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Is feminism anything more than pure extremism, a danger to our freedom?
by (550 points)

CB, if it's relevant to you, many people i know call what you're talking about part of call-out culture, which is a thing unto itself (it uses jargon from many tendencies including feminism, anarchism, leftism, etc but isn't limited to them), and it's extremely common online and apparently among young folks, it's inappropriate to limit it to any individual tendency, since it crosses boundaries at will.

vinegar: love that band name idea. i would wear the teeshirt!

dot, thank you.

edit to add: and a great big happy thank you to all of the thinkers and feelers putting work in into this topic for our liberation

Human, obviously relevant enough to me to bring it up and I stand by every word. If some people brand some others as whatever, when they may be completely innocent of that whatever, that is a form of Nazism in my thinking.

I have not said all feminists, only pointing out what I've read, what I've discussed with self proclaimed feminists, and this discussion especially is centred around the book Under Your Thumb. That is the context of the discussion really.

How can I possibly have any form of discussion without using the term the authors use to describe themselves? Some people here seem a little over sensitive on this subject, very strange when we're discussing anarchic matters and this book in particular is sending out an anti-freedom message loud and clear in the name of feminism.

Here's another example; Michael Gira, a founding member of the band The Swans was accused of raping Larkin Grimm, a musician he was working with. Here's a quote by the author of the piece in Under My Thumb: "My first response to reading Grimm’s Facebook post was fear. I tried to shake it off by asking what I had to be scared of. Was I worried about professional reprisal for promoting the work of an accused rapist, or scared of ridicule for not realising I’d been played by a manipulative man? These concerns didn’t deserve to be called fear. I told myself I wasn’t in any danger. I should instead feel shame at my weakness and complicity. And yet I could not dispel a physical, wordless dread that something was at my back, on my back, telling me, as it had so many times, that I was not safe and that it was my fault. So I was scared, and I was ashamed; and I knew that I could no longer subsume these feelings into music and sound."

The above is sad really, the guy wasn't proven to be a rapist, he was accused on Facebook. My initial reaction to any claim is indifference as I don't know, so why would I react.

To me that is troublesome as it is indicative of the mentality which is being spread via the book Under My Thumb. Guilty until proven innocent, and in Gira's case it doesn't appear that he was charged with rape nor tried in court.

Hence the use of Nazi, for that was their means of stigmatizing Jews, Gypsies, Anarchists, and anybody who they thought was unworthy of living.

Funkyanarchy, what I don't get is the identification with a group title if you do not want to be identified with that particular group; feminist, anarchist, etc. Seems strange to me to call yourself something which is recognized by others as a certain ideology or philosophy and yet make it a completely individual interpretation, and yet, call yourself by the group name. By doing that wouldn't they really be breaking away from say feminism?

As I wrote and as I've just said to Human, my reference is not to feminism as feminism, it's more about certain females who claim the title feminists. So I'm not "painting anybody with a broad brush" as such. Sure I've used generalizations, but that's the way I talk within a context as I'd have to continually back reference every sentence and that would be both laborious and tedious.

I love this "but hear this: not all feminists think all men are violent, predatory misogynists". Sounds like Mr Davidson.

I am aware of that, but some do too, and put it in print for all to see!

CB, women calling men misogynists or saying something that you don't like isn't remotely comparable to the nazism. That absurd comparison you used comes from Rush Limbaugh iirc, and is still used by like mra's and socially conservative folk, and some other right-winged groups. The ridiculous feminists are nazis comparison is meant to attack, degrade, discredit, and put women on the defensive for discussing something that folk that make such crappy comparisons don't understand or challenges their view.

If your question is based up this book you read, you should've put the name of the book in your question or mentioned it in some way. What do you mean by freedom, anyways?

There are different kinds of feminism as someone said above.

1 Answer

0 votes

To answer your question, CB, I am most critical of the versions of feminism which elevate "Woman" to the status of a collective social category that seeks "representation" at the table of political power. So-called "First Wave" and "Second Wave" feminists tend more strongly in this direction, but I've seen a few self-professed "Third Wave" feminists fall into this tendency as well. In my experience, these are the sorts of feminists who are most likely to get caught up in the moralistic "privilege-checking" of "call-out culture."

Strictly speaking, I don't think that the various "waves" of feminism have any basis in reality, but the fact that some feminists feel the need to make such distinctions helps to illustrate the point that they aren't all unanimous about what "feminism" actually is. There are certain feminists that I think are completely out to lunch and others that I think have some genuinely interesting and worthwhile things to say. For instance, in her book Gender Trouble, Judith Butler (who many would classify as a Third Wave feminist) devotes herself to deconstructing "Woman" as a collective social category and, in stead, argues for recognizing each individual woman as unique unto herself. 

An interesting article on this subject is "Beyond Feminism, Beyond Gender," from Wolfi Landstreicher's Against The Logic of Submission series. You can listen to it here in audio format:

http://www.audioanarchy.org/submission/09-Beyond_Feminism.mp3

by (840 points)
i don't understand how the idea that non-male bodied/identified people should be treated equally to male bodied/identified folks and supported in their quest for meaningful autonomy and self-organization could be a danger to anyone's freedom.
Neither do I. I take issue with the concept of "equality," but treating female individuals with the same level of respect with which you treat male individuals should go without saying. I don't need a feminist social justice warrior telling me to "unpack my privilege" in order recognize that this is the case. It's sufficient for me to recognize that the things I want for myself are also the things that I want for other people. This has more to do with emotional intelligence and effective interpersonal skills than it does with any sort of "mass movement."

Boles, we're either male or female not "non-male bodied/identified". That sounds so made up, trying too hard to get away from our actual gender. So why not just say female?

Plus I wasn't saying that equality was danger to freedom I was saying extremism in any form is a very real and direct danger.

Thanks Matt D, for the useful info you always come up with.
sure matt D, your responses are perfectly reasonable. but there's a way that they don't address stuff that is hidden, like, that treating someone socialized really differently isn't actually treating them the same. in no way am i justifying overly-sensitive fragility, but i think it's worth noting that for example, self defense for women looks different from self defense for men (this came up in my reading about women who killed their abusers, who couldn't legally claim self defense because they weren't doing it in the heat of a fight, but when the dude was asleep or incapacitated in some other way. obviously legal defense is not relevant to anarchists, it's just a really clear example of the principle, i think?).

treating people the way you want to be treated assumes a kind of equality that normalizes stuff that is invisible to (or invalidated in) society.
cb, when you say "extremism in any form is a real and direct danger", what do you mean?

a danger to who or what, in what way(s)?.... and extreme as opposed to what?

i consider anarchy extreme when compared to hierarchy, the state, capital.....and i'd like to see "direct and real danger" to those systems (meaning weakening their grip on my life, making them less stable, etc).

bornagainanarchist, what I mean is the way things are shaping out. My feminist friend says that I'm basically a predator for admitting I'm attracted to females, but when I ask why she's attracted to her sexual partners (she'll not enter a long term relationship), "that's just a biological thing". Seems clear to me that her idea is a denial of what is taking place. Then she says "You're controlling", when all I'm doing is questioning the validity of a perception which seems so obviously biased.

When you get women writing books saying all guys are misogynists due to singing songs about being hurt by GF's or how fucked up some women are, that lacks understanding and real world experience, again a denial of what actually takes place in human relations.

Where does denial end, probably the madness we witness daily. Where understanding is completely lacking and defensiveness is the norm rather than open dialogue.

cb, thanks for your reply, but i don't see what it has to do with the questions i asked you....unless you mean that your friend's point of view creates "danger" to the relationship you have with her.

"we're either male or female" 

that's hilarious; the entire discussion of gender and gender identity that's been going on for the past three-plus decades seems to have passed you by, or you've just started becoming interested in issues of power. if even the stodgy and not very progressive people behind creating and enforcing legislation recognize that your simplistic and archaic declaration is false, then it might make sense to start examining what people who are non-binary say about themselves -- a fundamental corollary of any decent modern anarchist perspective must include the ability of individuals to define themselves based on their own experiences...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_recognition_of_non-binary_gender

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity

yeah, "non-male [and non-female] bodied/identified" is so made up, but not by me. people who self-identify as such made it up, because it's descriptive -- unlike "male or female," which is proscriptive. 

it seems to me that the questions you've asked have specific expected answers embedded in them. 

Bornagainanarchist, what I mean by the way things are shaping out, it's not just on a personal level, it spreads out to include all males. That's why I use the word danger. If more and more females take the view that all males are misogynists and that is the real basis of our actions, our interactions, where will we be?

There's a phrase that's been around for god know how long "battle of the sexes", can't people just see the stupidity of that? My mom and dad joke about these things, but to me it's serious shit, and unnecessary as well as it's all so trivial. Are all relationships doomed to failure, to a resignation, to a battle? I don't see any logical reason why they should be.

But no, I don't have any problems with my female friends and their adopted views, we have banter and a good laugh, but there are serious moments, not threatening, much like this forum but misunderstandings can be easier to clear up face to face.

Boles, why does gender have to be an "issue of power"? That is so dumb on every level.

Gender issues, they are laughable.

cb, i find it ironic that you think smashing windows won't lead to a lot more people smashing windows, but somehow you think that a few feminists who think a certain way poses "a danger" that all women will come to think of all men that way.

i wonder....do you consider yourself an anarchist? do you desire anarchy in your life? do you try to create moments of anarchy with others?
Dot:

The sorts of "hidden" power differentials that you refer to weren't taken into account in my answer, so thanks for pointing out this obvious blind spot. That being said, since it's in my nature to follow a line of thought to its furthest possible conclusions, I find myself asking, "Okay - now what?" Considering that these hidden power differentials do, in fact, exist, how should this realization affect how I, as a "cis-het" male, choose to live my life? I simply don't feel that I have anything in common with the Harvey Weinsteins and Bill Cosbies of the world - or, for that matter, any man who would choose to physically and/or sexually abuse a female.

So this brings us back to the question of what should happen next. The concept of the "ally" has always rubbed me the wrong way because it just sounds like activist newspeak for "someone who shuts up and passively nods in agreement with everything that a token minority individual has to say, regardless of how absurd." I don't buy the idea that heterosexual male desire is inherently violent and predatory but, at the same time, I don't think that anyone should be made to feel like they're just a piece of meat either. I can't help but think that there has to be some happy mid-point between paternalistic self-sacrifice and mollycoddling on the one hand, or callous disregard for the Other's autonomy and well-being on the other.

So, again, what should happen next? If treating someone as I would like to be treated if I was in their position is not the answer, then what would be an alternate approach that doesn't ignore the hidden power differentials that you were talking about?

Matt, how about treating someone the way they want to be treated....assuming that you also feel okay with it....

BAA wrote:

"i wonder....do you consider yourself an anarchist? do you desire anarchy in your life? do you try to create moments of anarchy with others?"

I could be wrong, but I think the name "curious bystander" implies that CB isn't 100% sold on the whole 'anarchy' idea just yet.

CB wrote:

"we're either male or female"

I do agree with BAA's basic premise that gender is more of a continuum than a binary, but I also tend to think that phrases like "non-male bodied/identified" come off as overly stilted and needlessly wordy. If you mean to say "female," then just say female. No one here is going to send you to an anti-oppression re-education camp for using a gender-specific pronoun.

yes, Matt, i considered that too (cb's moniker)...but i feel curious to hear what they say about it...

regarding the "non-male bodied" comment, that came from boles, not me. but i also agree with the continuum (or multiple aspects) premise...and it seems needlessly wordy to me too....i look at it like i have "feminine" aspects of myself, and "masculine", but i usually feel no need to parse it out as such....i rather enjoy the uniqueness of each individual more than i do the similarities.

"Matt, how about treating someone the way they want to be treated....assuming that you also feel okay with it...."

If "how they want to be treated" is to have me constantly walking on eggshells around them worrying about whether I might say or do something to upset their delicate sensibilities, then I'd prefer to just not be in their company in the first place. Yet another reason why I no longer spend time in left-activist spaces.

"...that came from boles, not me."

Oh right, that's true too. My bad on that one.

If "how they want to be treated" is to have me constantly walking on eggshells around them worrying about whether I might say or do something to upset their delicate sensibilities"

yeah, that's why i included "assuming you feel okay about it"....because, like you, if someone wants me to treat them a way i don't feel comfortable with, i usually would prefer not to have much of a relationship with them....

i just wanted to point out that the way i want someone to treat me may not coincide with how they want to be treated....so doing so would not make for a fulfilling relationship either...

of course "treating" someone implies a helluva lot....thousands of potential different interactions, ways of talking and acting, different situations and environments, etc....so often times some ways of interacting match up with another person's desires, and other times they don't.

Boles, my question was "why does gender have to be about power?". There is a difference. Of course I acknowledge male dominance in our society and in most, but females do play their role too. After all as my dad pointed out, who brought up baby? Mostly mom, until moms got caught up by capitalism and sold baby off. And yea, there's much more to it, but there is a point there not to be missed.

As for "feminism giving me the willies". Not so, just extremists. I've been working through some older books by the likes of Germaine Greer, Emma Goldman, etc. They seem further ahead than that Under My Thumb nonsense. Far more rational.

Bornagainanarchist, it was never about how many people or anarchists are smashing windows, but to what effect, to what affect. I find extremism of every  form a threat to our freedom, just as the extremism of religion is, or the extremism of big business is, just as the extremism of government is, etc. Why should I excuse feminism if it is moving to an extreme position?

I'm looking into anarchism and have so far realized there is a vast difference between anarchism and anarchy. Yes, I identify with anarchy. Yes, I allow others to do, think, feel, whatever they want to, but I also point out when that whatever is limiting their own freedom, my freedom, etc. We all live together, and can't do otherways can we?
most people i know consider anarchy (and my desire for it) extreme......just sayin'
"Extremism" is one of those ideologically-loaded terms that the mass media uses to frighten people and demonize any set of ideas that it considers a threat to the dominant social order. As such, I don't consider it to be particularly useful or productive when discussing ideas that I don't agree with. It's just a way of appealing to people's baser emotions and carries no argumentative weight with me whatsoever.

"devotes herself to deconstructing "Woman" as a collective social category and, in stead, argues for recognizing each individual woman as unique unto herself. "

maybe i am missing some context here, but i find that a rather interesting use of words. deconstructing "woman" as a social category, but recognizing each individual "woman". not simply each individual, but each individual woman. kind of speaks to the catch-22 of trying to destroy a social category by highlighting and perpetuating it.

funkyanarchy:

Maybe political category would have been a better choice of words. The implication here is the notion of "Woman" as a collective political constituency with a unified set of desires, interests, and goals that are in need of "representation" within the Master's discourse.

if i had wanted to say female, then i would have said female.

md: what i found interesting was not how the category was defined (social, political, etc), but the fact that the description of the concept deconstructed from the category continued to use the category label ("woman") to supposedly refer to a unique individual. however a category may be defined, for me it is specifically the "unified set of desires, interests, and goals " that i find problematic. not to mention, of course, being in need of representation.

i largely agree with most of what you have said, i was just commenting on what i thought was an interesting use of words - assumedly by butler. i have known quite a few self-proclaimed "third wave" feminists, and every one of them is/was a dogmatic identity politician, even those i enjoy engaging with (including one of my sisters). yet i still don't paint all feminists with that brush.

i do think that anyone whose desire is "equality" - especially as defined by the systems of domination that control so much of the modern world - does not view a liberatory life the same way i do. my desire is to treat every individual and every interaction as unique, while of course using all my existing experience/knowledge/memory/intuition/etc and current observations to contextualize as best i can. i would never want to treat all individuals "equally", nor would i want them to treat me "equally" with everyone else. to me, "equality" either completely ignores context, or makes the context so broad as to be meaningless. for me, context is one of the primal aspects of individuals relating with each other.

funkyanarchy:

Without exception, I am in 100% agreement with everything you said. Completely, totally, and without reservation. If my choice of words was less than ideal, it was because I was deliberately "dumbing them down" for the benefit if the person who initially asked the question. I was trying to avoid muddying the waters of comprehension by introducing excessive nuance about the nature of individual subjectivity. If my words were less than totally faithful to Butler's argument, this is why.

"if i had wanted to say female, then i would have said female."

The phrase "non-male bodied/identified" just seems kind of clunky to me. What was your purpose in using it?

md: i have not read butler's work, so i have no idea how well your words conveyed her meaning, but i appreciate your clarification (and your reasoning).

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