This post follows 24 hours of viewing the world through my feminist lens, and the things I noticed that others may not notice.
I saw in International Women’s Day furious. I had tried to explain to a person on Twitter that perhaps they needed to re-examine their privilege and that they had used the word “slutty” in an offensive context. The person dismissed all of these concerns, all the while insisting that they were feminist and knew better. A friend of mine blocked the person over that as she was so upset and frustrated by the flagrant privilege denial and complete dismissal. Shortly after midnight, the person tweeted the following:
International Women’s Day coincides with Pancake Day. I think this means women are pancakes but I might have got confused.
How very feminist, minimising International Women’s Day. I replied to that effect. I got a sarcastic reply. I considered blocking the person, too, but decided instead that I will call them on their bullshit where I see it in the hope that one day they might just get a clue.
I woke up to glorious sunshine and beautiful messages of solidarity celebrating women all over Twitter. For just one glorious moment I felt as though perhaps there were finally enough people on our side to win this fight.
Then I read this. In short, the UK is attempting to water down legislation defining violence against women as a violation of human rights. The anger prickled. How is violation of the rights of a human not violation of the rights of a human? Are women less than human?
After lunch (mortadella, mozarella and artichoke ciabatta, delicious) I was heartened again. Today has been a good day for feminist writing. As tweeter MediocreDave put it:
I am having a lovely afternoon sitting by a sun-lit window and reading feminist blogs. Can we have #IWD more often, please? 🙂
If only every day were about celebrating people.
While doing all of this, I was, of course, working. I work in one of the few areas of science that lacks the stark gender gradient: I work in psychology. My main supervisor is a woman, a brilliant woman. My office is teeming with smart, brilliant women. There is none of the age-old problem of “but women can’t analyse” here. We all deal in advanced statistics, and our genders are irrelevant. I am writing a paper. Four of the five authors are women. The stark gender gradient is hardly here at all. The sun streams through the window of my office, and I am happy to be here.
Another reason I like my office: we’re discussing female genital mutilation right now, and the politics of pubic hair, and bodily autonomy. At least two of my office-mates are feminists; the rest probably are but don’t know it yet.
It was a beautiful, glorious afternoon until I saw the news about Tahrir Square. Our Egyptian sisters marched to make themselves visible, to be included in deciding on the future of their country. They were greeted with thugs telling them that this was not an option. This reaction to women wishing to determine their own lives is global, it is entrenched. Where I see it, it is usually tweets or blog comments. The sarcastic “make me a cup of tea, love”; the furious “you’re wrong” with no elaboration; the feeble attempt to justify something which to me seems completely unjustifiable. In Egypt, it is bigger, it is more overt. It is all part of the same problem; and it strengthens my resolve to fight this wherever I see it.
I check Facebook periodically. Old school friends, barely remembered faces from the past comment on statuses relating to International Women’s Day with their hilariously ironic assertions that women should make sandwiches and react defensively when it is pointed out that this is not good form. Targeted ads, spotting my age and gender, try to sell me manicures and brazilian waxes. I prefer Twitter. Since I became a feminist, I’ve liked Facebook a lot less.
Today has been my first day of blogging, and my introduction to feminist blogging is much as I’d imagine. I have faced the kind of comments I expected: a mix of gratifying and head-smashingly frustrating. I talk to people about my experience. Those who see through the feminist lens understand perfectly. Those who do not, do not discuss the issue. To me, feminism is like a community of people who see the world in a similar way. We can come from anywhere, we can be any gender, any race. We see things that others don’t. We react differently.
Of course, we are not a homogenous of seething anti-patriarchy ire. We simply see what others cannot or will not.
For the evening, I fuck. It is good. I do not think of the politics surrounding sex: gendered power differences, consent, and on and on; I am too busy fucking.
So ends a day in the life of someone who has once been termed a radical feminist lesbian separatist. It was not a typical day. No day is truly typical.
That was my International Women’s Day.
8 thoughts on “A day in the life of a radical feminist lesbian separatist”
You seem convinced that feminists see things that others don’t. Maybe some of those things are in your imaginations. I am not someone who has not benefitted from the ‘lens’ of feminism. I have seen through it and I have rejected it.
You also say that you think non-feminists won’t discuss gender/feminism. I will! But feminists often don’t like to discuss it with me. I am one of those people who gets ‘blocked’ on twitter by feminists, for daring to argue with them for example.
But you got laid last night which is more than can be said for me. So on that front, you win!
I think you may get blocked because you have a tendency to put your opinion across rather aggressively (don’t worry; we’ve all done this before) and have a tendency to overlink to Mark Simpson. Both your own and Simpson’s writing tends to acknowledge that we live in a society which forces people into roles befitting gender, and that these roles are harmful.
When feminists discuss an issue which applies to women, we are not denying that women are the only people who will experience objectification, or rape, etc. We are discussing an issue which pertains to women, and therefore the fact that something else applies to someone else is irrelevant to the discussion. I have always loathed bringing irrelevant issues into a debate, for example when I critique an aspect of coalition policy, someone pointing out that Labour were bad for civil liberties is irrelevant to the discussion.
So many hate it when the argument is dragged off-course by your mentioning that things are bad for men, because it’s not relevant to the discussion of the issue at hand. That’s probably why you get blocked.
Thanks for your analysis! Gosh it seems that women can analyse after all. And come to ridiculous conclusions, just like men!
My ‘aggressiveness’ is a matter for interpretation but I think if we ‘analysed’ all my communications with people who have blocked me it would be hard to pinpoint where I have been aggressive. They really don’t like being challenged.
You seem to think men and women are separate planets that cannot be spoken of in the same breath. I don’t and never will understand this.
As for my references to Mark Simpson he happens to be the only other writer I know that actually considers gender currently, especially in relation to cultural representation without resorting to lame binary oppositions and giving one ‘sex’ a victim status over another.
Also your focus on women ignores issues of trans people and people who do not identify as either men or women. But you are a woman I think, so maybe you are just looking out for number one.
See, the aggressiveness comes through in the resort to personal attacks: “But you are a woman I think, so maybe you are just looking out for number one.”
When I talk about men and women, I talk of the roles into which we are forced, and how society enforces these. I am talking of issues which pertain to people squashed into one role or another, and people who identify in one role or another. It’s coded into our language. We have male, we have female, we have no word for anything else. With my level of cis privilege, I do not feel comfortable writing about the experiences of trans/intersex/genderqueer people.
We’re all on the same side in smashing binary notions of gender, I think.
I think trans people would rather be acknowledged as existing than not.
we have plenty of words for gender identities other than those of ‘male’ and ‘female’ but I will leave you to your research skills to find out what they are.
I think suggesting that you are interested in women’s issues because you are self-interested as a woman is not a personal attack but a comment on pretty well the whole of feminism. sorry if I directed it at you specifically it goes for all your sisters too.
I don’t see any evidence of you challenging the gender binary at all. If you do then feel free to show me where and how.
“We’re all on the same side in smashing binary notions of gender, I think.”
This tends to be how it works with QRG. She’s sort of like a troll who agrees with you quite aggressively from a weird direction while getting distracted by gay porn. You get used to it.
@Quiet Riot Girl
“I don’t see any evidence of you challenging the gender binary at all. If you do then feel free to show me where and how.”
She’s pretty angry about the gender bit of the censushere. Though I don’t think there’s much room for challenging it except shouting at the internet.
Regarding pancakes, I was minimising the day and not the cause. All my flippancy was for the calendar and not the struggle against gender oppression.
ha was it you Alex? You are such a troublemaker!!
I know you say I am like a troll to wind me up so I am not biting. Mwah!