Radfem 101: A radical feminist primer (Part One)

by HUB Newsfeed

Radical feminism, by definition, seeks to dis-cover and examine the root of women’s global oppression by men, and the sources of male power.  In our work, we have discovered that there are several key themes that appear over and over, and which transcend time and place — this is evidence that women’s oppression by men is class-based, that is, that women as a sexual class, around the world, share the experience of being oppressed by men because we are women.

In this series, republished in part from Radfem-ological Images, we present 17 themes for discussion and analysis.  Like all radical feminists previously and presently, we do this because it is the truth, and radical feminists accept the truth no matter what it is, especially the truths about women’s lives and what men do to us.

We also hope that our radical feminist work will facilitate clear issue-framing in reformist politicking meant to better women’s lives in the here and now, and we have seen this radical influence in action, for example, in the Brennan/Hungerford letter to the United Nations which framed the issue of transgender and the need for sex-segregated space in terms of female reproductive harm.

In Part One, we present the following themes: Femicide; Fetishize female vulnerability; Handmaidens of the patriarchy; Harm reduction/refusal to name the agent; Joke’s on women; and Male bonding over misogyny.

Below are several common themes which function as the mechanisms of women’s real-life oppression by men and the foundations of male individual and institutional power; and some common manifestations of those themes:

Femicide
Fetishize female vulnerability
Handmaidens of the patriarchy
Harm reduction/refusal to name the agent
Joke’s on women
Male bonding over misogyny

Femicide
Under patriarchy, women as a class are targeted for extermination. Women are murdered, disappeared, placed in harm’s way, tortured and raped until we die from it, but this is never addressed as a class issue or as comparable to other acts of deliberate, political genocide, even though it is.  Modern women exist against an historical backdrop of the Burning Times in which millions of allegedly supernaturally-powerful women were persecuted, tortured and murdered, but this history — and its implications on modern issues of power and female “empowerment” rhetoric — is minimized, ignored and erased.  The too-frequent rapes and murders by men of female-bodied persons exist within the broader context of global femicide (and necrophilia), but that context or the political implications of rape and woman-murder are never discussed.

Why? Because…

Femicide supports male power. Males as a class are working very hard to destroy females as a class, and they are succeeding: globally, women are underrepresented due to “gendercide” against females, where female fetuses and babies are literally killed before or at the time of birth. In what the The Economist has dubbed “The Worldwide War on Baby Girls,” the extreme male-supremacist ratio of males to females in many regions simply would not exist in nature: in some places there are over 130 males for every 100 females due to gendercide. In some places at different times in history, according to census takers, no girls were found at all. The result is that males exist in unnatural numbers globally and share power and resources amongst themselves without sharing it with girls and women — power which they actually lord over girls and women and which includes mandatory PIV and rape. And unnatural numbers of males lording sexual power over girls and women, and where female infants are then killed and males aren’t, exacerbates and perpetuates the problem of “overpopulation” and specifically male global overrepresentation and unequal male political and physical power and resource-hoarding with no end in sight.

In popular culture, images of “powerful” women often include unnaturally-powerful women, even though historically the female “witch” was not politically powerful and was actually the victim of terrible state-sanctioned persecution including brutal torture — including sexual torture and rape — and murder.  Also included as examples of femicide are gynecology and psychiatry, which Mary Daly noted are “tools of gynocide” used against women by men, who seek to cut, sedate, pathologize, and otherwise torture women and remove our wildness and creativity.  The end-effect of such conflicting messages and “dueling realities” around issues of female power and powerlessness is thought-termination, where the implications and context of global femicide are literally unthinkable.  This is, of course, deliberate, and keeps us stuck in ahistorical, apolitical discourses about power that are not reality-based, and do not challenge patriarchy or hold any promise at all of liberating women from male dominance.

Back to top

Fetishize female vulnerability
Under patriarchy, women as a class are made economically, sexually, and physically vulnerable to men and to interpersonal and institutional misogynistic abuse.  This occurs through social conditioning and exploiting biological realities as well as through systematic sex-based discrimination that deprives us of opportunities and autonomy, including sexual autonomy.  Women’s vulnerability on every axis is a disaster for women and ruins women’s lives, and is the source of terrible pain and suffering for women, and yet women’s various vulnerabilities are simultaneously portrayed as being sexually charged. But from whose perspective is women’s impending doom sexy?

For example, women’s clothing and shoes are notoriously restrictive, painful, and do not allow for spontaneous movement, making women physically vulnerable to both the elements and to men’s whims, including male violence. When “properly” dressed, such as in overly restrictive or overly cumbersome clothing that is prescribed for women cross-culturally, women cannot easily run away from physical danger including sexual assault. Binding and otherwise restricting and harming women’s feet is especially fetishized across cultures, because healthy feet are critical to physical autonomy; in women, physical autonomy is not sexy, and women’s vulnerability, injury, and perpetual victimhood are. These imposed vulnerabilities are actually very dangerous, require extreme vigilance and planning for contingencies, and can and do cause serious physical and emotional harm to women, and this heightened risk and potential and actual female harm are both sexually arousing (for men) and (therefore) mandatory for women.

Why? Because…

Female vulnerability supports male power. The entire world would look different if women were not deliberately made vulnerable by men and male institutions; in other words, if the playing field were level. Men and male institutions make sure it’s not, because economically and physically vulnerable women are easy targets for male abuse and men like it that way. Men’s relative and absolute physical and economic power increase as women’s decrease, where women are physically hobbled and where sex-based discrimination against women leaves opportunities on the table for men to share amongst themselves. When women make less, and spend more, money than men do, considering both the wage gap and women’s unpaid domestic labor as well as female-specific consumer spending such as hormonal contraceptives and fuckability mandates, men are left with more discretionary income with which they may further increase their economic power through investments, or further abuse economically vulnerable women through economic coercion within relationships, and by using prostituted women and porn. If women as a class weren’t made economically, socially and physically vulnerable to predators, and if male predators were without the financial and institutional resources to engage in vast and extremely profitable criminal conspiracies against women, global rape trafficking would end; similarly, prostitution and porn would no longer exist, and neither would marriage for that matter, to whatever extent each is dependent on vulnerable women being desperate enough for money to engage in PIV and sexualized abuse in return for economic security or a paycheck.

Back to top

Handmaidens of the patriarchy
Under patriarchy, women often police other women’s behaviors, dress, or life choices and situations, engage in girl-fighting, handmaidensplain to other women how to shift their perspective to a more male-centric one or why a woman-centric perspective is wrong, and otherwise enforce patriarchal mandates on themselves and others. For example, girls or women might fight with each other over an individual man, while never acknowledging the possibility of eschewing all men and PIV-centric sexuality altogether; or a mother might be hypercritical of her daughter’s appearance, and enforce femininity or fuckability, while the father might stay silent or even disagree that the mother’s actions or values are appropriate.  This female enforcing of patriarchal mores gives the impression that women are in control over their own and each other’s lives and destinies, or that men are individually or collectively kind, benign or blameless compared to women; this impression is incorrect, yet it is pervasive and normalized.

Why? Because…

Handmaidens of the patriarchy support male power. By getting women to do patriarchy’s dirty work, the patriarchal agenda is advanced even within female-only or female-dominated spaces, such as the household and female friendships, and there is simply nowhere for girls and women to go to get away. While the role of the handmaiden obscures this truth, in reality, patriarchal mandates, all of them, regardless of who enforces them, benefit men and men only; girls and women who are stuck in patriarchal families, workplaces and communities are almost completely powerless to radically change patriarchal mandates or the anti-woman, pro-patriarchy value system, or to create a culture to benefit themselves. This dynamic of the female patriarchal enforcer invisiblizes who has the real power, what that power looks like, where it comes from, and how it is used: namely, men have power that they frequently wield over women, and use it abusively; it is sexual, physical, economic, and structural; and they get it from other men and male-centric institutions, and by abusing women through economic coercion and sexual violence, and decreasing women’s power through sex-based discrimination.

Back to top

Harm reduction/refusal to name the agent
Under patriarchy, girls and women employ various strategies to mitigate the harms to themselves of living under a brutal patriarchal regime, such as utilizing contraception and abortion to mitigate the harms of dangerous PIV-centric sexuality, or not walking alone at night to avoid male violence including rape. When these harm reduction strategies are addressed, it is in the complete absence of context, where the agent of harm — namely, men, and male violence and male-centric values and institutions — is invisible and never named. Popular discourse around various methods of birth control — including abortion — are perhaps the most obvious, as are all ads for all medications, policies, practices and procedures meant to “cure” or “relieve” women’s suffering, but without ever acknowledging that the conditions necessitating treatment are patriarchy-derived and that under different conditions, these afflictions and stressors would be avoidable or even unheard of.

Why? Because…

Harm reduction/refusal to name the agent supports male power. In their global campaign to increase their own power, men harm women, children and each other through aggression and violence, war, industry, and sexuality, to name but a few, and obfuscating that is politically useful. Examination of the realities of dangerous PIV-centric sexuality and male sexual violence against women and children — including who is perpetrating it — bodes poorly for men as a sexual class. When these harms are examined, and the agent(s) of harm named, such as by radical feminists, it logically suggests further inquiry into the patriarchal constructs of compulsory heterosexuality, marriage, and fatherhood; such analyses threaten to undermine male power and are to be avoided. Women are made to expend all of their time, energy and resources on the daily tasks of survival and have nothing left over to put towards examining the sources of their oppression or achieving their own ends, and we see pervasive advertising for a booming consumer market of female-specific products, devices, and services that allegedly improve women’s lives or rejuvenate us via consumerism, i.e. by doing something, but we are never meant to consider how women’s lives would improve if misogynistic or male-centric cultural practices that are specifically harmful to women were stopped.

Back to top

Joke’s on women
Under patriarchy, women and women’s reality are mocked and dismissed, and the often brutal conditions that women must negotiate under patriarchy are the source of endless perverse pleasure for men. In fact, men’s perverse pleasure at the expense of girls and women is fundamentally what comprises male-centric comedy and we see this frequently, such as in rape jokes. In popular culture, comic situations involve women putting up with men who are not adequate or viable sexual partners, and this is seen as funny: men are even laughed at such as with the “bumbling husband” meme, but the joke isn’t on men, the joke’s on women, who often put up with incompetent men because they have little or no other meaningful choice. Men literally jumping out and scaring women is an emerging trend in advertising, where women respond very reasonably with shock, fear and horror at what is in actuality a real-life assault or battery, only to have their very reasonable fear responses dismissed and ridiculed, and their actual victimization justified and ignored.

Why? Because…

“Joke’s on women” supports male power. Regarding the bumbling or oafish husband meme, it is clear to anyone observing that these men do not deserve the women who settle for them, but as entitled men, they are able to “get” women anyway. While these men are obviously not living up to the deal they struck when they became partnered or married, these men also obviously still demand and receive domestic and sexual services from their wives, and this fundamental inequality and the suffering women experience in unequal partnerships is the source of endless perverse pleasure for men. Similarly, men’s incompetence “in bed” is often joked about, but in reality, this is not funny: in reality, it normalizes PIV-centric sexuality, and invisiblizes the fact that many women are putting up with unpleasureable and dangerous PIV because they have to, where PIV for pleasure’s sake alone would never survive a cost-benefit analysis in a non-patriarchal context. And “joking” with women often is intended to and does place women at a disadvantage where they do not have needed information, or where they are made even more vulnerable to abuse and made to suffer extreme and unnecessary stress or worry. This and all the slights, inequalities and brutalities of women’s reality are not taken seriously even though they are very serious. The demonstrable fact that poking fun at men in these contexts is really a backhanded, yet very potent jab at women is often ignored, and we see men’s rights activists (MRAs) complaining about how these images allegedly harm men, with no proof of any actual harm, or how the bumbling husband meme or any media image is reflective of a real-life inequality or a source of powerlessness in men’s lives.

Back to top

Male bonding over misogyny
Under patriarchy, men bond with each other through observing and perpetrating acts of misogyny, such as working in groups to sexually harass women, watching misogynistic pornography together, and sexually abusing women such as in sharing hired prostituted women and strippers, sharing sexual partners, gang rape, and woman-murder.

Why? Because…

Male bonding over misogyny supports male power. Men increase their individual and collective power through all-male group-bonding, which creates relationships and networks through which they pass along opportunities and knowledge. This power-sharing over misogyny is often contextual, such as business deals that take place in strip clubs or where “business trips” are organized around or include buying prostituted women, where the women performing are economically coerced and exploited, and where female associates are either not invited or do not feel comfortable so are unable or unwilling to participate, and are denied opportunities that are in effect only available to men. Male bonding over misogyny creates a shared identity and group cohesion, where they reassure each other that they are not powerless sexual slaves, rape-objects, domestic servants, physically weak or saddled with children; women are. They build trust over knowing that they are part of the same group, the privileged oppressor class, and that they share experiences, perspectives, and values, namely, male entitlement, male supremacy, misogyny, and a willingness to abuse their male privilege, including harming and committing crimes against girls and women.

Back to top

Please stay tuned for Part Two of this series, coming soon.  As always, comments and further analysis are welcome below.

17 Responses to “Radfem 101: A radical feminist primer (Part One)”

  1. Who wrote this?

  2. http://radfemimages.wordpress.com/about-2/

    About

    Radfem-ological Images is a public, radical feminist group blog dedicated to dissecting and discussing media images through a radical feminist lens. We recognize that the media, including print, digital and television commercial advertising, is a powerful tool of the patriarchy and that it is used to disseminate political pro-patriarchy, anti-woman propaganda. The situation is, in a word, Orwellian. We acknowledge that to the casual or even the dedicated observer, it is often unobvious what is happening or how these images are supportive of patriarchal institutions and male power.

    We notice that there are similarities between the messages in all patriarchal media — including advertising — and the mechanisms of real-life oppressions suffered by women at men’s hands. And that the sheer volume and pervasiveness of these images and messages serve to normalize and invisiblize real things that women experience every day, namely, the realities of living under a totalitarian patriarchal rule which, by definition, harms women and supports male power.

    We recognize that media images are not generally analyzed from this radical feminist perspective, and we seek to remedy that here.

  3. Nail. Hammer. Bang! Now that’s what I call radical feminism! The analysis is brilliant and spot on! What I love about radical feminism is that the theory and analysis is so rock solid. That’s because the theory and analysis comes out of the experience. First the experience, then the analysis and the theory. Academentia does things the opposite way around. First the theory, then they set out to find evidence and proof. Given enough time, academics will prove they can hang an elephant off the edge of a cliff by its tail and a blade of grass.

    Looking forward to Part II.

  4. Truth is truth is truth. Looking forward to Part 2.

  5. the foundation of it is that there is such a thing as patriarchy, and that it supports male power at womens expense. then, all you have to do to “theorize” about the world around you is to figure out how thats so. HOW do men benefit from this. HOW does this hurt women. and yes, it is rock solid, because the premise — that there is such a thing as patriarchy — is demonstrably true. in “sexual politics” kate millet offers a basic definition of patriarchy, which is that institutional power is in male hands, which is historically true, it was true when she wrote the book and its true now. institutional power = police power, military power, industrial power, religious power, judicial power, academic power, economic power etc etc. the part about “supports male power at womens expense” is also demonstrably true, because institutional power *is* a zero-sum game, isnt it? there are finite numbers of positions, there are laws governing its reach, and there are no alternatives which are not subject to the same laws. in the case of economic power, “profit” is a mathematical calculation — income minus expense.

    whereas queers and others try to say “power” is not fininte and they work from there, ignoring institutional power completely. institutional power meaning the police, military, economic/money, the tangible ones. and ignoring or denying the deliberate nature of males harming females — as if its just an accident, and not done deliberately because harming women supports male power and males know it, which is why they keep doing it. the queers think they can just invent various “power” and say look, power is not zero-sum, we can all have as much as we want, yay! suddenly all kinds of things are said to increase our “power” and the fact that institutional power stays in male hands — and what that means — is minimized, ignored and erased.

    if you really want your brain to bleed, there was a post at the good men project positing that “marital power shouldnt be a zero-sum game.” SHOULDNT BE is a red flag, of course — are we talking about reality or fantasy here? watch the poor MRA try to reconcile his “masculinity” with the fact that his wife performs all of the mental labor for the household bc hes an idiot — which of course is not fair TO HER and implicates the bumbling husband meme — jokes on women. he prefers to analyze how all of this effects HIM and hurts his feelings. and watch him ignore the issues of institutional power completely (marriage has different implications for women and men bc its a legal and religious construct which supports him, not her).

    thoughts?

    http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/marital-power-not-a-zero-sum-game/

  6. Thoughts…
    Hmm, the fact that the patriarchy has allotted him a woman should make him feel masculine enough, surely?

    He wouldn’t feel very masculine if he was forced to live with other men, (because women, including his wife, had all gone off somewhere to live as separatists), and then found himself doing the other mens’ laundry or whatever because the group had placed him low down on the hierarchy. He wouldn’t feel very masculine if he found himself in jail as somebody’s bitch because statistics show that men who are not married are more likely to turn to crime, alcoholism or suicide.

    Everything about marriage bolsters men’s self-esteem, as you say. The fact that the woman is there, living with him, means he sees himself reflected as twice his actual size. And the very act of “sex” withing marriage (which I’m sure he’s doing with his wife) is designed to make men feel masculine.

    So these men should probably shut up about not feeling masculine just because their wife behaves a certain way. And they probably shouldn’t throw words like “zero-sum game” around…

  7. indeed. its all sleight of hand on their part. pretend that its the little things that rob you of your masculinity, while the entire thing actually does very little EXCEPT to support male dominance over women. aka. masculinity. and how that would all come crumbling down if the castrating bitch of a wife (and all women) actually left — he would be some other mans rape-object or domestic slave, or become celibate. hows that fake-castration that allegedly happens within marriage looking now? thats what i thought.

  8. He comes across as very childlike. He forgets important things that mummy has organised. He wonders why 14 for dinner at short notice is dramatic. He’s 12 in the head.

  9. This incisive article cuts through the romanticization, disinformation, and brainwashing. Naming and analyzing the precise suppressive mechanisms of the System and how they interrelate is perhaps the most important contribution radical feminists have made. Once we have a name and an introduction to these carefully-hidden ulterior motives underlying so much of modern life, we can begin to see them for ourselves. Though all of them are so important, I always stop at “Naming the Agent”. Once that is understood, a lot of clouds clear away fast.

  10. The news of the Batman movie shooting in Colorado has just broken. The young gunman is right within the 18-24 age when men are most violent. I don’t know the composition of the victims yet – that’s how to determine the shooter’s motives. If the composition is random, it means one thing; if it turns out that a significantly larger proportion of women were hurt or killed, I wonder if that will be noted in the media as an important fact. Putting an armory into the hands of this young man so that he had at least 4 guns, at least one of which was automatic – will the media discuss that? How about his body armor and gas mask? Why is that legal to purchase?

  11. “The news of the Batman movie shooting in Colorado has just broken. The young gunman is right within the 18-24 age when men are most violent.”

    Darn. Exactly what I was thinking. I was wondering when they’d bring his maleness into it, and then I realized they;d probably only mention it as a joke, in passing, “oh, that’s how boys arrreee….”. But I think the link between “boyish” behavior and this violence is not merely a joke. THat’s why I’m a radical feminist.

  12. Some men’s rights sites are saying it’s women’s fault because the shooter was sexually frustrated. The spin is that he was on a match site and had no luck. Women didn’t offer him sex because of radfems, who keep pointing out that patriarchal society tries to spread the women around so even horrible men have sexual access, and women don’t have to do that any more. Only alpha men are having sexual opportunities and the betas are going mad and will continue to commit mass murder until we go back to the old system where women are so suppressed educationally and economically that they have to mate with betas to survive. The only way (patriarchal) society can survive is if every man has his mate to access and control.

    I also saw a Forbes article, BTW, today that said women are now testing higher than men on IQ tests, because women were previously “disadvantaged” (what a world is in that word!). The spin here is that 1) IQ must not matter, then, only motivation matters (implication: men are more motivated); and 2)science has found that men have more intelligent grey matter, but women have more white matter, which involves connecting. So we are using our inferior brains more efficiently to make up for our natural stupidity, which men don’t have to do. All men have to do is exert themselves a little on the tests to once again show their superiority.

    The shooter’s just a lone wolf anomaly driven mad by radfem ideology, and women are smarter because we fake it and men are getting a little lazy exerting themselves.

    Right.

    OK, truth time, here we go. The young shooter was testosterone-mad and the male-dominated movie industry brainwashed him into mass murder. See the Batman films and you’ll understand how random killing is romanticized..

    and: women are smarter than men.

    Nuff said.

  13. if male sexual frustration = male license to kill, then all PIV is coercive. if all PIV is coercive, and all coercive PIV is rape, then all PIV is rape. also, see male entitlement.

Trackbacks

%d bloggers like this: