The BBC Promotes Sexism Under The Guise of Health

The BBC Promotes Sexism Under The Guise of Health

Editor’s note: Most of the world’s science is conducted in service of profit and militarism which both depends upon for its creation and results in ruin for the natural world.

In this article, Evan Richards draws links between the destruction of our planet, “anti-aging medicines,” patriarchy, and rejection of biological reality.

By Evan Richards

“The assumption that women and nature exist for the use and convenience of men has generated technologies undreamed of”

— Patricia Hynes, ‘The Recurring Silent Spring’ (1989)

In April, the BBC headlined an article titled ‘Rejuvenation of woman’s skin could tackle diseases of ageing’. The BBC’s Pallab Ghosh writes that “Researchers have rejuvenated a 53-year-old woman’s skin cells so they are the equivalent of a 23-year-old’s” with the eventual aim being “to develop treatments for age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and neurological disorders.” It is added that “the technology is built on the techniques used to create Dolly the cloned sheep more than 25 years ago.”

Throughout this article I will argue that the BBC is pushing unnecessary “high-publicity” and “high-drama” techno-medical solutions that are distracting and harmful. Overall, health is being weaponised by science to justify unnecessary experimentation that maintains patriarchal values. I argue that a radical-feminist conception of health is needed now more than ever.

“We see the same world. But through different eyes”

— Virginia Woolf, ‘Three Guineas’

First, it is important to look into the myth of objectivity within science and medicine. The subject of medicine is one that is often boasted about and leveraged against those who resist industrial patriarchy. The topics of health, psychiatry, therapy, and science are dominated with liberal rhetoric, with critical voices being routinely left out. As Janice Raymond wrote: “technological progress has become a sort of secular religion and anti-technology, a control mechanism for marginalising criticism”. Through the doctrine of liberalism, theories of “neutrality” and “objectivity” reign supreme to rationalise man’s irrational systematic plunder of the earth.

A friend of mine described the liberal mentality well: “subjective things like ‘good’ are decoupled from their subject. ‘Good for industry’ simply becomes ‘good’. Good for whom? The bears? The salmon? The birds? The humans who have lived there for generations? Supremacist thinking doesn’t just claim the supremacist’s feelings trump all others; the most insidious part is that it completely erases other feelings. They just don’t exist, you’re not just the only one who matters, you’re the only point of view”. Through institutions such as religion and science, objectivity makes what is good for a small elite of rich white men become “good” for everyone else. The subjective experiences of those lower on the hierarchy are ignored.

Take the famous words of Francis Bacon, “knowledge is power”. Here we deal with abstract knowledge, separated from patriarchal society. In saying “knowledge is power” Bacon gives the game away as knowledge becomes defined as that which makes man powerful. Knowledge that does not serve power, but only to heal the land is habitually disregarded as “knowledge”. The knowledge of soil, seeds, biodiversity, bees and butterflies is ignored in favour of the knowledge of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, GMOs and how to increase the profit of agricultural monopolies. Throughout this article, the same problems arise as the myth of male reason attempts to justify unnecessary experimentations, which guise the true goal of possession and control.

“It is instructive to look back on the history of eschatological technology, reproductive as well as otherwise, formerly touted as salvific, but often saving no one.”

— Janice Raymond, ‘The Marketing of the New Reproductive Technologies: Medicine, the Media and the Idea of Progress’ (1990)

Derrick Jensen said that “we in this culture have come to conflate this way of life with all life on the planet”. Health under civilisation is centred on human people, non-human people (often called ‘resources’) are not accounted for. Such blind reductionism will inevitably be destructive as humans cannot live without the vibrant ecosystems that sustain the web of life. Therefore, as Andrée Collard pointed out, “if health were a genuine concern, scientists would turn their minds to restoring healthy conditions for all life.” Patriarchy fixates on isolated problems, naming them diseases. It then focuses on cures over prevention, reflecting the patriarchal mantra of control which “derives from the fear of being subject to nature”.

Unlike the patriarchal sciences, feminism sees everything as interconnected. Robin Morgan said that if patriarchy could be summed up in a word it would be “compartmentalisation”. Patriarchy splits and divides, creating contradictions, and turning reality into antagonistic categories. Reason is split from emotion, culture is split from nature, the mind is split from the body, sex is split from love and science is split from art.

Patriarchy’s lust for division is so uncompromising it even split the atom, spelling out the needless deaths of thousands and poisoning the world into a perpetual schizophrenia of nuclear apocalypse. Through the artificial manufacturing of these splits, patriarchy seeks to elevate man above nature. The scientist under patriarchy is hence always apart from nature, separated in a lab, able to observe nature “objectively”. A radical-feminist conception of science on the other hand recognises that we are instead a part of nature. As Janice Raymond wrote, a radical-feminist kind of science “is thus ecological” as “it recognises that everything is related to everything else.”

Mary Daly had written in 1978 that “scientists are priests of patriarchy”. Indeed, as Sandra Harding wrote “science is a social problem because the society that shapes it is a social problem.” In Daly’s words, “the development of modern technology… Has facilitated movement beyond mere passive expectation to active enactment of the envisioned horror show.” Vandana Shiva, writing in her book ‘Staying Alive’ published in 1988, focused on “science and development as patriarchal projects”. It is this “modern reductionist science” which must be replaced with a feminist science.

“By definition, un-health cannot bring about health”

— Andrée Collard, ‘Rape of the Wild’

Under patriarchal medicine, the health of Mother Earth is not acknowledged in the production of medicines for humans. Given that the etymology of health means to be whole, any medicine which is dependent on the destruction of the environment, is obviously not healthy. For example, premarin based estrogen replacement drugs which come from the rape and abuse of horses, are not healthy. If those horses were not strapped down and routinely violated, civilisation could not provide them.

When you see the world as a whole, not isolated and fragmented, your conception of health is sustainable. However, because patriarchy does not recognise the interconnectedness of our world and our bodies, its projects of “health” are reversed. In the end to be healthy means to escape one’s body (transsexualism / transhumanism), in the end to be healthy means to escape the Earth (space travel) and live “freely” encased in metal or uploaded into ‘the cloud’. Scientists through doublethink will annihilate us in their conquest for health.

“Men don’t age better than women, they’re just allowed to age”

— Carrie Fisher

An Everyday Health article on the history of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has a section titled “Forever young? Anti-aging Momentum Begins”. In the article, it references a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Gloria Bachman, who said that hormone therapy improves the look of the skin, breasts, and muscles, therefore playing an important role in boosting a woman’s self-image and self-esteem. Underlying the concern for women’s health is an endorsement of patriarchal beauty values. Tying self-esteem to youth, rather than criticising an sexist and ageist culture, does not boost self-esteem, it damages it leading to harmful beauty practices. The cure is not medical-technology that ultimately serves male degraded lust for artificial beauty, the cure is radical-feminism and a women’s movement that challenges an ageist and sexist culture.

It is no surprise that this research targets women. For one, paedophile culture is a driving motivation behind it, shown clearly when organisations such as the Lifespan Extension Advocacy Foundation advertise that “age is just a number”. Paedophile culture affects all women, as Alicen Grey explains, “on the one side you have the infantilization of babies and little girls, on the other side, you have the sexualising of adolescent and infantile qualities in adult women.” This technology will therefore enforce authoritarian beauty expectations, there is a reason “rejuvenation of women’s skin” was the title and not men’s. The science is focused on women, because patriarchy seeks to control women.

For the sadistic priests of patriarchy who are “irritated by mystery” and who desire to “penetrate the unknown”, the yearning for control is endless. The BBC article is particularly dangerous, yet simply follows in a long-standing tradition of the malestream media to promote and advertise these phallocratic technologies, when, as Janice Raymond points out, “failure is often recognized after the fact of damage”. To promote the childish excitement of men like Professor Reik who work for the Wellcome Trust, with no critical voice, allows these projects to become greater catastrophes than they already are.

“I think it is important first to recognise the difference between ageing, which is a physiological process, and ageism, which is a form of oppression.”

— Barbara MacDonald, ‘Look Us in the Eye: The Old Women’s Project’ by Jennifer Abod.

The threats are biomedical as doctors, engineers, scientists and technocrats who experiment on women’s bodies in the goal of gaining “knowledge” ultimately gain control over women’s bodies as women become increasingly dependent on them, unable to live autonomous lives. The threats are also social, as what this technology ultimately achieves is the preservation of an ageist and sexist world. Just as transsexualism achieves the perpetuation of sex-role-stereotyping, these technological “solutions” achieve the maintenance of paedophile-culture, where women ageing is taboo.

This blame shifting from society onto the body, guised under the concern for women’s health, violates bodily integrity through genetic engineering and sustains the patriarchal world. Janice Raymond wrote in 1979 that “we are witnessing in the transsexual context, science at the service of a patriarchal ideology.” The patriarchal doctrine of sex-role-stereotyping creates the problem of transgenderism to begin with, placing sex as the enemy. Here, the patriarchal doctrine is immortality, naming age as the enemy.

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.”

— Gail Dines

The threats lie in sadomasochistic beauty rituals, there to keep women in a constant state of objectification. Mary Daly said that “the use of beauty… Functions to keep women in a state of being touchable, malleable, pouroverable”. Women are, in her words, made “the touchable caste.” This technology would keep women trapped in the male gaze, never ageing, unable to grow old. An experience which is already the norm. Given patriarchy’s prescription that women must be young and fertile, the abuse of women who do and do not conform and buy into these new technologies, will increase. Given the crippling beauty standards women are already coerced to perform, the prospect is undoubtable. Paedophilic male entitlement to women’s performance of artificial youth will only grow.

This objectification of women goes in tandem with the wider cultural rise of pornbots and development of reproductive technologies in society. This is the continued procession of “robotitude”, a term coined by Mary Daly to stress “the reduction of life in the state of servitude to mechanical motion.” Mary Daly’s prophetic insight in 1978 exposed how “the direction of phallotechnic progress is toward the production of three-dimensional, perfectly reformed “women”, that is, hollow holograms.” As she revealed, “the march of mechanical masculinist progress is toward the elimination of female Self-centering reality.”

“Prevention is the imperative need”

— Rachel Carson, ‘Silent Spring’

The BBC article says that the aim of this research and technology is to develop treatments for “diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and neurological disorders”. This comes under scrutiny however when we realise that half of U.S. cosmetics already contain toxic chemicals that cause these problems in the firstplace. The drive for acquiring youth in the beauty industry already proliferates age-related diseases itself. Exposure to chemicals such as Phthalates for example, found in makeup, “has been explicitly linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in several studies”, the very problems these scientists claim they wish to cure. One would think if the goal was to combat disease as advertised, one would put energies into fighting this problem first before going ahead with the high-risk technology used for cloning sheep.

Nonetheless, these scientists march on in their crusades. It is no surprise that these methods also increase cancer, as it says in the BBC article, “the technique cannot immediately be translated to the clinic because the IPS method increases the risk of cancers.” It continues, “but Prof Reik was confident that now it was known that it is possible to rejuvenate cells, his team could find an alternative, safer method.” The rhetoric of addiction permeates all liberal-scientists.

Patriarchy creates the problem and sells the “cure”. The problem of toxic beauty is never seen as part of the equation, the knowledge of feminists who have written extensively on challenging harmful beauty practices is not regarded. Any solution which does not increase the power of the sociopaths in charge is shunned. The problem is always instead a lack of data, a lack of research, and a lack of test subjects. This myopic, mechanistic and reductionist worldview of modern-day science has allowed the Father to be blind in his abuse, addicted to the torture of the Earth, thinking only of himself, he spells out the demise of all.

“Death has become an imposition on the human race and is no longer acceptable.”

— Alan Harrington, ‘The Immortalist’

The need to read Janice Raymond and revive a radical-feminist conception of medicine whilst rigourously investigating the risks of genetic engineering and pharmacogenomics is stronger than ever. Transhumanists have always been uncomfortable with that which is outside of their control, death is seen as an imposition on humanity that we need to be liberated from, our flesh and bodies are seen as meat-avatars, prisons, limiting us of our creative potential. As the trans-identifying-male Natasha Vita-More stated, “our bodies will be the next fashion statement; we will design them in all sorts of interesting combinations of texture, colors, tones, and luminosity”. This comes from the patriarchal mind/body split, fostering a scientific faith in immortality. As Derrick Jensen wrote “a fear of death and a yearning for immortality is a primary motivator of much human supremacist science”. Transhumanists have always seen age as their enemy, and sought to control it.

The section on ‘Longevity’ from Andrée Collard’s book, ‘Rape of the Wild’, is stupendous in its analysis of this necrophilic endeavour, which makes life dependent on industrial civilisation. That is, dependent on torturing animals, mining rare earths, and of course dependent on phallocentric theories of scientists and doctors. A resistance movement is needed, otherwise there will be something worse even than the gift of death, there will only be the non-presence of the machine.

Evan Richards is from England, and is a volunteer with Deep Green Resistance.

Image from ‘Look us in the Eye: The Old Women’s Project’, a documentary by Jennifer Abod (great watch!).

Sexual Abuse is at the Core of Patriarchy

Sexual Abuse is at the Core of Patriarchy

Editor’s note: As an eco-feminist organization, Deep Green Resistance draws links between the exploitation and mistreatment of women, the destruction of compassion and solidarity, and the ongoing ecocide of the natural world.

Rates of sexual abuse today are staggering. On average nearly 500,000 people over 12 years of age — the vast majority of them female — are sexually assaulted each year in the United States. Some 12.5% of children are sexually abused.

In this piece, Jocelyn Crowley draws links between the mainstreaming of violent pornography and endemic sexual abuse — increasingly normalized as “rough sex” or kink, reminding us that we must not forget that sexual abuse of women is at the core of patriarchy.

NB: This piece contains graphic descriptions of sexual abuse. Click here for information about stopping porn addiction.

By Jocelyn Crawley

While doing research for an article I recently wrote regarding the level of radicalism which can and might exist within mainstream realms such as rape crisis centers, I stumbled across a documentary regarding how sex traffickers now frequent drug rehab facilities for the purpose of recruiting victims. These traffickers lure victims away by proposing that the victims are being transported to another drug rehab facility.

Although I formerly worked for an anti-trafficking facility, this was all new to me. I listened in a state of deep horror as several young women described how traffickers repeatedly “sold them for sex” (paid rape) to various individuals. While everything stated by the brave survivors who were strong enough to tell their stories left a deep imprint on my consciousness, the most disturbing and transformative story was from a young woman who stated that while being trafficked, the trafficker stated “Did you know that four men just ran a train on you for $20? Just $20. That’s it.” Her point was plain. The trafficker was informing her that she was worth little to nothing and that, as a mere object, he maintained the subjectivity necessary to determine what the cost of her objectification would be.

It is well-known that pimps use these types of breaking strategies to convince victims that no one cares about them, and the strategies wouldn’t be repeatedly used if they weren’t effective. Yet the reason that her words were particularly jarring to me at that moment is because I had recently become reirritated by the reality of fake feminists and their inaccurate discourse, nonempirical understanding of gender, and superficial work that they do to uphold male supremacy under the guise of creating a more equitable world when they could actually join the radical feminist family in the unapologetic, unrelenting condemnation of men who subject women to any and all forms of sexual abuse.

I won’t go into deep detail regarding the asinine, ineffective efforts of the liberal feminist community here, but suffice it to state that they make things like the cultivation of good heterosexual marriages, equal pay for equal work, and abortion rights integral to their platform and diminish the role that sexual abuse plays in perpetuating male supremacy due to fear of truly speaking to power and recognizing that the men they serve are the biggest threat to the viability of the planet and half its population

Although the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade was a substantive blow to women, I agree with the radical feminists who argue that the sustained attention given to the abortion debate is actually a distraction and the diverting of female energy from the most significant source of women’s oppression: any and all forms of sexual abuse. Indeed, I think that radical feminist energy should be continually redirected to the recognition of, rumination regarding, and antagonistic response towards the variegated forms of sexual abuse that transpire in all realms, including the now sexually normative and culturally acceptable spheres of prostitution and pornography.

While other forms of gender-based abuse are problematic, rape and other forms of sexual assault and oppression are the most egregious because they reduce women to objects and revivify a cultural landscape in which individuals are reduced to a state eerily comparable to slavery in which their bodies are no longer their own but rather a resource that is extracted for capital and/or pleasure of nefarious masters (pimps, johns, boyfriends, husbands, and all other men who appropriate female bodies). (Also, if is true that prostitution is the oldest institution in the world, this would mean that it predates all forms of traditional slavery on the planet…and this would be saying a lot regarding which forms of oppression and against which groups are most deeply imbricated into the psyches of the citizens of the planet.)

While I have read much literature regarding rape and other forms of sexual abuse, I was most recently stirred by my rereading of Gloria Steinem’s stunning essay “The Real Linda Lovelace.” This essay recounts the horrific, brutal violence (both sexual and non) suffered by Linda Boreman at the hands of multiple men, including her former husband Chuck Traynor.

Much of Steinem’s retelling of Boreman’s sexual abuse stems from her awareness of the pornographic film Deep Throat. Although individuals immersed in malestream, normative thinking regarding gender and sexuality viewed the film as an intriguing and perhaps grotesquely fascinating representation of “sex,” radical feminists know that the accurate interpretation of this media representation is a replication of the culturally normative practice of treating women as sexual objects and physical receptacles (mouth, anus, and vagina are just “holes” for men to enter) who exist as such for male pleasure. This assessment is grounded in material reality rather than mere abstract philosophical speculation because we know the film involved a man inserting his penis in Linda Boreman’s mouth as well as a hollow glass dildo being stuck in her vagina while men sipped liquid from it.

Radical feminists can learn many lessons from these depictions, one of which is that culturally normative male sexuality is about disregarding the concept of female pleasure in sexuality or inverting it to promote the myth that women receive pleasure from giving men pleasure. These patriarchal myths are perpetuated through Deep Throat, and Steinem makes this reality plain upon noting that the director-writer of the film, Gerry Damiano, “decided to tell the story of a woman whose clitoris was in her throat, and who was constantly eager for oral sex with men” (267).

Here we see the inversion of biological reality, which is that the clitoris is a central and primary source of sexual pleasure for women, such that this component of female anatomy is geographically relocated to the back of a woman’s throat for the purpose of suggesting that having a penis inserted into a female’s mouth is physically stimulating in a manner that results in substantive pleasure. The reality, which Damiano diminished through this inversion of biological materiality, is that this form of oral sex has the primary impact of generating male, not female, pleasure. The pleasure is not mutual or equally distributed between both partners because the clitoris is indeed not located in the back of a woman’s throat.

Damiano’s mythological distortion of female sexuality and the female body reinforces male dominance by perpetuating the core patriarchal idea that women exist to service men. As a cultural artifact, the film reinforces the idea that this ideology can be legitimated through the development of fictional narratives regarding women’s biology.

The use of a hollow glass dildo in Deep Throat also upholds the mythology of male supremacy that is normalized within the pornographic realm. Steinem recounts this scene in context of the horrified response of Nora Ephron, a writer who, upon seeing this in the film, stated “All I could think about was what would happen if the glass broke” (268). I’m fairly confident that I would have responded similarly if I sat through a scene in which a hollow glass dildo was inserted into a woman’s vagina and then filled with Coca-Cola that was subsequently drunk through a surgical straw.

Yet when Ephron shared her concern with some male friends, they told her “that she was “overreacting” and that the Coca-Cola scene was “hilarious”” (268). This response reflects the desensitization that most people, particularly men, experience when confronted with the reality of female objectification coupled with the perpetuation of the idea that women’s bodies exist for the purpose of servicing men. In this case, the servicing grotesquely melded the realms of food and sex such that the source of male satisfaction involved being able to use a component of female anatomy for sexual titillation and the alleviation of thirst. (If the person who drank the Coca-Cola was actually thirsty, because it is quite plausible that he was not and just wanted to demonstrate the extent of his control over a female body by indicating that he could find more than one way to utilize her vagina and, given the opportunity, would do so. I think it’s also important to note that this component of the film reflects the male proclivity to utilize the power of creation and artistry in a perverse manner that involves misusing, obliterating, or disfiguring female bodies such that their process of “creation” is actually more comparable to “destruction,” making their “creative process” a patriarchal reversal (the opposite of what it claims to be). I think it’s also important to note what this specific form of patriarchal reversal might be rooted in, which is plausibly male jealousy over female anatomy and its capacity to give birth and life to a living thing, with the male perverted response being a proclivity for destroying the source of life, female bodies.)

The lies that men tell about female bodies through pornography are not limited to the mythology of a clitoris in the back of the throat or the insertion of a hollow glass dildo into a woman’s vagina. Chuck Traynor, Linda’s long-time abuser/husband, perpetuated myths regarding female psychology and anatomy by having her memorize a set of lies to recite regarding her role in pornographic films when interviewed by the public. This is why, when Nora Ephron interviewed Linda Boreman and asked how she felt about making Deep Throat, Boreman responded “I totally enjoyed myself making the movie” and “I don’t have any inhibitions about sex. I just hope that everybody who goes to see the film…loses some of their inhibitions” (268).

As Steinem notes, “Linda would later list these and other answers among those dictated by Chuck Traynor for just such journalistic occasions” (268). Furthermore, Traynor punished Boreman for showing any type of unacceptable emotion when he sold her for sex (paid rape). For example, Boreman cried after being successively raped by the five men Traynor sold her to. One of the men, apparently disturbed by her emotive response, refused to pay. Upon learning of this, Traynor punished her with physical abuse. In recounting this, Steinem notes that Boreman “had been beaten and raped so severely and regularly that she suffered rectal damage, plus permanent injury to the blood vessels in her legs” (268).

The reality of the physical and sexual abuse that Boreman suffered at the hands of Chuck Traynor as he sold her for paid rape is disturbing for several reasons, including the fact that it constitutes a form of severe dehumanization. This abuse is operative and real male depravity, not simulation or speculation.

Yet while the reality of male depravity is disturbing, the level of ignorance that the masses have regarding its occurrence within the realms of pornography and prostitution is perhaps even more disorienting. Collective resistance plays a key role in defanging male supremacy. Therefore, the reality that most individuals are not fully aware of the profound abuse that transpires within these realms of cultural acceptability means that there will be a lack of attention towards solving the problem because of a lack of awareness that there even is a problem.

Even though Boreman was forced to make the film Deep Throat at gunpoint, this is not what the viewers of the film saw. What they saw was her happy, smiling face in the film, with this depiction being utilized for promoting a multitude of male myths regarding female sexuality, including the fact that women are most sexually satisfied when they are satisfying men (which is one of the reasons that I think fellatio has become normative within heterosexual relationships despite how profoundly one-sided it is). The masses are unaware of the dynamic of violence that went into making this film and thus don’t even understand that Boreman was not a willing participant.

It is also disturbing to note that while many individuals may have been horrified to learn of the abuse behind Deep Throat, they would be unperturbed about watching a modern pornographic film in which a woman “willingly chose” to participate, but did not give consent for various sexual acts that were subsequently forced upon her — under the premise that “she is just acting” and therefore it’s “not real, just a creative depiction of sexuality without the typical inhibitions.” This type of abuse, along with so-called “revenge porn,” voyeur videos, rape fantasies, racist tropes, incest themes, and videos of child and adult sexual abuse, are common on modern porn websites that are accessible free, 24/7.

Thus while many people might be uncomfortable regarding the reality of a lack of female consent, they are unbothered by rape and abuse if it occurs in context of a “fantasy.” (I put the word fantasy in quotation marks here because the creation of pornographic films that involve this system of relationality is not entirely fantastical because the production required real actors and we also now know that many of the female actresses are not actually giving consent to portray themselves as not giving consent. Rather, they are actually being raped. In fact, many porn films are filmed rapes that were uploaded into communities of individuals who consume porn.)

With all of this in mind, there is an important point for radical feminists to consider: lack of female consent and arousal regarding forms of “sex” that take place in its absence appear to be a part of normative collective consciousness, also known as the mainstream. So, the low level of receptivity to banning porn and prostitution should perhaps be unsurprising and respected, meaning that radical feminists should perhaps redirect their energy away from convincing individuals who accept and appreciate the perversity of porn that it is a problem toward the development of alternative communities for those who want it to have neither central nor tangential impact and import in their lives.

As I continue to think critically about the sexual abuse of women, I find that new and old questions and concepts flourish in my psyche. One is an assertion that I have heard many ostensibly empathetic, sensitive individuals make regarding radical feminist discourse on sexual abuse. The assessment is: “Sometimes I think these radical feminists take the most grotesque, egregious cases of sexual abuse and present them to the public for either 1. shock value or 2. To promote the idea that these extreme cases are normative and widespread.”

Sometimes I think the people who make this statement have been trained to recite a line for the purpose of perpetuating fake conversations and false consciousness rather than engaging in a potentially awkward or life-altering discourse, or perhaps they simply don’t want to believe that abuse is as common as it actually is. I haven’t drawn clear conclusions regarding the motivation for the recitation yet. Anyway, there are many problems with these assertions, but I only wish to address one here.

The individuals who assert that extreme sexual abuse (such as that experienced by Linda Boreman) is somehow detached from what transpires in the mainstream heteronormative culture are submitting a misleading supposition. This is the case because even though most men are not traffickers and pimps, and most women are not trafficked or prostituted by these men, the majority of the male populace consumes the sexual objectification and assault of women in the form of pornography, prostitution, and/or attendance in strip clubs (where many young women are seasoned to go from stripping to prostitution).

Additionally, while it is not the fault of women that men engage in these nefarious activities, the majority of the female populace creates the conditions necessary for these depraved behaviors to continue through self-silencing, victim-blaming, and becoming a male apologist (ie, “Oh, he’s really a good guy. What we saw right there is not who he really is, just a mistake he made.” Blah blah blah.)

This is what the people who say that radical feminists are presenting extreme cases that don’t reflect what most men and women think and feel or would consent to need to understand: “Literally millions of women seem to have been taken to Deep Throat by their boyfriends or husbands (not to mention prostitutes who were taken by their pimps) so that each one might learn what a woman could do to please a man if she really wanted to. This instructive value seems to have been a major reason for the movie’s popularity, and its reach beyond the usual universe of male-only viewers” (267).

In reflecting on Steinem’s assertion here, it should be plain that the production and consumption of media depicting the sexual abuse of women and thwarting/inversion of female sexuality is an unequivocally mainstream endeavor. While the abuse that Boreman suffered may be considered extreme and not reflective of what most women experience in heteropatriarchy, most of the American populace is now actively contributing to the sustaining of industries that profit from the violation of her and other women trapped in the realms of prostitution (including pornography) and trafficking.

In summation, male supremacy in context of abortion laws is a significant topic that should continually be addressed. Yet, this newest manifestation of male supremacy should not sideline radical feminist discourse regarding the most egregious form of patriarchy, sexual abuse. As such, let’s keep talking about the sexual abuse of women, please.

Jocelyn Crawley is a radical feminist who resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Works Cited

  • Steinem, Gloria. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1983.

Photo: MMIW marchers at a 2019 march in Washington D.C., taken by S L O W K I N G on Wikimedia. CC BY NC 3.0.

An Alliance Between Human and Non-Human

An Alliance Between Human and Non-Human

Editor’s note: Writing from the mountains of Kerala, rewilder and restorationist Suprabha Seshan explores the pandemic and the war of patriarchy vs. the planet. “It is my sworn mission to salvage the ones burned, maimed, poisoned or reconstituted from the living earth by the fires of industrial civilisation,” she writes. This essay was first published in Turkish in Jineoloji magazine, a publication of the women’s movement of Kurdistan.

The Covid-19 pandemic, lethal as it is, is instrumental to capital’s assault on the living world. Looming through the terrors unleashed by free-flying strands of DNA are gargantuan infrastructural projects, including medical, green and digital. These are intent on destroying the web of life. Out of this extermination project, will spew more illnesses, disorders, infections, infestations, and devastations.

I urge us to address the relation between the militarised-capitalist-supremacist mindset and the living body of the earth. The latter includes you and me, our beloved human families, friends, communities and peoples, and also our non-human kith and kin. In this essay, I refer to the former as The Patriarch.


An active extermination event is at large, distinct from previous mass deaths of species through passive geologic processes. The current event involves slavery, ecocide and genocide. To understand Covid-19 while this is going on, would be like trying to understand a friend or family member’s 0.05% chance of dying from a natural ailment, when there is a psychopath with a shotgun in the room.

Domination, disorder, disease, debilitation, torture, slavery, unhappiness, fear, addictions, death and decay are essential for The Patriarch. Assembled from the reconstituted bodies of the living world, with extermination intrinsic to his existence, he will not stop until he consumes all. Ecocide and genocide are his mission.

The fundamental driving force of capital, I believe, is the imperative to conquer all life (including human bodies, hearts and minds). Unless this is negated, we cannot nurture the more subtle aspects of the enduring relationships between humankind and other-than-humankind.

While The Patriarch reduces many persons to touchscreen modalities, he confines and debilitates others. He even suffocates entire populations in the gas chambers of modern civilisation – the polluted cities – and burns others in wastelands resulting from the furnaces of his industries.

This kind of extermination has been going on for a while, perhaps since about 1492 when Europeans gifted smallpox wrapped in blankets to native Americans. Some people think it began way before, during the birth of civilisations – of militarised-hierarchical-extractive entities distinct from the myriad small cultures growing slowly over millennia in sustaining land bases. I find the nature of capital, particularly technocratic-militarised capital, egregious to a new extreme. The Patriarch is insatiable. I also believe he is insane. He has begun to devour his own body.


I am a conservationist living in a community in the rainforests of the Western Ghat mountains in southern India. I protect endangered species, restore rainforest habitat, and educate youth. We are many women in this place. Together with the men who also live and work here, we have an intimate knowledge of the plants and animals who create this biome, who are all sovereign beings in their own right.

These non-humans – or other-than-humans – also give us our foods and medicines, our ecologies and cultures, our material and immaterial bases. In return we try to protect them, nurture them, and see them through these terrible apocalyptic times. Together we work on a collective ecology, acknowledging our inseparableness from each other in the web of life. We are deeply intertwined through our physical beings: our cells, juices and tissues, our senses, limbs and nerves, and every organ and follicle. Through our bodies we create cultures, biomes and ecospheres. All these are being exterminated by the toxic forces of technologised-capitalistic patriarchy.

It is indeed my deep and fervent wish to examine the work of an unsee-able, unknow-able micro-being on humans. But I believe this will never be wholly known, and certainly not in a reductive way.  Reciprocal mutualistic relationships rooted in interbeing grow in intimacy while remaining free and wild. They are like a dance between creatures – between men, women and others; adults and children; humans and nonhumans; between plants, animals, fungi, clouds, winds, rain, rocks, mountains, algae, forests, grasslands and oceans. This mutualism includes viruses, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, too.

However, I believe the pandemic needs to be examined in the infernal light of omnicide (planetary to cellular). We cannot afford to ignore the background to the viral outbreak. We cannot forget the various “cides” that are going on – ecocide, gynocide, bactericide, fungicide, vermicide, infanticide, weedicide, genocide, climate-cide – and even cosmocide, the destruction of a cosmic body, the planet.

We are not at the beginning of a catastrophe, as the climate-mongers will have us believe. Rather, we are already towards the end of an altogether incomprehensible horror. The orchestration of capital through this pandemic threatens further the direct perception of The Patriarch’s endgame. He wreaks further havoc on his hapless slaves through various fear tactics. He exerts his enormous machines on all his subjugates such as indigenous peoples, marginalised classes, races and castes, women and children. He deploys them on the last forests, waters, winds and habitats. All the above, human and non-human, are swept under the rubric of “resources to be managed”. He also invents new enemies from the very body of the earth which sustains him, like the SARS Corona Virus.


As an ecologist serving the rainforests of the Western Ghats, it has been my lifelong enquiry to look at how a biome can recover from assault – from colonial-neocolonial-capitalistic-civilisational assault. I know, and the biome knows, that it can heal from most travesties and injuries, and that it will do its utmost to replenish itself and the planet. But the opposing faction, which for the moment we are calling The Patriarch, is gathering momentum. For the arsenal he has accrued – an arsenal built and assembled from the living body of the planet – is in fact, simultaneously disassembling, as he is now also turning on himself. He is running out of other resources.

In this utter disconnect, a monstrous creature devouring himself, he further debilitates humans and non-humans and the living community of earthly existence. He is not open to reason, though he sounds like he is. Nor is he open to life, though he needs it and appropriates it, particularly its very metabolic and life-engendering powers. Saying he is allied to the natural world, he severs himself from it in manifold ways. It doesn’t take much to see that The Patriarch’s language alienates him from his own body, and the body of the earth and the people. His actions separate him more and more from humans and non-humans, without whom he would perish in an instant.

There is no doubt, for me, that The Patriarch’s machinery must stop. My sincere observation is that only non-humans will stop him. Humans are at a gun point more insidious than what non-humans face. Non-humans are not hooked as humans are to The Patriarch.  None of the other species – the ones within us and the ones without, those who inhabit our human bodies (the micro-biomes and macro-biomes without whom we could not even have a so-called human existence), and those whose bodies within which we dwell – none are dependent on him. They don’t need him for anything.


As of this writing, 0.05% of the human population has died from Covid, according to the WHO. The BBC news earlier this week said another half-million people in Europe will die by next year, unless vaccinated. If the data are to be believed, and if the projections are to be trusted, perhaps 5 million people will die altogether from Covid-19. We must do everything to prevent such a terrible thing. Of course. But, critical to recovery of humankind from its various acute and chronic ailments is a return of habitat, of clean air, and clean water, and nature-based relationships for humans to dwell amongst. The cleansing of lungs and livers and other organs, the opening of the senses, and the revival of rivers and wetlands, oceans and aquifers, and the vast ancient forests and human-non-human relations requires The Patriarch to be stopped. Humans are more dependent on all these than we are on The Patriarch.  Whom to choose? The Patriarch, or life?


I’ve heard it said that the virus has no moral brief, but the starker reality is that it carries with it a potent ecological brief, a message saying that unless the world is fecund again, pandemics will speed up the obliteration of the human species, itself a marvelous creation of nature, already weakened by war, by generations of slavery to capital, by poison and dead-numbing effects of digital weaponry, radiation, forced migration, wage slavery, mental anguish and terrible violence on women, children, people of colour and indigenous peoples – all required by The Patriarch as cogs in his capitalist-industrial-technocratic machine.


The virus, invented in a laboratory or not, is a biological entity that enters human bodies, causes symptoms as it goes about its own mission, propagating itself, tangling with host genomes, creating new conditions, challenging us in its own way, and like any infection, or deemed infection, it pushes our immune systems. Other viruses create other conditions, many of which are beneficial. Overall, the benefits outweigh the diseases.

The virome consists of vast assemblages of viruses in each and every body, habitat and biome. It surrounds us, fills and subsumes our every thought, breath and action. Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on earth. They make us who we are. Like with every aspect of the living cosmos, much of what happens is beneficial, and viral life seems to beget more life, creating our genetic identities. Evolutionary studies show that all life begets more life, despite the occasional disruption or cataclysmic event.


If invented, then the virus is not different from other invented beings, like dog breeds, plant breeds and even the eugenist caste creations, where, through exercise of a supremacist caste or class’s control, another caste or class or creature’s love, life and passions are harnessed, culled, consumed, engineered, enslaved, extorted, and artifacted to serve the supremacist project (factory farms, factory labour, pet industry, plant industry, monoculture agriculture, industrial fishery, dams-on-rivers, humans-in-slums, human trafficking, domestic labour, untouchable peoples and many more forms of subjugation).


Domesticated dogs go feral sometimes. They attack people sometimes. The dogs get impounded, spayed or killed, and there is a furor for a while. Domesticated plants go feral sometimes, usually after generations of breeding and enslavement, or after a natural disaster, like a volcanic explosion, or the desertification caused by modern civilisation. They, too, seem to invade territories controlled by humans for other purposes, including other plants deemed more useful. The new problem plants get weedicided, eradicated, and turned into biomass for some other project. This phenomenon gets new names, such as “the science and practice of invasion biology.”

Humans too, go feral, sometimes. They try to take back the control and agency they were systematically denied. They become targets of world leaders and other supremacists.

Now the virus is going feral. Viral. The solutions to this are confinements, containments, fear-mongering and authoritarian technics such as lockdowns and mandates regarding vaccines.

In all these instances, the aggressors, the hosts, the pathogens and the victims are actually contingent to the projects of The Patriarch.  Besides, we all know that this virus and its quick evolving progeny can beat any vaccine. We all know The Patriarch needs the virus, the vaccines and human beings.

The Patriarch needs life for all his projects. It is his own dependency on human and non-human others, that he hates more than anything else. Would that we were all machines! He would not be so burdened, guilty, tormented. Machines can be turned on and off, in an instant.


During the lockdowns, the stopping of vehicles affected every human and non-human. A great number of humans were corralled in. There was no traffic. Other humans and non-humans surged onto streets. The exuberance of the latter offset the tragedy of the former (people desperate to get home). Many studies show that when air, water and land traffic stopped, biodiversity increased in most areas. This was true in our home in the Western Ghats too. Freshwater life had a reprieve from the pesticides washing into the streams and rivers. Insects bred unhindered by insecticides (momentarily unavailable because of the collapse of supply chains). Everywhere, people started gardening in balconies and yards, while others returned to hunting and foraging. Although this hurt some non-humans, overall, it was a return to another kind of life, and a far more direct existence. In the forest, friends reported seeing animals come closer, and they also reported some increase in illegal hunting. Men forced to take to the gun instead of the shopping bag. Men have always hunted for food. Now this ancient way of living is illegal only because The Patriarch legitimises another kind of degradation; the devouring of the land by his forces to feed his industrial systems and machines, including the slaves that work them and now wholly depend on them.

Actual human impact on this forest, man to tree, man to river, women to plants, people to the commons, is minimal compared to the post-Hiroshima assault on the whole biome. We cannot equate hand to hand combat to the unleashing of a nuclear or chemical arsenal, like Round up or Endosulfan or Agent Orange. Or the arsenal of earth-moving machinery.


I’ve heard that whales could once again hear each other sing underwater during the lockdowns, because of the reduction in ocean traffic. Friends say Olive Ridley turtles increased in certain coastal areas for a brief period, because of a near complete halt in trawling and netting. Air pollution dropped because of the grounding of aircraft, and great murmurations of birds could fly freely without hindrance from war planes and cargo planes and passenger planes. I know from my personal experience that I could walk through the streets of Bangalore without my eyes smarting from pollution, and I saw more birds and butterflies in the city than ever before. The resilience of life is obvious. It’s possible to see what it is capable of all the time.

I know the resilience of  my own body, of human beings, non-human beings and of the great earth herself.


The increase in human numbers by over 4% in this same period overshadows the effect of one life form on another, but is not mentioned. However, human will is even more broken and hijacked by the Patriarch’s projects, by capitalism. Furthermore, the increase in other kinds of machines, industrial infrastructure and invasive medicine (all wreaking ecocide or genocide somewhere in the world) pales, in turn, the effect of the increase in human numbers, and even more the effect of one little, invisible life form on some of humankind.

I also heard that young people turned suicidal, and that mental illness rose during this great human confinement, another term for the lockdowns. Already estranged from the rest of the cosmos, modern humans are even more lonely. Indigenous people know the antidotes to loneliness and breakdown are communities of humans and non-humans. The Patriarch and his henchmen divide millions more from their loved ones while they live and also while they die. I cannot think of anything more terrifying than this.


As a rainforest activist, it is my daily work to find alliance amongst humans and non-humans to stop further assault. This is no simple task, as most humans see the so-called benefits of capitalism as great, and that life has never been so good. The assault on their bodies through the toxification of the environment, which has led to severely compromised immune systems – a necessary precondition for new diseases to run rife – is unperceivable, because of clever filters in place, addictions, and the numbing effects of petroleum-based lifestyles. Most people are hooked to modern capitalistic systems as providers of life, healers of disease and rescuers from death. A capitalist technocrat is like God. He is a life-giver and a death-controller. He can also assuage, deprive, save, confine and kill in the name of God, or science, for whatever he considers to be the greater common good. To which we are all subject. To which we cannot say no. This great hijacking of the human will is the horrific achievement of the pandemic.

So I seek alliance amongst those not yet wholly hijacked.


As a rewilder and restorationist, it is my sworn mission to salvage the ones burned, maimed, poisoned or reconstituted from the living earth by the fires of industrial civilisation. My friends, comrades and I run refuges for non-humans, and also humans. We see the need for safe houses, halfway homes, and intensive care units for our plant and animal kith and kin, and also for women, children, marginalised and indigenous peoples, and anyone wishing to break free from The Patriarch’s projects. We need every possibility to regroup and re-enter relationships where humans and non-humans can support each other, so that we may resist the last onslaughts.  I find rewilding to be a worthy vocation.

As a member of the web of life, of the still substantial community of life, I try to unravel the effects of one member of this community, the virus, on another member of this same community, the human being.  Unfortunately, without addressing the mission of The Patriarch, of omnicidal capital, we cannot examine our true relations with our non-human kith and kin.


Humans are slaves to The Patriarch.  So is the great planet with its winds and lands and waters with trees and elephants and butterflies. So are the forests of my region. The Patriarch needs us alive and needs us dead for his project. It’s a real question how liberation will come.  With a domination imperative unique in the entire life of the cosmos, he needs dead wood and living wood and feral wood (ecosystem services of forests). He needs dead water and living water and feral water (for irrigation, tidal and hydropower). He needs dead wind and living wind and feral wind (for air-conditioning, ventilators and turbines). He needs dead plants and animals and living plants and animals and feral plants and animals (for food and medicines and now for climate-saving biodiversity). Now he even needs dead fungi and living fungi and feral fungi (for more biodiversity). He needs dead viruses and living viruses and feral viruses (for evolution and now for vaccines and the great global reset). He needs dead humans, and living humans and feral humans (for research, trade, war and terrorism and slavery).


I see Covid-19 as a project of The Patriarch, of supremacist powers in the ruling class destroying people and saving people. Our lives are clenched in their hands. They have become the arbiters of human-non-human community, of the very web of existence. They give life, and they take away the foundation of life, through creating new hooks and needs. At the same time they destroy genuine relationships and our capacity to remember what the land was once like. However, because life is as powerful as it is, and because the forests are as resilient and fecund as they are, the world leaders and technocrats aim to harness life’s myriad powers for their projects. Where before they sought land, spices,  plants, animals and slaves from the global South, and wood, water and minerals, now they hunt ecosystems and planetary forces (tides, sunshine, clouds, biomes (evolution itself) and slaves everywhere. It is the exuberance and wholeness of life that they seek to devour to fuel their existence.


I am witness to the land coming alive every moment of every day, so I know the full powers of life are still working. Life’s fecundity is unstoppable, it surges under every type of condition. Like the pigs in factory farms who have babies under impossible conditions, or men and women growing families during war, or forests having baby forests even when the whole climate is shifting, life creates life all the time and everywhere. The ever-entwining forests and winds and waters, with their immense creative forces, both tantalise and threaten The Patriarch, because life achieves with joy and felicity what he cannot ever do. He cannot create life yet, he can only try to force it to create itself. Whether under gun point or nuclear blasts, or dioxins in the cell of every creature, life is the regenerative force he wishes to tap into. Genetic and geologic engineering are only steps along the way.


I, too, am a creature of nature. Endowed with a particular passion, a wonderment of what this alive, half-alive, wild, half-wild, feral, domesticated, enslaved, tortured way of existence is. Aware that I am a part of all this through my body, my mind, my senses and other faculties, I experience inter-being in everything I do, everything I am, in every aspect of my body-being. I cannot even call it mine, as I feel the work of the forest through the lungs, and the skin and the gut and the mind of this body, itself a biome of sorts. This is the awakening from the nightmare that happened after some years of living here. I came alive to the undeniable truth that we are all inextricably intertwined. That ecology is the non-negotiable, ever-vital matrix in which I am completely held. That I also take part in it, through every action, and non-action, even in my sleep and dreams. As I awoke to The Patriarch’s shadow project, I awoke to the natural world’s life engendering service. Ecology makes more of itself and lives and thrives upon itself. Capitalism, the latest and most devastating avatar of patriarchy, and of ego, makes more of itself and lives and feeds upon its now disassembling self.


The Patriarch forms himself not in the image of some god; he tries to gain advantage to himself through the exuberance of life. His ego needs our eco.

However, he is a toxic mimic, imitating the form of creation but not its content. He is bent on destruction; total annihilation.

Unlike life. She lives and thrives through community and love and joy and play and inter-being and fecundity and beauty.


In solidarity with Kurdish women in their extraordinary mission, and through these thoughts, joining the clarion call for Life to overrun the patriarch wholly: to dismantle every cog and wheel of his stupendous machine. Let’s unhinge him. Let’s ally with eco, not his insufferable ego!

Suprabha Seshan is a rainforest conservationist. She lives and works at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary, a forest garden and community-based conservation centre in the Western Ghat mountains of Kerala. Her essays can be found in The Indian Quarterly, The Indian Express,, Hard News, and Economic and Political Weekly. She is currently working on her book, Rainforest Etiquette in a World Gone Mad, forthcoming from Context, Westland Publishers. She is an environmental educator and restoration ecologist, an Ashoka Fellow, and winner of the 2006 Whitley Fund for Nature award.

Banning Abortion is Banning Sustainability

Banning Abortion is Banning Sustainability

In the United States, the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 50-year-old legal precedent that ruled state-level abortion bans are (in many situations) unconstitutional and violate the rights of pregnant women.

Since 1973, legal challenges to Roe v. Wade have weakened the case significantly, most recently allowing for a spate of state-level abortion bans in-all-but-name (notably in Texas, but other states are following suit). Overturning Roe v. Wade is likely to lead to a flood of these state-level abortion bans in roughly half of the United States.

Deep Green Resistance is both ethically and strategically opposed to abortion bans. As a feminist organization, we believe a woman or girl has the right to choose an abortion if that is what she wants. Broadly, these bans disproportionately affect poor women, since wealthier women may be able to travel to a jurisdiction in which abortion is legal, while poor women will not. This entrenches cycles of poverty, since giving birth to and raising a child is extremely expensive and time consuming.

Women’s Loss is Earth’s Loss: Abortion Bans Make Sustainability Impossible

Abortion bans significantly harm the planet, since overpopulation (alongside consumption and technology) is a major driver of the destruction of the natural world.

  • The United States population was 31.4 million in 1860. Today, it is more than 331 million.
  • As one professor stated, “Since 1960, while human population has doubled, the global economy has quadrupled, and resource consumption quintupled.”
  • That was in 1999. Now, twenty-three years later, there are 1.8 billion more people on the planet, equivalent to more than the entire populations of China and the United States combined.
  • More than 80 million people are added to the global population annually, the equivalent of ten New York Cities or twenty Los Angeles’s.
  • The biomass of mammals on planet Earth is now more than 96% humans and livestock, and only 4% wild animals.

This massive population is only sustained by consuming the planet. Agriculture is rapidly destroying the planet’s remaining soils, and crop yields only remain high due to massive infusions of fossil-fuel derived fertilizers. Dead zones are spreading in the ocean due to pollution from industrial farming running down major rivers. Rainforests are being felled to clear more land for agriculture. Global fish populations are collapsing due to overfishing, pollution, and global warming. Non-renewable aquifers are being overpumped and going dry.

The father of the “Green Revolution” himself, Norman Borlaug, in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, warned that “There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort.”

Can Overpopulation Be Solved without Violating Human Rights?

Coercive attempts to control population such as China’s one-child policy or forced sterilization policies in different regions of the world have been widely and rightfully condemned as human rights violations. Less widely known are population success stories that do not involve coercion. In Iran, for example, an exploding population in the 1990’s led the government to institute what is often celebrated as the world’s most successful humane birth-rate reduction program (which has since been rolled back in part to encourage economic growth.

Alan Weissman, writing in his 2013 book “Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth” in which he travels the world analyzing the issue of overpopulation, describes a conversation with Iranian Obstetrician and Gynecologist Dr. Hourieh Shamshiri Milani:

“There was no covert coercion [in Iran’s family planning program], she’d explain. The sole requirement was that all couples attend premarital classes, held in mosques or in health centers where couples went for prenuptial blood tests. The classes taught contraception and sex education, and stressed the advantages of having fewer children to feed, clothe, and school. The only governmental disincentive was elimination of the individual subsidy for food, electricity, telephone, and appliances for any child after the first three. By 2000, Iran’s total fertility rate reached replacement level, 2.1 children per woman, a year faster than China’s compulsory one-child policy. In 2012, it was 1.7.”

Reducing Birth Rates

To state the obvious, when birth rates are reduced below replacement level (2.1 children per couple), population will gradually and naturally fall over time. Eileen Crist, an associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech and author of a book on population issues, describes that process:

Environmental writers and activists who highlight the calamities connected with overpopulation are motivated by deep concern for the well-being of all life; they also emphasize that a smaller global population can be achieved by policies and actions that promote fundamental human rights. To achieve a sustainable human population, they urge the global community to pursue full gender equity; ensure education for girls (and all children) through secondary schooling and beyond; make high-quality family planning universally available; include comprehensive sexuality education in school curricula; and aggressively oppose the abusive cultural practice of child marriage. With these human rights ambitiously pursued and universally attained, population growth can end sooner (than via ‘the invisible hand’ of globalization) and a smaller global population gradually attained.

And what is the role of abortion in this? Given that roughly 44% of all pregnancies are unintended, and about half of those unintended pregnancies are terminated through abortions, researchers have concluded that no country can effectively reduce its population growth “without the widespread use of abortion.”

We believe that birth control including vasectomies, family planning services, abortion by mail providers, and abortion should be available to all people as part of efforts to defend the planet. Non-abortion family planning measures actually reduce the number of abortions performed, and thus should be supported by everyone regardless of their political beliefs on abortion (for example, today’s abortion rate in the United States is roughly half what it was in the 1980’s, which is believed to reflect easier access to contraceptives such as abortion pills by mail).

For the rights of women, and for environmental reasons, we are opposed to abortion bans.

Why and How to Stop Using Porn

Why and How to Stop Using Porn

Quitting porn is about reclaiming your authentic sexuality, aligning your actions with your values, and decolonizing your mind. For organizers, activists, and revolutionaries, choosing to stop using porn will make you feel better, leave you with more energy and time, and is a stand in solidarity with women and girls—which is also a stand with the living planet.

This article will introduce the harms of pornography, share a radical feminist perspective on porn, a radical indigenous perspective on porn, a short interview with Noam Chomsky, and provide some tools to help you stop using porn.

Sexting and Pornography are eroding whole generations from birth. — Native Youth Movement

Critical Media Analysis of Porn

Critical media analysis tells us how the advertising and mass media industries use psychological tricks to encourage us to buy and spend more time watching screens. It works. The global entertainment and media industry is worth more than $2 trillion.

However, few of us apply the same critical thinking to pornography. Like mass media, porn is big business. The size of the industry was estimated at roughly $15 billion in 2018 in the U.S. alone. That’s more revenue than Hollywood, Netflix, the NBA, Viacom, or the NFL.

Porn influences individuals and our entire society. However, this influence is rarely interrogated. Porn production and use largely happens in the shadows. It’s mostly a private habit that people indulge in darkened bedrooms and offices. And unlike other large industries, it’s usually not discussed. We educate young children about advertising and mass media to encourage caution around images that are, by design, manipulative. But young people are rarely educated about pornography.

They need to be. More than a third of kids have seen porn by age 12. Seventy-five percent of 18-year-old women say “pornography has led to pressure on girls and young women to act a certain way.” And 70% say “pornography leads to unrealistic attitudes” about sex and that “pornography can have a damaging impact on young people’s views of sex or relationships.” Porn has become the de-facto sex education program worldwide.

“Super-Normal” Stimulus

Human sexuality is a powerful force, and is something that can be beautiful, enjoyable, and important. Pornography, in contrast, is a “super-normal” stimulus.

Our ancestors did not evolve in a world where the internet provided instant access to explicit images and videos. At a biological level, modern internet porn is completely unlike the authentic human sexuality we evolved with, which involves face-to-face communication, desire, relationships, conversations, sex, and so on.

Porn, in contrast, provides a never-ending stream of digital images that has almost nothing in common with real sexuality. This super-normal stimulus is why many men, and a smaller number of women, are addicted to pornography.

Porn is to sex as heroin is to a runner’s high. Rather than nourishing the self and others, as authentic sexuality can, porn leaves users alienated, shameful, disconnected from partners and others around them, and wasting precious time—the only thing we have in life—looking at an image on a two dimensional screen. And like opiates, compulsive porn use is very common.

Why to Stop Using Porn

There are many reasons to stop using porn.

1. Porn harms women.

There are real women (and men) working in the pornography industry. They tend to have very high rates of drug abuse, STDs, mental health issues, physical and sexual abuse, and premature death. More broadly, porn fuels demand for prostitution and for sex trafficking. Tragically, there are many examples of porn depicting trafficked women who are being raped on-camera. Porn is not a fantasy. It is something happening to real people.

2. Porn harms society.

Critical media analysis tells us the images we are exposed to effect us. This is why advertising works. Porn lives inside the minds of the people who watch it, and then filters out into society. Porn also gravitates towards “shock content” as people become accustomed to hyper-normal stimulus. This is why porn so often contains blatant racism, real and faux underage and “teen” content, acts that are not actually pleasurable, BDSM, incest tropes, and outright violence. One analysis of the most popular porn films found that 88% of scenes contained violence against women. The objectification of women, negative body image, and abusive practices normalized by porn have ramifications throughout society and particularly on women and girls.

3. Porn harms users.

There is nothing categorically wrong with masturbation, but porn is not masturbation. It’s masturbation moderated by a patriarchal, capitalist industry. People who use porn don’t actually get anything out of it. They don’t get good sexual education. They don’t strengthen their relationships by building trust and intimacy. They don’t make money or become more enlightened. They don’t even get real, lasting pleasure (users consistently report feelings of shame, depression, and anxiety regarding their habit/addiction). In this sense, porn is similar to a destructive drug addiction. It harms users, yet they crave it and have trouble stopping.

A Radical Feminist Perspective on Porn

Feminists have been speaking out against pornography and the objectification of women for a long time. The great anti-porn organizer Andrea Dworkin wrote that:

“Pornography incarnates male supremacy. It is the DNA of male dominance. Every rule of sexual abuse, every nuance of sexual sadism, every highway and byway of sexual sadism, is encoded in it. It’s what men want us to be, think we are, make us into; how men use us; not because biologically they are men but because this is how their social power is organized. From the perspective of the political activist, pornography is the blueprint of male supremacy.”

A quick visit to any popular porn site confirms this. Whatever facet of patriarchy you are concerned about (sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest and family violence, rape, workplace abuse, exploitation of young women and girls by older men, forced childbearing, sexualized racism and racialized sexism, revenge porn, upskirting, voyeurism, and every other possible form of non-consent, deception, coercion, etc.) you will find pornography catering to and sexually reinforcing those ideologies.

Radical feminists have long argued that the sadistic brilliance of pornography is that is sexualizes domination, objectification, and violence; that it encodes patriarchy within something that feels pleasurable, and thus makes it often invisible. Andrea Dworkin, once again, wrote that “Pornography is the institution of male dominance that sexualizes hierarchy, objectification, submission, and violence.”

The feminist writer Susan Griffin described both the production and consumption of porn as a ritualistic rite to patriarchy with political ramifications rarely understood by those participating in it:

“For above all, pornography is ritual. It is an enacted drama that is laden with meaning, which imparts a vision of the world. The altar for the ritual is a woman’s body. And the ritual which is carried out on this altar is the desecration of flesh. Here, what is sacred within the body is degraded.”

A Radical Indigenous Perspective on Porn

Griffin’s analysis of pornography as a ritual that is conducted on women and girls and broadcast into the minds of hundreds of millions of people worldwide has some similarities to a radical indigenous perspective on pornography.

From the Native Youth Movement Warrior Society [edited for length]:

When two humans exchange their energy it is a sacred union. In our pre-invasion world sex was seen very different than today, very sacred; the most sacred of our ceremonies, the one that is universal. By exploiting sexuality, we exploit our essence as life forms. By colonizing and changing our sexuality they colonize our first and oldest ceremony, so sacred every man and woman had their own and it was only viewed, attended and participated in by them.

It is now controlled by the perverted minds of the colonizer. If they control what arouses people and when, through imagery, they can make a person think about sex and control the oldest part of us. The hind brain is older and stronger than any other portion of the brain. We share it with all other backboned animals.

When hind brain is in charge, accessing neural networks that are responsible for compassion, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence is harder. The place where our deepest love comes from can be quickly overridden by the hind brain. Today most people in the industrial world function in this continued state of narcissism. In other words, they have sexualized our world as a way to control the oldest thought process of survival.

Sexting and pornography are eroding whole generations from birth. While sex is thought of as a curse word in public and our communities, dysfunctional sexuality is a behind-closed-doors addiction. In 2012, the Internet Watch Foundation found that an “estimated 88% of self-made explicit images are stolen from their original upload location and made available on other websites, in particular porn sites collecting sexual imagery of children and young people.” When the person who originally sexted the photo finds out everyone has access to it they can go into depression and there have been many cases of suicide.

Indigenous views of sexuality must be revived as a Sacred teaching for our young ones. The future of Indigenous people is at stake. Body parts are not objects, just as the humans they are part of are not objects, they are sacred life forms that must be treated good and engaged respectfully. Physical appearance is shallow. A person’s mind must be in good health to be healthy.

Noam Chomsky on Pornography

When asked about his stance on pornography, in response to perceived endorsement of Hustler, who had tricked Chomsky into giving an interview for the magazine, Chomsky responded:

Pornography is humiliation and degradation of women. It’s a disgraceful activity. I don’t want to be associated with it. Just take a look at the pictures. I mean, women are degraded as vulgar sex objects. That’s not what human beings are. I don’t even see anything to discuss.

Interviewer: But didn’t performers choose to do the job and get paid?

The fact that people agree to it and are paid, is about as convincing as the fact that we should be in favor of sweatshops in China, where women are locked into a factory and work fifteen hours a day, and then the factory burns down and they all die. Yeah, they were paid and they consented, but it doesn’t make me in favor of it, so that argument we can’t even talk about.

As for the fact that it’s some people’s erotica, well you know that’s their problem, doesn’t mean I have to contribute to it. If they get enjoyment out of humiliation of women, they have a problem, but it’s nothing I want to contribute to.

Interviewer: How should we improve the production conditions of pornography?

By eliminating degradation of women, that would improve it. Just like child abuse, you don’t want to make it better child abuse, you want to stop child abuse.

Suppose there’s a starving child in the slums, and you say “well, I’ll give you food if you’ll let me abuse you.” Suppose—well, there happen to be laws against child abuse, fortunately—but suppose someone were to give you an argument. Well, you know, after all a child’s starving otherwise, so you’re taking away their chance to get some food if you ban abuse. I mean, is that an argument?

The answer to that is stop the conditions in which the child is starving, and the same is true here. Eliminate the conditions in which women can’t get decent jobs, not permit abusive and destructive behavior.

How to Stop Using Porn

There are many ways to stop using porn, but the difficult part is the psychology of quitting. Unlike a drug like heroin or alcohol, porn is barely addictive at the physical level. People quitting heroin or alcohol often need medical support and gradual weaning. Porn is not like that. The addiction is primarily psychological.

Most compulsive porn users are convinced that they need porn, that they like it, or that they’ll feel miserable without it—even though using porn makes them feel shameful and physically depleted. This is the psychology of addiction.

So how can this be overcome? There are a few common methods used by millions of people around the world to stop using porn. These include EasyPeasy, Fortify, Your Brain on Porn, and others.

1. Stop Using Porn with the Easy Peasy Method

Easy Peasy” is a method adapted from Allen Carr’s 1985 book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking. The method focuses on first transforming your attitude towards porn by seeing it as a drug that has no benefits and embracing a desire to quit. This method is interesting because it emphasizes happiness and contentment to be free of porn, and discourages people from feeling like they are depriving themselves of something by quitting. It involves reading a short book (also available as an audiobook) and is free.

2. Stop Using Porn with the Fortify App

Fortify is a smartphone and web app that is available for free to help people stop using porn. It was created by the people behind “Fight The New Drug,” an anti-porn organization. The app helps prompt you to take certain actions, get support from others, track your progress, and do mindfulness exercises. A free version is available, as is a paid plan with more tools that costs $10 USD per month.

3. Stop Using Porn with Your Brain on Porn

YBOP doesn’t prescribe a single program for quitting porn. Rather, it has a collection of tips and tricks collected over many years and from many people.

Please note: these methods are not explicitly feminist creations; they are self-help methods that are largely apolitical. Many anti-porn communities and forums still contain misogyny. However, don’t let this discourage you from using the resources that are available.

Additional Information

Robert Jensen: Why Feminism Matters for Men

Robert Jensen: Why Feminism Matters for Men

Editor’s note: Feminism is often seen as a “woman issue” and thus as something secondary or unimportant compared to issues of class or ecology. But in this piece, Robert Jensen reminds us that “White supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism have never existed without patriarchy.” Some historians even see patriarchy as the “original oppression” — the template which has led to the world we now find ourselves in.

From the psychology of domination to overpopulation, patriarchy is a powerful, subtle force in our world. If you are concerned about human rights or ecology, as we are, women’s oppression is essential to understand and undermine. Why are we a radical feminist organization? Because this is essential to justice and sustainability.

By Robert Jensen

Begin with the body.

In an analysis of pornography and prostitution in a patriarchal society, it’s crucial not to lose sight of basic biology. A coherent feminist analysis of the ideology and practice of patriarchy starts with human bodies.

We are all Homo sapiens. Genus Homo, species sapiens. We are primates. We are mammals. We are part of the animal kingdom.

We are organic entities, carbon-based creatures of flesh and blood. Whatever one thinks about the concepts of soul and mind—and I assume that in any diverse group there will be widely varying ideas—we are animals, which means we are bodies. The kind of animal that we are reproduces sexually, the interaction of bodies that are either male or female (with a very small percentage of people born intersex, who have anomalies that may complicate reproductive status).

Every one of us—and every human who has ever lived—is the product of the union of an egg produced by a female human and a sperm produced by a male human. Although it also can be accomplished with technology, in the vast majority of cases the fertilization of an egg by a sperm happens through the act of sexual intercourse, which in addition to its role in reproduction is potentially pleasurable.

I emphasize these elementary facts not to reduce the rich complexity of human interaction to a story about nothing but bodies, but if we are to understand sex/gender politics, we can’t ignore our bodies. That may seem self-evident, but some postmodern-inflected theories that float through some academic spaces, intellectual salons, and political movements these days seem to have detached from that reality.

If we take evolutionary biology seriously, we should recognize the centrality of reproduction to all living things and the importance of sexuality to a species that reproduces sexually, such as Homo sapiens. Reproduction and sexuality involve our bodies.

Female and male are stable biological categories. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here. But femininity and masculinity are not stable social categories. Ideas about what male and female mean—what meaning we attach to those differences in our bodies—vary from culture to culture and change over time.

That brings us to patriarchy, radical feminism, a radical feminist critique of the sexual-exploitation industries in patriarchy, and why all of this is important, not only for women but for men. I’m here as a man to make a pitch to men: Radical feminism is especially important for us.


Patriarchy—an idea about sex differences that institutionalizes male dominance throughout a society—has a history. Though many assume that humans have always lived with male dominance, such systems became widespread only a few thousand years ago, coming after the invention of agriculture and a dramatic shift in humans’ relationship with the larger living world. Historian Gerda Lerner argues that patriarchy began when “men discovered how to turn ‘difference’ into dominance” and “laid the ideological foundation for all systems of hierarchy, inequality, and exploitation” (Lerner, 1997, p. 133). Patriarchy takes different forms depending on time and place, but it reserves for men most of the power in the institutions of society and limits women’s access to such power. However, Lerner reminds us, “It does not imply that women are either totally powerless or totally deprived of rights, influence and resources” (Lerner, 1986, p. 239). The world is complicated, but we identify patterns to help us understand that complexity.

Patriarchy is not the only hierarchical system that enhances the power of some and limits the life chances of others—it exists alongside white supremacy, legally enforced or informal; various unjust and inhumane economic systems, including capitalism; and imperialism and colonialism, including the past 500 years of exploitation primarily by Europe and its offshoots such as the United States.

Because of those systems, all women do not have the same experience in patriarchy, but the pattern of women’s relative disadvantage vis-à-vis men is clear. As historian Judith Bennett writes, “Almost every girl born today will face more constraints and restrictions than will be encountered by a boy who is born today into the same social circumstances as that girl.” (Bennett, 2006, p. 10).

Over thousands of years, patriarchal societies have developed justifications, both theological and secular, to maintain this inequality and make it seem to be common sense, “just the way the world is.” Patriarchy has proved tenacious, at times conceding to challenges but blocking women from reaching full equality to men. Women’s status can change over time, and there are differences in status accorded to women depending on other variables. But Bennett argues that these ups and downs have not transformed women as a group in relationship to men—societies operate within a “patriarchal equilibrium,” in which only privileged men can lay claim to that full humanity, defined as the ability to develop fully their human potential (Bennett, 2009). Men with less privilege must settle for less, and some will even be accorded less status than some women (especially men who lack race and/or class privilege). But in this kind of dynamically stable system of power, women are never safe and can always be made “less than,” especially by men willing to wield threats, coercion, and violence.

Although all the systems based on domination cause immense suffering and are difficult to dislodge, patriarchy has been part of human experience longer and is deeply woven into the fabric of everyday life. We should remember: White supremacy has never existed without patriarchy. Capitalism has never existed without patriarchy. Imperialism has never existed without patriarchy. From patriarchy’s claim that male domination and female subordination are natural and inevitable have emerged other illegitimate hierarchies that also rest on attempts to naturalize, and hence render invisible, other domination/subordination dynamics.

Radical Feminism

Feminism, at its most basic, challenges patriarchy. However as with any human endeavor, including movements for social justice, there are different intellectual and political strands. What in the United States is typically called “second wave” feminism, that emerged out of the social ferment of the 1960s and ‘70s, produced competing frameworks: radical, Marxist, socialist, liberal, psychoanalytical, existential, postmodern, eco-feminist. When non-white women challenged the white character of early second-wave feminism, movements struggled to correct the distortions; some women of color choose to identify as womanist rather than feminist. Radical lesbian feminists challenged the overwhelmingly heterosexual character of liberal feminism, and different feminisms went in varying directions as other challenges arose concerning every-thing from global politics to disability.

Since my first serious engagement with feminism in the late 1980s, I have found radical feminist analyses to be a source of inspiration. Radical feminism highlights men’s violence and coercion—rape, child sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment—and the routine nature of this abuse for women, children, and vulnerable men in patriarchy. In patriarchal societies, men claim a right to own or control women’s reproductive power and women’s sexuality, with that threat of violence and coercion always in the background. In the harshest forms of patriarchy, men own wives and their children, and men can claim women’s bodies for sex constrained only by agreements with other men. In contemporary liberal societies, men’s dominance takes more subtle forms.

Radical feminism forces us to think about male and female bodies, about how men use, abuse, and exploit women in the realms of reproduction and sexuality. But in the contemporary United States, the radical approach has been eclipsed by the more common liberal (in mainstream politics) and postmodern (in academic and activist circles) strands of feminism. A liberal approach focuses on gaining equality for women within existing political, legal, and economic institutions. While notoriously difficult to define, postmodernism challenges the stability and coherence not only of existing institutions but of the very concepts that we use within them and tends to focus on language and performance as key to identity and experience. Liberalism and postmodernism come out of very different sets of assumptions but are similar in their practical commitment to individualism in politics, tending to evaluate a proposal based on whether it maximizes choices for individual women rather than whether it resists patriarchy’s hierarchy and challenges the power of men as a class. On issues such as pornography and prostitution, both liberal and postmodern feminism avoid or downplay a critique of the patriarchal system and reduce the issue to support for women’s choices, sometimes even claiming that women can be empowered through the sexual-exploitation industries.

Radical feminism’s ultimate goal is the end of patriarchy’s gender system, not merely expanding women’s choices within patriarchy. But radical feminism also recognizes the larger problem of hierarchy and the domination/subordination dynamics in other arenas of human life. While not sufficient by itself, the end of patriarchy is a necessary condition for liberation more generally.

Today there’s a broad consensus that any form of feminism must be “intersectional,” Kimberlé Crenshaw’s (1989) term to describe about how black women could be marginalized by movements for both racial and gender justice when their concerns did not conform to either group’s ideology or strategy. While the term is fairly new, the idea goes back further. For example, the statement of the Combahee River Collective, a group of black lesbian feminists in the late 1970s, named not only sexism and racism but also capitalism and imperialism as forces constraining their lives:

[W]e are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking. The synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives (Combahee River Collective, 2000, p. 264).

Intersectional approaches like these help us better understand the complex results of what radical feminists argue is a central feature of patriarchy: Men’s efforts to control women’s reproductive power and sexuality. As philosopher Marilyn Frye puts it:

For females to be subordinated and subjugated to males on a global scale, and for males to organize themselves and each other as they do, billions of female individuals, virtually all who see life on this planet, must be reduced to a more-or-less willing toleration of subordination and servitude to men. The primary sites of this reduction are the sites of heterosexual relation and encounter—courtship and marriage-arrangement, romance, sexual liaisons, fucking, marriage, prostitution, the normative family, incest and child sexual assault. It is on this terrain of heterosexual connection that girls and women are habituated to abuse, insult, degradation, that girls are reduced to women—to wives, to whores, to mistresses, to sex slaves, to clerical workers and textile workers, to the mothers of men’s children (Frye, 1992, p. 130).

This analysis doesn’t suggest that every man treats every woman as a sex slave, of course. Each individual man in patriarchy is not at every moment actively engaged in the oppression of women, but men routinely act in ways that perpetuate patriarchy and harm women. It’s also true that patriarchy’s obsession with hierarchy, including a harsh system of ranking men, means that most men lose out in the game to acquire significant wealth and power. Complex systems produce complex results, and still there are identifiable patterns. Patriarchy is a system that delivers material benefits to men—unequally depending on men’s other attributes (such as race, class, sexual orientation, nationality, immigration status) and on men’s willingness to embrace, or at least adapt to, patriarchal values. But patriarchy constrains all women. The physical, psychological, and spiritual suffering endured by women varies widely, again depending on other attributes and sometimes just on the luck of the draw, but no woman escapes some level of that suffering. And at the core of that system is men’s assertion of a right to control women’s reproductive power and sexuality.

The Radical Feminist Critique of the Sexual-Exploitation Industries

I use the term “sexual-exploitation industries” to include prostitution, pornography, stripping, massage parlors, escort services—all the ways that men routinely 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 are about men buying women and girls.

Not all feminists or progressive people critique this exploitation, and in some feminist circles—especially those rooted in liberalism or postmodernism—so-called “sex work” is celebrated as empowering for women. Let’s start with simple questions for those who claim to want to end sexism and foster sex/gender justice:

  1. Is it possible to imagine any society achieving a meaningful level of any kind of justice if people from one sex/gender class could be routinely bought and sold for sexual services by people from another sex/gender class?
  2. Is justice possible when the most intimate spaces of the bodies of people in one group can be purchased by people in another group?
  3. If our goal is to maintain stable, decent human societies defined by mutuality rather than dominance, do the sexual-exploitation industries foster or impede our efforts?
  4. If we were creating a just society from the ground up, is it likely that anyone would say, “Let’s make sure that men have ready access to the bodies of women in commercial transactions”?

These questions are both moral and political. Radical feminists reject dominance, and the violence and coercion that comes with a domination/subordination dynamic, out of moral commitments to human dignity, solidarity, and equality. But nothing I’ve said is moralistic, in the sense of imposing a narrow, subjective conception of sexuality on others. Rejecting the sexual-exploitation industries isn’t about constraining people’s sexual expression, but rather is part of the struggle to create the conditions for meaningful sexual freedom.

So why is this radical feminist critique, which has proved so accurate in its assessment of the consequences of mainstreaming the commercial sex industry, so often denounced not only by men who embrace patriarchy but also by liberal and left men, and in recent years even by feminists in the liberal and postmodern camps?

Take the issue I know best, pornography. Starting in the 1970s, women such as Andrea Dworkin (2002) argued that the appeal of pornography was not just explicit sex but sex presented in the context of that domination/subordination dynamic. Since Dworkin’s articulation of that critique (1979), the abuse and exploitation of women in the industry has been more thoroughly documented. The content of pornography has become more overtly cruel and degrading to women and more overtly racist. Pornography’s role in promoting corrosive sexual practices, especially among young people, is more evident. As the power of the radical feminist critique has become clearer, why is the critique more marginalized today than when it was first articulated?

Part of the answer is that the radical feminist critique of pornography goes to the heart of the claim of men in patriarchy to own or control women’s sexuality. Feminism won some gains for women in public, such as more expansive access to education and a place in politics. But like any system of social control, patriarchy does not quietly accept change, pushing back against women’s struggle for sexual autonomy. Sociologist Kathleen Barry describes this process:

[W]hen women achieve the potential for economic independence, men are threatened with loss of control over women as their legal and economic property in marriage. To regain control, patriarchal domination reconfigures around sex by producing a social and public condition of sexual sub-ordination that follows women into the public world (Barry, 1995, p. 53).

Why Should Men Care?

Barry is not suggesting that men got together to plot such a strategy. Rather, it’s in the nature of patriarchy to respond to challenges to male power with new strategies. That’s how systems of illegitimate authority, including white supremacy and capitalism, have always operated.

Men can no longer claim outright ownership of women, as they once did. Men cannot always assert control over women using old tactics. But they can mark women as always available for men’s sexual pleasure. They can reduce women’s sexuality—and therefore can reduce women—to a commodity that can be bought and sold. They can try to regain an experience of power lost in the public realm in a more private arena.

This analysis challenges the liberal/postmodern individualist story that says women’s rights are enhanced when a society allows them to choose sex work. Almost every word in that sentence should be in scare-quotes, to mark the libertarian illusions on which the argument depends. I’m not suggesting that no woman in the sexual-exploitation industries ever makes a real choice but am merely pointing out the complexity of those choices, which typically are made under conditions of considerable constraint and reduced opportunities. And whatever the motivation of any one woman, the validation and normalization of the sexual-exploitation industries continues to reduce women and girls to objectified female bodies available to men for sexual pleasure.

If we men really believe in the values most of us claim to hold—dignity, solidarity, and equality—that is reason enough to embrace radical feminism. That’s the argument from justice. Radical feminists have shown how the sexual-exploitation industries harm women, children, and vulnerable men used in the industry. But if men need additional motivation, do it not only for women and girls. Do it for yourself. Recognize an argument from self-interest.

Radical feminism is essential for any man who wants to move beyond “being a man” in patriarchy and seeks to live the values of dignity, solidarity, and equality as fully as possible (Jensen, 2019). Radical feminism’s critique of masculinity in patriarchy is often assumed to be a challenge to men’s self-esteem but just the opposite is true—it’s essential for men’s self-esteem.

Consider a claim that men sometimes make when asked if they have ever used a woman being prostituted. “I’ve never had to pay for it,” a man will say, implying that he is skilled enough in procuring sex from women that money is unnecessary. In other situations, a man might brag about having sex with a woman being prostituted, especially if that woman is seen as a high-class “call girl” or is somehow “exotic,” or if the exploitation of women takes place in a male-bonding activity such as a bachelor party.

All these responses are patriarchal, and all reveal men’s fear of vulnerability and hence of intimacy. That’s why pornography is so popular. It offers men quick-and-easy sexual pleasure with no risk, no need to be a real person in the presence of another real person who might see through the sad chest-puffing pretense of masculinity in patriarchy.

One of the most common questions I get after public presentations from women is “why do men like pornography?” We can put aside the inane explanations designed to avoid the feminist challenge, such as “Men are just more sexual than women” or “Men are more stimulated visually than women.” I think the real answer is more disturbing: In patriarchy, men are often so intensely socialized to run from the vulnerability that comes with intimacy that they find comfort in the illusory control over women that pornography offers. Pornography may give men a sense of power over women temporarily, but it does not provide what men—what all people—need, which is human connection. The pornographers play on men’s fears—not a fear of women so much as a fear of facing the fragility of our lives in patriarchy.

When we assert masculinity in patriarchy—when we desperately try to “be a man”—we are valuing dominance over mutuality, choosing empty pleasure over intimacy, seeking control to avoid vulnerability. When we assert masculinity in patriarchy, we make the world more dangerous for women and children, and in the process deny ourselves the chance to be fully human.

Robert Jensen is an 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 New Perennials Publishing and the New Perennials Project at Middlebury College.

Jensen is the co-author, with Wes Jackson, of An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity, which will be published in September 2022 by the University of Notre Dame Press. He is also the host of “Podcast from the Prairie” with Jackson.

Jensen is the author of The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson: Searching for Sustainability (University Press of Kansas, 2021); The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men (2017); Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (2015); Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue (2013); All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, (2009); Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (2001).

Jensen can be reached at To join an email list to receive articles by Jensen, go to Follow him on Twitter: @jensenrobertw


This article draws on The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men (Jensen, 2017). Special thanks to Renate Klein and Susan Hawthorne of Spinifex Press. An edited version of this article was recorded for presentation at the online Canadian Sexual Exploitation Summit hosted by Defend Dignity, May 6-7, 2021. Dignity thanks the following people for their time and expertise to review this article: Lisa Thompson, Vice President of Research and Education, National Center on Sexual Exploitation, USA; and Andrea Heinz, exited woman and activist, Canada.


Jensen, Robert. (2021). Getting radical: Feminism, patriarchy, and the sexual-exploitation industries. Dignity: A Journal of Sexual Exploitation and Violence. Vol. 6, Issue 2, Article 6.
Available at


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Bennett, Judith M. (2009, March 29). “History matters: The grand finale.” The Adventures of Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar.

Bennett, Judith M. (2006). History matters: Patriarchy and the challenge of feminism. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Combahee River Collective. (2000). The Combahee River Collective statement. In Barbara Smith (Ed.), Home girls: A black feminist anthology (pp. 264-274). Rutgers University Press.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. (1989). “Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1, 139-167.

Dworkin, Andrea. (2002). Heartbreak: The political memoir of a feminist militant. Basic Books.

Dworkin, Andrea. (1979). Pornography: Men possessing women. Perigee.

Frye, Marilyn. (1992). Willful virgin: Essays in feminism 1976-1992. Crossing Press.

Jensen, Robert. (2019, fall). Radical feminism: A gift to men. Voice Male.

Jensen, Robert. (2017). The end of patriarchy: Radical feminism for men. Spinifex.

Lerner, Gerda (1997). Why history matters: Life and thought. Oxford University Press.

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This essay was originally published in Dignity: A Journal of Sexual Exploitation and Violence in March, 2021.