Robert Jensen is a rare and important example of a man embracing radical feministm. As radical feminist organisation, DGR encourages men to step up against patriarchy (and this neither means to be a man-hater nor a sexual prude). As Robert Jensen states below, “Our goal is the end of patriarchy by challenging the patriarchal practices that do so much damage to so many of us.”
This certainly includes pornography.
Let’s start with the world according to pornographers:
Sex is natural. Pornography is just sex on film. Therefore, pornography is natural.
If you do not accept the obvious “logic” of that argument, you are a prude who is sex-negative.
But what about the intense misogyny in pornography?
You’re a prude.
But what about the explicit racism in pornography?
What about the physical and psychological injuries routinely suffered by women used in pornography?
You’re prudishly sex-negative.
What about the consequences of conditioning so many men’s arousal and experience of sexual pleasure to these sexist and racist images?
You’re sex-negatively prudish.
If your concerns about pornography flow from spirituality, you must be a religious nut.
If your concerns about pornography are based in feminism, you must be a man-hater.
Sadly, this is often how attempts to discuss the social problems flowing from the production and consumption of contemporary sexually explicit media play out—especially in conversations with liberal, progressive, and leftist men, and with some feminists who describe themselves as pro-porn or “sex positive.”
My goal is to mark those responses as diversions; focus on the content of pornography and its underlying ideology; examine why such material is so prevalent; and discuss why this matters for our attempts to create a truly sex-positive society that fosters meaningful autonomy for girls and women.
So, “pornographic distortions,” refers both to the ways in which pornography distorts human sexuality, and the way in which pornography’s defenders distort the views of critics. Let’s start with the latter.
For the record, I am not a religious nut nor a man-hater.
I am a secular progressive Christian. By that, I mean that I was raised in a predominantly Christian culture, and the narratives and ethics of Christianity remain relevant in my life, even though I don’t accept all Christian doctrines and I long ago rejected the supernatural claims associated with a conventional interpretation of the faith tradition (i.e., a virgin birth and resurrection as historical facts, the possibility of miracles, the existence of a divine entity). But those stories and moral frameworks have influenced how I see the world, in conversation with many other philosophical and political traditions that I find helpful. I see no reason to ignore this aspect of my life.
I work from a radical feminist analysis of patriarchy. By that, I mean that I recognize institutionalized male dominance as morally unjust and not only an impediment to women’s freedom but to social justice more generally (that’s feminism), and central to patriarchy are men’s attempts to own or control women’s reproductive power and sexuality (that’s radical feminism). I see no reason to be afraid of that analysis.
In more than three decades of work in the feminist anti-pornography movement and the larger struggle against men’s violence and exploitation of women, I have worked with a wide range of people motivated by religion and/or feminism. I have met many lovely people, from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of experiences, who reject the pornography industry’s cynical approach to human sexuality and are committed to challenging the routine abuse of women in the sexual-exploitation industries. I have yet to meet someone who is a prude or sex-negative. Such people exist, of course, but they aren’t a part of the movement I am part of. Most of us in the anti-pornography movement struggle to understand the complexity of sexuality, which is true of most people I meet. Some of us in the movement have sexual histories marked by trauma, which also makes us pretty “normal,” given how routine sexual violence is in patriarchal cultures. Our goal is the end of patriarchy by challenging the patriarchal practices that do so much damage to so many of us. We struggle to make a truly sex-positive culture possible.
That’s as much time as I am willing to spend trying to persuade people that I’m not crazy or hateful. Let’s move on to the more important task of understanding how and why the pornography industry offers such a destructive picture of human sexuality.
The pornography industry
Let’s start with terminology. I used the term “sexual-exploitation industries” to include prostitution, strip clubs, massage parlors, and escort services, along with pornography and other mediated forms of commercial sex. Applying a feminist analysis, all of these enterprises are ways that men buy and sell objectified female bodies for sexual pleasure. Boys and vulnerable men are also exploited in these industries, but the majority of these businesses offer men the opportunity to buy women and girls.
Pornography is also a form of mass media. Applying a media analysis, we examine the production process, the stories being told, and audience reception. How is pornography made and who profits? What are the patterns and themes in pornographic images and stories? How do the consumers of pornography use the material in their lives and with what effects?
I’ll focus here on the content of pornography, but first let’s recognize the importance of understanding production and reception.
How is pornography made? Andrea Dworkin, the writer/activist so central to the feminist critique, always emphasized that what you see in pornography is not simulated sex. The sex acts being performed on a woman that appear to be uncomfortable or painful were done to a real woman. Did that woman choose that? In some sense yes, but under what conditions and with what other choices available? What constraints did she face in her life and what opportunities did she have? And whatever level of choice she made doesn’t change the nature of the injuries that women sustain. Before we even ask about women’s choices, we should focus on men: Why do men choose to use pornography that exploits women?
There are many different genres in pornography, but the bulk of the market is heterosexual sex marketed to heterosexual men, who use it as a masturbation facilitator. There is a long debate about the relationship of pornography use and sexual violence, a question with no simple answer. But, as advertisers have long observed, exposure to media messages can affect attitudes and attitudes shape behavior. We know that people, especially young people, are prone to imitating behaviors they see in mass media that are presented as fashionable or exciting. Consider the advice a university sex researcher offers to male students: “If you’re with somebody for the first time, don’t choke them, don’t ejaculate on their face, don’t try to have anal sex with them. These are all things that are just unlikely to go over well.” Why would such advice be necessary? Those acts are routine in pornography, and pornography is the de facto sex education for many boys and young men.
My focus here is on pornographic images, specifically those produced by the heterosexual pornography industry. We’ll use a simple definition for pornography: Graphic sexually explicit material that is designed to produce sexual arousal, with a focus on material produced for men, who are the majority of the consumers. While women’s use of pornography has increased in recent years, the industry still produces material that reflects the male sexual imagination in patriarchy.
A bit of history is useful in understanding these images. The pornography industry operated largely underground until the 1960s and ‘70s, when it began being more accepted in mainstream society. That led to a sharp increase in the amount of pornography produced, a trend that expanded dramatically with new media technologies, such as VCRs, DVDs, and the internet.
The industry’s desire to increase profits drove the development of new products, in this case a wider variety of sexual acts in pornographic films. The standard sexual script in pornography — little or no foreplay, oral sex (primarily performed by women on men), vaginal intercourse, and occasionally anal intercourse — expanded to keep viewers from becoming satiated and drifting away. In capitalism, competition for market share produces “innovation,” though more often than not innovation means a slightly different version of products we didn’t need in the first place. In that sense, pornography is a quintessentially capitalist business.
The first of those changes was the more routine presentation of men penetrating women anally, in increasingly rough fashion. Why anal? One longtime pornography producer whom I interviewed at an industry trade show explained it to me in explicit language, which I’ll paraphrase. Men know that most women don’t want anal sex, he said. So, when men get angry at their wives and girlfriends, they think to themselves, “I’d like to fuck her in the ass.” Because they can’t necessarily do that in real life, he said, they love it in pornography.
That man didn’t realize he was articulating, in his own crude fashion, a radical feminist critique: pornography is not just sex on film but rather sex in the context of male domination and female subordination, the central dynamic of patriarchy. The sexual experience in pornography is made more intense with sex acts that men find pleasurable but women may not want.
Where did the industry go from there? As pornographers sought to expand market share and profit, they continued to innovate. Here are several pornographic sex practices — acts that are typically not part of most people’s real-world sex lives but are common in pornography — that followed the normalizing of anal sex:
double penetration (two men penetrating a woman vaginally and anally at the same time);
double vag (two men penetrating a woman vaginally at the same time);
double anal (two men penetrating a woman anally at the same time);
gagging (oral penetration of a woman so aggressive that it makes her gag);
choking (men forcefully grasping a woman’s throat during intercourse, sometimes choking the woman); and
ATM (industry slang for ass-to-mouth, when a man removes his penis from the anus of a woman and, without visible cleaning, inserts his penis into her mouth or the mouth of another woman).
Other routine acts in pornography include slapping and spitting on women, pulling women’s hair, and ejaculating on women’s bodies (long called “the money shot”), especially on their faces (what has come to be called a “facial”).
Even pornographers acknowledge that they can’t imagine what comes after all this. One industry veteran told me that everything that could be done to a woman’s body had been filmed. “After all, how many dicks can you stick in a girl at one time?” he said. A director I interviewed echoed that, wondering “Where can it go besides [multiple penetrations]? Every hole is filled.” Another director worried that pornography was going too far and that porn sex increasingly resembled “circus acts.” “The thing about it is,” he told me, “there’s only but so many holes, only but so many different types of penetration that can be executed upon a woman.”
One pornographic genre that explores other forms of degradation is called “interracial,” which has expanded in the past two decades. Films in this category can feature any combination of racial groups, but virtually all employ racist stereotypes (the hot-blooded Latina, sexually animalistic black women, demure Asian “geishas” who live to serve white men, immigrant women who are easily exploited) and racist language (I’ll spare you examples of that). One of the most common interracial scenes is a white woman being penetrated by one or more black men, who are presented as being rougher and more aggressive, drawing on the racist stereotype of black men as a threat to the purity of white women, while at the same time revealing the white woman to be nothing but a slut who seeks such defilement. This racism would be denounced in any other mass media form but continues in pornography with little or no objection from most progressives.
Finally, in recent years there has been an increase in what my friend Gail Dines calls “pseudo-child pornography.” Sexually explicit material using minors is illegal and is vigorously prosecuted, and so mainstream pornography stays away from actual child pornography. But the industry uses young-looking adult women in childlike settings (the classic image is a petite woman, almost always white, in a girls’ school uniform) to create the impression that an adult man can have the high school cheerleader of his fantasy. Another popular version features stepfathers having sex with a teenage stepdaughters. This material is not marketed specifically to pedophiles but is part of the mainstream pornography market for “ordinary” guys.
Dines’ summary of contemporary pornography captures these trends: “Today’s mainstream Internet porn is brutal and cruel, with body-punishing sex acts that debase and dehumanize women.”
Radical feminist critique
For those familiar with the radical feminist critique of pornography, these trends are not surprising. If the pornography is not just the presentation of explicit sex but rather sex in the patriarchal domination/subordination dynamic, then pornographers will find it profitable to sexualize any and all forms of inequality.
This analysis, developed within the larger feminist project of challenging men’s violence against women, was first articulated clearly by Andrea Dworkin, who identified what we can call the elements of the pornographic:
Objectification: when “a human being, through social means, is made less than human, turned into a thing or commodity, bought and sold.”
Hierarchy: “a group on top (men) and a group on the bottom (women).”
Submission: when acts of obedience and compliance become necessary for survival, members of oppressed groups learn to anticipate the orders and desires of those who have power over them, and their compliance is then used by the dominant group to justify its dominance.
Violence: “systematic, endemic enough to be unremarkable and normative, usually taken as an implicit right of the one committing the violence.”
Although there is variation in the thousands of commercial pornographic films produced over the years, the main themes have remained consistent: (1) All women always want sex from men; (2) women like all the sexual acts that men perform or demand, and; (3) any woman who resists can be aroused by force, which is rarely necessary because most of the women in pornography are the “nymphomaniacs” of men’s fantasies. While both men and women are portrayed as hypersexual, men typically are the sexual subjects, who control the action and dictate the terms of the sex. Women are the sexual objects fulfilling male desire.
The radical feminist critique demonstrates not only that almost all sexually explicit material is pornographic, in the sense of reflecting and reinforcing patriarchy’s domination/subordination dynamic, but that pop culture is increasingly pornified. Pornography is a specific genre, but those elements of the pornographic also are present in other media, including Hollywood movies, television shows, video games, and advertising.
Let’s ask a simple question the pornographers would prefer we ignore: What kind of intimacy is possible in a pornographic world? I don’t mean just in pornography, but in a world in which this kind of pornography is widely used and widely accepted. Let’s go back to the connection between media use and behavior, which is complex. Does repeated exposure to advertising lead us to buy products we would not otherwise buy? Do violent scenes in movies or video games lead to increased rates of violence in people with a predisposition for violence? Definitive judgments are difficult, but we know that stories have the power to shape attitudes and attitudes effect behavior. We know that orgasm is a powerful reinforcer. We have plenty of reasons to be concerned about how the sexist and racist messages in pornography might influence the attitudes and behavior of pornography consumers. And we have plenty of reasons to be concerned about how the normalizing of pornographic images throughout the culture might shape how we all relate to our own bodies and understand sexuality in ways we aren’t aware of.
That all seems obvious, but industry defenders continue to assert that pornography is just fantasy and we shouldn’t police people’s fantasies. They want us to believe that in this one realm of human life — the use of sexually explicit media as a masturbation facilitator, primarily for men — people are unaffected by the power of stories and images. Even if that implausible claim were true, we still should ask, why are these particular fantasies so popular? When pornographers entered the mainstream and faced fewer restrictions, why did they create so many fantasies around male domination and female subordination? Why did they sexualize racist fantasies? Why did they encourage adult men to fantasize about having sex with teenagers? Why are pornography’s fantasies so routinely cruel and degrading to women?
There isn’t a neat and clean separation of our imaginations and our actions, between what goes on in our heads and what we do in the world. Even if we don’t know exactly how mass-mediated stories and images — what the pornographers and their supporters want to label as “just fantasy” — affect attitudes and behavior, we have reasons to be concerned about contemporary pornography.
And following Andrea Dworkin, let’s also not forget the women used in pornography. For men to masturbate to a double-anal scene, a woman must be penetrated anally by two men at the same time. Do we care about that woman? Do we care about what ideas those men carry around in their head? Think back to the advice the sex educator gives to young men, counseling them to stop behaving the way that pornography taught them to behave. Do we care about the female partners of those men?
These are not problems of a few individuals. I’ve talked to many young women who have told me that when they were in middle school and high school, they conformed to boys’ pornographic notions of sex without realizing what was happening to them. Some of those same women have told me that they would prefer to date men who don’t use pornography but they’ve given up because such men are so hard to find. I’ve talked to many adult women who don’t want to ask their boyfriends or husbands whether they use pornography, or inquire about what kind of pornography they might use, because they are afraid of the answer. I’ve talked to gay men who say that some of the same problems exist in their community.
I’ve talked to a lot of men who defend their pornography use and are unwilling to stop. But in recent years I’ve talked with more men who realize the negative effects of using this pornography but find it hard to stop. They report compulsive, addictive-like use of pornography, sometimes to the point of being unable to function sexually with a partner. These men feel profoundly alienated from themselves, from their own bodies.
Heat and light
The radical feminist critique of the misogyny and racism in pornography isn’t about denying humans’ sexual nature. It is not about imposing a single set of sexual norms on everyone. It’s not about hatred of men. The critique of the domination/subordination dynamic in pornography is about the struggle to transcend the patriarchal sexuality of contemporary culture in search of a sexuality that connects people rather than alienates us from each other and from our own bodies.
I have no simple prescriptions for how to move forward, though I see no way forward without a radical feminist critique. We struggle for intimacy, for connection, for something that feels more authentic than the pornographic script. We can start by recognizing how we have all been socialized, whether through traditional religion or secular society or both, into patriarchal values. That’s bound to be painful — for men when we realize we’ve been trained to dominate sexually, and for women when they realize they have been trained to accept sexual subordination.
I will end with an idea I first articulated 25 years ago and continue to ponder. A common way people talk about sex in the dominant culture is in terms of heat: She’s hot, he’s a hottie, we had hot sex. In a world obsessed with hotness, we focus on appearances and technique — whether someone looks the way we are socialized to believe attractive people should look, and the mechanics of sex acts. We hope that the right look and the right moves will produce heat. Sex is all bump-and-grind — the friction produces the heat, and the heat makes the sex good.
But we should remember a phrase commonly used to describe an argument that is intense but which doesn’t really advance our understanding—we say that such an argument “produced more heat than light.”
Heat is part of life, but what if in our sexual activity, our search for intimacy and connection, we obsessed less about heat and thought more about light? What if instead of desperately seeking hot sex, we searched for a way to produce light when we touch? What if that touch could be about finding a way to generate light between people so that we could see ourselves and each other better?
If the goal is knowing ourselves and each other like that, then what we need is not really heat but light to illuminate the path. How do we touch and talk to each other to shine that light? I am hesitant to suggest strategies; there isn’t a recipe book for that, no list of sexual positions to work through so that we may reach sexual bliss. There is only the ongoing quest to touch and be touched, to be truly alive. James Baldwin, as he so often did, got to the heart of this in a comment that is often quoted and a good place to conclude:
“I think the inability to love is the central problem, because the inability masks a certain terror, and that terror is the terror of being touched. And, if you can’t be touched, you can’t be changed. And, if you can’t be changed, you can’t be alive.”
Robert Jensen is Emeritus Professor in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Texas at Austin and a founding board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. He collaborates with the Ecosphere Studies program at The Land Institute in Salina, KS. Jensen is the author of The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson: Searching for Sustainability; The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men; Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully; Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue; All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice; Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity; The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege; Citizens of the Empire:The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity; and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream.
Jensen is host of “Podcast from the Prairie” with Wes Jackson and associate producer of the forthcoming documentary film Prairie Prophecy: The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson.
Patriarchy is one of the pillars of civilization (aka The Culture of Empire). True justice, equality and sustainability can only be achieved by radically dismantling all patriarchal structures and institutions. As a radical feminist organization, DGR has committed to protect women’s rights (including their boundaries) and to challenge patriarchy.
Last week, women across the UK gathered to express collective grief and anger at the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, whose body has now been formally identified after she was reported missing three weeks ago. From the large gathering that was forcibly broken up by police in Clapham — the place Sarah was last seen — to smaller tributes and vigils such as the one I attended in Oxford, to individuals lighting candles in their own homes, it seems Sarah Everard’s abduction from the streets of the capital has deeply shaken thousands of women.
Often when women are murdered by men, we can feel anger on behalf of the victim without feeling ourselves to be particularly at risk. We tell ourselves that since we aren’t in abusive relationships, or we aren’t involved in prostitution, we’re safe. As far as the public is aware though, neither of these circumstances applied to Sarah Everard. It wasn’t especially late when she walked home, she wasn’t drunk after a night out, nor was she wearing so-called “provocative” clothing. The neighbourhood she was walking in is a byword for yuppie gentrification and certainly not one that many would consider dangerous. CCTV shows her walking along a main road while talking to her partner on the phone. And yet, she disappeared. Many women find this frightening and disturbing because they wouldn’t think twice about doing exactly what Sarah did.
Other elements of this case also make it particularly disturbing. The fact that the man charged with her murder is a police officer. The fact that police are now carrying out an investigation into whether more minor accusations against the same man weeks prior were dealt with appropriately: the implication being that, perhaps if they had been taken more seriously, Sarah might still be alive; and also that if a man flashes you, he might be a murderer (and the police might not care). Then there is the fact that, before the suspect was arrested, police reportedly warned women to be careful going out alone, which has of course fuelled the usual controversies over women curtailing their behaviour due to the threat of violence from men. And finally, there’s the grim drip-dripping inevitability of it: woman missing; family concerned; searching ponds, but not assuming anything yet — man arrested but not charged; man charged with murder; “human remains;” “dental records” — yes, it’s her. It’s given this unfolding story a sickening “can’t look away, even though we all know how it ends” quality which is all too tragically familiar.
With this kind of nightmare story, it’s virtually always human female remains, and virtually always a man arrested. It seems trite to point out, because we all know it’s true. And yet, despite the obviousness of this statement, each case is seen as an isolated tragedy rather than part of a wider pattern worth remarking on. As one Twitter user commented, “If female on male violence were a thing like this, we’d be in ankle tags at the very best.”
This is not the first time women have been warned to stay at home for their own safety. During the late 1970s when Peter Sutcliffe — the “Yorkshire Ripper” — was attacking and killing women across Northern England, terrified women were told by police: “Do not go out at night unless absolutely necessary and only if accompanied by a man you know,” provoking an upswelling of anger from feminists who demanded a curfew on men, not themselves. (Julie Bindel claims this was what radicalized her as a teenager).
Forty years later, little has changed.
Less than a month before the women of Clapham were told the same thing, police in Basildon, Essex warned women not to go out alone after a spate of sexual assaults in broad daylight. In 2020, women were told to stay home in Belfast, after a spree of violence in which a man attacked five female members of the public with a knife; in Lincoln, after a teenager was sexually assaulted; and in Anglesey, following a string of indecent exposures and assaults on women. Of these, only the Belfast incident made national rather than local news, and it was a very minor story that was not reported by most newspapers and was soon forgotten.
Can you imagine how big of a news story it would be — and rightly so — if a UK police branch announced that members of an ethnic or religious minority should stay home or else risk being targeted for sexual assault, abduction, or murder? It would be regarded as an appalling failure of policing, effectively saying: people want to hurt you, and we can’t protect you — you’re on your own. This happens again and again to women in towns and cities all over the UK, and it’s business as usual. It’s almost as though male violence against women is like weather: you have to plan around it, but it’s not personal, it just is.
If someone is harassed, physically attacked, or killed because of their race or sexuality, that is a “hate crime” in UK law. Perpetrators of these crimes can often receive a heavier sentence, and specialized governmental and policing groups work to monitor and reduce hate crime. However, there’s no such thing in UK law as a hate crime motivated by sex. This is despite the vast majority of sexual offences — from street harassment to abduction, rape, and murder — happening almost by definition because the victim is a woman or girl (Donald Trump wasn’t interested in grabbing men by the penis), and despite the fact that often the offender is explicitly motivated by hatred or disdain for women. In other words, as stated in the Metropolitan Police’s definition of hate crime, “It is who the victim is … that motivates the offender.”
Arguably, this omission is because the sheer volume of hate crimes directed at women would overwhelm the system. Arguably, it is because misogyny is so deeply naturalized, with the division between the sexes running through every family back to the dawn of our species, that it is just very hard to see that women are systematically the victims of crimes because of their sex.*
You might be excused for assuming this blind spot for sexism is an outdated status quo that will soon be consigned to history. Unbelievably, however, the idea that women aren’t meaningfully discriminated against for being women is being actively maintained in progressive politics today.
Just last week, the SNP’s controversial Hate Crime Bill was passed, after an amendment to include sex as a protected characteristic was rejected. However, the bill does take care to explicitly include “cross-dressers.” When one compares the vast global scale of violence against women to the number of crimes directed specifically at cross-dressers, the deliberate omission of sex is inexplicable. The same week, the Green Party of England and Wales voted against a motion that would have seen sex recognized by the party alongside the other protected characteristics of the Equality Act. In February, expert women-focused domestic violence services in Brighton and in North Lanarkshire both lost their funding in favour of “non-gendered” services that will devote more attention to heterosexual and gay male victims, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of victims are women. Nowadays, sexism isn’t just invisible — it’s taboo, or just embarrassingly passé.
The last week on social media has seen an outpouring of women talking about the ubiquity of sexual harassment, and the precautions they feel they have to take because of male violence. Progressive men have largely made the right noises about needing to listen and do better. However, in an environment where sexism is demonstrably not taken seriously in politics and where women are routinely shunned and demonized for raising concerns about male violence, this all feels rather hollow to me.
Many of those taking to Twitter to tell us to #BelieveWomen and #YesAllWomen very quickly forget these principles the moment it counts. If you don’t believe me, try telling your progressive circle of friends that male sex offenders should not be housed in women’s prisons. You could add that women have alledgedly been raped as a result of this policy, as any fool could have predicted. Rather than justified feminist outrage, you will likely be met with embarrassed silence at best, or some hemming and hawing about how it’s a “difficult issue;” or, at worst, ostracism and accusations of bigotry. Middle class women are allowed to be afraid to go jogging after dark, but there is no sympathy for incarcerated women — some of the most vulnerable members of society, large numbers of whom have prior trauma at the hands of males — who are now locked up with convicted rapists. Any concern raised is just hateful scaremongering masking a conservative agenda.
If you shared one of the cartoons on Instagram debunking #NotAllMen (it’s not personal, it’s a sensible precaution to be wary of all men given the bad actions of some) then what do you say to women who feel intimidated by the presence of males who identify as female in domestic violence refuges? They should just swallow their discomfort, because… Not Those Men? It’s easy to pay lip service in the form of, “Women: if a man is making you feel uncomfortable, don’t spare his feelings — your safety is more important.” It’s much harder to speak up for female boundaries when it actually does hurt male feelings.
With that in mind, do you support the signs cropping up on university campuses, which explicitly tell women that in certain situations they should ignore their discomfort because it’s impolite not to, and shame them for feeling discomfort in the first place? If someone complained about these signs, would you think she was justified, or would you roll your eyes and call her a “Karen” who is making a fuss over nothing? Would you tell women, just like the police have so many times, that if they aren’t comfortable using “all gender” bathrooms — which data shows are less safe for women — they should just stay home? In summer 2020, when JK Rowling explained that she shared many of these concerns as a result of her experience with male violence, did you nod along when people accused her of paranoia and of “weaponizing” her abuse? Do you think she deserved what she got for speaking up?
Those who only support women’s boundaries when it’s a boundary against members of the out-group, not the in-group, do not really support women’s right to draw boundaries at all. If you only stand with women when it’s socially or politically easy to do so, then you aren’t a feminist, you’re a hypocrite. Until we firmly establish that women always have the right to express their concerns and have them taken seriously, we have no hope of defeating the attitudes that allow male violence against women to thrive.
Ellen Pasternack is a PhD student in evolutionary biology living in Oxford, UK.
*It should be noted that not all feminists are in favour of expanding hate crime legislation to include women. However, I highly doubt feminist objections were the reason for the omission of women when the law was drawn up.
Indigenous peoples are usually at the forefront of environmental and social justice struggles. They are also the most threatened by violence directed at activists. Deep Green Resistance stands in solidarity with front line activists, particularly indigenous peoples who seek to restore human rights and protect the land and water from harm.
The prominent Adivasi (Indigenous) activist, Hidme Markam, from the Koya tribe, was arrested on Tuesday March 9th, while attending an International Women’s Day event in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. A video shows her being violently bundled into a car amid protest from other women activists.
Ms Markam, 28, is an anti-mining and tribal rights activist working to prevent the mining of a sacred mountain in south Chhattisgarh and against police brutality and the building of paramilitary camps.
She is the convenor of the Jail Bandi Rihai Committee, a group campaigning for the release of thousands of Adivasis who have been criminalized, branded as Naxals [armed Maoist rebels] and held, often for many years, in pre-trial detention for speaking up for their rights. She now finds herself in the same situation.
According to the police, she has been arrested for a number of cases filed between 2016 and 2020 relating to Maoist activity. They also claim there was a US $1,500 bounty on her head.
This is disputed by other activists, such as Soni Sori, who said:
“She isn’t a Maoist as police claimed. She has been fighting for the Jal-Jangal-Jameen (water, forest and land) of tribals in Bastar. She had been going to the offices of the Superintendent of Police (SP), and Collector [government official] frequently and met with many prominent personalities … to raise tribals’ issues…Have you ever heard that a Maoist goes to the SP or Collector’s office, meets with the Chief Minister, Governor and reveals their identity openly?”
The police have said that she will be held in custody for 10 days. Lawyers are applying for bail.
Her arrest is clearly meant to send a warning to those who speak out for Adivasi and women’s rights and against mining and state repression. It is another sign of the growing attack on Adivasi rights and democracy in India under Modi’s authoritarian regime. Even in Chhattisgarh – which is not under the control of Modi’s party – the assault against Adivasi lives and rights is relentless.
In India those who dissent, especially Adivasis and their supporters are often branded “anti-national” and are accused of sedition or held under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). In November 2020, 67 activists were charged under the UAPA in just two states. 10,000 Adivasis have been accused of sedition for their role in laying stones at the entrances to their villages engraved with their constitutional rights.
There are grave concerns about the treatment that Hidme Markam will receive in custody.
The event at which she was arrested was to speak out against the sexual abuse of Adivasi women. It was to commemorate the lives of two young Adivasi women who were physically and sexually assaulted by the Chhattisgarh police and subsequently took their own lives.
“They’re being beaten every day, they’re being jailed every day. Every day, wherever our women go, they face the same kind of abuse. The only possible way forward is for all women to be united, for our water and forests, for our lands – to save them from mining.”
On this urgent episode of the Green Flame, Lierre Keith comments on a new development in the war on women. That development is Biden’s executive order on gender identity, an order signed the day of his inauguration which will eviscerate women’s rights. Lierre Keith is the founder of the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF). She is a WoLF board member, a radical feminist for over 40 years and author of six books including the novel Skyler Gabriel, Conditions of War and The Vegetarian Myth: Food Justice and Sustainability.
Jennifer Murnan – Thank you so much Lierre for joining us for this urgent Green Flame. We will be getting this episode out as soon as possible. It is the 22nd and yesterday Biden
Lierre Keith – Two days ago.
JM – Two days ago now, okay…
LK – Two days since the inauguration.
JM – Oh, my god.
LK – He wasn’t even president five hours. Yeah, he did it immediately.
JM – So five hours into his presidency, he issued an executive order that begins to initiate some of the equality and completely circumvents the legislative kind of procedure around those kind of laws. Please explain this to us, what does an executive order do and what did this one do.
LK – Okay. So executive orders are legal. They have been ruled legal by the Supreme Court a long time ago, 100 years ago, a long time. This is a feature of the powers that the president has, that the executive branch holds and they can be very controversial. The way that the government is set up in the United States we’re supposed to have three branches of government. We have the executive, the legislative and we have the Supreme Court, the judicial branch, and they’re supposed to work, by providing checks and balances. We all learn this in first grade, right? The legislature is supposed to make the law, it’s literally what legislature means, that’s their job and the president isn’t really supposed to make the law, that’s not what he does or she does. So, you know of course they find workarounds, that’s what power does, so many, many presidents have done made executive orders. I mean, they have pretty much have all done it for 100 years like very famously Truman, president Truman, desegregated the US military using an executive order. So that’s, I mean, as far as the military goes, that’s for good. He just declared that there was not going to be segregation anymore in the armed forces. And a year or two later it was done. I mean, it’s just with the military they know how to follow orders and they did it. So that was the first major U.S. institution that was desegregated and it went very smoothly and before you know it, black people were ordering white people around and nobody thought anything of it because it was the military. So, there are reasons sometimes that they do this, but you know the downside is that it does circumvent the democratic process. We have a way to pass laws in this country and this is not it so, especially when you’re taking on something that is bound to be controversial, that’s going to change a whole bunch of stuff for a whole bunch of people you want that to happen in the light of day.
Every president does this and then the other side always says, well, this it is executive overreach, it’s this, it’s that. There are always contentious things that happen so I’m not blaming any particular president because, like I said, they all do it. This isn’t like a new evil thing that Biden came up with, but obviously this is one that women are going, we’re going to be hurting from this one. So the promise was that they were going to pass this piece of legislation that was called the Equality Act and that at least would have gone through the proper channels. It would have been in Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, there would have been debate. We all would all have had time to present our view on it; the way that laws are supposed to be passed and they didn’t do that so we’ve got this instead.
All right, so what does the executive order actually say? Well, it’s fairly short, you can read it. It’s online it’s been posted up, you can go to the White House website and look at it. It starts with a decision that happened last year from the Supreme Court that was called the Bostock Decision. Now, the Bostock Decision was three separate cases that were collapsed into one and part of it ruled that gay and lesbian Americans could not be discriminated against due to sexual orientation. That’s fine, nobody has a problem with that, the problem was this another case, the Amy Stephens case. This was a man who decided he was a woman one day and this could have gone two ways. You could have a man who says I would prefer to wear the women’s professional clothes to work instead of the men’s clothes, I’m a man but I want to wear these clothes. That would be a very different argument but that was not what Amy Stevens argued, he argued that he was a woman and therefore he should be wearing the women’s uniform. He worked at a funeral home, the funeral home really didn’t like this, I mean, you’ve got people coming who are in the worst grief of their lives and this was just not something that they wanted anybody to have to deal with. From a feminist perspective it’s just very simple: men cannot be women. Clothing in the United States, for employment purposes, employers are legally allowed to have separate dress codes for men and women. That is, I think, a problem but he’s not addressing that problem. He’s not saying “Well, we shouldn’t have separate dress codes”. I think that women could certainly make that argument, but the courts have ruled that is legal as long as it doesn’t put an undue burden on anybody, as long as they cost basically the same and whatever, don’t do this or that, you’re allowed to have those, still, in the United States it’s not illegal to have a separate dress code. Instead of trying to address that, to say actually anybody should be able to wear professional clothes in a professional environment, he instead argued “No, I’m a woman.” The real kicker here is that he demanded access to the women’s bathroom. His employer said no, so that was what the case was about. The Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, [which is really all we have in the United States to protect a whole bunch of our civil rights], they ruled that it should include gender identity. This is a disaster for women.
In 1964 this didn’t exist as a concept. Gender identity was certainly not included under the category of sex. The people who wrote that legislation certainly didn’t intend that in any way, there’s no evidence that they did. It has protected women. Women have used the Civil Rights Act more than any other group in the United States and there’s a lot of interesting history there, but we don’t really have time to get into it, but anyway The Civil Rights Act is pretty much what we’ve got. In The Bill of Rights that we have there’s a series of what are called negative freedoms. The Bill of Rights restricts the reach of the Federal Government. So we don’t actually have a proactive right to speech under the First Amendment. What we have is a right not to be interfered with . So “the government shall make no laws…” That’s what the first ten amendments really are about. It’s trying to keep the government out of what are people’s sort of natural human rights. If you look back in history what you had at the founding of this country is you’ve got the rising mercantile class and what they’re fighting is essentially an older system which involved a king, hereditary power. The rising mercantile class was fighting them and saying “No, we have rights and we don’t want you to rule over us, we’re going to rule over ourselves.”
So what you had was a bunch of very rich, essentially white men, saying, “I won’t interfere with you, you don’t interfere with me and we’re going to call that freedom.” Now, as far as that goes it’s certainly been helpful, I’m glad we have a First Amendment but that’s as far as it ever went.
Regardless, here we are today, so what Biden has done, taking this Bostock Decision instead of sex, we’re going to have gender identity. So every place in the law that was protecting women as a group, as a class based on our biology, will now they’re going to instead say “gender identity.” They can’t define gender identity. It’s not in this executive order. There’s literally no definition. A few states that have tried to have definitions; I mean, in New Jersey “a gender identity is a gender-related identity” and I’m not making that up. It’s completely circular and this is because it’s complete nonsense. I know we all keep using the Emperor’s New Clothes as our big metaphor but I don’t have a better one. It’s just complete nonsense, it means nothing. Yeah, “a circle is a thing we call a circle,” great! Does not tell you what a circle is! The most ridiculous thing is that we all know what a man is and what a woman is. This isn’t actually up for debate. We have sexually dimorphic species for 500 million years on this planet. There’s just men and there’s women. This is actually not very complicated. They have made it complicated, but it is not complicated. We all know who can bear the babies and who doesn’t. For the whole history of Patriarchy, they’ve never had a problem figuring out who the women were: who was going to be sold as a child bride, was going to have her genitals mutilated, who was gonna have her feet bound, who wasn’t allowed to vote. I mean, in 1976 when my mother divorced my father she couldn’t get a credit card in her name, she couldn’t get a bank account. That didn’t happen to my father! We all know who that happened to and why we have a feminist movement.
So Bostock has now come to fruition. We saw this in the ruling. Anybody can read it all, this information is public. That’s what they said, that “transgender status” defined a discreet group of people. Again, they never defined it because it’s not definable, it’s simply an internal feeling and it has nothing to do with physical reality. So this executive order, all the federal anti-discrimination statutes that cover sex discrimination, now they’re going to prohibit discrimination on the basis of “gender identity”. This involves all the Federal Civil Rights offices across the country which are now going to have to enforce this. This is where you used to go if you felt like there was workplace discrimination or something that was one of the legal remedies that you had. Women aren’t going to have that remedy anymore. Men will.
JM – That was definitely my question, what does this do to United States women immediately?
LK – Women are now going to be the people who are the problem, right? Men are going to come and say, “Women aren’t letting me do X, Y and Z.” “I’m not allowed in the women’s bathroom, I’m not allowed to take a woman’s job that’s been reserved for women”– and that’s discrimination. So women are going to have to give way. We are now the problem that has to be solved rather than the people who are being hurt, systematically hurt. It’s completely the opposite now–, we are the boundary that has to be broken. So, this is every federal agency. They’ve been directed to do comprehensive assessment of all their regulations and they have one hundred days to plan how they are going to now insert gender identity in the place of sex. How they’re going to interpret all this through the lens of gender identity? So this includes all American employers, it includes all the institutions and indeed eventually all the individuals. So you think about all the federal agencies, well that immediately includes housing and urban development (HUD) and they are the people who run all the, you know, (all the notreligious homeless shelters but) all the public homeless shelters. So now you’ve got an incredibly vulnerable group of women who are not going to be able to keep men out. There have already been cases where women have been sexually assaulted in homeless shelters.
There’s a case that’s still ongoing from Sacramento, California, where [thank God, women were able to find a lawyer but they have terrible experiences of how] a man was forced into the homeless shelter with them and they had to shower and share rooms with him and how terrifying this was and the things he did to them.
JM – Of course prisons, any federal prison.
LK – Yes, all the prisons now, and again there are already cases rolling. There’s Illinois, in there’s Texas, there’s Washington. I just want everybody to feel the horror of this; you are a woman locked in a 10 by 10 cell and now we have a man who’s very likely a violent offender, could be a sexual offender, is now put in your cell with you. You have literally no way to escape and this is what they’re going to do to women around the country. They’re already doing it, we just haven’t been able to get any press about it.
In UK, they had mister Karen White who insisted he was a woman and was put in a woman’s prison. He sexually assaulted women and it was all over the news and it really helped them in their fight it broke through into the mainstream. We have not been able to do that here and we have just as many horrifying cases here and nobody wants to hear it., The press is just the a great wall of silence at this point. What’s happening to the most vulnerable women? We know why women end up in prison. We know that they have been abused as children, battered as adults, that they’re in for economic crimes because they’re living in poverty, a lot of them are survivors of prostitution. They’re the women who have been hurt the most by this system and now they’re going to be locked in cells with men, with male predators. The left is who’s pushing this. The Democrats are supposed to be, you know, the side that’s anti-racist and the side that’s for progress, that’s for unity. That’s who’s bringing this. It wasn’t the Republicans who did this to women.
JM – What does this do to children in school systems?
LK – In school? So that’s the next thing.
JM – The federal level of control in this executive order is one of the most horrifying aspects to me about replacing gender identity with sex.
LK – The entire public school system, so anybody who gets federal money is going to have to absolutely give into this. Every school girl will not have a bathroom that she can use in school safely… * dog barks * Hang on one second, this is my dog.
JM – Hi, sweetie!
LK – Yeah, I don’t know why she thinks we’re in danger, we’re not in any danger.
JM – Actually, I think that it’s in our voices, we are in danger, we, really, really are, she knows she’s got sensible animal instincts, yeah. If you’d like to repeat that because we had the barking in the background.
LK – This is every single public school, that’s where the federal money goes. A private school, if you’re not getting federal money, you might not have to give in to this right away. But all the public schools are going to have to do it. Human rights groups around the world will tell you the number one thing that keeps girls out of school is a lack of safe toileting facilities. This is a huge human rights issue in poorer countries. It’s true when girls are very young but especially when they start to get their periods, when they hit adolescence it’s over. Girls just drop out in droves because they don’t have a safe place to attend to their menstrual needs. And for some reason we’re just gonna decide that girls in the United States don’t need this. The girls in India need it and girls in Sri Lanka need it and girls in Iran need it and girls in the Congo need it, but girls in the United States somehow it’s different. We have a different kind of man or boy here who would never hurt women and girls and women are perfectly fine to just drop their clothes and pee wherever they want. We all know this is not true. We all know that it is exactly the same here. We deal with predators every day as women and girls. We’ve already got stories of the girls who won’t pee all day long at school and are getting bladder infections and nobody cares.
JM – And then also I know that there was some headway, at least I thought, around the issue of women’s and girls’ sports in schools being totally eliminated because of this.
LK – There’s been push back for whatever reason. That’s an issue that has gotten more coverage. It’s gotten just a little bit, we’ve got a little more purchase on that one. I’m not sure why the sports one, I don’t care, you just take an issue and move. Yeah, there are big cases in Connecticut, there’s three girls, high school girls, who are on the track team and of course a boy joined and they just say there’s no point in running. You just can beaten them by a mile. So we all know this about men and women. W, we have different bodies, women have a bigger pelvis, it takes a half a second more every time we walk, just to take a step because we’re kind of making a right-hand turn there, a right angle, and there’s just no way that women are ever gonna run as fast as men. The fastest women in the world are just barely up to mediocre men. I remember when we had this amazing women’s soccer team in the United States that went to the Olympics and they played a game against high school boys and they lost. These are the best women in the world. We have physical differences, the lung size, the oxygenation, the heart size, muscle size, the strength of the joints, justdown the list. We all know that men and women have different bodies.
Infants are born with a template. They can tell the difference between a male and a female face. We all can do this. I don’t know why they have made this so complicated. , Well, I do know why, but I don’t know why everybody’s falling for it. Okay, we’ve got the prisons, the housing, the battered women’s shelters … Can you imagine being a battered woman escaping your batterer and now he can say, “Oh, I’m a woman, take me into the shelter!” You think men aren’t gonna do that? You’ve ever dealt with a stalker, a batterer? Oh, they’re gonna do it., We know what these men are like. They’re gonna do it. That’s gonna happen and now the schools, it’s every girl in the nation is not gonna have a safe place, and we’re gonna lose sports. It’s a grim day. I mean, Trump was a nightmare and I think we’re all glad he’s was gone.Hhe did a lot to hurt this country and to really sort of degrade our democratic processes such as they are, but it just went from one to the other. We knew this was coming, Biden had promised it and he did it.
JM – And the left is a horrible nightmare in the war against women.
LK – Yeah, an absolute nightmare. The way that Eric Weinstein encapsulates it: we have MAGAstan on one side and we have Wokenstan on the other side.
JM – No…
LK – That’s it, right? Those are our choices in the United States. In terms of employment law, a man now can’t be fired for claiming to be a woman, but a woman can be fired for pointing out that he’s a man.
LK – There’s gonna be a lot of compelled speech coming down at us. Right now it’s sort of behind the scenes. There are articles in the law journals in which the lefty, Wokenstan people are horrified that court documents don’t refer to people using their “preferred pronouns.” This has already happened in England. I don’t know if you followed Maria Mclaughlin’s case, but she was assaulted by a man who thinks he’s a woman at a public talk. He punched her in the face and broke her camera. He assaulted her. She was told by the judge that she had to call him ‘her.’She was compelled to use female pronouns for a man who assaulted her. Now, I want you to picture you’ve got a rape victim in court and she’s being told that she has to refer to this man as a woman, “His female penis did this to me…”
JM – And the consequences of not following that compelled speech are fines?
LK – Contempt.
JM – You can be in contempt, of course.
LK – You could be thrown in prison for contempt of court.
JM – You can be thrown in prison.
LK – Absolutely.
JM – For non-compliance.
LK – That would be me, I’m not going to comply to this. But it you’re asking the average woman to have to stand up to this while she’s on trial after the worst trauma of her life, she’s going to have to refer to a man as a woman, I mean, my head is just kind of exploding here. This is where we are. And the outside influence of the United States is always… this is going to go everywhere now. It’s not just us. It’s going to go around the world. So it’s bad and we can’t get any public debate. We can’t get any news analysis., There’s no mainstream coverage of this. This has been the problem for, well, over a decade, where we just cannot get anybody to pay attention to it. We get a little bit of right-wing coverage but that’s it. The mainstream news they won’t touch it and it’s for the same reason, it’s institutional capture., They’ve already been captured. There are journalists terrified of losing their jobs, We hear from them all the time, they know the truth of this, but they can’t say it because they’ve got mortgages to pay, so I don’t know what’s going to break through, what’s it gonna take. Somebody’s gonna haveJM – You would think, of all the places where biological reality would still hold, it would be in health and health care and it’s not.
LK – No, it’s not.
DM – And the consequences of not having that, that’s one of the things where my head just explodes, frankly.
LK – Yeah, and there’s an even bigger problem. The actual doctors and nurses may well be compelled to perform these surgeries and provide these really dangerous drugs. Because what’s already been done legally, the argument is that if you already provide mastectomies for women with cancer or hysterectomies for women who have uterine cancer or other you know polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or whatever conditions, endometriosis, where you might actually have a medical need to have your uterus removed. If you do those procedures, you can’t make a distinction between somebody with a disease, you know, a medical problem and somebody who actually just wants it electively. You are not allowed to make that distinction. If someone calls themselves trans, you then have to provide the same care even though it’s a completely different situation. There’s nothing wrong with their bodies, their bodies are perfectly healthy. But the law will be they’re forcing doctors and nurses to have to do this these procedures. The law will be forcing insurance companies to have to pay for it. This just seems like the ‘right of conscience’ thing for doctors, I mean, they take an oath to do no harm and some of these patients people are just they’re children. We’re talking about 13-year-old girls having mastectomies here in California and in Oregon, that’s madness! You can’t drink, you can’t drive, you can’t vote, you can’t pierce your ears, but you can have your uterus removed, your breasts chopped off. When you’re a teenager you’re not thinking about whether you’re going to have children.
JM – No.
LK – So many people who never wanted children and then they turned 28 and fell in love. Then they had children, you know, found a partner, had have a baby and it just completely transformed their lives. It’s like the most incredible experience they’ve ever had, would do anything to protect those children. We know that having a baby can bring out the kind of love that brings out in people and it’s utterly life-altering. You can’t make that decision when you’re 12 or 13, you can’t make it when you’re 17. You have no idea what’s coming in your life, you’re a totally different person when you’re 30.
JM – Yes.
LK – And we’re letting these kids just… they’re saturated in self-hatred. The porn industry has completely taken over the culture. I have nothing but sympathy for these poor girls. I know why they hate their bodies. They’ve been given their own story, you know, –in my generation, we did anorexia and cutting, that was how we did our self-hatred and it was for the same reasons. We’d all been molested, we were all looking at a culture that considered our bodies public property: ridiculous, insulting, worthy of contempt; they weren’t ours to inhabit, they belong to men, they didn’t belong to us. We all had these experiences of being harassed or groped or terrified or maybe outright raped. I understand, there’s no question why young girls feel this way as they become teenagers.
You hit 11, 12 years old and it’s just a completely different world walking down the street. It’s terrifying and you realize you’re never going to be safe again. So I get why they’re doing it, but they don’t have “gender dysphoria.” They have life in Patriarchy and the only solution is, honestly, Feminism, It’s a political movement that’s gonna change men’s behavior. But they’re not being told that. What they’re being told is that it’s personal to them. They just happen to have a special human essence that was born in a sadly female body, but we can attend to that: you can take dangerous drugs, you can have these horrible surgeries and try to live under the wire as a kind of a faux man, and that’s the option out. There’s already a whole generation of these girls. A lot of them are lesbians, a lot of them are autistic, they never fit, none of the roles seemed right. Well, it doesn’t for most of us, but especially I think for some women it’s probably a little bit harder. Now they’re 21 years old and they’ve been in medical menopause for four years. They have all the problems that you get when you’re 60 or 70, you know, things like urinary incontinence, a 20 year-old needs to deal with that? The surgeries they do on the young men, I don’t even have words, what they did to Jazz Jennings on television. Millions of people watch this young man have his genitals permanently removed and this was supposed to be some kind of liberatory practice. The hatred of the human animal here just blows my mind. That we don’t protect the young, instead we’re going to do this to them. It’s just beyond me.
JM – That blows my mind as a parent too and I’ve heard multiple parents with their hearts ripped out because they’re watching their children be devoured by this insane culture and what is like the antithesis of being biocentric: complete denial of basic biological reality and being eaten alive and they’re gutted emotionally and mentally by what’s happened to their children, that’s one of the most horrifying aspects of gender identity piece so….
LK – No one will help them. The people who should be helping us are the ones who are doing the damage. You’d think that doctors and therapists and school teachers and all these institutions that are supposed to be progressive and leftward leaning, that are supposed to care about human rights and are supposed to care about women and children and every last one of them has been captured. Now we have this executive order, that it’s just like nailing in more nails on the coffin here for these young people. I am not hopeless, we are not giving up, we are going to fight, but it is very hard. This is a hard week.
JM – WoLF has done spectacular work around fighting legislation or working that line of being able to be politically effective in the face of this and I know that it’s really hard, but I don’t know what to do with an executive order. Do you have any ideas about where we begin to fight back on them?
LK – Executive orders are not free from judicial oversight. They can be declared unconstitutional. The very first legal action that WOLF took was actually to try to sue the Obama Administration over the first time that this happened. That was when Obama did it at the end of his term, he went ahead and did these same executive orders. He made everything be ‘by gender identity’ instead of sex and that was the first lawsuit that we filed.
So, we need a few things. One is a whole bunch of money because none of this comes cheap. Which is sad, but it’s just reality. It can be millions of dollars to run a lawsuit. And then we need a plaintiff, you have to have somebody who would support this. It can’t happen right away. We have to find somebody, somewhere, who can say that this executive order has somehow infringed on her basic rights. Or it could be a man, too, I mean, it’s going to hurt young guys as well. We need somebody to come forward and help and be that person in the lawsuit. That’s a big ask because we know what happens to people who put their heads up above the parapet on this issue., We know it can destroy your life rather permanently at this point, but it has to be done. While we’re waiting to do that, we’ve got a bunch of other stuff sort of coming down the pipeline, but the main thing is that we can try to fight this in the courts. But it’s gonna take time, it’s not gonna happen overnight.
I want people to understand another thing about this as well, which is the reason that Obama did it, which is probably the same reason that Biden did it: in the United States, (people who don’t live here don’t get how bad some of this stuff is) first the Supreme Court, well over 100 years ago, ruled that corporations are people so they have the same rights as an actual human being would have. Then they ruled that included the First Amendment, so they have speech rights like you and I would have. Then, not that long ago they ruled that you can’t actually restrict the amount of money that people donate to political candidates because that’s a form of political speech. It’s a very important speech. You can’t put in any kind of line under it. So the floodgates opened and what was left of our political system was completely captured by the wealthy corporations. In people’s daily lives they don’t understand why things have gotten even worse and worse. In my lifetime, it has certainly happened, and that’s one of the main reasons. The magic trick is done completely above board because it’s not craft graft, it’s not paying bribes behind the scenes. It’s done completely openly and legally. The very wealthy– who aren’t even people, they are corporations– are allowed to simply ‘buy’ candidates. I’m not picking on Obama here, every last candidate you see running has these kind of backers. It’s the only way. They need millions of dollars to get their candidates and their candidacies up and running. To run a candidate for president, I don’t even want to think how much money that costs. The only way to do it is to get these backers. In terms of Obama, he’s from Illinois and one of the big big billionaire families out there is the Pritzkers and they’re a pharmaceutical company. This is all public information, they owned an airline, they own the Hyatt hotels, just on and on the amount of businesses churning money they made. Pharmaceuticals is huge for their wealth, and they’re billionaires and they bought him his first senate seat in Illinois. They put a bet on him and their horse won. Then they bought him his senate seat in Washington. Then he became, in the federal government, he was senator. Then they put more money on him. They got him into the White House. They’re not the only ones, there certainly were other corporate interests behind it. Again, I’m not picking on him., This is how the system works. It’s how the Court said it should work and it’s working fine for them, but this is what we’re up against. So Pritzkers put him in and then it was payback time and they also have a very famous member of their family: Jennifer Pritzker who I think was born, what was his original name? I don’t even remember, James, maybe, it started with a J. Jonathan, yeah, he’s a man who thinks he’s a woman. They’ have got a big trans in their family so that was the payoff. When it was his second term, two years in Obama went ahead and did all these executive orders. It was quite clearly just what they wanted so he gave it to them. That was the payoff.
JM – So, is this a replay?
LK – Yeah, it is because Penny Pritzker was a huge backer of Biden. She actually ran the fundraising for Biden. This is public information, I am not making this up and this is not, I just want to be really clear, this is not a crazy conspiracy. This is literally how the American political system works, okay? This is legally how it’s done above board, they just buy themselves candidates and that’s what they did. We are up against billionaires, the Pritzkers are billionaires and they wanted this legislation, they wanted these executive orders. How many of us are there? A few hundred? Okay, here’s my ten dollars. This is what we’re fighting.
We have truth, we have righteousness, we have our love for women, we have our love for the planet. I don’t want to instill more despair in anybody who’s listening. We are not giving up, I will not surrender and I don’t think any of you will either, but this is definitely David versus Goliath and this didn’t come out of nowhere. These men have been planning this for decades. They had an entire plan, it’s called the Yogyakarta Principles. They all got together in 2006 and made a list of what their demands were going to be. One by one they’ve done it. But they’re the billionaire class, they have all this money, they could do it. A lot of people are like, “Where did this all come from? It dropped out of nowhere.” It feels It may feel that way if you’re kind of ignoring it,but I’ll tell you as someone who’s been fighting this since the 80s: oh, no, it didn’t drop out of nowhere. They got billions of dollars. They had a political plan and they’ve gotten it done. Now here we are and all the women and girls in the United States are going to pay the price. So that’s where we are. We’re not going to lose,
We also have truth on our side. It is simply true that men cannot become women and no matter what kind of post-modern gobbledygook they want to put on, it can’t be done. You are the sex you are. You cannot be born in the wrong body, that’s like a prayer. As far as I’m concerned you have one body. It’s your one chance to be alive. You got to be born. How is that not enough? Just to be alive! And I understand all the things that happen to us that make us hate our physical embodiment, but it’s all we’ve got. It’s still a miracle every morning to breathe, to wake up, take that breath of air, look at the green trees and the yellow, the sun and feel the warmth and know that you’re loved and pet your dogs and hug your children. Every single, sensual moment of that is just a miracle! How did we lose sight of that to the point where we think our bodies are lego blocks so we can buy parts and remove them and slap them back on?, It’s a very poor simulacrum at best.
JM – It sounds like Mary Shelley’s nightmare.
LK – It is! She was on it! She was always saw it coming, she really did. She saw the arrogance of that scientific mind and what that had to do with male domination and the male violation imperative., She got it all, and she was just a teenager when she wrote that book., She saw it coming.
JM – It comes to you in dreams and it comes to you out of your heart. That’s so inspiring, Lierre, in the face of such a nightmare. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with listeners about where to look? Because you’re not going to stop fighting and we want to support you and we want to support all women everywhere in the United States. We’re going to have to grind through this and and defeat this nightmare. So where do we look? What do we look to? Who inspires you that you’d like to leave us with?
LK – A few things right away, We have a petition, if you go to the WoLF website you can sign the petition. More important: write a letter. Write a letter to the Biden administration., Write a letter to Kamala Harris. Write a letter to your legislatures. Call your senators on the phone. Tell them you’re upset about this. Explain to them what’s going on and then reach out to your state legislatures too, because this is going to be a state-by-state battle as well. It’s already a state-by-state battle. You’ve got to get involved and, I know it’s terrifying, I do know that. The people who come at us really mean it, they’re unhinged, they’re violent. They will destroy your life if they decide to. You will lose your job. You can lose your house. There’s not a woman I know who hasn’t had serious losses to this. Some of us have lost our careers entirely. I know people about to leave the country, it’s… I’m not gonna sugarcoat what you may be up against, to come out on this one. But it has to be done. So contact every single, you know, anybody who represents representative you have in any government at all, from the local to the to the federal level, reach out to them, talk to them, get your talking points ready, go with a friend. They have to see you if your you’re a constituent., That is your right. They have to let you come and talk to them. You may only be able to see staffers if they’re big people, but they still they have to take your information, they have to sit and listen to you. So, get yourselves together, practice beforehand, but do it. We have to learn how to engage with the political process. I think a lot of us who are more on the radical edge, we a lot of times spend our lives kind of rolling our eyes on at it because it just seems so reformist. But there are times and places where we have to engage and this is definitely one of them. Otherwise they win. If we don’t show up to do our part, they’re going to win. Because there’s no fight back and they have captured everything at this point. We’ve got to start pushing back. We’ve got to learn to do that. Go with a friend, just, you know, put on your your big girl’s shoes and just get it done. They’re just people, honestly. I’ve done it, I’ve lobbied, they’re just people like me and you and they don’t know more than we do either, especially not on this issue. It doesn’t matter whether you have democrats or republicans representing you, they all need to hear it. They have not heard a feminist analysis, they don’t understand how this is going to hurt women and girls. Everybody thinks it’s kind of gay plus and it’s not. It’s not anything like gay and lesbian rights, nothing like it at all. So we’ve just got to speak up. And then speak to everybody in your life about it. I know that’s hard. People are going to be very mad at you, but it has to be done. Whoever you are, if you’re listening to this you probably have really nice friends, you’ve got good family, they probably have really good hearts. They want what’s best for everyone. They need to understand how this is going to hurt women and girls and that you’re not helping young people who hate their bodies by letting them do permanent damage that they will regret in five years. So, anyway, all of that, you know, get yourselves together, but we’ve got to talk to people, our friends, our family, our neighbors and then everybody in a position of political power. Sign our petition, write a letter, and if you want to join WoLF, join, because we need help. We need volunteers in every single state. This is going to be massive and it’s going to take all of us. But never surrender.
JM – Never surrender.
LK – Never surrender.
JM – Never. Thank you, Lierre, for all of that thank you.
LK – Thank you.
LK – Thank you.
JM – Yeah, you are so welcome and I’m so glad that the Green flame is going to be able to put this out there with such an eloquent voice. We thank you so much for taking some time because I know you are working tirelessly for everybody, women and girls and the real world.
LK – A lot of us are, so join hands. We gotta do it.
In response to the murder of Sarah Everard, here in the UK, women and men have risen up and protested in support of women’s right to be safe. The peaceful public protests have instigated further violence against women under the guise of pandemic restrictions.
This is one DGR member’s response to the discussions about the level of violence against women and girls and the root causes. We need more men to speak out against patriarchy.
“Your silence will not protect you” Audre Lorde
Most of the women I know, intelligent woman all, are not as afraid as they should be. You can see how high the wall of patriarchy is as you look up at it. I can see from my perch up here also how thick the wall is and how many men are behind it, holding it up.
Men like me, every man, is dripping in entitlement. If you do not learn it in the family, they teach it at school. If school does not programme a boy then our culture will drown them in it. We are all swimming, all the time, in patriarchy. It is everywhere.
It works like a steroid for men and a poison for women. Sure, not all men react violently when on steroids but everything I do is based on my privileged position. My privilege is entirely normalized within society and entirely rationalized within me. Every man in Western culture is privileged and entitled due to patriarchy.
Can we dismantle patriarchy?
I am familiar with the argument that societies contain just the odd bad man; I disagree with this over simplified assertion. My view is that patriarchy is an offshoot of the ability to accumulate wealth and thus create perpetuating systems of oppression. The first systemic accumulation of wealth was the seizing and guarding of food grown in agriculture. Agriculture further has the effect of forcing us to learn to objectify living things (soil,nature, women) to keep our self-belief, our ‘right’ to take. Agriculture had the direct effect of causing violence in the pursuit of resources.
Of relevance, to this argument is the ‘abduction of a Sabine Woman’. Women were needed, viewed as a resource, and taken by those blue printers of modern society, the Romans. Forget that liberal Harari and his “I don’t know why women are oppressed”. Women have a value to conquering armies, not as fellow humans but as bounty of the conquerors. The rest follows a direct causal path. So, it is possible that patriarchy is not going anywhere whilst capitalism is here and objectification is the norm.
Can men do something, anything to improve the current situation?
Yes, of course. For all the reasons women state, for all the reasons women are protesting for. The law is on the side of men and we know that law shapes power. If it was a crime, with a significant consequence, for men to harass women in the street, if it was an aggravated offence after 8pm, then violence against women and girls would reduce. If the porn industry was recognised as harmful and measures put in place to curtail it then male entitlement might lessen women and girls may not be groomed, exploited, or damaged as much. If it was a serious crime for men to purchase women’s bodies then men would do it less and the support systems such as trafficking would be less profitable and therefore smaller.
I apologise for the terrible metaphor, but you must score when you are in the opponent’s penalty box. When was the last time that this issue was so central in the mainstream media? When will it be again? In the UK we could get something into law on this wave of interest. There will be a backlash. Men are lying low at the moment, but they will be back with a vengeance. I can imagine a male plain-clothed policeman patrolling a nightclub being interviewed for the Daily Mail and explaining how all the women dressed and danced in a provocative manner – the implication being … well you, women already know. You have been here before, fought before, hard won rights.
Do we have someone to rally behind?
Those in power throughout the ages, religion, political parties, the media, woke campaign groups have done a remarkable job of dividing women, turning them onto themselves on a personal level and fuelling horizontal violence at a structural level. The ruling classes are effective when oppressing dissenting voices.
The male driven denial of women’s rights, enforced at every turn by violence, is causal and symptomatic of an overwhelming amount of personal suffering and the unrelenting cycle of biome degradation.
This was written by a man, father and guardian in DGR.
Featured image: Abduction of a Sabine Woman (or Rape of the Sabine Women), a large and complex marble statue by the Flemish sculptor and architect Giambologna. Photograph by Mary Harrsch, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Editor’s note: That this incident from Roman mythology, in which the men of Rome committed a mass abduction and rape of young women from the other cities in the region has been a frequent subject of artists and sculptors, shows clearly how obsessed this patriarchal culture is with rape and violence against women.
In Part Two of a two part article Jocelyn Crawley offers the reader a history and systemic analysis of the harms towards women. Part one has been published the day before.
One might hope that the patriarchal process of calling women who resist the sexual abuse and all other ideological inclinations of men would be a historical reality that lost traction and prevalence through time. However, this phallic phenomenon is an integral aspect of contemporary, mainstream (malestream) culture. In the chilling report “Booted: Lack of Recourse for Wrongfully Discharged US Military Rape Survivors,” readers learn that Juliet Simmons was drugged and raped in August 2007. The assault took place in her US Air Force barracks and she reported the abuse. However, her first sergeant made it plain that he did not believe her. Despite the fact that she continued completing her job-related responsibilities and received exceptional performance evaluations, she was discharged for having a “Personality Disorder not specified” after being sent to an appointment with an Air Force mental health provider.
As the report goes on to indicate, classifying women who resist sexual advances as mentally unstable is not an anomalous element of the military. In fact, the report documents the experiences of several other women who experienced similar modes of silencing and dismissal via the patriarchal mantra-modality “woman you are insane.” Like Simmons, Quinn was subjected to this patriarchal reversal in which the insanity of men is made to appear sane so that the perpetrator of a sex crime is recognized as innocent and rational while the victim is irrevocably depraved and maniacal. After joining the Navy in 2002, Quinn thrived and received awards but found that her vocational vitality was threatened after she rejected her master chief’s advances. Once this happened, she was informed that the master chief was waiting for her to commit a “mistake” so that he would be able to have her removed from “his” Navy.
Following these events, Quinn was raped by a Navy technician and did not report the abuse due to concerns regarding the fact that she had already been classified as a troublemaker. After suffering more abuse from shipmates who set her body on fire with a lighter, she was moved to another unit. While there, a first class petty officer groped her breast and verbally harassed her. Her transfer request was refused and she was then forced to complete a night shift with him. She refused to do so and was ordered to spend six to eight hours daily standing at attention. Shortly thereafter, she was discharged from the unit on grounds of her having a “Personality Disorder.” In addition to reflecting patriarchal society’s proclivity to dismiss and disempower women who resist sexual violence by asserting that they are mentally unstable, these real-life occurrences reveal the role that this phallic practice plays in destabilizing a woman’s job security (which in turn could increase her economic reliance on a man.)
I construe this reality as a patriarchal reversal.
In her own work, Mary Daly talks about patriarchal reversals as men reconstructing reality in a manner which privileges them as innately valuable and superior to women. Within the realm of patriarchal reversals, male actions and attitudes are unquestionably right and any thought or behavioral pattern of women is immediately and incontrovertibly dubious. One of the most prevalent patriarchal reversals is that Eve came out of Adam’s rib, with this myth being utilized to promote the ideas that 1. men are the origin of life and creation and 2. “God,” like the male Adam, is male. In context of patriarchal reversals pertaining to mental health, the notion that women are less mentally stable than men works to perpetuate the myth that they are somehow more competent, logical, and therefore the ideal sex to “rule the planet.”
In her important article “Women Aren’t Crazy,” Jennifer Wright explains the role that portraying women as crazy plays in privileging men and creating environments through which members of the male sex can subordinate women. In her text, Wright notes that
“The notion that women who are not compliant are insane is one that’s been used to silence women for generations. One of the most remarkable things about the Harvey Weinstein scandal is realizing how many women would have been so easy to dismiss as crazy if they’d ever come forward before now.”
Wright goes on to elucidate this principle by articulating how absurd victims such as Rose McGowan would have sounded to most individuals upon stating that Weinstein had hired former Mossad agents to extract information from her and stifle forthcoming data regarding his behavior. Yet evidence exists that this is the course of action that Weinstein took for the purpose of suppressing information regarding his sexual depravity and abuse of women.
As made glaringly evident by the role that accusing women who challenge the patriarchal praxis of sexual abuse as being insane plays in structuring historical and contemporary society, this androcentric practice is designed to discredit members of the female sex who are not willing to passively accept malignant male activity. In discussing this in his piece “Women and Madness in Tudor and Stuart England,” MacDonald writes that
“The authorities define insanity so that it invalidates the protests of its victims and use mental institutions as repositories for malcontents and rebels. The feminist model is essentially a variant of the neo-Marxist one: instead of paupers, the casualties of bourgeois capitalism, the victims of psychiatry are women, the targets of repressive patriarchy” (261).
MacDonald’s assessments are accurate and they reveal the role that accusing women of being insane plays in perpetuating the patriarchy. If dissidents (here defined as any individual who adamantly and unequivocally rejects and challenges patriarchal praxes such as sexual violence) run the risk of losing social power and cultural capital because they are characterized as insane for speaking to power, they are much less likely to express dissent and create the palpable dissonance necessary to inform the general public that something is disturbingly and dehumanizingly wrong.
When a woman’s voice is invalidated due to gaslighting and cultural consensus that her accusations amount to insanity, the male perpetrator of the crime is empowered to continue victimizing other members of the female sex who may also feel intimidated into silence on grounds that they will not be believed. As usual, the patriarchy-not women-is the problem.
The solution is to listen to women and review the empirical data that painstakingly elucidates the pernicious, patriarchal processes that men utilize to perpetuate the oppression of members of the female sex.
Jocelyn Crawley is a radical feminist who resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Her intense antagonism towards all forms of social injustice-including white supremacy-grows with each passing day. Her primary goal for 2020 is to connect with other radicals for the purpose of building community and organizing against oppression.
Showalter, Elaine. The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980 (New York: Pantheon, 1985). quoted in Macdonald, Michael. “Women and Madness in Tudor and Stuart England.” Social Research, vol. 53, no. 2, 1986, pp. 261–281. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40970416. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.