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Dec 21 2013

The flip side of the MRAs

Radfems. Just as freakishly twisted, I’m afraid. I somehow stumbled across a radfem site that is arguing that penis-in-vagina sex is always rape, and that men are always rapists. It’s the weirdest perspective, and uses the sloppiest logic. One way she makes her case is the loaded characterization, like this:

If we look at the act in more detail (skip this parag if you can’t take it), PIV is a man mounting on a woman to thrust a large member of himself into her most intimate parts, often forcing her to be entirely naked, banging himself against her with the whole weight of his body and hips, shaking her like he would stuff a corpse, then using her insides as a receptacle for his penile dejection. How is this a normal civilised, respectful way to treat anyone? Sorry for the explicit picture, but this is what it is and it’s absolutely revolting and violating.

That’s a description of rape, all right. The key words there are “forcing” her, treating her like a corpse, using her as a receptacle. And I would say that she’s exactly right, that if you see intercourse as “absolutely revolting”, you’d never willingly engage in it, and therefore the only way you would find yourself in such a situation would be if you were being raped.

And, of course, sex is really a silly looking activity anyway, and it’s easy to write a slanted description of it. She has every right to find it personally unpleasant and to avoid ever having a sexual relationship with a man.

But she goes too far in assuming her perception is universal. Sex can be entirely consensual, no “forcing” involved. And then she goes further: she makes the naturalistic fallacy.

The fact intercourse causes so many infections and tears and warts attests to the unnaturalness of intercourse, that it’s not meant to be. The vagina’s primary function isn’t to be penetrated by a penis but to eject a baby for birth. They are two muscle tissues / sphincters pressed against each other to help the baby be pushed out. Penetration of the penis into the vagina is completely unnecessary for conception.

Life causes infections and tears and warts and pain and death. So? That’s not an argument that it is unnatural. It’s also ridiculous to argue for a “primary function” for the vagina — especially when it’s a function that is only going to be carried out a handful of times during a woman’s lifetime, at best. How about arguing that its primary function is as an outlet for menstrual fluids? For some women its primary function might be for giving and receiving sexual pleasure. How about if we let individuals decide what they like to use their body parts for?

Biologically, I’d say that sexual intercourse is a perfectly “natural” use for a vagina — which does not impose on anyone an obligation to use it that way. It’s also perfectly natural that the vagina functions as a birth canal, and I’d remind our angry radfem that if she were to use it solely that way, she might just pass a son through it — who would have the potential to be just as good a person as a daughter.

225 comments

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  1. 1
    ChasCPeterson

    another mammal denialist

  2. 2
    Akira MacKenzie

    Ummm… I hate to ask and I’m not going to waste my time at work to read this screed, but if the vagina is not meant for penetration how do they expect women to conceive and thus use it for its “intended” purpose?

  3. 3
    Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    If we’re going to identify things as natural, being entirely naked is very high on the list. Definitely more natural than using the internet—does that mean being online is more natural if I take my clothes off first?

  4. 4
    lindsay

    Poping can cause anal tears. Therefore, pooping is unnatural. We should transform our poop into words, just like witchwind did.

  5. 5
    Tethys

    Would the acronym for rad-fems be RFA? (Radical feminists of Amurica) What would happen if you crossed the streams of MRAs and RFAs ?

  6. 6
    screechymonkey

    lindsay@4:

    Poping can cause anal tears.

    Oh boy. Expect to hear from Bill Donohue.

  7. 7
    OptimalCynic

    Tethys: Usually they’re TERFs too so I tend to just call them all that, a habit I picked up from my (trans) girlfriend.

  8. 8
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Poping can cause anal tears.

    Wow, what a terrific typo with multiple meanings….

  9. 9
    OptimalCynic

    Incidentally the only decent acronym I can find for MRA TERF is “mer-frat” which is an interesting mental image. “MRA and TERF” is a lot better:

    Farmed Rant
    Daft Man Err
    Mad Art Fern
    Rad Frat Men
    Farm Rant Ed

    and “Ram Rant Def” which is their preferred debate style, with a bit of homophonic license in the last word.

  10. 10
    tashaturner

    I made the mistake of clicking the link and reading the entire post as well as the comments. OMG are they kidding? PIV sex is always rape & always hurts the first time & men always have violence or other nefarious schemes in mind? Maybe they missed the memo but “think of England” to endure sex is not the thing to do anymore. Instead educate yourself and your partner about what turns you on or get rid of the selfish man for one who cares. And it’s not natural? Seriously? Ummm… They also need a basic education in biology as their ideas for getting pregnant without PIV or technology is not reliable & unnatural IMHO.

  11. 11
    Acolyte of Sagan

    The fact intercourse causes so many infections and tears and warts attests to the unnaturalness of intercourse, that it’s not meant to be…

    Weird! I’d put that down to poor hygiene and insufficient lubrication.

  12. 12
    Acolyte of Sagan

    ….insufficient lubrication and/or attempting penetration before the vaginal muscles are sufficiently relaxed.

  13. 13
    zibble

    Has anyone else noticed how absurdly heteronormative all the anti-sex radfem crusadery is? It’s bizarre how, as far as I could tell skimming, there’s not a single mention on that site of things like men penetrating other men. Or women penetrating men. Or even women just being powerbottoms, for chrissakes.

    I know it’s categorically dismissed that a woman would in any way enjoy penetration – because, obviously, why would evolution gear women towards enjoying the act of reproduction? – but how can she dismiss that maybe, just maybe, making our partners feel good can be an act of unservile love?

  14. 14
    Allan Frost

    FTB should have year end awards for best offering to Tpyos, and “Poping can cause anal tears.” should be high on the nomination list.

  15. 15
    zibble

    I think it’s worth criticizing the idea that these people are the flip side of the MRAs. The MRAs are exploiting the enormous power of misogyny – they have widespread allies, from the RCC to the RNC to Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who. While, individually, they might just be loser neckbeards on Reddit, they have a very frightening agenda that, in some spheres, holds a lot of traction – or at the very least, enough traction to make certain people’s lives way, way worse.

    The radfems are just pathetic. MRAs are railing against equality, they’re railing against the very idea of sex – anyone want to bet which agenda is more likely to make headway?

  16. 16
    Ally Fogg

    Ah yes, Witchwind.

    You should also see the post she did on how to be a male ally

    It’s not news that the likes of her exist. There’s small coterie of radfems scattered around the world who are really quite strange and sometimes quite scary.

    I think one thing sometimes missed when we are talking about the transphobia of TERFs is that the root of it is a really quite extreme loathing and fear of men, and more specifically of penises.

  17. 17
    lindsay

    Poping can cause anal tears.

    Wow, what a terrific typo with multiple meanings….

    So, for once, my lack of proofreading skills actually enhanced a post.

  18. 18
    lindsay

    @ Tasha Turner #10

    Sex does sometimes hurt the first time…. but so does yoga.

  19. 19
    ledasmom

    Poping can cause anal tears.

    Remember, people, when you pope the baby Jesus buttplug cries.

  20. 20
    chimera

    Ejaculate on the labia can cause pregnancy. Penetration is convenient for pregnancy but not necessary. Turkey basters work fine too. Who can say that penetration of any orifice is or is not “natural”????

    I second Zibble‘s comment @ 15.

  21. 21
    Gregory in Seattle

    Actually, radfem has been around since the early 60s: it has its roots in the radial fringe of second-wave feminism. These were the people who proposed lesbianism as a political statement, and who saw the development of human parthenogenesis as a necessary evolution in human culture. I’m not at all surprised that these ideologies are still around.

  22. 22
    ChasCPeterson

    yeesh, that blog looks like a real cornucopia of nuttiness. From the other post I looked at:

    I’m pretty sure that [women would] have loads more healing, psychic, telepathic and other transcendental superpowers were we not crippled from birth by men, and that men have reduced our powers generation after generation of genocide.

  23. 23
    PZ Myers

    That settles it. I’m telling my wife no more sex until she develops her magic powers and wins us the lottery or something.

  24. 24
    skeptifem

    Its the “flip side” as long as you ignore that these women are actually oppressed by men, and (in my experience) most of them are victims of rape or another form of male violence. MRAs are sympathizers with perpetrators, at best. I’m not going to shit on how someone deals with that, ever, unless it causes tangible harm to someone.

    I also kind of resent all radical feminists being equated with this viewpoint- it simply isn’t accurate. This blog has linked to and endorsed a lot of radical feminists. Hell, natalie reed has said she is a radical feminist.

  25. 25
    Seize

    @ Chas @ 22

    WOW. Just, wow. That’s a spectacular quote. What complete nuttery.

    @ zibble @ 15

    Agreed. These people are utter whackadoodles who deserve to be mocked, but the MRAs are a bit more dangerous in their reactionary position than the radfems could possibly be in their wildly countercultural position.

    @ Gregory @ 21

    A bit of a quibble. Radical feminism at its inception was so called because it implied a radical paradigm shift, not radical anti-male militancy. It was in and of itself insufficient and was so churned under in its time by the third wave which in turn has been churned under by a post-wave feminism. Post-wave feminism has become more accessible and acceptable to the mainstream while simultaneously dealing internally with major “radical” issues such a trans inclusion and the important fight to secure more equal place for POC in the movement.

    The modern “radfem” is a person whose politics themselves are 40 years out of date and wildly astray from modern feminism, which, considering the wildly disparate views covered by the term “modern feminism,” is really saying something.

  26. 26
    nancymartin

    All I can say is that I am left speechless by the radfem post. This comment by the author is nuts –
    o whom it may concern, I’m doing you a massive favour and being super nice in saying that i’m not publishing any comments which include the following:
    “PIV as rape trivialises real rape victims”
    and “but, but, I like sex and you’re insulting women or men who like sex”;
    and “you’re just doing sex the wrong way”

    The proper response to the first three points are Yes it does, yes you are, and, probably yes (I know that there are some conditions that do make intercourse painful for some women).

  27. 27
    Holms

    The fact intercourse causes so many infections and tears and warts attests to the unnaturalness of intercourse, that it’s not meant to be.

    Strange, we seem to have survived just fine with as a species for our entire history. How does she suppose we managed to procreate for the millions of years prior to artificial insemination?

  28. 28
    Holms

    with intercourse*, bah

  29. 29
    Zeckenschwarm

    @ PZ Myers

    How about if we let individuals decide what they like to use their body parts for?

    Judging from her newest blog post, her opinion seems to be that any woman who thinks favourably about anything related to men (which would include sex, I assume) only does so because she has been brainwashed by men. Basically, any woman who disagrees with Witchwind is just a brainwashed victim who doesn’t know what’s best for herself.

    @ zibble, 13

    Has anyone else noticed how absurdly heteronormative all the anti-sex radfem crusadery is? It’s bizarre how, as far as I could tell skimming, there’s not a single mention on that site of things like men penetrating other men.

    Well, there is this (italics added by me):

    Only men experience rape as sexual and define it as such. Sex for men is the unilateral penetration of their penis into a woman (or anything else replacing and symbolising the female orifice) whether she thinks she wants it or not – which is the definition of rape:

    I can’t tell wether she’s saying that gay sex is rape too, or if only women can be raped.

  30. 30
    Holms

    Also, how the hell can someone go from calling panetrative sex ‘unnatural’ only to later suggest artificial insemination as a better conception method? Jesus kerrrrist!

  31. 31
    Marc Abian

    What would happen if you crossed the streams of MRAs and RFAs ?

    The greatest RomCom of all time.

  32. 32
    Kagehi

    Hmm. Guessing they started getting bad comments, so closed the comments over there, because:

    ” & always hurts the first time”

    (from a post here) – Only, apparently, if you don’t know what the F you are doing in the first place, don’t use lube, and/or the woman doing it has never masturbated either. But, then, what do I know, I only got that information from a woman that blogs about sex…

    Its almost amazing how the opposite end of MRA is just as, “You don’t know what the fuck you are talking about!”, as the MRAs are. lol

  33. 33
    Zeckenschwarm

    @ Holms, 30:
    She can because she is one of many people who use the word ‘natural’ however it suits them at any given moment.

  34. 34
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    I somehow stumbled across a radfem site that is arguing that penis-in-vagina sex is always rape, and that men are always rapists.

    What really burns my tits is that she (WitchWind? Is that her name? I don’t care enough to double check) is totally taking away my agency. She is saying that I absolutely cannot consent to PIV sex.

    So, here’s a hearty “fuck you” aimed right in her direction. nlm(-.-)mln

  35. 35
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    In case anyone does not know what OptimalCynic at #7 means by TERF.

    Trans
    Exclusive
    Radical
    Feminist

    The two most infamous examples of TERFs are Janice Raymond (Author of The Transsexual Empire and Cathy Brennan (Keeper of stalkerish sites that equates murderers and rapists with trans women.).

    TERFs are just as much gender essentialists as MRAs. The only difference between them is this, MRAs think being a woman is a bad thing while TERFs think that women are superior.

  36. 36
    knowknot

    # 24, Skeptifem

    Its the “flip side” as long as you ignore that these women are actually oppressed by men, and (in my experience) most of them are victims of rape or another form of male violence. MRAs are sympathizers with perpetrators, at best. I’m not going to shit on how someone deals with that, ever, unless it causes tangible harm to someone.

    -  Understood.
    -  I was in college when I first (knowingly) ran into this.  There were several girls who had massively wacky attitudes regarding men, and women, and sex, and metaphysics.  First notice was simply the wash of the wacky.  On further experience, the meekness, and caution. Like the whole world was a trigger. Then came a realization of the kinds of horror that had been exercised upon them.  I’m thankful to have gotten there, more or less accidentally, because although it was disorienting and alien, it was an embarrassing span before I understood that there was no way I could ever come close to understanding the fear, self judgement, expectation of normalcy, and PTSD-like continuation of trauma (and it’s day to day persistence) that came with it.  Then, on top of that, the desperation for any kind of relief or healing, along with the doubt and fear that made it so difficult to incorporate it, virtually all of them received further ridicule for the wackiness of the pursuit.  And this was true for those who attempted “accepted” paths (ie, therapy) as well as the more divergent ones.  They were only trying whatever they could find; it was all they had.
    -  Even today, when writing something just that, feels like I’m voicing something profound or deep.  But I know that in comparison to the actual experience, it’s complete crap.  No measure of the life.  Not least because many (if not most or all) are still haunted.
    -  And I had to learn that little by accident, by being there at the time, by happening to have had time to listen, which I might not have if I’d had “something better to do.”  Could have missed it completely.  Such a huge, unfortunate, and really-should-be-obvious chunk of the real world.

    -  Now, someone, somewhere, will pop up and state something like “But MRA men may have some similar damage.”  To which my tendency is to respond “Shut up.”  My experience of abused men is NOT that they list toward MRA, while my experience of MRA men is that, if they are victims, they tend to be victims of indoctrination.  And while indoctrination is a serious wound, it is a very different quality of wound.  In addition, they are much more like perpetrators and supporters of perpetrators than victims, as you’ve mentioned.  And that takes everything to a different level.
    -  Admittedly, these are just my experiences.  It would be good to have an objective view into all this, as much as it’s possible.  But even if we had, it would at best only offer a more effective means of doing work for which the necessity is already glaringly obvious.  At least to anyone willing to openly approach the real, human, and present heart of the issue.

  37. 37
    carlie

    Monitor note – thanks to everyone for not doing anything like this in the thread, but I wanted to put this here in case this post attracts new readers who might not be familiar with the commenting policy. Sexist insults are the kind of slurs that are not taken kindly to, so please refrain from using such insults in commenting on the OP. Insult away, but if your insult is a word usually defined as “a woman who…” or is predicated on a term describing female anatomy, please change it to a gender-neutral one. Thank you.

  38. 38
    microraptor

    What would happen if you crossed the streams of MRAs and RFAs ?

    Total protonic reversal.

    I have to say, I’m always a bit suspicious when I see radfem stuff like this, just because of how rare it is compared to how common it is for MRAs to try to portray all feminists as like that. Which makes me suspect that it’s really being produced by a troll. You know, like the fake rape reports that the whatever MRA group was doing that PZ reported yesterday.

    Though now that I think about it, I do recall a few lesbian friends of mine that mentioned there were a few dating sites that they wouldn’t use because too many of the women they met from said sites really were that bad.

  39. 39
    ekwhite

    I don’t agree that this is the flip side of the MRA’s. Witchwind is a lot more fringe than the MRA’s are, unfortunately. I don’t think that most modern feminists think that all PIV sex is rape. Even back in the 70s, that was a fringe view.

  40. 40
    imthegenieicandoanything

    Just more sad, angry people who, afraid of the complexity of life, want purity. And insanity is the result whenever purity becomes the goal

  41. 41
    ekwhite

    Knownot@36

    Thank you for the insight. If she is suffering from trauma, it colors her opinions much differently, even if I don’t agree with them.

  42. 42
    zibble

    @25 Seize

    Agreed. These people are utter whackadoodles who deserve to be mocked, but the MRAs are a bit more dangerous in their reactionary position than the radfems could possibly be in their wildly countercultural position.

    That’s the word! Countercultural.

    It’s really easy to jump on this BS because it’s countercultural *as well as* stupid. You can rail against this without hesitation, because the chances of any single person you know going “Well, actually, she’s right, all consensual sex IS rape” are nonexistent. Sadly, cultural popularity is a much better agent for ideas than logical or evidential backing, which makes criticizing sexism so much more difficult.

    I’m not criticizing PZ for posting about this stupidity, though. Too many people value ideas on how far they are from the fringe – lacking proper perspective, they might think that gender equality was some kind of radical idea.

  43. 43
    rodw

    The first I heard of this PIV-is-always-rape idea was from Andrea Dworkin in the late 70s and early 80s. She was on TV quite often promoting this and I suspect she might have been the inspiration for Limbaugh’s ‘femi-nazi’ crap.
    Since then its occurred to me that if you have power/influence in the media and there’s an idea or movement you want to stop, the best way to stop is not to ignore it or argue against it, but to find the person who holds the most radical extreme ridiculous parody of that idea and give them a voice- put them front and center. Make them the representative of that idea in the public mind.

  44. 44
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Radical feminism isn’t represented by this individual blog. Painting people with a broad brush by calling radical feminists “just as freakishly twisted” as MRAs is ludicrous and ignorant. I’ve read various radical feminist writers and blogs and I’ve seen a few individual posters who think PIV sex can be *risky* for a woman’s health (and they usually propose other ways of enjoying sex with a partner), but I’ve seen even LESS who actually believe penis in vagina sex = rape, no matter what.

    Even the much reviled Andrea Dworkin never said that, and tried in vain to explain calmly how she never said all sex is rape, but people still attribute that quote to her, to this day. She was writing a book called Right Wing Women and asked the question, if you have don’t have a right to say no to your husband, like a lot of Right Wing Christian women are told, (and remember when she wrote her book, marital rape wasn’t even recognized as a crime in the U.S), how meaningful then is saying yes? Don’t atheists frequently ask the question, how meaningful is it to choose to wear a burka when your only alternative is a beating or not being allowed out of the house at all?

    I agree with Skeptifem. You have no idea what traumatic violence and abuse these women have gone through, not to mention being surrounded by a culture that gleefully tells them rape and domestic violence is their fault. They aren’t “freakishly twisted,” our society is. I do cut women a lot of slack in how they deal with PTSD, and living in a world that, for the most part, couldn’t care less about violence against women.
    MRAs love the fact that there is domestic violence and rape, and want it to continue in order to keep women “in line.” Don’t know how on earth you can equate the two.

  45. 45
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @rodw

    I rest my case. Andrea Dworkin said no such thing.

    http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/LieDetect.html
    And don’t blame her for Rush Limbaugh, Jesus.

    In an interview with Michael Moorcock:

    Michael Moorcock: After “Right-Wing Women” and “Ice and Fire” you wrote “Intercourse”. Another book which helped me clarify confusions about my own sexual relationships. You argue that attitudes to conventional sexual intercourse enshrine and perpetuate sexual inequality. Several reviewers accused you of saying that all intercourse was rape. I haven’t found a hint of that anywhere in the book. Is that what you are saying?
    Andrea Dworkin: No, I wasn’t saying that and I didn’t say that, then or ever. There is a long section in Right-Wing Women on intercourse in marriage. My point was that as long as the law allows statutory exemption for a husband from rape charges, no married woman has legal protection from rape. I also argued, based on a reading of our laws, that marriage mandated intercourse–it was compulsory, part of the marriage contract. Under the circumstances, I said, it was impossible to view sexual intercourse in marriage as the free act of a free woman. I said that when we look at sexual liberation and the law, we need to look not only at which sexual acts are forbidden, but which are compelled.

    The whole issue of intercourse as this culture’s penultimate expression of male dominance became more and more interesting to me. In Intercourse I decided to approach the subject as a social practice, material reality. This may be my history, but I think the social explanation of the “all sex is rape” slander is different and probably simple. Most men and a good number of women experience sexual pleasure in inequality. Since the paradigm for sex has been one of conquest, possession, and violation, I think many men believe they need an unfair advantage, which at its extreme would be called rape. I don’t think they need it. I think both intercourse and sexual pleasure can and will survive equality.

    It’s important to say, too, that the pornographers, especially Playboy, have published the “all sex is rape” slander repeatedly over the years, and it’s been taken up by others like Time who, when challenged, cannot cite a source in my work.
    http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/MoorcockInterview.html

  46. 46
    Rob Grigjanis

    theoreticalgrrrl @44:

    They aren’t “freakishly twisted,” our society is.

    Yup.

  47. 47
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Also, @rodw:

    “She was on TV quite often promoting this.”

    Really? Love it.
    Any proof?

  48. 48
    ChasCPeterson

    The whole issue of intercourse as this culture’s penultimate expression of male dominance became more and more interesting to me.

    gah. Misuse of the word ‘penultimate’ is a sure sign of a pompous blowhard. What’s the final expression of male dominance?

    But to the point, while Dworkin may never have said in so many words that “all sex is rape” (and indeed denied saying or meaning that), according to ‘kipedia she did argue in her book Intercourse that “all heterosexual sex in our patriarchal society is coercive and degrading to women, and sexual penetration may by its very nature doom women to inferiority and submission”.
    Which is pretty close.

  49. 49
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Chas,

    I’d like to see the context of that, I don’t exactly trust wikipedia as a source.
    But, no it’s not “close.” If you leave out “in our patriarchal culture” part, then yeah, you can twist it to mean that. She’s talking about the patriarchal idea of women as passive vessels and men as “naturally” sexually predatory, where patriarchal men see fucking a woman only as a way of dominating her and rendering her “damaged goods” no matter if it was consensual.
    But you ignore when she says: “Since the paradigm for sex has been one of conquest, possession, and violation, I think many men believe they need an unfair advantage, which at its extreme would be called rape. I don’t think they need it. I think both intercourse and sexual pleasure can and will survive equality.”

    Also, as a side note:
    Fuck you, you couldn’t write like Andrea in your dreams.

  50. 50
    Holms

    I have to say, I’m always a bit suspicious when I see radfem stuff like this, just because of how rare it is compared to how common it is for MRAs to try to portray all feminists as like that. Which makes me suspect that it’s really being produced by a troll.

    It isn’t. This is only slightly more extreme than what I have heard in person.

  51. 51
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    What ekwhite said at #39. Claiming that people like witchwind are “the flip side” is just whining that feminists are “just as bad!”, which, um, no. Not least because a few rare shitty, stupid TERFs, while deeply unpleasant and hurtful people, who most definitely have a lot of internalized misogyny issues, are nowhere near even the normal, “background radiation” levels of misogyny we get from patriarchy.

    Also, again, not all radfems are like this. My feminism is radical-influenced, and I am on the trans* spectrum.

    But hey, the doodz here can misquote Dworkin, so it’s a party.

  52. 52
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Seize #25 – I thought I was clear that I was describing a fringe and not the mainstream.

  53. 53
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Oh, and here’s an actual Andrea Dworkin quote: “I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.”

    I don’t agree with all or even most of her writing, but at least try to get your info from somewhere besides the right wing, dudes.

  54. 54
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Its the “flip side” as long as you ignore that these women are actually oppressed by men, and (in my experience) most of them are victims of rape or another form of male violence.

    Wait, so implying that a person is stating something absurd, offensive, and damaging because they have difficulty approaching the subject rationally due to traumatic personal experience, and thus can be partially excused, is acceptable now?

  55. 55
    mykroft

    I am a white adult male, with children and grandchildren. Under this radfem worldview, each of my children was a child of rape. All the times my wife and I enjoyed sex, it was rape. I was using sex to dominate my loving wife, because (under this worldview), as a male I am evil by default. I find this depiction of me to be hurtful.

    But, then I think about it a bit more. I am a white adult male, and in this culture that means that I have benefited from greater privileges than many non white males. I haven’t been called a bitch because of my gender. I haven’t been called lazy, or a born criminal, or many of the other things that too many non white males have heard about themselves. I have had doors held open for me, when they were shut (or made more difficult to open) for others, as I pursued my career. I have not endured the kind of physical, psychological and/or sexual mistreatment that often come with not belonging to the white male club. And usually I take that for granted. Not everyone is that lucky.

    Yes, this version of radfem has left the rails of reality. As with the religious community, they have created their own echo chamber reinforcing their version of reality, to the extend that the bizarre is reasonable. But while strident, I find their views more understandable than that of the MRAs. While I don’t know their stories, it seems reasonable that they have been hurt badly and repeatedly.

    I hope that in time, they will learn to trust again. In our culture, that could be a hard thing to do.

  56. 56
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Thank you for the insight. If she is suffering from trauma, it colors her opinions much differently, even if I don’t agree with them.

    Yeah, I’m definitely noticing a lack of gratuitous dogpiling here.

    I agree with Skeptifem. You have no idea what traumatic violence and abuse these women have gone through, not to mention being surrounded by a culture that gleefully tells them rape and domestic violence is their fault. They aren’t “freakishly twisted,” our society is. I do cut women a lot of slack in how they deal with PTSD, and living in a world that, for the most part, couldn’t care less about violence against women.

    So, basically, if someone’s been hurt enough, that absolves them of any responsibility to intellectual honesty or logical consistency and they can say anything they want without having to consider who their words affect or how?

    How much is “enough, exactly?” (I mean, I know the answer, but…)

  57. 57
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Who is damaged by what she said, Azkyroth? Women wanting to avoid sex because they experienced sexual abuse, and then further abuse by the judicial system if they dare report it is not an irrational response, it’s their way of dealing with it.

  58. 58
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Oh, and another thing: what would those of you who really don’t want to be equated with these particular kooks suggest calling them instead of “radfems?”

  59. 59
    Scr... Archivist

    ChasCPeterson @48,

    That “penultimate” jumped out at me, too. However, two seconds later, I concluded that Ms. Dworkin used exactly the right word for her point.

    What’s the final expression of male dominance?

    Probably murder.

  60. 60
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Who is damaged by what she said, Azkyroth? Women wanting to avoid sex because they experienced sexual abuse, and then further abuse by the judicial system if they dare report it is not an irrational response, it’s their way of dealing with it.

    That’s not what she said.

  61. 61
    rodw

    theoreticalgrrrl

    OK, well some of the Dworkin quotes above definitely suggest I’m wrong. All I can say is I’m certain it wasn’t Mary Daly! For a while Dworkin was practically a fixture on policitcal/talk shows on the 3 or 4 channels I got back then. Perhaps it was some interviewer trying to associate her with those ideas? I could swear I remember her saying it. Its late but maybe I’ll wikisurf for a while to find out how I got that impression

  62. 62
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Instead of “radfems”?

    Gender separatists?

  63. 63
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    I really really really don’t like Andrea Dworkin, but yeah… she never came close to suggesting that all straight sex was rape.

    There’s a lot we can criticize her for… let’s not criticize her for things she never said or suggested, please.

    Also… PZ, I have to jump on the bandwagon criticizing you for the comparison. MRAs exist in a state of privilege; women do not (in the context of cisgender privilege, that is… obvious extremely important nuances exist when you introduce race and worldview and gender expression and sexuality and so on). I agree that her post, and the entire blog, is pretty whacky, but I do not agree that that they are “flip side of MRAs”. I’m honestly not sure such a thing exists, to be honest.

  64. 64
    A. Noyd

    Azkyroth (#54)

    Wait, so implying that a person is stating something absurd, offensive, and damaging because they have difficulty approaching the subject rationally due to traumatic personal experience, and thus can be partially excused, is acceptable now?

    Skeptifem was pointing out that failing to take a rational approach due to traumatic personal experience is not equivalent to failing to take a rational approach due to a gargantuan sense of entitlement. She did not excuse harm done by TERFs, either.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Scr… Archivist (#58)

    What’s the final expression of male dominance?

    Probably murder.

    You beat me to it.

  65. 65
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @rodw

    Since so many associate her with those ideas, I can see how a person could mistakenly get that impression. I had no idea she was even on any TV political/talk shows. Times have really changed.

  66. 66
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Who is damaged by what she said, Azkyroth?

    If I try to explain why being slandered and/or gaslighted about one’s sexual preferences and experiences is harmful, are you going to come back with some absurd ivory-tower bullshit about power dynamics that implies that no one is ever actually affected by or listens to anyone who has been declared to “not have power?”

    I mean, I grant that it’s Only Psychic Harm, but…

  67. 67
    ChasCPeterson

    Fuck you, you couldn’t write like Andrea in your dreams.

    lol. Heroine of yours? First-name basis?
    I believe your quote was from a transcribed interview, so it wasn’t her writing I criticized.
    Me, when I talk or write, I try to know what the words I use mean before I use them. But that’s just me. *shrug*

  68. 68
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Skeptifem was pointing out that failing to take a rational approach due to traumatic personal experience is not equivalent to failing to take a rational approach due to a gargantuan sense of entitlement.

    Yes, which I find kind of obnoxious because I still have vivid memories of being bullied, gaslighted, and thread-stalked in large part “for” (to the extent that abusive behavior is ever really “for” anything) doing the same thing a few years ago, which was a fairly traumatic experience for ME. Hence my pointing it out. >.>

  69. 69
    knowknot

    # 54

    Wait, so implying that a person is stating something absurd, offensive, and damaging because they have difficulty approaching the subject rationally due to traumatic personal experience, and thus can be partially excused, is acceptable now?

    - My responses to this sort of thing tend to fall short for reasons I haven’t figured yet, but:
    - No. Beliefs that are percieved as skewed, or madly distorted, should be answered as such. A cataclysmic amount of toxicity would flow under the bridge unrestricted otherwise.
    - What is acceptable, or useful, or even decent is at least attempting to understand the cause, and the effect. As in, if a veteran “overreacts” to a stressor not percieved by others, it would be good to understand that the behavior is not a reaction to what others do percieve, the later being a view of the situation in which the veteran is being intentionally unreasonable.
    - Also, as Skeptifem mentioned, the reaction might well be moderated in light ofthe possibility of harm issuing from the belief. I’ll leave off without answering what the difference could be between the vitriol produced by MRA and a woman’s statements that affect only her choices regarding her body.
    - Unless… unless… she doesn’t really have the right to make those choices, and is somehow doing violence to society merely by making such statements, or actually making the choices… ?

  70. 70
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    - Unless… unless… she doesn’t really have the right to make those choices, and is somehow doing violence to society merely by making such statements, or actually making the choices… ?

    I know you’re not actually confused on this point, but the issue isn’t the choices she’s making for herself, it’s what she’s calling every woman who makes different choices, and every man who’s sexually interested in women. I promise you intellectual honesty won’t cause you to spontaneously combust.

  71. 71
    ekwhite

    Chas @48

    Given the context of the times, I can’t argue with that quote. Given that marital rape was legal, that was actuallt a reasonable position.

    After reading some actual quotes from Andrea Dworkin, I have to apologize for my previous opinion of her, which was shaped by the media representation of her rather than her own words.

  72. 72
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @ChasCPeterson

    No, and I don’t agree with everything Andrea Dworkin ever said. Her nonfiction can be incredibly depressing, and she was writing for a different time, but if their were any justice in this world her novels would be recognized as the powerful, brilliant writing it is. She said she was once told she “writes like a man,” which I think was meant to be a compliment.

  73. 73
    theoreticalgrrrl

    And maybe I was a bit harsh, telling you to fuck off and all. I just see her dragged through the mud for things she never did or said, so your “pompous blowhard” comment kind of irked me.

  74. 74
    left0ver1under

    ekwhite (#39) -

    I don’t agree that this is the flip side of the MRA’s. Witchwind is a lot more fringe than the MRA’s are, unfortunately. I don’t think that most modern feminists think that all PIV sex is rape. Even back in the 70s, that was a fringe view.

    Definitely not, but you can bet the farm that if the MRA types get wind of this, they’ll claim she represents the majority, that “they all think like this”. The most extreme feminist I’ve met face to face would be labelled a “masculinist” compared to witchwind.

    Tethys (#5) -

    Would the acronym for rad-fems be RFA? (Radical feminists of Amurica)

    FAR would be more like it, because they have definitely gone too far. Witchwind and others are not just over the edge, they’re running full speed like Wile E. Coyote, and haven’t yet realized there’s nothing solid left to stand on.

  75. 75
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Unless… unless… she doesn’t really have the right to make those choices, and is somehow doing violence to society merely by making such statements, or actually making the choices… ?

    Seriously, what the fucking fuck? The claim being disputed and disparaged here is not “I, personally, find sexual intercourse appalling and would never consent to engage in it,” it’s “all sexual intercourse is inherently rape.” That’s like, the opposite of a personal opinion that only affects the speaker.

  76. 76
    knowknot

    #57

    Oh, and another thing: what would those of you who really don’t want to be equated with these particular kooks suggest calling them instead of “radfems?”

    -  In your case, perhaps “these particular kooks” works?  In this case, also perhaps “the writer”?  In general, the person’s name might be an option?
    -  Sorry.  But I couldn’t help being reminded of a line from G. B. Shaw’s play, Major Barbara, spoken by Andrew Underhill:

     My dear: you are the incarnation of morality.  Your conscience is clear and your duty done when you have called everybody names.

  77. 77
    knowknot

    #69 (a possible solution?) ((sorry))

     I promise you intellectual honesty won’t cause you to spontaneously combust

    This is beautiful.  Honestly.
    #74

    The claim being disputed and disparaged here is not “I, personally, find sexual intercourse appalling and would never consent to engage in it,” it’s “all sexual intercourse is inherently rape.” That’s like, the opposite of a personal opinion that only affects the speaker.

    -  Listen… I’m really not trying to aggravate you, but I for one am completely unaffected by the speaking, and I’m pretty sure any woman I’ve ever been physically close to has been as well.
    -  I don’t think it’s a movement that’s going to cause a whole lot of impressionable people to, you know… not.  So she kinda gets a pass.  If she starts, I don’t know, sewing on people in their sleep or advocating such, I’ll reassess.

  78. 78
    A. Noyd

    ChasCPeterson (#66)

    Me, when I talk or write, I try to know what the words I use mean before I use them. But that’s just me.

    Maybe when you get done polishing your #1 Pompous Blowhard trophy you can acknowledge that Dworkin probably was using the right word because the ultimate expression of dominance would be murder.

  79. 79
    A. Noyd

    @Azkyroth (#67)
    Look, I don’t keep track of every altercation on Pharyngula and I don’t really feel like trying to sort out WTF you’re talking about in that regard. My point is, you’re not correctly paraphrasing what Skeptifem or anyone else has been saying. (That holds true even if other people are mis-paraphrasing you.) The notion that some failures of rationality are inherently more influential and dangerous than others is hardly a new or minor one around here.

    I think you would get farther if you brought up some explicit, non-hypothetical example of what you mean by damage. You’re being rather vague, which makes it hard for people to respond to you without guessing at your meaning.

  80. 80
    weatherwax

    This kind of viewpoint may be very fringe in feminist community as a whole, but it was pretty common at my college in the late 1990′s early 2000′s. Admittedly I went to a very left wing college, Humboldt State. I actually turned against feminism for awhile after being bombarded with this kind of nonsense. The last straw was being told that male children raped their mothers in the act of being born.

  81. 81
    neverjaunty

    I agree that the comparison is disappointing and awful. It’s exactly what MRAs do when they want to justify their hate-ons. “See, look, here’s a random blog where some crazy broad says all sex is rape and evil, so BACK ATCHA, LADIES!”

  82. 82
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    I can sort of understand the “flipside” wording – since the MRA contingent are actually the extreme end of anti-feminism though want to appear as though they’re the normal majority view, showing this as the actual extreme end of feminism as a “flipside” to the MRA movement can show how utterly awful said MRA ideas really are. It really shows the lengths you have to go to reach those extremes. A good illustration of the scope of the problems feminists face, perhaps. How people can see MRA rhetoric as less extreme than writings such as in the OP when frankly they are basically opposite viewpoints on the horribly bigoted end of the social justice spectrum.

    They’re by no means equivalent in the potential for harm though – as people have said upthread writing like the woman in the OP will have you dismissed as completely mad by pretty much everyone except the teeny-tiny percentage of people who share your views. On the opposite end, we have all sorts of people agreeing with the same ideas, or admitting they miiight just have a point, so long as they denigrate women rather than men.
    Kinda blows the “both sides” fallacy out of the water when you see where the perceived middle ground lies.

    On the idea that you can see how a lifetime of abuse could produce such ideas – of course! I expect that most people with awful ideas don’t just spontaneously generate them, religious people are usually indoctrinated from a young age, racist people learn it from their environment and even people with PTSD can sometimes generate mental barriers as defense mechanisms that may include delusional ideas*. It’s easy enough to understand the causes of these things and sympathise, as we should. What we shouldn’t do is excuse the harm that these behaviours can cause simply because the cause of those ideas or actions wasn’t the fault of the person speaking or acting. The words/actions themselves have consequences and are not exempt from criticism, no matter how understandable the cause is.
    Bad behaviours like this are often understandable, but not excusable.

    *I am by no means trying to equate PTSD sufferers with racists or the religious or any other sort of bigot. I am simply attempting (probably badly) to articulate how ideologies and behaviour are often shaped by experience. It is of course still a choice for people with bigoted ideas to perpetuate or reject them – people suffering from PTSD or similar conditions brought on by trauma can’t simply choose not to.

  83. 83
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    I do think there’s a categorical difference between those on the fringes of radical feminism like the OP and the MRA which starts with institutional power but goes even deeper than that.

    For example, MRAs advocate violent means used against women and those who don’t agree with them and they actively try to influence political landscapes to make their ideas into laws that will affect people. Like some MRAs want to rescind the right of women to vote or the right of women to leave abusive relationships as a matter of law

    Those on the radfem fringes mostly just blather on and on. They have no political clout nor any desire to get some, and not even a sheen of legitimacy anywhere. (look at how Andrea Dworkin is STILL treated, decades later, by people who have never read a word she wrote but just buys into the media portrayal of her. Skeptics, at that!)

    They agitate for no legislation nor any other means to enforce their ideas upon others. That doesn’t make them less wrong, of course, it just makes them less dangerous and less… well, less the scary big dude who will try to physically hurt you if you argue with him and more the sad, bitter aunt who has been severely hurt by numerous people and so rants and raves about it non-stop whenever she sees you while refusing to leave her house so you have to run her errands for her and feed her cats and stuff and no one really listens to her anymore or visits her other than you. If that makes sense.

    I also think that while it doesn’t exempt them from criticism at all, there is a distinction to be made between “people with raging entitlement and desire to dominate” and “people with reaction to a lifetime of oppression and horrible abuse” just as there’s a distinction to be made between raging against those with more power and shitting on those with less power, (which is what they do with trans* folk and why I am more vocal about my strong disagreement with them on their stance regarding trans* people than my disagreement with them regarding men.)

    Which doesn’t mean that they should be free from criticism for their views on men at all, it just places them on a different place from the MRA which makes the comparison problematic.

  84. 84
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    lindsay

    Sex does sometimes hurt the first time…. but so does yoga.

    I admit that I never tried yoga again…

    zibble
    I think you have a point. It’s like noticing that there are actually black supremacists out there, but that their potential harm is neglegible.

    +++

    The fact intercourse causes so many infections and tears and warts attests to the unnaturalness of intercourse, that it’s not meant to be.
    I guess she never has actually given birth. Because if something is prone to cause these things, it’s birth.

    +++
    theoreticalgrrrrl
    I agree that this is not “Radical Feminism” as such. But since There’s TERFS and these “Room of their Own” people I personally don’t give a fuck about the label anymore.

    I’ve read various radical feminist writers and blogs and I’ve seen a few individual posters who think PIV sex can be *risky* for a woman’s health (and they usually propose other ways of enjoying sex with a partner), but I’ve seen even LESS who actually believe penis in vagina sex = rape, no matter what.

    Yes, and I’m allowed to take that risk, TYVM.
    I’m really annoyed by people, with their best intentions, treat me like I didn’t know what I want or like.

    Who is damaged by what she said, Azkyroth? Women wanting to avoid sex because they experienced sexual abuse, and then further abuse by the judicial system if they dare report it is not an irrational response, it’s their way of dealing with it.

    No, that’s not what she does.
    If she has no interest in sex with men, be it because that’s her orientation or because she’s been heavily traumatized, more power to her.
    But she says explicitely that all PIV sex is rape. And yes, that doesn’t only demean men, it also hurts rape survivors, because it suddenly equates their hurt and pain and trauma with all the consensual PIV sex somebody like me ever had. It makes discussions about rape meaningless.

    Gen

    Those on the radfem fringes mostly just blather on and on.

    Except when they go after trans* women and out them with the explicit hope that somebody will hurt or kill them.

  85. 85
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    That’s a spectacular offering to Borkquote I just produced…
    Let me try again:

    lindsay

    Sex does sometimes hurt the first time…. but so does yoga.

    I admit that I never tried yoga again…

    zibble
    I think you have a point. It’s like noticing that there are actually black supremacists out there, but that their potential harm is neglegible.

    +++

    The fact intercourse causes so many infections and tears and warts attests to the unnaturalness of intercourse, that it’s not meant to be.

    I guess she never has actually given birth. Because if something is prone to cause these things, it’s birth.

    +++
    theoreticalgrrrrl
    I agree that this is not “Radical Feminism” as such. But since There’s TERFS and these “Room of their Own” people I personally don’t give a fuck about the label anymore.

    I’ve read various radical feminist writers and blogs and I’ve seen a few individual posters who think PIV sex can be *risky* for a woman’s health (and they usually propose other ways of enjoying sex with a partner), but I’ve seen even LESS who actually believe penis in vagina sex = rape, no matter what.

    Yes, and I’m allowed to take that risk, TYVM.
    I’m really annoyed by people, with their best intentions, treat me like I didn’t know what I want or like.

    Who is damaged by what she said, Azkyroth? Women wanting to avoid sex because they experienced sexual abuse, and then further abuse by the judicial system if they dare report it is not an irrational response, it’s their way of dealing with it.

    No, that’s not what she does.
    If she has no interest in sex with men, be it because that’s her orientation or because she’s been heavily traumatized, more power to her.
    But she says explicitely that all PIV sex is rape. And yes, that doesn’t only demean men, it also hurts rape survivors, because it suddenly equates their hurt and pain and trauma with all the consensual PIV sex somebody like me ever had. It makes discussions about rape meaningless.

    Gen

    Those on the radfem fringes mostly just blather on and on.

    Except when they go after trans* women and out them with the explicit hope that somebody will hurt or kill them.

  86. 86
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Giliell

    Except when they go after trans* women and out them with the explicit hope that somebody will hurt or kill them.

    Yes, and I made specific mention of that in my post and how I’m much more vocal about that and why.

  87. 87
    Louis

    Wow! I learned the starters of feminism right here so this OP and thread surprise me a bit. I’m just going to say that Gen @ #82, Skeptifem @ #24, and Ally Fogg @ #16, have said what I need to.

    The person in the OP is about as representative of “RadFems” (in my experience) as JohnTheOther is of “men who might like access to their children after a divorce”. I.e. Not Very. The OP person ain’t no “flip side” and the “flip side” itself ain’t very flip.

    Louis

  88. 88
    oolon

    I see there is some disquiet about calling radfems the “flip side” of MRAs, most of that seems to be because they are not as bad or they have reasons for being as they are due to patriarchy. Well I’d argue they are not the flip side because they are worse. They don’t have the same depth of unpleasant views that MRAs do about all women, about things like rape etc, some women are to be hated as strongly as any MRA does though. They are far more effective in spreading their hate. I see some people saying they have no political clout. Say that to the trans teen who was bullied onto suicide watch by the Pacific Justice Insitute (Ex-gay xtian group) allied with Cathy Brennan (TERf “leader”) … Not to mention Brennan and E Hungerford petitioning the UN to remove rights from trans people. When have Paul Elam and pals ever been effective about anything other than railing impotently against feminists? TERfs are organised and have experience as activists, they deny anything they do hurts trans ppl, mainly women as they ignore trans men, but the bigotry they spread ends up in trans women’s deaths. Either directly through violence inspired by the bigotry or indirectly by doxxing them, houding them out of jobs, dehumanising until they commit suicide. They couldn’t give a shit about this as from their perspective it’s the much hated men in society killing themselves or being removed. Or even more extreme is their view that trans women are men pretending to be women to gain access to “womens” spaces and rape them. So it’s just rapists dying from their perspective, and who cares about them. Anyone that stands up against the TERfs is called a “Men’s Rights Activist” … Says it all.

    From my limited perspective this split seems to be doing the feminist movement some harm as well. Mainstream feminists cosy up to the TERfs when it is expedient or out and out support them personally without necessarily coming out as trans exclusionary themselves. This has led to a lot of distrust in the trans community towards feminists and feminism in general from what I can see. Atheismplus has got a lot of support, on Twitter at least, as being a vocally trans friendly branch of atheistic feminism. This equivocation in condemning TERfs due to a shared feminist cause doesn’t seem to be helpful to me. They are hateful bigots, I’m sorry they’ve been oppressed by a patriarchal society, but that doesn’t give a bunch of mainly middle class white feminists a free pass. Always seems strange how many trans women point out that WoC have never given them the same shit as privileged white feminists have. Maybe being oppressed doesn’t give you a free pass.

    So TL:DR –> sign the petition Secular Woman Petition to Monitor Cathy Brennans hate Website
    Hopefully PZ has tweeted that link …. A blog post on it would be nice too, only 1000 or so signatures to go! ;-)

  89. 89
    Amy Cocks

    They’d be a much better flip-side if they were into making up evo-psych just-so-stories. “Because – artificial insemination and disease” simply won’t cut it in the world of biased pseudoscience. Tell us got only got into using fire as a tool so’s to “bless” and sterilise the insemination sticks or something…anything. Suggestions?

  90. 90
    zenlike

    Well Amy, WW and her little flock of commenters don’t seem to be into pseudo-science, but more into anti-science, wicca-spirituality, whatever-newage-bs is popular at the moment crap. I honestly don’t know which one is better, but at lest they are not even trying to make it sound ‘scientific’ (it wouldn’t surprise me if they saw science as a male patriarchical construct or something).

  91. 91
    paulmccue

    Reading her blog just makes me sad. I don’t know how old she is but it would seem that she could use some help. Not just in her critical thinking skills, which are lacking, but personally. How many women actually feel like this? I don’t know, but can’t help but feel that engagement with them has to be better than derision. Is this recent post a click-bait controversy or a widely held view by feminists, albeit radical ones?

  92. 92
    chrislawson

    1. PZ, please don’t use the term radfem as a blanket term, especially with this writer as its opposed exemplar.

    2. Skeptifem@24: tangible harm to others:

    In the late 80s/early 90s when IVF was just developing as a technology, a group of radical feminists teamed up with the Catholic Church to lobby the Australian government to ban IVF. Their agendas were completely different of course, but both groups found it useful to play the “women only undertake IVF because they have been brainwashed to want it” card. Was much harm done? No, because the attempt to block IVF failed…so comprehensively that now in Australia IVF is publicly funded (up to a point). But the fact remains that any group that dedicates itself to destroying the rights of others in order to pursue a vision of moral/social purity is potentially dangerous. Of course, in real life, the potential harm done by this philosophy is virtually nil–purely by dint of it being wildly unpopular–whereas MRAs continue to cause huge amounts of pain and suffering, so I’m not arguing for any sort of equivalency.

    3. To many re: Andrea Dworkin. When she claimed that she never said intercourse was inherently oppressive, she was being economical with the truth.. She gave different messages to different people.

    I’m about to give some examples. Before reading them, though, I would ask for some understanding that I am not going on a Dworkin-hunt. My opinion is that she had a lot of valuable things to say and it is unfortunate that her legacy seems to hinge on a never-ending fight between one group of people trying to dismiss her entire life’s work because she opposed penetrative sex and another group of people trying to pretend her frank and obvious anti-penetrative belief wasn’t real. Dworkin had some very important things to say about sexuality in her time and culture (which is still pretty much this time and culture), and she also said some ridiculous things which should be noted, acknowledged, and then put to the side.

    Here are some examples…

    [A] Making inappropriate equivalence with the Holocaust and making up bullshit:

    The Power of Words.

    In Berlin in the late 1920s, Joseph Goebbels, soon to be Nazi Minister of Propaganda under Hitler, organized an anti-Semitic propaganda campaign that took the form of cartoons. These cartoons all ridiculed one individual, a Jewish police official. In one cartoon this man, broadly caricatured with a huge, crooked nose and derisively nicknamed “Isidor,” is sitting on a pavement…The police official sued Goebbels to stop publication of the libelous, malicious material. Goebbels, making full use of democratic protections ensuring free speech, was acquitted. On appeal, his acquittal was upheld because the court equated the word Jew with Protestant or Catholic. If there was no insult involved in calling a Protestant a Protestant, how could there be injury in calling a Jew a Jew?

    Comment: while Dworkin was on the right side here, it’s hard to see the justification for comparing a university magazine editor calling his feminist accusers “lesbians” with Goebbels using his vast and powerful propaganda machine to incite Germans against a specific Jewish police chief. Especially since she’s wrong. The Jewish police chief in question (Bernard Weiss, whom Dworkin doesn’t name) actually *won* all sixty separate defamation actions against Goebbels. Yes, 60! The lesson here is that a functioning civil law system is no defence against a murderous fascist regime, but Dworkin wanted to equate the defamation of feminists as “lesbian” with the defamation of Jews under Nazism so she didn’t bother to check her facts.

    [B] Claiming that all penetrative sex is a form of oppression:

    From Intercourse, p. 253:

    Intercourse is not necessary to existence anymore. Existence does not rely on female compliance, nor on the violation of female boundaries, nor on lesser female privacy, nor on the physical occupation of the female body. But the hatred of women is a source of sexual pleasure for men in its own right. Intercourse appears to the expression of that contempt in pure form, in the form of a sexed hierarchy; it requires no passion or heart because it is power without invention articulating the arrogance of those who do the fucking. Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women.

    Comment: Sorry about the long quotes here and below, but any attempt to truncate will inevitably be written of as quoting out of context.

    [C] Having it both ways on reproductive technology, and demonising people she doesn’t agree with:

    From Intercourse, p. 254:

    Reproductive technologies are strengthening male dominance, invigorating it by providing new ways of policing women’s reproductive capacities, bringing them under stricter male scrutiny and control; and the experimental development of these technologies has been sadistic, using women as if they were sexual laboratory animals–rabbits, mice, cats, with kinky uteri. For increasing numbers of men, bondage and torture of the female genitals (that were entered into and occupied in the gold old days) may supplant intercourse as a sexual practice.

    Comment: so on the one hand, reproductive technologies mean that we no longer need intercourse to reproduce, hooray! But on the other hand, reproductive technologies are a form of sexual torture inflicted on women by men (and apparently Dworkin was not aware of a single female fertility specialist) — and it’s a form of torture because it involves vaginal penetration.

    [D] Insisting women have no agency if they think they want vaginal intercourse, and saying women are biologically predisposed to enjoying non-penetrative sex:

    Ibid, p. 229:

    Despite all efforts to socialise women to want intercourse–e.g. women’s magazines to pornography to Dynasty; incredible rewards and punishments to get women to conform and put out–women still want a more diffuse and tender sensuality that involves the whole body and a polymorphous tenderness.

    [E] Insisting that removing rape culture, empowering women, letting women choose their own sexual preferences is not enough because it does not address Dworkin’s belief that intercourse is, of itself, oppressive.

    Ibid, p. 229-230:

    There are efforts to reform the circumstances that surround intercourse, the circumstances that at least apparently contribute to its disreputable (in terms of rights and justice) legend and legacy. These reforms include: more deference to female sexuality prior to the act; less verbal assault as part of sexual expressiveness towards women; some lip service to female initiation of sex and female choice during lovemaking…[edited out a long list of things Dworkin says are being worked on to improve female experience of sex]… These contextual reforms would then provide for the possibility that intercourse could be experienced in a world of social equality for the sexes. These reforms do not in any way address the question of whether intercourse itself can be an expression of sexual equality.

    Comment: emphasis mine, but you can see that her point is that sexual intercourse is a form of inequality even in a hypothetical society where women get to freely choose their own sexual acts.

    …And on and on. There are many, many more examples.

    Now for an important caveat: I’m not suggesting that people should ignore or dismiss Dworkin.

    She had her reasons for saying these things. And even though I’ve listed a lot of harsh criticisms of Dworkin here, it’s really only because I get tired of people wilfully ignoring her actual words. Dworkin was opposed to penetrative intercourse as a sex act. She made it clear over and over. Which I wouldn’t mind if she was just applying her rules to herself, but it’s clear she thought that penetration was inherently bad for all women on prima facie moral grounds and was probably “immune to reform”.

    But she also had many admirable qualities: she fought against exploitative pornography. She fought against rape culture. Despite identifying as a lesbian she fell in love with a (gay) man and married him and (admirably IMHO) couldn’t care less what other people thought of their relationship. She fought against apartheid long before it was fashionable to do so. She used semi-colons a lot (I know, it’s a small thing, but I am so tired of the reverse-snobbish prejudice against semi-colons in modern writing).

    If I were to pick one thing that I think shows she had a more nuanced and interesting philosophy than her critics and some of her supporters give her credit for, it’s that when she attempted to ban pornography in Minneapolis (and later New York), her attempts to create civil suits against pornographers by abused ex-porn actresses fell through on First Amendment grounds (yes, really). When other people tried to reopen the campaign by enacting obscenity laws instead of pursuing civil suits, she was strongly against it and argued that obscenity laws are terrible things–Dworkin was fully aware that obscenity laws are a tool of the authoritarian, not the liberal reformer, and that “their basic presumption is that it’s women’s bodies that are dirty.” She understood that obscenity, like blasphemy really, is defined by the most powerful person in the room.

    So please, let’s move the defence from “Dworkin didn’t say that” to “Yes, Dworkin said that or something pretty close to that, but that’s not what makes her important.”

  93. 93
    PZ Myers

    I agree that this person is not representative of radfems, of course — Amanda Marcotte considers herself a radical feminist (and that most feminists now belong to the category of what would be called a radical feminist 20 years ago) — and that she’s very much on the fringe. Do we have a term for that, though? TERF didn’t fit, because she’s not talking about trans folk…although I wouldn’t be surprised if she was a fellow traveller.

    She’s an extremist who makes authoritarian arguments against one sex. That’s what makes her the flip side of MRAs. That she’s a victim of rather than a beneficiary of privilege is a fair point, but not the issue that provoked me.

  94. 94
    chimera

    Paulmccue @89

    How old are they? Who are they? Where are they? How many of them are there?

    I don’t know but here’s an NYT article from 2009 about dwindling separatist communities that would want us to read it as a portrait of a group. The women come off as some kind of latter-day Shakers in the fine old American tradition of attempts at utopian community. I’m copying and pasting it here because the NYT allows free access to only 10 articles a month for non-subscribers, so this may be behind a paywall for some. The photographs accompanying the article are really nice and add a lot to the text. So if you haven’t used up your 10-article/month allowance do click here.

    I know from friends that there are also communities like this in Australia.

    MY SISTER’S KEEPER

    THEY called it a lesbian paradise, the pioneering women who made their way to St. Augustine, Fla., in the 1970s to live together in cottages on the beach. Finding one another in the fever of the gay rights and women’s liberation movements, they built a matriarchal community, where no men were allowed, where even a male infant brought by visitors was cause for debate.

    Emily Greene was one of those pioneers, and at 62 she still chooses to live in a separate lesbian world. She and 19 other women have built homes on 300 rural acres in northeast Alabama, where the founders of the Florida community, the Pagoda, relocated in 1997.Behind a locked gate whose security code is changed frequently, the women pursue quiet lives in a community they call Alapine, largely unnoticed by their Bible Belt neighbors — a lost tribe from the early ’70s era of communes and radical feminism. “I came here because I wanted to be in nature, and I wanted to have lesbian neighbors,” said Ms. Greene, a retired nurse. She hopes the women, ages 50 to 75, will be able to raise enough money to build assisted-living facilities on the land and set up hospice care.

    She walks each day in the woods with her two dogs, Lily, a border collie mix, and Rita Mae, a Jack Russell terrier and beagle mix named for Rita Mae Brown, the feminist activist and author of the lesbian classic “Rubyfruit Jungle.” Ms. Greene trims branches of oak, hickory and sassafras trees and stops by the grave of a deer she buried in the woods after it was hit by a car. She named it Miracle. “I talk to Miracle every day,” Ms. Greene said. “That is one of my joys of living here.”

    These days, she and other members worry about the future of Alapine, which is one of about 100 below-the-radar lesbian communities in North America, known as womyn’s lands (their preferred spelling), whose guiding philosophies date from a mostly bygone era.

    The communities, most in rural areas from Oregon to Florida, have as few as two members; Alapine is one of the largest. Many have steadily lost residents over the decades as members have moved on or died. As the impulse to withdraw from heterosexual society has lost its appeal to younger lesbians, womyn’s lands face some of the same challenges as Catholic convents that struggle to attract women to cloistered lives.

    “The younger generation has not had to go through what we went through,” Ms. Greene said. She and other Alapine women described leading double lives when they were younger, playing the role of straight women in jobs and even marriages. “I came out in the middle ’60s, and we didn’t even have the word lesbian then,” Ms. Greene said.

    “We are really going to have to work at how we carry this on,” she added. “In 20 to 25 years, we could be extinct.”

    BEHIND the gate at Alapine, about five miles from the nearest town in the southern Appalachian mountains near Georgia, the women live in simple houses or double-wide trailers on roads they have named after goddesses, like Diana Drive. They meet for potluck dinners, movie and game nights and “community full moon circles” during which they sing, read poems and share thoughts on topics like “Mercury in retrograde — how is it affecting our communication?”

    The women agreed to be interviewed on the condition that the exact location of their homes not be revealed because they fear harassment from outsiders. Many in the network of womyn’s lands have avoided publicity, living a sheltered existence for decades, advertising available homes and properties through word of mouth or in small newsletters and lesbian magazines.

    But the women at Alapine were willing to be interviewed because of their concern that their female-centered community would disappear if they did not reach out to younger women.

    Winnie Adams, 66, who describes herself as a “radical feminist separatist lesbian,” sold her house in Florida in 1999 to move to Alapine. Earlier in her life, she had been married and had two daughters (neither of whom would be permitted to live with her now because they are not lesbians). She worked as a management information systems consultant for government agencies, she said, but when she came out as a lesbian was driven from her job by stress and discrimination.

    Ms. Adams’s partner, Barbara Moore, 63, was in the Army in the 1960s, when what she described as a “witch hunt” for gay men and lesbians in the military forced her out.

    Both women, who like most of the others at Alapine were once married and had children, said they were deeply scarred by their experiences.

    “I did everything I was supposed to do,” Ms. Adams said. “I went to college, I got my job, I got my man, I got my two kids. But it still didn’t feel right. I didn’t know that I was a lesbian because I didn’t know what that was. It was the ’50s and ’60s and nobody ever talked about it. It took me a long time to come to terms with it and come out.”

    For Ms. Adams, every choice she makes today — which restaurant to go to, which contractor to hire, which music to listen to — is guided by a preference to be around women.

    “To me, this is the real world,” she said. “And it’s a very peaceful world. I don’t hear anything except the leaves falling. I get up in the morning, I go out on my front deck and I dance and I say, ‘It’s another glorious day on the mountain.’ Men are violent. The minute a man walks in the dynamics change immediately, so I choose not to be around those dynamics.”

    In addition to the 20 women living at Alapine, some single and some in couples, 15 more own property with plans to retire there or to build a second home. Two-acre plots cost $25,000, with seven still for sale. Some residents grow fruit and vegetables, and one couple, Ellen Taylor, 75, and her partner, Mary, 63, who did not want her last name used, keep four chickens they call the Golden Girls.

    Residents keep a low profile among their neighbors, including many Baptists, and say there have been no hostile incidents, unlike at some other womyn’s lands.

    “We just don’t announce our lesbianism,” said Morgana MacVicar, 61, one of the Alapine founders, who lives with her partner of 20 years. “People know who we are. We don’t want somebody who’s making a political statement here.”

    The women said they sometimes heard references in town to “those women artists” or “those craftswomen.” At a recent dinner at a local restaurant, 15 Alapine members, speaking in hushed voices around a table, drew curious glances.

    One obstacle to drawing younger women is employment. Many of the lesbian communities are located far from cities and other job sources. Only one Alapine resident has a full-time job, as a social worker in town. The others live on savings or income from consulting or piecemeal work.

    There is strident debate within and across the womyn’s lands about who should be allowed to join. Many residents subscribe to strict lesbian separatism, meaning that men are permitted only as temporary visitors and that straight, bisexual and transsexual women are also excluded.

    Recently when an Alapine resident received a visit from a 6-month-old grandson, an e-mail message went out to all residents, perhaps only partly in humor: “There’s a man on the land.”

    JANE R. Dickie, a professor of women’s studies and psychology at Hope College in Michigan, who has studied one of the womyn’s lands, in Missouri, said she was struck by the differences between the residents — feminists of an earlier era — and her students.

    “There was a real sense of the need to strongly identify as a woman and have women’s space,” Dr. Dickie, 62, said of the women’s movement of the ’60s and ’70s. “We really felt the need to be apart, to draw on our strength and our own empowerment. But young feminists today recoil at the idea of identity politics, of being in this one category.” Among the few younger women who are part of the movement, there is concern that the old-guard lesbians are too rigid at a time when they need to be more flexible, if for nothing else than self-preservation.

    “I see the whole picture and the idea of a womyn’s land utopia, unless you have unlimited amounts of finances for yourself, I’ve watched one after another go belly up,” said Andrea Gibbs-Henson, 42, who lives at Camp Sister Spirit, a womyn’s land in Ovett, Miss., where she became executive director when her mother, one of the founders, died last year. “The bottom line is the world is too diverse. The whole idea of a feminist utopia, it’s just an ideal. We would not survive here if all we did was cater to lesbian separatists.”

    Camp Sister Spirit has more flexible policies on who is allowed on the land; even at Alapine, some of the women do not believe in pure separatism.

    But Rand Hall, 63, one of the newest Alapine residents, whose 50-year-old stepdaughter has joined her on the property, said separatism still makes sense today.

    “Outside the gate, it’s still a man’s world,” said Ms. Hall, who retired as the publisher of a gay and lesbian newspaper in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla., and moved to Alapine in 2006. “And women are not safe, period. It’s just that simple.”

    “I don’t have curtains,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about someone watching me dress or undress. There’s also a sense of community, a sense of supporting each other.”

    Ms. Hall added: “It’s not as competitive. Women, when they’re together, tend to be more cooperative. They don’t look for one to succeed and all the others to fail. In the mainstream world that’s what it is. Somebody has to be on top so everyone else has to be on the bottom.”

    At Alapine, the development corporation owned by three women who started the earlier women’s community in Florida sells plots to individual owners. If someone who owns decides to resell, the development corporation has the right to buy the property. The women at Alapine have agreed that they want to remain a lesbian-only community. They acknowledge that this could make them vulnerable to a legal challenge from a nonlesbian, but they say no such challenges have arisen.

    “We don’t want to spend the last 20 years of our lives fighting about another big issue,” Ms. MacVicar said. “It was hard enough fighting for the last 30 years. But now it’s a family that wants to be here and die here.”

  95. 95
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    PZ:

    That’s what I took from the post title, the equivalency in argument, not power or potential for harm.

    No idea what to call those kinds of people… Exfems? Extremist feminists? Can’t really not call them feminists since that’s what they identify as, even if their beliefs don’t line up with what we strive for. Consistency matters, really. hm.

  96. 96
    paulburnett

    I was in a meeting with some radfems decades ago. One of them stated that all men were potential rapists because they had a penis. A man replied that all women were potential whores because they had a vagina, but could we please move beyond schoolyard insults. It took a while for the room to quiet down.

  97. 97
    OptimalCynic

    I still stand by TERF. She is at the least guilty of erasure by implying very strongly that a penis must be attached to a man.

  98. 98
    OptimalCynic

    Or how about LERF – logic excluding radical feminist? There’s nothing wrong with radical feminism, it’s just when you strip away the logic and inclusiveness that it turns sour (something you could say about most movements, really, including mens rights).

  99. 99
    chimera

    Thank you Chris Lawson @90. That was well done and really enlightening.

  100. 100
    Sassafras

    I read “the flip side of MRAs” to mean “having irrational, hateful views of sexual relations as MRAs but from a reversed perspective”, since that’s what the post is about. “Flip side” doesn’t necessarily entail that the subjects be exactly equal in all other respects.

  101. 101
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    paulburnett @94:

    Except that Schrӧdinger ‘s rapist is not a schoolyard insult.

    I am privileged. I am a large, white, straight, cis male. If I decide to go out in the evening for a walk and smoke a nice 2-hour cigar, I don’t worry about footsteps. I don’t worry about that man walking down the street towards me. I don’t worry about a van slowing down near me. When I go out for dinner on a date (all with Wife now), I never had to wonder if this night was going to end up as a rape. When I go to a party, I don’t have to wonder if the person plying me with drinks is setting me up for a rape. I don’t worry about leaving my beer unattended for a moment. Why? Because the chances of me, a large adult male, being raped is minuscule.

    Every one of those situations are, to most women, a red flag — will someone (usually male) decide to rape tonight and will I be the one? And there is absolutely no way for a woman to know the actual answer to that until the indeterminacy has resolved itself. Remember that there is almost nothing a woman can do to prevent a rape — all those rape prevention tips are bullshit: at the worst, they show the victim that it is her fault, they show the police, the courts, her family, that it is her fault; at the minimum, they limit the rights of women (who still get raped) — a man (almost always) may make the decision to commit a rape and there is no way for a woman to know whether or not a man will make this decision.

    Schrӧdinger ‘s rapist, as a concept, is not radical. This is how many, perhaps most, women look at the world whether they consider themselves feminists or not! They may not use that term, may not even know that term, but from a very young age, women are trained to view every man as a potential rapist.

    Please note that I did not say all men are rapists. Some are. Far too many are. But how does a woman, a child, know which one is a rapist, and which one is not?

  102. 102
    carlie

    Every one of those situations are, to most women, a red flag — will someone (usually male) decide to rape tonight and will I be the one?

    And before anyone jumps in to say “that’s ridiculous, a woman has problems if she lives her life that way, thinking about that all the time”, think about the fact that, when a rape is reported in the news, the first thing people say is “Well, of course, what did she think she would happen walking around at night/in that neighborhood/alone/dressed like that/talking to him?”

  103. 103
    loopyj

    It’s a strange feminism that tells women what the single, intended purpose of their vaginas are.

    PZ – Are these ‘Radfems’ women who hate men but are still interested in them sexually? It doesn’t sound like that’s the case, so they’re not really the ‘flip side’ of MRAs. MRAs are, and it seems to me that they are exclusively, men who want women for sex but don’t actually like them for anything else.

  104. 104
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    PaulBurnett

    I was in a meeting with some radfems decades ago. One of them stated that all men were potential rapists because they had a penis. A man replied that all women were potential whores because they had a vagina, but could we please move beyond schoolyard insults. It took a while for the room to quiet down.

    Hmmm, one of them is about commiting a violent crime against another person and the other one is about charging money for providing a service with one’s body.
    Looks like a primary example of entrenched misogyny when one is equated with the other.
    BTW, every human is a potential X for every X they are theoretically capable of. Because world’s history is full with tales of ordinary people doing horrible things that make our toenails curl.
    I will only every believe “I would not do X” if the person has been in the actual situation. Or on a deathbed…

  105. 105
    Nathan Hull

    Firstly, I’d be wary of the automatic assumption that ”radfems” have been subjected to horrific abuse at the hands of men, although a large chunk would have. So-called ”sex negative”, anti-male feminists generally tend to be pretty awful people, and seem particularly intolerant of women who have different views than they do. They also seem quite similar to puritanical religionists when it comes to porn – who can forget the images of feminists standing side-by-side with Bible-pounding censorship advocates?

  106. 106
    Jim Newman

    Having gotten involved with first a lesbian roommate and then gotten romantically involved with a lesbian separatist that decided she had to be man stream for many reasons I well remember these issues when the were common discourse in the early 70′s–and yes AD was in popular media and well known however way you took her. This was also a time when all pornography were considered snuff films and a young women self-immoated herself outside Shinders in downtown MPLS in protest of their selling pornography. Al Goldstein was also making an ass of himself with his Screw magazine, the only redeeming feature of which was you didn’t have to be attractive to be in it.

    Another aspect of this discourse was that sex was like death because an erection was similar to rigor mortis, the swelling of organs from fluid. Further that biologists were finally figuring out how rape was so prevalent in animal species–the duck being being a classic example giving new meaning to Duck Dynasty. Further that penile size and shape seemed to be associated with male competition with even the female trying to have some say as shown in the new field of spermology. But what seemed clear was that the vagina was yet another place for male competition.

    The penis and vagina are totally unnecessary for reproduction and the only reason they exist are because of sexual competition and reproductive control. Some even consider the evolution of a large head making it inherently difficult to birth children is a result of the greater need for reasoning and not between communities but between genders, or at least in part. Indeed the long support required for human babies and children has not been kind on female autonomy, physically, socially, or politically–and certainly not economically which is what counts now–the joke that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle would be altogether too true but for sperm and support during pregnancy, infancy, and war–contrary to popular belief hunting has little to do with it as Marvin Harris aptly supports.

    Humans are one of the few mammals that go out of heat rather than into it. This constant sexualization of social relations strongly effects us in ways that make parallels to other animals difficult. One has to wonder if this didn’t happen as a response to sexual competition to encourage women, like the female orgasm, to actually want to breed often enough to continue the species. To make troublesome or difficult acts happy ones does not make them less difficult and troublesome either historically, morphologically, physiologically, or within the long view of evolution. At least we aren’t dogs where once connected their can be no going back–sorry, had to go there, as I just heard it again on a podcast, LOL.

    Of course reviews of classic sex literature discussed the inherent power issues of various sex positions. The ERA debate furthered discussion of inherent power differentials based on the relative gender sizes of humans and that effect on sex, consent, implied consent, and silent dissent–which is why I say not only does no mean no but yes may actually mean no as well, and from I hear often does at least mean we should talk about this more. Erica Jong rebounded on this by showing that women may actually like, demand casual sex returning American society to a more early european discussion where it seemed like it was women who were lascivious and men who wanted greater restraint–until it came to their mistress. The Hippie movement was beautiful in its hypocrisy that men could could have multiple partners but women should not.

    Wonder woman comics, my mother’s favorite (my sole parent), made popular the Amazonia discussion of gender separatism and while men laughed that such places would inevitably die out many women were inspired by her, them, and the idea of women having at least more power if the couldn’t own society as men did.

    Of course male push back is that women did exercise some control in the sense that even my mother would say if she wanted to get better service she just had to put on a skirt–small consolation really. In school she had been told she couldn’t do gymnastics because it would turn her insides around and possibly make her barren. The farm side of my family had two generations of females that never remarried after illicit child birth and they lived at home for their entire lives. My mother foolishly fell for a deceitful Disney cartoonist and when pregnant was told she could either have an abortion or leave the country–she chose to go to Switz for 12 years before the money ran out and she came home. A female concert pianist, she killed her career by having a child as only men could breed and run, caching their children.

    At any rate, I hope this adds perspective to why these issues really are salient for many people, still, and why I too have to take issue, with due respect that the flip side of MRAs is rather impossible.

    It may be that sex can be kind but human physiology shows an evolution of competition which seems always to the detriment of females. I would hope these leads to greater deference (that I can even make that statement assumes I, a male, have greater, inherent power) and consideration rather than justification as an appeal to nature to continue further a milder but still stagnant status quo. Further, —gotta go, in florida on holiday and groceries are here–happy whatever, really!

  107. 107
    ChasCPeterson

    acknowledge that Dworkin probably was using the right word because the ultimate expression of dominance would be murder.

    I could be wrong. I don’t see anything in the context to suggest it though. Do you really suppose that by “this culture’s penultimate expression of male dominance” Dworkin really meant to say that intercourse is second to last in a series of expressions of male dominance? With only murder as more…what, expressive? dominant? That strikes me as an extremely charitable reading; a real stretch, in fact. What about actual rape? What about the subjugation by pornographers to which she was so dedicatedly opposed?
    No, it’s much more likely that she meant ‘quintessential’ instead. It’s a common error, usually made when the speaker or writer is trying to sound all academic and scholarly.

    Yes, this is trivial and off topic. No, by pointing out a pet-peeve usage error I am not attacking feminism. Yes, I acknowledge that Andrea Dworkin was probably otherwise intelligent and often insightful.

    please. Charitable reading is one thing, but this claim is a real stretch. The quote in question:

    The whole issue of intercourse as this culture’s penultimate expression of male dominance became more and more interesting to me.

  108. 108
    ChasCPeterson

    (oops…forgot to clip off that last bit. Always preview, fool.)

  109. 109
    The Mellow Monkey

    If it’s impossible to say no, then you can’t judge any consent given as meaningful. If you are required to have sex with someone and if that person forces you there is no legal recognition of it as rape, then any consent you give is under duress. Even though I’m far from a fan of her, this is how I charitably read Dworkin on the topic. Followed to its natural conclusion and taking her views of men and women into account, this could be pushed to all sorts of anti-sex interpretations that I don’t think she’d disagree with. She didn’t think the world had many spaces where women had the safety and security to say “no”, after all.

    As a thought experiment and a way to deconstruct our assumptions about sexuality and relationships, it’s valuable to run it through and think about it. It’s not a winning philosophy and it breaks down on the personal level and erases the complexities of gender, sexuality and individual interactions. It’s still valuable because the fact is there are lots of situations where it’s impossible to say no, where the line between consent and non-consent doesn’t matter at all to one’s partner and the fact that it isn’t rape is just a technicality.

    The link in the OP is an example of people who have taken this to an extreme that seems logical if you begin with the (cissexist, gender essentialist) assumption that the world is so outrageously misogynistic that no (cis) woman is capable of meaningfully consenting to being penetrated. It erases individual agency, infantilizes (cis) women and demonizes the sexuality of anyone who enjoys being the penetrator. It’s wrong–and I agree with PZ’s assessment of that wrongness–but if this isn’t a viewpoint someone has thought about before it should lead to consideration instead of just flat rejection.

    If someone can’t say no, then they can’t say yes. They can’t consent. The answer isn’t to declare that, thus, all PIV sex is rape because of the history of it and pressures to engage in it. The answer is to ensure that “no” is always on the table and always an acceptable choice without negative consequences.

  110. 110
    playonwords

    In PZ’s extract I do not recognise the sex as described.

    “Male mounts – Well I’m afraid the only time I have ever used that is when I have been asked. It is always (or should be) a cooperative effort. Normally we prefer a sideways style one leg elevated and morphing into other positions as the mood takes us, Sometimes my lady is on top

    “Thrusts his large member” – errr what? Often I’m guided, I certainly was my first time and even when I’m asked to go it alone it is always slow at first.

    “Banging himself against her with the whole weight of his body and hips,” – what?! any guy who does that is, excuse the sexism, an insensitive dick. What this woman is describing here is rape, pure and simple not consensual sex. Where are the slow moments, the pauses, the sudden advance, the teasing, the conversation both verbal and tactile?

    “Shaking her like he would a corpse,” WHAT?! Get this guy arrested, he should not be on the streets. He lacks empathy and morality. If a woman is lying there like that then he should have got dressed and maybe asking if she would prefer to snuggle.

    Infections and warts (same thing) just shows it is natural because something has evolved to take advantage; in any event both partners need to practise basic hygiene and possibly use barrier methods

    Tears (and tears) – Well, any guy who causes those should be banned from using his penis until, perhaps, he has had an adult circumcision and learnt about sexual pain (that is a jest). If it is hurting the woman YOU DO NOT CARRY ON. If she is still intact and insists on proceeding (some do, I’m told) then ask that she get on top so she can control the process.

    If this describes this womans experience of sex then I feel ashamed that any one of my sex has done this.

  111. 111
    chimera

    playonwords @ 110

    PIV as she describes it does sound awful because of the disqualifying words she uses like “corpse” and so on. How she describes it is obnoxious but what she is describing, I think, is just very heated doggy-style. Sex doesn’t have to always be slow or tender. There are all sorts of ways to do it and some people like it hard and vigorous at least some of the time and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  112. 112
    Rasmus

    Reading her blog just makes me sad. I don’t know how old she is but it would seem that she could use some help. Not just in her critical thinking skills, which are lacking, but personally. How many women actually feel like this? I don’t know, but can’t help but feel that engagement with them has to be better than derision. Is this recent post a click-bait controversy or a widely held view by feminists, albeit radical ones?

    You know, most people have their reasons. These women are probably doing the best they can to help themselves already.

    I’m afraid the root cause of ideas like these pretty much boils down to rape, or the very existence of rape as a phenomenon. So yeah, I think you and I can help by doing things that will lead to rape becoming less common.

  113. 113
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Could we just let Andrea Dworkin rest in her grave?
    What she may have said and may have meant seems to be quite besides the point, unless anybody wants to argue that it is super-special because it was AD who said it

    carlie

    And before anyone jumps in to say “that’s ridiculous, a woman has problems if she lives her life that way, thinking about that all the time”, think about the fact that, when a rape is reported in the news, the first thing people say is “Well, of course, what did she think she would happen walking around at night/in that neighborhood/alone/dressed like that/talking to him?”

    Let’s not forget the bazillion things we simply don’t do in the first place.
    If my husband tells stories from his youth I know that we grew up in a different world, even though we grew up in the same place.
    He grew up in a world where he could just burn through all his money drinking and then walk home, all the way, using the lonely country road. Me? I had to take care not to get too drunk in the first place and then had to make sure I got home in a safe way.

  114. 114
    Endorkened

    I always thought that radfems were imaginary MRA strawmen until I actually met them.

  115. 115
    mnb0

    I wonder what Witchwind thinks of the cowgirl position, with the woman on top?
    Ah well, radfem’s antisexuality is not any more emancipatory than the average MRA view. None of them understands the concept of equaliy in a (sexual) relationship.

  116. 116
    chimera

    Jonathan @ 114

    They may be very radical and nutty but they are still not the strawmen MRAs make them. Some of them have done a lot of harm through promoting anti-trans legislation and hysteria but that isn’t what MRAs hold against them. MRAs paint them as wanting to enslave and hurt cis hetero men when what they –to the extent that we’re speaking of womyn separatists– mostly want is just to be left alone.

  117. 117
    burgundy

    This is my understanding of the radfem take on sex and consent, based on what I have read (with the understanding that of course radical feminism is not a monolith, so this doesn’t hold for everyone who identifies as such. Plus, of course, I could be completely wrong.)

    It’s not just that, as Mellow Monkey said, if you can’t say “no” then “yes” has no meaning. The idea is that the power dynamics of society are present in personal relationships as well. When one partner has significantly more power than the other, you cannot discount the possibility of coercion. It’s not a question of active force or pressure; with a big power imbalance, coercion is built right in. It’s one reason why teacher/student and doctor/patient relationships are such a bad idea.

    So, if men are the ones with power in our society, then that means that they are also the ones with power in romantic/sexual relationships. And that power imbalance means that consent is never unproblematic. The particular woman whose writing clarified this for me included other power dynamics as well – interracial relationships, cis/trans relationships, etc. Members of the oppressor class have power over members of the oppressed class, just inherently, as a function of their membership, and that colors all their interactions and makes consent difficult to navigate. This doesn’t mean that white people are bad partners to people of color, or that cis people mistreat their trans partners. It’s not necessarily about people’s overt actions or conscious thoughts at all.

    And that’s one of the things that makes radical feminism radical. I know a great many people who are perfectly happy to talk about privilege and oppression and power imbalances between groups; I know few if any people who extend that to the individual level. And yet, how can individual relationships really be completely free of those dynamics? It’s uncomfortable for me to think about, because I sure don’t feel oppressed or coerced in my relationships with men. And I’m bisexual, so I can directly compare those relationships to my relationships with women, and while the dynamics are by no means identical, I don’t feel more equal in same-sex relationships. And yet I can’t think of a good reason for assuming that patriarchy magically dissolves at the bedroom door.

  118. 118
    The Mellow Monkey

    burgundy @ 17

    It’s uncomfortable for me to think about, because I sure don’t feel oppressed or coerced in my relationships with men. And I’m bisexual, so I can directly compare those relationships to my relationships with women, and while the dynamics are by no means identical, I don’t feel more equal in same-sex relationships. And yet I can’t think of a good reason for assuming that patriarchy magically dissolves at the bedroom door.

    Right. These are good things to think about and think about them hard, but it’s not just cis men vs. cis women. There are many different axes of power (as well as simple societal conditioning to “be nice”) that can make it difficult for someone to say no. Abusers and sexual predators will often purposefully construct situations that make it harder to say no, or make the no less believable.

    If adults want to have sex and there is Crystal Clear Consent from all involved, grand. But it’s good to be conscious of power dynamics when we’re ensuring that consent is truly and freely given.

    mnb0 @ 115

    I wonder what Witchwind thinks of the cowgirl position, with the woman on top?

    People can be raped in that position, because rape doesn’t always involve pinning a physically resisting victim down.

  119. 119
    chimera

    Mellow Monkey, meet me in the lounge for a strange threadrupt question about consent.

  120. 120
    A. Noyd

    ChasCPeterson (#107)

    I don’t see anything in the context to suggest it though.

    Considering you’re talking about paraphrases and short quotes taken from a variety of much, much longer media, unless you want to track down and go over all the rest of the source material, you shouldn’t speak as if you’ve seen the context.

    Do you really suppose that by “this culture’s penultimate expression of male dominance” Dworkin really meant to say that intercourse is second to last in a series of expressions of male dominance?

    Sure, since she frequently talked or wrote about men killing women in addition to the other stuff. It just wasn’t her chosen area of focus.

    No, it’s much more likely that she meant ‘quintessential’ instead.

    You don’t know enough to say what’s more or less likely. And funny you say that right after you, yourself, came up with a couple other potential “ultimate” expressions of dominance. Maybe if you didn’t tie pointing out your “pet-peeve usage error” into puffing yourself up, you could more easily admit when the basis for your assumptions are flimsy as hell.

  121. 121
    M can help you with that.

    burgundy @ 117 –

    And I’m bisexual, so I can directly compare those relationships to my relationships with women, and while the dynamics are by no means identical, I don’t feel more equal in same-sex relationships. And yet I can’t think of a good reason for assuming that patriarchy magically dissolves at the bedroom door.

    …and it’s not like same-sex relationships are immune to creepy patriarchal dynamics. Power dynamics get everywhere, and are always a problem when it comes to consent (in sexual and non-sexual contexts). I’m not sure that 100% lack of coercion (which would be a prerequisite for completely clear consent) is even possible; the best we can do is to keep raising our standards for meaningful consent while pushing to ditch the power hierarchies that give consent its unavoidable asterisks.

  122. 122
    A. Noyd

    playonwords (#110)

    in any event both partners need to practise basic hygiene and possibly use barrier methods

    Apparently the latter are bad, too, because they’re “toxic” (in the woo-woo sense).

  123. 123
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    One thing in here has been weighing on me, and that’s the “you’re just doing it wrong if PIV isn’t awesome!” meme. It’s always been painful for me, and likely will be for the rest of my life, and I’m not at all unusual. So that whole “You’re just ignorant if you don’t love it!” is kiiiind of both wrong and really hurtful? And most of the treatments for issues regarding painful penetration seem to be considered a success if PIV is possible. Not enjoyable for the owner of the V in question, but that the pain is bearable, because PIV is considered the be-all of sex. And that’s really, really fucked up. I still like PIV at times, but it’s worth discussing the position of supremacy it holds in our culture, and it can be discussed without the likes of WitchWind.

    Also, you can have serious issues with sex-positive theory/culture while not actually being opposed to sex, even the kinky kind, FYI.

  124. 124
    sc_ece3c77c2d114dca8c9bf2650b92a3f4

    I just cannot see Radfems as the flip side of MRAs. I have read quite a bit of radfem writing (both pro and anti trans), and even the nastiest of it doesn’t even come close to an average MRA rant. If Radfems are a gun, then the MRAs are a nuclear holocaust.
    I heard about this “awful, horrible, evil” writing (the name eludes me, but its most famous radfem essay every MRA refers to) but when I went to read it, I was struck by how tame it was compared to an MRAs average, general rant. Sure it wasn’t nice, but it wasn’t inciting rape and harassment in real life like MRAs do.
    There are also many radfems that aren’t anti trans, like Twisty from the blog “I Blame the Patriarchy”.

    I use to dislike radfems for their focus on biological essentialism, but then I realized it was an important step in the evolution of feminism. In their hey day, success as a woman meant acting like a man, denying anything that made you a woman. Being a woman, looking like a woman, and doing female activities was a sign of weakness and inferiority. They wanted to change this, so that women could have power and esteem in their own bodies, doing things women do, like birth babies and breastfeed. (this is why so many natural childbirth pushers think they are feminist, even though the idea was actually started by a racist man, and is really misogynist).

    Thankfully, as a society are somewhat past the focus on our reproductive organs as the sole determiner of worth, and woman do not have to pretend to be men to be successful. Trans are no longer seen as infiltrators into womans space, but fellow oppressed people. Many rad fems have also moved on, while some have not. But even the worst, most regressive, are in no way like an MRA.

  125. 125
    Sassafras

    Trans are no longer seen as infiltrators into womans space, but fellow oppressed people.

    Uh, maybe in third-wave feminist circles, but in wider society the idea of trans women as infiltrating women’s spaces is alive and sadly doing quite well. Many people are unaware of the oppression trans people face as well. People assuming we’re beyond that is a lot of the trouble, too, as I’ve encountered lots of people that have had no idea about the high murder rate of trans women and had no idea that trans people could still be legally denied employment, homes, medical insurance, etc.

  126. 126
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Googlemess@124,
    Privileged, white, straight, cis-male here. I have to agree. Even the worst of the rad fem writings aren’t threatening violence. Plus it is usually done in complete sentences with proper capitalization.

  127. 127
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    a_ray: Well, as long as you’re not a trans* woman (they seem to largely ignore trans* men and AFAB nonbinaries) and dealing with TERFs, more or less.

  128. 128
    jenny6833a

    @ #3

    If we’re going to identify things as natural, being entirely naked is very high on the list. Definitely more natural than using the internet …

    Yes, absolutely, but so what?

    …—does that mean being online is more natural if I take my clothes off first?

    Dunno, but you’d certainly be more comfortable. NIFOC is quite common, you know. Or, at least I hope you know.

  129. 129
    chimera

    You know all these acronyms you all use like NIFOC, I have to look them up every time. I wonder if NIFOC will simply become a word, nifoc, and people will forget how or when it slipped into the language. Maybe in a hundred years, if we’re still around, linguists will look back on this new episode of lexical creation in human history.

  130. 130
    jodyp

    What Oolon said. This is an internal issue to feminism. These people are kooks, they get lumped in with us by outsiders, and damage they do needs to be addressed.

  131. 131
    Inaji

    I’m very reluctant to assign the category of kooks (or similar) to these women. I do think much of their stated views are on the irrational side, primarily with all the extrapolation. PiV sex isn’t for everyone, and I’d assign that to a personal choice. There’s also the issue MM raised, the one of an environment where it is both possible and safe for any woman to say no, and simply have that accepted. There are genuine issues in what they bring up, and those need to be addressed also.

    Assigning labels such as wackos, kooks, crazy, whatever, you are othering, and that is never helpful. While it’s easy and comforting to other these women with a crazy label, it denies them their humanity. It’s through understanding our shared humanness that acceptance and a dialogue may be achieved.

  132. 132
    ivyshoots

    chrislawson @92

    You accused Dworkin of “[m]aking inappropriate equivalence with the Holocaust and making up bullshit.” Goebbels libeled Bernhard Weiss BEFORE the Nazis came into power, BEFORE Goebbels was appointed Minister of Propaganda (which she clearly states), and BEFORE the Holocaust began, so she made no reference to the Holocaust at all, inappropriate (says who?) or otherwise.

    Your claim that “Goebbels [used] his vast and powerful propaganda machine” to attack Weiss was false. So you got details wrong of a story you likely read only moments before, yet accuse Dworkin of intentionally LYING, when it’s likely she made an honest mistake when relying on memory. Double standard much?

    Paul Grossman writes, “[Weiss] fought back in the courts, suing Goebbels for defamation, and winning. But it didn’t silence the future propaganda minister of the Third Reich. Like a pit bull Goebbels only chomped harder, mysteriously managing to come up with money to pay the fines and then launching another round of attacks. Weiss sued again, and won. Sixty times Weiss sued Goebbels, and sixty times he won. In the end it didn’t matter. Weiss could not hold back the rising tide of Nazism. In early 1933 shortly after Hitler was named chancellor, Bernhard Weiss was stripped of his German citizenship and fled his homeland, never to return…”

    http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2012/01/bernhard-weiss-true-life-crime-fighter-done-in-by-gangsters

    Grossman explicitly supports Dworkin’s supposedly “inappropriate” analogy, saying, “Goebbels’s propaganda assault against Weiss, in particular his use of the stigmatizing name ‘Isidore,’ is studied today as a classic example of how negative stereotypes can be used to marginalize and demonize others.” You know, like calling feminists “lesbians” in a propaganda campaign.

    You say, “Dworkin wanted to equate the defamation of feminists as ‘lesbian’ with the defamation of Jews under Nazism so she didn’t bother to check her facts.” The details she got wrong were utterly irrelevant to her valid point about demonizing groups with name-calling propaganda.

    The defamation of Bernhard Weiss was not done “under Nazism,” but rather was one act of many which led to the Third Reich coming into power. She used “a classic example of how negative stereotypes can be used to marginalize and demonize others” to inform an instance of it being done to women — and you worked very hard to fault her for it. Why?

  133. 133
    pacal

    Andrea Dworkin had some really kooky and frankly idiotic ideas. In the late 70s and early 80s I foolishly read several of her books and I didn’t know what bothered me the most her illogic or her raving purple prose. Dworkin worked with Catherine MacKinnon and one of their least respectable ideas was that Pornography was a powerful force in causing and reinforcing the subjugation of women. That idea is dubious in the extreme. MacKinnon and Dworkin were mainly responsible for the infamous anti-pornography ordinance (Originally for the city of Minneapolis.) that was a catch all and stunningly open ended. It was struck down by the courts. And both of them seemed to have had little problem allying themselves with very right wing forces so-long as they were anti-pornography.

  134. 134
    Inaji

    Pacal:

    That idea is dubious in the extreme.

    No, I don’t think it is. However, I’ll happily look at your citations and evidence. I’m sure you have them, right?

  135. 135
    ThorGoLucky

    I knew a woman with a similar view. To her, even homosexual sexual relationships required at least one of the partners to be the forceful aggressor. What a sad would view. Her marriage didn’t last long.

  136. 136
    ck

    zibble wrote:

    Has anyone else noticed how absurdly heteronormative all the anti-sex radfem crusadery is?

    Now that you mention it, yes. Also hidden in the subtext seems to be the assumption that sexual orientation is a choice, although this seems to argue that hetero women choose wrongly. It’s no wonder the extreme right likes these people so much. Not only are they convenient pin cushions to be ranted against whenever convenient, but they also provide the needed “left-wing” support for the various purity campaigns favored by the extreme right.

  137. 137
    cfieldb

    I really really really don’t like Andrea Dworkin, but yeah… she never came close to suggesting that all straight sex was rape.

    Well, I don’t know. It’s true that she never explicitly said that intercourse was rape, and I’m not saying she did believe that. However, I also think that given other things she said- particularly how she defined “rape” and then how she defined “patriarchy”- it would not be an unreasonable inference.

  138. 138
    pacal

    Regarding no. no. 134 well you might want to try “Making Sense of Research on Pornography”, in Women Against Censorship, Editor Varda Burstyn, 1985.

    I’m sure you also have cites and evidence for the notion that pornography causes and reinforced the subjugation of women. Neither Dworkin nor MacKinnon provided much. No doubt in the late 19th century in Europe and North America women were so much freer, when porn was so much less available and restricted.

    I would also like to know the following.

    1, Pornography is banned in many countries, often theocracies and yet women are almost always severely subjugated in such places.

    2, Why are the women of Denmark, Sweden and Norway have so much freedom, and pornography is available, and the women of places like Saudi Arabia where the bans are pretty comprehensive have so little.

    Women hating pornography is the froth thrown up by the institutional forces that oppress women not a force in its own right. I went through my anti-pornography phase 20+ years ago and read a lot then. It left me completely non-plussed by the ravings over it.

  139. 139
    A. R

    pacal:

    There are much better ways to attack Andrea Dworkin’s views on pornography. For example, one might point out that while a great deal of mainstream pornography is indeed misogynistic, it is possible to produce pornography that is not misogynistic, and does not degrade women, at least if one holds reasonable positions with regards to consent and the nature of intercourse. In fact, this pornography does exist, though it is not nearly as well known or as common as mainstream pornography.

  140. 140
    Nick Gotts

    But she says explicitely that all PIV sex is rape. And yes, that doesn’t only demean men, it also hurts rape survivors, because it suddenly equates their hurt and pain and trauma with all the consensual PIV sex somebody like me ever had. It makes discussions about rape meaningless. – Giliell@85

    QFT. Sure, the harm the likes of Witchwind do to most men (and to most of the women they insult by denying their agency) is zero to neglible, and should not be compared to the harm MRAs, from their position of privilege, do to women. But equating all PiV sex with rape harms people (whatever their biology and gender identity) who have actually been raped.

  141. 141
    pacal

    Regarding no. 139, A. R. I agree that much and in fact most mainstream porn is in fact misogynistic. And in fact a lot of that has to do with the fact such porn is made for men, and men have been trained to accept certain attitudes towards women that get reflected in the porn made for them. Also the fact that such porn, being made for men can’t help a certain male centeredness.

    As for better ways to attack Dworkin’s views about pornography. Well the idea that a central root in the oppression of women is porn is a rather weak viewpoint.

  142. 142
    Inaji

    A.R:

    it is possible to produce pornography that is not misogynistic, and does not degrade women

    Sure, now. That’s not what was going on in the ’60s and ’70s.

  143. 143
    cfieldb

    I should clarify: personally, I don’t think Dworkin believed that all intercourse was rape. Rather, I think that some of her politics were just kind of confused and incoherent. She wasn’t stupid by any means, and she could be a compelling writer, but she was not a great intellectual.

  144. 144
    Nick Gotts

    In one respect at least, PZ’s use of “the flip side” is entirely accurate: Witchwind is quite explicitly a gender essentialist, like MRAs. She is most amusing (unintentionally) when discussing mitochondrial DNA. Apparently, male science has been wickedly concealing the fact that we all inherit this from our mothers!!1eleventy!!

  145. 145
    PZ Myers

    Oy, that mitochondria post…so much wrongness.

  146. 146
    skeptifem

    In one respect at least, PZ’s use of “the flip side” is entirely accurate: Witchwind is quite explicitly a gender essentialist, like MRAs.

    being fucked over by men repeatedly can (understandably) cause some women to believe that women=safety. I know it is not an accurate assumption to make, but I would hardly call it unreasonable. If you were to bet on your chances of repeat violence based on the perp’s gender, they would be right by all accounts. When you’ve been abused you desperately search for some sense of safety, its a normal reaction to having your safety threatened.

    This shit really bugs me. People of color have websites where they talk about how shitty and evil white people are, and that is fine with me. I haven’t had to experience what they did so I don’t feel qualified to judge what they say. I would hardly say its ‘the flip side’ of the KKK because that is ridiculous. Oppressed people dealing with their feelings towards an oppressive class is not comparable to a class of people who benefit from oppression justifying their position in society. It just isn’t the same, and it never will be the same. Comparing the two is fucking stupid.

  147. 147
    skeptifem

    @139

    There are much better ways to attack Andrea Dworkin’s views on pornography. For example, one might point out that while a great deal of mainstream pornography is indeed misogynistic, it is possible to produce pornography that is not misogynistic, and does not degrade women, at least if one holds reasonable positions with regards to consent and the nature of intercourse. In fact, this pornography does exist, though it is not nearly as well known or as common as mainstream pornography.

    that depends on if you think the definition of “misogynistic” is “what was intended by the participants” instead of “the affect of it on women in the real world”. You can be as free or as happy making porn all you like, misogynistic men see justification of all their views of women in the product, period.

  148. 148
    sw

    This point may have already been made, but if “the fact intercourse causes so many infections and tears and warts attests to the unnaturalness of intercourse, that it’s not meant to be”, then how could the author possibly consider birth “natural”? Yes, sex can be painful and damaging, but it doesn’t even compare to birth, surely.

  149. 149
    skeptifem

    @137

    Well, I don’t know. It’s true that she never explicitly said that intercourse was rape, and I’m not saying she did believe that. However, I also think that given other things she said- particularly how she defined “rape” and then how she defined “patriarchy”- it would not be an unreasonable inference.

    It absolutely would be an unreasonable inference because she wrote a ton of material on the subject and would have just fucking said so if she thought all PIV sex was rape. Christ. The only way people are able to make such a claim about her views is when they quote her literary criticism. She was criticizing stories where she believed “all heterosexual sex is rape” was the moral of the story, because men are ‘conquering’ women by fucking them and whatnot. There is a chapter in “intercourse” specifically about how powerful genuinely consensual sex can be between people, and gender is not specified as a requirement for those experiences. She wrote in that chapter specifically about what she imagined heterosexual intercourse to be like in a world where women were not oppressed by men. I found it to be a very beautiful thing to read. She was a prostitute and she married a man- something most peopel forget when discussing her work.

  150. 150
    skeptifem

    @136 ck

    Now that you mention it, yes. Also hidden in the subtext seems to be the assumption that sexual orientation is a choice, although this seems to argue that hetero women choose wrongly. It’s no wonder the extreme right likes these people so much. Not only are they convenient pin cushions to be ranted against whenever convenient, but they also provide the needed “left-wing” support for the various purity campaigns favored by the extreme right.

    that is only true if you think choosing homosexuality would be the wrong thing.

    In utah I’ve met a ton of women who had husbands and children and then became lesbians later in life. They do not dispute that they were previously heterosexual. Twisty Faster of I Blame The Patriarchy is a political lesbian, who also claims that women generally could choose to be lesbians. I don’t know that everyone could choose one way or another, but I don’t dispute the personal experiences of women who feel that they chose to be lesbians. How could I? Who am I to say what they were or are?

  151. 151
    skeptifem

    Andrea Dworkin had some really kooky and frankly idiotic ideas. In the late 70s and early 80s I foolishly read several of her books and I didn’t know what bothered me the most her illogic or her raving purple prose. Dworkin worked with Catherine MacKinnon and one of their least respectable ideas was that Pornography was a powerful force in causing and reinforcing the subjugation of women. That idea is dubious in the extreme.

    hahaha, yeah because its not like guys watch pornography and then expect their girlfriends to do painful/humiliating things that they saw in the porn! OH WAIT YES THEY DO. I guess that isn’t oppression in your mind, to be expected to have painful or humiliating sex in order to please a man?

    Maybe you should re-read them, considering its been several decades since you’ve reviewed the material. Or you could read gale dines for a more contemporary point of view.

    Robert Jensen talks about how every time he addresses a group of women about the misogynistic themes of mainstream pornography women come to ask him why their husbands/boyfriends hound them to do things they have seen in pornography.There is also a website called ‘make love not porn’ to deal with the disconnect in men’s minds between reality and pornography so that boys know what is realistic to expect from women IRL.

    Andrea Dworkin rightly pointed out that the majority of men watch this shit, and that masturbating to climax to it is a powerful form of conditioning. The men who do it are our relatives and our bosses and our friends and police officers and judges and jury members. How could it *not* influence a person’s view of women? Women are constantly demeaned as ‘whores’ or ‘bitches’ or ‘hos’ or ‘holes’ etc in pornography. How can someone uncritically consume that sort of media and then remain unaffected in the rest of their life? What is ‘kooky’ is thinking that getting off on misogyny would not affect someone at all outside of their sex life.

  152. 152
    Gregory Greenwood

    skeptifem @ 150;

    In utah I’ve met a ton of women who had husbands and children and then became lesbians later in life. They do not dispute that they were previously heterosexual. Twisty Faster of I Blame The Patriarchy is a political lesbian, who also claims that women generally could choose to be lesbians. I don’t know that everyone could choose one way or another, but I don’t dispute the personal experiences of women who feel that they chose to be lesbians. How could I? Who am I to say what they were or are?

    While I have never personally experienced my heterosexuality as a choice – it has always (or at least for as long as I have been sexually aware) just been a part of who and what I am, like the colour of my eyes – I agree that we are never in a position to judge the sexual identity and orientation of anyone else. If they believe they have chosen to change their sexual orientation, then I would be very hesitatnt to declare that they must be wrong, even though the majority of people (both straight and LGBT) I have spoken to on the subject have said that they do not experience their sexuality as a choice any more than I do. It seems unreasonable to dismiss another person’s lived expeience like that.

    That said, I can also see how any discussion about choosing one’s sexuality will inevitably be fraught because it has so often in the past been used as a cudgel to beat gay people by the kind of homophobes who seize on the idea to argue that since sexuality is a choice anyway, then that implies that any gay person could be straight if they wanted to, and their refusal to do so is not an immutable part of their identity, but merely a transitory choice. And that if one’s sexuality is not a fundamental part of one’s identity, then it should be open to ‘criticism’ – a back door means of trying to reintroduce the old homophobic standbys of claims that homosexuality is somehow ‘corrosive to society’ or ‘inherently immoral’ by the backdoor. That rapidly gets into really nasty territory with stuff like the infamously bigoted and harmful (not to mention ineffective) ‘gay cures’.

    As usual, bigoted arsehats have created such a toxic environment that it has become difficult to even discuss such topics without risking firther exacerbating the hideous damage they have done and continue to do to innocent people.

  153. 153
    Nick Gotts

    You can be as free or as happy making porn all you like, misogynistic men see justification of all their views of women in the product, period.- skeptifem@147

    Does that include (male-male) gay porn?

  154. 154
    David Marjanović

    In utah I’ve met a ton of women who had husbands and children and then became lesbians later in life. They do not dispute that they were previously heterosexual. Twisty Faster of I Blame The Patriarchy is a political lesbian, who also claims that women generally could choose to be lesbians. I don’t know that everyone could choose one way or another, but I don’t dispute the personal experiences of women who feel that they chose to be lesbians. How could I? Who am I to say what they were or are?

    I strongly suspect none of them ever were 0 on the Kinsey scale; they’ve decided to ignore men and explore the other part of their attractions instead (once they managed to even think of that).

    Sexual orientation can change involuntarily; these are the two cases I know (both happened to the same person).

    However, all of that is beside the point.

  155. 155
    ChasCPeterson

    She is most amusing (unintentionally) when discussing mitochondrial DNA.

    just wow.

  156. 156
    Nick Gotts

    Oppressed people dealing with their feelings towards an oppressive class is not comparable to a class of people who benefit from oppression justifying their position in society. It just isn’t the same, and it never will be the same. Comparing the two is fucking stupid. – skeptifem@146

    No, it isn’t. Comparing two things is not equivalent to saying they are the same, and there is nothing stupid in noting that in some respects they resemble each other. If anything, it’s pretending there are no points of resemblance when in fact there are that’s “fucking stupid”.

  157. 157
    Gregory Greenwood

    I understand that an element of the argument from the linked post in the OP is that women are never in a position to offer meaningful consent because of the pervasive gendered power dynamics in society – and I suppose there is even some merit to the argument that issues of consent are complicated by the fact that we live in a patriarchal culture that colours our every social interaction – but what bothers me (and I know this has already been covered in the thread, but I think it bears repeating) rather more than the claims that all PiV sex is rape and that thus all men are unavoidably rapists is the way in which this type of argument, whether intentionally or not, does ‘splash damage’ to women.

    At a stroke, it infantalises all women by suggesting that they lack the capacity to consent to PiV sex entirely. That even if they think they are enjoying it and want it, or even consider themselves the prime mover in the relationship, they are actually deluded or even brainwashed – that they cannot trust their own judgement in regard to their own bodies. That they are wrong about their own desires and experiences, and should instead defer to the notionally ‘greater wisdom’ of someone else with regard to how they live and experience their own lives. It tries to cast every moment of intimacy, every iota of mutual pleasure experienced, in the mold of something shameful, in a fashion not entirely disimilar to those who rant about the notional ‘evils’ of the ‘sins of the flesh’. It is incredibly patronising, and serves to gaslight women who enjoy PiV sex by effectively declaring their desires and preferred form of sexual expression to be unavoidably oppressive and harmful.

    Ironically, it all reveals a highly proprietary attitude toward the sex lives of other women. Witchwind’s argument seems to miss the point that it is somewhat hypocritical to declare that you are opposed to all forms of patriarchal control over women’s sex lives, while acting as if your own judgements with regards to what is ‘right’ for other people’s expression of their sexuality should be viewed as universal.

    It also hurts rape survivors, not only by trivialising the trauma of their rape by declaring that all PiV sex – no matter how desired by the women in question – is rape, but by effectively seeking to strip them of the comfort of any positive memories they may have of consensual sexual experiences in their lives by declaring that even the most intimate and emotionally meaningful sexual encounters that include PiV sex, undertaken with people they care about and that care about them deeply, are equivalent to the most traumatic experience of their lives.

    I do not know Witchwind’s personal circumstances, and I have no desire (stil less any right) to seek to judge her. I also would not go so far as to call her and people like her the ‘flip side’ of MRAs; while in some regards similer in construction, her arguments do not come from the sense of gross sexual and gender entitlement that fuel those of the MRAs, and her position, though still toxic, does not play into existing social power dynamics in the way that MRA misogyny plays into the entrenched sexism of our patriarchal culture (obviously, the transphobia of the TERFs is a very different matter, but I do not know if Witchwind espouses such a position).

    With all that said, an argument is not the same things as the person who advocates it, and the arguments she puts forward, and the ideology she subscribes to, is harmful and must be opposed at every opportunity.

  158. 158
    Gregory Greenwood

    Me @ 156;

    but what bothers me (and I know this has already been covered in the thread, but I think it bears repeating) rather more than the claims that all PiV sex is rape and that thus all men are unavoidably rapists…

    This should be ‘rather more than the claims that all PiV sex is rape and that thus all men who engage in consensual PiV sex are unavoidably rapists…’

    Apologies.

  159. 159
    Nick Gotts

    People of color have websites where they talk about how shitty and evil white people are, and that is fine with me. – skeptifem@146

    Even if – as has in fact been the case with the Nation of Islam – they promote antisemitism and homophobia, and align themselves with neo-Nazis?

  160. 160
    ck

    skeptifem wrote:

    that is only true if you think choosing homosexuality would be the wrong thing.

    I would not say such a thing, but there are plenty out there who would.

    In utah I’ve met a ton of women who had husbands and children and then became lesbians later in life. They do not dispute that they were previously heterosexual.

    I can certainly accept that a person can find themselves attracted to different types of people over the course of their lifetime, and that could even extend to the preferred sex of their potential partner(s) changing. What I have difficulty accepting is the idea that you can change which sex your attracted to via sheer willpower. Some of it is due to the factors Gregory mentioned in #151, but I’m also unsure that we have that much control over determining which kinds of people we’re attracted to.

  161. 161
    jodyp

    Perhaps “kook” is the wrong term, then.

    “Damaging to the movement” would be more accurate.

  162. 162
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @chris lawson

    You said, “Dworkin was opposed to penetrative intercourse as a sex act.”

    But she wasn’t. She was analyzing *beliefs* about penetration in a male supremacist, patriarchal societies, and the material conditions that have kept women economically and socially dependent on men that made them vulnerable to forced sex. Remember in her activist days, a husband could legally force himself on his wife and it wasn’t considered a rape at all. It took until 1992 for all states in the U.S. to finally recognize rape in marriage as a real assault and violation, therefore illegal.

    She said, “existence does not rely on female compliance, nor on the violation of female boundaries, nor on lesser female privacy, nor on the physical occupation of the female body.”

    Even today, evolutionary psychologist are trying to justify violating women’s boundaries and privacy by saying rape is natural and even necessary for the continuation of the species. Sam Harris once said in an interview, “there is nothing more natural than rape.” And the book “A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion” by Randy Thornhil and Craig T. Palmer depicted rape as a product of Darwinian selection, and was lauded as “brave” by S. Pinker, and was greeted with enthusiasm by mainstream media.

    I believe she was addressing these attitudes and beliefs, not saying she personally opposes penis in vagina sex as an inherently oppressive sex act.

    From Nikki Craft, who manages the Andrea Dworkin’s Online Library:
    “…In a new preface to the tenth-anniversary edition of Intercourse (1997), Andrea explains why she believes this book continues to be misread.”

    If one has eroticized a differential in power that allows for force as a natural and inevitable part of intercourse, how could one understand that this book does not say that all men are rapists or that all intercourse is rape? Equality in the realm of sex is an antisexual idea if sex requires domination in order to register as sensation. As sad as I am to say it, the limits of the old Adam—and the material power he still has, especially in publishing and media—have set limits on the public discourse (by both men and women) about this book.

  163. 163
    A. R

    When discussing the role of pornography involving females (lesbian pornography can be just as degrading and misogynistic as the worst heterosexual pornography), one must be careful to make a distinction between “tool of misogyny and oppression”, and “source of misogyny and oppression”. I’ve noticed that many people participating in conversations on this topic in the past have missed this distinction, or have failed to outline it clearly, including several people who should have known better.
    (By the way, does the “Don’t make several long comments in a row/take up a substantial part of the thread” rule still exist? Because if so, I’d like to issue a general reminder of its existence.)

  164. 164
    A. R

    And to all those who insist that Dworkin (regardless of how much I may disagree with her otherwise) believed that all intercourse is rape, I offer this:

    “What I think is that sex must not put women in a subordinate position. It must be reciprocal and not an act of aggression from a man looking only to satisfy himself. That’s my point.”

  165. 165
    A. R

    Apparently I am not familiar with the new blockquote css…

  166. 166
    Inaji

    A.R:

    (By the way, does the “Don’t make several long comments in a row/take up a substantial part of the thread” rule still exist? Because if so, I’d like to issue a general reminder of its existence.)

    There’s a link to the commenting rules at the top of the page, you can read them for yourself, which will negate your need to be a passive aggressive ass. People have been just fine in this thread, engaging in substantial discussion.

  167. 167
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Oy.

    This is going to be somewhat disjointed and stream-of-consciousness. But, here goes.

    Firstly. I consider myself a radical feminist. I am, however, not a TERF.*

    Radical feminism, at its basis, is sex and gender analyzed along a dialectic matrix. Basically, radical feminism argues that all (or the overwhelming majority) of societal dualities can be boiled down to “the masculine” versus “the feminine,” and that the overall effect of this pattern is the patriarchal devaluing of the feminine in favor of the masculine. You can (many do) criticize this as being overly simplistic.***

    Andrea Dworkin did indeed say a number of inflammatory things. She also said a number of highly sensible things that make TPTB uncomfortable. So the inflammatory things are talked up, and her sensible commentary is quoted in inaccurate contexts in order to portray her as someone not worth listening to.

    FWIW, I do not think that all PIV is rape. I think that saying so is highly dangerous, as it simultaneously insults women who have had consensual PIV (by telling them that they’re deluded fools if they disagree about it being rape) and women who have been raped (by effectively shushing them). Also, I’m (with limited exceptions****) opposed to de-centering consent as the primary definition of rape/not-rape, because once we’re able to say “X is rape, no matter what,” the door is open for “Y is never rape, no matter what.” Examples that we currently have to deal with in the “Y is never rape” are things like “marital rape isn’t, because a man is entitled to his wife’s body” and “prostitutes cannot be raped, at best it is theft of services” and the like.

    On the topic of “those crazy radfems,” I find it fascinating that some people find “there are a lot of women who, for no apparent reason, have gone nutty and are frothing at the mouth about evil men” a more plausible explanation than “there are a lot of women who have been terribly hurt by men and are lashing out in what is perhaps not the best way.”

    Incidentally, SCUM Manifesto is generally interpreted inside radfem circles as satire, akin to A Modest Solution.

    Re: Porn. The central argument that can be made about porn is while it is possible to make feminist porn, a lot of it is rooted treating women as objects that exist to be fucked; and that said fucking is degrading. Porn is understood in this praxis as part of the patriarchal oppression of women.

    Porn, like sex in general, is complicated. One woman and one man coming to what they feel is an egalitarian understanding that works for them is great. Ten thousand women and ten thousand men, supposedly independently, coming to the exact same understanding is … iffy. At best.

    Finally, TERFs. They’re wrong. I disagree vehemently with them. However, I’m irritated at the efforts in some circles to declare them “not really feminist” or “not really radical.” Because, for all their (many!) faults, they are applying feminist, and radical feminist, praxis. They’re just (in my opinion) applying it incorrectly, and discarding information that shouldn’t be discarded while including garbage that should be discarded.
    __
    *In fact, one of my closest friends is trans!*
    **Not a joke. Actually true. However, the “one of my friends is ___, therefore I’m not a bigot” remains a garbage meme.
    ***It does, for example, notably ignore the importance of race and class.
    ****Minors, for example. And people who are incapable of consent, due to being drunk/drugged/otherwise incapacitated.

  168. 168
    ChasCPeterson

    evolutionary psychologist are trying to justify violating women’s boundaries and privacy by saying rape is natural and even necessary for the continuation of the species.

    No evolutionary psychologist has ever said the bolded part.
    As for Thornhill and Palmer, their ideas are (of course) far more reasonable and nuanced than generally portrayed. Of course they might still be wrong, but they aren;t stupid. If interested, you can read a rsponse to their critics here (pdf lilnk).

  169. 169
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Cosigning all of what Esteleth said at # 167.

    And also, yes, gay male porn can be misogynist, especially when receiving penetration is as heavily feminized as it tends to be.

    But again, this thread is fascinating for seeing men frothing about “those mean manhaters who just went totes crazy!” and repeating right-wing talking points.

  170. 170
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Chas
    As for Thornhill and Palmer, they’re flawed ‘science’ is debunked here:
    http://www.eurowrc.org/06.contributions/1.contrib_en/11.contrib.en.htm
    By Jerry A. Coyne and Andrew Berry

    Correct me if I’m wrong, saying rape is an adaptation to increase reproductive success is saying it helps the perpetuation of the species. But maybe I’m brain-damaged and can’t understand the nuance in their argument:.

    In A Natural History of Rape, Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer argue that rape is an adaptation – that it has evolved to increase the reproductive success of men who would otherwise have little sexual access to women.

  171. 171
    theoreticalgrrrl

    their, not they’re

  172. 172
    A. R

    Esteleth: Yes the simplistic nature of radfem is, I think, it’s greatest weakness. The importance of the intersections of racial, class-based, and gender-based systems of oppression is well known, one might cite the appallingly low participation of people of colour, and people of low socioeconomic class within feminism (particularly second wave feminism), the existence of TERFs and the various other issues faced by trans* women within feminism, and the various “real feminists vs. lipstick feminists” arguments as examples of the consequences of ignoring these intersections for far too long. For this reason, I am convinced the radical feminism is perhaps necessary, but certainly not sufficient for the achievement of genuine gender equity.

    Caine: I read the rules to check, but due to the fact that they change so often (and because they’re ultimately up to PZ anyway) I wanted to make sure that that particular rule wasn’t still in effect. But then again, as you tend to be rather a thread dominator yourself (on at least three occasions withing the past two months, I’ve noticed that you comprised at least half of the comments in the “recent comments” ticker, and yes, there is a difference between a commenter who participates in a number of threads and a thread dominator. You most assuredly represent the latter.). I could see why you would be rather annoyed by someone pointing that out.

  173. 173
    A. R

    ^its, not it’s (I even used preview!)

  174. 174
    Jason

    Careful now, not all radfems fall into this camp. Radical feminism (not to be confused with otherwise-radical forms of feminism, such as the ecofems or Marxist feminists) can be useful for its imaginative critiques that offer us new ways of thinking about gender and gender relations. Radical feminism falls into two camps: radical-libertarian (not in the right-wing capitalist sense) and radical-cultural. The variety of radical feminism that consists of strict lesbian separatism, things like the SCUM Manifesto, and all-sex-is-rape can mainly be found camped out in radical-cultural feminism. This doesn’t mean all of the rad-cults are like this, either, and many have useful things to say and contribute, even if fanciful and abstract. Fortunately, the militant anti-men, all-men-are-rapists variety of rad-cult feminists are dying out and represent little more than a lingering specter of extreme factions within the Second Wave. MRAs are still the bigger issue, since unlike the rad-cults, their numbers appear to be on the rise.

  175. 175
    Hekuni Cat, MQG

    A. R @ #172:

    But then again, as you tend to be rather a thread dominator yourself (on at least three occasions withing the past two months, I’ve noticed that you comprised at least half of the comments in the “recent comments” ticker, and yes, there is a difference between a commenter who participates in a number of threads and a thread dominator.

    I don’t understand why you think Caine is dominating the conversation on this thread. She posted 4 times out of the 171 comments that preceded yours. You posted 5 times. theoreticalgrrrl, who has not dominated the conversation either, posted 12 times. Azkyroth and ChasCPeterson each posted 8 times; at times the conversation focused on subtopics, points of interest, or opinion made by both, but neither dominated the entire discussion, which has covered many different aspects relating to the op. In what way do you think Caine has dominated the discussion in this thread?

  176. 176
    A. R

    Hekuni Cat, MQG: I’m not making a reference to this thread at all, rather it is a reference to past incidents, but since Caine appears to believe that bringing up old grudges is okay, I thought I would do the same.

  177. 177
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    A thought: Being able to say that TERFs are not violent is, if I might say so from my position as a trans woman who transitioned in the early 90s and was personally run out of an organization by them, something of a statement from cis privilege. It’s nice that you don’t experience any violence from TERFs, but please don’t say that this means there is no such thing.

    Women like me die because of these people.

    If that doesn’t count as violence to you, are you then saying that trans* people don’t count as people for the purposes of assessing what is and is not violent?

    Not feeling like it’s a very safe thread at this point for me, so please excuse me if I don’t post further, or respond to comments/replies.

  178. 178
    Rutee Katreya

    Pacal, #138

    1, Pornography is banned in many countries, often theocracies and yet women are almost always severely subjugated in such places.

    2, Why are the women of Denmark, Sweden and Norway have so much freedom, and pornography is available, and the women of places like Saudi Arabia where the bans are pretty comprehensive have so little.

    The USA has more porn catered to it, even if it is more stigmatized, than Scandinavia. Also, Liberal Patriarchy: Still exists. FFS people, think, then speak.

    Skeptifem @ 147:

    that depends on if you think the definition of “misogynistic” is “what was intended by the participants” instead of “the affect of it on women in the real world”. You can be as free or as happy making porn all you like, misogynistic men see justification of all their views of women in the product, period.

    How would you change the culture of what’s normal in sex without changing porn? Yeah, you’ll reinforce the negative views, but you can hope to *also* foster the positive ones. FTR I say this as someone who despises ‘sex positive’ and views it as something primarily co-opted by, or possibly created by, liberal patriarchy. Sex is unfortunately messy and there’s not really a right answer on how to change views on it.

    Frankly, and I say this not having the entire literary canon of the human race, and having no particular interest in what a particular Noted Dead White Woman has to say at any rate, I imagine the worst of dudes will see what they want in the passages you mentioned Dworkin writing that highlighted consensual sex. Horribleness will always try to propogate itself. What do you think the rich and middle class jeered at the poor when they wanted real working conditions – including breaks, time off, and the 8 hour work day? Should the poor have not sought those things?

    Nick Gotts, @153

    Does that include (male-male) gay porn?

    Some of it, regardless of whether it’s exploitation nonsense for straight women or produced for gay men, yeah.

    Nick Gotts @159
    [quote]Even if – as has in fact been the case with the Nation of Islam – they promote antisemitism and homophobia, and align themselves with neo-Nazis?
    [/quote]
    No, it isn’t okay to foster -ism. That’s got what to do with here, exactly?

  179. 179
    playonwords

    @ Bicarbonate @ 111

    The sex being described is rape. Even “heated doggy style” involves verbal and tactile conversation and if you believe it does not then you really need to think about what is happening. If the guy are just banging away or is treating his partner like a corpse it is being done wrong. If a man wants that sort of sex he should go buy a doll because he is treating the partner as inanimate toy.

  180. 180
    Ichthyic

    skeptifem:

    hahaha, yeah because its not like guys watch pornography and then expect their girlfriends to do painful/humiliating things that they saw in the porn! OH WAIT YES THEY DO. I guess that isn’t oppression in your mind, to be expected to have painful or humiliating sex in order to please a man?

    I’ve directly experienced the exact reverse; a partner I had herself had an entire porn collection she like to watch to get ideas for things SHE would like to try on ME.

    In fact, that’s the second partner I’ve been with that sparked their own imaginations and creativity in bed with porn.

    some of the the things they tried I liked, some not, and we were always communicative about what was good for both of us and how to maybe make it better.

    it doesn’t have to be the way you describe it. Not at all.

  181. 181
    Inaji

    Ichthyic:

    it doesn’t have to be the way you describe it. Not at all.

    No, of course it doesn’t have to be that way. However, that’s taking a route around the reality of what happens to many women. The numbers of women who are killed by their husbands or boyfriends is appallingly high. Same for the number of women who are abused by their husband or boyfriend. When it comes to the getting ideas from porn flicks, well, a fair amount of men do use it in order to dominate, control, and humiliate their partner.

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people in relationships who use porn to spice things up, of course that happens too. Just because some people use it in a way that’s healthy in regard to their relationship doesn’t take away from how often it’s a tool in the abuse box.

  182. 182
    AlexanderZ

    @Caine, Fleur du mal #181:

    However, that’s taking a route around the reality of what happens to many women.

    Doesn’t this validate WW point to some extent: That the fact that people can have healthy sex lives, the huge percentage of women who don’t have them (and if we look at the entire world and not just 1st-world countries I would be surprised that most women don’t have them) means that in reality sex is a repressive activity?

  183. 183
    Nick Gotts

    Rutee Katreya@178

    Some of it, regardless of whether it’s exploitation nonsense for straight women or produced for gay men, yeah.

    A good point, for which HappiestSadist@169 gave somewhat more detail – but not what skeptifem was saying. What she said @147 was:

    You can be as free or as happy making porn all you like, misogynistic men see justification of all their views of women in the product, period.

    That says that all porn, of whatever type, made by anyone, with any motivation, is seen by misogynistic men as justifying their view of women. My hunch is that skeptifem didn’t intend to include gay porn; but I admit that it hadn’t occurred to me that gay porn can be misogynistic, so I at least have learned from the exchange.

    Even if – as has in fact been the case with the Nation of Islam – they promote antisemitism and homophobia, and align themselves with neo-Nazis?

    No, it isn’t okay to foster -ism. That’s got what to do with here, exactly?

    Skeptifem@146 introduced the comparison of Witchwind’s rhetoric with the fact that:

    People of color have websites where they talk about how shitty and evil white people are and that is fine with me. I haven’t had to experience what they did so I don’t feel qualified to judge what they say.

    As Giliell@85 said, Witchwind’s rhetoric:

    hurts rape survivors, because it suddenly equates their hurt and pain and trauma with all the consensual PIV sex somebody like me ever had.

    If (as I think you agree) it’s right to criticise Louis Farrakhan for the harm his antisemitic and homophobic rhetoric does and reasonable to note its similarities to that of neo-Nazis, despite the fact that he’s a member of an oppressed group, why is it wrong to criticise Witchwind for the harm hers does to victims of actual rape, and “fucking stupid” to note its similarities to that of MRAs?

  184. 184
    Nick Gotts

    Caine Fleur du mal@181, alexanderx@182,

    There’s a general point here, and one without a simple answer: if activity/product X is used (or produced) oppressively in a significant proportion of instances of use (or production), when is it wrong to use it? I don’t think either extreme answer (“You’re only responsible for things you do yourself” vs “You should never do anything or use anything that is ever used/produced oppressively”) is supportable.

  185. 185
    chrislawson

    ivyshoots@132:

    I appreciate that you admire Dworkin and want to defend her work, but there has to come a time when you face up to the fact that your idol wasn’t as perfect as you’d like. I’ve gone through the same experience with Richard Dawkins, whom I used to admire hugely and now think is actually a complete ass — because of what he wrote. But despite admiring Dworkin, there’s no excuse for misreading things in order to cover for her errors. For instance, you say:

    …she made no reference to the Holocaust at all…

    and yet for the same piece that we’re quoting, Dworkin wrote:

    Some words can be used to provoke the deepest hatred, the most resilient impulses toward slaughter. Jew is one such word. Goebbels used it cynically, with cunning, to provoke a genocide of nearly unparalleled monstrosity.

    So there you have it. Dworkin is invoking the Holocaust in the very same article you insist absolutely contains no mention of it.

    You say:

    Your claim that “Goebbels [used] his vast and powerful propaganda machine” to attack Weiss was false.

    So if Goebbels didn’t have a vast and powerful propaganda machine, how come Dworkin even brought up the story? And how was Goebbels able to defame Weiss over 60 times? He had a vast and powerful propaganda machine.

    You say:

    …libeled Bernhard Weiss BEFORE the Nazis came into power, BEFORE Goebbels was appointed Minister of Propaganda (which she clearly states), and BEFORE the Holocaust began…

    You’re right. I made a mistake Weiss fled Germany the day before Hitler was made Chancellor and Goebbels made Propaganda Minister. I was out by one day. Mea culpa. But my point about Dworkin’s error is not that she made a simple mistake, but that she was completely wrong about the outcome of those defamation cases and used that error to argue something completely false, i.e. that the German courts supported Goebbels’ defamations as a form of free speech.

    Here is what Dworkin said, to reiterate for the record:

    Goebbels, making full use of democratic protections ensuring free speech, was acquitted. On appeal, his acquittal was upheld because the court equated the word Jew with Protestant or Catholic. If there was no insult involved in calling a Protestant a Protestant, how could there be injury in calling a Jew a Jew?…We cannot afford to make the mistake made by the pre-Nazi German court: we cannot afford to overlook the real power and the real meaning of words or the real uses to which words are put.

    In other words, Dworkin wrote a load of complete bullshit. It’s all right there.

    You say:

    [I] accuse Dworkin of intentionally LYING, when it’s likely she made an honest mistake when relying on memory. Double standard much?

    No, I didn’t. I accused her of making up bullshit about this. It’s not the same thing. I can understand why you would think this from my post and I apologise for not being more clear about it. I should have said directly that I was using H.G. Frankfurt’s intended meaning of bullshit, which is not outright lying, but a disregard for whether something is true. That was my poor communication there, so I’m sorry. But I still think that Dworkin was bullshitting in Frankfurt’s sense. I say this because an honest mistake is one thing, but it’s hard to let it slide from a professional academic who was writing the piece for publication, allowed it to be reprinted in professional academic collections several times without correction, and renewed the copyright several times as well. There comes a time when a mistake, even if it was honest in the first place, needs to be acknowledged and corrected if it is to stay honest…especially if it’s going into multiple reprints.

    Finally, you say:

    Grossman explicitly supports Dworkin’s supposedly “inappropriate” analogy, saying, “Goebbels’s propaganda assault against Weiss, in particular his use of the stigmatizing name ‘Isidore,’ is studied today as a classic example of how negative stereotypes can be used to marginalize and demonize others.” You know, like calling feminists “lesbians” in a propaganda campaign….She used “a classic example of how negative stereotypes can be used to marginalize and demonize others” to inform an instance of it being done to women — and you worked very hard to fault her for it. Why?

    Well now you’re just making up bullshit. Grossman doesn’t mention Dworkin or her article or any other article about stigmatising feminists as lesbian or any article about stigmatising any other group either. That piece cannot “explicitly support” her analogy.

    And the answer to “why” is very simple. I’m not against Dworkin comparing one form of politically-motivated defamation against a marginalised group with another, nor am I against her using this specific example of stigmatisation — I would have happily gone with it if it wasn’t for the fact that she made up bullshit to extend her position beyond what was supported by the actual evidence and did nothing to correct that bullshit in the numerous reprints she allowed. What you seem to not get, especially as I said in my post that Dworkin was on the right side of this particular fight, is that I don’t think people should get away with making up bullshit just because I might like their conclusion.

  186. 186
    chrislawson

    Arrgh, sorry. I was reading the wrong article, thinking I was referring to David Green’s HAARETZ review of Weiss’s life, not Grossman’s. Yes, Grossman did mention how the Weiss case has become a standard for discussing stigmatisation of marginalised groups — the rest of what I said above I still stand by. Enough of this. I am clearly too annoyed to contribute reliably and will bow out of the thread.

  187. 187
    samihawkins

    #177

    Thanks for saying what I was thinking. The attitude in this thread towards transphobic feminists reminds me of the attitude liberal Christians have toward homophobic Christians. They claim it’s just a vocal minority, but every experience I’ve had with their group shows the bigots to be firmly in the majority and it seems like the handful who do fully accept me care more about denying the problem than actually fixing it.

    As for the main subject of the thread I agree with the people pointing out that this isn’t the ‘flip side’ in the sense that this person probably doesn’t have the influence the MRAs have to actually make things worse for their targets, it’s like how a gay person bashing straight people wouldn’t be the ‘flip side’ of anti-gay bigotry because the straightbasher has no actual influence while the gaybashers have tons of it. It’s the ‘flip side’ in that both make you scratch your head and wonder what the hell you just read, but the actual effects are quite different.

  188. 188
    saganite

    Well, I mean… that is really bizarre.
    She seems to completely ignore the part about consent that’s… about giving consent.
    How can vaginal intercourse be rape even if consent is given? Are women – according to her – incapable of giving that consent?
    I wonder what she thinks about BDSM and the like, if that’s what she thinks about vanilla sex.
    I can only assume she has been traumatized in some fashion and therefore cannot think of sex as something that women can consent to. If that’s the case, then this is very tragic.

  189. 189
    culuriel

    I was mildly turned on until the corpse-talk. Also, what is “penile dejection?” Her talk of sex, as if female consent isn’t really possible, is as mechanical and objectifying as when rape apologists talk about female consent being so vague and murky one should always just assume it was given.

  190. 190
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    You know, I was basing my opinion on the fact that their ramblings don’t harm *men*. Having thought about it some more, I realized that while their attitudes towards men do not damage men, it underlies and informs their bigotry against trans* people, who they do damage.

  191. 191
    ChasCPeterson

    As for Thornhill and Palmer, [their] flawed ‘science’ is debunked…[b]y Jerry A. Coyne and Andrew Berry

    uh huh. I see you couldn’t be bothered to read the link I posted, which explicitly addresses Coyne & Berry’s many errors and evident misunderstandings at some length. I’d bet money that you haven’t read Thornhill & Palmer’s book either. Why you think you have any place ridiculing arguments you’ve never even read is puzzling.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, saying rape is an adaptation to increase reproductive success is saying it helps the perpetuation of the species.

    OK: you’re wrong. Natural selection favors traits that increase the reproductive success of individual organisms. Period. Nothing can evolve for the good of the species. Neither individuals nor populations nor natural selection give a flying fuck about ‘perpetuating the species’. There are in fact a variety of circumstances in which adaptation can lead a species straight to extinction. Everyone with even a cursory understanding of how evolution works knows this. But I guess that’s not the kind of ‘theory’ to which your nym refers.
    But of course you moved the goalpost anyway. Your original claim to which I took exception was that evolutionary psychologists say that rape is “necessary for the continuation of the species.” [my emphasis] Which is not only wrong but pretty stupid.

    But maybe I’m brain-damaged and can’t understand the nuance in their argument:.

    I don’t see any evidence for brain damage. No, I think it’s far more likely that you simply have made zero effort to actually understand their arguments. The simplistic caricature you’ve been spoonfed is much easier to ridicule in support of your favored ideological worldview. Which, fine, whatever. But you might want to avoid arguing biology with people who have actually, you know, thought and read about it some.

  192. 192
    Jim Newman

    Interesting remarks here. Thank you all for that. Apologies for my own previous inchoate response.

    Instead of “flip side” maybe it would be feminist parallel though flip side had an interesting effect on diacritical marks–sorry just visited a current ordinary language philosophy site which is having a small revival in Europe. The flip side would be virtue ethics or, better, ethics of care where being right or objective is least important, perhaps even irrelevant, and certainly not normative.

    Maybe I missed a reference here but Dworkin went through several phases and as she resurged in interest she softened her perspective, not really a retraction though.

    Here’s a happy holiday’s toast for happy, mutually enjoyable, sex, or not if you’re celibate! I do think sex can be a positive “glue” in relationships but won’t deny the many perspectives and obverse issues.

  193. 193
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    I also just wanted to say that although it’s not as bad as the bigorty and harm done towards trans* people by these TERF fringe groups of radfems, I’m finding it hard to engage with a thread with so much ableism and gratuitous use of “crazy” in it.

  194. 194
    neuroguy

    OK, I disagree with many of the memes on this thread. You don’t get a pass spouting bullshit and bigotry, just because the target is a privileged group. In the first place, peddling bullshit and bigotry are not admirable things to do, even strictly considered in themselves.

    And I perfectly agree the situation is not an exact mirror image of when the target is a marginalized group, but that does not mean the two situations are not comparable in any way. There may not be so much actual harm today, but there is still potential harm in the future. There is nothing written in stone that says today’s privileged groups will be tomorrow’s. They may in fact become tomorrow’s marginalized groups, in which case today’s bigotry will become quite hurtful.

    And, it appears to me, one fundamental point has been missed here as well as in many of the other discussions about marginalization and oppression elsewhere. And that is this:

    Privilege != Power. They are not the same thing, by definition. Or to put it more clearly, the class with power is only a small subset of the class with privilege. It is true that I, as a white, highly educated, cis, able-bodied, heterosexual man have privilege. However, this privilege does not primarily exist to benefit me. It exists to benefit the small group of people with real power, of which I am not one. To make an analogy, the overseer of a plantation in the antebellum Deep South definitely had privilege compared to the slaves. But the reason for the existence of this privilege was to benefit the rich plantation owners.

    So I disagree with the idea that radical feminism, though wrong, doesn’t really hurt men, though it does hurt transsexual women, and other women (by denying the reality of rape by defining all PIV sex as rape). Well it definitely does hurt other women, for the reasons mentioned. But not due to any power the radical feminists themselves have (because they don’t have any), but because these ideas get picked up by those with power. The “men-as-beasts” meme will definitely get picked up by those with real power (e.g. courts, law enforcement, etc.) and used to oppress those men they want to oppress (e.g. minorities), just like lynchings occurred in the Deep South.

  195. 195
    Inaji

    Gen:

    I’m finding it hard to engage with a thread with so much ableism and gratuitous use of “crazy” in it.

    Word. There’s a strong current of bitches be crazy in this thread.

  196. 196
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Oh God, Chas. You can’t be serious. They only addressed a few of Coyne and Berry’s criticisms, mainly whether it’s adaptive or a by-product of evolution. Coyne and Berry went into FAR more than that, and there’s was nothing in the link you provided that actually dealt with the criticism of the science and methodology in the book.

    That Thornhill and Palmer use anti-feminist ‘feminists’ like Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia as sources is pretty fucking hilarious.

    We emphasize
    on page 180 that “educational programs aimed at reducing the
    vulnerability of women to sexual coercion are dependent on the
    acquisition of information concerning risk factors.” We also claim that a
    woman’s appearance and behavior might have some influence on these10
    risk factors.

    Camille Paglia introduced this same reality into the discussion
    of rape on page 50 of her book Sex, Art, and American Culture (Vintage,
    1992): “Feminism keeps saying the sexes are the same. It keeps telling
    women they can do anything, go anywhere, say anything, wear anything.
    No, they can’t. Women will always be in sexual danger . . . feminism, with
    its pie-in-the-sky fantasies about the perfect world, keeps young women
    from seeing life as it is.” On page 182 of our book, we characterize
    assertions that “a victim’s dress and behavior should affect the degree of
    punishment a rapist receives” as “unjustified.” We also feel that women
    should be free to decide to dress in whatever way they wish. All we are
    suggesting is that their decisions should include consideration of the
    possible risk associated with certain manners of dress in certain situations.
    Identifying risk factors and encouraging women to take these into
    consideration during their daily activities have been elements of sex
    education for some time and have not been subjected to accusations of
    “blaming the victim.” Many popular textbooks on human sexuality
    address this matter—see, for example, Elizabeth Allgeier and Albert
    Allgeier, Sexual Interactions, third edition (Heath, 1991). Fully aware that
    we would be condemned for it, we chose to address the risk factor
    associated with appearance because, as we say on page 182, “the failure to
    distinguish between statements about causes and statements about
    responsibility has the consequence of suppressing knowledge about how
    to avoid dangerous situations.”

    That a woman’s manner of dress may affect her risk of rape is11
    eminently reasonable in view of what is known about certain sexual
    adaptations of men. The following combination of sexual adaptations is
    expected to lead some men to rape: eagerness to have sex with new
    partners, impulsiveness in the pursuit of such partners, sexual motivation
    upon viewing women’s secondary sexual traits, and tendency to conclude
    that a woman is signaling sexual interest when she is not. This is not to
    say that most rape victims will be wearing miniskirts, or blouses that
    reveal their breasts. It is to say that dress is anticipated to be a risk factor
    in some situations, especially when coupled with other risk factors that
    stimulate men’s sexual motivation.

    That physical attractiveness increases risk of rape victimization is
    consistent with women at the ages of peak attractiveness (the teens and
    the early twenties) being the most frequent victims of rape

    Coyne and Berry thoroughly debunk this idea in the link I provided. Did you read it? Here’s a snippet:

    First, Thornhill and Palmer make much of the claim that rape victims tend to be in their prime reproductive years, suggesting that reproduction is indeed a central part of the rapist’s agenda. But the data they present contradicts this claim. In a 1992 survey that attempted to deal with the substantial statistical problem of unreported rape, 29% of U.S. rape victims were under the age of 11. As that age group comprises approximately 15% of the female population, under-11s were over-represented among rape victims by a factor of two. So invested are the authors in their specific-adaptation hypothesis that they try to explain this nonadaptive anomaly by noting that the data do not indicate the “proportion of the victims under 11 who were exhibiting secondary sexual traits.”[p.72] Further, “the increasingly early age of menarche in Western females contributes to the enhanced sexual attractiveness of some females under 12.” [p.72]. In the end, the hopelessness of this special pleading merely draws attention to the failure of the data to support the authors’ hypothesis.

    Second, Thornhill and Palmer contend that, based on sociological studies, female rape victims of reproductive age are more traumatized by the experience than are women either too old or too young to reproduce. The rationale is that reproductive-age women are in effect mourning the lost opportunity for mate choice which rape, in the worldview of evolutionary psychology, represents to them. The authors see this apparent heterogeneity in the reaction to rape as supporting their claims about the reproductive essence of the act.

    In checking the cited reference (one of whose authors was Thornhill himself), we find that the original work’s conclusions differ critically from those given in the book. According to Thornhill and Palmer, the cited study shows post-rape trauma to be higher in reproductive-age women (12-44) than in the two other age classes (under 12 and over 44). In fact, the data show that the only heterogeneity in response to rape comes from the under-12 class: the over-44 class is just as traumatized as the 12-44 one.

    However, when the over-44 and under-12 classes are pooled, the under-12 effect of less trauma makes this combined “nonreproductive” class significantly different from the 12-44 one. The authors have used statistical sleight of hand to buttress their argument. And we need hardly point out that the relative lack of trauma in the youngest age group may be unrelated to sexual immaturity: rather, children may be less able to express their feelings. Furthermore, the original study’s data are questionable because much of the assessment of trauma in the under-12 class was necessarily based on reports of the child’s caregivers rather than of the child herself. Direct comparison of observer-reported and self-reported data on such a subjective issue is extremely problematic.

  197. 197
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    That’s a lot of words expended to deny that you actually do enjoy a great deal of power by way of your privilege, neuroguy.

    Also so nice to see so many men taking an interest in telling women how to do feminism better on this thread! That totally never happens!

  198. 198
    abb3w

    @93, PZ Myers

    She’s an extremist who makes authoritarian arguments against one sex. That’s what makes her the flip side of MRAs.

    I would suggest that in particular, the sense of “authoritarian” may be one of Social Dominance Orientation rather than Right Wing Authoritarianism (SDO versus RWA; introduction for the unfamiliar). In so far as MRAs also seem to tend high-SDO (but not necessarily high-RWA), this would appear symmetric; and the tendency of high-SDO to correlate to male gender does not preclude outlier high-SDO females from existing.

    Contrariwise, that correlation would tend to imply that the male outliers can be … way, way, out there. Which might explain why MRAs are more noticeably noxious than RadFems.

    YMMV.

  199. 199
    theoreticalgrrrl

    This is who Thornhill and Palmer chose as their reliable expert on sex and feminism and rape:

    Feminists, seeking to drive power relations out of sex, have set themselves against nature. In western culture, there are no nonexploitative relationships. Everyone has killed in order to live. Nature’s universal law of creation from destruction operates in mind as in matter. As Freud, Nietzsche’s heir, asserts, identity is conflict. Each generation drives its plow over the bones of the dead.

    Woman’s flirtatious arts of self-concealment mean man’s approach must take the form of rape.

    We have an evolutionary revulsion from slime, the site of our biologic origins. Every month, it is woman’s fate to face the abyss of time and being, the abyss which is herself.

    “Women played no part in Athenian high culture. They could not vote, attend the theatre, or walk in the stoa talking philosophy. But the male orientation of Greek culture was inseparable of its genius. Athens became great not despite but because of its misogyny”
    .

    The thrill of terror is passive, masochistic, and implicitly feminine. It is imaginative submission to overwhelming superior force.

    The polemical tactic of exhibiting garish mugshot photos of women’s bruised faces evades the real issue. What led up to that moment in the emergency room? A video camera recording episode before and after the assault would upset the received black-and-white view of male ogres and female martyrs. This is not to excuse men for their scurrilous behavior; it is to awaken women their equal responsibility in dispute and confrontation.

    -Camille Paglia

    It is very rare these days to hear anyone praising masculinity. The dissident feminist writer Camille Paglia is a refreshing example. Her observations are effective antidotes to the surfeit of disparagements.
    Christina Hoff Sommers (2000), The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men, NY: Simon & Schuster, p. 63

    <3

  200. 200
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    neuroguy:

    Privilege != Power. They are not the same thing, by definition. Or to put it more clearly, the class with power is only a small subset of the class with privilege. It is true that I, as a white, highly educated, cis, able-bodied, heterosexual man have privilege. However, this privilege does not primarily exist to benefit me. It exists to benefit the small group of people with real power, of which I am not one. To make an analogy, the overseer of a plantation in the antebellum Deep South definitely had privilege compared to the slaves. But the reason for the existence of this privilege was to benefit the rich plantation owners.

    1. Whether male privilege exists to benefit you or not doesn’t change the fact that you *do* benefit from male privilege. Surely you’ve read the Male Privilege Checklist.

    2. You’re rather vague with your use of ‘power’. How are you defining it? Socially, politically, economically? All three?

  201. 201
    theoreticalgrrrl

    I don’t know what I did there with the blockquotes, but it actually looks kind of cool.

  202. 202
    neuroguy

    @196:

    That’s a lot of words expended to deny that you actually do enjoy a great deal of power by way of your privilege, neuroguy.

    Also so nice to see so many men taking an interest in telling women how to do feminism better on this thread! That totally never happens!

    See what I mean? You don’t provide any argument whatsoever that I enjoy a great deal of power because of my privilege. You just expect it be accepted as so, because it is an unexamined assumption on your part. The assumption turns out to be false, because it is based on a logical fallacy. The fact that all members of marginalized groups lack power does not imply that all members of privileged groups have it.

    Also, if anyone’s feminism involves bigoted descriptions of men, I will tell her she can be doing feminism better. Too bad if you don’t like it.

    @199:

    Whether male privilege exists to benefit you or not doesn’t change the fact that you *do* benefit from male privilege. Surely you’ve read the Male Privilege Checklist.

    No it doesn’t and I didn’t deny it.

    You’re rather vague with your use of ‘power’. How are you defining it? Socially, politically, economically? All three?

    All three.

  203. 203
    Rutee Katreya

    @201, Neuroguy

    assumption turns out to be false, because it is based on a logical fallacy. The fact that all members of marginalized groups lack power does not imply that all members of privileged groups have it.

    Ignorant denialist. The existence of the white dudes at the top in no way invalidates the power you have. If you want to argue “BUT I’M POOR, SO I HAVE NO POWER”, I remind you that poor whites have consistently wielded power against nonwhite people: even those with some measure of class privilege. How you fail to recognize this when referring to the Antebellum South is beyond fucking me. To pretend that the pattern doesn’t hold for men is special pleading, especially given how trivial it is to find marginalized groups propping up other -isms.

    @Nick Gotts 183

    says that all porn, of whatever type, made by anyone, with any motivation, is seen by misogynistic men as justifying their view of women. My hunch is that skeptifem didn’t intend to include gay porn; but I admit that it hadn’t occurred to me that gay porn can be misogynistic, so I at least have learned from the exchange.

    Doubtful that she didn’t, tbh. Even exploitative gay porn for straight women generally does, for numerous reasons.

    (as I think you agree) it’s right to criticise Louis Farrakhan for the harm his antisemitic and homophobic rhetoric does and reasonable to note its similarities to that of neo-Nazis, despite the fact that he’s a member of an oppressed group, why is it wrong to criticise Witchwind for the harm hers does to victims of actual rape, and “fucking stupid” to note its similarities to that of MRAs?

    It isn’t similar to neo-Nazis except on a superficial level, and that still has very little to do with the actual examples raised</blockquote

  204. 204
    Jacob Schmidt

    All three.

    Wait, are you seriously denying that men aren’t respected more? That men aren’t encouraged to pursue their careers more? Really?

  205. 205
    ChasCPeterson

    theoreticalgrrrrrrl, you’re moving the goalposts again; it’s off-topic and silly now. I never agreed with everything Thornhill & Palmer said, much less with everything everybody they might have cited has said. In fact, I think you’ll find that in my very first comment on the subject I said that they might well be wrong.
    But if they’re wrong, they’re wrong about what they actually said, not your third-hand cartoon version. My only point: You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  206. 206
    Rutee Katreya

    Minor addendum, or perhaps major addendum. to my own post: Dudes aren’t the ones who are marginalized. But poor people, or black people, or gay people are, and generally half of them are dudes (Much less so w/ the poor but that’s neither here nor there). I’m not sure what kind of mental gymnastics it’d take to pretend that being disprivileged on one axis would automatically invalidate all power you could plausibly have (Even if you’re privileged on all other axes), but you’re engaging in them.

  207. 207
    smhll

    See what I mean? You don’t provide any argument whatsoever that I enjoy a great deal of power because of my privilege. You just expect it be accepted as so, because it is an unexamined assumption on your part.

    The example that came to mind for me is that it’s highly unlikely that your boss will grope you or talk dirty to you. (Or your customers, if you are a restaurant server.)

    Some of the disadvantages you don’t face may be invisible to you. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

  208. 208
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @Chas
    Direct quotes are third-hand cartoons?

  209. 209
    neuroguy

    @202, 205:
    You know, screeching the same non-argument filled with fallacies at higher and higher volume doesn’t make it a better one, nor does your constant insistence of pejoratively referring to men as “dudes”. If you actually had an ounce of intellectual honesty you’d admit all this, but you obviously don’t. You’re like a sleazeball lawyer with no case who resorts to pounding the table with epithets like “ignorant denialist”.

    The existence of the white dudes at the top in no way invalidates the power you have.

    Straw man fallacy; I never argued thus. And begging the question, already assuming I have power.

    If you want to argue “BUT I’M POOR, SO I HAVE NO POWER”, I remind you that poor whites have consistently wielded power against nonwhite people: even those with some measure of class privilege.

    Again begging the question and arguing by assertion, assuming that ALL poor whites have power. Let me repeat my argument which you utterly failed to refute:

    The fact that all members of marginalized groups lack power does not imply that all members of privileged groups have it.

    To which the best “argument” you can muster is:

    To pretend that the pattern doesn’t hold for men is special pleading.

    You clearly don’t even know what special pleading is. You are making the fallacy of hasty generalization: arguing from the particular to the general.

    I’m not sure what kind of mental gymnastics it’d take to pretend that being disprivileged on one axis would automatically invalidate all power you could plausibly have

    Straw man fallacy. I never argued this. Although I would point out that being disprivileged on other axes does significantly decrease amount of power I could “plausibly” have.

    @203:

    Wait, are you seriously denying that men aren’t respected more? That men aren’t encouraged to pursue their careers more? Really?

    This is privilege, not power, and shared by men as a whole. Power, on the other hand, would mean being in a position where my respect for women significantly benefitted them careerwise, or where I could encourage them to pursue their careers more and make a difference for them. I’m not in that position, and a small minority of people actually are.

    @206:

    The example that came to mind for me is that it’s highly unlikely that your boss will grope you or talk dirty to you. (Or your customers, if you are a restaurant server.)

    Some of the disadvantages you don’t face may be invisible to you. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    Again, this is privilege, not power, shared by men as a whole. Power, on the other hand, would mean being the boss of the restaurant and able to fire anyone who groped and/or talked dirty to my employees. Again, I am not in that position, and a small minority of people are.

  210. 210
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    neuroguy:
    How are you defining power and privilege?

  211. 211
    Rutee Katreya

    Straw man fallacy; I never argued thus. And begging the question, already assuming I have power.

    That’s the only relevance the dudes at the top could plausibly have to your claim, so referencing them is either meaningless, or an attempt to make the argument I said you did. And you kinda are trying to exercise it to protect the menz, its just failing.

    Again begging the question and arguing by assertion, assuming that ALL poor whites have power. Let me repeat my argument which you utterly failed to refute:

    Uh, all dudes, even poor ones, have the power to perpetuate misogyny. All white people, even the poor, have the power to perpetuate racism. I’m at least directly referencing instances of it, if you want to talk about assertion; your argument relies on a case of… Poor whites exercising power over black people. FFS.

    Straw man fallacy. I never argued this. Although I would point out that being disprivileged on other axes does significantly decrease amount of power I could “plausibly” have.

    Psst, that doesn’t support the argument you repeated at me, at all. Also, that’s the only way your claim works, so it isn’t a straw man.

    You clearly don’t even know what special pleading is. You are making the fallacy of hasty generalization: arguing from the particular to the general.

    You’re arguing that an established pattern doesn’t apply to dudes. Fuck I hate little kids going through their first logic course. FFs, it’d be “from the general to the particular”. Stop trying so hard and actually support your claim. There are numerous examples of disadvantaged people exercising power over other disadvantaged people. Just because we’re not fucking clueless doesn’t mean we’re begging the question!

  212. 212
    David Marjanović

    Even today, evolutionary psychologist are trying to justify violating women’s boundaries and privacy by saying rape is natural and even necessary for the continuation of the species. Sam Harris once said in an interview, “there is nothing more natural than rape.” And the book “A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion” by Randy Thornhil and Craig T. Palmer depicted rape as a product of Darwinian selection, and was lauded as “brave” by S. Pinker, and was greeted with enthusiasm by mainstream media.

    …Your argument only works if you assume that Harris, Thornhill, Palmer and Pinker have all committed the naturalistic fallacy.

    Have they? This is a genuine question – I haven’t read any of their writings on that topic.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, saying rape is an adaptation to increase reproductive success is saying it helps the perpetuation of the species.

    There is no such thing as “perpetuation of the species”. Natural selection doesn’t know what species you belong to according to whatever classification*. For you to have reproductive success means that your descendants – more precisely your genes – are overrepresented in the next generations, not that the species still exists under any definition.

    I have to start from the assumption that Thornhill, Palmer, and everyone else in that discussion know this full well and therefore didn’t mean to imply that anything is for the perpetuation of the species.

    * Obligatory rant: easily 150 different things are called “species”; depending on which you mean, the number of endemic bird species in Mexico fluctuates between 101 and 249, and the area with the greatest diversity of endemic bird species moves all over the country.

    I don’t know what I did there with the blockquotes, but it actually looks kind of cool.

    You forgot to close them. The <blockquote> tag isn’t automatically terminated at the end of a paragraph; you have to close it by writing </blockquote>.

    Direct quotes are third-hand cartoons?

    You say they’re direct quotes from someone Thornhill & Palmer cite, not from themselves. I doubt they cited any of those quotes or even their context. I bet they cited some other work that happened to have the same author.

  213. 213
    ChasCPeterson

    Have they?

    In the case of Thornhill & Palmer, no. Explicitly not. (of course)

  214. 214
    Amphiox

    Power, neuroguy, is not a binary proposition. It is relative, and is a gradient.

    Power, on the other hand, would mean being in a position where my respect for women significantly benefitted them careerwise, or where I could encourage them to pursue their careers more and make a difference for them. I’m not in that position, and a small minority of people actually are.

    If you know any woman, or have the opportunity to speak to any woman, then you have to power to provide them encouragement when you speak to them. And this can make a difference to them, however small. Even if it is something as simple as making them feel better for a moment.

    A small power is still power. And only a tiny, tiny, exceptional minority of all people are NOT in such a position of power.

    Power, on the other hand, would mean being the boss of the restaurant and able to fire anyone who groped and/or talked dirty to my employees. Again, I am not in that position, and a small minority of people are.

    That the boss may have MORE power, or even the MOST power in such a circumstance does not mean that no one else has any power. EVERYONE has the power to report such incidences to a manager or a boss, which has a chance of setting off a cascade of events that lead up to a person groping/talking dirty to other employees being fired or otherwise reprimanded.

    That too, is power. A smaller power than the power of the boss to fire, but still a power.

    And only a tiny, tiny, tiny exceptional minority of people DO NOT have such a power. Everyone else has that power, even if many may choose not to exercise it.

    There are gradients of power everywhere. Among the poor there are the less poor and the more poor, the poor with few connections and the poor with even fewer. The less poor can and frequently do, exert power over the more power. The poor with few connections can, and frequently do, exert power over the poor with even fewer connections.

    Every man has power to inflict misogyny on any woman he encounters, if he so chooses. That women may have power of their own to fight back does not change this. The opposite also applies, except that society possesses a systemic bias that augments individual power in one direction more than the other.

    Every human has the power to inflict pain and suffering on another human, by word or deed.

    Some have less power, some have more, but ALL have power.

  215. 215
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @David Marjanović

    Calling rape the most natural thing in the world, naming a book A Natural History of Rape, please tell me what are theytrying to say? Imagine “A Natural History of Child Abuse” or “A Natural History of Elder Abuse.”

    Maybe I didn’t articulate myself well, the sex drive to me would be an important part in the perpetuation of one’s species, which to this high school drop-out would relate to evolution and natural selection. Maybe I’m confusing these terms, I don’t know.

    I gave direct quotes from the link Chas provided *from Thornhill and Palmer themselves* that supposedly rebutted Coyne and Berry’s criticism, then I quoted a part of the Coyne-Berry criticism itself.

    The Camille Paglia quotes where just for, um, fun. I personally can’t take anyone seriously when they use her as a source. But that’s just me.

    Hell, I’ll just post the entire criticism of “A Natural History of Rape” here:

    A theory that rape has its origin in evolutionary biology is seriously flawed.

    By Jerry A. Coyne and Andrew Berry

    Jerry A. Coyne is in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, The University of Chicago, 1101 East 57 Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

    Andrew Berry is at the Museum of Comparative Zoology Labs, Harvard University, 26 Oxford St, Cambridge MA 02138 USA

    In A Natural History of Rape, Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer argue that rape is an adaptation – that it has evolved to increase the reproductive success of men who would otherwise have little sexual access to women. Their analysis of rape then forms the basis of a protracted sales pitch for evolutionary psychology, the latest incarnation of sociobiology: not only do the authors believe that this should be the explanatory model of choice in the human behavioural sciences, but they also want to see its insights incorporated into social policy. Thus, in a single slim volume, Thornhill and Palmer give us both an inflammatory analysis of a sensitive topic, and a manifesto outlining evolutionary biology’s future conquest of the social sciences.

    In the furore that has greeted the book’s publication, the scientific evidence for the authors’ arguments has been largely ignored. However, it is here that we must start. If their specific claims about rape are not scientifically sound, then the authors’ grand vision of the centrality of natural selection to every aspect of our behaviour collapses as well. In their media appearances, Thornhill and Palmer cloak themselves in the authority of science, implying that the controversy over their ideas is purely political, and that the underlying biology is unimpeachable. This is a serious misrepresentation.

    What persuasiveness the book does possess rests on an ingenious rhetorical trick. The authors lay out two alternative evolutionary hypotheses: rape is either a “specific adaptation” (i.e., natural selection explicitly promoted the act) or a “by-product of evolution” (i.e., there was no direct selection for rape; rather it is an accidental product of selection for, say, male promiscuity and aggression). Readers unconvinced by the specific-adaptation argument therefore find themselves embracing by default the by-product alternative. Either way, Thornhill and Palmer claim a convert.

    But what, in behavioural terms, is an evolutionary by-product? Everything that is not a specific adaptation. Thus playing the piano – an activity unlikely to have been instrumental in the evolution of the brain – is an evolutionary by-product, because it depends on a brain that was itself produced by natural selection. If every human behaviour can be seen as a by-product of evolution, then the by-product idea is useless, for a theory that explains everything is merely a truism. The claims that rape and playing the piano are by-products of evolution are claims without content.

    It is not surprising, then, that A Natural History of Rape is a largely an argument for the specific-adaptation theory. Thornhill and Palmer’s evidence, however, either 1) fails to support their case, 2) is presented in a misleading and/or biased way, or 3) equally supports alternative explanations. Here is one example of each of these problems:

    First, Thornhill and Palmer make much of the claim that rape victims tend to be in their prime reproductive years, suggesting that reproduction is indeed a central part of the rapist’s agenda. But the data they present contradicts this claim. In a 1992 survey that attempted to deal with the substantial statistical problem of unreported rape, 29% of U.S. rape victims were under the age of 11. As that age group comprises approximately 15% of the female population, under-11s were over-represented among rape victims by a factor of two. So invested are the authors in their specific-adaptation hypothesis that they try to explain this nonadaptive anomaly by noting that the data do not indicate the “proportion of the victims under 11 who were exhibiting secondary sexual traits.”[p.72] Further, “the increasingly early age of menarche in Western females contributes to the enhanced sexual attractiveness of some females under 12.” [p.72]. In the end, the hopelessness of this special pleading merely draws attention to the failure of the data to support the authors’ hypothesis.

    Second, Thornhill and Palmer contend that, based on sociological studies, female rape victims of reproductive age are more traumatized by the experience than are women either too old or too young to reproduce. The rationale is that reproductive-age women are in effect mourning the lost opportunity for mate choice which rape, in the worldview of evolutionary psychology, represents to them. The authors see this apparent heterogeneity in the reaction to rape as supporting their claims about the reproductive essence of the act.

    In checking the cited reference (one of whose authors was Thornhill himself), we find that the original work’s conclusions differ critically from those given in the book. According to Thornhill and Palmer, the cited study shows post-rape trauma to be higher in reproductive-age women (12-44) than in the two other age classes (under 12 and over 44). In fact, the data show that the only heterogeneity in response to rape comes from the under-12 class: the over-44 class is just as traumatized as the 12-44 one.

    However, when the over-44 and under-12 classes are pooled, the under-12 effect of less trauma makes this combined “nonreproductive” class significantly different from the 12-44 one. The authors have used statistical sleight of hand to buttress their argument. And we need hardly point out that the relative lack of trauma in the youngest age group may be unrelated to sexual immaturity: rather, children may be less able to express their feelings. Furthermore, the original study’s data are questionable because much of the assessment of trauma in the under-12 class was necessarily based on reports of the child’s caregivers rather than of the child herself. Direct comparison of observer-reported and self-reported data on such a subjective issue is extremely problematic.

    Finally, the fact that women of reproductive age experience more violence during rape than do older women or children – suggesting that they fight back harder – is taken by Thornhill and Palmer as evidence that they have more to defend. There is, they contend, more at stake – reproduction, no less-for reproductive-age women. While it is true that reproductive women who resist rape may be partly motivated by the fear of unwanted conception, it is also true that such women, at the peak of bodily strength, are most physically capable of fighting back. Children cannot fight off a full-grown man, and older women may also find resistance beyond them. In exclusively championing their preferred explanation of a phenomenon, even when it is less plausible than alternatives, the authors reveal their true colours. A Natural History of Rape is advocacy, not science.

    We have highlighted just three examples of the book’s flawed arguments. There are many more. The evidence that rape is a specific adaptation is weak at best. In keeping with the traditions established early in the evolution of sociobiology, Thornhill and Palmer’s evidence comes down to a series of untestable “just-so” stories.

    Sociobiological approaches to human behaviour may yield interesting insights. But it is disciplinary hubris – a longstanding feature of evolutionary psychology- to suppose that natural selection underlies our every action. Because of the central role of reproduction in Darwin’s theory, sexual behaviour is in principle a good candidate for fruitful sociobiological study, but even here it usually fails dismally. The most imaginative and committed sociobiologist would be hard pressed to show that masturbation, sadomasochism, bestiality, and pornography’s enthusiasm for high heels are all direct adaptations. In its insistence on forcing everything into the straitjacket of adaptation, evolutionary psychology offers a woefully incomplete perspective on human behaviour. Thornhill and Palmer have inadvertently revealed just how deficient that perspective is.

    Jerry A. Coyne is in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, The University of Chicago, 1101 East 57 Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

    Andrew Berry is at the Museum of Comparative Zoology Labs, Harvard University, 26 Oxford St, Cambridge MA 02138 USA

  216. 216
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Jerry Coyne’s review of the book in The New Republic goes into more detail, but I can’t seem to find it on the web: Of Vice and Men: The Fairy Tales of Evolutionary Psychology (Revew of A Natural History of Rape by R. Thornhill and C. T. Palmer). The New Republic 222(14):27-34.

    Thornhill and Palmer actually want their ideas implemented into social policy. They propose that women only go on dates with a chaperon and dress more conservatively so as not to tempt men’s natural desire to rape them. Not sure if the chaperon would be male or female, or what would stop a male chaperon from raping you, too.

  217. 217
    Jacob Schmidt

    This is privilege, not power, and shared by men as a whole.

    Nonsense. I’ve seen many men socially demean women, relying on the greater respect men are given and misogynistic tropes. That was power various men wielded over various women. A major factor in gendered violence is economic independence. Women are socially discouraged from working, meaning that men are more often the one’s in power. It’s one of the major reasons women’s safe houses are made: to give women who are dependant on their abusive spouse some independence.

    Power, on the other hand, would mean being in a position where my respect for women significantly benefitted them careerwise, or where I could encourage them to pursue their careers more and make a difference for them.

    No, you don’t get to arbitrarily redefine “power” to fit the narrative for which you wish to argue.

  218. 218
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Jacob:

    No, you don’t get to arbitrarily redefine “power” to fit the narrative for which you wish to argue.

    Neuroguy does seem to be using a narrow definition of power (which is why I’m curious which definition xe is using).

  219. 219
    David Marjanović

    In the case of Thornhill & Palmer, no. Explicitly not. (of course)

    Why am I not surprised!

    Calling rape the most natural thing in the world, naming a book A Natural History of Rape, please tell me what are theytrying to say?

    “This is why it exists at all”? “Without understanding it, we can’t do anything against it, so here’s our attempt to understand it”?

    Mind you, you’re not obliged to find a charitable explanation. Here’s a neutral one: “we were wondering why rape exists, and here’s our attempt at an answer”.

    You really have no reason to ascribe the naturalistic fallacy to them.

    Maybe I didn’t articulate myself well, the sex drive to me would be an important part in the perpetuation of one’s species, which to this high school drop-out would relate to evolution and natural selection. Maybe I’m confusing these terms, I don’t know.

    You’re in good company; it took well over 100 years after Darwin till evolutionary biologists really understood that species don’t exist in any way relevant to natural selection. Natural selection is nothing more than “the descendants of those who had above-average numbers of surviving fertile offspring for heritable reasons will be overrepresented in the next generations, and the descendants of those who had below-average numbers of surviving fertile offspring for heritable reasons will be underrepresented in the next generations” – species don’t figure in it.

    Don’t equate the sex drive with a rape drive, though.

    If every human behaviour can be seen as a by-product of evolution, then the by-product idea is useless, for a theory that explains everything is merely a truism. The claims that rape and playing the piano are by-products of evolution are claims without content.

    Well, no. They’re claims that the null hypothesis has not been disproved, so there’s no reason to think the behaviors in question were selected for.

    Given that that’s not what Thornhill & Palmer claimed, I don’t understand why Coyne & Berry bother mentioning it in the first place… ~:-|

    Thornhill and Palmer actually want their ideas implemented into social policy. They propose that women only go on dates with a chaperon and dress more conservatively so as not to tempt men’s natural desire to rape them.

    If that’s true, it’s an argument from appalling ignorance.

  220. 220
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @David Marjanović

    I don’t confuse the sex drive with rape. But I believe Thornhill and Palmer are. They are saying that rape isn’t a crime motivated by power and indifference or contempt for the victim, they are saying men who rape are motivated by sex or a combination of sexual adaptations. Even though they say they aren’t blaming the victim, they put a great deal of responsibility on women to modify their behavior in the way they dress and behave.

    Direct quote from T&P:

    That a woman’s manner of dress may affect her risk of rape is
    eminently reasonable in view of what is known about certain sexual
    adaptations of men. The following combination of sexual adaptations is
    expected to lead some men to rape: eagerness to have sex with new
    partners, impulsiveness in the pursuit of such partners, sexual motivation
    upon viewing women’s secondary sexual traits, and tendency to conclude
    that a woman is signaling sexual interest when she is not. This is not to
    say that most rape victims will be wearing miniskirts, or blouses that
    reveal their breasts. It is to say that dress is anticipated to be a risk factor
    in some situations, especially when coupled with other risk factors that
    stimulate men’s sexual motivation.

    They also believe that women of childbearing age are more traumatized by sexual assault not because of the violence and the very personal nature of the crime, but because of they are ‘mourning the lost opportunity for mate choice which rape represents to them.’ I’m sure there are elderly women and child survivors of rape, not to mention adult male survivors, who would beg to differ with that.

    I think T&P’s book, if taken seriously, would set women back and only add to sexual assault survivors trauma and efforts to heal.

  221. 221
    theoreticalgrrrl

    The first paragraph is a direct quote, sorry. I’m blockquote-impaired.

  222. 222
    David Marjanović
    That a woman’s manner of dress may affect her risk of rape is
    eminently reasonable in view of what is known about certain sexual
    adaptations of men. [...]

    Look! A testable hypothesis! Did they test it by trying to find out if “a woman’s manner of dress” does in fact correlate to “her risk of rape”?

    …Apparently they didn’t. Bad scientists.

    They also believe that women of childbearing age are more traumatized by sexual assault not because of the violence and the very personal nature of the crime, but because of they are ‘mourning the lost opportunity for mate choice which rape represents to them.’ I’m sure there are elderly women and child survivors of rape, not to mention adult male survivors, who would beg to differ with that.

    Obviously, Thornhill & Palmer didn’t mean conscious “mourning”. “Beg to differ” is therefore irrelevant. That’s exactly why Coyne & Berry provided very different reasons for why Thornhill & Palmer are wrong on this.

    I think T&P’s book, if taken seriously, would set women back and only add to sexual assault survivors trauma and efforts to heal.

    I agree, but not quite for the reasons you gave. I still see no reason to think Thornhill & Palmer, or Harris or Pinker, have committed the naturalistic fallacy (“natural = good”).

  223. 223
    theoreticalgrrrl

    David Marjanović
    No, I wasn’t claiming they were saying it’s natural therefore good. It sounds to me that they believe it’s natural as in normal and inevitable, and not motivated by malice or a power trip. That’s disturbing to me.

  224. 224
    ChasCPeterson

    naming a book A Natural History of Rape, please tell me what are theytrying to say?

    If you really wanted to know the answer to that question you could, you know, read the book.

    Imagine “A Natural History of Child Abuse”

    no need to imagine.

  225. 225
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Chas,

    The name is inflammatory, they have to have known that. “The Cinderella Effect” is not quite the same thing as writing a book called A NATURAL History of Child Abuse, or a Natural History or Child Murder. Give me a break.

    I’ve read enough of T&P in interviews, in excerpts from their book, to know I do not have to stomach to read the entire thing. I know the synopsis and the advice they give women and that fact that they would like their ideas implemented in social policy.

    I don’t know if you can possibly understand this, but it makes me nauseous and I get panic attacks even talking this much about it. Not because I’m weak, but because I’ve heard this same shit served up to me as a female so many times in my life, in so many different forms, it starts to really wear you down and you can end up, like me, with panic disorder and depression. It’s soul-destroying. I’m not being hyperbolic, it really is.

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