Rad Fem and the things we learn …

My but what a fascinating education I’ve got recently.

My recent reblog about a trans lesbian being treated rather poorly by a cis lesbian, blah blah blah, let’s all be nice to each other (Cliff Notes version) … Well, the auto-twit about it got replied to by a group/blog – I’m still working out just who/what this is – @GIDwatch (sensitive and kind hearted souls may wish not to follow that link) calling me a “rapey prick pushing #cottonceiling”.  I had to look up cotton ceiling which lead me to discover a phenomena known as radical feminists, which after discussing it with friends I learnt was actually something else called “rad fem”.  It’s apparently rather rude of those women to spell the words out since, it would seem, they’re typically not very nice at all and the people who’d been known as radical feminists first want nothing to do with them.

Wow, these women are … something.  Ever seen PCU?  You know the Womynists (or is it Wymenists?  Whatever)?  Yeah, I get the impression some of these women saw it, and didn’t realise that it was a joke.

It seems to be a sort of misogynist AND misandrist group of phallophobics.

No, really, I’m trying to be nice, but follow the logic they seem to use:  All men are rapists, because [somehow] having a penis makes you a rapist.  Also they are adamant that possession of a penis, or the former possession of one, or having a Y chromosome regardless of anything else makes you a man and … I don’t know, maybe now you’ve got some kind of ghost penis – I couldn’t really follow some of that argument if my life depended upon it.  Essentially trans women aren’t women to the extent that they fight very hard against trans rights (they seem to be quite unaware of the existence of trans men).

The misandry is pretty covered by that.

Now the misogyny.  All women are victims and should hide from men.  Not the exact words, but essentially the root of their arguments.  See, they don’t seem to realise that women are the equals of men and can stand up to them, can prevent rape, etc.  Which is more misandry, they’re the sort that hurt ending this ‘rape culture’ they like to go on about by perpetuating it in all the worst ways, as they believe that only men can rape (or seem to at any rate, which is just as bad really); and by absolving everyone of responsibility – their arguments are dangerous for both sides because they give the women the idea that their being raped is inevitable, and the men are given an excuse to believe that they just can’t help it and it’s part of their nature so they may as well …

As an author I love to learn things about people.  This is the first time since reading about what the Nazis, Spanish Inquisition, and Salem witch hunts got up to that I rather regretted the discovery.

I really wish I could understand what makes these women so afraid, and so hateful.  Were they, perhaps, raped or molested?  Are they just bitter and petty by nature?  I wish I could think more charitable things about them, but their words are just that:  bitter hateful, cruel.  They are so harsh to men, and to trans women, to women who should dare to speak in favour of those two groups, etc.

And this just in:  YES they DO believe that only men can rape.  They replied to a twit I made.  Fascinating.  And their rationale for this does seem to indicate a phallophobic attitude.  Again, fascinating.

Frankly, I feel that things like this really hurt feminism on a couple of grounds.  First off, by being your stereotypical man hating feminazi by the definitions of those who hate feminists you legitimise the criticisms of feminism.  Secondly there’s the aforementioned dangers in belittling women as unable to protect themselves, and in belittling men into mindless rape machines but barely contained by aught but the diligence of women.  You hurt the men who are raped and trying to seek justice, or the women raped by women who might be trying to do the same.

Hatred and the denial of the rights of others is no way to have power; it’s how to shed power.  If you fear a thing, that thing controls you.  If you fear not a thing, it has no power over you.  Love is a tool that lets you share in power – any control that someone or some group you love has over you is given freely by yourself because it means you respect and trust.

To love your trans sister is simply to respect her.  You don’t have to like that she has a penis; you certainly don’t have to have sex with her!  That’s the voluntary control.  You allow her to tell you who she is and you give her the control of that by accepting who she is and show her the love and support she needs (remember, oppressed groups really ought to stand together).

Let’s look at history.  At slave societies, especially the one of the American South just before the civil war.

Who was actually in control there?

On the surface it would seem to be the slave owners.  They certainly were on paper, and they had the guns and educations, etc.  So obviously they’re the answer, aren’t they?  Yes, sort of, to a point.

See, they feared the slaves – some of them.  Those who respected the slaves had less fear; not no fear, just less.  See by respecting them, and some did so just keep with me on this as explaining that would be a very long post by itself, that group of slave owners had the respect of their slaves.  With that respect was a lessening of the fear of rebellion and uprising, BUT they still had to fear the slaves of those disrespectful slave owners.

The disrespectful slave owners were in terrible fear.  They were outnumbered something fierce by a bunch of people who were, by necessity, in pretty damned good shape and who might have known the terrain pretty damned well within a certain range, and who by necessity probably were better suited to survive in it than the owners.

Fear is why the slave owners tried so hard to oppress the slaves.  That fear ruled them.

Slave revolts in the ancient world were less common.  This is due to “slavery” being a rather different thing there, something far closer to an indentured servitude, for one thing.  Still they were slaves, and property.  But they did often have respect.  They could earn wages; they were sometimes the doctors or lawyers; their status as slave brought protections that some enjoyed and others chafed at the lack of freedom, but could buy their freedom since they were allowed to have money … Rome didn’t tend to fear its slaves until it adopted a model not so different from the American south.

Slavery is stupid.  Seriously.  No human should ever own another for any reason and in any capacity. The point of the history lesson is to show that we have to respect one another.  Right now LGBTQ and women are like the slaves.  Society has laws in place to hold us down to deny and reject who and what we are and to oppress that.  We’re chiselling away at that, but it’s there, little by little the members of the community and their family, friends, and supporters.  The fight is fought by those who are first class citizens – our underground railroad, so to speak, if we wish to carry the slavery comparison – as well as by the second class and downtrodden.  That’s important, too.  LGBTQ need the straights and the cis, because together the numbers may or may not be equal, but it’s not like the slave owners with the clear advantage of numbers going to the slaves – in a democratic world we have to respect each other and that class of the people around us who might see as ‘the enemy’.

It’s fine in a political campaign to say as you will about Communism, or Democrats, Republicans, Populists, etc.  That’s the point of political campaigns (though, even there, more might get accomplished if there was more and better mutual respect between parties and voters – mud slinging clouds issues and wastes time that could be spent on real solutions).  But when fighting for rights, when fighting for acceptance, we need to look around to see who out friends are.  Women are 51% of the population, as I recall, but I believe that’s world-wide.  There’re parts of Amereica, for examples, where we are in fact a minority.  And 51% is not a big advantage; we, therefore, should embrace and cherish those men who would stand with us and say “these women deserve respect, equality, etc” rather than pushing them away with cries of “rapists”.  After all, love is not sex; a lesbian can love a man as her brother, as her equal, as her friend … that love need not be romantic and sexual, that’s clearly for some lucky woman somewhere.

Trans, bi, it doesn’t matter.

“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

I don’t care if you’re Christian or not … I’m not.  Doesn’t change that it’s a good concept.  Love that which you feel is divinity, and love your neighbour.

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

Udanavarga 5:18

Is another good one.

I think I’ve wandered down a tangent.

Back to the point I’d wanted to make:  I didn’t know what a rad fem was, now I do and wish I didn’t.  I’d like to think they were doing something positive, but they rather strike me as a sort of anti-male KKK analogue as I simply cannot find anything in their comments and essays that speak otherwise; they don’t even empower or support women in any meaningful and positive way!  I’m saddened by that, just as neo-nazis, Klansmen, and other groups whose foundations are built in hatred and fear … until they find love and joy they can’t know peace, and fear and hatred are anathema to love, joy and peace … thing is, if you can find them, love, joy, and peace are often far more powerful and can rather banish the hatred and fear.  It’s one thing to dislike; several of them seem to be lesbians, so fine they’re not crazy about men and penises – to each her own – but dislike and hatred are different things, dislike is a preference whereas hatred is a desire for harm.

My … I can get rather preachy when I’m riled about something, can’t I?  I suppose there’s more of myself in Lauren’s character than I tend to realise.

The inequity of ‘rape culture’

Original caption states, "Dem. Rep. Congo...

Original caption states, “Dem. Rep. Congo: Meeting for Rape Victims Rape victims who have been successfully reintegrated into their communities assemble in a “peace hut” near Walungu, South Kivu in DRC. USAID-supported health programs have assisted rape victims with counseling, training, employment, and safe living environments.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First off, I’m not sure how I feel about the term ‘rape culture’.  I know what it’s supposed to mean, but it feels like being horribly cruel the the poor innocent language.

Still, let’s take a look at the picture it paints of the world.  Let’s take a look at this notion that men are just horny machines that will shag anything they can get hands on given the slightest chance or provocation; and the poor testosterone addled dears with a society telling them ever and again that it’s okay just can’t help themselves.

Bullshit.

Yep, that’s what I said, bullshit.

I accept that the statistics say a great many women in various parts of the world are raped with alarming frequency.  It is absolutely the fault of those men; and it is the fault of our legal systems.  I do think society should shoulder some of the blame.  How much?  Let’s see.

One thing that is society’s fault is that we do not believe men can be raped.  It skews the statistics that men are afraid to come forward, or are ignored when they do; many don’t even know there’s something to come forward about — rape has suddenly become a feminine verb — we don’t even say it when speaking of children, it suddenly becomes ‘molest’.  From here forward I hold that gender and sex are both utterly irrelevant to all matters save imminently practical (those who lack penises tend to find using urinals a bit awkward), and the personal (I’m not going to argue with you about what pronoun you want me to use, just don’t take offence if I use the wrong one when we first meet and you look like a different one).

It is certainly society’s fault that we are so determined to blame the victim.  Lawyers will ask after the raped person’s personal habits and what they were wearing.  I’m sorry, but I could routinely hang out in swingers’ clubs, hold bi-weekly orgies in my home, and walk down the street stark nude — this does not invite anyone walking by in the street to force me into sex!  Is this society, per se, or is this the legal system, though?  If we start looking at “I was raped” as “I was forced against my will to have sex” and all of this irrelevant nonsense wasn’t factored in, people might feel less inclined to act on any violent impulses.

  • People don’t feel they’ll get caught or if they do that it’s unlikely they’ll be convicted
  • People, even if convicted, aren’t given very harsh sentences.

If the courts were working to protect and serve the victim instead of the rapist, there’d be fewer rapists.  Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I sincerely believe that locking someone in a nice sturdy building with three square meals a day, a gym, a library, cable TV (well, my opinions on Cable TV is that, you got put in jail, you deserve it — but I know I’m contrary to the rest of Western Civilisation), et al is hardly punishment.  Really?!  Do you know how often looking at my alarm clock in the morning, and my bank balance on payday I think “screw this! jail sounds kind of nice!”?!?  How about bread and water, electric chairs, Alcatraz, lobbed off hands, and such?  Man or woman, if they can’t keep it in their pants, castration!  Whatever, it can be prison farms in Georgia, or asteroid mining out past Pluto for all I actually care, but jail should be somewhere people never want to be.

Next are the parents.  They’re part of society, but they’re a microcosm as well.

Mums, Das?  What the hell are you doing?  Sleeping on the job?  Why are you so worried about what little Susan wears out to the party with her friends?  Why aren’t you teaching her and little Timmy that it doesn’t matter if someone at the party has stripped naked and started masturbating with the wine bottles; you bloody well ask permission, and no means … wild and crazy idea, but I should think it means no!  

We need to stop blaming victims.

Now, to be fair, we need clear-cut, and very sound definitions of these things.  Why?  Because, regardless of the legal reality of it, people believe that they can be brought up on sexual harassment charges for telling someone they look lovely today — and just meaning (wait for it) they look very nice today!  There’s also this fear that if you hug someone, no groping, nadda, just trying to comfort a friend, you may find yourself in court “he raped me, I just didn’t want that hug!  It was unwelcomed advances!”

We’re a social creature.  We find comfort in companionship, be it pets or friends or family.  Our society, culture, and individuals become ill if they do not get that companionship, that affection, that closeness.  The day a sincere hug is feared because it might end in “RAPE!  OH GOD I’VE BEEN RAPED!!” we have to work hard to reverse that trend.

First and foremost, though, we should be teaching our children to respect one another.  I don’t give two wits about Playboy and their pictures.  Those women elect to be there, they are paid nicely, they frequently talk about how well treated they are by the photographers, many of them find Hef to be a charming and witty gentleman whom they are proud to call a friend.

My point?  Looking at a beautiful woman is not disrespecting her; and many of the people who say they do, don’t turn around and start shouting at the people who make those sexy fireman calendars, now do they?  Ever heard an interview with a male stripper?  Women, there’s all these rules — mustn’t touch ’em and such.  The men?  Let’s just say these women grope the life out of some of them, and … it gets graphic.  True, the men who stay with it enjoy it and think it’s fun — clearly they don’t feel disrespected or raped.  Admiring beauty is respect, not disrespect — so long as you do it appropriately.  That magazine?  I don’t care what you do in your rooms, looking at ink on paper — that girl is 2-dimensional and a few inches tall; it’s how you treat the woman of flesh and blood that it’s a picture of that’s when respect comes into play.  Drool all you like, ladies and gents, over those muscular firemen — yummy, yes?  They’re three inches high, half a millimetre thick, and made of pigments; now what do you do when you meet Mr January?  And a pass like “will you put out my fire?” classless, yes, certainly, but depending how you say it and mean it … hey, I can’t think how telling someone “oh god, you are so hot, please take me now” is something to take offence at; but if he’s offended, apologise and don’t say that next fire related line that just came to mind.

It’s not the staring, it’s not the looking, it’s not the admiring, it’s not the corny pick up lines, it’s not the compliments, it’s not the friendship and the attempts to be decent people who love and care about each other — that’s not objectifying and disrespectful and dehumanising.  That’s admiration, love, et al.

Objectification is forcing yourself on another.  Women can rape women or men.  Men can rape women or men.  When you rape, you’ve objectified.  You’ve decided that this is just the world’s most lifelike blow-up doll.  At that point you’ve stopped being human, and you’ve decided so has that other person.

Sure, there’re grey areas.  Certain passes, and the diligence that some men and women proceed with after being shot down — determined that you’ll change your mind — well … they’re not dehumanising … disrespect depends on point of view … and it’s not rape, yet.  Do they keep making passes?  That’s annoying.  Do they decide they’re “tired of you playing hard to get; I know you want this …”  Yeah, okay, NOW it’s all those things.

We’ve got to teach respect.  Ladies, stop scolding the women in abayas.  Stop scolding the ones in the string bikinis.  Stop scolding the ones in pasties, and the one who are fighting to be allowed to go as topless as their husbands.  Men, cut it out too.  There is exactly one thing a man or women can wear that is open invitation to do with them as they please — “Take me now, and take me as you please” in sharpies or paint on their skin, clothes, sandwich sign, barrel, or on the banner above the bed of nails (s)he is laying on with bottles of lube to hand.  START scolding the ones who you see watching the news that go “oh, she had it coming” or “oh, look at this guy! what a pussy!  ‘oh boo-hoo, I was raped!’ yeah, right” — you want to stop “rape culture” you stop those people.  You want to stop rape culture you comfort the poor man, poor woman, poor eunich, poor whatever — you dry their tears, you ask who dunnit, you get whatever evidence is needed to be sure that the event took place and that consent was not given, then you make them pay.

Now, I will agree that consent can be implied.  Some say “unless she says ‘yes’, it’s no”.  Well … no.  I do not, to quote Father Goose ask “permesso” every time I  wish to kiss someone I love.  But if the head turns away … well … I go find a mint, or brush my teeth and try again (damned garlic).  Permission can be implied, if there is no protest.

“Jaye!  How could you!?  You’ve just condoned doping!”  Uhm … no.  If he or she can’t say no, then it’s still rape, honey.  I’m sorry, given that someone in a coma can’t say ‘no’ that also means she or he cannot say ‘yes’ — so, just as the person walking down the street who does not have a sign saying “take me, I’m ready” let’s ASSUME it’s a no until they wake up, yes?  Let’s not split hairs, it muddies up the point.  Splitting hairs is what the defence attorneys who get the rapists free are up to; it’s what the politician who are trying to, effectively, make rape legal are doing.  Let’s not be those people.

Drama, angst, tragedy, and rape

Writing is a strange business. It’s the only one I can think of, besides sports, where people seem to be inclined to believe that they know how to do things better than you. Though most sports fans don’t tell the players and coaches this, so maybe writing is unique (or I just know even less about sports than I think I do). I’m not talking praise or criticism here. This isn’t about “oh, my what a wonderful plot with such deep characterisation” or whatever, nor “oh my, so many clichés one after the other I feel I must bathe thoroughly”. No, I mean “you know in Chapter 3 on the second paragraph when Bubba said …” or “You know the best thing you could do for …”

Blows my mind. If you know so much about writing, by all means go write. It really isn’t hard. And if you’re so brilliant you should take the plunge, get something out there and let us all see.

What’s this to do with the title?

Read this: http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/470626.html
It’s all right, I can wait.

There. Now. That isn’t the whole of things, but it’s a starting point.

That link deals well with the ideas that women can only grow and change through very limited events. I do not fathom this. My characters grow and change, male or female, through life and experiences. In Love or Lust Sally begins to grow, spiritually and religiously because of people she gets to know and such. Love makes Lauren stronger and helps her grow to better appreciate the important things in life and to realise that what looks to be the easy way is just a different way with different difficulties. No one gets raped, but people change and grow.

There is death in Ready or Not (oh my! Spoiler!). The death is sad, tragic, and hopelessly random and senseless. Unfortunately so are all too many untimely deaths. It changes those people it impacts.

The thing is, that angst, darkness, tragedy, rape, murder, death, self loathing, self doubt, fear, and all of these things are facts of life. Their absolute absence in a modern day setting is something that would be felt profoundly by a reader. You needn’t have them all. Harry Potter avoids some of the least chivalrous ones, as do I. And they aren’t the be all and end all of character growth. Joy, love, romance, tenderness, life, birth, hope can be as profoundly changing or more so.

“Oh, but Jaye, you have to have one of the girls raped. After all, not doing so is unrealistic! One in six women have been raped you know!”

Please, learn how statistics works and are gathered and the scope of the statistic you’re quoting. It helps. Please, I do not mean to say people aren’t raped (men can be raped too, after all, and hardly anyone seems to be fighting to do anything to help those poor fellows. Sexism, truly, works both ways folks) and I have deep sympathy for you if you are one of them. I merely point out that one in six is a broad scope, world wide average. This means it counts the sad state of some countries in Africa where nearly any woman over the age of 20 has been raped because there really are bands of men roving around looking for a poor defenseless girl to offload into. There’re some very interesting wearable contraceptives for this that involves barbs. It includes certain schools where a mickey and a lot of beer are a tradition. There are countries where the average is quite lower and areas of the world where the horrible act is quite rare. In my writing therefore, I’m not being unrealistic, just locating my stories in a different part of the bell curve.

The rape and violence, the murder and hate, all the darkness and brutality of so much modern fiction is really just as cliché as June Cleaver. A different overused trope is still an overused trope. Far too many stories that are very good feel they must insert these events to make the story more believable, or edgier, or whatever. Many a good story is ruined by this. Sadly, the converse is true. Some authors avoiding these events, even when it makes perfect contextual sense for them to be present, for fear of resorting to cheap instadrama.

Admittedly, all too often it’s not just weird, creepy, annoying fans and armchair critics or backseat writers who feel inclined to make these bizarre and tasteless recommendations. Other authors, people who should know better, are guilty of it too. I wish I knew who to blame for that, but I don’t. I’ll say my editor says it’s writer’s workshops. Which could be true, I just refuse to hold an opinion. I’ve never met with one and never plan to; they seem terribly silly to me.

Is there a real point to all this? Only as much as anything that comes down to opinion. Maybe to God there is a right or wrong answer, but aside from divine, omniscient understanding of creativity I should think that it’s safe to say no one is any more right or wrong than the next person – merely more or less capable of providing a compelling argument to sway the opinion of others into line with her own.