Sunday, 7 September 2008

Silly Nonsense of the Week(end)

A recent post of Ren's brought Heart's latest to my attention:
Well, you know, women say they enjoy a lot of things. I said I enjoyed being a fundamentalist Christian, wearing a head veiling and long dresses, and being a loving and submissive wife. Sometimes women say they ejoy being hurt during sex. Women say, at times — and believe it; for reasons related to our subjugation, we often filter out memories of pain and trauma – that they enjoy addictions of various kinds, like to alcohol, substances and all manner of intentional self-harm. My saying I enjoyed my old world doesn’t change the fact of all the ways it harmed me, my children, and all the ways it continues to harm ALL women. Women in my old world claiming they choose it and find it liberating or empowering doesn’t change the fact of all the ways it harms them and all women and, especially, doesn’t address what is most important: that if my old world and the way it subjugates and harms women ended today, that would be the absolutely best case scenario for all women, including those in my old world. And absolutely, it’s the same thing when it comes to the selling of sex for money.
The "sometimes women say they like this AND BELIEVE IT" bit is just... wow.

Uh, there's no way for you to be mistaken about what you like. You can be mistaken about whether it's good for you, or be stuck in a rut and continuing to do something you no longer like, yes. But you can't be mistaken when you claim to like something.

I think I really like dark chocolate. With whom should I double-check this to be sure it's true?

Should I not take my partner seriously when he asks for more erotic pain? If his own reports are untrustworthy, who knows better than he does what he actually likes? If his own reports are untrustworthy, why does he react to more intense stimulation more positively? With whom should I converse to determine what he actually likes, if it's not him?

Or are men magically capable of knowing what they like, and only women are not? I'd assume this would have to be the case, as the whole reason she gives for women being wrong about their masochism is the way women are socialized under patriarchy.

I think that's the thing I find most offensive in all this. The idea that because my partner is a man, he actually does things he wants to do and likes what he does. Where any woman (does that include me? I'm female and a top...) does things she thinks she likes, and she's wrong.

What that says is that men get to live happy lives, good lives, positive lives, and women never can. Because women can't even be trusted to tell what's good for them. And more than that, can't even be trusted to know what they enjoy or don't enjoy.

I keep thinking of the disability rights movement when I look at this. I think of someone saying, of a family member with a developmental disability, "Oh, she's fascinated with [topic], but she doesn't really like it. Let's not do that with her now!"

If anyone said that on her blog, she'd rightfully be called out on it. But because feminism is the topic at hand, and because there's a long tradition of investing what women do with political meaning regardless of their own opinions, people let this kind of thing pass. It's just second-wave thinking! We know it's not quite right, but we owe "radical feminism" because it's our history!

Which chaps my hide so much. We can acknowledge that our foremothers had worthwhile things to say, and even more importantly that they had important things to DO, like set up DV shelters, without accepting a framework of "theories" that implies calling bigoted nonsense some kind of feminist revelation. Theories that lead to conclusions like this like these aren't good for women. You can't help women by not taking seriously what they actually say about their lives.

8 comments:

Mighty Fast Pig said...

To put it briefly: If it means something when a woman says "no," then it has to mean something when they say "yes," too.

Thaddeus said...

The dynamic at work here is a person's desire to rewrite their own history to be consistent with their current world view. We've all changed our minds about various issues over the course of our lives, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Some people are so terrified of being wrong that they choose to deceive themselves about their own past rather than accept that they have ever been wrong, as that might cause them to doubt their current positions.

I'm just speculating here, but the person in question probably genuinely enjoyed certain aspects of being a submissive Christian wife. Like you say, it's totally bogus to call into question your own emotions and senses. But, then, she found enlightenment and feminism and discovered that she could be even happier as a feminist (or that, knowing what she knows, she could never be happy as a Godfearing housewife again).

However, her current opinion apparently cannot accept any other way of life can possibly be valid and meaningful and enjoyable, so faced with the cognitive dissonnance of her memories of genuine enjoyment, she chooses to deny them to preserve her ideology. And if someone is willing to create in themselves a form of selective insanity rather than subject their opinions to debate or question, should it be any surprise that they are so unreasonable when it comes to debating others?

PS: I realize, looking back on the excerpt, that I might've been misinterpreting her slightly, but I still think the above applies to a lot of the frustrating, unreasonable people we have to deal with :)

Trinity said...

"The dynamic at work here is a person's desire to rewrite their own history to be consistent with their current world view. We've all changed our minds about various issues over the course of our lives, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Some people are so terrified of being wrong that they choose to deceive themselves about their own past rather than accept that they have ever been wrong, as that might cause them to doubt their current positions."

I think you've hit the nail on the head here, Thaddeus.

Trinity said...

"To put it briefly: If it means something when a woman says "no," then it has to mean something when they say "yes," too."

Yep.

There was a brouhaha some time ago in circles I ran in about a CFP for an anthology called "Yes Means Yes." I think there were a lot of good criticisms made of it, particularly about how it centered on white women's experiences of the sex wars. And about who got the book deal, and why, and the racial implications of it.

But there were also critiques that drove me bonkers. One thing I just found myself utterly baffled by was the way people vehemently attacked the idea that taking women's consent seriously, talking about what they actually DO consent to, and having that inform our feminism is important.

Some people are, for some strange reason, deeply invested in the idea that sex is frivolous or funny. As a person with a disability, this drives me up a WALL. So many of my people are fucking seen as laughingstocks when they say they want marriage, dating, companionship, physical pleasure, a blowjob or two. WHY CAN PEOPLE NOT SEE THAT YES IS IMPORTANT TOO?

Yeah, I guess that one still bothers me. I didn't end up submitting anything to the book, as I thought the critiques based on race issues were spot on and important.

But it still really bugs me. It can actually for damn sure matter whether, say, a white woman who uses a wheelchair even gets to be "bubblegum" and "breezy" and "feminist-lite" about fucking.

That's a luxury some people just don't always get.

We all know the damage that it can do when "no" isn't taken seriously. When "yes" isn't, that can break up relationships. That can take away someone's ability to be with people they love.

That can rob someone of a pleasure that the people who are just so much more SERIOUS than the feminists obsessed with their LIPSTICK get as a goddamn matter of course.

Gaina said...

I hereby name this blog 'Full of Win'

**cracks a bottle of cheap wine on her monitor**.


Hmm...So what this person - this 'Sister' - is basically saying is 'When a woman says 'NO' she really means 'Yes' - only backwards. Now where have we heard that before, I wonder?

seitzk said...

(Gosh, calling out Heart's asininity has become a cottage industry. Plus, the raw material is cheap, free, and seemingly endless!)

I find it maddening that this woman tries to systematically disempower any woman's choices that are not identical to hers.

Anonymous said...

I hereby name this blog..."Full of Bull"

**cracks her side with laughter at the silly little minnies whose self-importance is encapsulated in this kind of crap!

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