Sexual Politics (Part II)

by cherryblossomlife

This is Part II of a three part post. Part I is here.

I’m still trying to fathom how to break down this masterpiece; hopefully by Part three I will have worked it out. Meanwhile I’ve summarized Chapter two, because this is the part that makes me want to dash out immediately to order some T-shirts or print out some bumper stickers…

Chapter Two: The Theory of Sexual Politics

When she uses the word “politics” Millet is not referring to the narrow definition that we usually associate with the term: of meetings, chairmen and parties. In what she calls her “notes on a theory of sexual politics” (Chapter Two) she proves that sex is a status category with political implications.

I’ve chosen the ideas that stood out for me, and assembled them in the categories below. Choose your favourite!

Ideological

Government is upheld either through the consent of the people, or violence. Patriarchy uses an effective mix of both.  Millett looks at the way consent is obtained through the “socialization” of both sexes with regard to temperament, role and status.

Temperament” refers to the socialization of humans into stereotyped lines of sex category–“masculine” and–“feminine”. Both masculinity and femininity support male dominance because both are:  “…based on the needs and values of the dominant group and dictated by what its members cherish in themselves and find convenient in subordinates: aggression, intelligence, force and efficacy in the male; passivity, ignorance, docility, “virtue” and ineffectuality in the female.” (p.26)

“Role” refers to the sex roles, which complement masculinity and femininity. A highly elaborate code of conduct, gesture and attitude are ascribed to each sex:  “… in terms of activity, sex role assigns domestic service and attendance upon infants to the female, the rest of human achievement, interest and ambition to the male. The limited role allotted the female tends to arrest her at the level of biological experience. Therefore, nearly all that can be described as distinctly human rather than animal in activity is largely reserved for the male.” (p.26)

“Status” follows from these assignments, in that what has been assigned to the female is given low status.

Biological

Human males are built bigger with a heavier musculature, which is a secondary sexual characteristic common among mammals. And yet it is irrelevant to the subject of political relations within civilization. Male supremacy does not depend on physical strength, but in the acceptance of a value system, which is not biological.

“Superior physical strength is not a factor in political relations–vide those of race and class….At present, as in the past, physical exertion is very generally a class factor, those at the bottom performing the most strenuous tasks, whether they be strong or not.” (p27)

Whatever the “real” differences between the sexes may be, we are not likely to know them until the sexes are treated differently, that is alike. (p.28)

Biology, of course, should never be confused with gender. Sex is biological, gender psychological (and therefore cultural). She quotes Stoller:

Gender is  a term that has psychological or cultural rather than biological connotations. If the proper terms for sex are “male” and “female”, the corresponding terms for gender are “masculine” and “feminine”; these latter may be quite independent of (biological)sex. “(p.30)

Millett concludes that because of our social circumstances, male and female are really two cultures and their life experiences are completely different. This early conditioning, imposed on children by parents, peers, and the culture’s notions of what is appropriate, is crucial.

Sociological

“Patriarchy’s chief institution is the family.” (p.33) It is the first of the three patriarchal institutions: the family, society and the state. The fate of one depends heavily on the functioning of the other two, which is why both the state and society support the nuclear family. Religious and secular states designate the father as “head of the household” an idea supported by financial incentives or grand statements. The status of women within marriage in every patriarchy has always been grim: “Traditionally, patriarchies granted the father nearly total ownership of wives and children, including the powers of physical abuse and often even those of murder and sale.”(p33)

The chief contribution of the family is socialization of the young, especially with regard to the prescribed temperament, role and status, and to insure that its crucial function and socialization of the young takes places only within its confines, the patriarchal family insists on legitimacy. Men own property, and women, generally don’t own much at all, therefore as proprietors, men need to be sure that their private property and wealth is not being invested in a cuckoo. Patriarchy also decrees that the status of both the mother and the child are dependent upon the male.

“While we may niggle over the balance of authority between personalities of various households, one must remember that the entire culture supports masculine authority in all areas of life–and outside of the home–permits the female none at all.” (p.35)

Class

Millet puts forward strong and clear views on the subject of class, but I will leave those aside for a moment and look at her interesting take on love, especially the way that Western patriarchies seem to rely on the concept a little more than Eastern ones in order to consolidate their power. It might not be because Western men are more loving but perhaps because they are more patronizing.

“It is generally accepted that Western patriarchy has been much softened by the concepts of courtly and romantic love. While this is certainly true, such influence has also been vastly overestimated. In comparison withe candor of “machismo” or oriental behaviour, one realizes how much of a concession traditional chivalrous behaviour represents–a sporting kind of reparation to allow the subordinate female certain means of saving face. While a palliative to the injustice of woman’s social position, chivalry is also a technique for disguising it. One must acknowledge that the chivalrous stance is  a game the master group plays in elevating its subject to pedestal level. Historians of courtly love stress the fact that the raptures of the poets had no effect upon the legal or economic standing of women, and very little upon their social status. As the sociologist Hugo Beigel has observed, both the courtly and romantic versions of love are “grants” which the male concedes out of his total powers.” (p.36)

If men loved women, they would not allow the two-tier caste system to continue. Moreover the emphasis (or obsession!) on romance in the West serves to conceal the patriarchal nature of those societies. Romance is a double edged sword because it also depends on a woman being slotted into a caricature of the virtuous woman, a good woman worthy of being romanced. In this way, impossible virtues were attributed to women. Millet adds that: “It was a Victorian habit, for example, to insist the female assume the function of serving as the male’s conscience and living the life of goodness he found tedious but felt someone ought to do anyway.”

During the seventies (perhaps less so now) the concept of romantic love also served as a means of emotional manipulation: because women were conditioned to be “good” , it is only if they loved their partner that they were ideologically pardoned for sexual activity. Indeed some women may only have been able to let go sexually and lose their inhibitions this way. Recent social developments have altered this and now the pendulum has swung the other way: it is impossible for woman to escape sexual intercourse with men, it is expected of her no matter how brief the affair, whether she is in love or not.

Economic and Educational

Patriarchal government works efficiently due to the economic hold it wields over its female subjects. In traditional patriarchies (until very recently in most countries), women were “non-persons” without legal standing, and could neither own nor earn. That is not to say women didn’t work. Women have always worked, doing the most strenuous and routine tasks. The issue here is not labour, but economic reward. (In the UK, for example, only women operated the windlass down the coal mines, as it was very dangerous and their lives were more expendable).

Women’s distance from high technology–large scale building construction, the development of computers, the moon shot etc– is great. If knowledge is power, power is also knowledge, and a large factor in their subordinate position is the fairly systematic ignorance patriarchy imposes upon women. (p.42)

“Traditionally patriarchy permitted  occasional minimal literacy to women while higher education was closed to them. While modern patriarchies have, fairly recently, opened all educational levels to women, the kind and quality of education is not the same for each sex. The difference is of course apparent in early socialization, but it persists and enters higher education as well. “(p.42)

Control over certain fields is very clearly about political power. The exclusive dominance of males in the most prestigious fields directly serves the interests of patriarchal power in industry, government and the military.(p.42) It can also be argued that when women are encouraged to concentrate on the “inferior” sphere of culture through studying the humanities, it is similar to when they once cultivated “accomplishments” in preparation for the marriage market. Achievement in the arts and humanities is still largely reserved for males.

Force

“We are not accustomed to associate patriarchy with force. So perfect is its system of socialization, so complete the general assent to its values, so long and so universally has it prevailed in human society, that it scarcely seems to require violent implementation. Customarily, we view its brutalities in the past as exotic or “primitive” custom. Those of the present are regarded as the product of individual deviance, confined to pathological or exceptional behaviour, and without general import. And yet, just as under other total ideologies (racism and colonialism are somewhat analogous in this respect) control in a patriarchal society would be imperfect, even inoperable, unless it had the rule of force to rely on, both in emergencies and as an ever-present instrument of intimidation. (p.43)”

Patriarchies institutionalize force against women through their legal systems. For example, strict patriarchies implement prohibitions against illegitimacy or sexual autonomy. The punishment (for women, not for men) is death. In Saudi Arabia the adulteress is stoned. Men are not punished unless in the case of property interests, that is, if the woman they had relations with “belonged” to another man. The death penalty for illegitimacy also manifests in  countries where women are deprived of safe abortions.

Emotional response to violence against women in patriarchy is often curiously ambivalent; references to wife-beating, for example, invariably produces laughter and some embarrassment. Exemplary atrocity, such as the mass murders committed by Richard Speck, greeted at one level with a certain scandalized, possibly hypocritical indignation, is capable of eliciting a mass response of titillation at another level. At such times one even hears from men occasional expressions of envy or amusement. In view of the sadistic character of such public fantasy as caters to male audiences in pornography or semi-pornographic media, one might expect that a certain element of identification is by no means absent from the general response. Probably a similar collective frisson sweeps through racist society when its more “logical” members have perpetrated a lynching. Unconsciously, both crimes may serve the larger group as a ritual act, cathartic in effect. (p.45)

Anthropological: Myth and Religion

Anthropology, religious and literary myth lay bare men’s convictions about women. “The image of women as we know it is an image created by men and fashioned to suit their needs. These needs spring from a fear of the “otherness” of women.” (p.46) This “othering” is necessary because it can be used as a rationale, whereby men justify the inferior status of women, using their “otherness” to explain the oppression in their lives.

A constant in every patriarchy is the feeling that women, particularly their sexual functions, are impure:

“Nearly all patriarchies enforce taboos against women touching ritual objects (those of war or religion) or food. In ancient and preliterate societies women are generally not permitted to eat with men. Women eat apart today in a great number of cultures, chiefly those of the Near and Far East. Some of the inspiration of such custom appears to lie in fears of contamination, probably sexual in origin. In their function as domestic servants, females are forced to prepare food, yet at the same time may be liable to spread their contagion through it. They are considered filthy and infectious, yet as domestics they are forced to prepare food for their queasy superiors. In both cases the dilemma is generally solved in a deplorably illogical fashion by segregating the act of eating itself, while cooking is carried on out of sight by the very group who would infect the table. With an admirable consistency, some Hindu males do not permit their wives to touch their food at all.” (p.47)

Patriarchal myth and religions blame women for all the ills in the world, rather than placing the blame at the feet of the men who are actually committing the crimes.

Psychological

A witty experiment by Phillip Goldberg proves what everyone knows, that having internalized the disesteem in which they are held, women despise both themselves and each other. This simple test consisted of asking women undergraduates to respond to the scholarship in an essay signed alternatively by one John McKay and one Joan McKay. In making their assessments the students generally agreed that John was a remarkable thinker, Joan an unimpressive mind. Yet the articles were identical: the reaction was dependent on the sex of the supposed author. (p.55)

Just like all minority groups (minority in terms of status), women experience group self-hatred and self-rejection, “a contempt for both herself and her fellows–the result of that continual, however subtle, reiteration of her inferiority which she eventually accepts as fact.” (p.56)

Most women find the situation too hard to bear, in which case denial becomes an important self-preservation mechanism.

As with all marginal groups, certain women are accorded a higher status than others so that they may police the restIt is a common trait of minority status that a small percentage of the fortunate are permitted to entertain their rulers.. Women entertain, please, gratify, satisfy and flatter men with their sexuality. In most minority groups athletes or intellectuals are allowed to emerge as “stars”, identification with whom should content their less fortunate fellows. In the case of women both such eventualities are discouraged on the reasonable grounds that the most popular explanations of the female’s inferior status ascribe it to her physical weakness or intellectual inferiority. Logically, exhibitions of physical courage or agility are indecorous, just as any display of serious intelligence tends to be out of place.” (p.58)

28 Comments to “Sexual Politics (Part II)”

  1. (the first vid freezes at 4:38 and does the same at youtube 😦 )

  2. i was able to watch the whole thing.

  3. When she uses the word ”politics” Millet is not referring to the narrow definition that we usually associate with the term: of meetings, chairmen and parties. In what she calls her “notes on a theory of sexual politics” (Chapter Two) she proves that sex is a status category with political implications.

    the vision and the audacity of the original feminist thinkers (the ones we know about bc they were published, *and* the ones we never knew bc they werent) is astounding. absolutely astounding. its difficult to imagine a time and place where we didnt realize or speak about the fact that “sex is a status category with political implications” but the truth is that there was such a time, and it wasnt that long ago (and most people operate from that place today, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that class: woman, womens political class-standing and our political reality is real). we have the foundation we need to take it further, and i absolutely feel obligated to do this. luckily, i actually enjoy it too. 🙂

    i ordered this book for my mom, and i am reading it myself. its been on my shelf for awhile. thanks for the inspiration cherry!

  4. That’s the same bit that jumped out at me too, Fact (and Cherry 🙂 )

    I find it flabbergasting that anyone could not have the understanding that politics IS “political implications”; how status plays out in your. real. every. day. life. But then again I’ve always been interested in politics for exactly that reason …

    (my internetz have been acting up today – prolly just me then)

  5. “sex is a status category with political implications”

    The personal really is political. It’s pretty amazing that that statement is such a radical concept. I mean, duh, of course the personal is political! There’s not much point to politics if it isn’t related to something personal. Women too, are often admonished to “not take things personally,” as if we are supposed to be completely disconnected from our lives and feelings.

    Cherryblossom says, “Choose your favourite!” so I’m going to go with psychological because it’s those internalized messages that can make women their own worst enemies..Having “…a contempt for both herself and her fellows..” is one of the greatest stumbling blocks that prevent women from building solidarity. No solidarity, no power.There is strength in numbers.

  6. Nice work breaking it down, Cherryblossom–

    Only way I’d disagree with Millet is on the topic of force…of course, obviously for a long time now patriarchy has been instilled and perpetuated very much through socialization and the legal system. But I think womyn do live with the continuous threat of brute force brought against us; we know, however unaware we are of it, that we live in a raping/battering culture. And I remember an exchange with a boyfriend during my 20s where I suddenly SAW how, even as ‘assertive’ and ‘feminist’ as I seemed to be, I still geared my comm to him toward avoidance of “waking the slumbering beast of his rage”. I was behaving in a controlled, contrived way, where it came to anything that might wake that beast of male rage used against me physically. He sensed my ‘dishonesty’ and called me out on it. But, over time as I spoke more freely and true to myself with him, (telling myself that ‘slumbeing beast’ was but a holdover from experiencing my brothers’ violence as I grew up), ultimately he *did* hit me–and I left. In the meantime, I’ve had so many conversations with other womyn who come to this realization as well. We never know when that threat of force will manifest as force against us–I think force still is very much a part of how patriarchy operates to keep itself going.

    Otherwise, I’m with yttik–my ‘favorite’ is psychology. Not only because it is, as she says “one of the greatest stumbling blocks”, but also because it is the ONE area where we have any chance to gain control over our lives. To free ourselves of patriarchy within, to liberate our deepest selves and power by reclaiming our psyches. Only free womyn with free womyn will build solidarity…and since yes, the personal is so thoroughly political, freeing oneself psychologically can be a fundamental radical act of feminism. Inspiring to self and to others too.

  7. “While a palliative to the injustice of woman’s social position, chivalry is also a technique for disguising it…

    Historians of courtly love stress the fact that the raptures of the poets had no effect upon the legal or economic standing of women, and very little upon their social status. As the sociologist Hugo Beigel has observed, both the courtly and romantic versions of love are “grants” which the male concedes out of his total powers.” 

    These are wonderful points. Romance is first stage feminism, usually attempted as a cure all, when women gain themselves a little historical freedom; such as after the plague in the middle ages, and after winning the vote. It is also the first stage of patriarchal defence against women’s increasing strength, on a personal, as well as a public level; and is acted out as a manipulatory tactic to ease young women into their subordinate positions within marriage. Courtly love is kinder than the violence that will follow, if women do not comply with it. It is even presented as a means for them to rebel against their fate, but is in fact a ‘comply or die’ male strategy.

    The paths to marriage and the paths to prostitution are old, institutionally approved, and often scattered with the imagery of rebellion, such as heroine chic for prostitution, and running away to get married (a contradiction in terms) for romance. ‘But all roads (apart from feminism) lead to Rome’ and service to the systems of male supremacy.

    Thanks for this post Cherry.

  8. Separatism begins between the ears and radiates outward. 🙂

  9. Wonderful post, and thanks so much for the Sheila Jeffreys videos. (I’m currently reading Anticlimax and have Sexual Politics ordered.)

    Decided it was time to de-lurk to thank all of you for the important work you’re doing. I follow your posts and links like bread crumbs. They’re like rays of sanity and hope.

    Thank you all.

  10. I agree FCM, astounding is the right word. That Kate Millet could invent the concept, and prove, that sex was a status category, took so much thinking outside the box it’s incredible.
    Then you get idiots today, yes idiots isn’t too strong of a word, (and I’m not naming names), such as high-profile female journalists who write for the GUardian, working on behalf of the patriarchy by trying their best to “prove” that sex doesn’t exist so that teh twanz’s feelings don’t get hurt.
    Don’t they understand they’re trying to undo fourty years of feminist work? THey’re so stupid. I can’T believe it. There was a case in America where a group of women took Wallmart to court for discrimination and they didn’t win on the grounds that women don’t exist as a group. Anyone who supports the trans concept/cult are *undoing* everything we have fought for.
    And the INGRATITUDE alone is enough to get my blood boiling: the fact that the only reason they have a job or any platform at all is thanks to Kate Millett.

    HariB, I tend to agree with what Kate Millett wrote in her updated preface, that not only does force underpin patriarchy, but that she and other early second wavers grossly underestimated how important male violence is, especially the *threat* of violence, in keeping this political system of patriarchy in place. That is why as women have gained more power, or have been perceived to gain more power, violent porn along with murders of women have increased. As she says, we don’t associate patriarchy with violence, because we have been conditioned to see male violence as inevitable. It is not. It is political.

  11. I believe it’s been said before but Millett is clearly a genius, and your synopsis of her work is fucking excellent. No institution– public or private– and no sociocultural “norm” escaped her brilliant political psychoanalysis. I’ve had enough of these lib/fun-feminists holding certain institutions and cultural *traditions as sacrosanct (*domesticated or “stay-at-home”-motherhood which renders women and children at the financial mercy of their husbands/fathers, nor can you scrutinize “feminist” weddings, “girly-girl” fashion, or so-called “empowerful divas” marrying misogynistic thugs and the message that conveys to young people). Playing nice with the boys and rationalizing/defending the existence of their institutions–or worse, re-labeling them as “feminist”– won’t grant us emancipation. Obliterating them will.

  12. cherryblossom–“That Kate Millet could invent the concept, and prove, that sex was a status category, took so much thinking outside the box it’s incredible.”

    Yeah–‘incredible’ as in both of that word’s most common connotations: literally, ‘unbelievable’, as well as ‘extraordinary’. I mean, who could believe a womyn born and raised inside patriarchy could possibly have even one moment of the detachment required to see the truth of ‘sex as a status category–political’. And Millet had not just her initial moment, she sustained the acts of will that it took to continue to stand outside of patriarchy, so as to apply her intellect to the extended analysis of it, that is Sexual Politics. That’s where extraordinary enters in…yes, she is extraordinary, a true genius.

    Glad to hear of Millet’s later admission of initially underestimating violence as an underpinning of patriarchy. Well–her work helped later feminists to see even further/deeper in the heart of the beast. Her insight was thoroughly keen and comprehensive enough on its own; this is seen in part by the very fact that she gave a foundation for those later feminists to build upon.

    Your mention of the womyn who sued Walmart for discrimination against womyn, reminds me of when I was prosecuted for practicing midwifery. I sought ACLU legal backing for my constitutional argument against the law upon which I was prosecuted. ACLU told me that while they agreed with my argument, they couldn’t provide legal support because the case ‘only touched on a small interest group’ of midwives and homebirth families–and they only take cases of ‘general concern’. I posed to them that the underlying legal issues were (still are) totally universal: impacting all womyn, because freedom in birth choices is a concern for all womyn who might give birth. And further, that birth choices impact all *people*, including men, because we all have to get born, and further, the case addressed AMA monopoly in health care, also impacting everyone. Still, their answer was No. So–we are either ‘not a category at all’, as the Walmart case illuminates for us, or we are just not a ‘large enough category’ for our concerns to be considered of general application.

  13. Hi Harib,
    Yes, I wouldn’t call Kate Millet’s later analysis an “admission” of where she went wrong. I mean, she did invent the concepts we’re talking about here, after all. What she was saying was that even though she had pin-pointed force as being crucial, she wasn’t aware of the full extent of the violence. Women are more likely to be murdered in their homes, by their husbands, for example. She knew this took place, but she wasn’t aware of the *extent* … because of course nobody had researched it thoroughly!! It was only *after* Kate Millet that the feminist movement really took off!

  14. Mocha–I agree, and add to your list of “*domesticated or “stay-at-home”-motherhood… “feminist” weddings, “girly-girl” fashion, or so-called “empowerful divas” marrying misogynistic thugs…”, all other ways womyn are “Playing nice with the boys and rationalizing/defending the existence of their institutions–or worse, re-labeling them as “feminist”…I add to your list the rejection motherhood as inherently unfeminist slavery, careerism within patriarchy, etc. Patriarchy simply offers NO options that are not more patriarchy.

  15. cherryblossom–you have named one way of looking at my word re: Millet’s ‘admission’–as if I meant ” “admission” of where she went wrong”. I can see how you got there from my use of that word, but I don’t actually think “she went wrong” at all. Just not far enough, in this one aspect. I intend only to compliment Millet for her ability to integrate later feminist’s work; thus ‘admission’ is not ‘confession of wrong’ but ‘letting something in’. Of course, I also reference her openly owning that she initially underestimated violence, as more research and feminist thought was applied and she could see the violence issue more deeply than before. But for me, her owning a limitation is only more reason to praise her– for openness to her personal evolution along with the evolution of feminist analysis.

  16. I was about to link to Millett’s ch.II on the marxist website, but the website’s on strike. Well, for anyone who hasn’t got the book, ch.II is available online, it appears easily on google. That’s how I discovered her by the way, I stumbled accross this chapter and i went “wow”! This is mindblowing! How come I didn’t hear of her before!

    I love the way she writes, she’s so sharp, incisive and concise, hammers everything down, one after the other.
    Although funnily enough, what stayed most in my mind was Millett’s critique of Freud. I really loved it how she took him down completely, bit by bit. Ha.

  17. How come I didn’t hear of her before!

    Welcome to sexual politics!!!!

  18. First proper book I ever read that made sense….tragic how OUR writers and thinkers are soooooo scorned and cast-out but of course patriarchy cannot abide detractors and truth seekers or sayers..keeping her work alive through discussions like this and passing on the legacy are so important…..we through our efforts CAN and WILL keep radical feminist theory and experience alive and well…..
    Thanx CB for honouring another of our very very BEST womon

  19. Gee, even if this book were more widely available, anyone here honestly believe it would be apart of a Women’s Studies & Feminist Theory– oh, excuse me, “Gender Studies & Theory”– course syllabus? No? Well duh. This book would be too much of a reality shock to the censors and sycophants who control the discourse of male/mainstream “feminism”, especially in academia. We can’t have anything that’ll ruin the delusion/illusion that is the “compassionate” and “humane” chivalrous patriarchy that the lib/funfeminists really want. Blind, masochistic twits.

  20. I found this interesting snippet from a Guardian interview with Kate Millet in 2001. I was surprised to find she would choose to be a lawyer next time round, because she is such an amazing writer. I believe sexual politics will be read well beyond its own time and will be recognised by future generations of women as the great work of genius that it is.

    “The best thing about being a freewheeler is that she can say what she pleases because “nobody’s giving me a chair in anything. I’m too old, mean and ornery. Everything depends on how well you argue.”
    This is why, if she were starting out today, she would train as a lawyer. Her biggest regret when she thinks back to the women’s movement in the 70s is that “we got nothing on paper”. Think about the first generation of feminists in the 20s, she says. They got the vote, property rights, education rights and more. “And what did we get? We got gay rights, which
    was as much thanks to gay men as women. And we got abortion, but we lose it every afternoon.”

    Still, you have to take the long view. “You see, there are two sides of feminism. There are women’s rights and there is social feminism.” Social feminism is all the other social issues you notice once you begin to think about women’s rights. Not because you are intrinsically more caring but because “the very mechanisms of powerlessness” become visible. “Feminism is a very transformative thing, whether intended or not. And that is when society loses its patience.”
    Which is sort of where we are now, in Millett’s opinion. Society has lost its patience. So why isn’t she more downhearted? She smiles and says it’s because she is having too much fun. “I love making trouble. It’s a wonderful job. You don’t get paid but you have a lot of adventures.”

    • Mother Millett is published today by Verso.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/jun/19/gender.uk

  21. Thanks for those addtions of recent Millet quote, zeph… great stuff.

    “I love making trouble. It’s a wonderful job…..” Yeah baby!

  22. I’m with Hari B, and everything she’s said so far. The potential for men’s violence to show itself is constant, and acts as a restraining force upon women’s agency whether she is aware of it consciously or not.

    There have been a few times in my life when I have become FURIOUSLY ANGRY and yet all the people standing around were more or less irritated with me for not expressing my objections in a more polite manner — they were not the least bit worried that my anger would manifest itself as violence. The only time my fury appeared to make anyone nervous was when I had a machete in my hand. LOL

    But notice the difference. When a woman gets angry, the bystanders are “irritated” whereas when a man gets angry the bystanders do experience some amount of nervousness or apprehension on some level and consequently display a tendency to appease the man much more quickly than they would a woman. To make other people nervous (and inspire acquiescence), the woman has to be actually holding a weapon while the man only has to be standing there being angry.

    Anyway, nice job Cherry and thanks!

  23. And then of course when she IS holding a weapon, they STILL get irritated. How dare she assume she is entitled to threaten me! Only men can do that and get away with it! But with an angry man, there’s only thoughts of either escape or the feeling of obligation to appease his anger.

    If the trans supporters really thought transwomen were women, then they would react the same as they do to any other angry woman and respond with irritation. But they don’t — they take that anger seriously and attempt to appease it. Really I would LOVE to see a study similar to this done with trans as the author of one paper, and funfems as the ones grading it:

    “A witty experiment by Phillip Goldberg proves what everyone knows, that having internalized the disesteem in which they are held, women despise both themselves and each other. This simple test consisted of asking women undergraduates to respond to the scholarship in an essay signed alternatively by one John McKay and one Joan McKay. In making their assessments the students generally agreed that John was a remarkable thinker, Joan an unimpressive mind. Yet the articles were identical: the reaction was dependent on the sex of the supposed author. (p.55)”

    I would bet you anything that the funfems respond to transwomen as if he is a man.

  24. Apologies for serial posting and for getting off-topic… Or perhaps a study where three different author write the same “pity-me-screed”. You’d have to include prominent pictures of the “authors” so the funfems would know that one was written by a bio woman, one a bio man, and one a transwoman who clearly doesn’t pass. They could all be talking about being raped or something.

    If I had several million dollars to throw around, there’s a ton of studies which I would fund. 🙂 Because proving that the funfems respond to transwomen through their own male supremacist lens, wouldn’t be all that difficult. And it would certainly shut them up (for about five minutes).

  25. I would bet you anything that the funfems respond to transwomen as if he is a man.

    ooh! if you mean believing them, pandering to their needs (needs as identified BY THEMSELVES, not anything objective) deference and avoiding conflict, and doing this all at great sacrifice to themselves, YES. indeed, they do. excellent point.

  26. “I would bet you anything that the funfems respond to transwomen as if he is a man.”

    Yep that’s exactly what they do. I have seen many live examples of this. It’s really terrifying to watch, especially when it happens to otherwise radfem lesbian friends who never hang around with men, but who on the subject of trans have this weird blind spot. Crazy.

  27. mAndrea: “The potential for men’s violence to show itself is constant, and acts as a restraining force upon women’s agency whether she is aware of it consciously or not.”

    Yes–and especially, ‘whether she is aware of it consciously or not’. In my little story before, I named my moments of realizing my abiding fear of men’s anger. Still, it took a long long time (well past the relationship I mentioned) to really get it, and do something about it.

    “There have been a few times in my life when I have become FURIOUSLY ANGRY and yet all the people standing around were more or less irritated with me for not expressing my objections in a more polite manner — they were not the least bit worried that my anger would manifest itself as violence.”

    Exactly. How dare we act as angry as we are? SO annoying. And yet, not really scary–not needing escape OR appeasement, because as irritating as a womyn’s anger may be, it is still not threatening as men’s anger is.

    “If the trans supporters really thought transwomen were women, then they would react the same as they do to any other angry woman and respond with irritation. But they don’t — they take that anger seriously and attempt to appease it. ”

    There is actually a stunning example of this over on feministe as we speak. I had never thought this way about transwomyn before fairly recently, when I read a blog posting (can’t remember who now) that was a protest of allowing transwomyn into all-womyn spaces, by virtue of their having been raised as males with privilege and therefore, not really the same as FAAB. It made sense to me in theory, but never saw it in action til the feministe discussion of FGM and BA. Sparing details, I’ll just again–it’s a stunning example of just what you say–appeasing the transwomyn quite thoroughly due to my bad self raining on the parade of ‘transwomyn’s right to define all womyn’s experience of body alterations’. Gah.

  28. And if it was a transman, she would be treated like a (butch)lesbian and not necessarily like a straight woman (because people believe that lesbians are masculine and horrible anyway). No privilege without successful mimicry. Transwomen who don’t pass are merely poorly disguised members of the perpetrator class. And it’s stunning how most women have to or do act on warranted fear but pretend it’s not fear but something else. Fear is turned into care for men/transwomen. Sounds familiar, right? A frequent coping mechanism.
    Btw, fear (or maybe this is a bad translation/choice of words?) is diffuse. But when it is examined and understood, it differentiates into a specific fear AND courage. This happens in history. And on the other hand courage and a specific fear may regress into a diffuse fear which also happens in history – and with individuals of course.

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