Anticlimax revisited

by Guest Blogger

Guest post by Sheila Jeffreys

My 1990 book Anticlimax, which has been out of print, is being republished by Spinifex Press this month with a new preface. It is a book of which I am particularly fond because I wrote it in the late 1980s, as a way of making sense of  my own experience of the ‘sexual revolution’. The sexual history of the 1960s was being written up in the 1980s as a process of women’s sexual liberation. I did not see it that way.

I did remember that the ‘alternative’ magazines of the period, Oz and International Times, were full of women’s naked bodies, albeit painted with flowers often enough, and promoted pornography as liberating. In the book I had the opportunity to look back at what was really going on, through the sex advice literature and the pornography of the time. I wrote Anticlimax, and my first book, The Spinster and Her Enemies (1985/1997), to demonstrate that the ‘sexual revolutions’ of the twentieth century liberated men’s sexual access to women rather than women’s empowerment.

When I wrote the book I was hopeful that sexual practice would change under the influence of second wave feminism and women’s increased opportunities. I argued that sexual pleasure and practice under male domination were constructed around the eroticising of women’s subordination. I expressed my concern that a developing pornography industry, and a backlash within feminism itself which supported the status quo, posed a serious challenge to the possibility of ‘eroticising equality’ but I still hoped that progress would be made. It is now very clear that the opposite took place, not only an absence of positive change, but a further strengthening of the bindings that tied sex to eroticised power difference.

Sex as political

I explain in Anticlimax that sexual pleasure and practice is culturally understood as natural and biological and uninflected by social construction or power relations. This idea, that ‘sexuality comes from the stork’, as Catharine MacKinnon puts it, is still current even in the face of the obvious influence of the pornography industry in the construction of sex today. It is still current despite the perfervid efforts of the sexologists, or scientists of sex, the sex therapists, marriage guidance counsellors, women’s magazine advice columnists, to shape the appropriate sexual behaviour of girls and women. I examine the work of these sexologists and sex advice writers in this book, and analyse their very specific instructions about the way in which sex should be done to women, how women should respond, and how they should service whatever men desire. The sex educators in the twentieth century in general saw themselves as knights bearing the standards of sexual health into battle with the majority of women, estimated at from 40 to 100 percent, who were reluctant to engage in penis in vagina (PIV) sex, or who gained insufficient pleasure from this activity. The educators considered that the correct sexual response from women was enthusiastic submission and abandonment of personhood. As an influential 1920s sexologist, Stekel, quoted in my first book, The Spinster and Her Enemies, put it, ‘To be aroused by a man means acknowledging oneself as conquered’. So women needed to permit men to do PIV sex and show appropriate enthusiasm not just because this gave men pleasure, but because it subordinated them. The work of the sexologists shows us that sex is very political indeed.  The campaign is still going on because many women today are similarly recalcitrant and refuse, or do not get pleasure from, what men want to do sexually.

The sexual revolution of the 60s added extra requirements. Not only were women to be enthusiastic about PIV sex, but they were to be sexually available outside marriage, and to accept more and more practices that were directed specifically towards men’s pleasure and potentially painful or degrading for themselves. The sex educators who were stars of the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s, such as Alex Comfort, mandated that heterosexual practice should take the form of penis in vagina sex, usually in the missionary position i.e. with the woman pinned down on her back. But this could be spiced up, from the man’s point of view, with extras such as ‘buttered bun’ a practice now more generally engaged in by teams of professional footballers, where men penetrate women one after another, revelling in the fact that their penises are bathed in the semen of their mates. Most importantly, Comfort said women must accept that men like to express aggression in sex,  and may wish to throw their partners on the bed on their way back from the shower, gag them, or tie their arms and legs to the four corners of the bed. None of this comes from the stork.

Second wave feminists reacted against this model of sex, as I outline in Anticlimax. They pointed out that women’s sexual pleasure originated in the clitoris, rather than the vagina, so PIV sex was a bit beside the point. They argued that women’s sexuality should be ‘self-defined’ and about women’s pleasure rather than just directed towards pleasuring men. They imagined and practised what a very different kind of sex could be like. They questioned the way in which women were trained to experience sexual pleasure, in the form of masochism and taking satisfaction from their subordination, and used humour to deal with this quite difficult issue. They argued that women should have the right not to do PIV, or engage in any genital sex, if they did not want to. This was truly revolutionary, and the industry of sexology and sex advice, as well as the pornography industry has been dedicated to burying this, and the other threatening feminist notions, ever since.

Heterosexual/homosexual desire

In the book I develop the idea of ‘homosexual desire’ as the antidote to the eroticising of inequality, as the form of pleasure to which all who value women’s equality should aspire. By ‘homosexual’ I mean desire  that is based upon a sameness of power, not a sameness of biological sex, although I argue that same sex relationships have a greater possibility of this form of desire. Same sex lovers are not necessarily afflicted by the burden of inequality that is brought into heterosexual relationships. But lesbians and gay men are also brought up in a world of male domination in which inequality of power is eroticised as what sex is, so some, to gain excitement, bring the power back in through sadomasochist or butch/femme practice.

‘Heterosexual’ desire I define as eroticised power difference. This does not need to be extreme but could simply be the excitement of high heeled shoes versus ordinary men’s comfortable clothing which is so normal in heterorelations that it is scarcely remarked upon. One of the reasons that some feminists were critical of the book at the time is that they could not imagine sexual pleasure without the stimulus of inequality, and because some considered that I was interfering in their sex lives which were private and nothing to do with politics! I suspect that it is even harder today for many to imagine a sexuality of equality. When I wrote Anticlimax sadomasochism was becoming quite dominant in male gay and some lesbian circles. Today sadomasochist fetishes have become normalised in the fashion industry, and sm practice has moved out of the pages of porn to be the expected norm in the relationships of many of the students I teach, judging by their questions and concerns.

Since this book was first published, there has been a considerably increased cementing of sex around women’s subordination. This has occurred particularly in  the development of the global sex industry, and in the pornographication of culture. Pornography has become the very model of healthy sex. There is even less space for rethinking the sexuality of eroticised women’s subordination and creating an alternative vision. The economic and cultural clout of pornography has taken over any space that might have existed to imagine sex differently. The goal of eroticising equality is far from being realised, but, as I argue in Anticlimax, women cannot achieve their revolution whilst it is precisely their subordination that forms the foundation of how sex is felt and practised. The new rising wave of feminism will need to take up this baton again.

Sheila Jeffreys is an academic and writer, originally from London, who teaches in Australia. She has been a rad fem activist for 38 years.

69 Comments to “Anticlimax revisited”

  1. Very well stated Sheila because male sexual domination over women is at the centre of male supremacy which is why even the idea women have the right to refuse PIV and or refuse to engage in any genital sex is seen as non-viable and ‘prudish.’ So much of what supposedly passes for female sexual expression is in fact about women catering to men’s sexual demands. Male supremacy has very successfully promoted the myth that male sexuality is innately dominant whereas women’s sexuality is not autonomous but exists only in relation to male sexuality and this means for women even to think about challenging phallocentric (PIV) sexuality is seen as heresy.

    Men’s claims that sex is not ‘sex’ unless it is PIV or even PIA is all about reinforcing male sexual domination and male sexual control over women. Women are trained and indoctrinated into believing female sexuality exists only to service men’s needs never their own which is why so many individual women feel they cannot state they do not want or even desire PIV because they know the male can if he chooses ignore their demands and instead coerce them into doing what he wants. In other words it is male sexual power over women which is what the sexologists, male medical practitioners and even marriage guidance counsellors claimed was ‘real sex and natural.’

    How can PIV be ‘natural’ given at least 40% of women have to be ‘indoctrinated’ into believing what the man wants is ‘real sex’ and what they desire is non-sex or at worst ‘foreplay.’ Why does male supremacy spend so much effort indoctrinating women and girls in to believing PIV is the ‘gold standard’ of human sexual expression? Is it because male sexual domination over women is the real issue and the very idea that women’s sexualities and bodies belong to them not to men is rightly seen as challenging male power over all women? Answer is yes because men’s sexual demands are central and women supposedly only exist to sexually service men in whatever way men demand.

    Yes lesbian women and homosexual men do not escape how our male supremacist society defines human sexuality as being about the eroticising of power – male power that is and hence that is why even in lesbian/homosexual relationships the idea of eroticised sexual power is seen as ‘real sex’ not enforcement of domination and control over the supposedly ‘feminised other.’

  2. thanks sheila. spinster was a game changer for me, i believe that and dworkin’s “intercourse” set me down the road i am on today. and i was so happy to see that anti climax examined the 60s “sexual revolution” and sexology of that era similarly to the way spinster critiqued the very same thing occurring at an earlier time. its just more of the same shit, repackaged and sold to women as revolutionary, and the secret to our liberation from men. funny how our being LIBERATED FROM men always requires that we literally be joined at the pelvis with them. the cognitive dissonance here is crippling for many women, and many feminists i think. it cannot be unpacked often enough. congrats on your re-release!

  3. My mother and other, more mature women of her generation saw how damaging the so called “sexual revolution” was to women, not to mention what a huge scam it was to young women. “It’s porn!”…”You’re just enabling men!”…”This isn’t liberating!”– is what my mother would and still says to me. She saw through the so called liberal dudebros’ propaganda and made sure I didn’t become another naive Third Waver, grinding up against a pole and calling it “empowerment”. This is why I want a Second Wave renaissance. The young women of my generation have had their minds warped by patriarchy/Hugh Hefner-approved “feminism”. It’s phallocracy with a “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt on.

  4. Hi Guys. I got the backlash of that in the 70’s. I was having a great time sexually not being abused and my husband to be couldn’t even get an erection. And because I was actually enjoying my sex and i’ve had this before from other women as well, I realised you’r not supposed to enjoy yourself sexually.

    I never realised at the time how primitive feminist knowledge was and I internalised that and that became abuse again.

    What I think we all don’t realise is that we have been exposed to abusive sex for so long that we really don’t know how sex actually should be.

    What makes us human is that we enjoy our sex. This makes us stand out from the other animals who don’t really enjoy it as much as we do and they just procreate.

    The whole idea of the sexual act is that it is purely about giving yourself and your partner or partners sexual pleasure. I stress here the word ‘Pleasure’. I realised and so did Freud to a certain extent how we are influenced sexually all of our lives.

    Sex for human beings has always been a way of communication. It is both physical and mental in nature. It involves all of our senses.

    It is also highly personal and individual. Anything goes. Abusive sex is – If it is not mutual and it does not bring pleasure and you are compelled to perform it and don’t enjoy it.

    Men have been sexually liberated for years in the fact they could do what they pleased. Simply because women give birth. This is the problem I think.

    They have been able to use that to control us and therefore society.

    And it is because of the lack of sexual education that it has become corrupted. Sexual education should start at 3 years of age. We should have more trained sexual teachers in our schools. Children can be taught about sex as early as that simply because that is when our young personalities are formed. Given the right teaching methods there is no reason why good sexual education shouldn’t make everyone have a healthy sexual life experience.

    Taught with the right approach any child can learn sexual education which should continue throughout all of that child’s school life.

    The right sexual education can also be beneficial to people who have been abused.

    When I was a child of 11 years of age I first started to sprout breasts and had my periods. And that was a shock because mum couldn’t educate me properly about that either. Then mum taught me crudely about the sexual act. Which disgusted me at the time. Then I was molested by an acquaintance of my dad’s who was a brother owner and who had a hair lip. Ugly bastard. Outraged I expected my dad to defend me but he didn’t.

    He carried on doing business with him laughing on joking and my mum really laid into him about this. The next thing I know is that two neighbours are having it off on the shed roof. Apparently they were having fun. Which in the 1950’s wasn’t allowed. That alone was confusing because even though my mum said sex was good I thought well they hate each other half the time.

    Then on bonfire night dad said I should not go and collect firewood down the alley where that boy was. And he was a few years older than me. I was 11 years old so where was the sense in that? Crude sex education again. Then because I rebelled and went on to collect firewood anyway he beat the shit out of me telling me of course how immoral I was.

    When I think about it sex has been my problem all of my life one way or another, even when I really enjoyed it. It is exactly like Laing wrote you are buggered if you do and you are buggered if you don’t. The Double Bind.

    So I think we should really get together and work out good practices of sexual education and how to detoxify men and women who have been corrupted all of their lives because of the lack of it.

    I am aware of one professor who spent his career studying sex. I watched a film about him a few years back which I have watched twice. Leam Nilson I think played his role. I have his name somewhere and will look it up and find out more about him.

    So I have asked on line somewhere for people to get in touch with me so I can write a book about it. And hopefully we can work together and learn how to create a programme of ‘Good Sexual Education’.

    I hope this makes sense.

    All have a good organism and don’t worry if you don’t there is always tomorrow.



  5. I am grateful to the Hub for having exposed me to this strong, original thinker. The concept of “the eroticization of equality” as an anodyne to the usual subordination/masochism/inequality political paradigm is very helpful in trying to get a handle on this very difficult subject of desire. It unifies power and desire in one short powerful phrase. Bravo.

    I wish we could re-name the Second Wave, Mocha, so it didn’t appear to be over. Since that won’t happen, maybe we should think about what a Fourth Wave would look like, as the Third Wave has been hopelessly compromised by tangential and male-oriented preoccupations such as academic abstraction (post-modernism) and increased sexual access under the guise of free sexual expression for women. It seems to me that to step backward after radical steps forward (as in the Second Wave) is common, and it would be helpful for us to look at what we can take from the Third Wave and move on.

  6. FCM: “funny how our being LIBERATED FROM men always requires that we literally be joined at the pelvis with them…”

    Haha! What an image! Reminds me of a picture of “siamese” twins showing the way they learned to walk – sideways…I get a vision of marriage as a surgical siamese twin re-joining…

  7. yes karma, thats the image i had too. its absurd to think about, as it should be. connecting (or equating) womens liberation with compulsory or coercive PIV is absurd. and building our lives around male centrism really is like learning how to walk sideways, its a debilitating condition that you have to learn to get around with anyway.

    this is where naming the agent comes in: if we say “womens liberation” there is a question “liberation from what?” obviously its from men, male violence and patriarchal institutions. all of which PIV completely supports. DUH.

  8. As a second waver it has never been over for me, or many other womon . Feminism has been my credo over 45 years now…..and I endorse Sheila’s account of the 60’s….all the pill meant and other contraceptive devices was that men would have access to more womon as they decreed that the sexual revolution was and under cover…get laid as many times as you can project…twas nothing about womon as human beings at all….

    Lets not forget whilst many young women were being ‘hoodwinked’ into multiple sexual experiences that vast majority of their peers were still struggling to get out from under the post war re-defining womon as objects for the home hearth and bed! it was still a time when pregnancy outside marriage was a sin and a shame on the womon, where abortion was not available to poor womon (it was always available to the rich womon). The fact that pregnancy can now be achieved without a father/ husband for the child has again benefitted menz, they can have all the fun without any bother about the consequences of their feckless sexual behaviours….. and then bleat on about how hard done by they are by the wimmins…..
    The 60’s encouraged some young womon to act (it was an act) liberated but it was not universal…it was a gradual creep in UK society that of itself did not actually eliminate any inequalities as such. We still fight for womons rights up until now…..and the war being waged against us rages on and on at a relentless pace with the same old arguments and victim blame as ever…..we may win some small battles but the War is still to be won….sigh!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. @ Mocha ‘Hugh Hefner-approved “feminism”: it’s phallocracy with a “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt on.’
    Baaaaahahahahahah this comment is gold. Sheila’s post is, as always, spot on. Now, how to talk to our friends and sisters about this when they’ve bought into it hook line and sinker? How????!

  10. getting through to the sex-pozzies may well be impossible because they base their entire belief system on the premise that all sex acts (including PIV) can be made harmless. but PIV in particular can never be made safe FOR WOMEN due to the risk of unwanted pregnancy and the reality of unilateral trauma bonding from fear of unwanted pregnancy. they are male-identifying to the extreme and they cannot hear it when this is pointed out. *if* they could even conceive of the harms of PIV, even they would have to concede that those harms to women only go away after menopause, and they would take that into consideration when they are negotiating the terms of their encounters. instead, they just pretend as if the danger isnt there, even as they are popping their hormonal birth control pills every day as if its part of their daily grooming ritual instead of an imposed biological necessity and a harm-reduction strategy required solely because they are engaging in dangerous male-centric sex on mens terms.

    in other words, they are paralyzed from the NECK UP over this issue in particular. its a prerequisite to adopting their male-centric value system. and i dont see a way to break through that, i really dont. age and “lived-experience” with the harms of PIV may bring this understanding with time. by the time they are old enough to get it, they wont be HOT anymore, and they will have given their blogs over to the next generation of twenty-somethings who are as naive and deeply into denial as they were when they were that age. its so painful, it really is. if anyone thinks this can be remedied, please share.

  11. for me as a recovering fun-fem i can report how *i* came to my understanding. it was after some 6 years of being in a committed yet deeply sexually unsatisfying relationship and trying fruitlessly for the same length of time to explain my needs and get them met and they never were. then i read the radfem blogs for about 6 months, then read dworkins intercourse. it was a *click* heard round the world. 🙂

    ironically, if i could have found a partner who wanted constant PIV i might never have bothered. it was the infrequent PIV that did it: just frequent enough to make me worry every month or every other month that i was pregnant, but so infrequent that there was virtually no pleasure and no payout. it wasnt worth it, and trying to explain this was impossible, partly because i hadnt performed the cost-benefit analysis consciously yet, even to myself. i just knew it made me extremely depressed and anxious. now i know of course that PIV is *never* worth it for women, because its so dangerous. but back then i wouldve settled for the status quo if i couldve found a partner who could keep up with me.

    perhaps that wasnt even possible, now that i think about it further. in 20 years of having PIV, i never found a partner that made it really worth it, and i was always unsatisfied. perhaps i was expecting that eventually we would find a frequency or an intensity or whatever that wouldve made it worth the tremendous risk i was taking in doing it at all. i didnt know there wasnt one.

  12. “eroticized power difference”

    I remember the first time I read this term and all the jigsaw pieces, (of my *own* experiences, and what I saw around me in the form of pop culture) fell into place. This is *exactly* what passes for “sex”.

    I read Anti-Climax last week. I couldn’t put it down.

  13. by the time they are old enough to get it, they wont be HOT anymore, and they will have given their blogs over to the next generation of twenty-somethings who are as naive and deeply into denial as they were when they were that age. its so painful, it really is. if anyone thinks this can be remedied, please share.

    There’s quite a few young radfems out there who didn’t first go through a funfem stage, all is not that hopeless! I also notice that when I really have the time to talk about PIV politics with women, reactions are usually quite positive, it doesn’t take that long to understand, if well explained. The question is mainly about how do we get to find these times with women, given that most radfems are pretty marginalised in number, geographically, spatially, economically and in terms of access to media, etc.

    Actually I’ve given up trying to convince funfems, because those are the hardest, and they’re still an insignificant minority of women anyway since most women simply don’t know anything about feminism or are plain antifeminist. Cause once a women is convinced that feminism means to be fucked by men and feel happy and empowerfulised about it, it’s near impossible to change her mind, and if you criticise her position she’ll most likely bite my head off and go bezerk “how DARE you CRITICISE MY FEMINISM!! HOW DARE you INSULT ME / victimise me / lack respect to what a women says / imply your feminism is better than mine / blablabla. Even in self-identified radfem circles, it’s become almost impossible to criticise pornified rape culture, BDSM, prostitution – let alone transactivism or PIV. We have lost sooo much ground.

    Whereas I find it way easier to talk about feminism with women who’ve never studied, read or gone near to feminism (because it would have meant they’ve most likely fallen upon the funfem gendertrender queer / pomo kind): they immediately find it commonsense to criticise porn, prostitution, PIV (with reserves at first), slutwalks et al, and it takes no time to see how horrible it is for women. They are usually shocked when i explain to them that most of feminism has become to mean defending these very things as liberation.

    Sadly feminism has been so hijacked and colonised from the inside by the queer-pomo-twanz-pornland that whenever you see “feminism” or “gender” it’s now way more likely not to be feminist than the opposite. And despite all the women’s departments in the world’s universities (around 1000 / 500?) it’s become almost impossible to find a department that teaches feminism from a radfem perspective. If you’re new to feminism and want to take part in actions or look up some things on blogs, you first have to go past the enormous swamp of funfem kind, and if you’re lucky enough not to get stuck in there (or run away definitively from feminism out of disgust), then maybe after a year or so of unrelenting research, you may stumble accross a few radfem pearls. Phew!

    It’s more than ever important to reestablish the basics of feminism and diffuse it to as many women as possible.

    It was so nice to read the presentation of Anticlimax, thanks for bringing it here! I’ll order a copy for christmas : ) One of the few remaining books from S Jeffreys that I havn’t read yet (only read extracts).

  14. This is a suggestion.

    Maybe it is the other way around? I don’t think that piv is a premise for women (it is a premise for men). A lot of women rather see it as a consequence of being partnered with men. A relationship to a man is the true premise for most women. If that premise is proved to be wrong, than piv will lose it’s alleged appeal. As for me I stopped the denial all thanks to Miss Andrea: . Psychologically, it seems to me, that to see men for what they are is a requirement for questioning piv. And everything else for that matter.
    After that I started to read your blog, FCM, and it was yet another eye-opener (and than started to read the books you have discussed). + Books about masculinity. Also the concept of trauma bonding is gold!

    I think that posts like this one are helpful:
    Friendships and relationships with women are better.

  15. agree that compulsory heterosexuality must be questioned and criticized early and often, with alternatives presented and made accessible. anything would be better than the current regime, and that would include keeping heterosexuality and discarding the nuclear family and cohabitation if that was the best anyone were willing to do on a large scale. fine. large groups of women living together would provide safety and options for women other than living with men and living on mens terms. i know if i had options at different points in my life that i never would have lived with men, and yes that absolutely included fucking them. it always does.

  16. ironically, if i could have found a partner who wanted constant PIV i might never have bothered.”

    I had the opposite problem. The pressure was 24/7 and never-ending. Being a child didn’t deter it. Being related didn’t deter it. Being a stranger didn’t deter it. Being masculine didn’t deter it. Beating the shit out of them didn’t deter it. Having a bf didn’t deter it. Marriage didn’t deter it. Pregnancy didn’t deter it. Coming out as a lesbian didn’t deter it. Moving to the opposite end of the country didn’t deter it. Aging didn’t deter it. Nothing deters it. Why? Cuz I’m not interested in PIV and do not want to do it. After comparing notes with my friends, I picked up a pattern. I concluded men want the opposite of what you want. If women want sex, men don’t. If women don’t want sex, men do. As I’ve said for some time now, men eroticize power, not sex. Ms. Jeffreys says it better. “Eroticized power difference.” The name of the game is for men to do the exact opposite of what a woman wants and win the power struggle. This applies not only to sex but in most every aspect of life. Women are the standard, not men. Men’s identity relates to women and he takes his cues from her. In order to be a man, he must be not-woman. So whatever women in general want or do, men must want and do the exact opposite. This results in a power struggle. The challenge to men is to win that power struggle. And that is what men eroticize and get a hard-on over.

    I haven’t read Anti-Climax but it sounds interesting. Maybe Santa will bring me a copy? Blech, it’s that time of year once again when I’m not allowed to buy anything cuz some fat dude in a red suit who hasn’t shaved in awhile might put it under a fake tree in my living room. Bah humbug.

  17. Wonderful post Sheila.

    “I haven’t read Anti-Climax but it sounds interesting. Maybe Santa will bring me a copy? Blech, it’s that time of year once again when I’m not allowed to buy anything cuz some fat dude in a red suit who hasn’t shaved in awhile might put it under a fake tree in my living room. Bah humbug.”

    Ask Befana instead, she has Italian roots, like you.

  18. Yes lucky, what you had was clearly someone who wanted to rape, and was a rapist. Or more than one someone.

    I was relieved when the power struggle dynamic was over, and I assumed he would be relieved too. He wasn’t. I found it bizarre at the time.

  19. “A relationship to a man is the true premise for most women. If that premise is proved to be wrong, than piv will lose it’s alleged appeal. ”

    This is *huge* Feuerwerferin. I think this is the key.

  20. Men who desire unwanted piv are rapists, and desire rape. They enjoy the thrill of the hunt or whatever and use those words unproblematically. But they object when we call them predators even though they are and they know it and they can talk, laugh and brag about it amongst themselves. It’s absolutely perverse, in every sense of the word.

  21. It’s hard to say what one could do to free the next generation of young women from having to go through this same old routine.
    I do know that a key is so simply not care about social acceptance or being one of the gang. The first step is to be a true individual thinker, and going along with the teenage gang is not a good idea.

    I’m aware of how women are pressured by men to do all kinds of things they really don’t want to do. I see this even with a lot of my friends. And I hear some ambivilence…”Oh, he seemed to be just trying to pressure me, and was “selling me” something.”
    I’ve had friends who get talked into doing things, and I always encourage women to think and say “But do I really want to do this?”
    And a lot of the time, the true answer will be “no.”

    I’ve said this here I think before, but the best thing a woman can do is practice saying “no.” Anytime a man asks for something say “no.” One word, strongly said, that’s it. Don’t add a “thank you” or another “tag line” to the word no. Develop this, practice it every day, and see how the world shifts. First practice in “safe” places where lots of other people are around, like on male telemarketers, or males asking for signatures on petitions.

    What happened for me over time, is almost no man ever asks me for anything now. They seem to know something has changed about me. Practice cutting all male income by 25% and give the difference to women employueees… waitresses are a good place to start. NO. Have a nationwide NO day for women. It would be simple and powerful!

  22. I have been thinking a lot about marriage lately. Just getting going on it, really, but here are some early thoughts: Many many wise thinkers including de Beauvoir and Greer have said very definitely, if you want to stay fully human, don’t marry.

    I have noticed that marriage the world over is a joyful and sacred occasion. A human being is dressed in fine clothes, bedecked, a ritual is performed, and she is sacrificed as a human being. It is a sacred thing because it is a big deal for a woman to lose her full humanity, and this is the time for that recognition. She is honored for this, for this moment. This sacrifice makes the world go round. It means the race will go on. It means a man has found a permanent slave (I’m talking about global society here; in developed countries it is not quite slavery). The rejoicing among the men is for an obvious reason. For the bride the rejoicing has a fakeness about it. It is an anxious feeling – she has usually not chosen the husband. In some part of her she knows she is the sacrifice. Her only joy is in surrender. But there is so little real joy in life. I can’t think of a “happier” occasion. The other great experiences are birth and death. The woman will now take on the dread responsibility of birth. She will die herself, or care for the man as he dies. The world will go on, with this massive sacrifice right in the middle of it, making it all possible.

    It’s a dread sacrifice, frightening. All the ads, all the novels, the movies, the education, the folklore, the instructions from parents, all of it, are about the inevitability of this sacrifice (again, I’m talking about the whole world here). The woman is prepared for it all her life. Historically and today in most countries, her fate if somehow she does not marry will be some other kind of sacrifice. She will never have the “honor”, but she will end up taking care of men in some way.

    I can understand why men have an almost superstitious dread of feminism. If women do not marry, the whole edifice will crash. Human life will change so radically, they can only see the horror of it. What will remain of any society when the unpaid labor stops, when each man cannot be provided with a lifelong slave to take care of him and raise his children, when half the human race decides to remain fully human, with demands, independent goals, needs, and a refusal to sacrifice?

    I think women see life going on, and are ready for this cataclysm. In developed countries, women are marrying later and later already, and questioning marriage, because some of the ways society has enforced marriage have been weakened, especially now that women can be financially independent.

    Maybe what I’m saying is obvious, or maybe it’s another turn of the prism. I’m not sure.

  23. “A relationship to a man is the true premise for most women. If that premise is proved to be wrong, than piv will lose it’s alleged appeal. ”

    Exactly; and then we have to ask what does she want that relationship for ?
    She is looking for productive space, a fighting chance to raise her offspring well. Women sense an individual man can’t provide this but all other avenues (the opportunity to remain grouped with other women) have been closed to her. If she goes ahead she knows there is a good chance she and her children will become her husbands/partners slaves, sexual and otherwise: a de-facto herd he has done nothing genuine to earn, but is conferred as a reward for sticking to the boys club’s Faustian pact.
    So she repeatedly looks to a specific individual to be better than his counterparts and has to hope she, as a unique individual, will be luckier than her sisters, the odds are long. Women look for constant reassurance because we know in our hearts the marriage game is rigged.

    Good comment Tiptree.

  24. Thank you for writing Sheila Jeffreys, I’m glad this important book gets a second printing.

    Amazing comment by tiptree here. A ritual sacrifice, yes that sounds horrifyingly true! And where women are not forced into marriage directly, we are brainwashed to look forward to it, to want it. “Bridezillas” anyone?

  25. I already have my 1993 printing of Anticlimax 😛
    But Spinster has been on my wishlist for some time, and definitely will be the next book I get.

    I said recently in a comment on FB, that if fucking your way to liberation actually worked, then prostituted women should be the most liberated and ’empowerfulised’ women out there. We know that the opposite is actually true, and the quest for ‘liberated sex’ with males at this time is not possible, a futile quest. Any type of relationship with a male is damaging to the female, as Tiptree expressed it, a form of sacrifice of the self. All the relationship self-help books out there are geared to women, not men, which should actually prove that men are not interested in ‘equal relationships’ in any way, shape or form. The level of brainwashing required to sacrifice most females into heterosexuality is huge, it begins at birth and doesn’t ever let up. So if heterosexuality and the desire for het relationships was so very natural, why is the all-out 24/7 brainwashing required? Societal coercion into heterosexuality.

    In order to be a man, he must be not-woman. So whatever women in general want or do, men must want and do the exact opposite.

    Ah, thanks for that Lucky, the “not-woman” explanation of the contrary nature of males, so very true!

  26. “It’s hard to say what one could do to free the next generation of young women from having to go through this same old routine.
    I do know that a key is so simply not care about social acceptance or being one of the gang. The first step is to be a true individual thinker, and going along with the teenage gang is not a good idea.”

    Yes! In my experience, socialisation was most violent in my teen times. I can’t even call it socialisation, it was a pure terror regime.
    Having been severely bashed by my peers at school, I became so depressed, sick of feeling “different” and desperate to stop the hatred and isolation (my parents never defended me or explained me anything, so that didn’t help) that I gave up all idependent thinking and dived into full blown feminity in the hope to be accepted. What came after was some more horrors, but I’m not going in there.

    Anyway, if some people would have explained to me that I didn’t have to conform to the gang, and that femininity and masculinity was harmful, it would have helped me a lot.

    The NO thing is a great exercise, I’m definitely going to promote that! Yay to no day!
    I’m also thinking about organising a public “denounce your rapist day”. Have to figure out how I’m going to do that…

  27. cherryblossomlife, thank you. 🙂

    Not only because of piv but also because of frequent domestic violence (up to murder) and rape by males (“friends” and “partners”), it is DANGEROUS to associate with them. And as for male friends, they are selfish, too. They wanted me to listen to them but did not listen to me. My female friends are much more considerate and I am no longer friends with men.
    Even if violence does not occur, men don’t do their part of domestic work etc. As Miss Andrea pointed out (thanks again to her): when men say they love you it is not love how you understand it but how they understand it… It’s cheap at best and dangerous at worst.

  28. Witchwind… I’m glad you’re devoting a day to saying NO. I always like to think of practical things women can do to change their psychological dependence on male pleasing, a disease we all seem to have caught growing up.
    I’d also recommend that high school girls do a few things to protect themselves from the gender police… for lesbians, the gender police are het girls, for het women the gender police are men. It’s whomever enforces social norms of conformity within a group.

    If you are a junior high school girl going to a school with boys in it, then it’s a good idea to be a part of girl only organizations, like girl scouts, outside of the school system itself. Another thing is to make friends at other schools, and for me I made friends with many adults and got involved in school board elections, and going to school board meetings. I also played in orchestras on a city wide basis, so I could escape the horror of my junior high and high school. I had other places to go, other adults outside my family to rely on.

    So while the social ostracism was brutal… boys attacking, girls be mean and catty and excluding, I did have other vantage points.
    My serious nature was much more appreciated by teachers and other adults. The kids who played in orchestras were safely nerdy and polite… even the boys. And academic excellence, study, music…and shop classes and manual arts were a great way for me to build up my dyke muscles, and build creativity. My butch dyke personality, while attacked viciously by het girls… girls would get up and leave a lunch table if I sat down with them for example… The activities I did to have a serious life that pushed me forward, actually later in life gave me huge social advantages. I learned at an early age self confidence, I could easily deal with elected officials and presidents of companies, and I got good training that helped me get higher and higher level jobs.

    I recall coming back one Friday afternoon, after I’d lost a huge deal that I’d worked on for months. I was upset and bummed, but oddly elated… “I was in on a big deal… others would come with more work..” I thought to myself. My colleagues were waiting for me, and interestingly enough, quite sympathetic. But I was oddly cheerful, and we all went out for drinks. A senior vp came along, and he was perplexed. “You don’t seem that upset, how’s that?” I answered that I was upset, and not to get me wrong, but it was nothing compared to the social rejection I faced in junior high and high school, nothing compared to girls being catty, mean and lesbian hating (I’ve been completely out in corporate settings since 1988), nothing compared to boys shoving me down a flight of stairs…. rejection in sales and business was actually nothing compared to that, and I believe it was this knowledge that really drove me forward, when most people fail in sales because … “they fear rejection.” Believe it or not, this guy was an ex-professional football player and treated me fairly. He was so intrigued by my philosophy of how to overcome rejection, that eventually I developed a few sales training programs for the company. It was San Francisco, and even het male senior vps were liberal… go figure.

    Had I not been completely out of the closet, I wouldn’t have gotten as far in life. So being true to yourself no matter what is essential for women.

  29. SheilaG, that’s fantastic! I’ll try.

  30. Another way to survive highschool is to have a couple of good solid female friendships or even just one. This is something that is not going out of fashion and girls show no signs of rejecting female friendships despite the sociocultural messages they receive ridiculing and devaluing them. Girls are mocked for talking together, giggling together, being on the phone too much, going to the bathroom in pairs etc. yet everywhere it can be seen that girls will not be separated the way that older women are through het marriage, mothering, domestitude etc. Maybe we should be trying to push the message that for girls, your friendships with other girls should be preserved above all else because they are your primary support network – a kind of reversal of the “bros before hoes” trope. We need to get this message through to girls before it’s too late and they are separated and isolated from each other through the institutions I just named above.

    I also love the “say no to men” thing and I do this all the time I think, but I will make more of a conscious effort to do it now. A good trick that works for me in mixed meetings is to not stop talking as soon as a male worker begins to talk over me. I used to stop and say something like “Excuse me I wasn’t finished” but a much better strategy is to just keep talking, keep making the point, maybe raise your voice a little and make eye contact with the dude interrupting to let him know that you’re aware he is talking over you and it isn’t ok with you. He will shup up immediately most of the time.

  31. ” when men say they love you it is not love how you understand it but how they understand it”

    omg Feuerwerferin, you’re on a roll here. This is exactly right. Women feel things deeply, they take pleasure in nature (do not want to destroy it) and then when they love a man they believe he feels the same. But he doesn’t. What he feels is a man-version of love, which is *entirely* different to womens’ depth of emotion. It’s not love, as women understand it to be. But women don’t suspect for a moment that men are so different to them.
    For all the patriarchy has taken from us, women still have the ability to love. They can’t take that from us. We understand what the word means. Women are *associated* with love in all cultures. And for all their poetry and literature praising the “beauty” and “grace” of the fairer sex, men really *don’t* understand the meaning of the word. Not really. And they know it. Women love their children, their mothers, their sisters, their best friends, their men and their cats.
    Men know more about fucking than they do about love.

  32. Notice I said “fucking” , not sex. 🙂

    Men are notoriously inept in the bedroom, when it comes to pleasing women sexually.

  33. yes the are notorious for that and for a lot of other things arent they? not only can they not produce orgasms in women most of the time, they cannot get their heads around the fact that theres more than one kind of orgasm for women, *and* they will never understand or care that an orgasm of any variety is not worth risking your life. and the fact that so many women do risk our lives to have PIV (with or without orgasm) with men has little (or nothing) to do with orgasms most or all of the time. but the public discourse around “sex” continues to be about the mighty O anyway. gee i wonder why that might be? because it creates a tremendous market for self-help books aimed at women is but one reason. that women find all of this so deeply problematic continues to be a womens issue, even for most women. square peg, round hole and all that.

  34. “they cannot get their heads around the fact that theres more than one kind of orgasm for women,”

    I used to orgasm from PIV sex but he could not get his brain around the fact that I disagreed that ‘he gave me an orgasm’ and that I liked masturbation which led to multiple orgasm.

    Even though they do that thing and get you there, it still isn’t enough. Control of your body and how it reacts, even when it seems you both ‘connect’, is what it’s at as far as men are concerned.

  35. ” when men say they love you it is not love how you understand it but how they understand it”

    Love is the most meaningless word in the English language. It’s right up there with the word feminist. It seems to mean whatever people want it mean. I love chocolate. I love sunrises. I love Radfem Hub. I love the color blue. I love my new watch. I love NY. See? It means whatever you want it to mean. So it’s in your best interests to make sure you’re both on the same page when folks start saying they love you. Don’t assume they mean the same thing as you do. Especially if that other person is a man. Men and women often don’t speak the same language. Women often have romantic notions of love – Cinderella, Prince Charming and all that rot. Men conflate the world love with possession. Yeah, he loves you, all right. He loves you like his car, his house, his dog, his boat and his beer. In fact, he might even love his car and house a little more. Go ahead and tell him you crashed the car into the house. See what he asks about first. That’ll give you a good idea of where you rate in his line of possessions.

    I wonder how things would go for men if they said what they really meant? Instead of saying, “I love you,” he said, “I want to possess you.” Instead of saying, “Would you marry me?” he said, “Would you be my slave?” Somehow I don’t think things would go well for them. And what’s more, they know it. Men purposely use words which are vague and ambiguous. He knows damn well what these words mean to women. Women are rather predictable. It’s women who have no clue what men mean by them. And he prefers to keep it that way. Else he’s never going to score.

    As for men in the bedroom, there was this race horse I once bet on called “MenGiveOrgasms.” The odds were 200 to 1 at the track. Still, I was sure I picked a winner. So they’re off and running. MenGiveOrgasms explodes out of the gate. Only to stumble, fall and die before he reaches the first turn. Wouldn’t you know it? I laid my money down and lost the bet. After that, I started betting on another horse called “Lady Luck.” The odds are 2 to 1 at the track. Damn, I win most every time. Lady Luck not only completes the lap, but runs for 5 more. See? All you have to do is bet on the right horse. :p

    Sorry, but men are a complete joke in the bedroom and I couldn’t resist. That’s why society is hetero-compulsive and women have to be brain-washed, coerced and forced to be with men. How else can men get women to bet on that horse? The fact that homosexuality was rendered taboo and banned in so many cultures – even under the threat of death in some – tells us that women weren’t laying their money down and betting on that losing horse and had to be forced.

  36. Good points women, on how what men think of as love is just possession. And men say things theybelieve women want to hear, and it’s total MANipulation. Think of the pick up lines and “PUA”–pick up artists. And even when men say exactly what they think, women often believe it is a joke. Example: A female friend was talking about her new male room mate. He used the phrase “Nail and bail,” which she thought hysterical. I was shocked that she thought this comment funny, so I said rather casually, “What he just described was rape… it is a rape joke.” Well, this let the air out of the “humor” tires, and my friend kind of had a shocked look. Subject changed, but I think I got through to her.

    So this whole idea of love and dating is just a male sales process to close the deal on the new sex slave/free live in housekeeper.
    If you look at how romance is structured, it’s when men are trying to “woo” women, but that again is about a business deal for men. I think most women as they get older really understand this. My friend in the above example started dating again, after many years of being single. She mentioned that she just doesn’t feel like she can truly LOVE a man the way she did with an old boyfriend ages ago, and was perplexed at herself for feeling this. It is the realization that men don’t love women at all, and that later in life this seems to be much easier for het women to see.

    I can say that I feel just as happy with lesbians that I did when I was younger, just as carefree and happy in our little groups and communities, having coffee… the sheer ease of it. I can’t say I met one het women past the age of 50 that has any idea what I’m talking about re women Where lesbian life is just a continuation of the great girlhood childhood friendships, women have to be trained to “love” men, while men would be just as happy watching a football game as they would having women around.

    Alas, this becomes starkly clear to women who are older, like my friend. She’s a great great friend, but she knows too much.
    The “nail and bail” joke revealing horror…. the jokes men tell reveal all, but it is hard to believe that they are really saying what they are saying… women continue forever after to search for the unicorn… feminism again meaning what men want it to mean, women wanting men to be feminists… men simply using the “new” words to get the same sex slaves.

  37. @ Linda: “Girls are mocked for talking together, giggling together, being on the phone too much, going to the bathroom in pairs etc.” – THANK YOU for pointing this out. I’ve always felt the pressure to defend this kind of behaviour rather than protect it. Next time someone perlexedly asks why women go to the bathroom together I’m going to tell them to fuck off.

    I do wonder how to talk to women I love when I see their misery as being centred in the constant seeking of male approval. Obsession with appearance that involves huge expendiditure, discomfort and constant self-monitoring. Excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs to seem fun and sexually available. Measuring a night’s success by how much sexual attention is received. A ‘score’ if you manage to “pick up”. And then, as if this isn’t enough, having to pretend the whole thing didn’t leave you feeling empty and betrayed and possibly with an STI.

    This is a wonderful way of distracting women from ACTUALLY. DOING. ANYTHING. Like overthrowing the patriarchy for example.

    But when we are socialised into internalising this value system to such an extent that we claim ourselves to ‘enjoy’ and ‘choose’ it, what possible hope is there?

  38. Hi everyone, I’m a long time reader but a first time commenter. I don’t mean to derail, but I have no idea where else to go. I feel a bit like if I went to some kind of counsellor they’d give me some pop-psych crap and I feel like there’s enough of that poison in my head enough as is…
    This is quite a personal account, trigger warning for themes of porn, rape, child molestation, stupid stubborn assholes.

    I’m 20. Heterosexual and cursing it. Low self-esteem, probably due to the men around me come to think of it.

    My boyfriend is into porn. Addicted. I live with him at the moment and because I’m a student I’m with him all the time so he doesn’t have the chance to use it except when I’m out.
    However I didn’t know this about him until maybe 3 months in. My first and only other boyfriend genuinely never touched the stuff (shocking but true) and the change in the kind of sex I was having initially came as a shock. My first boyfriend never onced pushed for PIV (in fact we never had PIV at all), never demanded that I pleasure him if I didn’t feel like sex…
    My current boyfriend is as different as that as possible. As a person, he’s a perfect friend; as a man and boyfriend, it feels like he’s sucking my soul. Our relationship would be perfect if you could throw out all the sex-related parts. I’ll try to explain…

    I didn’t know I was a feminist until learning of his porn habit. I didn’t know I was a radical feminist until I read what the fun-fems thought of porn. Made me feel sick to my stomach and I couldn’t work out why. So I took to the internet, lo and behold, the stuff that our culture likes to call “normal” and “healthy” is a twisted enforcement of gendered power relations, not to even consider the human cost to the “performers.” He’s called me a fanatic for my believing that porn is wrong.
    I told him to stop, he said he would.
    I caught him out.
    He said he’d try his best, for my sake.
    If I leave the house while he’s here, there is a 100% chance of him using it. I don’t even have to check, I see the guilt on his face when I walk in. It chokes me. It makes me scared to leave the house, it feels like an irrational fear except it isn’t really. Knowing what he’s probably into. I just want him to become a better person. Hell, I need him to be a better person if I have any hope of staying with him.

    It’s not just porn though. He seems to think it’s normal to “check out” other women at all and any times, even when he’s with me. Holding my freaking hand. It’s hard enough that in the patriarchy, this marks me as an unworthy woman. Not worthy of total male attention for longer than 20 minutes. And as much as I know it shouldn’t bother me, it does. He has murmured another girl’s name in my ear while we were having sex. I’ve had issues with being used before. He has also cheated on his last girlfriend before. He expects me to be able to trust him.

    As a child, he was molested. As a child, he molested another girl.
    The incident has stuck with him. He says he doesn’t want to be that monster, it obviously terrifies him. He’s admitted to having rape fantasies. He’s admitted to being attracted to far younger girls.
    I can’t put into words how much all this information scares me.

    I don’t feel that sex should define a person. But at the same time, his general fucked-up attitude to sex and his own personal failings are draining me. I feel responsible for him, in some twisted way. If he can’t stick to not using porn, how am I meant to trust him at all, around other people? Around kids? Even if I do end up leaving him? He doesn’t seem to draw a connection between his porn use and his “use” of women. His mother suggested he become a school teacher last month, and I nearly had a heart attack, figuratively of course.

    Is there really no hope for any man while they feel so entitled to the use of women?
    I’m feeling very young and very naive at the moment. I guess it frightens me that this man, who otherwise is a brilliant person, can still hold on to his privilege like it’s keeping him alive, even at the expense at the person he claims to love.
    It also frightens me – deep down inside I know this relationship will not last, I’m going insane far too quickly, too much cognitive dissonance – that there probably aren’t any romantic relationships with men worth having, if this is anything to go by.
    I want so dearly to be able to set him straight – for myself, for others – but it seems to be coming at the cost of my sanity. I don’t want to look around me and see nothing but lost causes.
    Am I just being young and naive?

    Sorry for the long post. Thank you for reading.

  39. We’re in the biggest recession of a lifetime, and my words to 20 year old women are clear… hit the books, you need to be studying a trade or academically. This whole thing with pot and porn heads is a complete and utter waste of time. You’ve got to wake up and get to work. This is imperative, otherwise you’ll find a decade going by, and you’ll be serving up coffee as a barista or just doomed to the low income heap. DON’T WASTE YOUR LIFE.

    These stories, I don’t know, it’s just the same thing over and over and over again. There is no redemption for men who are doing this, and no time to loose in preparing for life well lived. I think a focus on studies and some clear objectives will be a good rudder.
    Please don’t waste your life on this stuff, 20 is a fine age. You’re an adult now, you need to get yourself reading to be 100% self-supporting ASAP. If you read the radfem blogs, you’ll see the wasted years of so many women. It just makes me cringe most of the time. I get so tired of it all, and especially since we’ve had radfem philosophy for AGES NOW! The books are there, the Internet is there, the information is there….

  40. Ess – lose the dude, find a woman (or two) to share housing with. Now.

  41. You might get something out of this classic documentary made in 1991 by Andrea Dworkin:

  42. Hi Ess, that guy is sucking away and living off your vital energy, and he’ll continue to do so as long as you’re around him. He has no right to inflict that stress, anxiety and pain on you by his continual watching of and masturbating on women-hating propaganda. The fact that he doesn’t stop shows the absence of his respect for your feelings (and for the feelings of all women by his masturbating on rape of women). You have no responsibility for his behaviour, he’s the one choosing to inflict this on you, it’s not your fault at all. If he refuses to change, there’s nothing you can do about it.

    This is in and of itself a form sexual harrassment, and it’s perfectly natural to be distressed by it. Watching pornography is not only in itself an act of hatred, it also influences the men who watch it into comitting the rape acts they saw, encourages them to be sexually aroused by rape. If they already have rape fantasies, it validates them and disinhibits them.

    I would also think about your mental and physical health & safety, and go as far away as possible from this pornsick guy (or from any pornsick dude for that matter) before he causes any further harm. The fact that you feel so bad living with him because of this is already a form of psychological violence, and violence by partner tends to escalate over time, gradually, pushing the limits further at each step and increasing the women’s tolerance to violence.

    I think this from Marly Daly is quite appropriate:
    “It is a mistake to see men as pitiable victims or vessels to be “saved” through female-self-sacrifice. However possessed males may be within patriarchy, it is their order; it is they who feed on women’s stolen energy. It is a trap to imagine that women should “save” men from the dynamics of demonic possession; and to attempt this is to fall deeper into a pit of patriarchal possession. It is women ourselves who will to expel the Father from ourselves, becoming our own exorcists”. Gyn/ecology, p.2

  43. Excellent quote from Mary daly, thanks

  44. thanks for the link rain

  45. @Ess

    I agree with the others, you are wasting your time. Women especially are trained to nurture relationships, we’re supposed to carry the water, eat shit, compromise, sacrifice, make peace, yadda yadda. Fact is, he is treating you poorly and will continue to do so because he knows he can count on your accommodation of his “flaws” even it makes you unhappy. Thing is, porn use is not a character flaw, it’s chosen, which I suspect is making you think it can be changed if you pinch your nose. But would you put up with him if he kept willfully shitting himself and expecting you to wipe his ass? I think not. Why continue a relationship with someone who disrespects you?

    He may say he values the relationship, but he values his porn more, enough to go against your express wishes, while ignoring your past and concerns, trying to conceal it, and making excuses for it. I’d go as far to say he’s exploiting the fact you’re sore from being used in the past, which may make you more susceptible to minor “annoyances” in return for a “good” relationship than women who aren’t in doubt. It may be making YOU unhappy, but he’s not suffering anything, and he thinks he’s too valuable for you to reject him. Dude needs a rude wake up call. Make sure he knows he’s at fault, that it’s his behavior is the reason he’s getting dumped. Accept no returns and make note of what you say, have someone else present if possible.

    There’s no benefit to staying, I’ve been there, and I’m only three years older than you. Even though my first and only bf was one of the “good” ones, I still found myself doing all the emotional scutwork, as you are now. I didn’t realize what a mental burden it was until I left him two years ago. He’s now engaged to another woman after knowing her a month! Madness. Do what rainsinger says; room with female friends and stay single. You won’t believe the freedom.

  46. yes, it never gets better, only worse. the following things are likely to follow: he ends up owing you money (so you stay); you and he acquire debt together (so you stay); he gets you pregnant (so you stay); the “sex” gets increasingly violent, intense, degrading or whatever and you get more and more bonded to him because of it (so you stay); he gets arrested or in trouble from which he needs ever increasingly to be rescued by you (so you stay); he gives you a disease (so you dont think anyone else will have you, so you stay); he gets depressed or increasingly unable to care for himself, or you do, (so you stay); you give up opportunities (so you have fewer and fewer options, so you stay). when you are used up, having used you up and benefited from it tremendously, he will have more options than he does now, and you will have even fewer options than you do now. its deliberate, and its been done before, if not by *him* then by many many men before and after him. its kind of a thing.

  47. and its a tremendous IF and not at all a sure thing, but IF you can find a couple of women to cohabitate with, and agree to keep your shared living space a male-free zone (even better) then DO IT. and do not look back. sheila is right, there are decades of lost time and opportunities that het women only realize are wasted well after the fact. many of us had very special girlhood friendships that were cast aside in favor of partnering with men, and many of us would do it differently if we could do it over. but still, its a big IF. if i wouldve wanted this 20 years ago, i wouldve been the only one. you need a couple of women that share this vision, it doesnt work if you are the only one, and its not under your control for that reason. good luck.

  48. its striking to me actually how many women (including myself) are or have been willing to buy into the myth of male exceptionalism EVEN FOR completely un-exceptional men. abusive men who use porn are completely un-exceptional and very unlikely to achieve their potential or even legitimately have any. the things that are likely to trap women into relationships with abusive men (like pregnancy and trauma-bonding) are likely to trap women into relationships with “exceptional” men too, this is what we call “life” when you are living with a man. for gods sake, at least make sure hes really exceptional before you treat him like he is. thats the least we can do. these assholes are not exceptional, they are as common as common gets. to say that they are a dime-a-dozen is to grossly overvalue them.

    an example of an exceptional man? for starters, he doesnt use porn, and he does NOT have religious or other fucked up reasons for not using it. yes, that is exceptional for men. the bar is THAT LOW.

  49. Well, for one I have never met an exceptional man. When I started raising the bar, all of a sudden there were’nt any men to be seen anymore. It’s funny how it was so mecanical. The moment I decide they should treat me like a human and shwoop! They disappear! No great loss, my life has been much better ever since.

    Ah and thanks for the Andrea Dworkin link rain, I just finished watching the film. That was precious, I’m so happy to have seen it!

    Princess rot, you explained the whole porn-watching politics so well! Yeah, it’s obvious that men value their porn way more than their girlfriend’s feelings. They actually have no interest in stopping it, because what they want is possessing a women, not being in a mutually-respectful relationship with her. They need the porn to maintain their patriarchal status, to maintain their dominance over women – it’s detrimental to their myth of walking dildo-men-as-gods and women as receptacles for their sacred seed. As Andrea Dworkin said in the film, it’s also a way for men to exchange tips and how-to manuals for battering, raping, humilating, degrading and destroying women. Gah

  50. @ FCM “for gods sake, at least make sure hes really exceptional before you treat him like he is.” YES! This really is essential. Thank you. We are so ready to buy into the myth of individual men being different from the collective that we are constantly constructing their worthiness – I’ve done this in the past and I see it absolutely EVERYWHERE in my female friends and family members.

    I’m not saying there aren’t exceptional men but they don’t start off being exceptional; they’re socialised into privelege from birth same as all the others. With Rad Fem women around them they can unlearn their patriarchal values however I strongly urge heterosexual feminists NOT put our energies into a) searching for these men and b) trying to convince the men around us to renounce their privelege and become exceptional so we can have relationships with them.

    Nothing short of a revolution is needed.

  51. to clarify, the bar for what we consider “exceptional” in a man is very very low. this is in itself a problem. even the “best” man wouldnt and couldnt hold a candle to a real friend or a relative who had our best interests at heart and genuinely cared about us. this goes back to the statements about what men mean when they say “i love you.” it doesnt mean what we think it means. it means something else entirely. someone who genuinely cared about you as a person wouldnt leave you forever if you refused to let them stick their dick into you anymore for example. yet this is the situation almost all het women are in, with their male partners who allegedly love them more than anyone else in the world. most women are in this situation, but they dont test it so they dont know this for certain, but it is certain. i suspect most women sense this on some level though. women arent stupid.

  52. Iow, just because he’s an exceptional man doesn’t mean he’s an exceptional person, or that he will be an exceptional partner. By definition he’s probably not even an exceptional man.

  53. I’ve never understood this female delusion of finding an exceptional man. I consider most women I know to be quite incredible, and it’s not hard to find this at all in women. i like to focus on the greatness of women…. I assume men are patriarchal worthless pigs, and wouldn’t want to look for unicorns anyway. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

  54. Excellent advice, to get the hell out of there and room-mate with some female students. Also an excellent round-up by FCM of the heterosexual entrapments, even with ‘decent’ dudes, he will end up with more, you will with less. BTW, I am pretending like there are some decent dudes out there, somewhere, because frankly, they are ALL gynergy vampires that will suck the life out of you slowly (or quickly). And if, in the process of leaving him, he really promises the world in order to get you back, I will guarantee you that you have made the right decision to leave. Make all the arrangements to move before telling him. Ideally, move all your stuff out one day when he is not there. Such a porn-hound is likely to be a possessive prick that will do everything to keep you there. Good luck.

  55. some of the things in the “roundup” like getting into debt together and getting depressed also happen in the context of same-sex partnerships and make it very difficult to leave. obviously there are some things on the list that are specific to partnering with men, but some are indicative of the problems and pitfalls of prizing the 2-person romantic partnership and the primacy of the nuclear family in general. if we had supportive communities that could help us when we needed it, we wouldnt depend on our partners to take care of us when we got sick for example, and we would always have somewhere to go if we became unhappy with our partner and no longer wanted to be in the relationship. currently, this does not exist, and those problems dont go away just because you may choose to partner with a woman and not a man. this is where i think support for same-sex marriage goes off the rails. the 2-person support system is woefully inadequate and neither supportive nor a “system.” this needs to be addressed.

  56. Very good point about the 2-person support system, FCM. It is a very poor support system, actually it might be the least common-sense model of support because if something happens everything falls back on the other, and you can’t leave easily. This is a big responsibility for both partners (assuming they are in an equal relationship) and probably puts a lot of strain on the relationship or make it overall unhealthy. It also isolates from others, etc. I don’t think patriarchy picked marriage as a preferred model for nothing.

  57. patriarchy picked men as the owners of women, whether it is polygamy, several generations under one roof… the two person couple is very new, and patriarchy is much older than that type of marriage. It really is about males controlling females under one roof or several roofs that is the issue.
    Most lesbians I know have elaborate friendship networks, and I know we always had an extra room in case a lesbian down on her luck needed a free place to stay for awhile. We still have an extra room for this purpose. I never met any straight friends who ever had that intention when they owned multi-bedroom dwellings. And again, if women are fully self-supporting with independent incomes this is at the very heart of male ownership of women.

  58. By marriage I meant the general appropriation /captivity of women by men within a “private sphere”/domestic prison for the purpose of expropriating her body, reproductive functions and domestic work – could be polygamy too – but that wasn’t obvious in the last post. I guess prostitution, as in women held captive for the purpose of being continually raped by men (but without the purpose of providing and breeding male babies for the rapists) comes in next to patriarchy’s preferred mode of appropriation.

    That spare room principle is great! It’s true that you never see a het couple saying “well this is a spare room for female friends who might need somewhere to stay in case they’re fleeing from their husband/partner”, when it’s most likely to happen with hets and is very frequent. It should definitely be a rule between us women if we can afford it. When I imagine a house I would live in, I always imagine it with spare rooms too, for friends to stay if in need. It’s so important! Friendship networks are great.

  59. THat is a good point about the 2-person support system FCM.
    About three months ago I had an eye injury. Well actually my kitten ran across the bed and sprung onto the window-sill using my *eye* as a springboard. Her claws went in pretty deep. On the surface it looked okay, but I could feel pain deep in my eye.
    I started having all these panicky thoughts about what would happen if I lost my eye. I would lose my job for a start, because it depends on you looking fairly presentable. Not sure a one-eyed woman would get away with doing it. Then there’s my Relationship. Being stuck with a man is bad enough, but if you’r stuck with someone who is with you because he objectifies you… and then there’s nothing to objectify anymore (because of the one eye thing) where does that leave you. Would he get really nasty? Would he *leave* ? Would he look after me but make sure I knew what a Great Favour it was?
    And then it got me thinking how unsafe women are in a patriarchy. But if I lived with my best friend, and we worked together, doing the type of work that didn’t require you to look presentable (farming or something), and if we had a supportive community of women, then an eye injury wouldn’t be *the* *end* *of* *the* *world* . It would suck, but it wouldn’t threaten your livelihood.
    My eye seems to be okay now! But it was a wake-up call about the precariousness of my life, I can tell you.

  60. thats all it takes for many, many women cherry. thats all there is between women and homelessness, or prostitution, or death. it is awful, and its always there in the background (or in the foreground for way too many of us). realizing this and living with that knowledge is devastating.

  61. I think it was Andrea Dworkin who said ‘ ALL women, are ALWAYS just One Man away from welfare’ (whether husband/partner/male relative, or a boss, co-worker, or some other authority figure (medicine, law, education etc etc) who has power over you.

  62. yes. and being that men gain so much from having a permanent underclass of women who sell “sex” for money, the fact that they have the power to put women out on the street is outrageous and horrifying.

  63. I would say that a large part of my drive and ambition comes from never ever wanting to have men run my personal life. I wanted a woman centered life, so I had to take money and earning power much more seriously than most het women of my age ever did.
    It is this huge denial women are in.

    So the idea of the spare room if you can afford it is essential within a woman centered safety place…disaster preparedness.
    Many lesbians I know risked their lives housing het women who were fleeing abusive men. I’ve done my duty risking my life so that they could escape. Say thank you het women…. some applause and appreciation to the lesbians who opened some of the first rape crisis and battered women’s shelters… again, early lesbian feminists did this.

    All women should be aware that if the money gets locked up in het marriages in het homes with het men, it means sisters are on the streets getting their brains raped out, their bodies prostituted… and hetness itself is one of the biggest risks imaginable, and yet guess who gets hooked so quickly… young het women that’s who. You’re average butch dyke isn’t going to be living with a man, so no domestic violence in the home. We’ll have a load of skills… painting, auto repair, plumbing, and a network of support outside het domains. Het women are isolated by men, a cult indoctrination process…. isolate women from other sisters, and you’ve got ’em. Add a child or two, and the woman is owned and screwed for life.

    That’s the plan, and it works like a charm. Get the extra rooms women, get economically sound, do what it takes to keep men out of your spaces. I know I know, a lot of you are still sexually addicted (I mean attracted) to men… but you do have some choice.
    You don’t have to move in with them. But we all know this by now here….

  64. Excuse me, how did this comment get through? Heterosexual women are not weak damsels in distress. Many of them don’t have sex with men: rape victims, abandoned women or those who by choice remain asexual. But more importantly many of them don’t have a choice, particularly in non-Western countries like Afghanistan where women are forced to marry their rapists or stay with abusive husbands under threat of death or imprisonment.

    In Western countries, all-female heterosexual households have been a reality since the first world war: widowed and abandoned mothers raising their daughters. Many developed “painting, auto repair, plumbing skills” – that’s how women entered the workforce in the first place. Heterosexual women continue to raise daughters who are strong, educated, financially independent and feminists. It is a mistake to claim that lesbian couples vis a vis escape domestic violence. Performance of masculinity is rife in the lesbian community, with women using strap-ons, following male-doiminated sports, hurling degrading epithets at each other and engaging with misogynistic practices both in and outside the home.

  65. Yes, its ironic to the point of absurdity that lifelong lesbians like SheilaG buy hook, line and sinker all the pro male propaganda available, when straight women know from experience that its just not true. Like…that het men pay the bills. LOL! Men are actually leeches and steal money from women, in addition to begging and borrowing it from us. I’ve stayed in more than one relationship for longer than I wanted, bc dood owed me money and I wanted it back. This is so common it hurts, and het women know this. Meanwhile, SheilaG continues to prop men up on those golden pedastles, believing all the tripe women are supposed to believe about men, how great they are, and all the good things they can do for you. What a joke. Really, its pretty funny.

  66. And women have piv with men for trinkets. Still waiting for the trinkets I’m owed to arrive, perhaps they got lost in the mail?

  67. A question: if a man came on this board and showed the women-hate that Sheila G does would you allow him to continue? Why does your community have to read this here? I’m really asking, because I’ve tried to think of why and can’t come up with anything very flattering to you.

    Otherwise, I thank you all for some very good and thoughtful writing, both in the articles and the comments.

  68. There are no men allowed here, regardless of what they say.

    Thanks for reading.

  69. Sorry I found this so late, but right on time as well – I just spent a few hours reading Sheila Jeffreys at the University library last night. I can’t afford to buy it, either, but reading it there is free.

    So many of the things she writes have not changed at all since the 1960s – like men’s brainwashing of women into loving PIV, and sex as they define it. I think most of the women here would agree that the solution is not individual. It can only come about by ending patriarchy. But the stories and advice are excellent, and I like knowing that at least here, I’m in good company 🙂

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