On Feminism and “I Blame The Patriarchy”
I really don’t want to fight a bunch of different battles when it comes to gender. I want to fight just one battle, for equality of the sexes. Which is why I’m sorry to report that I find I Blame The Patriarchy alienating, and have to respond to the latest post there (entitled “Feminism and the feed-bag“).
(By way of contrast: As we speak, petitpoussin and N. Pepperell over at Rough Theory are writing good stuff with a feminist bent. Petitpoussin is calling attention to the situation and recent assassination in Oaxaca (link is from her to a different blog), and N. Pepperell is thinking out loud about an Acephalous post on gender differences in the blogosphere.)
American society in general enforces a series of double standards that oppress women, and are well-known to any feminist. There are different standards for beauty, for professional success, for social behavior, for domestic chores and child-rearing, and so on. I hope to be able to write against these from time to time, as I did in an old anonymous post critical of hyper-sexual sleaze culture. However, within the comparatively miniature circles of well-educated, progressive people to which (as a graduate student) I belong, there are a few stances being labeled “feminist” that I find misguided.
My definition of feminism is as follows: Women and men are equal. They are physically different from each other, a fact that requires a whole host of practical considerations, from maternity leave to abortion rights to contraception. However, these physical differences are irrelevant to questions of intelligence, behavior, or essence. Such questions can only be answered on an individual (or philosophical) basis irrespective of gender.
That’s it for the theory; I think keeping my definition of feminism short is crucial to responding in a lucid and consistent manner to the variety of issues surrounding gender. Notice that my definition has nothing to do with whether or not people should try to please each other; this is where I part ways with I Blame The Patriarchy. Twisty’s blog asserts that women should not feel obliged to please men with their looks and their behavior. She takes aim specifically at this article from AlterNet, where Ariel Stallings writes about overcoming her political reservations about dieting, and losing a few pounds. My argument is that individuals decide who they want to please (and yes, there’s no reason it has to be men), and that that is a healthy part of social existence. In other words, the problem isn’t pleasing people. The problems are that heterosexuality is enforced, that women are expected to do more to please men than vice versa, and that we are raised to find qualities like intelligence unpleasing in women.
Stallings is asking for it; after all, the last sentence of her article is about how her restored vanity enabled her to “forget” about feminism. Who could possibly support that? It seems like she wanted to lose more than just pounds. But Twisty’s intensely annoying, arch reply makes it clear that the only justification for dieting is a threat to one’s health.
I’ve known of several men dieting in my own English department, as well as men who were dieting at my summer teaching job. One friend of mine regulates how many flavored beverages he drinks, in order to avoid gaining weight. Most educated, financially secure people, male or female, now feel an obligation to exercise regularly. There are plenty of benefits that have nothing to do with being desirable: you are healthier, and it does improve your mood. But being desirable matters to men; I’ve even had to have one of those ridiculous “How can you eat like that?” conversations with another guy.
I’m currently watching Battlestar Galactica. It’s an awfully smart and engaging show. It’s also a show whose Commander Apollo represents a normally unattainable ideal of male beauty. Does this send me hurtling into depression? Of course not. Does it make me slightly more self-conscious about my own body? Yes, and within limits that’s actually a good thing. I support critiques of insane versions of beauty that hurt people: extreme obesity or extreme thinness are ideals that hurt both the icons and their followers. We know about the connection between mainstream representations of women, and eating disorders. There can and should be respect for all body types. But Stallings’s body type has nothing to do with the weight she was gaining; that has to do with American eating culture, which (even for people like Stallings, who don’t eat fast food) oscillates between tragic behavior (such as anorexia) and a series of normal habits that cause most people to gain weight.
Some of my friends know that I went through twelve years of orthodonture in order not to have missing teeth and a gappy smile. We’re talking painful, bloody surgery, plus unsightly braces, rubber bands, the works. Absolutely none of this was necessary for health reasons; it was undertaken solely so that other people could feel more comfortable with my smile. After going through all that, how could I possibly criticize a friend who wanted plastic surgery? To be honest, one of the most frustrating parts of the process was all the people who needed to reassure themselves that the social benefits I received from fake teeth were a result of my having more confidence.
In my post on fashion, I argued that we should maintain a certain irony in our response to beauty. I continue to believe that, just as I believe we should maintain a certain irony towards intelligence; no single quality defines a person, and we should never make absolute demands of other people. We are also free to critique representations of gender we find disturbing. I, for one, dislike the monotone confidence of Mr. BIG in Sex and the City, and Dr. McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy. But Twisty’s thesis that Stallings’s story represents some kind of betrayal, an idea Stallings herself seems to believe, is a vision of society without solicitude, and that isn’t even possible in the blogosphere.
* * *
Update: I just read the hilarious “About This Blog” section of “I Blame The Patriarchy.” First of all, Twisty’s very smart, so maybe I’ll browse a few of her other posts. Second, were she to read this entry, I think she would file it under “But men experience that, too!” So let me promise you that my point is not merely that men also experience social pressure; truly, under many circumstances, they experience a lot less pressure than women do. My point is that Twisty is presenting us with an ideal of absolute indifference to the desires of others, whereas I would say good relationships of all kinds are based partly on a measured concern for those desires.
If you, dear readers, have an idea of where else I might look for better feminism, let me know.
if it makes you feel any better, later on in BSG (I swear I’m not ruining anything exciting or important) Lee gets fat. And then Adama calls him a fat-ass. It’s so awesome.
Unfortunately this is a comment without content, but: have you noticed that your new entries are showing up as comments on your old entries? Why [the hell] is that?
Tomemos, I haven’t a clue. It’s totally annoying, and as a fellow WordPress blogger, if you can figure out how to avoid it I’d be delighted to know.
Brandon, that is completely awesome.
If you, dear readers, have an idea of where else I might look for better feminism, let me know.
there is no twisty but Twisty. She’s the smartest, funniest, most popular feminist blogger in the whole school. and as Twisty goes, so goes the blogosphere.
However, for alternate takes on feminist theory and practice, you may enjoy “Bitch|lab” (blog.pulpculture.org), “Fetch Me My Axe” (fetchmemyaxe.blogspot.com) , “Ilyka Damen” (ilykadamen.blogspot.com) and “Feministe” (feministe.us/blog).
K, that’s Twisty’s game. She is really good (i.e, snarktastic) at ordering folks out of her party. It’s infuriating, then you ignore it, because it’s the internets.
I second all of the links from antiprincess, also Women of Color Blog, which you already know about from Oaxaca blogging, and Feminish, which often has fun historical analysis. For another pro-feminist guy’s perspective, Slant Truth is worth checking out.
Lee the fat-ass is truly amazing. He even gorges on donut holes! I am so comforted to know that donut holes exist in space.
Stallings is asking for it; after all, the last sentence of her article is about how her restored vanity enabled her to “forget” about feminism. Who could possibly support that?
You know is positive killing me right now? The fact that I didn’t write the closing sentence of the article. It was an edit tacked on by an editor at Sirens Magazine. Granted, I approved the edit and therefore deserve every drop of fury the article has sparked, but it’s certainly frustrating.
You can read the original version of the article (with the original ending) over here.
petitpoussin, need we remind you that no spoilers are allowed? That goes double for pastry spoilers.
I second all of the recommendations made so far and add The Happy Feminist and Hugo Schwyzer.
And even if you disagree with some of her points Twisty is still worth reading just because she’s so clever and funny.
per IBTP: oh, don’t get me started (again).
anyway, also try:
Tiny Cat Pants
Faux Real Tho! (Lauren, original feministe owner’s new blog)
antiprincess’ own blog, “I Shame the Matriarchy”
and you can always browse the Carnival of Feminists: currently in its 26th edition, and chock full of good stuff in the archives. (many if not all of the host sites may be what you’re looking for as well).
…there’s also “feministing,” of course.
“Shakespeare’s Sister” is more general politics at least these days i think, but, well, title alone, i think you can guess there’s a heavy feminist slant: also likely to be more what you’d have in mind, from the sound of it.
…”Being Amber Rhea”
“Pseudo-Adrienne’s Liberal Feminsit Bias”
“La Lubu” (currently guesting at feministe–all the guest bloggers are kickass and their other blogs are worth checking out as well)
“Alas a Blog”
and on the other side of the pond, Mind the Gap!
My goodness. First of all, thanks to Ariel for posting a link to the earlier, better version of her article.
Thanks so much to Petitpoussin, Starfoxy, and Belledame for providing links. I’m stunned by the quality and variety of the work being done here. I’m currently on my fifth cup of coffee just to keep up. Here’s the stuff that I added to my RSS feed (not counting Lubu, who I somehow couldn’t add):
Women of Color Blog
Tiny Cat Pants
Faux Real Tho!
Being Amber Rhea
Alas, a blog
So, that’s great. I picked these on the basis of the following pros and cons, all of which were applied not to the best posts ever, but simply to the first ones I found:
Blogs that had a personal element, since I do that too. Blogs that were funny.
Being Wiccan. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I actually am one of about 3 people on the planet to have attended a Wiccan high school, and the scars aren’t fully healed. This wasn’t a deal-breaker though — I realize that Solstice is nigh and we just had Halloween.
Being generally political/liberal instead of specifically feminist/whatever. Basically, I’m going to get all my news about Diebold from the Punk Ass Blog, and let the rest go, simply because life is short and I already have a comfy chair on the far left fringe.
Being badly formatted. I’m such a jerk about this.
Oddly enough, the two guys I read up on didn’t impress me. Slant Truth had a terrible thing on whether Prince or Michael Jackson was cooler, when the answer is so obviously Prince that I had to listen to “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” about six times until I calmed down.
Hugo Schwyzer seems like a solid political thinker, but the stuff about his faith was so front-and-center that I eventually got a bit bored. Plus, he’s into astrology and personality tests, which I don’t dig.
And hey, I’ll keep reading Twisty. She’s got a way with the language, at least.
And hey, I’ll keep reading Twisty. She’s got a way with the language, at least.
I will immediately cop to some serious jealousy (not even admiration or envy but straight up green-eyed-monsterism) – I would give my right arm for her mad word skilz. I’m sure that shows in my own work.
There seems to be a sort of cycle of dissent at IBTP – you find her site, you get all engaged, you start to participate, you feel really energized and alive and think “oh, finally, I’ve come home! yay!” and then you point out a tiny little point of departure that you have, or an eensy-weensy difference of opinion, or a microscopic correction of some sort – and suddenly folks jump on you like you’re a fumbled football. Maybe Twisty stoops to comment, maybe she doesnt – it doesn’t really matter. soon you can’t comment on anything without getting ground into paste. you get disillusioned and leave, but can’t stop going back to read her anyway.
I wonder how many former commenters are still lurkers.
pardon my hijack:
but I actually am one of about 3 people on the planet to have attended a Wiccan high school,
if you feel comfortable sharing your experiences, I would be very grateful. I had no idea such a thing existed.
I’m not especially a Wiccan, p.s. more of an ecelectic spiritual seeker with undifferentiated neopagan leanings.
Slant Truth is really worth a longer look, promise.
(now i’m sort of morbidly curious as to which one of the cons mine fell under…
don’t mind me. vanity, vanity, all is vanity)
you’re not alone…
per Twisty: I have several rants about her and her school of feminism in my archives; my take is distinctly les gnerous than is antip’s; but then on the whole i expect i am a distinctly less generous person. as for writing pretty: more and more lately, i think: that and a buck-fifty. yes, style is nice, but content?
what you ought to know: besides her own idiosyncracies that particularly send me up the wall (cold; unresponsive; creepy, increasingly cultlike following; nasty tendency to bully other women which has alienated a number of other feminists that pretty much share her ideological standpoint), her ideology is -radical- feminism, which for most people these days has a very specific meaning; it doesn’t just mean “feminist who is far more committed to the Cause/is totally awesome, d00d.” TV Guide version (someone can leap in to correct): the -original- oppression is that of Class Man over Class Woman (radfem split off from Marxism and adopted, but well radically changed the usage of some terms); the method of this oppression is through sexual domination, i.e. rape. which for most if not all radical feminists includes “pornstitution,” which they see as expressions of sexual domination/rape, symbolically if not also actually literally.
TF is…well, she’s kind of sui generis in certain ways; certainly she’s a lot more uh detached than a lot of women who take this stance; but by and large that is her worldview, i think.
iow, the “radical” refers to that particular theory; strike at rape/pronstitution and you strike the root. and also, the sexual domination is the root of all other oppressions (you may or may not have seen the “gender trumps race” kerfuffle some time ago).
not everyone who calls herself a radical feminist buys this; it is possible to use “radical” to mean a broader interpretation of seeking out the root; but i do think it’s fair to say that for the vast majority of folks using this term, they’re pretty sure they’ve already identified it, the root that is, of the Patriarchy.
First of all, belledame222 and antiprincess, y’all are both champs just for stopping by and commenting eloquently. Of course I’ve linked you. Obviously, this is a blog more about my life and my work in literature & philosophy, but feminism is an important part of that.
I’ll definitely give some details about high school when I get a second to do so. It may not be right now because I’m tied up in knots getting ready to give a paper on Hegel. High school in Northern California was a completely fascinating experience, and in fact, if I leave anything out, that’s cuz I want to use it as material elsewhere.
There’s a lot of prickliness in the blogosphere, and I won’t be all that surprised if I get treated oddly by Twisty. But how can I turn the whole passive-aggressive process down a priori? It seems like such fun! Anyhow, her response to my comments on her site was very measured. (Because we’re in Stage 1, I suppose.)
I hadn’t encountered the term “pornstitution” until this week, as I was reading through feminist blogs. It fails to grab me. As an academic, I get exposed to a lot of utopian accounts of alternative sexualities (e.g. people telling you how important the film Secretary was), and I also get exposed to Dworkin. I find the former sort of amusing (or, after a certain point, boring), and the latter annoying.
Rape and sexual violence are problems we can fight in the present, and some pieces of media are incitements to rape and sexual violence. That’s the sort of thing that kids in middle school should already know.
It seems to me that the root of the problem has as much to do with capitalism as with the patriarchal tradition. Many of the debates that rightly draw the attention of feminists — debates over abortion, the media, sex work, health and weight, child-rearing and childcare, and so on — turn out to be closely tied to problems of economic inequality, as well as gender inequality.
YMMV re Twisty – it coulda been just me.
good luck on your Hegel paper.
This is from N. Pepperell on the subject of the patriarchy:
I’ve generally been uneasy with the concept of “patriarchy” as an
analytical tool – mainly because it seems difficult to extract from it
something that would grasp historically specific forms of gender
domination that are reproduced by determinate practices in the present
moment in time… So, in addition to recognising the
mutual-implicatedness of specific forms of gender and class inequality,
I feel that there’s also the potential to reach for something more
historically specified when we speak about gender domination – and,
relatedly, about our visions of what emancipation would mean… Not
that I have a better term, mind you… I just have this thought every
time I get into a discussion about “patriarchy” as an object of
(Here ends N. Pepperell’s comment. I second it wholeheartedly, and appreciate the common sense way she distances herself from the more glib elements of certain cultural critiques.)
Yet after all of this, there you are, Kugelmass, the second commenter at Twisty’s blog, offering your agreement like a puppy returning a thrown stick and waiting for his head to scratched. http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2006/11/07/a-lite-traipse-through-a-petard-field/ Oh, well, that’s typical of those who’ve sought the approval of “the smartest, funniest, most popular feminist blogger in the whole school.” And when that approval didn’t happen, becoming part of the antitwisty (something like a Blogborg) is typical, too.
I’m not really trying not to be typical. Actually, I see this blog as a strong statement of protest against the nonconformist hordes. Although it is a strange feeling to encounter so many aunts — first Twisty, now my other, “cool” aunt.
You know, there may be many ways in which to enter into a Borg, and to varying degrees; but at least last I checked I wasn’t naming myself after someone else, or vice-versa.
Ever consider that just maybe the reason TF has people calling themselves “Bendy Quicker” and “Blamerella” among her syco-I mean regular commenters is because she -likes- it that way? I don’t know anyone else who has that particular dynamic going on. It’s rather gross, frankly.
And you know what’s really funny about the whole goddam thing: the very same people who swear up down and sideways that no no NO we wouldn’t -dream- of anything so horribly Patriarchal, so inegalitarian, as BDSM. no power exchange here! move along, nothing to see…
well, i guess you know if no one’s actually having an orgasm -and- no one acknowledges that this is what’s actually going on, you know, it hurts so good! but in a completely egalitarian, -good-for-you- sort of way! we don’t even need a safeword!–then it doesn’t count.
and yeah, exactly: you know, i have “aunties” that I love, but I chose them as such because they, you know, love me back.
I’m not certain some people are capable of it, to be honest; or even basic human warmth.
and by the way, I need to say this for once and for all: “spinster aunt” is NOT synonymous with “lesbian,” comfortable as that thought may be for I am beginning to suspect quite a number of straight people.
anyway, what i was going to say originally: yes, I agree with this:
>It seems to me that the root of the problem has as much to do with capitalism as with the patriarchal tradition. Many of the debates that rightly draw the attention of feminists — debates over abortion, the media, sex work, health and weight, child-rearing and childcare, and so on — turn out to be closely tied to problems of economic inequality, as well as gender inequality.>
of the people mentioned here, Bitch Lab has probably talked most about this–she doesn’t ID entirely with socialist feminism i don’t think, but it’s one of her stronger influences. you probably have enough links, but there are more socialist feminists in the UK, I think–Winter at Mind the Gap! mentioned, also stroppyblog and the (unfortunately now apparently defunct) Volsunga.
the discussion Lauren started on class at Faux Real Tho was a good step, too, i think.
okay, clicked over to the IBTP thread in question.
and you know, too: -most- people i know understand that in fact it is possible to hold more than one opinion about any given person -at the same time-; and further that criticizing or even just god forbid publicly disagreeing with someone does not therefore mean one might not -also- have something admiring to say to/about the person; most people just see this as, you know, life. as opposed to, what is it? some sort of betrayal or something?
Then again, I -try- not to spend too much time hanging around cults if I can possibly help it…insidious little fuckers though they are…
… … … … … … …
yeah, CoolAunt I’m a jilted suitor, so to speak, and an extremely sore loser. what’s your point?
Belledame, thanks for the support! Of course it’s as you say: I agreed with Twisty’s latest post, and was annoyed by the one previous. (I was neutral towards the pictures of the baby and the caterpillar.) Similarly, none of my friends voted exactly the same way as me.
I agree that a power dynamic is a power dynamic, and that it is often better to express such a dynamic as a relational game of pleasures, than as a “politics” with an authoritarian underbelly. (cf. The Passion of Michel Foucault)
One of the best ways to avoid the turf battles that make blogging no fun, is to stay loyal to the complexity of our reaction to a particular site. It behooves us to be polemical about issues, but not necessarily about other bloggers.
I’ll follow up on the links; they do seem to be more conscious of class in the UK, sometimes. So say we both, me because earlier today I was listening to “Common People.”
Incidentally, I wanted to comment on your newest entry, belledame, but Blogger is having another fit. So I will soon.
Oh, and of course not all lesbians are spinster aunts. I sort of wish Twisty had stuck with just “gentleman farmer,” that’s a lot funnier.
Part of the problem with calling yourself a “spinster aunt” is that it gives you a permanently marginalized, rather one-dimensional fictional persona. A real spinster aunt would want to describe herself more complexly, even as she adopted and poked fun at the stereotype. It may sound strange, but I started blogging to gain access to certain kinds of authenticity, and that (for me) means discovering in myself a cacophonous mixture of privileged and marginalized belonging.
With some few exceptions (I love me some Cap’n Dyke, for instance), I’m generally not impressed by the idea that online personas are…
well, no, actually, instead, put it this way: I’ve never been overwhelmingly impressed by the whole, “Oh, I know so and so is an asshole online, but sie’s -nothing- like that irl! a total sweetheart, really!” If you’re an asshole online, well of course you may well not -only- be an asshole; but, dammit, you sure are an asshole.
mostly i really dislike the whole “oh, it’s only a game” business, -particularly- from someone who claims to be all about capital-R Revolution. not to mention: I don’t like this game; the rules aren’t transparent, and the goal isn’t what it claims to be.
my own axe grinding here (surprise, surprise) wrt spinster aunts, radical feminist lesbians a la TF, yadda, is that it helps shore up the comfortable (and highly patriarchal) belief that lesbians really don’t care about sex so much, because -women-, free of demanding Menz, wouldn’t care about sex so much; because women simply don’t have much in the way of desires of our very own. certainly TF herself has said plenty of things that at minimum don’t exactly counter this quaint belief; she kind of lurches back and forth from a sort of cynical laissez-faire, “is that all there is” attitude to quasi-evolutionary psychology (I swear i saw at least one post wherein she compared womens’ need for sex to whipped cream on a cappucino: nice, but really not necessary) to classic Sister Mary Ignatius-esque expressions of disgust. Viz: her launching of the blowjob wars. Oh, icky icky, gag me with a Phallus.
and -when- that happened, part of the defense of her came in the form of, “well, of course she finds blowjobs disgusting; she’s a lesbian.”
Which, well, no; mostly, you know, lesbians in -my- universe just don’t spend that much time concerning ourselves about blowjobs, assuming we don’t actually enjoy them (giving or receiving) ourselves. The -real- problem was her trolltastic, nasty behavior; my own increasing irritation with the sheer heterocentricity of the whole goddam thing is a sideline to shitty behavior in general, i expect; but still, yeah, i do think that matters.
I was just wondering if you could find me that link where she said that women don’t need sex.
Did she really say that?
Well… I’m just going to go hide in my closet with my box full of sex toys.
anyway, i agree with you in general wrt positions vs. personality (you know, you really might want to give Bitch Lab another look when you get more time; I think you’d actually have quite a bit to talk about); it’s just, you know…well, put it this way: I have a number of problems with TF, and in a way the ideology is actually the least of it. at the same time, I freely accept that it may mainly be my own mishegos (although i know that some other people share my visceral reaction at this point). In a way though it’s got very little to do with politics per se.
to clarify wrt what i said about BL: we’ve had that same argument, she and I. mostly though, I meant: Foucault, postmodern theory, examinations of capitalism: this is all right up her alley.
Well, that’s the other part of all this.
One of the other main radical feminist bloggers, Heart, actually calls her space “The Margins.” i think there is this idea, you know, that freedom exists in the margins precisely because they -are- the margins.
trouble is, if you’re really making claims for revolutionary transformation, sooner or later you’re going to have to figure out a way to move from margin to center (as bell hooks once put it).
otherwise you’re just basically huddling together and licking wounds, telling comforting stories to each other, it seems to me.
Pingback: Roughtheory.org » Fragments on Critical Spaces and Times
Belledame, those are a great series of responses. Of course there comes a point where one might stop reading and responding to a certain blog; I’m reminded of the great line from Hurlyburly: “Oh, [insert blog name], I’m going to need a microscope to find your good points.”
The blowjob post was so annoying (that’s when I first became aware of Twisty, because Acephalous riffed on it.) Actually, though I didn’t want to bother resurrecting that old Twisty classic, the post up top is meant as a response to the blowjob post as well as the dieting post, since both of them reflect an antipathy towards desire.
I really like the bell hooks reference. Revolutionary movements that set their sights on a better society should write from an imaginary space without margin or center (because no egalitarian movement can actually seek to preserve a fringe). In other words, in the midst of being utterly concrete and practical about the circumstances and strategies of the marginalized, one is still writing from a position outside the margins.
Otherwise, one cannot do anything with victories, like Bart Simpson going crazy with nothing to rebel against.
I’ll look into BitchLab some more.
FWIW, N. Pepperell’s post at Rough Theory (see above) is definitely worth checking out.
yes it is. responded to it at the site.
It’s funny; not long ago I was reading a very old post at Twisty’s old site that -almost- made me sort of sympathetic toward her for the first time in a very long while. In it, she was talking about how her family–I think she actually used the word “Calvinist;” certainly it wasn’t the first time i’d had that word flash across my mind when reading one of her posts–anyway, how her family didn’t really get that eating could be a sensual pleasure, what a tragic shame that was.
and of course that’s so: eating is a delight, and Puritanism, while it tends to focus on the more erotic side of sensuality in its frownieness, doesn’t really favor -any- sort of sensual enjoyment for its own sake, that’s quite true.
so reading that put a lot more of her posts in perspective (as does the revelation that her father is/was a Republican self-made “captain of industry” who’s apparently big with the control and the getting other people to kowtow to him). and you know, honestly, I think if she’d stuck to food writing (she used to be a restaurant reviewer, I believe), I’d have liked her a lot better.
the problem here is, as they say, the lack of “examination.” and of empathy. okay, your chosen form of sensuality is okey-dokey; the stuff you -don’t- happen to enjoy, well, no one -needs- it, not really; and in fact it’s probably detrimental, away with it.
one of these days i really do need to do that post on food and sex.
more meanly: i remember someone else made the speculation that perhaps there was another sort of connection between Twisty’s take on -oral- sex and her former life as a palate-based critic…
As you know, I am new to the blogosphere. I find this list of feminist blogs overwhelming. Could you (or someone else) make a midly annotated top-five feminist blogs list? I would appreciate it.
well, the “big” more-or-less mainstream sites are:
actually you could probably just start there.
…whoops, sorry, wrong link for “feministe,” go here:
Blech, belledame, don’t recommend feministing. Feministe is far superior.
And what do you ladies think of I Blame the Patriarchy and Bitch Ph.D.?
Bitch Ph.D. is good, altho’ for whatever reason I don’t go there very often.
only reason i mention feministing is it’s big and it’s a group blog, JV has a book coming out; a lot of other people are reading it; it’s probably reasonably representative of a certain demographic within third-wave feminism. for whatever reason i never seem to get around to reading much there, so i can’t speak to the quality so well. also i seem to recall she keeps a decent connection to (mainstream) activism, in the linkroll if nothing else; and i -thought- they did put out calls to action every so often; i could be wrong. like i said, i don’t actually go there very often.
feministe is excellent, yes, and probably better wrt diversity and depth, especially lately. i probably go there most often of all the “big” blogs.
my opinion of IBTP can be gleaned pretty well from my previous comments here, i think. shrug. she writes well; she certainly articulates a particular viewpoint more eloquently (and wittily) than most of the others espousing it. how relevant this POV is in the wider world is, not to mention you know actually -helpful- to actual women, well, let’s just say mileage varies. also the erm atmosphere there is a bit..different…from most other online “communities,” I find (and I’ve not been the only one). at minimum if you’re going to read there I recommend not trying to argue with most of the commenters there, unless you enjoy banging your head against brick walls.
actually, much as i have -serious- problems with her personally as well as her ideology, in many ways i think Heart (Womens’ Space/The Margins) is a more serious writer/activist than Twisty, who’s more appealing to mainstream sensibilities (at least at first glance) but is also not really doing much more than online wanking, pretty much.
actually i’d recommend Alas A Blog before either of those, cruelly bereft of the radfem perspective though they are since the Great Pr0n Scandal. it’s always been more multi-issue than strictly feminist, and will probably lean even more that way now, i expect; but honestly i see that as a good thing: far more attention to diversity than a number of other places.
Thanks for all of the great info.
Sorry that I’ve been unable to write anything because of the conference. JaneAwake, in addition to the commenters here (Petitpoussin, Fetch Me My Axe, and I Shame The Matriarchy), I’ve got a few thoughts:
4. Being Amber Rhea
5. Women of Color Blog
6. Persephone’s Box
7. Tiny Cat Pants
I agree that Feministe is better than Feministing. Some of the posts on Feministing are simply condescending. Feministe does a good job collecting relevant material from all over the web. Women of Color Blog is another good place for “news.”
Amber Rhea is witty, and she puts her personality into her entries. She writes well on diverse subjects; for example, she and I both loved Shortbus.
Twisty seems to be as much a stylist as anything; aside from troll-style bursts, she tends to write elegant fluff.
Bitch PhD covers a wide range of subjects; feminism is important to her, and she’s written some almost canonical stuff on it. I have her linked as much for the “PhD” side of her personality.
Tiny Cat Pants is right on that edge of self-indulgent. She writes decent one-liners and sometimes sets off good thread firecrackers.
Persephone’s box is long-form. I don’t always agree, but I appreciate the amount of effort.
you could also put “Faux Real, Tho!” along with Feministe; again, Lauren’s the originator of feministe, and she still comes out with a lot of good stuff. I love Tiny Cat Pants, but in terms of actual action and getting people together, I might go for FRT first; TCP is as much a personal blog as anything else.
so yeah, then, if it’s top five, in no particular order i’d probably say, currently:
Women of Color (technically i don’t know that she calls herself “feminist,” for historical reasons, but it’s very well worth reading and obviously very relevant to womens’ issues, in ways the others don’t tend to cover so much)
Faux Real Tho!
…fifth at your discretion.
Okay, I’ll nominate a fifth, as portal to your discretion: The Carnival of Feminists homepage, to browse at leisure.
As a fellow wearer of orthodontia for six years followed by 10+ years of retainer wearing, I must ask: do you really think your braces served no health purpose? Does your orthodontist share this opinion? If she does, you picked the wrong one. Having your teeth correctly aligned makes a huge difference in how they wear and in how well you can chew once you get old. It’s nice to have a pretty smile, and I’ve definately noticed that good teeth are a class marker, but there is so much more at stake.
I think you are missing some subtle points about the difference b/t men’s appearance and women’s appearance. First off, men and women are not equal. We should be equal, but we are not. Men certainly experience pressure to be attractive. I’ve noticed male movie stars getting buffer and buffer over the years, and I don’t see this as a positive trend. Well, I mean, it’s nice to look at and all, but subjecting men to the same unrealistic standards that women are subjected to is not my idea of progress. However, even with the increased pressure to look good, it is still women who are judged, not as human, but as fuckable vs unfuckable based on their appearance. Men can look like slobs and sport a pot belly without being marginalized. You might not get a date, but you will still be listened to in meetings, you will still get the counter person’s attention, you will still be able to walk down the street without being jostled, and you can still feel entitled to a date. A woman only gets these priviledges if she is fuckable, and they are removed if she indicates that she is not interested in fucking, say by not plastering a smile on her face, reading a book, carrying groceries, walking, breathing, etc. Women don’t have the luxery of choosing to look nice in order to be pleasing. Women have to look nice in order even to be visible.
Keep reading Twisty and Bitch. Bitch, by virtue of her particular writing style, does a much better job of highlighting subtleties.
Frumious, you’re right that orthodontia has medical as well as appearance benefits…but then, so does dieting, if done sensibly. I think that there are places where our standards of beauty (as long as they’re not taken to the extreme) make sense, insofar as a well-maintained body is considered attractive. (Obviously this is not meant to say that those who are attracted to overweight people are wrong in any way, or any more irrational than the rest of us.)
Plastic surgery is more iffy territory, since it usually is done purely for beauty reasons, and often has some considerably patriarchal elements to it (breast implants remove all sensation from the breasts, e.g.). So I differ from Joe: I would advise a friend not to have plastic surgery (indeed, I have done so), if I believed that her dissatisfaction with her body was caused by external pressures which couldn’t be erased by changing the shape of her nose.
First of all, here’s the response by N. Pepperell, who continues to be frustrated in her efforts to comment here.
* * *
I just wanted to pick up briefly on this point from Frumious B:
Men can look like slobs and sport a pot belly without being marginalized. You might not get a date, but you will still be listened to in meetings, you will still get the counter person’s attention, you will still be able to walk down the street without being jostled, and you can still feel entitled to a date. A woman only gets these priviledges if she is fuckable, and they are removed if she indicates that she is not interested in fucking, say by not plastering a smile on her face, reading a book, carrying groceries, walking, breathing, etc. Women don’t have the luxery of choosing to look nice in order to be pleasing. Women have to look nice in order even to be visible.
It’s a complicated issue, whether particular standards of attractiveness are necessary for women to gain attention in meetings, etc. I have no problem with the claim that women are subject to more pressures around their appearance (or with the claim that additional pressures are recently being placed on men in this same direction). But the way I tend to understand the problem of who gets attention in a meeting is more along the lines of thinking that women walk a narrower line than men: a narrower range of variation is “permitted” from women than from men, before problems start arising.
I personally don’t have any problem attracting attention in a room – or controlling a room when it’s needed, for that matter. And – trust me on this one – this has nothing to do with maintaining some particular ideal of attractiveness or availability… It probably does have something to do with things like having a naturally low voice register, learned to project the expectation that people will listen to me, cultivated the ability to demonstrate that I have understood positions, even if I disagree with them, developed the skill, when necessary, to signal nonverbally and verbally to interrupt other people, learned to allow emotions directed at me in public meetings to pass to one side, while I focus on substantive points, etc. With the exception of my voice, which falls naturally in a low register, all of these skills had to be learned and practiced over quite a long period of time – so they aren’t “natural” to me by any means, but they are nevertheless masterable skills.
Men need to learn these sorts of things too, if they want to command a room (I’m making no judgments here about the desirability of these behaviours: I’m just speaking pragmatically about skills that are empirically valued in public discussion at the present time) – and many men never successfully learn to do this. But my sense is that the parameters aren’t so narrow for men who make the attempt: they aren’t as likely to be characterised as “strident”, for example, if they assert themselves in discussion, or as “mousey” because they wait to hear someone else out… etc. The level of micrological adjustment seems higher for women – and, of course, there’s also the issue of gendered patterns in the starting positions: more men are more likely to have early encouragement in more aggressive self-assertion in public spaces, etc.
And then there’s the fact that all the practice, training and verbal skill in the world can’t prevent someone from invoking gender status aggressively if they want to do so, hammering in the issue of physical difference: I remember one online IT forum where, every time I was involved in an argument that became heated, someone would start a thread with my handle, and then post this same revolting pornographic pic of a woman’s face covered in… well, you can imagine… Women’s effectiveness in public conversational spaces depends on people not “trumping” the conversational interaction with this kind of crass physical reassertion of gender hierarchy – or, at least, on other people’s condemning the move if it happens… Neither of these is a foregone conclusion, unfortunately… And this risk remains as long as a higher level of general gender equality isn’t established across the board.
(And now for my reply…)
Frumious, I’m not positive that I’m missing the subtleties you mention. I wholeheartedly agree that women are much more subject than men to discrimination if they don’t live up to social standards for their appearance. I meant to indicate that in my post, when I wrote that women face much greater pressures than men. We’re not at a point of “equal discrimination,” nor would I see that kind of equality as desirable.
I am sympathetic to all stories of discrimination by appearance, including the ones you and N. Pepperell have added to this thread, and all the responses over at IBTP to Twisty’s post. In reading them, it’s impossible not to discern systematic sexism — for sure it’s not by accident that women have more anecdotes to share than men.
Part of the reason that I want to insist on the dual recognition that a) women are much worse off, and b) that men experience many of the same things, only to a lesser degree, and less often, is that I think (as indicated in an earlier comment) many of the features of the “patriarchy” are a result of capitalism, and the temptation to see other people in terms of their value (e.g. whether one can get some sexual pleasure out of them). Thus it is inevitable that we will start to see men discussed in the same offensive, instrumental terms — this is why I have such a thing about Sex and the City. The only way out is to start separating desire from commerce, and seeing it as something expressed in many ways (not just intercourse) that lacks any particular “purpose.”
Subtlety is such an important criterion here, which is why it might be unhelpful to claim that women are discarded as soon as they’re discovered to breathe, walk, read, and buy groceries. A certain percentage of men (and women) are attracted to women who like books. One thing I appreciate about N. Pepperell’s comment is that her use of concepts like “narrower parameters” show sexism as a real force interacting with other things that influence the attentiveness and responsiveness of others, and also as a refuge for some men when they find themselves getting frustrated.
I would only respond to Tomemos by saying that I wouldn’t advise against any kind of body modification, including plastic surgery and orthodonture, before I understood the specific situation. The very fact that you (Tomemos) have actually advised someone not to get a surgery, implies that you knew them well enough to evaluate their reasons and the likely outcome. Under such circumstances, I might have done the same as you.
As for the health benefits of orthodonture, what you (Frumious) say about wear to the teeth is probably true. I wasn’t missing teeth that would’ve made it hard to chew, and (get ready for the icky part) the result of the braces and surgeries was increased decay and a serious jaw infection. At the very least, there’s nothing definitive we can say about my particular mouth and orthodontic regimen in terms of the benefit to my health.
I’m excited to keep reading posts by Bitch PhD and Twisty.
>many of the features of the “patriarchy” are a result of capitalism, and the temptation to see other people in terms of their value
See, and this is where you and Twisty, along with most other radfems (some do slide closer to a kind of socialist feminism, but the American bloggers in particular really don’t seem to): even assuming they do address “capitalism” per se at all (never have seen TF do it), the core principle of radfem is that it’s the other way around: capitalism is a result of patriarchy. It’s not a trivial distinction, actually, and it ends up having a lot of ramifications wrt realpolitik, alliances, etc.
Actually… it is the other way around.
It doesn’t make sense that capitalism showed up out of thin air and created patriarchy. Tribes were taken over by “dominant” males LONG before capitlism existed. Patriarchs created capitalism.
So… I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here, because it isn’t factual and it doesn’t make any sense.
If your point is that capitalism perpetuates patriarchy and makes misogyny worse, then pretty much all feminists, except for the uber liberal (libertarian) feminists, would agree with you that it is true.
However, anybody who says capitalism is a consequence of patriarchy isn’t far off the mark.
“you and Twisty..would differ” i meant to say, obviously
Yes, but the problem with people following social rituals and such is assuming that everyone has the same desires, which simply isn’t true.
Also, you say that you had your teeth taken care of because you wanted to please other people with your smile… I suspect that isn’t truly the case. If you didn’t want gaps in your teeth, then you felt inadequit because a part of your body wasn’t in mint condition, like men who go through different treatments for “erectile dysfuntion”. Actually, that is called getting old. Age isn’t “bad for your health”, it just means you are going to die eventually and that your body is not in mint condition any more. Plenty of men with erectile dysfuntion can still ejaculate and have sex, besides, no one outside of your bedrom or doctor’s office needs to know about it. But many men still get “treatment” because they feel inadequit. That has nothing to do with wanting to please everybody else, but everything to do with pleasing one’s self.
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with wanting to please one’s self, as a matter of fact that’s better. If I’m healthy and comfortable with my own physical features, then I wouldn’t need to go under plastic surgery for any reason. The reason most women get breast implants and face lifts and all of that riciculous stuff is because they are under the insane impression that wrinkles and sagged breasts are terrible. Yound women and women in their 30s do this because they are under insane pressure to conform to whatever the latest fad is, in order to be pleasing to “the average guy”. It’s ridiculous.
Of course finding someone that pleases you and that you please in return is important, but you don’t do that by following stupid fads in your culture.
No one is happy with themselves if their weight is atrocious and they never groom themselves, period. So obviously, no one else will like it. So most people take care of themselves. The idea that it is acceptable that some people go so far as to change their physical features because they are generically considered ugly (bigger noses on women because of their ethnicity, having a “flat cheast”, etc) is just ridiculous. These women do this stuff because they want to have physical attributes that qualify one as a “sexy person” because a woman’s value is highly sexualized (so are men, to some degree). If she wants to be pleasing to herself and someone, she should go find someone that accepts her body the way it is and that will make her more comfortable with herself, rather than going through ridiculous and dangerous procedures that DO IN FACT BETRAY FEMINISM because it perpetuates the cultural trend of women needing to fit themselves into this tiny box of what is aesthetically and sexually acceptable. It is crazy.
Just for the record, I am not against men getting treatment for erectile dysfuntion. Although I feel it is unnecessary in order to enjoy sex, I can understand how it can be humiliating in bed and depressing for some men considering that our culture sends subliminal messages that only an erect penis is an aesthetically pleasing one. I can understand that not having this function restored can ruin relationships, especially in the rare cases where some men do not have the bodily function of ejaculating without a sufficient amount of blood puting pressure in the penis that helps him to ejaculate. These cases are different from trying to change physical features that they attained from their genes.
Joseph, I have all of the characteristics you have listed except for a lower tonal voice range. Perhaps this is why in MY meetings nobody listens to me? I obviously have a female voice?
It’s funny how I can actually get into a serious discussion with someone when I am using an anonymous or ambiguous screen name, but when someone sees that I have tits the only responses I get are agression, neglect, and dissent.
I believe you’ve either missed the point or, in full consciousness, neatly tiptoed around it.
Just so we’re clear: the characteristics you thought I listed were actually listed by N. Pepperell, a woman. The comment makes this absolutely clear; I was quoting a blogger friend who was having trouble getting her two cents to appear on this post.
You should try being a more careful reader before you take it upon yourself to educate people who have “missed the point.”
It’s certainly not your prerogative to explain to me why I had orthodontic surgery, nor do braces and dental implants have anything to do with erectile dysfunction brought on by aging.
Finally, I certainly don’t assume that the same things are pleasing to all people, and the post never makes such a claim. It is wonderful to me that we live amidst a diversity of desires.
“So let me promise you that my point is not merely that men also experience social pressure; truly, under many circumstances, they experience a lot less pressure than women do”
And yet men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women.
Let’s never forget that there are two sides to every coin, and sexism and double standards do not just affect women. Men can and are also the losers in many sexist double standards, one example being that they are far more likely to be jailed than a woman for the same crime, and to receive a longer sentence.