Fundamental basis of feminism.

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jef costello
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Dec 28 2006 11:14
Fundamental basis of feminism.

I am asking genuie questions, so please do not have arguments with anyone. This is a discussion and the aim is for me to better understand feminism.

From the arguments thread in libcommunity.

madashell wrote:
Marxist feminism holds that patriarchy results from class conflict, whereas radical feminism holds that patriarchy has an existence independent of class, but that the relationship between men and women under patriarchy is analogous to that of boss and worker under capitalism. This idea runs through the whole radical feminist tradition, the way in which radfems analyse gender is identical to the way that many Marxists analyse class.

treeofjudas wrote:
There's a huge difference between analogy and identity. I already mentioned that all radical feminists I know personally are also queer or queer-friendly, as are most if not all the radical feminists they "swear by," as it were. How could that be possible if they were analyzing "man" and "woman" as rigid class distinctions?

From the material benefits of patriarchy thread here.

jason wrote:
I would say that there is definitely a material basis to patriarchy. Wouldn't a fundamental tenent of patriarchy be the appropriation of domestic labor? Thus even the lowest paid worker in a developed capitalist economy and a subsistence farmer, whether from oppressed ethnicities to political leaders, if male all expect to have their food prepared for them, their clothes washed, the house cleaned, etc.

I tend to agree with jason, I think that the oppression of women is the fundamental basis of capitalism and also that it tends to precede it.

If the position of women is analogous to that of worker then that seems to imply that women will only be equal once capitalism is overturned. I'm not convinced by this argument as capitalism is quite capable of making powerful elites within minorities and I doubt that this is any exception. Many women have done very well under capitalism. Although this economic success may make them no less vulnerable to oppression as women. As other groups can also find:

Catch22 wrote:
I remember reading about a black city council member getting roughed up by police officers during the WTO riots. The guy was dressed in a suit with all the proper ID and the cops beat him anyway.

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Dec 28 2006 11:40

I think that women's oppression is somewhat independent of capitalism. It's pointless to work towards ending it under capitalism, of course, as it is pointless to work towards ending any oppression under capitalism; but that doesn't mean that ending capitalism will automatically end this oppression, especially when you have a member of the vanguard of ideas leading to its overthrow considering (!) allowing (!!) his wife (!!!) to keep her old surname alongside his. If us radical activists are not even willing to end oppression in their own personal lives, how can anyone expect us to guide them to a less oppressive future?

As for the material basis of patriarchy, I think that has a lot to do with the blatant material facts of procreation: it requires a male and a female, and it is the female who has to bear (pun intended) the consequences, at least for the first 9 months, if not more. Since procreation is essential for survival, "procreation relations", as it were, are an important material substructure of any society.

Yes, this would lead to an analysis similar to Marxist class analysis, but not to an identical one. And it definitely has no bearing on ossifying gender.

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Dec 28 2006 13:14
tojiah wrote:
I think that women's oppression is somewhat independent of capitalism. It's pointless to work towards ending it under capitalism, of course, as it is pointless to work towards ending any oppression under capitalism; but that doesn't mean that ending capitalism will automatically end this oppression, especially when you have a member of the vanguard of ideas leading to its overthrow considering (!) allowing (!!) his wife (!!!) to keep her old surname alongside his.

Oh for Christ's sake! That was blatantly a tongue in cheek comment.

And what's with the "wife (!!!)"? The pressure to "be sexual" is just as oppressive as the pressure to be monogamous.

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Dec 28 2006 13:17

From the other thread:

tojiah wrote:
There's a huge difference between analogy and identity. I already mentioned that all radical feminists I know personally are also queer or queer-friendly, as are most if not all the radical feminists they "swear by," as it were. How could that be possible if they were analyzing "man" and "woman" as rigid class distinctions?

Because there's no contradiction between being queer or "queer-friendly" (except for those trans politics perverts obviously) and viewing "man" and "woman" as analogous to class.

arf
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Dec 28 2006 14:37

yeh, i agree, it would help if you took your own advice tho revol because you are the worst person here for assuming knowledge where you don't have any.

i know jef asked for no arguing but how else am i supposed to respond to revols total misrepresentations there?

arf
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Dec 28 2006 15:19

no revol - you dont understand the answer, or you wouldnt ask me those questions.

there are lots of radfems, coming from different backgrounds, concentrating on different areas, etc etc etc. what you want is for me to pretend we're some sort of borg, and give robot 'standard' answers to complex questions. but that isnt possible. i could answer just for myself but it wouldnt be representative of the radfem 'hive mind' that does not exist. my personal focus is around rape and sexual violence, and around childbirth issues, both of which i read widely on as well as drawing on my own experiences and the experiences of other women i talk to. and that is the whole point - radical feminism is in constant development, taking in new information, forming new theories, learning from reality. i think that is one of the reasons you dont get it - you are someone with static politics, you think you know it all and are already at the peak of your knowledge - and you arent prepared to question everything and change position or grow. i know im at the start of what is a political journey that is based on real life and real people - whereas as far as i can see, you believe that politics is something you can memorise out of a book. you have no respect for people doing it differently and i find that disgraceful.

radical feminism is a way of seeing things - it is woman centred (something which you, revol, deny can even exist), and it looks for the effects of control and conditioning under patriarchy. patriarchy does not = men. but patriarchy is a system of power where men are held to be the human standard and women are held to be less than that. a simple demonstration of that is the way "women's rights" or "women's issues" are split up from plain old human rights and human issues. another demonstration would be the way the default in our language is always male, "he", and the way extra information is added to mean female - woman police officer, madam president, etc. the lesser status of women is embedded in our language. history is so much about men and their dealings that we have to create a category called "women's history", which is incredibly difficult to research because of the practice of erasing women through use of surnames, through denial of education, through male historians not considering women or their activities as being worthwhile of study or record, etc etc.

so radical feminism starts from seeing women as human
. that includes women having the basic right to create language and name and define things, including themselves.

the questions you ask are complex and impossible because whilst there are radical feminists with theories on all of those things, radical feminism is not defined by any one theory or theoretician but by all of its parts - that is all radfems. every one of your questions is in itself a big debate within radical feminism, every single one, with women on all sides and not just two. and of course there are absolute hard line radfems about different topics, but there are always people on the edges and extremes of every group or movement and they do not define the whole.

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Dec 28 2006 15:24
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so radical feminism starts from seeing women as human

Surely to do that, it actually has to start with accusing everybody else of seeing women as something other than human?

Which is bollocks, frankly. Pre-existing "human rights" are already extended to women, the reason that they are a separate issue is because womens issues occur in areas not covered by human rights, not because women are not considered to be human. There is a difference, you know.

arf
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Dec 28 2006 15:26

further - i know radical feminists who also consider themselves anarchists, socialists, marxists, and it is compatible with all of them - 'all' radical feminism does is add a new perspective to them - a woman centred perspective.

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Dec 28 2006 15:30

Except that it's not just a "woman centred perspective" (which is actually nothing new to feminism and anarcha-feminism anyway), it's a perspective that sees men as being akin to the "class enemy", which makes things somewhat difficult.

arf
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Dec 28 2006 15:32

actually madashell - there is plenty of evidence all the time that women are not considered fully human, of which i already provided some examples. here are some more - in patriarchal religions women are less than human, i dont think i need to provide evidence of that, i'm sure we're all aware of it. in "work" women are less than human, in that much of women's work is still not recognised as work, and that 'women's work' such as it is is viewed as less useful and paid less than other types of work. you can take almost any element of our society, national or worldwide - language, education, healthcare, whatever - and examine it's history and it's present to find a bias against women that shows quite clearly that women are considered less valuable than men.

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Dec 28 2006 15:35
madashell wrote:
And what's with the "wife (!!!)"? The pressure to "be sexual" is just as oppressive as the pressure to be monogamous.

"Wife" is a term of ownership, and, in any case, objectification, towards another person. That better be gone after the revolution, or I'll be mighty pissed.

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Dec 28 2006 15:36
arf wrote:
you can take almost any element of our society, national or worldwide - language, education, healthcare, whatever - and examine it's history and it's present to find a bias against women that shows quite clearly that women are considered less valuable than men.

Yes, but it doesn't follow from this that women are not viewed as human. You're taking an unsupported assertion (men are viewed as the human standard) and then extrapolating beyond anything that assertion could possibly support anyway (women are viewed as less than human). It's fucking pointless melodrama that adds nothing to a discussion.

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Dec 28 2006 15:37
madashell wrote:
Because there's no contradiction between being queer or "queer-friendly" (except for those trans politics perverts obviously) and viewing "man" and "woman" as analogous to class.

I don't define myself as man or woman, and most of the radfems I know don't, either, or don't mind people who don't. That's what I mean by queer; if you'd rather call us "trans politics perverts," that's fine, too: I'm a trans politics pervert radfem.

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Dec 28 2006 15:37
arf wrote:
radical feminism is a way of seeing things - it is woman centred (something which you, revol, deny can even exist), and it looks for the effects of control and conditioning under patriarchy. patriarchy does not = men. but patriarchy is a system of power where men are held to be the human standard and women are held to be less than that. a simple demonstration of that is the way "women's rights" or "women's issues" are split up from plain old human rights and human issues. another demonstration would be the way the default in our language is always male, "he", and the way extra information is added to mean female - woman police officer, madam president, etc. the lesser status of women is embedded in our language. history is so much about men and their dealings that we have to create a category called "women's history", which is incredibly difficult to research because of the practice of erasing women through use of surnames, through denial of education, through male historians not considering women or their activities as being worthwhile of study or record, etc etc.

How is this different to women's rights? Surely in each case it is a recognition that women have been excluded.

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so radical feminism starts from seeing women as human
. that includes women having the basic right to create language and name and define things, including themselves.

I see this but I always find that creating language reeks of creating 'women's' language.

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Dec 28 2006 15:38
tojiah wrote:
"Wife" is a term of ownership, and, in any case, objectification, towards another person.

Sorry, I must have forgotten that we're living in Medieval Europe for a second there.

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Dec 28 2006 15:39
tojiah wrote:
I don't define myself as man or woman, and most of the radfems I know don't, either

Then you aren't radical feminists.

Radical feminism requires recognition of distinct categories of male and female, there isn't a single radfem theorist who doesn't start with this assumption.

tojiah wrote:
if you'd rather call us "trans politics perverts," that's fine

You don't really "do" humour, do you?

arf
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Dec 28 2006 15:39
madashell wrote:
Except that it's not just a "woman centred perspective" (which is actually nothing new to feminism and anarcha-feminism anyway), it's a perspective that sees men as being akin to the "class enemy", which makes things somewhat difficult.

thats not true. for sure, some radfems have given up on trying to work with or live with men. sometimes thats for pro women reasons (directing energy into relationships with women) and sometimes its because of anti men reasons. but the huge majority of the radfems i know are still in relationships with men - family, friends, lovers, partners.

i think this is just the oldest myth in the anti feminist book - that feminists hate men or consider them 'the enemy'. i constantly see radfems asking for solidarity from men - and im posting here arent i? i didnt come here just to argue with revol believe it or not.

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Dec 28 2006 15:42
madashell wrote:
Sorry, I must have forgotten that we're living in Medieval Europe for a second there.

Good thing I reminded you, then. Else you'd be surprised when yet another rich posh gets knighted.

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Dec 28 2006 15:46
madashell wrote:
Then you aren't radical feminists.

We so are, I'm like totally telling you off to my Mom.

madashell wrote:
Radical feminism requires recognition of distinct categories of male and female, there isn't a single radfem theorist who doesn't start with this assumption.

Uh-uh. The categories are "man" and "other," where the latter includes so much more variety than just "woman."

madashell wrote:
You don't really "do" humour, do you?

I take my humor very seriously.

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Dec 28 2006 15:47
arf wrote:
thats not true. for sure, some radfems have given up on trying to work with or live with men. sometimes thats for pro women reasons (directing energy into relationships with women) and sometimes its because of anti men reasons. but the huge majority of the radfems i know are still in relationships with men - family, friends, lovers, partners.

Is that not the central point of most radical feminist theory though? I'm not saying "radfems all hate men" or some other such nonsense, just that their ideology makes solidarity with men problematic on a lot of levels, which has been shown to be true at times when radfem was more prevelant.

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i constantly see radfems asking for solidarity from men

How often do you see radfems offering solidarity with men though?

I'd appreciate it if you'd stop trying to paint me as "anti-feminist" by the way. I'm not. I'm less than fond of radical feminism, but that's not the same as being anti-feminist at all.

arf
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Dec 28 2006 15:49
jef costello wrote:
How is this different to women's rights? Surely in each case it is a recognition that women have been excluded.

women's history is examining the past, but I hope that history as it continues to be written will be more inclusive of women. 'women's rights', on the other hand, should be included within human rights now, not as something tacked on to deal with once we've dealt with the 'more important' stuff.

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I always find that creating language reeks of creating 'women's' language.

our language should be created by both men and women. the only thing that makes it 'women's language' is the continued denial of access to women from language by men. teenage slang and capitalist marketing create new language all the time without the same sort of fuss - but when women create new words there is always a propoganda attack, usually involving lots of belittling and mockery. if more of us accepted those new words as valid, just as we do for male created words, they wouldnt be "womens language" - they would just be 'language'.

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Dec 28 2006 15:49
tojiah wrote:
Uh-uh. The categories are "man" and "other," where the latter includes so much more variety than just "woman."

*thumps head on table*

No, that's queer theory. It's not the same thing as radical feminism.

arf
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Dec 28 2006 15:59
madashell wrote:
Is that not the central point of most radical feminist theory though? I'm not saying "radfems all hate men" or some other such nonsense, just that their ideology makes solidarity with men problematic on a lot of levels, which has been shown to be true at times when radfem was more prevelant.

the problem is not that radfem ideology makes solidarity with men impossible - it doesnt - the problem is that men refuse solidarity to women, we are denied 'brotherhood' even in the most left movements. radical feminists persistently ask men to listen and show solidarity but most men are not interested - i guess they dont want to give anything up, and we are asking for men to give up dominance. radical feminism is a threat to 'masculinity' and 'femininity' and intentionally so, and a lot of people rely on those constructs for their identities.

Quote:
How often do you see radfems offering solidarity with men though?

all the time, mah, all the time.

Quote:
I'd appreciate it if you'd stop trying to paint me as "anti-feminist" by the way.

i apologise, that wasnt my intention and its not how i see you either. but the idea that feminism, particularly radical feminism, is "man hating" or "anti man" is an anti feminist propaganda.

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Dec 28 2006 16:05
arf wrote:
the problem is not that radfem ideology makes solidarity with men impossible - it doesnt - the problem is that men refuse solidarity to women, we are denied 'brotherhood' even in the most left movements. radical feminists persistently ask men to listen and show solidarity but most men are not interested - i guess they dont want to give anything up, and we are asking for men to give up dominance. radical feminism is a threat to 'masculinity' and 'femininity' and intentionally so, and a lot of people rely on those constructs for their identities.

Sorry to bring in a side-topic, but is it feasible for a trans-sexual to say the same thing about feminists? Particularly the part about refusing to show solidarity.

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Dec 28 2006 16:16
revol68 wrote:
Seriously one more mention of Sweden and i'll crack up.

Sverige! Fuck Yeah!

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Dec 28 2006 16:18
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teenage slang and capitalist marketing create new language all the time without the same sort of fuss

But how many of those words actually make it into mainstream usage? It’s only generally the ones which evolve a specific use over and beyond existing mainstream language that do so. ‘Bling’ makes it because it has connotations which no other word adequately describes, colloquialisms sometimes make it because they are shortenings or the streamlining of common phrases that gain recognition in mainstream shared language, similarly with foreign language words – we send this in the other direction in spades, which is why if you talk with almost any other foreign national in almost any scientific field you’ll hear a bizarrely high percentage of English language words.

What they tend to share in common is a specific use which wasn’t there before, and (I think this is crucial to explaining why so many people – male and female - think that rad-fem interventions in this field are bizarre) do not owe their existence solely to the making of a political point. The organic changing of a language can’t be forced in the way that is being attempted. Even with complete control of the media and advertising, capitalist enterprise isn’t able to do such wholesale changes to terminology overnight, and would look very strange indeed if it tried to use such crude tools.

You use marketing as an example, but have you ever actually sat down and looked at how marketing works with public perception? It swims with preconception and existing words/understandings and tweaks here and there, it never swims against the current.

arf
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Dec 28 2006 16:19

revol - why dont you follow their own links lists, doofus. every one of the blogs i listed myself has a bunch of links to all sorts, and each of those has a fat archive of articles for you to go through. you are capable of conducting your own research, arent you?

refused - yeh, it is feasible. in my experience the great majority of radfems i know do offer solidarity to transgender people with respect to violence against them, discrimination at work or elsewhere, etc. but there is a general feeling that transgender politics and practice are another way of enforcing sex roles that radical feminists want to abolish.

arf
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Dec 28 2006 16:27

saii - just because its always interesting here'sheres a link to the new words part of the oxford dictionary site.

(aside - as a dwarf fan im glad to see twonk is in there..)

Quote:
It’s only generally the ones which evolve a specific use over and beyond existing mainstream language that do so.

if that were true a huge number of words would have to be eliminated from our dictionaries, and we could eliminate the need for a thesaurus. this isnt 1984 though and multiple terms to describe the same thing is not only acceptable, it makes our language richer.

besides which - terms used to make a political point would fit your definition there "a specific use over and beyond existing mainstream language".

arf
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Dec 28 2006 16:35

revol - ive been doing my research and my regular reading, and entering discussions with other radfems, practically every day for almost five years at this point and i think the exact opposite to you.

arf
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Dec 28 2006 16:36

and here i am, a woman, and not your teacher or your mummy. stop trolling the thread revol.

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Dec 28 2006 16:38

I've already told you I have absolutely no interest in what official dictionaries have to say on the matter.

What they carry has little or nothing to do with what is actually in use in everyday society. When I use a dictionary it usually isn’t to find a word for what I’m thinking (I’d be searching a long time, no?), it’s to confirm the spelling or intricacies of a word I already know and that’s the point I’m trying to get across. The most important tool for anyone is communication, NOT the arrangement of letters on a tongue or page.

I daresay that if I campaigned long and hard enough I could get ‘swidgip’ in but that wouldn’t make it a sensible campaign or something I should waste my time on. If I tried using it at the office people would think I’d gone mad, and far more important than the fact they wouldn’t use the word is that they would also dismiss what I subsequently try to communicate.