Carrying a Sheila Jeffreys sign at Dyke March is inappropriate? What?

by FCM

As is often the case with misogynists and anti-feminists, the trans horde that took advantage of the “inclusivity” (read: a transwoman helped organize the march, and woe be unto anyone who crosses men who demand access to woman-only space in general) of NYC Dyke March — and others who weren’t even there — don’t seem to have read a word of anything Sheila Jeffreys has actually written.  If they had read her, how could it have rationally been said that Jeffreys — a pro-female, pro-lesbian writer — and her work had no place at a lesbian-centered event?

Or, perhaps they read a couple of words, saw something they didn’t like, and threw away the rest?  “The rest” being Sheila Jeffreys’s entire life’s work of pro-female, pro-lesbian, PIV-critical radical feminist analysis which spans decades and examines women’s lives from pre-WWI — a body of work from which modern women can draw many parallels, recognize obvious patterns in how women are oppressed by men over time, and call age-old bullshit when we see it, because we are never, ever allowed to see it.  Women’s history is routinely erased, and this is a deliberate political strategy to keep women as ignorant of patriarchal context and as oppressed — and as complicit in our own oppression — as possible.

For women around the world who are harmed and controlled via heteronormativity and subjected to female-specific reproductive harm via mandatory PIV — and that’s all of us — radical feminist PIV-critical analysis is crucial to our understanding of our oppression.  Having unfettered access to the pro-female, pro-lesbian, and anti-heteronormative work of our foremothers is critical to our ability to take the work further.  And the trans horde doesn’t want women to see it, or to read it, or to know about it.  This is deliberate, and serves male interests well.  It only serves men, to erase PIV-critical work.  In fact, we might even ask ourselves, If supporting and educating women about Sheila Jeffreys’s work at a lesbian-centered event is inappropriate, where would it be appropriate?  And the answer, of course, is that it’s not appropriate anywhere.

For those of us interested in honest, open discussion of women’s plight, and in analyses of our oppression and the sources of male power, this leaves us with no forum in which to do this.  Again, this is deliberate.  It looks as if women simply have to be willing to be inappropriate, but this is not as easy as it sounds, when patriarchal mores and informal social conventions that serve male interests are backed up with credible threats and acts of male violence.

For those who haven’t read her, or whose knowledge of Sheila Jeffreys’s work is only second, third (or more) hand, without further ado, below are excerpts from her book “The Spinster and her Enemies.”  Commentary mine.


We see in “Spinster” that women who eschewed sexual relationships with men, even if they weren’t lesbians, were labelled as sexually frustrated man-haters, even though it was actually a hard-won option and was made possible by women’s increasing economic opportunities that made mandatory heterosexual partnerships increasingly unnecessary. Which was obviously a good thing for any woman who found PIV problematic:

And I bet they were all ugly and fat too! Because those characteristics also render anything a feminist has to say patently false. So we are now on the road to separating spinsters from “normal” women. We also saw a deliberate campaign at the time to encourage “good” women to be “enthusiastic” about their participation in PIV with men…gee, where have we heard that before? And not only were spinsters not having PIV, they were further marginalized from “real women” who not only put up with it, like they had in the past, but also began to “like it.” Or you know, to pretend they did:

Radfems is bitter and don’t like sex! Check. Real women let their men the world know how much they LOOOOVE PIV. And this “sex positive” business is about as fresh and new as…well, pre-World War 1.

So what is this all about, really? And why did “PIV-positivism” and its attendant celibate-bashing and lesbian-inferring pop up at the precise moment it did? Could it possibly be because…some women were about to legitimately cast off PIV (and therefore men) for good? Looks like it:

And from here of course, it was but a hop, skip and a jump to the creation of “lesbian” as a deviant sexual category. Yes, apparently, that was the beginning of the end of PIV-critical feminism, and it was instigated by male sexologists, and just at the right time, too. Issues of morality, sexual expression and orientation splintered feminists into basically 2 camps (care to name them?), and dealt the death blow to any real, earth-shattering feminist work, erasing anything PIV-critical, literally, from history (even the history of feminism):

New categories, based on sexual contact. At exactly the same time that feminists were dissecting PIV, finding it problematic, and becoming socially and financially able to do without it, for probably the first time in history. Now why would that be?

What a coincidence.  And this sex-positive “sexology” was (and is) also lesbophobic and regressive — not at all the “progressive” discourse we have been, and are being, led to believe by those who subscribe to it.

And it’s exactly as fresh as…this lace tea gown, which I found here, circa 1890-1892. It could’ve been worn by the first sex-positive feminists! Now that’s good history.

Read a summary of the events that took place at Dyke March here.  For more about the sign “controversy,” see here and here.

A version of this post was previously published at femonade.

21 Responses to “Carrying a Sheila Jeffreys sign at Dyke March is inappropriate? What?”

  1. HA! Love the penned-in notes and stuff. Great.

    That Harry Potter meme thing is spot on, too.

  2. Well said. The quotes from Professor Jeffries’ book are enlightening. I was impressed enough to look up Professor Jeffries. She’s a Professor of Political Science at Melbourne University, with many scholarly books to her credit, and evidently one of the most prominent lesbian/feminist theorists and historians in the world. Her objections to transactivist theory that I have read are well-reasoned and not emotion-based, unlike the responses of her detractors. The calls of some transactivists to silence anyone who promotes her work, in all its important aspects, in connection with a march to promote lesbian points of view, are only going to make her work more influential as more people read her books to find out what the brouhaha is about.

  3. The reason they are attacking her writings is because they are so effective. The more they can discredit every woman who resists their perceived male privileges, the more power and control they can continue to exert. Lesbians and het PIV-free women are a problem for all patriarchs, as you noted. They know women are rebelling against their dominance and violence on an international basis. The more power women gain, the more frightened and violent they will become. We need to be prepared for that reality.

  4. It seems like it is one of those can’t see the forest for the trees kind of thing. The entire history of Patriarchy boils down to various ways to force or cajole women into risking their lives by having PIV. It isn’t as though women didn’t know it would quite likely kill them. They saw the evidence of it all around them even if they were not allowed to speak of it.
    Read between the effing lines of Austen, and there it is.
    Every time a political change is made that makes it possible for any class of women not to marry, to be independent, a combined effort to demonize independent women and romanticize piv is undertaken. It is there in the histories if people are willing to look and recognize what they see. It is in every bloody magazine on the effing newstands.
    The greatest crime against patriarchal society is for women to point out this reality.
    Sorry, kinda off topic, but demonizing Jeffreys and any other woman who addresses what she does is essential to the maintenance of male dominance in society.

  5. not off topic at all TBW! thank you for that. jeffreys points out how the PIV-critical work of early feminists was pushed aside and replaced by PIV-positive rhetoric — it was anti-feminist backlash, IOW. the fact that the PIV-pos crowd thinks they are being so fresh and progressive with their TIRED, ANCIENT “enthusiastic consent” bullshit — when its really just more of the same, a “play it again, sam” scenario, is a painful irony, and a pattern we are (obviously) doomed to repeat. pushing and spinning anti-feminist backlash and PIV-propaganda as feminist and progressive is not new, but everyone who is seeing it for the first time would tend to get that impression. so they make sure it *is* the first time anyone is ever seeing it, by erasing the proof that its happened before, and erasing the RADICAL FEMINISTS who called bullshit on it the last time around, and the times before that. this is deliberate.

  6. From the second jpeg: “”There were two fronts to the battle against spinisters. One was to declare against all the evidence to the contrary that spinisters suffered from thwarted desires… […] Another was to promote sex freedom”

    So the idea that women *should* be “free” to enjoy sex (with men) came about because the male supremacists of that time period noticed that women were becoming too uppidity, too independent and away from male control. BEFORE that time period, women had no choice but to marry men and serve men, so there was no reason for male supremacists to propagandize the joys of sex (with men).

    That is an extremely critical point for the funfems to get. They are doing the work of male supremacists while pretending that’s “progress”. And now they’re actively trying to erase the critiques of a male supremacist culture from even feminist spaces. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Seriously, funfems ARE patriarchy. and now I object to even the term “funfem” because it’s completely false, “libfem” is the same problem — they are the exact opposite of feminist.

  7. I agree, mAndrea. “Libfem “is false terminology. These women are handmaidens and tools of the patriarchy and not feminist in the least. Some of patriarchy’s best shields and foot soldiers are women, even tho they’re not the ones who primarily benefit from it. It’s Stockholm Syndrome at its finest. Mary Daly had another word or two for such women. Token Torturers or Hench Women. Which is why simply being a woman doesn’t qualify one to be a feminist.

  8. seriously. speaking of, the video of the dyke march confrontation has been released, showing one such handmaiden nearly “coming to blows” with (read: attacking) a lesbian in the handmaidens zeal to defend the…horde of poor defenseless male-bodied persons surrounding the lesbian and threatening her. its really something to see.

    a walk in the park from cathy brennan on Vimeo.

  9. I so agree with mAndrea and luckynl. I was thinking of all the times I’ve been in situations when a little verbal backup would have really helped me a lot and every time I thought a woman would speak to my aid. And not once has that ever ended in my favor – not once. In fact I am in such a situation right now and in trying to get advice on how to handle a misogynist bully in a public small group environment women keep asking will anyone else in the group back you? Even though the group is 90% female I have near certainty that I will be on my own when I mount my (I don’t know what kind of) defense in just a few days and can probably count on having to defend myself from female attack as well.

  10. Ugh, I saw the video. All I can say is CB’s a better person than I am cuz I’m not as polite to dudes who violate my space and get up in my face. It is an act of aggression and meant to intimidate – with an implied threat of violence.

    He’s a lesbian?! Yeah right. And I’m the pope.

  11. holy shit, luckys the pope? 🙂

  12. That young woman is going to be kicking herself in a few years time.
    The young transwoman (transman?) also made a complete fool of himself, because while the trans lanuage he was using (cis, etc) MIGHT have some semblance of coherency when used online (and if you suspend reality), we saw in that video that when it comes to real life it simply doesn’t work. So when Cathy Brennan declared that transwomen weren’t female there wasn’t much he could say to refute that statement except some garbled gobbledegook about “identity” or “did you misgender me?!??!?!”.

    And LOL Karmarad ” I was impressed enough to look up Professor Jeffries.”
    Why, I think I might look her up too! Her work does seem well-researched and well-argued.

  13. And another thing, here in Japan you wouldn’t get away with speaking to a woman who was older than you like that. There’s the age hierarchy thing going on here. So I want to say to that transwoman in the video:

    “Respect your elders, you little twerp.”

  14. Hey, Cherry, Yes, of course I’ve read chapters of Sheila Jeffries and heard her name many times, but I didn’t actually know she was a tenured prof in Australia. I’m kind of embarrassed to not realize her prominence.


%d bloggers like this: