Archive for the ‘pornography’ Category

h1

A Rapist’s View of the World (repost)

August 21, 2017

This is a really long rant about Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Why? Because I’m angry and I think it is really important that feminists don’t leave popular culture out of the equation. Especially considering that popular culture is increasingly being influenced by pornography.

***

I have become increasingly interested in examining Joss Whedon’s work from a feminist perspective since I had a conversation with another lesbian feminist sister at the International Feminist Summit about whether Joss was a feminist. I am really quite shocked by how readily Joss is accepted as a feminist, and that his works are widely considered to be feminist. I decided to start re-watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and also to watch Firefly and the movie Serenity.

I have to say that now that I have subjected myself to the horror that is Firefly, I really am beyond worried about how much men hate us, given that this was written by a man who calls himself a feminist.

I find much of Joss Whedon’s work to be heavily influenced by pornography, and pornographic humour. While I would argue that there are some aspects of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer that are feminist and progressive, there is much that isn’t and I find it highly problematic that there are many very woman-hating messages contained within a show that purports itself as feminism. But Firefly takes misogyny to a new level of terrifying. I am really, really worried that women can call the man who made this show a feminist.

For myself, I’m not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women’s faces, male voices drowning out our words.

There is so much hatred towards women contained within the scripts and action of the series that I doubt very much that this post will even begin to cover it. I am going to try to focus on the episodes that were written by Joss Whedon but I will also refer to the series as a whole. As Joss Whedon was responsible for the concept development and was a producer, ultimately I hold him accountable for the depiction of women in the entire season. Only one episode was written by a woman. It was no better or worse in its depiction of women than the ones written by men.

The pilot episode, Serenity, was written and directed by Joss Whedon. The basic plot of the series is Malcolm Reynolds and his second in command Zoe, have made a new life for themselves after fighting a war against the Alliance, which they lost. They bought a Firefly, an old space ship, and Mal calls it Serenity, after the last battle they fought for the Independence. The pilot of the ship, Wash, is Zoe’s husband. Kaylee is the ship’s mechanic and Jayne, the final member of the crew, is the brainless brawn. This bunch of criminals go around stealing things and generally doing lots of violence.

They also take on board passengers. There is Inara, a Companion (Joss Whedon’s euphemism for women in prostitution). She rents one of the ship’s shuttles. Simon, a doctor and his sister River. And a Shepherd (which means preacher), a black male character.

The first scene opens in a war with Mal and Zoe. Zoe runs around calling Mal ‘sir’ and taking orders off him. I roll my eyes. Not a good start.

The next scene is set in the present. Mal, Jayne, and Zoe are floating about in space. They come into some danger. Mal gets all panicky.

Zoe says, “This ship’s been derelict for months. Why would they –”

Mal replies, (in Chinese) “Shut up.”

So in the very second scene of the very first episode, an episode written and directed by the great feminist Joss, a white man tells a black woman to ‘shut up’ for no apparent reason. And she does shut up. And she continues to call him sir. And takes his orders, even when they are dumb orders, for the rest of the series.

The next scene we meet Kaylee, the ship’s mechanic. <- Lookee, lookee, feminist empowerment. In this scene Mal and Jayne are stowing away the cargo they just stole. Kaylee is chatting to them, happily. Jayne asks Mal to get Kaylee to stop being so cheerful. Mal replies, “Sometimes you just wanna duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month.” Yes, that is an exact quote, “Sometimes you just wanna DUCT TAPE HER MOUTH and DUMP HER IN THE HOLD FOR A MONTH.” Kaylee responds by grinning and giving Mal a kiss on the cheek and saying, “I love my Captain.”

What the fuck is this feminist man trying to say about women here? A black woman calling a white man ‘sir’. A white male captain who abuses and silences his female crew, with no consequences. The women are HAPPY to be abused. They enjoy it. What does this say about women, Joss? What does this say about you? Do you tell your wife to shut up? Do you threaten to duct tape her mouth? Lock her in the bedroom? Is this funny to you, Joss? Because it sure as fuck ain’t funny to me.

Our first introduction to Inara the ‘Companion’, Joss Whedon’s euphemism for prostituted women, is when she is being raped/fucked/used by a prostitutor. I find it really interesting to read the scripted directions for this particular scene:

We are close on INARA’s face. She is being made love to by an eager, inexperienced but quite pleasingly shaped young man. She is beneath him, drawing him to his climax with languorous intensity. His face buried in her neck.

He tightens, relaxes, becomes still. She runs her hand through is hair and he pulls from her neck, looks at her with sweaty insecurity. She smiles, a worldly, almost motherly sweetness in her expression. He rests his head on her breast, still breathing hard. 

So, Joss Whedon refers to rapist/fuckers who buy women as sex, as ‘eager, inexperienced but pleasingly shaped’ who ‘make love’ to women in prostitution. Obviously, ‘love’ to men like Joss Whedon, requires female powerlessness, force and coercion. Women in prostitution enjoy the experience of being bought for sex. They feel ‘motherly’ towards the men who have just treated them as property and bought them as sex.

In Joss Whedon’s future world prostituted women are powerful and respectable. They go to an Academy, to train in the arts of being a ‘Companion’. They belong to a Guild which regulates prostitution, forces women to endure yearly health tests and comes up with rules to make prostitution sound empowering for women. For example, one Guild rule is that the ‘Companion’ chooses her rapist, not the other way around.

But there is one really big question that does not get answered. The women who ‘choose’ to be ‘Companions’ are shown as being intelligent, accomplished, educated, well-respected and presumably from good families. If a woman had all of these qualities and opportunities then why the fuck would she ‘choose’ to be a man’s fuck toy? Would being a fuck toy for hundreds of men give a woman like Inara personal fulfillment? Job satisfaction? A sense of purpose? Fulfill her dreams? Ambitions?

Money doesn’t seem to be the motivation behind Inara’s ‘choice’ to be a ‘Companion’, presumably she just ‘enjoys’ swanning around in ridiculous outfits. And being used as a fuck toy by men is seemingly a small price to pay for the pleasure.

At any rate, Inara’s apparent ‘power’ is merely a figment of Joss Whedon’s very sick imagination. In a later episode, Inara is shown to have set down three very specific rules in relation to her arrangement to hiring one of Mal’s shuttles as her base of operations. 1) No crew member, including the Captain would be allowed entrance to the shuttle without Inara’s express invitation. 2) Inara refuses to service the Captain nor anyone under his employ. And 3) the Captain cannot refer to Inara as a whore.
Mal agrees to all of these rules but he breaks every single one of them. Blatantly and deliberately. The third thing that Mal says in the first interaction between Inara and Mal is, “She’s a whore…” Does Inara stop him from calling her a whore? Nope. She just goes on smiling and being gracious. So he calls her a whore again. Lovely man this Mal is, dontcha think?

And in regards to her first rule, Mal takes every opportunity he can to break it. In the first episode Mal barges into Inara’s shuttle. The interchange goes like this:

Inara: What are you doing on my shuttle?

Mal: It’s my shuttle. You rent it.

Inara: Then when I’m behind on the rent, you can enter unasked.

Scenes like this continue to occur for the rest of the series. Mal never apologises for breaking the terms of his agreement with Inara. And although Inara gets a little annoyed, she does not get really angry at the Captain for consistently undermining her power and invading her space. She tells the Captain to get out but he rarely complies. The point is that a man should never invade a woman’s personal space to begin with. Especially when he has been told expressly that he is not invited. But Mal delights in pointing out Inara’s powerlessness, it makes him feel all manly.

In regards to her servicing the crew, she begins to service the Captain and the male passengers of the ship from day one. The following is an excerpt from the script of Serenity. Book is a black male character. He is a Preacher and disapproves of Inara’s ‘profession’.

BOOK Is this what life is, out here?

INARA Sometimes.

BOOK I’ve been out of the abbey two days, I’ve beaten a Lawman senseless, I’ve fallen in with criminals… I watched the captain shoot a man I swore to protect. And I’m not even sure if I think he was wrong.

INARA Shepherd…

He is shaking a bit, tearing up.

BOOK I believe I just… (a pained smile) I think I’m on the wrong ship.

INARA Maybe. Or maybe you’re exactly where you ought to be.

He lowers his head. She puts her hand on it, a kind of benediction. We hold on them a second. 

It is clear from the outset that a large part of Inara’s service involves addressing issues of male inadequacy and fulfilling many other emotional needs of her clients. The ability to do this IS a resource and it is therefore a service that Inara must perform. BUT Inara services all of the male passengers and the Captain in this way. She also services Kaylee but the relationship between them is a little more reciprocal. In any case, Mal makes it pretty obvious that he expects his emotional needs to be serviced by Inara and she willingly obliges. Mal also allows the male passengers to demand her emotional services and does not tell them to stop, despite the terms of his agreement with Inara. Inara is not paid by any of these men for her time, energy and emotional support.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Joss uses his own wife in this way. Expects her to clean up his emotional messes. Expects her to be there, eternally supportive, eternally subservient and grateful to him in all his manly glory. I hope the money is worth it, Kai Cole. But somehow I doubt that it is. No amount of money can buy back wasted emotional resources.

Aside from women being fuck toys, property and punching bags for the men, the women have very little importance in the series. I counted the amount of times women talk in the episode Serenity compared to the amount of times men talk. The result was unsurprising. Men: 458 Women: 175. So throughout the first episode men talk more than two and a half times as much as women do. And women talk mainly in questions whereas men talk in statements. Basically, this means that men direct the action and are active participants whereas women are merely observers and facilitators.

Given the fact that women are largely absent from the action and the dialogue of the majority of scenes it is unsurprising that the action onscreen is highly homoerotic. Men jostle with each other for power. Pushing each others buttons, and getting into scuffles. This intense homoeroticism is present from the outset as Mal asserts his rights as alpha male on the ship.

Completely unnecessary and unprovoked violence is a spontaneous result of this hypermasculinised male character. In Serenity, Mal enjoys using a character called Simon as his personal punching bag. In one scene he walks up to him and smashes him in the face, without any provocation or logical reason. In another scene Simon asks Mal a question and Mal smashes him the face again. No reason, no explanation, just violence. Violence is a part of the landscape throughout the whole series and Mal is often the instigator. He is constantly rubbing himself up against other men, and punishing wayward women, proving and solidifying his manliness through bashing the shit out of anyone and everyone.

Zoe, the token black woman, acts as a legitimiser. Her role is to support Mal’s manly obsession with himself by encouraging him, calling him ‘sir’, and even starting the fights for him. Zoe is treated as a piece of meat by both her husband (Wash, another white male) and the Captain. Wash and Mal fight each other for Zoe’s attention and admiration, both relying on her submission to them to get them hard and manly. In fact there is a whole episode, War Stories, devoted to Wash and Mal’s ‘rivalry’. By the word rivalry, I mean violent, homoerotic male/male courtship conducted over the body of a woman.

Zoe is not shown to have a personality of her own. She has no outside interests, no ideas or beliefs, no conversation with anyone other than Wash or Mal. She has no female friends, in fact she tends to dislike women. For example, she is the first one to insult Saffron in the episode Our Mrs. Reynolds, calling her ‘trouble’.

Zoe, of course, is meant to be our empowered, ass-kicking sidechick. Like all sidechicks she is objectified from the get go. Her husband, Wash, talking about how he likes to watch her bathe. Let me just say now that I have never personally known of a healthy relationship between a white man and a woman of colour. I have known a black woman whose white husband would strangle and bash her while her young children watched. My white grandfather liked black women because they were ‘exotic’, and he did not, could not treat women, especially women of colour, like human beings. I grew up watching my great aunts, my aunty and my mother all treated like shit by their white husbands, the men they loved. So you will forgive me for believing that the character, Wash, is a rapist and an abuser, particularly considering that he treats Zoe like an object and possession.

Joss Whedon does not share my view, of course, and he paints the relationship between Zoe and Wash as a perfectly happy, healthy union. If anyone is interested in portrayals of relationships between white men and black women written from black women’s point of view, I would suggest watching RadianceRabbit-Proof Fence and Serenades, skip Joss Whedon’s shit.

Also if you are interested in the reality of women in prostitution/prostituted women rather than the candy floss version that Joss Whedon has produced, I highly recommend Rebecca’s story Lie Dead. Skip Joss Whedon’s women-hating bile.

I can assure you that this is just the beginning of my rant on Firefly. There is so much more disturbing stuff later in the series. In particular, an episode called Our Mrs. Reynolds, another episode written by Joss, which completely demonises women as well as pornifying male violence against us.

More ranting about Firefly here

…and here.

Objects in Space: Black Masculinity through the paradigm of whitemale lust

h1

Occupy Perth = Colonising Women (anarcho/socialist/leftist style)

October 31, 2011

DUDE SPOTTED AT OCCUPY PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

When confronted (I took his picture and called him a fuckhead with all the venom I could muster), dude says, “Hey, you are being violent to me!!!” Poor little man attacked by nasty feminists for not doing anything at all! He valiantly tried to defend himself saying that his father bought him the t-shirt from Thailand! And the t-shirt WAS NOT VIOLENT in the slightest. Not like us nasty, mean feminists.

Misogyny? I’m loving it! Are you?

h1

Reclaim the Night Speech

October 31, 2011

This is a speech I gave at Reclaim the Night Perth, 28th October 2011.

Women are a colonised people. Under male supremacy, our original selves are forcibly buried and we are reshaped, our Selves conditioned for use and abuse by the men who occupy us. And this is a truly encompassing occupation. They not only occupy our time and energy, they infiltrate and invade, they alter what it is we believe about ourselves, they construct our identities from birth into being for them.

Under male supremacy, rape and sexual violence is the fabric of the culture in which we live. Women’s purpose is shaped according to what men value about us. We are valued in accordance with our fuckability, our submissiveness, our conformity to their value system which posits women as whores. We are vulnerable, we are penetrable, we are for use and abuse, we are colonised and we are for men.

Men construct the world around this value system. They buy and sell women and girls as sex and call it prostitution. They create degraded images of women being hurt and fucked and raped and call it pornography. Women and girls survive this occupation. We see ourselves starving and trussed up in shop windows, on the sides of buses, on newsstands and in the grocery store. And we survive this. We see little girls wearing Playboy bracelets, young women and girls being branded by the sex industry, stamped as whores, stamped as being owned. And we are still surviving this.

Tonight we are reclaiming more than the night. We are reclaiming ourselves. We are saying, loudly and clearly, “no woman is a whore”. And we are standing with every woman who has been beaten, every woman who has been raped and we are reclaiming ourselves. Men have shaped our realities for far too long, it is time we take back what is ours.

see
that no matter what you have done
i am still here.
and it has made me dangerous, and wise.
and brother,
you cannot whore, perfume, and suppress me anymore.
i have my own business in this skin
and on this planet.
Gail Murray

h1

Abortion and contraception: a radical lesbian perspective

July 11, 2009

intercourse

The issue of abortion and contraception seems to be a straightforward one for most feminists. They are considered to be a fundamental right, and access to safe, legal and affordable contraception and abortion on demand is said to be necessary for women’s sexual freedom. I would argue that from a radical lesbian point of view, the reverse is actually true.

Now, I do not deny that access to contraception and abortion is absolutely necessary for women to have any semblance of control over their reproduction, right now… as we are living under male supremacy and women’s Selves and sexualities are fundamentally controlled by male ideas of women’s sexual function. Women’s sexual awareness is tightly controlled by the media, by the porn industry, by father’s, brother’s, husband’s, lover’s, son’s; and our function is clear: we are fuck objects, our function in sex is to be fucked.

Intercourse is central to sexual relations between men and women in our male supremacist society. Most of us do not question its primacy and its place in sexual intimacy… it just is. When men and women get together and have a relationship they are expected to fuck on a regular basis. If they are not fucking on a regular basis, something is considered to be wrong… the relationship is not functioning… sex is not occurring. For a detailed deconstruction of intercourse and the way that men and women are conditioned into coital sexuality read Anticlimax by Sheila Jeffries and Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin.

Anyways, centering abortion and contraception as necessary for women’s sexual freedom and as a fundamental human right presupposes that intercourse is a natural expression of women’s sexuality and that intercourse will continue to occur with the same frequency once women have complete control over their own bodies. Now I would argue that that is one hell of a presupposition.

The reality is that intercourse is the cause of unwanted pregnancy. Given that we know, as women and as radical feminists, the extent to which women are bullied, coerced and downright forced into allowing men access to their bodies… do we really think that intercourse will happen anywhere near as frequently as it does now, once women have actual sexual freedom? I personally doubt it.

While I agree that abortion and contraception are necessary at the moment, because we are living under male supremacy, women do not have any level of sexual freedom and intercourse is an unfortunate reality in many women’s lives… I am also looking forward to a time where abortion and contraception are no longer necessary. A time where women can engage freely, safely and lovingly in relations with other women, or in non-coital relationships with men.

I cannot in good conscience jump on the abortion/contraception is great for women bandwagon. In my opinion it has done as much damage as good. In reality, it gives men another crowbar with which to wedge open women’s legs. Yes, it gives *some* women, *some* level of control but it is a very, very far cry from actual liberation.

What does real freedom look like? Well, I have never had to take any unnecessary hormone pills for one thing. I have had lots of wonderful, messy, lusty, loud, sexually intimate moments with my last partner and I have never had to run to the chemist for a morning after pill, never had to buy condoms… or any of the other weird paraphernalia of heterosexual relations. Lesbianism is a 100% effective, safe and affordable contraceptive.

To summarise: intercourse causes unwanted pregnancy. Intercourse is totally unnecessary for women’s sexual pleasure. Access to abortion and contraception has not delivered either sexual or reproductive freedom for women. Demand for abortion would decrease dramatically once women have control over their physical integrity, and once our sexualities are no longer conditioned and controlled by men.

Basically, I don’t think that either contraception or abortion is the ‘solution’ to women’s reproductive rights even though I fully support women’s right to access free, safe and legal contraception and abortion.

h1

Football players are gang rapists

May 15, 2009

At the moment Australia is a little bit upset because yet another football team has been going around gang raping women. They are calling this ‘event’ (as if it only happened one time) a ‘sex scandal’ (as if sex had anything to do with it, unless sex is rape, which, you know, a case could be made for that point). In any case the women who are being raped and seriously harmed by the violence of these men are being sidelined. It is the reputation of the club/player/institution that is being tarnished. It is the sad ruination of a career, the mussing up of a happy family (yeah, like the wife and kids aren’t getting raped as well), etc, etc. My heart bleeds.

What I don’t get is why this is ‘shocking’ news. Men rape women. The more power a man has access to, the more women he has access to rape. Men gang rape women. They coerce, intimidate and force women into sexual submission. Football players are men. Football players have access to a lot of power and hence a lot of women. Football players, like all men, are powerfully attracted to other football players. They see women as their inferiors. As women could never be seen as, or treated as equals, these men primarily bond with each other and their homoerotic games are obvious to anyone who has eyes. Football is just a socially approved way that men show off their love for one another. Gang rape is the sexual extension of men’s homoerotic desire for one another.

So footie players gang-rape teenage girls, well duh!! Of course they do. No one is surprised that they do, in fact they are expected to do so. How else can they express their homosexual desires for each other? How else can they prove their manliness to their team-mates?

Last weekend I flew from Perth to Sydney. It was a 4 and a half hour flight. As I was getting on the plane I noticed a bunch of hulking brutes, all wearing identical t-shirts, standing in the queue to board the flight. From their appearance, I guessed they were a football team. I couldn’t believe the unluck of the situation. The grotesque men had porn magazines stuffed under their arms. Disgusting creatures. I was so worried when boarding that flight. I dreaded that I would be seated next to or near the fuckers and I had no idea how I could deal with that situation. Four and a half hours sitting near a bunch of serial gang rapists.

Thankfully, though I was seated near the gross, disgusting, misshapen creatures, they must have been tired, or too busy group masturbating into their porn mags to make much noise. But the situation really pissed me off. Surely women should have the right to board a plane that does not contain probable rapists. Why do I have to be assaulted by the presence of rapist men, who are blatantly affirming their exulted status as rapists, by carrying around pornographic magazines? This is fucked up, women.

I think there is a very simple solution to the ‘problem’ of the team sport of gang-raping that is so popular as a form of gay male bonding between football players. Mandatory castration of all men who play football and all men who watch football. This would be a quick and easy solution. The violent, woman-hating ‘sport’ will disappear overnight and women will be a little bit safer in this fucked up and dangerous world, full of fucked up and seriously dangerous men.

Football would not exist in a world where women are free and liberated. Nor would the gang rape of teenage girls. Goddess, how I wish, hope, rant, plead and pray for such a world. To all of the many, many women and girls out there who have been raped by football players and their fans, I love you. Thank you for speaking out, for surviving. I hold you in my heart. Your courage is immeasurable. Don’t give up. There are many, many women out here who believe you, who respect you. You are not nothing. You will never be nothing. They are the ones who are nothing.

h1

Why ‘lesbian’ has become a dirty word by Amazon Mancrusher

May 5, 2009

*This is a thought-provoking guest post written by my sisterfriend Amazon Mancrusher.*

womensymbol-1236

Why lesbian has become a dirty word

You would think the word lesbian would have gotten less radical rather than more radical since the 1970’s but that doesn’t seem to be the case. These days, fewer young women seem to be identifying as lesbian, choosing instead to use queer, gay or pan to describe who they have relationships with and how they feel about their sexuality and political identity. This article will explore why young women who have intimate relationships with other women have rejected the term lesbian.

The word lesbian originates from the island of Lesbos in Greece, where a poet called Sappho lived. The people of Lesbos have historically been known as lesbians. Sappho wrote love poems to other women, many of which were destroyed by religious fundamentalists and the term lesbian became known as a term to describe women who love other women.
In the 1970’s, many women organised a feminist women’s liberation movement, in which lesbianism become a highly politicised and revolutionary concept. Many lesbians broke away from the gay liberation movement in favour of the women’s movement after making the analysis that they had more in common with straight women than gay men. They believed that gay men still benefitted from the gender hierarchy, know as patriarchy, in which the needs and human rights of women are invisible or secondary to the needs of men and where men dominate women through sexual and domestic violence. Their analysis showed that this still applied in the gay and lesbian community, where the political and social focus often focused on gay men and silenced the needs of lesbians.

Lesbians became highly visible in the 1970’s women’s liberation movement and many women who had previously seen themselves as heterosexual made choices based on their feminist politics to become lesbians, claiming that intimate relationships and sexuality are not biologically determined, but rather politically influenced. Feminists argued that heterosexuality was the cornerstone of male domination, because men are brought up to think that through heterosexual power relations, they have automatic sexual rights to women’s bodies. Feminists pointed out that the sexual power that men are granted encourages them to see the bodies of women as property or a commodity. This concept is backed up by society’s historical and cultural social structures through the laws of marriage and the culture of prostitution.

During this time, heterosexuality was ‘outed’ as something that was politically and socially compulsory rather than natural. Many feminists engaged in the women’s movement soon realised that there was a different choice and they chose lesbianism. For many women this was a choice of political resistance against compulsory heterosexuality, marriage and all other forms of male domination and gender hierarchy. Women also realised that they could make different decisions about what clothes to wear and whether to shave or wear makeup and many chose to reject feminine stereotypes. Sexual violence was finally theorised as stemming from power relations and male political domination, rather than a by-product of the ‘natural’ sex drive of men that they cannot control. This analysis meant that sexual relationships had to be politicised and the term ‘the personal is political’ became a well known feminist slogan relating to personal relationships.

Unfortunately, revolutionary lesbian resistance did not come with money and societal power and men with power in society, who control the media and finances, soon drove a powerful backlash campaign against lesbians that remains so toxic that it still poisons the lesbian community to this day. Worldwide media ran articles and news stories inflicting hatred upon women who rejected heterosexuality or rejected femininity, and claimed that lesbianism is ugly and that the rejection of femininity is inadequate for the physical desires of men. Another type of backlash against lesbians involved the depiction of women having sex with each other in pornography. These depictions were created by men who felt threatened by lesbian’s rejection of heterosexuality and wanted to place male needs back in the centre of the lives of lesbians and to recreate lesbianism in a way that they could control. Attitudes in society and the media continue to perpetuate the myth that lesbians are monstrous, revolting, unsightly beasts and lesbianism, especially in pornography is frequently represented as existing for titillation of heterosexual men.

So is it any wonder that women are rejecting this identity?

Lesbians themselves, especially those growing up in the backlash, have had little choice but to internalise this plethora of hatred and look for more palatable ways to survive and become more acceptable to their male peers and heterosexual friends. As a consequence, during the 90’s, lesbians increasingly withdrew from the women’s movement and returned to the gay liberation movement to seek political support from gay men. Many lesbians began to call themselves gay because it felt more palatable and less confrontational to their male friends.

Feminists have and continue to acknowledge that lesbians and gay men both face hatred for rejecting heterosexuality, and that a commonality exists but they also argue that the needs of lesbians and gay men are very different and that when they politically become a homogenous (same) group, that the needs will default to gay men, because as men, gay men have more economic and societal power.

The 1990’s also saw the rising influence of neo-liberalism and post-modernism, which both reject an analysis of social structures of oppression in favour of the analysis of individual power. Post-modern theorists claim that power is like a toy that can be played with by anyone, regardless of gender, race and class. Queer politics stemmed from post-modern theory, and argues that gender and sexuality can be performed and played with like a game. Adopting a queer identity became a way that lesbians could reject gender but remain palatable to gay men at the same time. Terms such as queer and pan have become used as a way of blurring the boundaries of gender. Many feminists claim that some post-modern and queer perspectives were harmful because they distort the reality of people’s day to day lives and deny the lived experience of women under patriarchy. Women living in domestic violence relationships or surviving rape are harmed by real violence stemming from real power structures. They ask how queer performance will ever help women around the world surviving rape, trafficking and domestic violence.

Queer politics proposes that if women play with their gender and do drag performances and reject the identity of woman then they will gain power. This technique has been used in recent events in the lesbian community with theme nights like Playboy where women were encouraged to dress up as Hugh Hefner in order to subvert the power dynamics. What queer politics does not tend to explore, is if these notions of male power are in fact positive in the first place and if women should claiming or subverting them will not just in reality just continue our gender binaries, albeit in a more performative way. Interestingly, queer politics has not been used by any other group to challenge hierarchy. Aboriginal people do not have colonial theme nights and dress up as white imperialists in order to distort racism and I have never heard of Jewish people coping with memories of the holocaust by holding a Nazi theme parties and playing with the role of being a Nazi. Any attempt to organise such an event would be met with confusion and probably outrage, but feminists and survivors of violence who criticize such notions of so called ‘subversion’ seem to be taken much less seriously.

To conclude, the backlash against women’s liberation has made it acceptable for the real lived experiences of women to be denied and almost impossible for lesbians to hang onto lesbianism as an alternative to a world where men’s needs dominate. It is easier, more palatable and less confrontational to be known as queer, gay or any other identity that decentres the needs of women.

by Amazon Mancrusher

h1

The Industrial Vagina

February 26, 2009

the-industrial-vagina

Awe-inspiring, radical, charismatic, lesbian feminist Sheila Jeffreys has written a new book called The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade. It looks like it will be a really eye-opening and well-researched book (as are all books written by Sheila Jeffreys). Radio National interviewed Sheila about the book. You can find the interview here Go listen. Sheila is awesome!