This post was originally published in radical feminist journal “Rain and Thunder” in its “Positive” issue #52 (Fall, 2011).
I understand that this issue is about “positivity” and what’s positive about the radfem movement. I admit that I actually laughed both out-loud and internally at the very thought, but mostly about “me” writing about it: positivi-whaa? As I said to my fellow bloggers upon receiving the invitation to write for this issue: “bahahaha! havent they read my blog?”
As a radfem blogger, I can definitely say that there is nothing “positive” about radfem blogging at all. I mean, nothing that any sane person would probably consider positive, or “worth it” where the good consistently outweighs the bad. There’s constant harassment and abuse from all sides: from unrepentantly woman-hating men’s rights activists (MRAs); liberal and libertarian feminists calling names and tossing deliberately-distracting liberal/progressive rhetoric around, and acting surprised when it doesn’t stick (as if radfems haven’t already heard it all before); and my personal favorite, (as cannon-fodder) self-identified “feminist” men, those loathsome liberal/progressives who – unsurprisingly – support women’s right…to be sexually penetrated by men. Now that’s good faux-feminism!
There’s also the fact that what we radfem bloggers do is time consuming, there are deadlines and expectations to be met, even if they are self-imposed, and it’s like having a second (or third or fourth) job, for which we aren’t paid. The time and energy spent on radfem blogging takes away from relationships, it takes away from leisure time, and it depletes resources that could be spent on self-care. It really does: there are only so many hours in the day, especially for women, who tend to be both overworked and underpaid anyway.
And then there’s the constant stress of writing and engaging under a pseudonym: most of us do this for a reason, whether it’s not wanting our places of work finding out our “real” political leanings (and this applies whether our workplaces are liberal or conservative) or because we receive death and rape-threats for the work we do and the views we express, and we don’t want to serve ourselves up on a silver platter to those who would harm us – although it wouldn’t be completely shocking if anyone figured out our identities on their own would it? Some people have a lot of time on their hands. So there’s that. Actual physical danger and threats of danger. We are political activists of the most hated kind, and we have vaginas. So we can be raped. We can be sexually terrorized and impregnated against our wills, including as punishment for our deviance, as so many millions and indeed billions of women are and always have been, around the world. We are members of the raped class and prostituted class and disappeared-class, so we could be harmed, and not many people would care. Especially once they found out why we were harmed: as women, we always have it coming, and as radical feminists, we would fully deserve it, perhaps even more than non-radical women deserve what they get, in the way of sexual violence and threats of sexual violence from men.
Most radfems already know this of course. Dworkin was afraid she would be assassinated. She wasn’t, and ultimately died of good-old fashioned “poor health” after a lifetime of shit and struggles and threats. Which isn’t really a surprise now is it? This kind of stress and abuse (as a result of our femaleness as well as our activism) isn’t really compatible with life. There’s also the fact that our chances of success are infinitesimal, approaching zero, and truly radical change is highly unlikely to take place within our lifetimes or those of our children, if it takes place at all.
This is what radfem blogging is for me. It’s constant and exhausting, it’s never-ending bullshit and stress. It’s also one thing that keeps me sane, and it’s the only place I have, in life, where I can tell the truth about what I think and where I can tell the truth about what I observe and experience and know is happening, in life, happening to myself and to women as a sexual class, around the world. As difficult as it is, it’s the only place and the only thing that *is* compatible with life, my life, such as it is. Many radfem bloggers experience this, from what I understand.
Which is really fucked up isn’t it? The constant never-ending bullshit and stress of radfem blogging, as stressful as it is, comes as a relief. I think that says a lot about both radfem blogging and about what it’s like to be female, under patriarchy. Where women, all women, are constantly threatened with rape and death, even if no one threatens or harms us directly, but where men often do threaten and harm us directly. Where we are put-upon to meet grueling deadlines and unreasonable expectations anyway, ones that aren’t even our own, and that are directly oppositional to our own self-interests in fact, but where the consequences for deviance are severe. Where we are exhausted by constant energy/gynergy-sucking vampirism of men and male institutions and male-identified women too, and where 8-hours of uninterrupted sleep can’t revive or refresh us. Even if we could get that much sleep in a night, and particularly women often can’t. There’s just not enough time.
When I first started blogging in August, 2009, the feminist blogosphere was a very different place than it is today. At that time, anyone who was critical of transgenderism/transsexualism or critical of penis – in – vagina (PIV) sex and abusive and male-centric sexuality – the latter criticism being the cornerstone of traditional radfem “sexual politics” – was absolutely marginalized and ostracized. Anyone who dared start a new radfem blog, daring (daring!) to continue decades-old radfem tradition in this new media, was mercilessly harassed and harangued, and encouraged to commit blogicide – to delete our blogs and effectively censor and silence ourselves – due to our embarrassingly “sex-negative” views, and our shameful “unchecked privilege” and “transphobia.” Much, but certainly not all, of the original radfem online presence (including many of the first radfem blogs) had folded by then, following gruesome attacks from post-modernists and others, and for unrelated reasons too. It was a radical ghost-town.
Back then, when I was still reading the liberal feminist blogs and arguing and engaging with them (and dropping links to my own blog – HA!) I was unsure what was going on, and just shaking my head, thinking “what has become of feminism?” I was coming off a long sabbatical, having left “feminism” and feminist studies behind, having other things to do. Some 10 years later I had returned, but to what I didn’t know: things had changed drastically, if the blogs were any indication, where previously, feminists – even academic feminists – had laughed at Freud and the obviousness of his misogyny, specifically where he asserted that women were merely castrated men. What an asshole Freud was, and we all knew it. What a misogynist woman-hating male doctor, what a dangerous and harmful practice, what an anti-feminist patriarchal discourse emanating from an anti-feminist patriarchal institution. But at least it was obvious.
What the hell is this milquetoast male-pleasing bullshit masquerading as feminism? – I asked myself this in the beginning, many times. Apparently, someone had pulled the wool over feminists’ eyes. How did this happen? In pretty short order, I realized that issues of transgenderism, largely men’s issues by the way, had taken center stage in the new “feminist” movement: where “sex” and “gender” had become one in the same – or where reproductive “sex” as a meaningful category had been erased completely – and no one seemed to notice this or care. Women as a sexual class simply did not exist; women were just castrated men, once again (men who’d had their dicks lopped off were being recognized medically, legally and socially – and by feminists! – as women). A couple of seconds later, I realized that this wasn’t feminism at all, of course. This is what the next “wave” of backlash looked like. And there was work to be done, and I had a couple of allies in this struggle, specifically, a couple of other radfem bloggers.
And importantly, I began to read. Second-wave authors Jeffreys, Daly, Dworkin, MacKinnon, and others began to directly inform my politics, and made me realize that this is what always happens, when radical feminists start making progress. Pro-male propaganda and sex-positivism – the “big guns” – are brought out, and all the good work feminists have done gets erased and buried under decades of misogynist propaganda, including the re-writing of history and extolling the virtues of PIV-centric sex. Same shit, different day. I decided I wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel; or rather, was comforted and motivated knowing I didn’t have to. So I continued with my work, my blogging, my strangely torturous, yet life-affirming hobby that I didn’t have time for, but did it anyway. And all around me, the radfem blogosphere…grew. As I said, when I started blogging, there were only maybe three or four regularly-updated radfem blogs left. Now there are at least a dozen I can name off the top of my head. And that number is growing.
So besides continuing with the work, what does a radfem blogger do when she is already overworked, exhausted and stressed? She sets up another blog of course! (Radfem bloggers know this is true.) And when we were setting up the radfem collective blog, Radfem HUB, I was exhausted, completely and utterly. I was working more than full time, managing a 4-hour a day commute, publishing original content at my own blog weekly, and nursing a shoulder injury and juggling doctors’ and physical therapy appointments, and I remember the night we went live, driving home from the doctor in the dark, in a pounding mid-May rainstorm thinking “I have to concentrate on the road, because if I die, this thing ain’t happening. At least, it’s not happening tonight.” I should explain that since the HUB was set up and registered under my blogging account, even though many of us actually worked on it in its infancy in preparation for our opening day, only I had the power to flip the “on” switch, and I had a dozen bloggers counting on me to get home and flip the switch at 8 pm sharp, as agreed. But I didn’t die, and it did happen that night: the HUB went live on May 18, 2011. And 15 minutes early, too, because that’s how I roll. And as far as I know, Radfem HUB was and is the first and only public, regularly-updated radfem collective blog in existence.
Amazingly, and as we had hoped, the traffic we are getting at the HUB far surpasses the traffic any one of us are getting on our individual blogs: I have been blogging at femonade for 2 years now, and my blog surpassed a quarter-million pageviews about a month ago. At the rate HUB is going, it could hit that milestone in its first 6 months. That’s really impressive, considering that one-million pageviews is some kind of holy grail in blogging, and most blogs never see it. Radfem HUB could easily live to see a million pageviews and more, so long as we continue with the work, including the work of our amazing guest-bloggers such as Sheila Jeffreys, Julie Bindel, Betty McLellan, Susan Hawthorne, and others, who have all contributed to the HUB. That’s a million acknowledgements of woman-centered reality, a million advancements of a woman-loving political agenda, and a million chances to raise awareness and foment discussion and change minds, and go to the ends of our thoughts. It’s a million chances to change the world, as it were. Or women’s experience of it at the absolute minimum, being that a large part of that experience is to languish in a male-centric reality, unacknowledged and alone.
And if what we are doing as radfem bloggers is the next “wave” of feminism, so be it. If this is one of the waves that actually makes it to the beach, (unlike so-called “third-wave” feminism) I will be so pleased. And if this is yet another one that is ultimately covered up and all-but erased by male-centric misogynist sex-positive propaganda, and lies buried for the next thirty years…well, the burial mound will have to be higher and wider and deeper than it ever was before, because as long as women have internet access, they have access to radical feminist blogs. And there are a lot of us now. And I am so pleased about that. Positively pleased, and grateful too.