Tag Archives: women

Within the Patriarchal Toolbox

20 Apr

http://www.troubleandstrife.org/new-articles/who-owns-gender/

“In the heyday of the Women’s and Gay Liberation Movements, the view was widely held that sexuality was socially constructed, and indeed relatively plastic: lesbianism, in particular, was presented by some feminists as a political choice. But in the last 20 years this view has largely withered away. Faced with well-organized opponents denouncing their perverted ‘lifestyle choices’, some prominent gay/lesbian activists and organizations began promoting the counter-argument that homosexuals are born, not made. Of course the ‘born that way’ argument had always had its supporters, but today it has hardened into an orthodoxy which you deviate from at your peril.

Since ‘born that way’ became the orthodox line, there has been more mainstream acceptance of and sympathy for the cause of gay/lesbian equality, as we’ve seen most recently in the success of campaigns for same-sex marriage. Though it is possible this shift in public attitudes would have happened anyway, it seems likely that the shift away from social constructionism helped, by making the demand for gay rights seem less of a political threat. The essentialist argument implies that the straight majority will always be both straight and in the majority, because that’s how nature has arranged things. No one need fear that granting rights to gay people will result in thousands of new ‘converts’ to their ‘lifestyle’: straight people won’t choose to be gay, just as gay people can’t choose to be straight.

If you adopt a social constructionist view of gender and sexuality, than lesbians, gay men and gender non-conformists are a challenge to the status quo: they represent the possibility that there are other ways for everyone to live their lives, and that society does not have to be organized around our current conceptions of what is ‘natural’ and ‘normal’. By contrast, if you make the essentialist argument that some people are just ‘born different’, then all gay men, lesbians or gender non-conformists represent is the more anodyne proposition that diversity should be respected. This message does not require ‘normal’ people to question who they are, or how society is structured. It just requires them to accept that what’s natural for them may not be natural for everyone. Die-hard bigots won’t be impressed with that argument, but for anyone vaguely liberal it is persuasive, appealing to basic principles of tolerance while reassuring the majority that support for minority rights will not impinge on their own prerogatives.

For radical feminists this will never be enough. Radical feminism aspires to be, well, radical. It wants to preserve the possibility that we can not only imagine but actually create a different, better, juster world. The attack on feminist social constructionism is ultimately an attack on that possibility. And when radical feminists take issue with trans activists, I think that is what we need to emphasize. What’s at stake isn’t just what certain individuals put on their birth certificates or whether they are welcome at certain conferences. The real issue is what we think gender politics is about: identity or power, personal choice or structural change, reshuffling the same old cards or radically changing the game.”    Delilah Campbell

After reading this article, I began to question the idea and/or political agenda that people are born gay or born heterosexual.  If you believe this agenda, then you believe in the biological essentialist agenda, that people are born with a gay or a straight brain.  That somehow our sexuality is programed in our DNA, predetermined in the womb or even before that.  I understand this stance being taken within the context of patriarchy and its restrictive ideas about sexual orientation. I understand it in the context of fighting against the patriarchal idea that heterosexuality is normal and anything else is deviant but by taking this stance aren’t we actually agreeing with this idea? By adopting the biological essentialist agenda, instead of questioning our patriarchal ideas about sexual orientation, we solidify the belief that anyone that is not heterosexual is deviant.  It plays right along with the idea that heterosexuality is the norm and that some unfortunate people just happen to be born gay and that we should not discriminate against them because they have no control over this “biological condition.”

This platform has been used politically in the past with the LGB community and now it is being used by the transgender community to gain rights and protections that were not there before,  some of these rights perilous to women. The problem with this platform is that it doesn’t question the social idea that heterosexuality is normal and anything else is not. By not questioning the role our society plays in our ideas or restrictions regarding sexual orientation and by claiming it is biological instead, we completely limit the conversation and do an injustice to humanity.

Sheila Jeffreys wrote in her book, Gender Hurts:

I am very aware that new generations of feminist, lesbian and gay activists and thinkers may find the idea of social construction difficult to accept. The idea that homosexuality and transgenderism are innate has become quite dominant today, whereas at the time of the second wave feminism, the understanding that gender and sexuality were socially constructed was commonplace.

By claiming that our sexual orientation is biological, we admit and agree with the patriarchal agenda that heterosexuality is normal and anything else is deviant. In order to gain protections and rights in this socially restrictive environment, the LGB community had to go with the biological essentialist model because doing so was less of a threat to the patriarchal status quot and their adversaries could feel comfort in allowing these rights because it didn’t affect them, their world wasn’t being threatened in the least because examining the social environment that they lived in and relied on was not being discussed.  Instead, giving “those” people rights wasn’t such a bad thing because “those” people are the problem, not us, not our social ideas.

The implication here is that being gay is a condition, just like being transgender is a condition because both are abnormal. Gay people are then seen as deviants in our society and society itself and its inherent restrictive ideas are never questioned and therefore never threatened.  Nothing threatened, nothing gained, at least not really. This works for political platforms to gain rights and protections for what our society considers deviants, but it also harms them and our society by not bringing into question our restrictive patriarchal social ideas that are unhealthy to all human beings. The transgender political agenda is also based on biological essentialism.  Again, they are using a political platform that has worked within patriarchal constraints to afford them rights and protections, but again at what cost?

When a person claims that he or she is born in the wrong body or sex and that he or she has a male or female brain at birth and that for some unfortunate person this goes wrong and his or her brain doesn’t match his or her genitals, this is a very small limited viewpoint of a much larger issue.  Males may exhibit feminine behaviors and females masculine behaviors,  both seen as deviating from the socially dictated gender constructs and in both cases these people are actively ostracized.  We then instead of looking at our society and the ideas we have of gender as the problem, look at the individual and claim that they are “transgender”, a condition that they were born with; therefore, they are the problem, they are abnormal.

But what if these children aren’t the problem? What if the social constructs of gender, femininity and masculinity are?  What if masculinity and femininity aren’t biological at all but instead dominant and subservient behaviors,  patriarchal mechanisms, created by men to keep men in power and women oppressed?  For men, aggressive, dominant behaviors and for women passive, subservient behaviors? In the book, Loving to Survive, Dee L Graham argues that feminine behaviors are identical to submissive behaviors. That all human beings including men who are being dominated act “feminine”.  Do we really want to believe that females are born subservient and that males are born dominant? That this is the natural order of things? Are we really all just hair challenged apes?   I believe and so do most radical feminists, that the pressure all human beings endure to act masculine or feminine depending on their genitals needs to change.  The restrictive idea of gender has to change. Would anyone want to have sex changes if the masculine and feminine gender roles weren’t there? If it didn’t matter whether or not a person has a penis or a vagina and both were not attached to specific behaviors?

Jeffreys wrote:

The construction of transgenderism in the late twentieth century resembles, in important respects, the construction of the homosexual. The 1960s and 1970s were the glory days of social construction-ism in the social sciences. Lesbian and gay theorists and historians, educated in the values of those times, argued that the idea of the homosexual, as a particular kind of person who was destined by a congenital abnormality to be exclusively attracted to others of the same sex, was in fact a social construction (Mackintosh, 1968;
Weeks, 1977 ).

If radical feminists currently agree that gender is a patriarchal construct then why are we not questioning the idea that being gay or straight is also a patriarchal construct?  Why are we not questioning the biological essentialist agenda that some members of the LGB community believe in, like we are questioning this very same agenda in the transgender community? And further, doesn’t the very idea that there are separate communities tell us something? If we buy into the idea that we are born gay or born heterosexual, we refuse to recognize that sexual orientation much like gender orientation could be a patriarchal social construct and in so doing the enormous implications of this are lost. We then truncate the analysis and truncating any analysis is not radical feminism. I think we need to explore the subject of sexuality like we do anything else in patriarchy. We need to pick it apart and take it to the root of the problem. Is heterosexuality normal or abnormal? Is being gay normal or abnormal? How does our patriarchal environment factor into the analysis? If patriarchy dictates every belief we have about what is normal and abnormal including our ideas about gender and sexuality, how could it not?

In Gender Hurts:

The first detailed articulation within sociology of the idea that homosexuality was not a ‘condition’ but a ‘social role’ was by the lesbian sociologist Mary Mackintosh in her path-breaking article, ‘The Homosexual Role’ (1968). She applied understandings from labeling theory to homosexuality and argued that conceptualizing the homosexual as a certain kind of person who suffered from a condition operated as a form of social control, which ‘helps to provide a clear-cut, publicized, and recognizable threshold between permissible and impermissible behavior’ (Mackintosh, 1968: 183). Mackintosh explained that, in relation to homosexuality, ‘[t]he creation of a specialized, despised and punished role of homosexuality keeps the bulk of society pure’ (Mackintosh, 1968 : 184). She says that psychologists and psychiatrists take part in the labeling process in relation to homosexuality and thus in the ‘mechanisms of social control’.

This way of seeing homosexuality is useful for understanding transgenderism too. The creation of the transgender role can be seen as a way of separating off unacceptable gender behavior, which might threaten the system of male domination and female subordination, from correct gender behavior, which is seen as suitable for persons of a particular biological sex. In the case of homosexuality, the effect is to shore up the idea of exclusive and natural heterosexuality; and, in the case of transgenderism, the naturalness of sex roles.

In patriarchy, we have been socialized to believe that heterosexuality is normal and being gay is deviant and for some reason most of us don’t question this idea. So I ask you now, why not? Could heterosexuality be a patriarchal agenda created like gender for men to control women? More specifically, and more importantly, the question I want to ask is, is heterosexuality normal in patriarchy? Isn’t it counter intuitive to be heterosexual if you get into the actual semantics within patriarchy?  For example, women throughout patriarchal history have been enslaved, oppressed, victimized and murdered in epidemic proportions by men; yet, we are still being taught that we should not only love men, but also live with men.  Isn’t it more true that in reality, we should be removing ourselves from the vicinity of men; thereby, removing ourselves from the danger of violence and death?  Women live in terror on a minute by minute basis due to the threat of male violence and we are taught to deny this threat.  Male violence is so normalized that it exists as a low level anxiety for most women and an extreme danger signal for other women depending on their circumstances, yet we are being told that men aren’t the problem and that it is men who will protect us. If we lived in the land of opposites (which we do in patriarchy) then this all makes perfect sense. But if you look at it logically, rationally and reasonably, heterosexuality is dangerous for women in patriarchy.

Since the patriarchal agenda is for men to control women, heterosexuality is a social mandate that does just that, it enforces female relationships with males. It is a patriarchal mechanism that works like no other mechanism, including gender.  Gender constructs such as femininity and masculinity are detrimental but they come into play within the confines of heterosexuality.  Feminine or subservient behaviors are roles that women are forced into, the men doing the forcing through masculine pressure within the heterosexual relationship. If heterosexuality didn’t exist, gender roles would also not exist. Heterosexuality keeps women in close proximity of men and this accompanied by male violence keeps women under male control.  Women under male control ensures free domestic labor. Free sex. Free emotional support and so on.  Heterosexuality is beneficial for men but in this same society, heterosexuality is extremely detrimental for women. But we don’t ask whether or not heterosexuality is beneficial for women. In a world where women don’t matter, what is good or not good for them doesn’t matter either. We don’t question gender or sexuality within the confines of patriarchy because to do so brings females into focus, where normally they are invisible, obscured behind the default male. If we question heterosexuality, She will materialize. She will demand to be dealt with.

In patriarchy, heterosexuality for females is counter intuitive.  You might argue that heterosexuality is a biological imperative. That we need to propagate, but do we really? Aren’t we  overpopulated with people? Further, isn’t it true that women don’t need to be intimate or even in close proximity with men to get pregnant anymore?  Also, in ancient times, women weren’t isolated with one man, they lived with groups of women separate from the men and the women still had babies.  Women are being isolated from each other in nuclear families and we are told that this is normal and the only way to live. But is it?  Women living in nuclear families isolated with one man, in fact has proven to be deadly for women. Although random male violence does occur, in most cases, it is men who have sole access to women in intimate relationships that violate, rape and murder women. Let me ask you this, if women removed themselves completely from the reach of men, would there be any rapes, abuse and murders? Would women still be in danger?

Removing women from the proximity of men is the only way to keep women safe–but this idea doesn’t ever surface in our consciousness. If you look at how men treat women globally, you could even say that the idea of loving or even liking men is unnatural, that heterosexuality is unnatural.   Women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Women are taught to believe that they need men to survive. They need men to be something in a male dominated world where otherwise they are nothing. But the opposite is actually true. It is men who use women. It is men who need women. Women in all aspects of life are better off without men.

So then I ask the question again, is heterosexuality normal for women in patriarchy?

If we begin to analyze sexual orientation within patriarchy and come to realize that like gender, sexual orientation is also a patriarchal construct that furthers the patriarchal agenda, then we must also question the born gay or straight agenda.  Radical feminists have always argued against biological essentialist agendas and have adopted the social constructionist one, patriarchy being the environment where all of these male social ideas are born and conditioned into us all.  Of course never forgetting that patriarchy itself was created by men.  I also want to distinguish here that when I talk about gender and sexuality as social constructs and not biological, I am not throwing out the idea that men are biologically different than women and vice versa. This idea is a completely different discussion for another time. Radical feminists believe that gender is a social construct created by men, one of the many tools within patriarchy to oppress the female class. In other words gender was created by men as a tool to oppress women in patriarchy.  Gender constructs are entrenched in patriarchy and in all human beings who live in the same and they are anything but superficial or trivial.  Because these gender constructs are so pervasive in our society and also deep within us all and because they are also invisible due to normalization, they are extremely difficult to eradicate because we don’t question them.

Case in point, the biological essentialist political agenda came into fruition because of this difficult fight. It was easier to fight within the patriarchal box, with patriarchal tools, then to try to destroy the box.

If we are born gay and it isn’t a choice, then patriarchy remains safe. The patriarchal agenda of making sure women are heterosexual and in the control of men is not threatened. If women weren’t coerced and brainwashed into believing that heterosexuality was normal and everything else deviant, and if women were seeing clearly through their authentic selves and not through the eyes of terror due to male violence, they would never choose to be heterosexual. they would never choose to be in relationships with other human beings who not only disrespect them but violate them. Why would they? Who chooses to not only live with but love human beings that treat them so badly? The very fact that women believe they are heterosexual is a testament to the power of patriarchal conditioning.  Against all evidence, all rationality, all sanity, women are choosing to be with men, or are they? in order to make an intelligent rational choice, you have to be provided with options, not coercion.  So then we must ask the question, are women really choosing to be heterosexual?

There has been a lot of talk in the LGB community and within the feminist community, including radical feminist, that heterosexual women have privileges that lesbian women do not.  That there are benefits afforded to straight women that are not afforded to lesbian women.  In my opinion, this idea needs further analysis.  If we come at this idea from a biological essentialist stance that lesbians are born gay and they have no choice in the matter and therefore are considered deviants and outcasts, then yes, straight women are more embraced in our society and afforded more rights, but at what cost, and whose rights are they really? If we ask the question. is it a good thing to be embraced into a society that hates, oppresses and violates women, then wouldn’t we come to another conclusion? How can being embraced by a sick society be a good thing? Instead of calling it “embraced” shouldn’t we be calling it “enslaved”?  Why would you want to be a member of a society that uses, abuses and spits you out when it has no more use for you? If you approach this issue from a social constructionist stance, women being embraced in patriarchy is like a lion giving a rabbit permission to lick his balls before he eats the rabbit.

Women are being embraced in direct correlation to serving the needs sexual and otherwise of men; the embrace is conditional and deadly. Moreover the so called rights heterosexual women are afforded in patriarchy are not their rights at all but instead rights that belong to the men they are in relationships with.  If you are a woman and a heterosexual, your identity is dependent on men. Your worth is dependent on men. Your autonomy as a human being doesn’t exist apart from men. From this point of view, it would seem that lesbian women are more liberated from male enslavement then heterosexual women.  Lesbian women for the most part do not live in close proximity to men; therefore, they are also safer.  Yes I understand that lesbians are raped, violated and murdered and persecuted by men because they refuse to have sex with men and because they are women, but because they are removed from intimate relationships with men and the nuclear family environment, they are removed from that particular danger and more removed from male violence then heterosexual women.

Lesbian women actually seem in my eyes to be the sanest human beings on the planet because it literally makes more sense to be a lesbian than to be heterosexual in patriarchy. All of the facts scream at us that women are not safe around men. That men hate women most of the time and yet we are being conditioned and coerced into dismissing these facts. Women are being coerced into heterosexuality by a male dominated system that absolutely needs them to be heterosexual.  From birth, women are groomed for this role, to be under the control of men.  This is imperative for the survival of patriarchy and the rule of men.  If women didn’t do the domestic labor or take care of men in all facets, patriarchy would crumble. If you believe that being gay is biological, that you are born gay, then the social implications of our patriarchal conditioning is dismissed and this is a good thing for patriarchy.  If we all believe that being gay is an abnormality a deviation from the norm, then patriarchy remains safe and men can continue to spew heterosexual propaganda to its female population.

If you believe you are heterosexual, I must ask you to really question this belief and where the belief came from. Women are being conditioned to go against their own intuition about men in our society to our own detriment.  I never questioned whether or not I was heterosexual, even though I had one of the most beautiful relationships with a woman, so much deeper than any man I have ever known.  I never questioned it because, much like the male gender is the default in patriarchy, it is the default sexuality as well. To be anything else is considered deviant and deviating from the norm is hard to say the least. So I ask you, what if being heterosexual in patriarchy is insane?  What if what we think is normal is not normal? If we do our fact checking and we really, really look at men, even the men we live with or love, we can begin to see behind the vale of our patriarchal conditioning.  We can begin to see that within patriarchy, heterosexuality is counter-intuitive for women. If it is in fact dangerous for women. If heterosexuality is instead socially constructed by men to benefit men and women who choose to be with men are doing so due to coercion, brainwashing and out of terror of male violence (Stockholm’s Syndrome), then heterosexual women are– to put it mildly—fucked.  If heterosexuality is ultimately the result of terrorizing women into submission and most women are not able to break free of this terror,  we have a social pandemic on our hands.

Lesbians then are the only ones who are not in denial. Who are not suffering from Stockholm’s Syndrome. If lesbians then are the sane ones and thereby the normal ones in our society and heterosexual women are not, how can we continue to claim that we are born gay or straight?  How does this benefit women in patriarchy? Ann Tagonist wrote at her blog:  http://anntagonist.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/lesbian-identity-politics/

“Political Lesbianism offers women a framework from which to view the institution of heterosexuality. It offers women choices. It tells them it doesn’t have to be that way. There is nothing whatsoever to be gained from telling women, “You were born hetero,” and there is so much to be lost. Why do it?”

If you are being ostracized from society and seen as deviants and not being afforded the same “benefits” rights or protections legally that heterosexual women appear to be given, would you even consider that these women are actually being harmed by these so called “benefits” “rights” and “protections”? Instead do you fight for the right to be able to get married and have community property with your spouse? Looking at it through these lenses, I can understand how this might be interpreted. But lets face it. These so called benefits are not benefits at all. Instead they are laws that further the patriarchal agenda–oppressing and dominating women. They are coercive laws to ensure women are in close proximity to men. Why else is it so difficult to pass laws for same sex marriage? Could it be because the institution of marriage is one of the coercive tools in patriarchy to isolate women from each other and put them in the hands of individual men and any deviation from this is a threat to patriarchy? In my opinion, same sex marriage is the only sane type of marriage for women.  When a woman marries a man, she enters into dangerous ground. She loses her last name without a thought. She becomes Mrs. John Smith. She loses her identity her self and he gains everything. He doesn’t lose his self, his identity. He keeps it and gains hers. They become one, but He is the One.

If we took the religious moral idea out of the equation that men must be with women and vice versa, there is no reason why same sex marriage legally shouldn’t already exist.  The legal financial benefits should be afforded to all people regardless of who they love.  However, because the institution of marriage was created by men in patriarchy as a tool to keep women under male control, losing this tool is a threat to patriarchy.  This is why gay people are having to fight so hard to get same sex marriage legalized. If you can get what you need, rights and protections without fighting the system itself, without fighting men, then why would you? I think this is where the LGB community has gone astray from feminism and where we we can be at odds, especially from the radical feminist community. Don’t get me wrong, there are a majority of lesbian radical feminists; however, the radical feminist women who are lesbians can be at odds with the LGB agenda specifically the biological essentialist agenda, but most of the time, this is not questioned because we walk on eggshells around it as to not stir the pot and create further division amongst feminist women.

The side effect however is that this keeps a lot of the LGB community away from feminism, which is not a good thing.  I think we need to address this division by talking about our differing ideas and trying to get to common ground.  If the radical feminist agenda is socially based, trying to abolish the constraints of gender and sexual orientation then how is this a bad thing for anyone? If there were no constraints, if all human beings were just human beings making choices from a basket of numerous choices, instead of “normal” people and “deviants” who have to fight for rights to exist outside of the norm, wouldn’t everyone win?  It is our societal restrictions that should be questioned and cast out, not the people who try to deviate from them.  After all, it is what we call deviant that is normal in this patriarchal land of opposites.

We aren’t born with male or female brains. Similarly, we aren’t born with specific brains dictating our sexuality.  We are born into a patriarchal society that has a specific male agenda to promote and uphold and instead of questioning this male agenda that is extremely unhealthy and try to change it,  we are labeling people who deviate from this agenda as abnormal and casting them out of society.  Then in order to gain access back into the fold, into this sick society, the people we consider deviants must be embraced through our compassion, because they have a disorder. The deviants must then fight for rights that the “normal” people have.  Fight for rights that are inherently unhealthy– rights that need to be abolished.

Radical feminists all the while have critically questioned gender in the social context  as well as the idea that heterosexuality is normal and have tried to change this restrictive environment so that the idea of gender can be some day eradicated which in turn would eliminate all discrimination against who we see now as deviants including women, transgenders and homosexuals.  Consequently, radical feminists have been called trans phobic and deemed the enemy by the transgender community.  Some day we will realize that the biological essentialist agenda regarding gender and sexuality due to its confines, doesn’t serve humanity as a constant evolving entity that needs space to grow but instead serves to further the patriarchal agenda in imprisoning us.  Similarly, if we can imagine eliminating the biological essentialist agenda and seriously talk about the idea that gender and sexual orientation are both patriarchal constructs, created by men as tools to dominate women, we could create positive change.

Some radical Feminists  will argue that if we throw out biological essentialist agenda, men then will claim to be victims to patriarchy too because they can’t control their biological urges to be violent. If we radical feminists are saying that gender is a social construct and not biological, we can’t then say that men are different biologically. I disagree with this.  What we are questioning is the ideas that are dictated by patriarchy; therefore, we must ask ourselves, who created patriarchy and who’s ideas are being dictated and to who’s benefit? Then we can begin to understand that men created the social system that mirrors their own behavior; consequently, the behavior was there prior to them creating patriarchy and the social constructs within patriarchy.

Therefore, males can be seen as biologically different than females with the propensity to dominate others, especially women. The chicken or the egg? Patriarchy didn’t create itself. The idea of dominating women didn’t come from women. The idea of masculinity (dominant behaviors) and femininity (subservient behaviors) didn’t come from women. All of the above came from men.  Male violence comes from nature and nurture (and men created the nurture).  Men are biologically stronger and they also have testosterone and some studies show less empathy for others, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t “choosing” to use that biological equipment for violence.  It seems to me that if you know you are physically stronger and have the propensity towards violently acting out you would try to suppress those tendencies and not use them against physically weaker human beings. This in itself tells a tale about the human male and his weaknesses.

If we were to discuss the fact that both the gender and sexual orientation constructs are part of the foundation that keeps patriarchy erect, and begin to dismantle these ideas, we could weaken its foundation. We could imagine a world where there is no such thing as transgender or homosexuals. Not because they won’t exist, but because they won’t have to label themselves as such because being either / or is not deviant but a choice out of the basket of numerous choices all human beings have access to.  We are human beings who have been socialized within a social system that dictates what is normal and what isn’t. Everything we do. Every choice we make can either be dictated by our patriarchal socialization or we can look at it, dissect it and understand on a very deep level what it truly is–conditioning.  If we are aware of it. If we know what it is and what it isn’t. If we question every idea that we have and trace it back to its origins, we can then begin to choose from a place of liberation instead of societal coercion.  We can make informed choices to oppose and resist or if we want to, choose to acquiesce, either way we choose from a place of knowledge, not ignorance, not terror.  Those are our only real choices.  If we continue to use tools from within the patriarchal tool box to fight for gay or transgender rights, patriarchy wins.

Michele Braa-Heidner

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Read all About it! Men are Victims to Pornography!

17 Nov

There have been studies that suggest that men have less empathy due to elevated testosterone. If these studies are accurate (and not just more biological essentialist BS) and our patriarchal masculine war centered society pumps up the volume on testosterone–promoting it & even worshiping it — then male empathy in said society would be lacking due to these factors. This of course is dependent on many variables. Genetics, environment, primary socialization, secondary socialization etc…. I’ve seen men who are very empathetic and young boys who show emotion and get bullied from other boys because of it–basically they are bullied right out of expressing emotions in a healthy way and promoted to only show it in angry ways. My first husband would yell at my son telling him to stop crying and he told me he did this because he didn’t want him to be bullied in school for showing emotion around other boys (because that is what happened to him).

I think our masculine patriarchal culture frowns upon men feeling any emotion except anger so when a man is hurt he is not allowed to process this hurt (by outwardly emoting) and is instead promoted to externalize it as anger and to process his hurt feelings in the only socially condoned way–by taking it out on women. And since women are seen as sex objects and are the sex class in patriarchy, not considered to be autonomous human beings, but owned by men, the development of pornography makes perfect sense in this unhealthy environment. Pornography becomes the ideal outlet for men to take their anger out on women sexually.  It is about cause and effect.  The cause is patriarchy and all of its horrific unhealthy mechanisms, including but not limited to; misogyny, gender roles & compulsory heterosexuality.  The effect is pornography.

Lately there has been a lot discussion about pornography being addictive for men. That they can’t stop viewing it because they are addicted to  to the sexual violence.  Although pornography is an obvious symptom of patriarchy, I think it is problematic if not dangerous to focus on pornography as an addiction, because by doing so, we forget about the cause of pornography and its dangers and only focus on the effect–specifically the effect on men.  Further, if we don’t eliminate the root cause, another platform for men to act out the misogyny inherit in our society will crop up.  Pornography is merely the symptom of a much larger disease.  If we claim that pornography is an addiction which then leads to claiming it is a disease (because the USA claims addiction is a disease even though this was never scientifically or medically proven and all other countries do not accept the “disease” model of addiction), then we only focus on the symptom and not on the disease itself, much like most of our medical institutions created in patriarchy focus on treating the symptoms and not the whole person or the disease, we also eliminate any conversation or analysis of the root cause.  I can imagine then that we begin to demonize the women in pornography (the actual victims). I can see the headlines now:

“Here ye!  Here ye! Read all about it!  Pornography is a disease afflicting men around the world!  Those unwholesome female porn stars are causing men pain and suffering!!  We need to save these men from those heathens!!

This type of mentality already exists regarding prostituted women. The term “prostitution” is revealing in itself because it only speaks about the act of women prostituting themselves and not the men who drive the demand due to their own misogyny and idea that they can purchase females like commodities to rape for money.  Prostituted women are demonized and blamed for tempting men to do evil things. The men aren’t looked at or blamed for their actions and most of the time, they aren’t held responsible legally either.  This is a tradition in patriarchy to blame women for male sexual perversions.  I don’t know what the answer is within the patriarchal frame, but I do know that continuing to claim that men are victims to their misogynist choices is not the answer.  This stance has never helped to solve the epidemic of prostituted, sexually trafficked (including in pornography) girls and women who are used and abused and thrown away like used condoms, but instead has only made it worse for them.  These girls and women are the patsies in the bigger scenario, a smoke screen to keep us from looking deeper at the real problem–the socially condoned inhumane treatment of females.

Perhaps we  should wake up and begin to realize that we live in a very unhealthy environment, especially for women and children, that perpetuates violence against females due to its hyper masculine, hierarchical, monetarily driven infrastructure.  That our ideals are warped and that our disrespect for women is systemic.  Perhaps we should focus on criminalizing the making of pornography and help the victims to get out by monetarily and emotionally supporting them?  We need to realize that girls and women because of limited financial choices and support and the perpetual ingrained idea that they are nothing but sex objects, that their worth is sex, nothing more, are being coerced into pornography. That especially vulnerable girls and women are being groomed by manipulative pimps into a life of sexual enslavement and despair.   They are the victims here, not the men who claim to be “addicted” to porn.  Let’s heal the real disease here—PATRIARCHY.  If we as a society really gave a shit about women we would stand up and say, enough is enough and stop it in its tracks instead of debating whether or not men are addicted to porn.

If we did not live in patriarchy and its capitalist, military environment and were all born equal regardless of our sex and allowed to be emotional human beings without being forced into gender roles and heterosexuality, both sexes could be healthy, non violent and respectful of each other. Further, the idea of prostitution, trafficking and pornography would be completely frowned upon because the entire society, all human beings would never allow such disrespect. Since we understand historically that testosterone in the peach tree dish of patriarchy can limit empathy in males then we would keep this in mind and never promote the hyper testosterone ideology that we currently do in patriarchal societies. Further, we might also ensure that all leadership has equal amounts of females and males or even better and safer, more females than males because we know that the male propensity towards domination and violence is something we must be leery of. We’ve seen it in action.

Unfortunately, our hyper masculine culture serves the elite and because one of the handy dandy symptoms of hyper masculinity is fear and because fear of violence promotes hyper consumerism this will not change until we dismantle the current leadership which are predominantly males who have all the money.  Since at least the USA is completely run by money, this will not be an easy task and further, because pornography is monetarily lucrative, eliminating it will be difficult—-but we must try.  If we focus on pornography as an addiction that is harming men, then nothing will change except more pain and suffering for females and more of the same attention on males. If we focus all of our energy on pornography as a symptom of a larger disease and work on dismantling patriarchy, we can save all of humanity.

You Teach People How to Treat You. Really?

28 Apr

I see this saying written by Tony Caskins all the time making its rounds on Facebook:

“You teach people how to treat you

by what you allow, what you stop

and what you reinforce.”

At first glance, it looks like the truth, but whose truth is it and from what perspective?

Females don’t allow, refuse to stop or reinforce male oppression, rape and murder and yet male violence against females is epidemic.  Male violence against females happens only because most men are physically stronger than women and because they choose to use their brute strength to control women and our patriarchal society condones this violent male behavior.  Men use their strength against women because they want to, not because women teach them to do so. On a societal level, patriarchy and their male creators teach men to beat, rape and murder females because they allow, refuse to stop and reinforce this violent male behavior.  If we look at this saying through male eyes only, which unfortunately, is the way all human beings including female human beings living in patriarchy have been taught to see, then this saying makes sense because men have taught women how to treat them. But this is not usually a two way street.

When men, with the threat of violence, only allow females to behave subserviently, by stopping females from behaving authentically and by reinforcing subservient and/or feminine behavior, men teach women how to be their slaves.  With brute force men have enslaved females for thousands of years and the resulting female terror is real and felt by every female; therefore, how can we not recognize that this violence and victimization has a profound effect on female behavior? How can we deny that females behave this way because males have trained them to behave this way through violence? To say that we are treated the way we teach others to treat us, is to speak from a dominant point of view, dismissing the reality of females completely, not to mention the reality of all dominated races & classes.

Females have been conditioned by male coercion and violence to distrust themselves and other females and to revere the male/masculine identity.  By doing this, men have created an environment for females to exist in that simultaneously denies their existence and is therefore systemically hostile.  Females then live in a state of terror waiting for the male fist to drop–literally. This hostile environment is not conducive to female expression or even to female life; thereby, making half of the human population mute and unable to speak their own truth, let alone stand up for this truth.  Consequently, men have full reign, without opposition, in their man made environment. Therefore, because men hand out violent consequences for female behaviors that are anything other than feminine /subservient, how can females be anything other than feminine /subservient?  If one wants to survive, and one does, one must adapt accordingly. How can the subservient teach a dominant how to treat them when the subservient isn’t allowed to know or be themselves?  How can they teach others to treat them good when they have been taught that they aren’t good and don’t deserve good treatment, especially when this detrimental idea is reinforced by our society?

This saying may be true when you are the dominant gender in a society that promotes unequal gender roles; however it falls short when you are female, the dominated gender that is victimized violently when she dares to behave authentically or asks for fair treatment. Further, this saying is what I like to call a patriarchal sleight of hand because within what appears to be an insightful idea, upon further investigation, you find that it dismisses the reality of the female, living within the confines of male domination and patriarchy, reinforcing the idea that men are omnipotent and at the same time inadvertently blaming females for male violence.  If females are treated badly, it is because they allowed, did not stop or reinforced said treatment.  In this patriarchal la la land of delusion, females are responsible for male violence.

Doing Work for Patriarchy

3 Mar

After seeing this poster at this link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151502804657110&set=a.51895502109.87823.684087109&type=1&theater;  The poster states:

“Pussy Power, Slut Nation is Here and We Are Pissed Off. Run and Hide You Misogynist Crusty Fuck Heads!”

I was immediately struck by two emotions, on the surface I wanted to raise my fist and yell, “yeah, you fuckers!” and then my secondary more deeper response was sadness. I agree that women need to get very angry and to express their anger and this poster connected with my own rage as a woman; however, I take issue with using the words, “pussy” to define female power and “slut” to describe the nation of women.  Both pussy and slut reduce female power to their sexuality, which is exactly where patriarchy and men want our (false) power to remain. Because women have had no power historically, they have had to use their sexuality in an attempt to gain admittance into a male dominated society. This type of sexual “power” is dependent on men therefore it is not true power.  Woman must use their pussies (allow men to penetrate them) to gain favor with men, which is not real power at all. When the men leave, the power leaves with them, without men giving the favor, women have no power.

Moreover, in patriarchy, female sexuality has been forced into heterosexuality because this is the only sexuality that is enforced; therefore, female sexuality in patriarchy must be very different then female sexuality in an egalitarian society. The word “slut” is used to define women who have sex with a lot of men (not women) therefore to claim the word “slut” or to use it to define a nation of women continues to force women into heterosexuality, into having sex with not just one man exclusively but with a lot of men — a patriarchal wet dream.

Historically, women have had to use sex to temper male violence in an effort to survive.  How can this type of sexuality be empowering? Female power is female power, independent of sex and independent of men.  Women are powerful because they are women, because they are human beings, not because of our pussies or because we are “sluts” who choose to have sex with many men. I understand that our pussies are a biological part of us and we need to accept this part of ourselves; however, limiting the discussion to our pussies and naming ourselves sluts, makes a mockery of women as human beings.  Men have power because they are considered to be autonomous human beings in our society– unlike women who are considered to be men’s sexual property. We never talk about men’s penises or their promiscuity when we talk about male power– so why are we focused on a woman’s sexuality when it comes to claiming female power?

I understand the desire to take back our pussies from men—& the merit in celibacy because quite frankly it makes good sense to do so; men disrespect women and they do not deserve our attention, sexually or otherwise; but I do not agree that a woman’s power is in her pussy or because she “chooses” to be sexually liberated. If women claim “pussy power” and at the same time also claim that they are “sluts” aren’t they sabotaging the power of their pussies by claiming to be sluts?  I understand wanting to emphasize the power of the pussy, if the pussy stood alone on its own merit because I agree, pussies are powerful independently (without men or their penises), much like women are powerful independently.  But to also claim to be a slut, negates this independent power because the word “slut” defined is a woman who has sex with many men; consequently, to be a slut you must also be sexually dependent on men. In my opinion, women claiming to be sexually liberated or claiming to be a slut, choosing to have sex  with whoever she desires, is merely patriarchy entering through the back door.  If heterosexual sex has been and continues to be one of the ways men control and violate women, isn’t women having more sex with men, a win, win for men and patriarchy?

Graham wrote in, “Loving to Survive”

“Women’s sexual organs may be the essential battlefield on which the war for male domination is fought. The more violent a sexual crime against women, the greater the social distance between men and women, and the more clearly that distance is emphasized. Male sexual violence against women and “normal” heterosexual intercourse are essential to patriarchy because they establish the dominance of the penis over the vagina, and thus the power relations between the sexes. The sexualization of people and male/female interactions is central to the practice of patriarchy because it keeps group membership (and thus power relations) salient. Thus, when a male sexualizes and interaction with a female, he is doing work for patriarchy.”

As long as there is a difference in status between men and women and as long as men dominate women, heterosexual sex will be a vehicle for men to oppress and control women.  Heterosexual sex in patriarchy cannot be equal.  Because of the power dynamics of the gender roles in our society, men approach sex with women in a very different way than how women approach sex with men.  Whether this is subconscious or otherwise, women have been forced, due to there being no other vehicle available to them, to use sex as a vehicle to gain favor or power and men use sex as a vehicle to control women. When women depend on their sexual interactions with men to gain favor or power, they become inadvertently dependent on men and this allows men to control them, quite the opposite to what women believe the situation to be.

This of course was set up by men, a patriarchal sleight of hand. Men cause a deficit for women by dominating, violating and oppressing them and women respond to this by behaving in a specific way to make up for this deficit.  Of course this is the dynamics of what we consider to be “healthy” heterosexuality and not the dynamics of rape and sexual abuse which has nothing to do with women trying to gain power or favor and everything to do with male domination and control.  Consequently, if it is true that the male sexualization of females works for patriarchy, isn’t it also true that women equating power to their pussies and claiming words like “slut”,  words that sexualize females, also doing work for patriarchy? By focusing on female sexuality (predominantly heterosexuality) aren’t we glorifying having sex with men and thus inadvertently doing work for patriarchy?  How does either further the cause of female liberation?

By Michele Braa-Heidner

Violent Devices

16 Dec

In almost all mass murders there are two things in common; MEN and GUNS. If you take men out of the equation, the mass murders and gun violence would stop. If you take guns out of the equation, men would still murder and kill by using different weapons or purchasing them illegally or worse by creating home made bombs. We live in a masculine culture of necrophilia where everything revolves around DEATH. We also live in a society where the solution is right under our noses but because we dismiss females outright as having any significance, we are blind to it. We need to stop thinking of females as benign objects that are to be seen and not heard and begin to think about them as the SOLUTION. We need to finally recognize that historically females have proven to be non violent, cooperative & peaceful.  Consequently, we need to model our societies from female ideals and behaviors. This is the only way we can grow and evolve into non violent societies that revolve around LIFE.

We need to understand that the reason America and other patriarchal societies are violent is BECAUSE females are oppressed and disenfranchised. The most violent places on earth are places where women are the most oppressed or completely absent, like the Taliban in the Middle East and male prisons. We have to ask ourselves, why is this the case? Why does violence escalate or become epidemic in places where women have no rights or where they are completely absent? Females have always tempered male violence when they have equal standing in a society.  In egalitarian and matriarchal societies violence is foreign. It isn’t even in their vocabulary because LIFE is preciously nurtured.  If we look at all the variables and include in our analysis non patriarchal societies, we finally begin to see the problem; 50% of the human population is being discriminated to DEATH, leaving men to their own violent devices.

Swimming with Sharks

1 Nov

I was thinking about the question; do women in patriarchy oppress other women? My answer would be no because women unlike men do not have the social or economic status to be able to oppress other women in patriarchy;  however, there are a lot of women who dislike women and there is a good reason for this.  Today’s females are mere surface reflections of who they could be. A female’s natural state of being was stolen by men and replaced with a male prescribed female who is by design dependent on men. Because of this theft, the theft of the authentic female, females are only fragments of who they could be — their power as autonomous females is buried underneath the male prescribed female — the false female. Because of this, females hover on the surface, like wounded sharks who wash in with the tide, too exhausted to resist. Sharks naturally swim freely in the depths of the ocean, except when they are wounded, they wash up on the shore and attack whatever or whoever they come in contact with. Females similarly are operating on the surface of who they are, attacking inwardly and outwardly themselves and other females because other females are a mirror image of their own wounds, their own imprisonment and their own surface fraudulent selves.

Females who are born into patriarchy have a constant fight within themselves. There is a voice deep within their depths that comes from their authentic selves that is being smothered by the male voices — the patriarchal voices, that comes from their fraudulent selves. This produces a feeling of suffocation and a constant level of anxiety. Most females because of all of these factors then have to differing degrees a form of self hatred that they project outwards towards other females. This self hatred comes from a deep knowing that they are harboring a fugitive, their own authentic self. In addition, females have been taught to fill the emptiness where their authentic self should be with men therefore men are not only needed but a matter of life or death. Females defend males in this atmosphere because they have learned to do this out of survival and because they have been taught and therefore are afraid that without men and the male prescribed female, they would be completely empty, without any identity, any self worth. So by defending men, they defend themselves or what they think is themselves, unknowingly, defending a false self that is the real enemy. This is a form of Stockholm’s syndrome and all females born into patriarchy suffer from this to varying degrees.

That said, of course all females are individuals bringing to the table their own experiences and baggage therefore with the above in mind, at the starting gates, females are flawed, not because they are inherently flawed, the idea that we are also force fed by patriarchal religions, but because of patriarchy and the male prescribed dependent female that all females have been force fed. Because of this, all females end up being addicts, addicted to the male gender. Then on top of this, females also have nature/nurture to contend with. They are genetically linked to their parents and they are also nurtured by their parents; therefore, depending on these variables, they become who they are and they pass this onto their young. If for example a female is born and then she is force fed the male prescribed female and then abused physically and sexually, we then have a female who has all the odds against her, a recipe’ for disaster or catharsis, depending on the female.

The norm however, the foundation for all females is the male prescribed female and this alone, the theft of the authentic female, has been and continues to be devastating.  Consequently, because of this devastation, she lashes out at her sisters. We can expect this. The only weapon we have as females is our courage and tenacity to gain buried knowledge without and within ourselves. We need to use knowledge as a beacon to light our way though the labyrinth, beyond the male prescribed female, into our own internment and to ultimately free our authentic selves. We have to dig until our fingers are bloody to get to Her. Then once She is free. Once She is whole again. Once She is in love with Herself again, She will naturally be connected in love with Her Sisters.

Michele Braa-Heidner

An Excercise in Logic

21 Oct

Question: If men are superior, stronger & more powerful than women, why do they oppress women?

Answer: Because male superiority, strength and power is dependent on the oppression of women.

Question: If men are more powerful than women, why do they oppose the equality of women?

Answer:  Because male power is a direct result and dependent on the inequality of women.

Question: If male superiority and power is dependent on the oppression and inequality of women, isn’t that the antithesis of true superiority and power?

Answer:  Because male power is dependent on the oppression and inequality of women, it is not true superiority and power but instead an addiction.

Question: If male superiority and power is not true superiority and power but instead an addiction to the oppression and inequality of women, doesn’t this suggest that there is something wrong with men?

Answer:  Since men must oppress and maintain the inequality of women to feel superior and powerful, the actual oppression and maintaining of inequality acts as their drug that masks something even more sinister.

Question: If male oppression and maintenance of the inequality of women is a drug that makes men feel superior and powerful, isn’t this the opposite of superiority and power  — inferiority and powerlessness?

Answer:  B.I.N.G.O.

 

By Michele Braa-Heidner