaah, that hurt my feelings, so it shouldn’t be said.

      First of all, no one is ignoring those feelings. Second, you’re the only one–and only when it serves your increasingly dishonest rhetorical purpose–who is limiting this discussion to a few voices on the internet. I really couldn’t care less what you, shannon, think; it’s not just your opinion that’s being talked about.

      Let me explain my background. White people in antiracism are always talking about how in some tiny little part of the world blacks are super powerful and thus racism doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. And this sounds like the same idea. That because one person was shocked that you said the n word, that the institutional power of white supremacy vanishes, and we should focus only on how a black person once was mean to a white person.

      Bad analogy! It’s not black people being mean to white people, because none of the women we’re discussing here, no matter how sexist or afeminist or failed feminist in your mind, are analagous to men. The analogy would be the ability of some POC to hurt and shame other POC. And like several people have said several times, the only one talking about “feminist communes” is you.

      I also see your people who would quit feminism because someone said something mean about someone’s halloween costume on the internet as poppy trendoids because for fuck’s sake, if that’s all you need to stop being committed to feminism, you weren’t committed in the first place. If some shitty consumer product that costs too much anyway is more important to you than feminism, fine. But stop whining because someone cares about something more than just reproducing the same old gender roles and calling it subversive.

      More straw.

      And yes, sometimes you gotta be like fuck, that’s rape, go to the god damn police instead of oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it. I’m suspicious of the OH!!!1 I shave my legs, but I’m oh so feminist crowd, because it just seems to me like they want to have the same old gender roles for women, with us as decoration and having to nuture no matter how stupid or ridiculous someone is, but call that feminism.

      Say what you will–at least they don’t tell rape victims to just suck it up, for fuck’s sake. Should I chalk it up to your shining youth, or have you been hitting the MRA moonshine a little hard? Or would any criticism based on the idea that words and phrasing matter just bounce off?

      I want to change the gender roles so that women don’t always get the shitty stuff and it pisses me off that we as feminists are mean if we want to not be feminine and girly. And yea, you still can’t negate the power of cultural conditioning, even if you joined a subculture. You still bring around your value system from before that, even though you think you have changed.

      And yet more straw. Who said you had to be feminine and girly?

    135. November 1, 2006 at 12:27 pm

      Let me explain my background. White people in antiracism are always talking about how in some tiny little part of the world blacks are super powerful and thus racism doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. And this sounds like the same idea.

      Okay. It’s not, though. For a start, I never freaking said or even suggested that “sexism doesn’t matter.”

    136. November 1, 2006 at 12:28 pm

      And I say weak because if you can’t stand up to a few people you don’t know on the internet, how are you going to be brave in real life?

      I don’t know. Why don’t you ask “them?”

      Me, I think strength comes through (partly) knowing someone’s got your back, which is a part of -my- feminism.

      And personally, you know what: I do just fine, thanks ever so.

    137. November 1, 2006 at 12:31 pm

      Also interesting in that my understand of what WAS “standing up,” you (and others) have referred to as “silencing.”

      Once again: saying “hey, what you’re saying here about me and mine is inaccurate and also really sucks, I don’t like it” =! “silencing” or even “whining” as you put it. That -is- strength in my book. And you betcha: real good practice for tackling the bigger problems and enemies “out there.” Call it muscle-building.

    138. November 1, 2006 at 12:38 pm

      Also, I say it’s a weak act because they are trying to deflect criticism by saying it hurts their feelings instead of just saying “you know, I really am entrenched in my mainstream values, and so when you attack mainstream values, I feel attacked because I identify myself as makeup and shaved legs, not as a woman who merely wears makeup and shaves her legs”.

      I’m sure that’s what you would -like- people to say, Shannon, but, sadly, not everyone is going to, for the simple fact that -that actually isn’t their problem.- And your putting words in their mouth, projecting YOUR issues, YOUR feelings, as the UNIVERSAL ones which MUST be theirs, too, is -another- problem.

      When other people tell you, plainly and clearly, what they themselves feel? What -their- experiences are? You back the hell off. Understand? It’s -not up to you.- You’re no one’s damn mommy here, no matter how “maternal” you may feel; you do not, in fact, exist in anyone else’s body or mind; you don’t get to speak for anyone but yourself. And if you try, you’re gonna keep getting responses like the one you’re getting here. Not because THEY CAN’T HANDLE TEH TRUTH!!11!ELEVEN! Because you’re being fucking -invasive.-

      And that’s as clear as I can possibly make it. I think, Shannon, that perhaps you, personally, have particular difficulty with these…concepts? boundaries? and so perhaps it is counterproductive for me to continue in this vein, with you. I repeat all this now, however, because what you’re doing here, the line you’re taking, is in fact not all -that- different from what I’ve heard/experienced from a number of other people.

      Perhaps none of those people are capable of understanding why, in fact, this is a GODDAM PROBLEM; but, at least I’d like it if everyone who’s been frustrated by being on the receiving end gets a somewhat clearer picture of the dynamic playing out here.

    139. November 1, 2006 at 12:42 pm

      Lucy: no problem, and will be happy to see you out and about again if and whenever you’re so inclined.

    140. November 1, 2006 at 12:45 pm

      also noting that personally, i’m both girlie and hell mean when it suits me, and have absolutely no problem with either alone -or- the two in conjunction.

      femme tops REPRESENT

    141. November 1, 2006 at 1:07 pm

      And yea, you still can’t negate the power of cultural conditioning, even if you joined a subculture. You still bring around your value system from before that, even though you think you have changed.

      Well, no shit, Sherlock. Now: how do you apply this to yourself, pray tell?

      Note that your “culture” includes not just the mainstream patriarchal bits, but -everything,- family history, peronal -and- political background, every. goddam. thing.

      For a start, Shannon: I have always found it curious that you identify so intensely with the people who feel “pressured” to be decoration, since historically in fact, the pressure to be “decoration” is -not- universally applied to -all women;- it is in fact very class -and race- based. The (white) “angel in the house” bit; traditionally, she’s allowed to be a delicate piece of pretty china precisely because not only is she being pressured into it from above (the menz), but a bunch of -other- women are propping her up from below. The ones who do the dirty work. Yeah?

      I haven’t seen you talk about this much, explicitly; perhaps I missed the bits where you did. Or perhaps that’s partly what you’re on about with the resentment toward “white ladies” and “white woman’s syndrome.”

      The pressure to be “maternal,” now, that’s something else. I am curious that you both identify this, or at least the pressure to be “nurturing” as a problem and are clear that you yourself are very “maternal.”

      You know–well, there are a lot of possible directions to go with that. To start with, not all maternal is “nurturing.” Kali Ma isn’t exactly what you’d call warm and fuzzy. You can invoke her, of course, but you’d probably best be clear exactly what it is you’re bringing in.

      The other part of it, though: well, yes, being “nurturing” is a different traditional role; among other things, it’s the one of the comfortable asexual nurse, fiercely protecting her ingenue (sorority?) charge, with no demands of her own. Now, from which population do we traditionally get such archetypes, in this culture…

      Personally, if I felt myself being pressured into such a role, I’d resent the shit out of it. Hey, maybe I’d resent the little shits that I was simultaneously accepting my “place” to -nurture- and protect.

      And maybe it’d come out in ways like mocking the “ladies” for being “weak” at the same time I’d assigned myself the role of “protecting” -the very same people.-

    142. November 1, 2006 at 1:13 pm

      amendment: not “assigned myself” the role, but “had grudgingly semi-accepted that role that had been pressured upon me.”

    143. November 1, 2006 at 1:23 pm

      And yes, sometimes you gotta be like fuck, that’s rape, go to the god damn police instead of oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it.

      Okay. What happens when you call the police -for- her, and they both swear that there’s no problem here, officer, thanks so much for stopping by? Maybe you’ve just annoyed people who really didn’t need the police; maybe in fact you’ve just made things worse, because the guy -is- abusive, and as soon as Officer Friendly leaves, he takes it out on her, harder than ever? And then forbids her to speak to that meddling busybody friend of hers (i.e. you) ever again?

    144. November 1, 2006 at 1:24 pm

      and in some cases, you know, yeah, you -may- be right; certainly it’s not appropriate for -you- to go, “oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

      you LISTEN TO WHAT -SHE- IS SAYING.

      in the case that I’m thinking of, this was a stranger on the Internetz; the situation she was describing was clearly not one where she felt she required any outside interference. Yet she got it anyway. In spades. Whom did that help? -How- did that help? Not her, I’ll say.

    145. November 1, 2006 at 1:37 pm

      But one’s thoughts do not become invalid if there’s not a lot of [people in your movement, I take it]

      Well, yes, that’s so. Thoughts alone, however, do not effect change in the “real world;” they are necessary but not sufficient. And while I agree with Margaret Mead that

      “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

      …at the same time, “strength in numbers” is a legit concept, also.

      And, too: it’s a small group of “-thoughtful, committed citizens.-” If you’ve actually managed to drive away all the genuinely “thoughtful,” sane people, and the people left as your base are not in fact “committed” so much as “she’s not committed, but that’s probably not a bad idea, at that,” well…

    146. November 1, 2006 at 1:42 pm

      And yes, sometimes you gotta be like fuck, that’s rape, go to the god damn police instead of oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it. I’m suspicious of the OH!!!1 I shave my legs, but I’m oh so feminist crowd, because it just seems to me like they want to have the same old gender roles for women, with us as decoration and having to nuture no matter how stupid or ridiculous someone is, but call that feminism.

      Which sounds to me like you’re saying if one shaves her legs, if one is a “girlie” feminist, one’s commitment to being against rape (for instance) is automatically more suspect.

      which is, in my experience, utter, pernicious crap, and pretty fucking stereotyping in its own right.

    147. November 1, 2006 at 1:45 pm

      stereotyping and (yes!) SEXIST.

      it’s like, the internalization of the belief that “the bigger the hair, the smaller the brain,” or some goddam thing. Hey, you know what: again: women get enough of that bullshit from the mainstream culture; when you throw down shit that pretty much suggests you believe the same thing (women, or at least -femmey- women, are: bubble-brained, weak, capricious, unreliable), -you are reinforcing a sexist idea.-

      Yes indeed, we do all carry old shibboleths with us even into the brave new world of our new ideologies and subcultures. Even though “we” think “we’ve” changed. Yes.

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