Housework and compulsory heterosexuality

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Apr 16 2013 20:49

fleurnoire-et-rouge

Thank you for that post, you raised some really good points smile
You’re right that those are the two texts I’ve been referencing indirectly, though I haven’t read them myself embarrassed . I’m glad you shared your experiences from the eighties. Up until now I hadn’t honestly thought that kind of dogmatic pressure from radicals could actually be a problem. I’m still suspicious of the idea that sexuality is innate, but I agree that it doesn’t really matter from a radical perspective, since we should accept people either way. (Perhaps my view comes from the idea that ‘love conquers all’ and that anyone could fall in love with someone of the same sex. I might be ignoring the practicalities of sexual desire altogether embarrassed )

I agree that people should be able to express themselves sexually how they want. Pressuring women not to engage in intercourse is an unhelpful and authoritarian approach. But what do you think of this comment by Joseph Kay?

Quote:
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'.

If we see men and women as classes, then something like that could take place. In that situation, would pressuring women not to engage in intercourse be worse than pressuring workers not to cross picket lines? Considering that it could be a formal, defined, well-reasoned pressure, and limited to the duration of the strike. You are right that the situation in Europe/America has changed a lot since the 70s, so a situation like that may be unlikely in these parts of the world at least.
I think it is fine that I ended up bringing my questions to libcom. Ideas crossing between different traditions are a good thing smile . And while Radical Feminism may not hold much sway here, I think class struggle anarchism may not hold much sway with Radical Feminists. On radical feminism vs Radical Feminism, this thread is about radical feminism, but with a lot of references to the specific tendency of Radical Feminism. I am uncomfortable that some posters seem to completely reject Radical Feminism (e.g. ‘radscum’). (I think every time I’ve said radical feminists I’ve been referring to Radical Feminists)

About guys being on your side- well obviously I do want to be on your side. I think the deal with seeing men and women as different classes, is that it can be useful. In some circumstances, women can force men to stop oppressing/exploiting them. However, today in Europe/America at least, maybe women and men are on the same side for the most part. It might be worth seeing these as different tendencies, like Joseph Kay said. And I absolutely agree it’s good to keep dialogue open.

I think your descriptions of PIV, heterosexuality and Radical Feminism are all spot on. That was a great post smile

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Apr 16 2013 21:02

With regard to the whole 'sex as class' thing, I know i've mentioned her already, but I've found Christine Delphy helpful here. She kinda synthesises the radical feminist stance that sexes are classes with Marxist analysis and concepts (exploitation, mode of production etc). Given as most of the people on this thread are coming from a more Marxist angle, it might be helpful:

http://libcom.org/library/patriarchy-domestic-mode-production-gender-cla...

Fwiw I'm not sure what I think here... especially as the 'domestic mode of production', such as it is, seems (on the face of it at least) to have declined massively since the 1970s (not least in the wake of feminist struggles). But then again, Delphy's analysis that it's not just a question of an unfair division of domestic labour, but structural inequality and exploitation/domination is pretty well made. It's worth remembering that during the peak of the traditional labour movement, strikes to keep women out of the workplace were pretty common. So if not a separate class, there's certainly been something like a rift between male wage labour and female domestic work. Those are different social relations of production, whether they constitute separate classes I'm not sure.* And what significance the changes since the 1970s have also needs considering (big reduction in hours of domestic labour, but with persistent gender inequality; greater access for women to the labour market but persistent wage gap etc).

* if we see the unemployed as proletarian, seems to make sense to see housework as proletarian, on the proviso that 'proletariat' isn't understood as homogenous. But then again, you could argue housewives do possess the means of (domestic) production...

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Apr 16 2013 21:46

On the innateness of sexuality- hetero sex obviously serves a reproductive and social function and is inbuilt into all animals. So how do we explain the fact that lots of different species of animals (inc humans) have gay sex? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_behavior_in_animals

You could argue that this was a learned behaviour which arose through specific social experiences which certain animals had on an individual level. I am very uncomfortable with this line of reasoning as it makes homosexual behaviour sound bad (or merely unhelpful) from an evolutionary perspective and even 'unnatural', 'deviant' or 'defective' if you take that line of reasoning to it's extreme.

I think that since there is a strong social pressure to be heterosexual (in humans at least), and yet many of us are still attracted to people of the same gender this shows that homosexuality and bisexuality are innate, in our DNA, and probably provide an evolutionary function (e.g. same-gender social bonding to increase community harmony and promote mutual aid to counteract same-gender aggression/ socially destructive competition for mates). I realise this argument lacks nuance but I didn't want to go too far into this particular argument and derail the thread- didn't read the wikipedia page yet- it just seems obvious and logical to be that being attracted to people of the same gender is natural and innate, though I acknowledge that socialisation plays a huge role in our sexual desires and behaviours too.

Moving on to...

Quote:
would pressuring women not to engage in intercourse be worse than pressuring workers not to cross picket lines?

I think it would be less effective, and less logical, and it's not a like-for-like comparison. A worker crossing a picket line materially harms the rest of the workers by undermining their solidarity and economic power. A man and a woman consensually enjoying PIV doesn't harm anyone- and the man and the woman can still stand in solidarity, and take action to help, anyone who is experiencing unwanted sexual attention of whatever form... Also as fleur said women have been pressured not to have sex because of patriarchy so its not a good way to combat it (paraphrasing).

(I am very interested in the housework discussion but think we have less to contribute on that score as I agree with/ am learning from what's being said...)

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Apr 16 2013 21:47
A Wotsit wrote:
A worker crossing a picket line materially harms the rest of the workers by undermining their solidarity and economic power. A man and a woman consensually enjoying PIV doesn't materially harm anyone

Unless there's a sex strike on... http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/08/sex_st...

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Apr 16 2013 21:52

Yes, this is exactly what I meant

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Apr 16 2013 22:04

Very interesting Joseph (as always) but even the article says that the sex strike were more of a way of gaining publicity, rather than the actual tactic which could achieve the desired result. I am vaguely aware that someone made an argument that women have organised sex strikes in early human history and this did have some direct impact on something or other... er... can't remember what that was now. Anyone? Maybe something from radical anthropology?

I think with scabbing it would be a direct material undermining of workers power but with a behind-closed-doors sex act then I can't see how it would have the same effect as materially reinforcing patriarchy. Although perhaps I'm starting to see some sense in the idea... if the man/men involved were active patriarchs (or passive beneficiaries) and the woman/women allowed them to have sex despite knowing other women he/they would normally do it with were resisting- I can see how that would undermine the possibility for a transformation of the gendered relations of sex... hmmmm. Going to have to give this more thought...

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Apr 16 2013 22:13

So in a sex strike towards abolishing patriarchy I would be a boss and not a worker? For me this is the bit that still seems very difficult to get my head around- if women did organise one, I would not try to break it- but when do bosses ever strike in solidarity with the workers?

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Apr 16 2013 22:28
Quote:
but even the article says that the sex strike were more of a way of gaining publicity,

The one by 'Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace' it does say probably had little practical effect compared to the sit-ins and demonstrations.
However, the strike in the Filipino town Dado and the strike in the Colombian town Barbacoas both seem to have been successful tactics, so much as can be told from the information in the linked articles.

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Apr 16 2013 22:38
Deck access wrote:
the strike in the Filipino town Dado and the strike in the Colombian town Barbacoas both seem to have been successful tactics, so much as can be told from the information in the linked articles.

OK will read more on this next time I'm online- logging off shortly. I'm still struggling to see gendered relations as a class relation but I can see how a sex strike in a patriarchial society could (and apparently has) give power to women to achieve social change or win particular goals... and I guess under a worker v boss strike there are some workers who would 'rather be working' (some people do like their job) but don't out of solidarity and the same could apply to some women participating in a sex strike (they want to have sex, but don't). It still doesn't feel the same as class though, I still think men and women don't have an irreconcilable conflict of interest whereas capitalist v worker relationship inherently contains conflict and exploitation.

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Apr 17 2013 01:54

Deck Access - I'm not ignoring you, I'm just totally snowed under at the moment, people have been showing up (unannounced) all evening and I'm just not capable of thinking clearly right now. So, I'll get back to you.

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Apr 17 2013 02:14
A Wotsit wrote:
You could argue that this was a learned behaviour which arose through specific social experiences which certain animals had on an individual level. I am very uncomfortable with this line of reasoning as it makes homosexual behaviour sound bad (or merely unhelpful) from an evolutionary perspective and even 'unnatural', 'deviant' or 'defective' if you take that line of reasoning to it's extreme.

I don't think one should assume that homosexual behaviour is in any way contradictory even to reproduction on an individual level. There have been plenty of societies where sexual pleasure and pro-creative duties/opportunities were seen as largely separate things, so a unified notion of 'homosexual behaviour' doesn't apply. Often this has manifested in horrible ways like the systematic sexual subjugation by threat of beating and rape of married women to men who themselves would have affairs, visit prostitutes, rape slaves or servants, and so on with other men, women or people of other genders.

But it needn't, I think be the case that sex and procreation being decoupled leads necessarily to bad things. Indeed, IVF and adoption are opening up new possibilities right now (with the usual disclaimer about these needing to be examined critically too).

I guess I'm just saying -and sorry if I am tediously saying the obvious to you- that it's tempting but not very scientific to project a 19th/20th C. western view of the nuclear family back onto an evolutionary history it doesn't map very neatly onto and by avoiding doing this we can avoid smuggling the dominant forms homophobia into scientific discourse.

Totally agree about understanding evolution at other levels than the individual though.

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Apr 17 2013 08:22

RedEd, I agree with the points you're making. The bit you quoted was me presenting the 'homosexual behaviour is a result of socialisation only' idea (quite badly perhaps) which I don't agree with and was trying to argue against... Some of what you posted was part of the nuance lacking from my post...

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Apr 17 2013 08:31
Quote:
a unified notion of 'homosexual behaviour' doesn't apply

Quote:
it needn't be the case that sex and procreation being decoupled leads necessarily to bad things

Quote:
understanding evolution at other levels than the individual

Agree. When I said 'homosexual behaviour' and 'gay sex' I was not really trying to talk about 'the sexual behaviour of homosexual individuals' I was talking more about a same-sex sex within a species or community. That's not to say it confers a communal advantage but means less reproductive success on an individual level... in other animals many same-sex pairs do raise young (some more successfully than most other pairs), after choosing a surrogate (see wikipedia link earlier on Black Swans). When I post later I'm going back to the gender as class thing. I think we probably agree on homosexuality...

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Apr 17 2013 21:46

Found re-reading this thread has shifted my thinking. I'm not sure if I can add to what others have said. I'm still not convinced about a class relationship as clear-cut as capitalist and worker, but I have been thinking more about why patriarchy came to exist at all, and am uncomfortable with some of the thoughts I've had... which seem logical but also massively sexist.

In pre-capitalist (perhaps even pre-human) societies women were responsible for the bulk of their communities nutrition through gathering plant-based food. The reason this burden fell on women, and that they would gather and not hunt (exclusively or primarily, not sure) was because their biology lumbered them with the task of raising children- having no escape from this function due to having another person who was totally dependent on their breasts and also being pregnant and less mobile a lot of the time. Gathering being something you can do while pregnant or with children while they are still breast feeding, hunting much less so. So to reinforce this biology-driven division of labour, social pressure, in the form of patriarchy, also (or simultaneously) arose.

Another side to the biologically-driven patriarchy was women selecting mates who were strong and more capable at hunting, something which they themselves didn't have as much (or any) time for but they still benefited from meat a lot. So as men got ever stronger through the selective reproduction of women, they began to take a greater role in reproductive selection themselves- either forcing women to have sex, or forcing other men not to have sex with women...

Nowadays, with technology, birth control and so on it no longer makes sense to have this division of labour so women (and men) are beginning to challenge it, but capital has already internalised the old biological baggage of patriarchy so its still very hard for us to overcome it... does that make any sense... Is it massively sexist?

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Apr 17 2013 22:01

I guess I need to somehow frame how gathering links to domestic labour... so that would be that prey animals would move far as poss from human homes but plants don't (quite the opposite- edible plants would grow nearby where the seeds were dropped or excreted), so women were more tied to the domestic sphere of labour (inc gathering and food prep, and cleaning up the domestic area) and men tied more to the mobile and fast-moving hunts....

Ugh, don't like these ideas. I am veggie and would rather befreind an animal than kill it so I would have never got laid under the biological patriarchy... if I'm not talking shit. Abolish it. Abolish it good.

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Apr 17 2013 23:52

A Wotsit, I believe the whole "biologically-driven" patriarchy angle you're talking about is extremely dodgy.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think current anthropological scholarship has patriarchy arising with agriculture and the concept of private property. Once individual people and families started accumulating property, which wasn't possible to any large degree for hand-to-mouth hunter-gatherers, men started having an interest in having a "legitimate" heir to pass on their property to. Hence men increasingly taking control of women and reproduction.

Some known hunter-gatherer societies don't even have monogamy as a concept. People have sex freely and all children are raised communally. In fact, a lot of hunter-gatherer societies were and are matriarchal. Not all are of course and I'm not trying to idealize such societies by any means (I'm no primitivist) but there isn't anything inherent in humans that causes patriarchy. It is a product of power relations, not biology.

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Apr 18 2013 08:10

I think also the idea that men hunted and women gathered is also something there isn't really any evidence for, I think some hunter gathers split these fairly evenly.

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Apr 19 2013 21:10

(edited- but still not worth wasting your time reading, slightly less awful than my other recent posts but still pretty stupid, skip it)

OK, thanks for useful responses. I do not like what I said, but still see sense in some of it...

Just to repeat - I don't think patriarchy is at all desireable and there isn't any justification for maintaining such notions of gender-driven division of labour or any of the oppressive, exploitative or coercive shit.

I was aware that monogamy wasn't something which came from nature and that communal child rearing is probably much more natural (and in my view much more preferable)...

However, I still feel a bit inclined to believe that a gender-based division of labour started because of biology, but I guess this wasn't necessarily oppressive or coercive (and could have been matriarchal).

I can't see why it is that men are generally stronger than women unless they were doing stuff, that women were doing less frequently, that needed those characteristics... and surely hunting when you're pregnant or breastfeeding a lot of the time just wouldn't be practical or possible...

But in light of the obvious flaws in my reasoning perhaps I'd refine my earlier line to say it was more of a sensible mutually-beneficial division of labour that existed (generally). And this division was loosley, in the case of hunting large prey, or firmly in the case of child bearing and breast feeding, defined by gender.

But also perhaps largely defined by mutual aid and 'from each, to each' (e.g. an injured or otherwise incapable man wouldn't hunt, and a woman who wasn't pregnant or currently breastfeeding would)....

But then patriarchy as an oppressive and cooercive social force came into being because of the property and inheritance bit which sounds like a good argument and ties into our politics nicely...

Would like to read any evidence for there being no gender-based division of labour (beyond child bearing/ breast feeding) in early societies. I don't know of any evidence for men being the main hunters (aside from the general average physical differences) but the evidence for women being capable of certain tasks which men aren't (ie breastfeeding and child bearing) seems pretty conclusive...

On the reproduction side I think maybe my equating men gaining more physical strength on average with a rise in unwanted sex/ patriarchy probably was simplistic/ wrong...

I still do think though that women naturally prefer men who demonstrate athletic prowess/ certain useful skills (possibly linked to good genes as well as mutual benefits like getting more meat), even without the socialisation that encourages them to do so, and that is why men have become stronger/faster on average than women...

I am vaguely aware of an argument which says in early societies where monogamy wasn't the (socially constructed) norm, women were very much in control of sex and reproduction because they were the ones best placed to know which child was whose (where it wasn't always clear to men) and could ensure no close relatives slept together (and I also suppose this collective control helped ensure that no unwanted sex was inflicted upon women)...

Maybe I need to stop worrying about why patriarchy came to exist and who would have done what socially productive tasks in early human communities and just focus on the obviously restrictive, oppressive and exploitative social relations we all experience here and now...(probably)

But I do also think it helps to think about our animal nature as well as the social side so I hope to get some more useful responses, no matter how critical.

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Apr 18 2013 22:21

Joeseph Kay wrote:

Quote:
(...)the 'domestic mode of production', such as it is, seems (on the face of it at least) to have declined massively since the 1970s (not least in the wake of feminist struggles).

Marriage is also on the decline. Especially in America.

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21569433-americas-marriage-r...

EDIT: quote from article:

Quote:
And yet, as of December 2011, just 51% of all American adults were married and 28% never had been, down from 72% and up from 15% in 1960. The median age of first-time newlyweds is at an all-time high (which may make the marriage-rate decline appear sharper than it actually is: some are delaying marriage rather than forgoing it entirely). However stark the overall rate decline, it is not spread evenly: marriage rates are higher, and out-of-wedlock birth and divorce rates lower, among wealthier and better-educated Americans. A bare majority of whites (55%) and minorities of Hispanics (48%) and blacks (31%) are married; majorities of all three races were married in 1960.

The onward march of progress?

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Apr 19 2013 00:58
kingzog wrote:
The onward march of progress?

Possibly, but I wander if it's also symptomatic of an increasing crisis of the reproduction of the working class (at least within many western countries). As in, wages are increasingly insufficient to 'settle down and have kids', especially on a single income.

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Apr 19 2013 02:48

RedEd wrote:

Quote:
Possibly, but I wander if it's also symptomatic of an increasing crisis of the reproduction of the working class (at least within many western countries). As in, wages are increasingly insufficient to 'settle down and have kids', especially on a single income

But there are more single parents now than before. Doesn't this show that it is more possible to have kids on a single income? And it's not like contraceptives and abortions are less available or more expensive... so idk.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1381069/One-FOUR-children-U-S-ra...

Quote:
"...The UK was second followed by New Zealand in third. Greece, Spain, Italy and Luxemborg had among the lowest percentages of children in single-parent homes."

It appears to make sense that poorer countries would have a higher rate of two parent families.

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Apr 19 2013 03:05

What I meant by 'settle down and have kids' was attaining that kind of situation that people might want to create so their children can 'grow up the way I'd like', whatever that means to them. In the UK and, to a lesser extent, the US the state chooses to subsidise (at poverty levels) the subsistence of working families which is in fact a subsidy to businesses which don't pay living wages. The norm shifting away from self supporting units of social reproduction (nuclear families- not that we should ever idealise these) to a more complicated system of state managed poverty level social reproduction using prison, social security, increased numbers relying on grey and black market activity and so on, to me looks symptomatic of a failure of capital to pay for the reproduction of it's workforce, at least in part. But this may be getting off topic. Sorry that my first comment didn't actually get across what I was trying to say.

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Apr 19 2013 07:55

A Wotsit, that I find that Delphy piece quite persuasive on why looking for origins in pre-history isn't that useful after all:

Delphy wrote:
Many people think that when they have found the point of origin of an institution in the past, they hold the key to its present existence. But they have, in fact, explained neither its present existence nor even its birth (its past appearance), for one must explain its existence at each and every moment by the context prevailing at that time; and its persistence today (if really is persistence) must be explained by the present context. Some so-called historical explanations are in fact ahistorical, precisely because they do not take account of the given conditions of each period. This is not History but mere dating. History is precious if it is well conducted, if each period is examined in the same way as the present period. A science of the past worthy of the name cannot be anything other than a series of synchronic analyses.

The search for origins is a caricature of this falsely historical procedures and is one of the reasons why I have denounced it, and why I shall continue to denounce it each and every time it surfaces – which is, alas, far too frequently. (The other reason why I denounce the search for origins is the use of its hidden naturalistic presuppositions.)

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Apr 19 2013 08:40
RedEd wrote:
But this may be getting off topic

I dunno, I think this is quite related to housework and compulsory heterosexuality. It's pretty commonplace to talk about changes in the organisation of production from Fordism/Keynesianism/social democracy/welfare state to Post-Fordism/monetarism/neoliberalism/workfare state, but it doesn't seem too much of a leap to say these regimes of organising production were embedded in/co-constitutive of specific regimes of social reproduction, and so certain orderings of gender, sexuality, racial order etc.

So as the Italian Marxist feminists (amongst others) pointed out, the male breadwinners in the factories and mines were only able to reproduce themselves due to the unpaid labour of housewives. That is to say, the productivity deals/trade union representation of the period were premised on the nuclear family. Meanwhile, statesmen saw the family as a bulwark of social stability against 'communism' (variously the USSR and class struggle/domestic unrest). So homosexuality was criminalised and marital rape was legal, and (at least in the UK) it was legal to sack women for becoming pregnant. There's also likely a racial dynamic to this, in the UK with cheap immigrant labour from the commonwealth coming in, though I'm a bit patchier on the history here.

When the post-war settlement begins to breakdown, you don't just have worker-student insurgencies in the factories, mines and university campuses. You've got migrants/woment fighting for inculsion in the trade union regulated section of the class. You also have the Stonewall riot and the rivers of blood speech, as well as large and militant feminist and civil rights/black power movements. If we take the autonomist thesis that 'post-fordism' is capitalism's incorporation of the proletarian desires of this period (for more meaningful work, against boring jobs for life, for home ownership etc), we could extend this to gender/sexuality/racial components of social reproduction.

So you get the integration of 'community representatives' into state structures. Ex-civil rights activists become mayors and police chiefs. A certain form of imperialist feminism is institutionalised (liberate the muslim women by carpet bombing!). Marriage no longer holds a central place in social stability; homosexuality is legalised and marital rape criminalised. Certain forms of homosexuality are even incorporated into the prevailing multicultural nationalism (a.k.a. 'homonationalism'/'homonormativity').* This maybe parallels the thesis of the shift from a 'disciplinary society' based on discrete hierarchical institutions (factory, school, prison, the nuclear family) to a 'society of control', where those institutions sill exist but are overlaid with diffused/distributed forms of networked governance and regulation (ubiquitous surveillance, 'flexible' labour markets, pervasive debt discipline, DWP/workfare/ATOS regimes, generalised insecurity of housing, income etc, the compulsory fake-real smiles of affective labour, the border regime of UKBA raids/camps, the permanent stress of OFSTED/REF style regulatory regimes). The enemy within shifts from the pinko-commie-agitator to the asylum seeker-terrorist.

In that sense, relying on feminist or anti-racist theories from the 1970s might be as foolish as basing our workplace organising on factories and mines. Not to say there's nothing of value, but we need to be aware how certain kinds of liberation politics have been defanged and incorporated into the contemporary organisation of social reproduction. So compulsory heterosexuality and the nuclear family have been decentred. That's partly in response to struggles against them, and partly an unintended consequence of capitalist restructuring (Thatcher hated gays and loved the family, but smashed the social basis for mandatory heterosexuality and the full-time housewife and so inadvertently paved the way for their weakening, and for stuff like the Tories pushing gay marriage).

Caveat to the above: focusing too much on the changes to the organisation of capitalism from period to period can obscure some fundamental continuities, i.e. it's still capitalism, it's still a class relation etc. Much of the post-structuralist stuff falls into this trap imho. And we shouldn't make out the post-war compromise was all class peace and welfare utopia; there were still loads of strikes etc.

* In Brighton for example, the organisers of Pride are working hand in glove with the cops to demand names and addresses of dissident queers who won't tow the pink pound gay capitalist line (last year police aggressively kettled 'queers against the cuts', even though they had the required permits, scaring the shit out of people and reducing some to tears).

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Apr 19 2013 13:12

Thanks Joseph. Its quite a relief to give up on looking for the historic/ biological cause of patriarchy (or labour division) and focus on how we might (and why we should) abolish it now... have been focusing too much on 'nature', evolution and reproduction atm cuz of being in the countryside at spring (seen loads of animals having sex and... observing clear differences in gender) while dipping into Kropotkin's 'mutual aid' trying to reconcile it with what I already know of evolution, and humans as animals, and it got me thinking all muddled...

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Apr 19 2013 13:21

One of the first things I reached for when reading up on this stuff was historical-anthropological literature. I guess it's a common approach (following Engels I guess). The critique of 'the search for origins' really changed my mind about how useful it is in understanding stuff today, and yeah, I found it a massive relief from reading up on nomadic kinship structures and the like!

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Apr 19 2013 17:17

The full-time housewife and marriage may be in decline, but I’m not so sure about heterosexuality. Capitalism can incorporate homosexuality with the pink pound etc., but it can only be so successful, because compulsory heterosexuality is enforced not merely by capital but by men as a class. It is enforced through rape, sexual harassment, prostitution, porn, objectification of women in media, ‘feminine’ dress codes, and normalisation of PIV as the sex. I am doubtful that capital has decentred male entitlement towards women.
The shift in patriarchy marked by the decline of marriage and the full-time housewife may make it quite widely possible to voluntarily drop patriarchal relations. In that case, all that is needed is education, to encourage people to do that. However, when men as a class are enforcing patriarchy, education alone will still not suffice. In these cases, collective organisation by those affected can win. And in these cases, men as a class are antagonistic, but men can voluntarily help women- e.g. in the march on a stalker video, men are helping, but the antagonist is still men as a class.

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Apr 19 2013 20:31

RedEd,

I think you are mostly correct.

(On an aside: the government-at least in the US, form what I know- pays for those subsidies out of taxes on wealthy individuals and business. In the US, total compensation-wages plus benefits and government subsidies- has continued to grow steadily, although the rate at which it grows has slowed down since the 70's and take home pay has been somewhat stagnant. But total compensation is significantly higher than in 1960- back when marriage was far more common. Stuff like the child income tax credit and tax refunds, which are funded from profits- which did not exist until a few decades ago- do a lot to lift workers out of near poverty. These subsidies are "negative taxes" in a certain sense. Without them, compensation levels might indeed be stagnant. Not sure what effect this has had on the nuclear family and heterosexuality, but I'm sure there is some casual relationship, somewhere. Most other western countries are going through similar trends apparently. A related question might be: how long can these subsidies last in the US, with all the brutal attacks on living standards via austerity?)

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Apr 21 2013 02:02

Deck Access -

Since I went away, the thread has moved on. I'm not good at theory, not even going to try, there are people who post on libcom who are way better at it than me and would be much better people to direct your questions at. As to the biological causes of patriarchy, I find evolutionary psychology suspect at the best of times.
You say that you are uncomfortable with posters here completely rejecting Radical Feminism, however it cannot be entirely surprising given that it is at heart a very divisive, authoritarian and exclusionary ideology. In my opinion, it mirrors patriarchy, in that imposes very defined ideas about how women should be and behave, and is very critical of women who fall outside of their very narrow, defined parameters.
For one thing it boils sex and gender down to very crass, essentialist biological ideas, something which I have a major problem with. You picked up on the use of the word "radscum" which has become a a common term of abuse thrown at certain women promoting this ideology. No, not nice I know, but you have to bear in mind that it is something which has come about as a response to some appalling cruel, bigoted and nasty behaviour done by them to other women in the name of feminism. Transphobia has been a prevalent theme in Radical Feminism since it's inception - when the Gender Identity Clinic opened in London in the 80s the loudest objections came not from the religious or the right but from women who identified as Radical Feminists. RadFems hold a narrow biological definition of gender. Even if you were to just boil gender down to very simplistic definitions of chromosomes and genitalia, there are far more variations than the simple binary definitions of gender than they recognise. The blog you linked to linked to a notorious trans-shaming site and in the name of Radical Feminism trans women have been outed, humiliated and reviled, which doesn't sound like very sisterly behaviour to me. One well known RadFem, Cathy Brennan, went so far as to write to the United Nations to plead the case against trans people being afforded any human rights protection, somewhere within this twisted logic was the idea that trans women were actually men threatening the safety of cis women, that it's all some kind of plot for men to infiltrate women's spaces and rape them. At a certain level I shake my head at this sort of bizarre thinking but it does hold some sway and it does put the physical safety of women at risk, which is not something I can find compatible with feminism at all. And I find it hard to differentiate the sort of oppressive definitions of gender under patriarchy with the oppressive definitions of Rad Feminism. If you haven't got a uterus, you're not a woman.
It's just one of the issues I have with RadFeminism. They're not just anti-sex work, they're very anti-sex worker, again with the rejecting of women who fall outside their parameters of what is acceptable behaviour.
Probably not all, but some RadFems don't recognise bisexuality in women as a valid expression of their sexuality:

Quote:
I believed then, and I believe now, that if bisexual women had an ounce of sexual politics, they would stop sleeping with men.

- Julie Bindel
It's really quite incompatible with my politics to impose your opinions of how people should express their sexuality.
I really can't be bothered to deconstruct a school of thought which I recognised as incompatible with my way of thinking years ago and I find it kind of strange that in 2013 I would be. Even down to quite trivial things, you mention "feminine dress codes." In what way is acceptable for anyone to tell someone what they should wear?
In so far as I understand the conditions from which Radical Feminism was born, I do not live in the 1970s, nor would I want to. I was recently in a conversation with a woman who holds a lot of these views and in many ways we have a lot of common ground. Then came a point when she (nicely) told me we should stop fighting each other over these issues and fight the patriarchy. It was very polite but what she was essentially saying that I should just shut up really, that these things don't really matter. And that's the feeling I get about RadFeminism, that it wants to silence dissenting voices in exactly the same way as patriarchy does. And that's the problem I have with it, that it excludes people and their opinions which are not considered "correct."

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Deck access
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Apr 21 2013 13:08

I just want to pick up on a couple of important points.

Quote:
One well known RadFem, Cathy Brennan, went so far as to write to the United Nations to plead the case against trans people being afforded any human rights protection

This is a smear on her character. In Brennan and Hungerford’s own words:

Quote:
Why are you denying me my “civil rights/human rights”?
If, by “civil right” or “human right,” you are referring to the right to access to sex-segregated public accommodations, all people can use the sex-segregated space reserved for their biological sex. If you are harassed because of it, you can sue for sex discrimination! And we will support you.
Further, limiting the scope of the definition of ‘gender identity’ does not mean we believe people of trans experience are subhuman and/or undeserving of both civil and human rights. Far from it. We simply want to limit the rights of males who do not intend to medically transition from demanding access to women’s sex-segregated spaces on the basis of ‘gender identity.’ Accordingly, we object to the use of ‘gender identity’ as a replacement for sex in the absence of a meaningful definition that requires medical evidence. We believe it is irresponsible of women’s and GLBT organizations to continue to ignore this problem.

I have never seen a radfem say anything anti sex worker. One of the speakers at radfem2013 (which is now at risk of losing its venue due to harassment) is Rebecca Mott, who is an exited woman herself.