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Housework and compulsory heterosexuality

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Fleur
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Apr 10 2013 20:59

Incidentally, between starting posting that and finally hitting save, I had to go away and do some housework and if I could find some way of refraining from that I would be very pleased.

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Chilli Sauce
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Apr 10 2013 21:00

f-e-r, "up" just doesn't capture it.

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Apr 10 2013 21:09
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btw, PIV? Is this a new bit of terminology which somehow passed me by? I would generally be using a far more anglo-saxon vocabulary to discuss this. Personally, I don't like using any vocabulary relating to sex which is overly, clinical, medical or political. I think by doing that it removes it the sphere of what is a normal, natural and everyday sort of life.

I thought this was spot-on, as well as the rest of fluer's post- I very much doubt I will use the term PIV outside of this thread.

Fleur
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Apr 10 2013 21:23

Chilli- thank you smile

A Wotsit- not just me then. I was worried that I might start getting told off for using insensitive language every time the subject of sex came up. Well, thank f*** for that.

notrueliberal
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Apr 11 2013 04:33

First I would like to say that I don't understand why you think there isn't common interests between labour and capital. Given the increase in efficiency brought about by the division of labour it seems that labour and capital have the same goals. The capitalist who owns a factory for example needs the labour inorder to run his factory, like wise the workers, the labour need the capital of the factory. The productivity found with the division of labour is what creates society. Man as part of society works with others because in doing so his producitive is increased exponentially. The division of labour allows Man to produce far more than he could in solitude, like Robinson Crusoe. It is a symbiotic relationship.

If you do not desire to work for someone, a feeling I can sympathize with. Then start your own business. If you do not like the top down organization provided by a company run by a CEO, then join or create a horizantly owned and operated firm. There is no need for conflict. In fact conflict is bad for business.

A romantic relationship is the same thing, it is a partnership, it is not a war between genders. If it were the case that relationships only added to the conflict in our lives why would anyone desire to be in one? It is self destructive to do so and counter to Man's nature.

admin note: the first part of this comment is completely off topic. If you want to start a new discussion start a new thread. Do not derail threads.

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commieprincess
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Apr 11 2013 07:43

http://www.libcom.org/library/capitalism-introduction

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Joseph Kay
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Apr 11 2013 09:21
Steven. wrote:
Thanks for explaining what you mean by "compulsory heterosexuality", although I must say I don't understand it at all because it is nothing to do with heterosexuality being compulsory, so to me the terminology sounds inappropriate and counter-productive.

Just to pick up on this... a lot of the theory on this has its origins in the 1970s. At that time, the state actively repressed and criminalised gay/trans people, and marriage legally entitled men to the use of their wife's body, making consent pretty meaningless. Since then, some of the laws have changed (legalising homosexuality, criminalising marital rape etc), though to what extent legal changes have changed real relations is debateable (e.g. domestic violence has long been illegal, but cops still routinely fail to give a shit).

Another argument would be that economically women need to take a husband because men earn more etc. This makes heterosexuality compulsory in the same way work is compulsory, i.e. if not absolute, certainly the norm (I think Delphy argues along these lines?). So even if marriage is much less a transfer of woman-as-property from her father to her husband than it used to be, there's still structural pressures towards heterosexual marriage/nuclear families.

I think maybe what this line of argument misses (or rather, failed to anticipate, since it hadn't really happened yet at the time) is the extent to which capitalism, while maintaining structural pressures towards heterosexuality, the nuclear family etc, also takes up a legalistic, liberal form of equality (gay marriage, Equalities Act etc), and is more than happy to commodify non-normative sexualities ('the pink pound' etc). Maybe it's worth thinking in terms of tendencies - a dialectic of liberal equality and liberal family values perhaps, just like we see left (trade unions, lefist parties...) and right wings (employers associations, neoliberal parties...) of capital.

Deck access wrote:
What does anyone think? Am I on my own agreeing that men are structurally the enemies of women?

I dunno about enemies (but, I would say that...). I mean, is man-woman as capital-labour? What forces compel (as opposed to merely protect or encourage) men to act against women? Capitalists cease to be capitalists if they don't exploit labour. Do men cease to be men if they don't exploit women? (genuine questions here... I guess this is where 'real man' identity comes in).

I definitely think a gender-blind conception of class misses important structural differences, and differences, including sometimes opposing, interests (e.g. trade unions striking to keep women out of the workforce, autonomist men attacking a women's march for divorce rights in 1970s Italy, protection of leftist abusers/rapists to this day...). But I think 'enemy' is maybe too radfem, mirroring the narrow class politics it was a reaction too.

I think there's a tension, sometimes conflicting interests, but that these interests can be recombined into a more expansive class interest. E.g. men can support divorce rights, reproductive freedom etc with more freedom than capitalists can support workers rights, or unions can in principle fight for all workers, not just men. Quite often, autonomous organisation needs to give a bit of a kick to make this happen. It's not an automatic byproduct of class struggle. But if there's a structural enmity, it seems like a fairly weak structure amongst various patriarchal structures.

E.g. it's in men's interests for women to do loads of unpaid domestic work, but that doesn't seem like the only configuration. Differential labour market access and wages create a structural pressure towards male breadwinner/female domestic work even where the people concerned may be enlightened believers in equality. That then sets up a certain enmity: even if ultimately the unwaged work is work for capital as Marxist feminist claim, the man is the foreman. But it doesn't seem insurmountable. So say, women's struggle against domestic work. in the first instance it may confront men, but could be recomposed as working class women and men making demands on capital/the state for childcare, shorter working hours for no loss of pay, enhanced maternity/paternity leave etc. Men may make themselves the enemy, but I'm not sure they're necessarily/structually so, even if we often need pushing into a less male conception of class interest.

I think maybe thinking of class as inherently fractured and striated, an assemblage of internal tensions and conflicts is helpful. The task would be to conceive class struggle without the subordination of internal tensions to external enemies ('after the revolution!' etc), to make these tensions generative of struggles rather than suppress them in the name of unity.

Kinda thinking out loud here tbh. Edit: and probably echoing some of the arguments in that Judith Butler 'Merely cultural' essay which argues sexuality and race are structurally part of the mode of production.

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Apr 11 2013 09:29

JK FTW.

Also,

notrueanarchist wrote:
Man's nature

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Apr 11 2013 12:45

Joseph Kay, that was great! And thank you for explaining compulsory heterosexuality :)

Quote:
So say, women's struggle against domestic work. in the first instance it may confront men, but could be recomposed as working class women and men making demands on capital/the state for childcare, shorter working hours for no loss of pay, enhanced maternity/paternity leave etc. Men may make themselves the enemy, but I'm not sure they're necessarily/structually so, even if we often need pushing into a less male conception of class interest.

I’m not surprised you used an example like this:). And it’s a good example, but this is the reason I keep talking about f***ing and heterosexuality- these are also parts of domestic work, and something women can struggle against. It’s not just housework and childcare*. A different example is political lesbianism- it involves women imposing their needs on society, against the tendency of compulsory heterosexuality. I think (do you?) that men need to be confronted in all these instances before the struggle can be recomposed.
fleurnoire-et-rouge, when you said

Quote:
I really don't think that refraining from PIV is an effective tactic to dismantle patriarchy, either within a relationship or in wider society as a whole

I agree that it’s not a tactic, only a potential demand.
Also, Joseph Kay:

Quote:
Do men cease to be men if they don't exploit women?

I’m not sure what the most useful way to describe it is, but how I’ve been thinking about it myself is that women will have to ‘destroy men/recompose as a unified class’. I’ve seen the slogan a couple of times ‘abolish gender’- so in that sense men cease to be men, and women cease to be women.

Quote:
I think 'enemy' is maybe too radfem

Well whether or not ‘enemy’ is the right word, I don’t think you can ever be ‘too radfem’ tongue

* ‘It is precisely this peculiar combination of physical, emotional and sexual services that are involved in the role women must perform for capital that creates the specific character of that servant which is the housewife’

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Apr 11 2013 13:40
Deck access wrote:
A different example is political lesbianism- it involves women imposing their needs on society, against the tendency of compulsory heterosexuality. I think (do you?) that men need to be confronted in all these instances before the struggle can be recomposed.

Probably, but I don't really feel in a position to say and/or I'm not really sure. I mean with sexuality, certainly the struggle is sometimes in direct confrontation with men (e.g. stalkers, harassers, rapists and those individuals, organisations and institutions who protect and defend them). With political lesbianism, it seems less an imposition on men than a refusal, a withdrawal from any economic or sexual contract with men. I guess that could be part of an implicit or explicit negotiation/imposition - 'we refuse heterosexual relations under these conditions, change the conditions and we may reconsider'.

But more generally, I'm not sure (not deliberately ducking the question, I'm just not very clear myself). I guess I'm wondering to what extent can this relation be voluntaristically escaped, and to what extent it's structurally given. Stuff like the wage gap, feminised casualisation etc does shift domestic labour disproportionately onto women. Is there anything analogous imposing unwanted sexual services? I guess domestic violence coupled with legal/state indifference/tacit support. My gut reaction is to just say 'well just divide up the housework equally, offer reciprocal emotional support and only have sex when all parties are enthusiastic about it'. But I guess it's easier to say that from my standpoint, and yeah, men will generally need to have those terms imposed on them, by partners laying down the law and/or organisations (Gulabi Gang, that SolNet style stalker confrontation...).

Deck access wrote:
I’m not sure what the most useful way to describe it is, but how I’ve been thinking about it myself is that women will have to ‘destroy men/recompose as a unified class’. I’ve seen the slogan a couple of times ‘abolish gender’- so in that sense men cease to be men, and women cease to be women.

Yeah, that makes sense. Probably wasn't the best analogy/turn of prhase. I think it's Delphy again who argued the gender binary is hierarchically structured, so there can't be an equal relation between genders, only abolition/transformation. In that sense, maybe the gender binary is maintained by male power over women (and other men, homophobic bullying etc), and so giving up that power does threaten masculine identities. Certainly that would explain the common defensive male reactions to feminist claims. Or another way, maybe masculinity can only be performed as dominating women, whether through sexual conquest/laddism/intellectual one-up-manship/mansplaining* and so that identity is incompatible with feminist struggles. which would mean men either defend their sense of self and make themselves enemies or give up masculine identity.

Again, kinda thinking out loud here, trying to work out what that means. I think it's probably more a case of what is unconsciously threatening to your sense of self than, say, consciously deciding to perform non-masculine norms. So more the giving up of certain entitled emotional attachments than say, dressing androgynously/queer. i.e. identity more as a largely unconscious psychological thing rather than a conscious style. So by ceasing to exploit women (by choice or force), masculine identity becomes unstable, which can lead to revanchist backlash, or, perhaps, as part of a wider social movement/class struggle, to the breakdown and dissolution of gender as a meaningful social category.

Deck access wrote:
Well whether or not ‘enemy’ is the right word, I don’t think you can ever be ‘too radfem’ tongue

I, for one, welcome our new cybernetic matriarchs tongue

To be crude: radical feminism as in going to the roots of patriarchy, good stuff. Radical Feminism as in essentialist, transphobic, transposing crude Leninist/Stalinist class analysis onto sex - not so much. I think a lot of the materialist and Marxist feminism is much more radical than 'Radical Feminism' in that respect...

* that would only cover alpha masculinity, not so much beta/male feminist sex pest masculinity though, so not sure.

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Apr 11 2013 16:18
Quote:
With political lesbianism, it seems less an imposition on men than a refusal, a withdrawal from any economic or sexual contract with men.

I’d say it is an imposition- if a man feels entitled to his relationship with a woman, for her to refuse that can undermine him as a man. (I read part of a manga once where a guy divorced and remarried, and then his second wife left him for his first wife. It destroyed his masculinity. That was fiction though). Also, some men respond violently to their partners leaving them- if that seems likely, confronting him collectively could defend against it.
And even if it doesn’t impose on an individual man, it undermines the tendency towards compulsory heterosexuality.
sisterhoodispowerful:

Quote:
But it’s not just about withdrawal. It’s not negative. Choosing women is a positive choice – one that patriarchy so deeply fears that it operates a whole system of control which stops us from easily finding each other. Being sexual with women, and not men, is a positive choice for political lesbians. It is integrated by radical lesbian feminists with other ways in which patriarchy is undermined by woman-loving acts.

Quote:
Is there anything analogous imposing unwanted sexual services? I guess domestic violence coupled with legal/state indifference/tacit support.

I agree with that, and would prostitution fit in there as well?

Quote:
My gut reaction is to just say 'well just divide up the housework equally, offer reciprocal emotional support and only have sex when all parties are enthusiastic about it'. But I guess it's easier to say that from my standpoint, and yeah, men will generally need to have those terms imposed on them, by partners laying down the law and/or organisations (Gulabi Gang, that SolNet style stalker confrontation...).

Yeah, taking into account the levels of domestic violence (and threatened violence, and fear of violence), organisations are totally necessary to impose those terms. Do you think we can also learn from radical feminist practice? Womens’ shelters are a possibility. And we actively need to say that ‘any woman can be lesbian/any man can be gay’. And as fleurnoire-et-rouge mentioned, we need good sex education (that would abolish any notion of prude/slut).

Quote:
Again, kinda thinking out loud here, trying to work out what that means. I think it's probably more a case of what is unconsciously threatening to your sense of self than, say, consciously deciding to perform non-masculine norms. So more the giving up of certain entitled emotional attachments than say, dressing androgynously/queer.

This might be the key difference between what we can do and what liberal/queer feminism can do smile Of course, for women, dressing outside of strict rules is a potential demand.

Quote:
So by ceasing to exploit women (by choice or force), masculine identity becomes unstable, which can lead to revanchist backlash, or, perhaps, as part of a wider social movement/class struggle, to the breakdown and dissolution of gender as a meaningful social category.

This sounds very likely. So if we’re trying to step up the struggle right now, defence from the anger of wounded men is essential.

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Apr 11 2013 19:20
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And we actively need to say that ‘any woman can be lesbian/any man can be gay’

Maybe I'm being semantic here, but what do you mean by "can". Any man should be permitted to gay? Any woman has the ability to be a lesbian? Or that any man or woman inherently has homosexual desires and therefore 'can' be queer?

Because if it's the first, of course. The second, I'm not really sure that's relevant. And the third, I'm just not sure that's true.

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Apr 15 2013 09:34
Joseph Kay wrote:
I think maybe thinking of class as inherently fractured and striated, an assemblage of internal tensions and conflicts is helpful. The task would be to conceive class struggle without the subordination of internal tensions to external enemies ('after the revolution!' etc), to make these tensions generative of struggles rather than suppress them in the name of unity.

Very succinct/well written, gah.

Joseph Kay wrote:
To be crude: radical feminism as in going to the roots of patriarchy, good stuff. Radical Feminism as in essentialist, transphobic, transposing crude Leninist/Stalinist class analysis onto sex - not so much. I think a lot of the materialist and Marxist feminism is much more radical than 'Radical Feminism' in that respect...

I didn't follow this, sorry, should I be following your capitalisation of the letter 'r'/'R'? You're saying materialist and Marxist feminism goes to the roots of patriarchy, whereas Radical Feminism can be essentialist, transphobic, ... ?

Joseph Kay wrote:
that would only cover alpha masculinity, not so much beta/male feminist sex pest masculinity though, so not sure.

Any links or further thoughts on this beta male/male feminist sex pesting and identity or links perhaps?

Mansplaining for me as a concept was good, but 'leftsplaining' hand

Some of this conversation on the thread, imo related a bit to the 'Undoing Sex' essay in LIES journal in terms of the critique of "some "pure" sex or sexuality not bound up in social relations". I thought the essay as a whole difficult and problematic.

As an aside re: PIV sex, I've had (lesbian/queer) acquaintances recount tales of being criticised for the use of sex toys/strap ons by RadFems, so wondering how much the penetrative part is an aspect, albeit 'disembodied' so to speak.

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Apr 11 2013 23:01

Chilli Sauce:
I wouldn’t say anyone has ‘inherent’ sexual desires, since however you look at it, sexual desire is a social thing. I mean that everyone has the ability to have lesbian/gay relationships.

Quote:
It used to be known in the Radical Lesbian Feminist movement of the Seventies that all women choose

-Bev Jo

Shorty:

Quote:
As an aside re: PIV sex, I've had (lesbian/queer) acquaintances recount tales of being criticised for the use of sex toys/strap ons by RadFems, so wondering how much the penetrative past is an aspect, albeit 'disembodied' so to speak.

Yeah, since PIV is pretty much the only thing seen as proper sex, lots of other sex acts tend to mirror it. I think there’s a similar thing with the traditional dominant/submissive of straight relationships being reproduced by lesbians and gay men, and also being rebranded as BDSM.

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Apr 13 2013 12:39

I just thought I should add something- I’m really not sure it’s ok for us to use the word ‘queer’? I’ve seen a few lesbians explicitly object to being called it. It’s an insult that some people have reclaimed, not a neutral word. Same as f*g or d*ke.
I just looked it up and ‘queer theory’ is a thing and all, but it didn’t look important.

Also, a question: Do any of the IWA sections have a housewives’ union/womens’ group of any sort?

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Apr 13 2013 20:49

Deck, you are a straight male trying to tell LGBT/queer people what labels to apply to themselves, and women how to have sex. Can't you see a problem there? I mean, its fine to ask questions and all but this is starting to look a bit like patriarchy in action, ain't it?

(Is it, or is it just me?)

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Apr 14 2013 10:22
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I wouldn’t say anyone has ‘inherent’ sexual desires, since however you look at it, sexual desire is a social thing. I mean that everyone has the ability to have lesbian/gay relationships.

This is uncomfortably close to saying being attracted to people of the same gender is something which is an accident of upbringing rather than part of human nature. Its uncomfortably close to the notion that same-sex attraction can be 'cured' or 'prevented' by 'proper' socialisation. Wrong.

Same-sex-attraction is a part of human nature- we have different and varied innate desires and these can be accentuated or changed by our experiences, but many people are attracted to people of their gender even when they are socialised and conditioned (and coerced) to be straight (obviously).

edit: perhaps I have been a bit unfair here since you haven't given the impression that you think same-sex attraction is undesirable or unnatural. I do however think it is part of our DNA or animal nature as well as influenced by our social experiences.

Fleur
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Apr 13 2013 21:12

A Wotsit

Quote:
Deck, you are a straight male trying to tell LGBT/queer people what labels to apply to themselves, and women how to have sex. Can't you see a problem there? I mean, its fine to ask questions and all but this is starting to look a bit like patriarchy in action, ain't it?

(Is it, or is it just me?)

No, it's not just you.
It's beyond ridiculous to tell people how they should be having sex, what their sexuality ought to be and what they call themselves but I'm too damned tired right now to have this argument.

notrueliberal
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Apr 13 2013 23:45

What consenting adults do in their homes and bedrooms is their business no one elses. I think that somes it up well.

RedHughs
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Apr 14 2013 06:31
Deck access wrote:
Responding to Steven:
This explains what I mean by compulsory heterosexuality, by Silvia Federici in ‘Wages against housework’

Quote:
In the same way as god created Eve to give pleasure to Adam, so did capital create the housewife to service the male worker physically, emotionally and sexually – to raise his children, mend his socks, patch up his ego when it is crushed by the work and the social relations (which are relations of loneliness) that capital has reserved for him. It is precisely this peculiar combination of physical, emotional and sexual services that are involved in the role women must perform for capital that creates the specific character of that servant which is the housewife, that makes her work so burdensome and at the same time invisible. It is not an accident that most men start thinking of getting married as soon as they get their first job. This is not only because now they can afford it, but because having somebody at home who takes care of you is the only condition not to go crazy after a day spent on an assembly line or at a desk. Every woman knows that this is what she should be doing to be a true woman and have a ‘successful’ marriage.

Basically the emotional and sexual servitude to men is what I’ve been calling ‘compulsory heterosexuality’,

The sexual and social relations of today are certainly the relations of capitalist society. However, saying this does not show exactly which aspects of those relations would change given a new society. The main point should be that these new relations would have to be constructed during the process of creating a new society, not put out by us as a blue print based on the things we've deduced are bad in one fashion or another. This goes for the architecture of a new society as much as for kind of sexual behavior or whatever.

Further, capitalism filled, to the brim, with problematic, exploitative and undesirable voluntary behaviors (sexual and otherwise). I think we all imagine that some portion of these would stop with the end of the system. But we can't put an end to these relationships by having some third party walk in and say "I know what's best for you, you have to stop this immediately, it is bad". Such, well, authoritarianism, just inserts further abuse on top of whatever exists already. The change from all the undesirable (to us) behavior pretty much has to come from a mass movements which gives people more choices. When women and men have a wide variety of choices in their lives, healthy behaviors are most likely to grow. And these healthy behaviors may or may not be what we think are healthy now. Probably just as well.

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Apr 15 2013 09:58
notrueliberal wrote:
What consenting adults do in their homes and bedrooms is their business no one elses. I think that somes it up well.

Step 1. In depth political analysis

Step 2. ???

Step 3. Revolution

EDIT: re-reading this, I realise it might seem like I'm suggesting that notrueliberal's comment is incorrect. It is of course correct. I was merely implying the simplistic liberal one-liner was a shit addition to the thread, particularly when I was reading it for the comparisons between class and gender relations rather than the fairly mental RadFem stuff. Which is by and large just offensive. Apologies for any offence it might of caused.

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Apr 14 2013 21:44

A Wotsit:

Quote:
Deck, you are a straight male trying to tell LGBT/queer people what labels to apply to themselves, and women how to have sex. Can't you see a problem there? I mean, its fine to ask questions and all but this is starting to look a bit like patriarchy in action, ain't it?

I wasn’t talking about your use of the word queer. Here is what I am bothered by, from thefreedictionary.com entry for queer:

Quote:
Usage Note: A reclaimed word is a word that was formerly used solely as a slur but that has been semantically overturned by members of the maligned group, who use it as a term of defiant pride. Queer is an example of a word undergoing this process. For decades queer was used solely as a derogatory adjective for gays and lesbians, but in the 1980s the term began to be used by gay and lesbian activists as a term of self-identification. Eventually, it came to be used as an umbrella term that included gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Nevertheless, a sizable percentage of people to whom this term might apply still hold queer to be a hateful insult, and its use by heterosexuals is often considered offensive. Similarly, other reclaimed words are usually offensive to the in-group when used by outsiders, so extreme caution must be taken concerning their use when one is not a member of the group.

That is why I initially questioned your use of the word. ‘Straight with queer tendencies’ sounded like you were heterosexual.
Note that Joseph Kay: ‘dressing androgynously/queer’, myself: ‘liberal/queer feminism’, Chilli Sauce: ‘therefore 'can' be queer?’ and Shorty: ‘I've had (lesbian/queer) acquaintances’ have also all used the word in this discussion. I am well aware that to many people queer is a neutral or positive word. I don’t care about that. I do care that I’ve seen several lesbians object to its use.
I thought that NannerNannerNanner calling a woman ‘radscum’ was offensive as well.
Also, this looks something like ‘patriarchy in action’ to me:

Quote:
If I told my partner I thought we shouldn't have PIV 'because of patriarchy' I'm pretty sure she would be quite disappointed and confused about that.

Yeah, women shouldn’t challenge their pre-conceived notions, it’ll just confuse them! Haha my partner loves intercourse so much, she’d be really disappointed if we stopped!! Nope, there isn’t any way to have sex without good old intercourse!!
btw, I am not straight.

RedHughs:
Thank you for the considered response.

Quote:
The main point should be that these new relations would have to be constructed during the process of creating a new society

Aren’t we ‘building the new world in the shell of the old’? What we do today matters.

Quote:
But we can't put an end to these relationships by having some third party walk in and say "I know what's best for you, you have to stop this immediately, it is bad". Such, well, authoritarianism, just inserts further abuse on top of whatever exists already. The change from all the undesirable (to us) behavior pretty much has to come from a mass movements which gives people more choices.

I am not suggesting an authoritarian approach. I agree that consciousness increases through struggle. I still think that it is important to criticise heterosexuality and PIV, because these are demonstrably means by which men harm women.

Quote:
When women and men have a wide variety of choices in their lives, healthy behaviors are most likely to grow. And these healthy behaviors may or may not be what we think are healthy now. Probably just as well.

I do not think we can reach this point without criticising heterosexuality and PIV here and now. Because women do not have much choice.

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Apr 14 2013 23:12
Quote:
Yeah, women shouldn’t challenge their pre-conceived notions, it’ll just confuse them! Haha my partner loves intercourse so much, she’d be really disappointed if we stopped!! Nope, there isn’t any way to have sex without good old intercourse!!

I never said that.

I am confused by your views on PIV, a great deal, and I have actually spoken to my partner about them (I speak to her about most things I find interesting). The summation of her response was "what the fuck?!" and then she pretty closely echoed the arguments put forward by other people on this thread (inc. the female posters). I can report that as far as I can tell (I'm pretty sure I can tell) at no point since she became aware of the theory has her interest in, and enjoyment of, PIV diminished. (edit- cringe, don't know how to say that without sounding cringeworthy)

edit- deleted an irrelevant paragraph- thought Deck was taking issue with my use of the word queer to describe myself, but he wasn't, and I covered that already...

How many women have you spoken to about your ideas? What do you think of the responses you've had from women on here so far?

I apologise for assuming you were straight, it is none of my concern but I thought you had used that label to describe yourself earlier in the thread. I must have been mistaken. Sorry.

edit- I am struggling with this post- may re-write it tomorrow when I am sober- may just leave it alone

Fleur
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Apr 15 2013 03:40

I have to say that this is beginning to annoy the shit out of me. For one thing, I take great offence of anyone telling me what exactly I should get up to in bed. I'm really pissed at a man telling me that what I enjoy in bed is due only to social conditioning and I am therefore too stupid, oppressed or brainwashed to challenge these "pre-conceived notions" and to try having sex in other ways, because trust me sweetie I have, with men and women.
I have no idea why you are so concerned with vaginas but you very clearly have very little understanding about the anatomy and physiology of vaginas and the process of arousal in female genitalia. Given that you are very much influenced by the feminism which was developed in the 1970s, I would suggest that check out Our Bodies Ourselves, by the Boston Women's Health Collective, the first edition of which was written at about the same time. Personally, I found it an invaluable source of material when I was first feeling my way around the subject (every pun intended there.) I suggest that you find out how it works and then ask yourself why you think women should be excluding this particular part of their anatomy from their pleasure.
Accepting that some women do not like to to have their vaginas touched, it is not the case for most and that is because it feels really good and asking women to give it up as a "potential demand" is quite ludicrous. No-one should be telling anyone how to enjoy sex. At all. For any reason and certainly telling women not to fuck to bring down patriarchy is just insulting, not least because we've been instructed not to fuck throughout human history for all sorts of other reasons.
I do not understand where you are coming from with your prurient interest in vaginas but if you really want to identify as a feminist it would be a good start to have enough respect for us and stop telling us what to do with our genitals because I have no intention of telling you how to enjoy ours.

edit: for the purposes of pure vanity, I would like to add that I'm not actually old enough to have made use of Our Bodies Ourselves in it's earliest editions. I just reread that and felt even older than I usually do.

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Steven.
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Apr 15 2013 09:15

Thank you fleur, for effectively outlining the actual anti-feminist nature of "Radical Feminism" (as distinguished from "radical feminism" as explained by Joseph Kay).

Deck access the only vaguely redeeming feature of the nonsensical blog you have linked to is that it at least is actually written by a woman, whereas you are not, therefore you dictating female sexuality in the name of "feminism" is even more hypocritical.

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Apr 15 2013 11:50

I find the arguments for viewing men and women as classes quite compelling. Sure, men aren't inherently the exploiters of women, but capitalists aren't a group of people who are inherently exploiters either. They could stop exploiting. But then by definition they wouldn't be capitalists. But equally the social construct "man" seems to be nothing but a list of qualities which it would be convenient to attribute to a group to justify that group's dominance. It's not quite the same but it does contradict the idea that only class is about exploitation, and that gender is just oppression. Within the home the traditional relationship between men and women is comparable to the relationship between the boss and the worker, but the man still has that relationship with his boss, so patriarchy makes a sort of class system within a class system. This makes the idea of patriarchy continuing into a classless society absurd. If class in the sense that it's usually conceived of were abolished, but the relationship between men and women continued, then there would be a class system based on gender. I'm not saying this is impossible, but anyone who believed we'd got rid of class would be wrong.

Regarding PIV, yes sex isn't all about orgasms, but piv sex seems (unsurprisingly considering reproduction etc) to be designed to make it very likely that the man gets off, and potentially possible but less likely to get the woman off. I don't think that means women don't enjoy it, as people have pointed out there are lots of sexual acts people enjoy that don't get them off. However considering there are other sexual acts which have a rate of success in getting women off which is closer to what piv is for men, it's not just heteronormative, but also sexist to consider piv to be "the sex". Accepting piv as central to sex and other sex acts as auxilliary/optional/foreplay seems to me to be accepting a definition of sex that is more convenient to men. So while I don't think it's anyone's business to say what people should or shouldn't enjoy, I don't think the importance we place on sex acts and how we think about them is off in some personal, non-political, realm.

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Apr 15 2013 12:37
Konsequent wrote:
I find the arguments for viewing men and women as classes quite compelling. Sure, men aren't inherently the exploiters of women, but capitalists aren't a group of people who are inherently exploiters either. They could stop exploiting. But then by definition they wouldn't be capitalists.

Sorry, but there is a real qualitative difference here.

Capitalists exploit workers by definition, as you point out. But not all men exploit (or oppress is probably a better term here due to the specific meaning of "exploitation") women, and a man who doesn't oppress women does not cease to be a man (except maybe in the eyes of a ridiculous sexist).

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Apr 15 2013 18:26

fleurnoire-et-rouge:

Quote:
For one thing, I take great offence of anyone telling me what exactly I should get up to in bed. I'm really pissed at a man telling me that what I enjoy in bed is due only to social conditioning and I am therefore too stupid, oppressed or brainwashed to challenge these "pre-conceived notions" and to try having sex in other ways, because trust me sweetie I have, with men and women.

This is my view, where I’ve managed to express it more clearly:

Quote:
And we actively need to say that ‘any woman can be lesbian/any man can be gay’. And as fleurnoire-et-rouge mentioned, we need good sex education (that would abolish any notion of prude/slut).

I don’t think that’s telling you exactly what to get up to in bed? I think what men enjoy in bed is due to social conditioning as well (though I respect those radical feminists who think it is due to men’s biology).

Quote:
I have no idea why you are so concerned with vaginas

I’m not.

Quote:
I would suggest that check out Our Bodies Ourselves

Thanks for the recommendation.

Quote:
I suggest that you find out how it works and then ask yourself why you think women should be excluding this particular part of their anatomy from their pleasure.

I don’t think that. Maybe I’m coming across really badly. Seriously, I thought the piece of anatomy I was criticising in PIV was the penis.

Quote:
asking women to give it up as a "potential demand" is quite ludicrous. No-one should be telling anyone how to enjoy sex.

I apologise, telling people how to enjoy sex is exactly what I don’t want to do. I’m sorry that I’m offending you. I don’t mean to ask anybody to give up intercourse.

Quote:
if you really want to identify as a feminist

I do not want to identify as a feminist. Radical feminists do not think men can be feminists, and I respect that, even if other feminists disagree.

A Wotsit: I apologise for suggesting that you were acting in a misogynistic way. I think it is great that you talked to your partner about PIV. To clarify my view: I think it is absolutely fine that your partner thought ‘what the fuck?!’. As I said, I think the important thing is that options exist.

Quote:
How many women have you spoken to about your ideas? What do you think of the responses you've had from women on here so far?

I haven’t spoken about it outside of libcom. I would have talked about it on the radical feminist blogs that I read, except they are where I got the ideas from in the first place, and the comments sections are female-only spaces.
As to the responses from women on here, I think fleurnoire-et-rouge’s comment here is one of the most useful things on the thread:

Quote:
I used to be a sex and drugs advisor, giving information to young folks, and my position was and still is that you need to educate yourself and have and develop confidence in your own sexuality. That means knowing what you want to do and what you don't want to do and being able to discuss that. Also, that sexuality is an integral and normal part of human life, one of Mother Nature's better ideas. I don't think that it's a good idea to throw a blanket prohibition on any sexual activity which people consensually enjoy, whether it's for religious, moral or political reasons.

Steven.:

Quote:
Thank you fleur, for effectively outlining the actual anti-feminist nature of "Radical Feminism"

Please stop demonizing radical feminism.

Konsequent: Great post!

Thank you all for sticking with the thread though

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Apr 15 2013 23:34
Steven. wrote:

Capitalists exploit workers by definition, as you point out. But not all men exploit (or oppress is probably a better term here due to the specific meaning of "exploitation") women, and a man who doesn't oppress women does not cease to be a man (except maybe in the eyes of a ridiculous sexist).

I definitely meant exploit, not oppress. Women's oppression is nothing new to me. What I find interesting is this idea, as I understand it's being discussed here, that women are, as a group, exploited by men, as a group. So if, say, all women were excluded from paid work, and therefore have no way of feeding themselves, then all they have to trade is their capacity to perform women's work (housework, sex, childrearing, etc) and have to enter into a relationship with a man to survive. So the man in the relationship pays for the stuff they need, and in return they do "unpaid work". That's exploitation, not oppression, surely.

The difference as I see it is that, as you say, a person isn't only a man while he's exploiting a woman, and no longer a man when he isn't as is the case with the relationship between capitalists and workers. This is more apparent now that women make up more of the workforce. But it doesn't change the fact that his role in this relationship is traditionally to be the exploiter. The oppression of women by men is something that helps maintain the exploitation of women by men though it seems to be able to continue even without it*.

I don't want to just rehash the discussion that Deck access and Joseph Kay were having above about this exploitation aspect, as they expressed it all a lot more intelligently than me. JKs point about men being more like the foreman makes sense since the unpaid labour that women do is sort of for the man, but also sort of for the capitalist for whom the man's working. My point still stands that without the capitalist it would just be a two class system with the man exploiting the woman.

This idea of a man ceasing to be a man if he isn't oppressing women isn't just a belief of a "ridiculous sexist" though. Clearly within the current framework of what being a man or a woman is, it would be absurd to say someone wasn't a man if they weren't oppressing women, and would probably be seen as sexist, especially as people might think the implication was that the person had failed to be a man rather than succeeded in not being a man. But I think the reason that the abolition of gender was mentioned above is, if I've understood correctly, because without women's exploitation there would be no need for women's oppression, without women's oppression there would be no need for gender roles, and without gender roles there would be no genders. So while an individual man is still attributed the gender, and with that the expected qualities, of a man, even if he as an individual isn't oppressing women, in the long run men will cease to be men, and women will cease to be women, if men cease to oppress women.

*I've got thoughts in my head comparing gender to sociological class in this context, but I can't quite put my finger on it. If anyone has ideas on this please help me out.

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Apr 16 2013 02:01

Deck Access

OK, I may have been a bit hard on you, it's not always easy to express yourself clearly on the internet. I think you're confusing radical feminism, as most people I expect here understand it, as distinct from liberal notions of feminism, i.e. the kind of feminism which promotes getting more women into senior management, leadership roles etc, and Radical Feminism as something which developed out of the women's movement in the 1970s, the ideas you are citing here. I also think you are referencing Andrea Dworkin and Adrienne Rich, indirectly, neither of whom I have read more recently than when I was in my late teens, so I'm not going to be able to quote. Not that I do the quoting thing anyway.

Andrea Dworkin wrote a book called Intercourse, which many people interpreted as saying that all heterosexual vaginal penetrative sex was rape, which was NOT what she meant, but it did argue that PIV (yeah, I'll go back to the prevailing terminology in this thread) was the only sex which was recognized as "normal" sex, and that the nature of it's representation, in books, films etc, was possessive and violent. I don't agree with Dworkin on a lot of things but she was correct on this, societally PIV is what is seen as representing sex. Just watch any movie, or go back to Clinton's famous avowal that he "didn't have sex with that woman." Well, he didn't fuck her so he couldn't have had sex? I was watching Bladerunner yesterday, it's one of my favourite films, but that scene where Harrison Ford get's together with his replicant girlfriend is dodgy to say the least but it is very typical of representations of sex where the man is the dominant party. However, instead of redressing this situation by taking one particular sexual act and saying that this is the problem, it's sexist and oppressive, so let's remove it, I would argue that it's better to widen the scope of what is seen as normal. In reality, both in my experience and endless yakking about the subject, PIV is not the be all and end all of sex, there's a huge array of things people do to get off, that's just one of them. And if you have conversations with women who have sex with men, you'll probably find few who are happy to put up with just the wham bang thank you ma'am sort of sex that is depicted in popular culture. By concentrating so profoundly on PIV as a problem within sexuality, it is just mirroring the way it is concentrated on in society.

The other work I think you're referring to is Adrienne Rich's Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience (late 70s /early 80s not sure exactly.) Amongst her arguments was that all women are naturally attracted to other women, sexually and otherwise and that heterosexuality in women comes about as a consequence of social conditioning. Certainly we are bombarded with messages promoting heteronormativity constantly, but I think you are on shaky ground when you suggest that sexuality is entirely social conditioning. Try telling someone who is gay in a country where you can be imprisoned or even executed for being gay that it's their choice. It also opens the door to ideas that if it's entirely a personal choice than you can be "cured." You don't need to look far to find what misery that can cause. I tend far more to the nature rather than the nurture end of the argument, but in the end does it really matter? You should accept people whatever their sexuality is.
I have a problem with political lesbianism, in that I think people should be free to express themselves sexually with whoever they are attracted to and not because they are expected to, whether it's conforming to heterosexual norms or because it's part of a particular strain of feminism. Personally, I have a huge problem with it because although I'm in a very conventional long-term relationship with the father of my children, when I was young free and single back in the late 80s and was dating boys and girls, political lesbianism still had some traction and I found myself taking shit from women who didn't consider me gay enough, sleeping with the enemy, letting the side down. It was bad enough catching crap from homophobes. I would like to think that such dogmatic approaches to sexuality are on the wane, at least amongst people who are inclined to radical thoughts, but as soon as anyone starts getting doctrinaire about sexuality, how people enjoy sex and how they define themselves, people get hurt.
I'm not entirely dismissing the Radical Feminism you are referring to, there is merit in some of it, but it did originate in a time and place which have some significant differences to now and the radical movements of the 60s and 70s were inherently very sexist and gave little space for women's participation, so it's not surprising that women want to remove themselves from this. I'm certainly not saying that sexism and patriarchy has ceased to exist but if you read Adrienne Rich she cites things such as women not having control over their own fertility and women being fully dependent on men, which we've gone a way to redressing. Radical Feminism was also very authoritarian in it's own way, in so far as it rejected traditional ways of looking at gender roles for women, it was very hard on women who did not conform to the way they thought women should be. The transphobia pointed out on that blog is an obvious example.
I'm sympathetic to the concept of women only spaces, at times it's nice not to have the guys around (sorry, no offence meant there,) but don't you find it interesting that you brought your questions here, where these arguments don't hold much sway, rather than in forums where these ideas prevail, because you weren't able to participate because you are male? I'm painfully aware, every single day about the prevalence of sexism in this society I'd rather have you guys on our side - because essentially it's the same side. I'd rather keep the dialogue open.