Archive for Patriarchy

Why I Don’t Talk About The Nuclear Family – Part Words

a.k.a. “Why I’m not so eager to dance on the grave of the nuclear family”

(Second Part of this post)

I tend to remain quiet on topics I know very little about but I make exceptions with the ones I can give a different spin to. And this is one of those topics.

The Traditional Nuclear Family™ is falling apart. We all know that. The Conservative Right goes ballistic over this and puts the blame squarely at the feet of women, more precisely, women’s liberation. The so-called progressives/leftists/feminists respond to this attack with some variation of “Thank god the Traditional Nuclear Family is going! About bloody time!”.
I, however, am not so eager to dance on the grave of the nuclear family. Why? Because I don’t see anything stepping in to replace it

It is very clear to “people who know” like sociologists that there simply must be something that organizes people around each other. It’s basic human nature and it stems from the fact that we are “social” beings. This is the argument in favour of the nuclear family which you hear from those well meaning people from the Right (they exist, I haves seen them).

But if it’s not the Evol Feminism™ that is murdering the families, then what is?

Feminism is not the cause behind the demise of the patriarchal nuclear family. If that were the case, feminists would be pushing forward something to replace it with, some other kind of family arrangement. Matriarchy? Matrilineality? Matricentricity? Matrifocality? Goddess knows. One thing is clear, though. We are not short of ideas. Or models.

But the fact that there’s nothing in sight to take the place of the nuclear family should be enough evidence that it’s not a direct action of the people involved. The fact that it’s causing a helluva lot of pain should provide the final argument to the ones who remain unconvinced. Every heterosexual couple that decides to get married does so convinced that they will be able to make it work. And yet. How many of those couples who gets a divorce wishes they hadn’t have to? And among those who do not, how many wishes they could have spared the collateral damage to those who are affected by the divorce, namely children, extended family and friends? It’s clear to me that the nuclear family is crumbling despite people’s intentions, not as a result of them.

I’d say that either someone or something is invested in killing the traditional nuclear family. Alternatively, its death could be a consequence of a much bigger someone or something. I’d go for the second first and the first second; in that order. I blame the status quo. The politico-economic system. Capitalism. And all that encompasses it.
I think the nuclear family as we think of it today was useful for the system some time ago. Now it’s become an obstacle to something much bigger. Which is why it’s quietly but steadily falling apart. Because the bigger thing cannot be stopped. And if the nuclear family happens to be on its way, then too bad.

Now I make no grand claims to know why the nuclear family is disappearing before our eyes. I have some vague ideas, but nothing more. What I can see is the advantages that this has for the status quo. Having a society made up of unconnected individuals is the best recipe for dealing with potential uprisings. If people cannot get together out of love for each other, what chance do they have of getting together for some common “cause” that could, perhaps, be realized 500 years after they pass away? Worse still, if people do not get close enough to talk to each other, how can they ever find out what their commonalities are? Even worse still, if people never know that they have anything in common with others, why would they ever care about others in the first place?

And if people cannot find things in common with other people, they will never develop bonds between them, which will guarantee that they will never find what they common miseries are, which in turn will guarantee that they never get together to fight the cause of those common miseries.

Neat plan, ah?

Of course my little analysis has been clear for ages to those superb feminists with huge brains one never hears about. Claudia von Werlhof, who is clearly one of them, summarizes it nicely in “Capitalist Patriarchy and The Negation of Matriarchy”.

“In patriarchal societies we can always find vestiges of former matriarchal societies-matriarchy as “second culture” (Genth 1996)-left over or newly re-organized after the patriarchs had started to deny the reality and quality of matriarchal society (Werlhof 2004b). This matriarchy as second culture can be observed everywhere, for example, in mother-child AND OTHER LOVE -relationships, and in gift giving generally (Vaughan 1997).

It contradicts the patriarchal order, but also helps it to exist, because a society without any matriarchal relations could simply not survive. Therefore, patriarchies are always somehow “mixed” societies, whether to a higher or lower degree, and they are hiding this fact as much as they can-for obvious reasons. But today it is clear that patriarchy is trying to complete its negation of matriarchy in order to replace it WITH ITSELF, A “PURE” PATRIARCHY, as much as possible. This destruction and the fading away of the second culture in patriarchy, and of much of the still existing gift paradigm within it, is one of the main reasons for the depth of the crisis of contemporary civilization.”

Where I disagree with her is in the assertion that “patriarchy is trying to complete its negation of matriarchy”. That doesn’t seem to fit with the victories of feminism which, though modest, have indeed taken place and are relatively recent. I think patriarchy is going stronger in some areas, those which are “behind the crisis of contemporary civilization”, and is going weaker in others, those where women have gained some ground. I know; it’s not a very positive way to see it.

Still, if we want humanity to survive (though not, perhaps, civilization), we should be aware that some kind of family or group arrangement is necessary, both to our survival and to overturn the system that is doing us, and the planet, in.
We need to get the message across that yes, we do need families but they don’t need to be the traditional, patriarchal, nuclear type that we are used to.

And no, this is not an easy message to get across. Like pretty much every aspect of human nature, family has been co-opted by the dominant discourse. So when you say “family” people understand “patriarchal nuclear family with the man as breadwinner and the woman as house slave”; much like when one says “morality” and people understand “list of rules from the bible used by nasty prudes to make sex a sin”.
But it’s not an impossible task. And rest assure that those superb feminists with huge brains one never hears about have many ideas. And models.


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Celebs In Trouble – The Thoughts Behind It

Last week I posted a half-arsed comic featuring three female celebrities. I’ve been criticised for this on several accounts and since I haven’t given any words on the post itself, here’s are my thoughts on the whole subject.

Let’s start off with what I am actually laughing at on the images.
a) The tables in society are suddenly turned and Madonna has to respond to the new people in power, The Feminists, and explain the reasons for her anti-feminism. I like this one the most and so this is the one I am more eager to defend.
b) Beyonce, in a continuing effort to appear smiling at all times, has pulled out a funny face. I make fun of the fact that she doesn’t seem to want to be seen non smiling, so much so that a funny smiling face which reeks of a pose is better for her than no smile at all.
c) Scarlett’s pose is, frankly, ridiculous. Her eyes are vacuous and her is mouth opened for no good reason in a good impersonation of “The Fuck Me Look”, her hair is floating and her bag is up in the air. Sheer nonsense in any normal life situation.

Now onto the wider topic of why I think it’s OK to laugh at and criticise female celebrities. In short words: because they hurt us all.
Let’s start with a quote I already quoted in what later became this blog’s most popular post for entirely un-feministy reasons.
It’s by Gail Dines, and I’m just gonna include the last bit:

“(…) When Madonna goes out, and talks about women and puts out the message that women are exactly as men thought they are (pornographic men), it’s all right for Madonna to say that, cuz’ you know what, she travels with beefy guys who protect her. It’s you and I walking in that fucking parking lot at night that have to deal with the guys who believe this. So that’s the problem when women talk about their choices is that every single one of us suffers in some level.”

I don’t think I can improve on what she’s said, but I’ll try.
First, I shoudl perhaps add that I have left out a small piece of Dines’ speech, seeing as she didn’t go on through that path. But her exact words were “when Madonna, in her “feminist” way, goes out …”. That detail is important to understand why I consider Madonna te be one of the greatest anti-feminist woman of our time: precisely because she dresses up her anti-feminism as feminism. But let’s go on.

This story is very old. People from oppressed minorities and groups sideline with the oppressor to obtain personal advantages at the expense of their own group. It’s a tactic that feminists understand very well. And it’s precisely the reason why feminists feel they can criticize blatant anti-feminist women like the worm who wrote that vile stuffed column about how women are really REALLY sucky. They have betrayed us, and the loyalty we reserve for each other is, thus, gone. And, I think, rightly so.

Now, why do I think that female celebrities, for the most part, have “sidelined with the oppressor to obtain personal advantages”? Well, because their entire “celebritiy” status, the basis of their career, is precisely that of “being there for the menz”. If you magically removed menz from the equation, this women’s status would fall to pieces. They are embracing and encouraging patriarchal attitudes which have and continue to hurt women everywhere. Namely that we, women, are a sexual tool for men’s fantasies, that we are all “gagging for it”, that the sole purpose of our existence is to have men come and take us. What I call “making men’s balls jingle”.
Madonna has based her entire career on it. Well, that and creating pointless controversy, but let’s leave that aside for the moment. She didn’t have a “point” when she started and she doesn’t have it now. Her goal wasn’t for women to be sexually confidence, or for sex to be less taboo. Because she continues to carry on with the same poisonous attitude today. Without her talent to make men’s balls jingle, she would have never gotten anywhere.
Beyonce and Scarlett are just smaller examples of the same thing. One is a porno-pop-star, the other is a porno-pop-actress. What do I mean by that? That their success is based mainly in their ability to sell “sex”. Like porn-actresses, though less explicit, their goal is the same: making men’s balls jingle. Without that, they wouldn’t have gotten far either.

All of this has many effects. The main one is to condone the prevalent idea that women are here for men’s visual pleasure. This, in turn, affects the conditions of women everywhere. From sexual assault to campaigning for president, the whole perception of what women are is shaped constantly by the depictions of women like these. And they are complicit, there’s no way around it.
Another effect is to literally boycott the careers of talented women who refuse to play into this game. See, making men’s balls jingle might bring you fame and fortune, but it doesn’t get you silly little things like respect from your fellow women, recognition for your hard work and the always undervalued sense that you are doing something worth doing. If I may be allowed a moment of boldness, Billy Holiday and Aretha Franklin didn’t work as hard as they did so that Beyonce could become famous for her legs and arse.
Yet another effect is to make mere mortal women feel like shite. They present themselves as an impossible ideal, the underlying assumption being if THEY can be like this, then surely everyone can. One could say that this is not the celebrities’ fault; that this is all the doing of big corporations selling junk. But lo and behold, celebs do profit from this inmensely. They lend their faces to the big corporations so they can sell the junk. In this they are complicit. And we also have to consider how celebrities themselves are made up to look like something they are not through entirely artifical means. From make up and lighting to photoshop and surgery. We rarely hear them complaining about all this. What we DO hear is their blatant denial that they’ve had anything “done”. Way to go.

One last thing. I believe that this siding with the oppressor happens in all areas of life and is perhaps the main reason preventing women from marching as a whole to improve their situation. Which is why I am not willing to give any woman, celebrity or not, a pass just because they are women who suffer under patriarchy. We all suffer under patriarchy. And some of us pay an incredibly high price when we refuse to side with men.

People may say that criticizing female celebrities is not very useful. And I give you that. It does have the unwanted effect of removing men from the equation. I wish I could be a more positive person and use my abilities to help advance the feminist cause by bringing the spotlight to the people who are causing the real damage. I am aware of this, and, for what is worth, you have my word that I will try my best to change this aspect of myself.

I hope all of this has made my position somewhat clearer. You can disagree and that’s fine. I think the only thing we should restraing from is shutting up.

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Pesky Emotions!

I don’t know why on Earth I read The F Word. I end up whipping myself up into a fit of rage at their nonsensery. Here’s the latest post that shoot my annoyance-meter well above the “let it be” level.

It starts with the following:

“The NSPCC(…) are saying that schools should teach more about relationships in sex education.”

Except, they aren’t saying that, at least not just that. Here’s what they actually said in the news article:

“Advice on emotions and relationships should be made a compulsory part of sex education in schools, the children’s charity NSPCC says.”

Oh, those pesky emotions! I would have let it be were it not because the news article that this post is concerned about is titled

“‘Emotions’ urged in sex education”

Oh, those pesky emotions again! Again, I am not picking on this for fun, I do have a point, which will be made clear further down.

Now, this suggestion by NSPCC is in turn a response to the recent data, from Childline, that claims 50 children a day ring them up saying they feel pressured to have sex.
Let’s pause for a minute on that. 50 children A DAY ring them up saying they feel pressured to have sex. The experienced feminist will notice 2 things upon being confronted with this news. One, the savvy, “one eyebrow reaised” reaction that can be summarized by “So?” or by “Next they’ll be telling us water is still wet”. The other will be the following educated guess: “I bet which gender most of those children are”. Indeed. This is the natural consecuence of a pornulated sick society. Children are force fed sex at every turn, and since this is a patriarchy that tells us sex is domination used by males over females, the ones doing the pressuring are most likely to be boys. And when we look at the actual news article we find precisely that: 5,985 girls and 503 boys in an 12 month period. This experienced feminist is good!

Kate Smurthwaite isn’t all that happy with this idea of teaching about relationships AND emotions along with sex. Why? Well…

“The first thing that frightens me is that if the syllabus is expanded out to include relationships, what is the risk that the facts of biology will be lost? I think children have a right to understand how their bodies work in factual scientific terms.
(…) It’s also difficult to understand how children will react to hearing the facts of biology lined up next to what can be nothing more than advice about relationships. I think a clear line needs to be drawn between the facts of how the human body works and advice about how to deal with the stresses and strains of relationships.”

Yes, she continues to omit the “emotions” part. Again, it’s difficult to let it pass when Sue Minto, from Childline, said:

“(…) children needed information about peer pressure, relationships and love, as well as help developing skills to make the right decisions about sex.”

Love? Damn it with those pesky emotions!

By now you have probably guessed what my problem with this post is. In fact, Kate hit the spot right there when she said “a clear line needs to be drawn between the facts of how the human body works and advice on…”
Kate seems to have bough in to the patriarchally supported idea that the mind and the body are two separate entities. That emotions are not worth a damn because, well, because the menz have said so. And that individuals can be separated from each other because there’s no such thing as society. Note to Kate: there’s only one entity here, the human being, and I’m not even sure where it begins or ends. There is no “mind” on one side and “body” on the other. There’s a whole made up of everything. Body, soul, mind, heart, and yes, relationships. All relationships, not strictly romantical ones, are not something we can “choose” to have, they are an essencial part of our human nature. So when you refer to “how the human body works” you simply HAVE to include all those parts. They are not orbiting around our bodies; they are the stuff we are made of.

And if I may just pick on Kate’s post once more, because I just cannot ignore this bit:

“I think children should be taught that they have human rights, and that one of those is the right to make their own decisions about sex (or this could be covered under the women’s studies addition to the national curriculum that I’ve been talking about forever).”

Update: sex and relationships are only the interest of women studies. Because, you know, women=sex and relationships are something only women want.

See what I mean? There’s a very thin line between thinking about humans in binary terms, mind-body, sex-love, reason-emotion AND the final association of women with one term and men with another. Needless to say, women are associated with whatever term is regarded as inferior. And Kate has crossed that line.

Once more, people: emotions are not bad or “female”. They are a part of our humanity, no matter how much patriarchy wants to devaule them and dump them on women’s shoulders.


Note: I hope I didn’t sound too bitchy. I like Kate and her work and I have nothing against her.

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Voice Out!

While I was writing my previous post, I stumbled upon this, also from the Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude, within something titled “Calling Former Sex-Trade Workers”.

Are you tired of hearing prostitution described as a choice and do you have a different story to tell
So am I

It resonated with me for some reason, even though I am not, of course, an ex-sex worker. So why?
Silencing. That’s why. I have experienced silencing when expressing dissenting views when it comes to prostitution and the sex industry. Worse still, I’ve experienced silencing through my entire life when expressing non compliance to patriarchy.

This is not abut me not being abled to express my disgust for porn. This is about women who have experienced male violence not having a voice to say “I have endured this and I feel it’s wrong”.

In the midst of the abuse, these women cannot articulate what’s happening to them, not to others, not even to themselves. The silencing is so thorough they cannot name it. Because they are told that “nothing” is happening to them. And even if there was something happening to them, it couldn’t be that bad. And even if it were that bad, well, it must have been their fault in the first place.

Think about it. They have suffered male violence. But what do they get if they dare speak out? They are told that they are liars, mad or whores; that “rape is simply sex”, so what’s the big deal; that “it’s just a job”, the implication being “quit complaining”

Being abused is undoubtedly painful. But having everyone deeming your abuse unimportant when not downright imposible? Having your pain brushed aside because it’s believed you “chose” it?

Who is telling these women that what they have suffered is wrong? Who is telling them that they are the victims? Who is listening to them? Who is validating their feelings?

Here, Amananta tells her story , one filled with pain and abuse. The kind that forces you to reconsider what the limits of human indurance to suffering are. And instead of adopting a “why me?” attitude and feel sorry for herself like I WOULD DO, she bravely stands up for all the women who experience this and tells us she is no exception.

Through her blog I discovered other unapologetic feminist blogs. I was exposed to ideas I had not heard before, but that struck a chord deep within me. If you have ever heard something for the first time and instantly recognized its RIGHTNESS on a deep level, you know what I mean. But still, I could not talk about these things in my own blog because I was afraid of frightening away all of my friends, who got mad at me if I even said anything that was like a pale echo of what these other women were saying.
“The child abuse I experienced was sanctioned by the patriarchy, was committed by patriarchs, was demanded to be hidden by the patriarchs and their supporters, and when I refused to obediently remain silent I was further punished by the patriarchs and their servants.
And finally I get told by women who think they are fighting the patriarchy that many of the systems that oppressed me can really just be good clean fun if you have the right attitude and clearly I don’t so the whole problem is my attitude problem and IT’S ALL MY FAULT so why am I so angry and I can’t criticize a system they are supporting without it meaning that I am trying to steal their “feminist membership card”, because talking about my experiences and those of my friends honestly isn’t allowed if it makes them feel maybe they are buying into the patriarchal mindfuck program somehow, because denial is just so much more comfortable.

This is Rebecca’s comment to my last post.

I, as an ex-prostitute, have spent my life being silenced.
I had to live with silence, and it was killing me.
When I chose to speak out, I did it with great of pain and confusion,
When I first spoke out it was with a pro-prostitute group who sent me back into denial. For they told me that “if” was as violent as I said then I would be dead. And, because I was middle-class, I could of brought my way out. I was then told that prostitution wasn’t that violent.
I went back into silence.
Finding radical feminists save my life.
I found women who let speak in my own words. I found women who listen and heard. (…)
I found that I was believed and I was seen as a full person.
I also found women who were prepared to see that prostitution is male violence against all women. That prostitution is a violation of prostituted women’s and girls’s rights to dignity and safety.

It’s heartbreaking. I cannot find the words to express what these stories make me feel. So I’ll borrow Marcella Chester’s, author of abyss2hope, from her post “Sexual Assault Awareness Month”:

“Most survivors of sexual violence rarely, if at all, talk about being survivors which is their right (it took me decades before I could begin to speak about my experiences), but too often their silence is taken as proof that they were never victims of sexual violence or if they were that the violence committed against them had no serious negative impact.”

For these women, speaking out against sexual violence is not a choice. It’s a matter of life or death. They can’t look the other way, or hide behind bogus claims of “women’s individual choices”. They have suffered violence themselves. It has shaken them to the core. They have to articulate their feelings as a first step to exorcise this monster out. Notice how Rebecca says that “finding radical feminists saved my life”.

Our duty as fellow feminists is to add our voices to theirs so we can all be heard everywhere. So that every woman who has ever suffered violence, who has been abused, who has had to put up with patriarchy’s nastiest side, knows it’s not her fault. That is not OK. That her pain is real, not “made up” by oversensitivity to a non-existent problem.

We cannot keep quiet. We owe it to them. And I’d advice all feminists out there, including myself, to think about this every time we feel like giving up. Read these words, listen to these women, acknowledge their pain. They are the reason why we are here.

NOTE: To the women quoted in this post: if I misrepresented your views, or if I have offended you in any way, please let me know.

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Love Sports, Guddamit!!!

Women and girls aren’t doing enough sport, apparently. The speculation as to why has taken the form of “women worry too much about how they look when doing sports”. Samara Ginsberg from The F Word gives her opinion on this explanation. I take a rather different approach.

In order to find a culprit for this too low percentage of women in sports, I’m going to use Ockham’s Razor. Which is a posh way of saying that usually the simplest answer is the right one. So, here it goes. If women aren’t into sports, couldn’t it be because, ehm, sports SUCK? Because they do. A big one. And I think it must have to do with the way that sports were conceived in the first place. Once upon a time, at the dawn of humanity, no form of amusement was available for people to engage in their idle time. And so they created sports. However, the sharp feminist observer will be able to spot the truth behind this little tale. That most likely, when sports where created, society was already a patriarchy, and so the creators of sports were men. Not just men, but men in a patriarchy, who tend to have certain characteristics, markedly differentiated to those of women. We continue to live in a patriarchy, men are women are still differentiated, and as a result we could expect that men would be the ones who enjoy most that which has been created by them and for them. Of course this idea is overly simplistic. I am aware that what has defined “man” and “woman” throughout history has changed. But the principle still holds. Men are raised into competitiveness and aggressiveness; women are raised into the opposite. And on top of that, we have the reality that men and women’s bodies tend to differ naturally, that’s without interference from culture. Specifically in regards to muscles: men’s are shorter, women’s are longer and more flexible, etc.
Onto the practical reality. We tend to think of sports as gender neutral, when in reality they are everything but. They are created around those things that men are naturally better at, endurance, strength, and around those things men are raised into, aggressiveness, competition. And those sports in which women are naturally better at, for example gymnastics, in which the capacity to bend at odd angles is far more important than, say, stealing a ball from a “rival”, are valued much less.
Bear in mind that I am not saying that all men are naturally aggressive and competitive, neither am I saying that women are naturally NOT. And I am in no way implying that no woman could possibly enjoy male-designed male-aimed sports. All I want is to do is suggest a few reasons why there aren’t hordes of women who find the appeal in, say, spending their time running after a ball in order to win over someone else.

Update: Yahoo-AH! Check it out! Apparently I am not the only one following this crazy line of thought. Someone who knows far more than me has also pointed it out, though applied to a completely different situation. Quoting

“Suggs is right to raise questions about women’s sports’ uncritical adoption of “the male model” of sports. Sport sociologists have documented the many ways that men’s college sports reflect and perpetuate many of the most negative aspects of narrow conceptions of masculinity (including violence to self and others) and promote values of commercialization that are antithetical to what many see as the mission of university life.

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