End gender binary, patriarchy, all forms of oppression.
Please read the articles that I’ve linked to for further context of the language I have used. TRIGGER: I discuss and quote sources discussing sex, violence, rape, and BDSM/kink.
This thread is a continuation of a conversation I’ve been having with @chrisamaphone (link)
Okay; time to delineate between “no choice under patriarchy is truly free” and “women who are sexy are victims of mind control.”
“[The claim that ‘you can’t enjoy whatever aspects of being a “Hot Chick” that work for you of your own unconstrained free will’ is] also, implicitly, a claim that women who reject femininity aren’t influenced by patriarchy, which is even more unfortunate. You don’t break free from our entire social system and all the behaviors and preconceptions that come with it just by growing out your armpit hair. If we are all blinded by the culture we live in and the privileges we have, then it’s the height of arrogance to claim that you’re so enlightened you’ve risen above all that. If women don’t have full agency in the patriarchy, where the fuck do you get off claiming that you do?”
The claim that I support is that women do NOT have full agency within patriarchy, full stop.
This ‘never-was of freedom’ plays out in this microscopic example such that even if you are choosing to grow out or shave your arm pit hair, it is framed within a world dominated by men, and no personal choice with regards to lifestyle will escape that. But armpit hair and clothing are, let’s say, artifacts influenced by patriarchy. The terrifying culture that they either enforce or rebel against and, ironically, perhaps reinforce through that rebellion*, is the power relationship played out through violence and sex for the purpose of eliminating people’s autonomy.
Pervocracy’s ideas on how to resist patriarchy display themselves pretty clearly in the following passage:
“It’s impossible for women to be accepted as human beings if we aren’t accepted as sexual beings. If women’s dignity is contingent on our not being too sexy, we’re never going to have dignity. We have to accustom ourselves to the idea that someone can be highly sexual, publicly sexual, sexual in a way that we would totally never do ourselves because whoa… and still have dignity.”
Part of me fears this sentiment seeks salvation and liberation though evangelism and conversion. It seems to imply that the way that women will be accepted as human beings, the way that the power relationship between men and women will shift, is by showing the world our humanity. Or perhaps if men just knew what we knew, if they felt what we felt, if they became accustomed to our way of thinking, then they would gladly give up their power and share it and we would all be equal and free and liberated.
Referencing back to the original article that spawned this thread:
“Every time I see a conversation starting about being a female submissive and feminist, the party line just seems to be ‘you have choice, you’re empowered because you can choose freely to submit to men.’ *This is a great starting point - it’s a fabulous bottom line.* But I want to have more complex conversations. “
Conversations about power, sex, and violence are fundamentally lacking a grasp of cultural context when they erase the intersection of various forms of oppression present in our society. The author’s conversations use kink as a lens through which to look at sex and violence, but by no means do they end at the edge of BDSM:
“[A]ll het sex is to some extent coerced by a million social and interpersonal pressures, however careful and knowledgeable the participants may be.
I want to talk about that coercion, from a position of being experienced and knowledgeable and looking for pragmatic solutions.
[C]hoosing to submit is both free and coerced, [and] this coercion isn’t necessarily anyone’s individual fault but […] we still need to work, hard and constantly, against it.”
Via A Radical Transfeminist:
MacKinnon makes [the] point in Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State, where she writes that:
The point of defining rape as “violence not sex” or “violence against women” has been to separate sexuality from gender in order to affirm sex (heterosexuality) while rejecting violence (rape). The problem remains what it has always been: telling the difference. The convergence of sexuality with violence, long used at law to deny the reality of women’s violation, is recognized by rape survivors, with a difference: where the legal system has seen the intercourse in rape, victims see the rape in intercourse. The uncoerced context for sexual expression becomes as elusive as the physical acts come to feel indistinguishable. Instead of asking, what is the violation of rape, what if we ask, what is the nonviolation of intercourse? To tell what is wrong with rape, explain what is right about sex. If this, in turn, is difficult, the difficulty is as instructive as the difficulty men have in telling the difference when women see one. perhaps the wrong of rape has proven so difficult to articulate because the unquestionable starting point has been that rape is definable as distinct from intercourse, when for women it is difficult to distinguish them under conditions of male dominance.
and further still,
To sum up: wherever you go, whatever your sex and sexuality, compulsory sexuality is always in the room. It can be queered, channelled, refused or denied but it is present. Compulsory sexuality is sex without the joy. It is doing something that you’d love (if you love it at all) but with the boss standing behind your shoulder, criticising or praising you according to standards you do not create. It means upholding those standards if you fuck the way he says, and dealing with his censure if you fuck differently or not at all.
The target of this criticism is not simply a worldview that holds masculinity as more valuable than femininity. It is an oppressive system that seeks to control and do violence to a class of people, because it perpetuates the power held by those in control. Whatever liberation I might achieve within my own mind, and through my own actions, will not make me free of that system; it will still exist.
Thus, the question becomes, what would freedom actually look like?
* - I have understood it to be posited thus: Purely opposing a thing will reinforce that thing to the extent that once the thing is gone, the opposition makes no sense; power gained through the opposition would have to be relinquished. I am still investigating the idea.