Friday, January 06, 2006

State of the Union

Ah, the pissing gallery:

Straw feminists (I am not a real feminist and I cater to men's opinions of me)

Ide's Place (I'm just a reactionary idiot)

It always makes me sad when I upset long-term posters I respect, like Ide Cyan, and likely many more who haven't been vocal about how upset they are that I seem to have posted an opinion that that doesn't appear to be hard feminist left.

Here's my deal, though:

I believe people are inherently good. I believe people can have civil discussions. And I think we can do it all together. Maybe that's old-school hippie talk.

Ide asked me if I'd gone nuts and burned my Joanna Russ books. Quite the contrary. The horror of Russ's story, "When It Changed," is that the only way women will ever be seen as fully independent human beings is if men are dead. And that when and if men ever come to a women-only world, that they'll still see women as infantile, as objects, as children.

That's pretty fucking horrible to think about.

And it's offensive to both men and women.

It assumes men will never see women as people. And so it assumes feminism will fail.

Because it's not only women's minds we need to change, women we need to educate, but we need to engage with male friends, lovers, fathers, brothers, etc. and teach them what rape culture is, that sexist jokes aren't OK, that sharing household work and looking after the kids is part of being an adult, not a woman. There's already a general shift in men's attitudes toward women. If you look at how men over 40 treat you and how men under 40 treat you, whoa boy, yea, there's a differece. Try it out. I know I've noticed it.

We need to raise feminist women *and* men, because we can scream at the top of our lungs about how shitty it is to be oppressed, but until we start educating people - men and women - about what that means to us, we're screaming in the dark.

So when I see a blog that was open for general discussion start talking about exclusion, about limiting its audience to "radical" female feminists only (who gets to decide who those women are?), I get pretty worried. And that's OK for me to express that opinion. And it's cool to be challenged on it.

For me, it's not an issue of one thread on one blog. I took that idea and I ran with it. I'm a fantasy writer. That's what I do. I take an idea and I see how it could possibly effect everything else. And the ramifications worried me.

I got through an abusive relationship with a man, and then I recreated myself and found a voice. And I'm all about encouraging other women to do the same. And educating men about how that shit just ain't OK.

There was a fascinating question on one of the threads about whether or not I'm homophobic, which I found pretty funny, because I'm mistaken for a radical feminist lesbian boxer by people on the far right.

I think each side is going to paint you into a box of who they think you should be, who they see you as. And I'm not going to win that one. People see you how they want to see you.

Am I a feminist? Do I believe in the equal rights of women? Equal pay for equal work? The elimination of the rape culture? Do I believe in encouraging women to be strong and smart and speak in loud voices?

You fucking bet I do.

And if you think I don't because I saw where limiting a general discussion blog to a small "in" group could lead, because I thought about all of the future reprecussions (this is what I do), then you don't know much about me at all.

I think my fascination kicks in when I realize just how much this pissed people off. It was just another rant, for me.

What nerve did I hit with this one?

10 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Patrick said...

All I can think about is "The Life of Brian", where the People's Front of Judea got into a screaming match with the Judean People's Front about the best way to fight the Romans.

Or possibly the psych study where the rat in the cage got lessed stressed when it found another rat to bite, even if the other rat wasn't the one who put it in the cage and gave it random electrical shocks in the first place. They can't vent their spleen with the old white guys in power, but they can sure as hell feel a bit better yelling at you for not agreeing with them properly.

Incidentally, you can rest assured that I'll be informing your lesbian roommates, not to mention mutual friends in New Zealand and South Africa, how homophobic you are. 

Posted by Patrick

Kameron Hurley said...

Yea, it is pretty weird to see feminists arguing over such a minor issue when in fact, I suspect we've got a lot more in common than we do not in common.

It's like arguments among Hard SF, Soft SF, Cyberpunk, New Weird and etc. all arguing about what's more "intellectual" to write about. How about we all agree writing is cool and go write?

Eh, so it goes.

And yea, I figure Jenn and K will take my homophobia pretty hard... 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

jeff said...

Ditto on the People's Front of Judea comparison, Patrick.

I couldn't bring myself to read all (or most) of the comments regarding your opinion on Alas and the 'separate but equal' threads. Not because it's not interesting, but because of the quanity of time it would take to do so.

But I did want to chime in on two points:

The 'homophobia' thing is a complete red herring anyway. Anybody who's read your blog for a while can tell that building a case for you being somehow a closeted homophobe is an uphill battle, at the very least.

I don't get, however, how your position is really a position agains SOME threads being radical feminist only threads. You point out that there are times/places that women-only spaces are necessary and good (DV counseling places, for instance). Perhaps you and some of the others over at Alas simply differ on when those spaces are needed and/or most helpful.

Even given all that you've said, would you object to SOME spaces being women-only, or would you think that they are completely pointless? Doesn't seem so from your take on things (which is why I'm asking)--so why are they all up in arms about it?

Even under your view, it doesn't seem like one could say that there should be NO women's only spaces in the 'sphere; seems to me that you're saying more something along the lines of 'that's not the best way to go, in general,' which is a completely different argument, I think, and a good one.

Meanwhile, people like Ide seem to think that, in general, women's only spaces on the 'sphere IS the way to go--but it seems like even they would be hard pressed to say that there should be NO spaces where pro-feminist/feminist men, women and t-folk can get together and talk civily, learn from each other, and interact in a way that does (your point is such a good one) mirror the rest of the world, where we all tend to have to interact.

Sorry if I'm ranting a bit. I'm trying hard to divest myself of the troll-like qualities I've been accused of having. :) 

Posted by jeffliveshere

Ide Cyan said...

I was thinking more of Russ's What Are We Fighting For?, and specifically, the chapter on separatism ("For Women Only"), which she published over twenty years after "When it Changed".

It assumes men will never see women as people. And so it assumes feminism will fail.

Russ quotes Dana Densmore, who wrote a pamphlet in which she "noted that the question, 'Why do you want to kill off all the men?' was feminist-baiting and meant 'You'll have to kill me to change me'." (p.96)

I got through an abusive relationship with a man, and then I recreated myself and found a voice. And I'm all about encouraging other women to do the same. And educating men about how that shit just ain't OK.

Would that have worked if you hadn't left him first? 

Posted by Ide Cyan

Anonymous said...

Only you, Kam...only you would have a discussion that turns into a semi-screaming match that kinda ends with you posting the links to the websites of your detractors. Honestly, Kam--how do you do this shit? More importantly, does this mean I shouldn't knit you a scarf for your birthday? [That was a joke, for anyone who might not have realized...I don't knit, I quilt.] 

Posted by Steph

La Gringa said...

hey, ya know, people will find things to become upset about no matter what. i say be true to yourself, write what you believe and to hell with the rest. :-) 

Posted by La Gringa

Anonymous said...

This sort of thing is easy to avoid in the future if you like, Kam. All you have to do is pretend that simple solutions to complex problems can actually work. Give the people what they want. Reality is sooo depressingly messy after all.

Bad writer. No pie for you.

I suppose I should stop typing there, but I wouldn't want to shock the few people here that know me by not tossing off one of my many opinions. As far as I'm concerned sexism is the pathetic domain of the ignorant and insecure. Reverse sexism is just damn funny! Anyone who fights something by becoming just like it always gets a laugh out of me. I thank God daily for all the little people he's put on this planet for my cheap amusement. Why pay for entertainment when ignorance and fools find you for free?

Perhaps I'm a cynic, but in general I find it's safe to bet on mental laziness were most people are concerned. It's safe and easy. It makes no unpleasant demands and causes no painful soul searching. I don't think there is anything more painful than looking back on a part of your own life and seeing how you were really everything you hated. It costs far less in the short run to react rather than act. Lies can be very safe.

When you challenge someones safety....they react. 

Posted by Branded by Steph

Kameron Hurley said...

Honestly, Kam--how do you do this shit? More importantly, does this mean I shouldn't knit you a scarf for your birthday?  

I enjoy a good debate. As your whipping-boy (heh heh) pointed out, when you challenge somebody's opinions, that place they feel safe, they're going to react. I like to understand where they're coming from. I like to understand people's opinions, and if they clash with my beliefs, I like to challenge them. I think that's cool, that coming together of ideas and approaches.

It means some people are going to get scared and hate you, but that's OK. If I wanted a safe life, I wouldn't have traveled around the world. I wouldn't be where I am now.

Ide - I'm going to have to re-read that chapter. I have "What Are We Fighting For?" right here in my room. I'll have another look.

I agree the question "Why do you want to kill all the men?" can be feminist baiting, but the more I re-read "When it Changed," and thought about some of the feminist utopias other writers had come up with, and brainstorming my own ideas I thought, "Yea, what's up with that `we can only have a female-dominated or female-friendly or even egalitarian society if all the men are dead' thing?" Because as a fantasy writer, I was busy coming up with ways to get rid of men, too.

I thought it was fascinating that I went to that place, and it was an issue I wanted to explore more in depth. Why did that seem like the only real solution? Why was it so hard to conceive of societies where women ruled or were equal where men weren't offed in some way?

Maybe some of that is because if we *did* have an egalitarian society, let alone a female-dominated one, men would lose power. If men are "in power" now, it just follows that in the sharing of power, men would have to lose some.

And there's going to be (and is) a long fight to spread that around. It interests me.

Would that have worked if you hadn't left him first?

I'm not sure I follow this one. I've ever advocated staying in an abusive relationship, obviously. What's the argument there?  

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like Ide is saying that if you hadn't left your abusive boyfriend, you would not have done many of the things that you have...but by that logic if you hadn't left the "one-horse town", you wouldn't have done anything either. Hell, if you didn't get out of bed each and every morning you wouldn't have done those things. Not trying to put words in anyone's mouth, but that is a logical fallacy. While I have no doubt that leaving abusive boyfriend was a catalyst for many of the changes you made, I don't necessarily believe thats the sole reason. 

Posted by Steph

VJ said...

Geez, My head's spinning from all this utterly useless prattle in the comments on the original post. I've seen this film before. Many times. I well recall earlier generations of 'RadFems'. So let me add just a little perspective here.

Want to advance your cause or position? This is not done behind the closed, closeted, safe walls of salons or limited comment boards. Then as now, we need actions to make the words real. Those who want to lay claim the mantle must engage the wider world with their ideas and prevail. Somewhere. Somehow. If you're not engaged in an effective political movement or an active militia, your words will never reach the ears nor influence their intended audience or the wider public. Talking earnestly among friends is a fine start, but it's wholly insufficient for advancing changes in our culture, politics or public policy.

So I'll ask from this perspective, what are the RadFems here and elsewhere doing about the severely limited access to abortion in ND & MS? What are they doing about hypocritical right wing religious nuts that continue to frequent prostitutes, both male and female, even though they hold high political office and enjoy the power over life and death decisions for most of the women of our nation? Then ask yourself, where the hell were these RadFems when a mysterious openly gay prostitute [Jeff Gannon/Guckert] was working (as a barely accreditied journo.) inside the White House and seemingly had free run of the place? How come none of them asked why this clown was checked Into the WH over 200 times, and only 'checked out' ~100 times in very carefully kept WH logs? The kind of logs they tore into Clinton for the same thing? Strange, is it not?

So we impeached a fine President for an ill advised extra marital affair with a consenting adult. Me, I quit my local NOW group when our local President agreed with the Christian Coalition that Clinton should be impeached for this non crime. That was completely nonsensical to me. Pretty damn counter productive too, and against the wishes of about 72% of the public at the time. Gee that was so radical! If not exactly useful, it certainly misunderstood the entire dynamics of the situation, (see: 'The Hunting of the President' by Lyons & Conason).

So spare me the silly damn arguments and the fine distinctions of what a 'true' RadFem looks like. Arguing on some obscure boards matters very little to anyone, that's right. Really exposing right wing hypocrisy effectively and well before the offensive gay baiting of last election (gay marriage, remember?) might have been of some real use. But me, I'm betting that many of the so called 'RadFems' who care so vehemently about this comment issue here and elsewhere were too busy sucking their collective thumbs to get involved in real live dirty politics where they might have actually done some good.

Who knows? Some RadFem collective who worked on & broke the WH 'gay prostitution ring' story to the press might have shortened the war by some months. They might have prevented a very bad justice from taking the bench at the USSC. They could have saved abortion in your lifetime.

But most of you perhaps care more for this blather than the real world that exists outside your door. You may indeed hate what's out there, and fear it with every fiber of your being, but this does not change this reality one iota. We need to engage the world to change it. We need to understand it and our opponents in order to prevail over them. This is a simple lesson, and it's all that Kameron was trying to say. And she right as rain on that score too. Cheers, 'VJ' 

Posted by VJ