Saturday, July 28, 2007

The girls want to be with the girls

Renegade Evolution has posted that she is "walking away from feminism"--something I hate to hear women say. Kim has expressed similar sentiments on her blog, too. But that brings up another subject, endlessly discussed in the women's movement's earliest days.

Can women be friends?

We used to talk about this openly, at least for awhile. No more.

Renegade Evolution is a beautiful woman, and I think some feminist dislike of her and other highly sexual women (most especially sex workers who show a high level of independence), is based on jealousy and rivalry. (At her blog, certain anonymous comments make this rather obvious.) In the early days of feminism, this was a given. We talked about female rivalry as the predictable fall-out of patriarchy, but now, everyone is in major denial.

Well, not everyone. Here are some descriptive excerpts from Tripping the Prom Queen: the Truth About Women and Rivalry by Susan Shapiro Barash. All italics are mine.

Reluctantly I began to admit that I, too, had felt competitive, envious, even jealous of my fellow females. I, too, had walked into a dinner party and done a quick tally of how I stacked up. Was I as talented as the other women? As pretty? As prestigiously employed? During my divorce, before I met my second husband, I, too, had looked longingly at the few women I knew who seemed truly in love, thinking, "Oh, to have what they have." I, too, had caught myself viewing my daughters with something close to envy for their youth and self-confidence, for the advantages their generation would have that were so far beyond my own. I had even wandered through my local bookstore while I was working on my first book, checking out the other women writers, envious of their apparently secure place on the bookshelves when I wasn't even sure whether I could find a publisher.
[...]
So I designed a study whereby I could interview five hundred women -- again, from a wide range of ages, classes, ethnicities, and religions -- asking them directly about their experiences with these feelings. I wanted to know the role that women's rivalry had played in their lives, their experiences as both targets and perpetrators of female envy.
[...]
What I found astonished me. I heard from women whose colleagues, best friends, and sisters had stolen their boyfriends and husbands. I talked with women whose fear of female rivalry was so strong that they chose to live in small towns, "so there would be less competition"; women who avoided certain parties "because I don't want my husband to meet too many single, beautiful women." I heard about girlfriends dropping a woman when she snagged a promotion at work, or finally found a great guy, or even when she became pregnant. Women described the wear and tear of constant competition, of continually comparing themselves to friends, coworkers, sisters, even to their daughters. Many women confessed that they had spent their lives trying to steer between two painful courses: reaching for the advantages that other women seemed to have and struggling to defend themselves from other women's envy. Although I had known that female rivalry was a theme in many women's lives, I emerged from my research feeling as though it must be a theme in every woman's life. We're just not allowed to talk about it.
[...]
In fact, when I recovered from my first wave of shock at the extraordinary stories I was hearing, I was able to boil down my findings to three conclusions:

1. Despite all the efforts of the women's movement to change this troubling pattern, we're still willing to cut each other's throats over what we value most -- jobs, men, and social approval. Although we've moved into the workplace and the public arena as never before, we tend to ignore men when it comes to competing, focusing our rivalry almost entirely upon each other.

2. We'll do anything rather than face up to female envy and jealousy -- especially our own. Between traditional social pressures to be the "good girl," and feminist expectations of female solidarity, we sweep all evidence of a bleaker picture under the rug. Indeed, in these postfeminist times, women are often rewarded for romanticizing female friendship and punished for telling the truth about female rivalry.

3. Even though my focus is on female rivalry, I have also found some wonderful examples of female bonding -- within families, between friends, among colleagues. In these positive instances, I found that the key was for women to have realistic expectations, of themselves and each other. When we stop demanding total, unconditional support; when we accept our loved ones' differences as well as similarities; when we own up to our own rivalrous natures; and when we confront problems rather than ignore them, we can create extraordinary bonds that nourish us throughout our lives.
[...]
We can't understand female rivalry without understanding the pressure to conceal it. Although the women I interviewed spoke readily of competing with mothers, sisters, coworkers, and friends, many of them also seemed to buy into the myth of female solidarity, lamenting their own isolation from what they saw as a world of camaraderie and support.
[...]
For virtually every woman in this society, our definition of ourselves is bound up in our perception of other women. We see ourselves through comparisons with our mother, our sisters, our friends, and our colleagues. For a whole host of reasons -- some psychodynamic, some social -- we have a hard time seeing ourselves as separate individuals with destinies of our own. Instead, we view our identities as a kind of zero-sum game: we succeed where our mothers fail; we gain what other women lose. We can't envision succeeding or failing on our own terms; we can only measure ourselves against other females. So first we envy the powerful women we see in the media, and then we symbolically triumph over them as they crash and burn. After all, we can never compete against them. Who can be as beautiful as a movie star or as powerful as a princess, a president's wife, or the head of a business empire? If we can't beat them ourselves, at least we can enjoy the sight of them competing with one another, and we enjoy even more seeing them fail.

What does everyone here think? Do you have close female friends, IRL? How have you nurtured that friendship, or was it an instantaneous identification with another woman that blossomed? Are you colleagues? Are you "alike"? What is your friendship based on, if that is quantifiable?

As with the trans issue(s), feminism won't go anywhere without confronting the issue of female rivalry and jealousy, the fact that we all compete ruthlessly with each other (and NOT with men) for what has been allotted to us. We have to stop playing games about it, and confront it, head on.

And to do that, we need to talk.

82 comments:

kactus said...

Yea, first commenter!

My best friend K & I are just about polar opposites in a lot of ways. She's young enough to be my daughter, she's still having babies, she's straight and in a committed relationship, she's of another race; but I still trust her like I trust nobody else. But it took us many years to get to this very secure, trusting point, this love we have and acknowledge for each other.

And it's very egalitarian. Just because I'm her elder doesn't mean I don't go to her for advice, and just because she's younger doesn't mean she doesn't give me the smack-down when I deserve it. And I think the key is that we've learned to accept and navigate the tricky areas where we really are different--like her less-than-ideal partner, my less-than-ideal kids, and how even though they fuck up we love them and to expect us not to is really insulting.

I really appreciate you asking this question. I don't get many chances to talk about my relationship with K, one of the strongest things in my life. Nobody ever asks, really.

Daisy said...

Kactus, I also have friends who are very young. I think we are different that way. I don't see a lot of women doing that.

I think now that I am older, I just don't seem to have all of the rivalry/jealousy I did as a young woman. I honestly have wondered (feminist heresy approaching, avert your eyes!) if it's HORMONAL. I am post-menopause, and so much has changed.

Are we hormonally "programmed" to compete, maybe? Are we even ALLOWED to go there? ;)

I've also discovered that without the "female rivalry", I have lost incentive to do some things (i.e. starve to lose weight, get positive attention from males) but gained incentive to do others (i.e. start a blog, speak my mind, actually do what I want to do for a living, etc.)

Now YOU KNOW the guys ain't nearly this hard on themselves, ladies. growf! >:(

kactus said...

See, I never really truly got the female rivalry thing. I mean I get some of it, but not as bad as some women describe it. And honestly? I think it's because I was never really seriously seen as a rival by other women. I've always been short and round and rather plain (although I have a pretty smile!). I've always been socially awkward. And being smart--that was never seen as threatening, at least not in the competition for men.

And there's that too--I never seriously competed with another woman for a man. Well I've been mostly queer my whole life (with occasional spasms of hetness resulting in children) so that's mostly why, but my mother also instilled in me this belief that my friends were more important than any lovers. she actually used those words: lovers come and go, but treat your friends right and they'll be there forever.

I think as a lesbian one of the things I miss most about my exes is the friendships we had, rather than the romance.

kactus said...

Oh, and to answer your question--yes I think we're probably programmed to compete (dunno about hormonally), at least in the sense that we're all animals trying to survive, so there's the biological imperative; but I think mostly what we have now is a social structure that makes competition among women seem normal, or almost desirable.

I sure do believe in the divide and conquer concept. And in a male-dominated society it has worked out pretty well for the dominant males, hasn't it?

And I hate that. Probably one of the reasons I don't do the whole make-up, feminine accoutrements thing

Trinity said...

Hmm, this gives me a lot to chew on

While I have been very aggressively angry at Other Women (tm), I don't really think I ever had the particular "catty" rivalry thing. I had something else.

Probably because I see myself as androgynous-to-masculine, so I was never fighting to be The Pretty One. (I actually remember my mom, when I was a YOUNG TEEN, practically ordering me to show some skin, because I was so not feminine.) So the discussions of femininity-fights always leave me truly puzzled, as if I missed some huge part of Womanhood.

(Same with discussions of "male" or "masculine" behavior, particularly as bad for women. Makes me wonder if I'm bad at being one, truly.)

What I *did* have was deep distrust of women I perceived as feminine. They were much more popular. I was the strange one. They were sexy. I was "the friend," or "one of the guys."

I didn't understand why I couldn't be both attractive (to men OR women) and fit in that "one of the guys" role. So I had a lot of bitterness toward women I perceived as too feminine, "hated women," etc.

I just didn't know how to "do" "woman" and didn't want to at all. I was bitter because since I could never do it and feel comfy in my own skin, people read me as "boy." I was furious because... why couldn't I be an androgynous or (gasp! gasp!) masculine woman? It was like people's lenses weren't that fine, and there were only two options

BOY / GIRL

and each acted a particular way.

I think I aimed so much bitterness at pretty, "feminine" women because it was easier than reasoning out WHY I "was a boy."

Trinity said...

This is why I always liked Sandra Bem's concepts of "gender schematicity" and "gender aschematicity" (though the rest of that book is pretty damn transphobic.) It gave me a way of understanding WHY I didn't see things the way others did when they talked about "male behavior" and "female behavior" or "what women want" and "what men want." In her terms, that I just didn't see my world in much of a gender-structured way.

I think that's part of why I never found the idea of "feminism" palatable as a youngster. It just seemed like yet another "women aren't like men" thing that would leave me scratching my head. And it was called FEMINism -- wouldn't that be for advancing the people who LIKED their FEMINinity? As in, not me anyway?

I learned better of course... but I do strongly suspect that's part of why the idea of feminism never grabbed me despite being a girl.

Renegade Evolution said...

Good post Daisy...

I have a few female friends, but only one really, really close friend, and we started out hating eachother because on the surface, we're polar opposites. She's very shy initially, has social anxiety disorder...she also used to be very thin and isn't anymore and that bothers her, and she tends to take that out on women who are thin...we really, really did not like eachother...she pretty much called me every name you can think of, I more or less was of the mind she could go fuck herself, but we remained "socially civil" to one another because her significant other and Mr. Evolution are really good friends... Well, one night over a pitcher of beer at a goth club, we burried the hatched...just threw it all out there and ended up laughing our butts off at how stupid it all was. Mr. Evolution made the comment that we were destined to hate eachother at the start because if she was a guy, she'd be the lone wolf biker type and if I were a guy I'd be a frat boy...granted, you know, that's very male-centric thinking and all...but it's true. It's also something we still laugh about. After that was all out of the way, we started to see how much we really were alike...things we had in common (same taste in music, fans of tattoos and travel, action movies and CSI, we're both swingers, like porn, hate malls, so on) and at this point, there is rarely any competition whatsoever between us...

Which brings me to this part, heh. I used to really worry a lot about how I measured up to other people. Growing up there were issues of class, I was very much the tomboy, so on so forth, and while yes, I do still get jealous of people, women, as in I will see a woman and envy her looks, or (a big one for me) how smart she is, I hit a point long about age 27 or so where I decided I JUST wasn't going to compete anymore against anyone but myself. I wasn't going to compete with other women to be the best looking, most popular, so on so forth...and it's odd, because since doing so, I am probably more of those things than I ever was when I was competing for it.

I do find though that the majority of my friends are, and have always been, men. Why, I am not sure. A lot of it is common interests I suspect...sports, crass humor, cars, gaming, meaningless fornication :)...I mean, I LOVE NFL football, and I just don't know too many other women (aside from my mother) who are that into it...and well, I am really over the top assertive, which a lot of women take as aggressive, unladylike, intimidating, whatever, and men don't...because they act like that all the time.

I am rambling at this point. I do think women compete, and suffer from jealousy (I am still really jealous of really, really smart women) but I also think a lot of that is not only natural, but just as prevelant amongst men...they display it differently, but men suffer from the green eyed envy too, so I think mostly-

It's a human thing.

Trinity said...

Gaming! Yeah! 97% male. I still can't figure why the hell that is, as it's so fun.

And well, I was introduced to it by my buddies in high school, which were a group of half brainy boys and half brainy girls. :) It's been puzzling to me ever since why there seem to be so few nerdy gamer geek girls around here in MatureAdultLand, but you can still sure find the boys.

Renegade Evolution said...

Trin: Between the SCA and gaming, I know lots of full out proud to be geek women! They rock!

haha, word verification, evolu...THEY KNEW IT WAS ME!

Octogalore said...

Daisy, some great questions. In my case, most of my close female friends are pretty similar in "femininity level," education, and to some degree politics -- many off my offline friends are either more conservative or not interested in politics. I would like to have more of a range of friends in terms of style; part of the problem with being in school for a substantial portion of time before 30 is that many friends come from the same environment.

I used to be very competitive, but with both women and men. On appearance, more with women obviously, but in school or work with both. Having become more actively feminist over the past five years, I get more excited than jealous when I encounter women who have things I don't have or things I want to be the only one who has. I want to befriend them and learn from them, as I'm finding the deficit of interesting/edgy female friends to be more frustrating as time goes on.

Renegade Evolution said...

Octo:

Good point! Politics! I've noted that while I have some friends who are very, very liberal, and some who are very, very conservative, the majority are in the middle...often times very liberal on social matters, and more hardass on things like national defense, cops, guns, so on. I'm the only (dreaded) Libertarian of the bunch, which often puts me right in the middle, which is an interesting place to be...

I also agree with the competing against men as well thing...I've done that, in school, in sports even, so on...heh, when it comes to being competitive, I've never discriminated due to biological sex or gender....and yeah, at this point, I too am thrilled when I run across another woman who is willing to spend hours and money on girly shit :).

Trinity said...

Eek, wow, this really opened up a can of worms for me. But still thinking:

I think part of why I threw myself into feminism for a while, and into radical feminism specifically, was an attempt to finally Learn To Do Woman in a supportive environment. Like "oh, if I can be around a bunch of smart women who are busy talking, thinking, and doing activism around being women, maybe some of the Woman Dust will rub off on me and I'll feel more like I fit."

It worked for a while -- "sisterhood" became exciting. I felt like maybe I could be in a group of women for the first time and feel like a "real" one.

But I kept noticing that I felt alone at every march I went to. Not that I wasn't proud to be marching or disagreed with anything I was marching for, but I just never truly felt like part of the We. Same old story: square peg, round hole.

And radical feminism fit me less and less the more time went on, because "performing woman," even as performed in those feminist spaces, took effort. Performing "sister," far more.

I think that's part of why, now, I don't see my feminism as particularly self-defining. I see the issues feminism tackles as very important, but ranking the social justice stuff that matters to me, disability rights issues engage me so much more.

belledame222 said...

great post. and this is especially key, I think:

We can't understand female rivalry without understanding the pressure to conceal it. Although the women I interviewed spoke readily of competing with mothers, sisters, coworkers, and friends, many of them also seemed to buy into the myth of female solidarity, lamenting their own isolation from what they saw as a world of camaraderie and support.

It becomes just one more layer; and , too, the whole "people pleasing/it's Selfish to put yourself first" crap kicks in (and the ensuing resentment). but people can be slow to recognize it because, well, it's Sisterhood, right? we're not pleasing the -men- anymore! so, we're free, right? Right?...

Renegade Evolution said...

going a bit what with Trin said...

I think a lot of women (as kim mentioned at some point as well) are attracted to feminism because of the sisterhood aspect, the tempting idea of women being women doing good for women without any of the negative things all women have suffered at the hands of other women because, well, hey, feminism, not supposed to be judgy/nitpicky/competitive...its supposed to be, well, uplifiting and empowering and accepting to and off women....

But it doesn't always work that way.

And I guess I am at a point where I feel like "Well, why does that matter? Why the need or want for that 'sisterhood'? Why not just take and give the kinship and kindness and support and whatever else of...whomever it works with? Male, female, trans, gay, straight, bi, kinky, black, white, Christian, not Christian...why not go with what you know is true rather than dismiss that and HOPE, maybe, there is sisterhood out there amid feminism. Yep, I have feminist sisters...hell, brothers too...I also have republican and conservative ones, and I'm not willing to sell them out for "Sisterhood" that may be an illusion...

And I kinda feel like, well, why should anyone?

Trinity said...

I agree with you Ren. True bonds with real friends happen because they happen, not because the other person is also a woman/also has disabilities/also is kinky/also is queer/whatever it may be. Shared experiences of oppression may matter to the friendship, but they're not what the friendship is or is for.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I had a fascinating thing happen to me a couple of years ago, when I was contemplating the fact that I had female friends.

It turns out, all my female friends are in the category "I just don't get along with women." So basically, we get along with women who don't get along with women.

Which I tend to parse as "I get along with people who don't perform mainstream gender," these days. Which, in my case, means people who neither do the catty competition thing nor play at "sisterhood".

(This is setting aside the fact that women have always struck me as far more dangerous than men, which is largely an artifact of having a mother who's insane.)

I never understood the concept of "sisterhood", honestly. It's one of those things that firmly secured me in the not-a-woman thing, because I was supposed to feel this kinship with all these mainstream-gendered people I had nothing in common with, who cared about things I found irrelevant, who believed in 'competing over men' or any of that other things. The concept of sisterhood is one of the most alienating parts of female gendering for me -- I don't see any more reason I should feel kinship with women as a class than I do right-handed people as a class or people with a birthmark between their toes as a class, and the expectation that "womanhood" includes "sisterhood" just makes clear that I'm not a woman.

My female friends aren't "female friends"; they're my friends, ordinary people, some of whom happen to be female. Mostly, I hang out with geek-gendered folks, really, and since that isn't a sex-based gender presentation, whether or not those folks are male or female doesn't really make much of a difference to the sorting.

Trinity said...

"It turns out, all my female friends are in the category "I just don't get along with women." So basically, we get along with women who don't get along with women.

Which I tend to parse as "I get along with people who don't perform mainstream gender," these days. Which, in my case, means people who neither do the catty competition thing nor play at "sisterhood"."

Yes! Fantastically said. (And you WIN for "geek-gendered". Yes, yes, yes.)

Though I do feel that I get along much better these days with people who do perform mainstream genders. As a teen I wanted them out out OUT of my life

but, well, when I got into BDSM I identified as hetero, and quickly found that the world was not full of androboys and male femmes for me to delight in. Sometimes the people most interested were -- oh gasp gasp! -- masculine men who happened to be bottoms.

Realizing that, and playing with them and enjoying it, made me realize that I'd actually been limiting who I hung out with and why for some false reasons. My fear that some of them would try to force me to gender-conform wasn't unfounded, no, but not all of them were Agents of Genderian Doom, either.

A similar process happened with me learning to accept feminine women, later on.

"The concept of sisterhood is one of the most alienating parts of female gendering for me -- I don't see any more reason I should feel kinship with women as a class than I do right-handed people as a class or people with a birthmark between their toes as a class, and the expectation that "womanhood" includes "sisterhood" just makes clear that I'm not a woman."

It's alienating to me, too. I tried it because I was becoming friends with the more mainstream gender-performers, and that made me wonder if performing "Woman" really was so terrifying. So I gave it another stab -- with results I ought to have predicted.

:)

I don't know if I quite feel I'm not a woman, though I do admit to high levels of comfort with "female", medium with "woman," less with "womankind," and almost none with "womanHOOD."

P. Burke said...

I feel very similar to Trin in terms of mainstream gender: it terrified me in people of both sexes when I was a teenager. I was scared of boys who did masculinity, and resentful of girls who (a) performed at femininity (b) were less intelligent than me (really, I'm pretty smart, and had a high opinion of myself as a teenager) and (c) got more attention than me even though I "deserved" more for being smart. Well, it made sense at the time.

I decided to train myself out of hating femme women when I was in college by appreciating their beauty instead of resenting it. It worked I also made a friend who was femme and clearly brilliant, and the brilliance somehow cut out the resentment for me, because hey, she was worth talking to. I can be a little intimidated by beautiful, femme women in person sometimes, but it's less of blinding hatred and more of a worry that they'll apply their mysterious feminine standards to me and find me completely lacking. The more I find I have in common with them outside gender, the more it goes away.

I do well in "women's spaces": I loved Girl Scouts as a kid and have been enjoying some monthly women-only lunches put on by a group of women here. Sometimes women will drop their more mainstream femme selves in those environments to reveal something I'm better at relating to.

Octogalore said...

I just came home from a kid's birthday party that was right on point for me, for this discussion. It was a "Princess" party. Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were there, it was all girls (from about 3-5), and it was unspeakably girly.

I am all for letting girls be girly when they want to be. My daughter loves pink and I make no attempt to keep it from her. And yet, something in me was a bit disgusted by this party. Why were no boys invited? Why wasn't there a choice of costumes -- instead of mandatory tutus or leis, couldn't they choose pirates outfits?

But if there was another woman there with whom I could commiserate, she was pretty well hidden. I struck up tentative conversations with a few about how, um, mandatorily femme it all was, but mostly got odd glances, so I reigned it back in.

It's hard to figure out where one fits. If I'm being honest, I gravitate towards women who like fashion and think style can be fun. It doesn't matter if their style isn't that feminine, if they have some kind of style, like funky cowboy boots, that they have fun with. I wouldn't, of course, reject someone as a friend who didn't care about this, as long as she didn't try to dictate what I do.

So I'm not going to fit with the "no pink at all costs!" crew, but I don't fit with the "bring on the princesses and leave the pirates out of it!" crew either.

Being in a different city from many childhood "I get you!" type friends, it's harder to find an offline female group niche than I would like. I find myself looking forward a lot to the few occasions I've had to meet someone online who I do think "gets" where I'm coming from and doesn't think it's too bizarre for them.

belledame222 said...

btw, if you've an interest, I've written a couple of posts on the general subject of let's call it womens' inhumanity to women, and/or the diceyness of "sisterhood" in practicality. and this reminds me to maybe finally write that post on "All About Eve" I've been meaning to do for months now, maybe sometime in the nearish future.

anyway:

"The Secretaries"

and

"May we go mad together, my sisters."

Cassandra Says said...

Brilliant post. This issue has a lot of resonance for me because, well, I went to an all girls school for 7 years. It is perhaps worth noting that I initially wrote that as "tears" - now there's a Freudian slip if I've ever seen one.

My close female friends from high school I hardly ever see, because they all live in another country. Other than during the time I was at the girls school most of my friends have always been men. Sometimes I think there's a sexual element to that, honestly (in a way that's too complicated to get into here), but I also think it's because there's less of that rivalry thing that you're talking about.

I HATE the rivalry thing, especially when it's about competing over men. I just don't get it - it's not like there aren't enough men to go around. All of the close female friends I've had have tended to be women/girls who don't participate in that much.

On a few occasions I have made friends with women who are more involved in the catty competative thing and it hasn't worked out well. Sometimes I could feel them trying to draw me into the whole thing and I always resented it. Has anyone else here ever tried to ask/tell someone else NOT to involve you in that stuff? It's a difficult conversation to have. For people who are really enmeshed in that mindset, the idea of anyone not wanting to participate is baffling. I think that's part of what Trin may have been getting at - women who do that to a significant degree tend to resent women who don't. It creates a wierd dynamic.

Also agreed with Ren in the sense that whatever limited patience I ever had with the whole female competative thing waned over time. I don't think it's hormones so much as basic emotional maturity, honestly. At a certain point competative impulses get channeled into more direct forms of competition. Why run around doing the catty thing when you can just settle things over a game of X (X being pretty much anything openly competative).
I don't think competition is an unhealthy impulse, in fact I really do think that the catty thing is a direct result of the fact that women are trained NOT to be competative, so those instincts manifest in wierd and unhealthy ways, since there's no way to stifle them completely. I honestly think that if girls were encouraged to play sports more and to be OPENLY competative academically then they'd just play things out that way, like the boys do, and there would be far less of the catty stuff.

Cassandra Says said...

Also, to answer Daisy's question...I find that as I get older the women I'm friends with are less and less like me on a superficial level. Maybe it's because I'm into lots of different things, but what seems to happen is that I have friends who I do music stuff with, friends who I do girly stuff with, friends who I go drinking with, friends who I talk politics with, work friends etc...and there's very little overlap between those groups. I'd LOVE to have more people around who could cross between the groups, but I just can't find anyone who fits the bill.
On a superficial level I just don't care that my friends "look" different any more, and I think age has a lot to do with that. Example - I was a goth/industrial/metal chick in high school. Purple hair and piercings and all. One of my closest friends now has always wanted to by Kylie Minogue when she grows up. We had a funny moment at a Halloween party a few years ago where we were in the bathroom touching up make-up and yakking and she turned to me with a "God, you and your scary purple lipstick" and then just stopped and smiled. I asked her what was up and she said "You know, if we'd met in high school we'd have had to hate each other just on principle. Isn't that silly?". And she was right - we would probably have never even talked to each other, and yet nowadays we love each other to bits.


The only person I know who can hop from one area of interest to another and thus can be involved in all the different aspects of my life is my husband, which is a huge part of why I married him. In terms of female friends...not a one, which makes me rather sad.

Daisy said...

All yall sound fabulous and so honest. :)

Belle, those were great links! Thanks so much! I totally agree that

the whole "people pleasing/it's Selfish to put yourself first" crap kicks in (and the ensuing resentment). but people can be slow to recognize it because, well, it's Sisterhood, right? we're not pleasing the -men- anymore! so, we're free, right? Right?...

... is absolutely RIGHT.

Welcome dw3t and trinity--I have visited both of your blogs, before.

Also, welcome to P Burke. I love your descriptions of femmes. You've given me much to think about today.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I chased your 'come check out my post' comment over from Bastante Already, and actually had something to say on the matter. ;)

Thanks for the welcome.

Daisy said...

Ren, your comments about feminism have been so thought-provoking. I realized while I was reading them, that in some ways I feel feminism is my tribe, my identity, as I do about so many other things. It's more than just a political bent. I think for me it has always meant "I will not go quietly."

I have actively believed "I am a feminist, a SERIOUS ONE" since I was about 12 years old, and first picked up THE SECOND SEX in the library. At the time, I thought I didn't understand a word, but apparently, I understood enough. When she started all that existential stuff about The Other, I had no clue, but when she described the heart, the longing of the fenced-in-female to create, think independently and BE, she was talking about me, even as a little girl.

And so, this is an identity I have had for 38 years, which is a pretty decent period of time. At this point, not being a feminist would somehow, to me, mean renouncing all the good things I have seen happen and helped to bring about:

When I picked up that book at age 12, there was no sexual harassment legislation. There was no domestic violence center in existence. The term "domestic violence" did not even exist. Rape and sexual abuse were never mentioned AT ALL, except in PEYTON PLACE and Jackie Susann.
When I picked up that book at age 12, people said: firemen, congressmen, spokesman, policemen and they MEANT IT, because they were, legally, all men. My mother wasn't allowed to have a credit card in her own name, even though she was divorced. She also was not allowed to move from the mailroom floor and become a mail carrier (then called a mailMAN), even though she was certainly strong enough. This still gets to me, because I think the exercise would have been better for her than being cooped up inside, and that was one reason she wanted the job.

All of those things would not happen now. I am personally proud of that. And believe it or not, more changes are going on, that we can't SEE right now, but will become apparent later. I want to be part of those changes, too.

Again, I quote bell hooks... she calls it "feminist movement"--not THE feminist movement, but an actual process of movement. And she says if we think of process, we won't lose heart. Movement is sometimes easy, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes very, very difficult. But as long as we are moving toward our goals of women's self-actualization and freedom (and that means EVERY woman), then we are doing the right thing.

Sometimes, I think even the arguing might be the right thing. ;)

Daisy said...

Trin:

I think that's part of why, now, I don't see my feminism as particularly self-defining. I see the issues feminism tackles as very important, but ranking the social justice stuff that matters to me, disability rights issues engage me so much more.

IMO, disability studies/rights is the most engaging social justice movement now, and all the really cool stuff is happening there. It's cutting edge right now, theoretically AND politically, as feminism was in the early days. No wonder you are engaged!

I think also because of the rebirth of eugenics. I mean, ohh dear, did I say eugenics? I mean the Genome project, genetic engineering, Ashley X, Oryx and Crake, etc. The disability rights movement will be more and more necessary, particularly to keep these mad scientists in line.

Why yes, I DO read science fiction. :P

Daisy said...

Octo: I want to befriend them and learn from them, as I'm finding the deficit of interesting/edgy female friends to be more frustrating as time goes on.

For some reason, I think this gets worse as we age, not sure why. Edginess not as common as years go by? (People want comfort, physically as well as ideologically?) Kactus mentioned a younger friend, and I have many younger friends also.

That's the way I've dealt with it, anyway.

Renegade Evolution said...

Daisy:

"When I picked up that book at age 12, people said: firemen, congressmen, spokesman, policemen and they MEANT IT, because they were, legally, all men. My mother wasn't allowed to have a credit card in her own name, even though she was divorced. She also was not allowed to move from the mailroom floor and become a mail carrier (then called a mailMAN), even though she was certainly strong enough. This still gets to me, because I think the exercise would have been better for her than being cooped up inside, and that was one reason she wanted the job.

All of those things would not happen now. I am personally proud of that. And believe it or not, more changes are going on, that we can't SEE right now, but will become apparent later. I want to be part of those changes, too. "

And you know what, I am all for that. That is the sort of thing that still appeals to me. I'm not utterly jaded, but with the folk who would rather blaze on about the evol, colonizing transexuals or the ghastly porn or belittle women who are thin, dig heels, like kinky sex, what the hell else ever...I gotta take a walk. They sure as hell don't represent the wants and needs of a lot of women, don't accept them as equals and for that? I have no time or respect.

Kim said...

"I think a lot of women (as kim mentioned at some point as well) are attracted to feminism because of the sisterhood aspect, the tempting idea of women being women doing good for women without any of the negative things all women have suffered at the hands of other women because, well, hey, feminism, not supposed to be judgy/nitpicky/competitive...its supposed to be, well, uplifiting and empowering and accepting to and off women....

But it doesn't always work that way."

Yup, I did say that and nope, it doesn't always work that way. My entire life I've had close female friends. I can't honestly say I felt much competetion with my friends. In high school, I suppose there was competition with other girls, but ... gee, I honestly don't think in my case it was a "I'M gonna get the guys, not HER!" but more of a "Wow, that girl is so pretty and so cool -- I want to be like her!" kind of thing.

I was admittedly well-liked/popular in high school, so perhaps I felt the competition less than others. In my late teens/early twenties, I felt less than beautiful when comparing myself to the tanned, Newly-21 Bar Queens around me -- which is why adapting a "punk" or "hipster" look was so freeing. Tattoos and tons of earrings suited me better than designer bags and perfect manicures and thus, I felt NO competition with the more traditionally/"Barbie doll" attractive types (no disrespect towards these types of women meant.)

Which is not to say there wasn't competition with us Hipster Chicks. Who had the coolest cat-eye glasses or what not. But again, I don't think I "competed" with these girls, so much as "expressed" myself with them.

Does that make any sense?

Kim said...

"And to do that, we need to talk."

AMEN, Daisy. Talk and sure, argue when need be, but with respect for each other as individuals.

Which is why I get so huffed up about heavy moderation and this "separate rooms" stuff.

Trinity said...

"IMO, disability studies/rights is the most engaging social justice movement now, and all the really cool stuff is happening there. It's cutting edge right now, theoretically AND politically, as feminism was in the early days. No wonder you are engaged!"

It's not just the exciting stuff though, Daisy. You talk in your earlier comment about the things that women were legally prevented from doing back when you were young, the fact that there were no DV shelters, etc. Women were just plain not as safe as they are now.

And it's THAT, too, that makes disability issues so much more engaging for me. Because we're (well, not me specifically so much -- my disability is physical and relatively mild, so I have mountains of passing privilege that make me, personally, relatively safe) in that same place, where violence is common and normal and "understandable" in mainstream culture.

http://trinityva.livejournal.com/tag/violence+against+pwd
http://trinityva.livejournal.com/tag/pwd+deaths

Things like THAT, which are so much more directly violent than, say, a sexist ad, are direct infringements on people rather than subtle ones. And that makes me terribly angry. And desperately needs fixing.

kactus said...

Daisy, I'm finding more and more in common with you. First of all, we're the same generation, and discovered feminism (women's lib, as it was then called) at the same age. My mom also worked at the post office, as a mail sorter but never, ever a mail carrier.

To me feminism just is, this thing ingrained deep inside me that was taught, really, at my mother's knees because she gave me all the examples of male supremacy and female strength from an early age. Just by the way she lived her life.

And so even though I reject factions within feminism, and especially the virulent online radical feminism, I still consider myself and feminist and will until the day I die. Because despite what some women have done to pervert it, the basic premise remains the same and true.

Trinity said...

Reading Kactus' comment I notice something. This sense that male supremacy is bleeding obvious and we all see it

and I wonder if I never quite did because in my family, going back for generations, Mom was the Boss.

Oh, my grandfather had a posh job Grandma didn't. But Grandma worked, and by the time I was young Grandpa's glory days were long gone and Grandma still volunteered for anything and everything.

Mom was the breadwinner in our family. Dad an old goofy hippie who made jewelry.

Mom the disciplinarian. I don't think Dad ever even threatened to punish me.

And in school I didn't find some great pattern of men teachers. So... patriarchy? The whole concept often puzzled hell out of me.

I remember a few years back -- mind you I'm maybe 25 at the time. I'm in a class on Freud and Lacan and we're discussing the Oedipus complex. The professor is telling us about Mother as Nurturer and Father as Lawgiver. Saying that we learn how to behave from our father's rules and discipline.

And I raise my hand and I'm going "Uh, so how many of you were disciplined by Mom?"

THE WHOLE ROOM STOPS AND STARES.

I'd never felt so.. looked at.

It was a bizarre experience. As if I'd stepped through a veil into Gender Normative Land. A veil I'd never even known, not for twenty-five years, was even THERE.

I think that may well have to do with my never having any kind of bone-deep Knowledge of Patriarchy from youth. I couldn't even parse out what the word meant, really, until about age 24.

Trinity said...

To be clear, I don't mean I wasn't ever aware of or unnerved by sexism. But the idea that it structured my very world, or at least the worlds of the people around me, to that degree -- THAT was foreign to me.

I suppose you could say I "saw," in that skin-deep way, what ableism was and what it did. I had anger and distrust and a poisoned well of feeling about my body and those around me from that and I knew quite well what it was, though I wasn't old enough to make structural analysis of it. I just knew I seethed someplace inside.

But sexism... I pretty much thought that was an annoying artifact in a few people's minds.

I really had no idea the extent to which those norms structured most people's whole worlds, until my assertion that women could give The Law got me stared at as if I'd gone demented.

Trinity said...

Just about the only place I knew of a system stacked against women was sex. I knew from early childhood I was a top (well, not in those words, but those are the words I use now for what I always knew) but that the world thought I shouldn't be.

I believed, basically, that women could do anything men could and usually did, but had to hate sex because the men got the role that was most natural and fun.

In that area I guess I could've been a proto-feminist, but I actually bought into the idea that I was just wishing for something I could never have.

Because... well, how would I fight for something that, so far as everyone told me, came with a different body? Feminism couldn't get me a transplant, so far as I knew, much less create a way for me to still count as a woman once I got a body that would fuck right.

kactus said...

very interesting, Trin.

I guess I should briefly explain my mom, and why she was my first example of feminism (the early, women's lib version, to be true). She left my abusive father with 5 kids to support (pregnant with me); she was a single divorced mom at a time when that was definitely suspicious; she was the disciplinarian; she was the breadwinner; she was the first woman employee of the Iowa postal service (and later first woman president of the postal workers' union). And she HATED men, I mean with a virulence that was a sight to behold. She never forgot the husband who almost killed her, the father who pushed her into that marriage and wouldnt' help her get out of it, the father-in-law who condoned the abuse.

So her thing was sure, men wanna rule the world, but fuck 'em I'm gonna at least rule my little world and men aren't going to interfere.

Well the result was: one daughter who turned out gay, two daughters who married weak, easily-manipulative men, one son who was later arrested for child molestation (I've never talked about this online before), and another son who was a porn/sex addict til the day he died.

I'm not saying she was perfect, lol. Or even that her feminism was well-thought-out or informed. I'm just saying she was my example of female strength and the ability to just get by and do the necessary.

Trinity said...

Thanks Kactus -- that makes a lot more sense.

:)

"Well the result was: one daughter who turned out gay, two daughters who married weak, easily-manipulative men, one son who was later arrested for child molestation (I've never talked about this online before), and another son who was a porn/sex addict til the day he died."

Heh! Wow. I'm an only kid, but like I said: I'm female and a top in a world where that's weird. Not sure if I should thank Mom for that or not as she definitely doesn't approve of my sexuality in any way.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I remember a few years back -- mind you I'm maybe 25 at the time. I'm in a class on Freud and Lacan and we're discussing the Oedipus complex. The professor is telling us about Mother as Nurturer and Father as Lawgiver. Saying that we learn how to behave from our father's rules and discipline.

And I raise my hand and I'm going "Uh, so how many of you were disciplined by Mom?"


I grew up in a family where my mother was The Authority and my father was The Nurturer (and occasionally The Placator Of The Authority). Additionally, both my parents attempted to raise us with reasonable gender-neutrality, which was slightly foiled by my brother's personality being wildly different from mine. (I take after my father; he and my brother find each other mutually incomprehensible.) I wouldn't say I was 'disciplined' by either; I simply lived in fear of my mother.

(Which means the bits of "Oh, if women ruled the world, it would be so much better" get responses from me somewhere between that place of nervous, awkward laughter that goes with 'You really mean that, don't you?' and the stuff describable as 'Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" while looking for a rock.')

Add to that some circumstances of my early life, that a lot of things that are treated in a sexist fashion -- women in the maths and sciences, I'm thinking of -- I got issues with in an ageist fashion -- "You can't know algebra. You're not old enough." Which meant my first encounter with anything I could have recognised as institutional sexism, rather than just the random asshole behaviour of assholes, was the response of the school administration in my junior high school to the sexual harassment I was dealing with. ("Boys will be boys, y'know.") Which didn't strike me as 'patriarchy' so much as 'WTF?!' at the time.

I got a little older than that, and all the loud 'women are supposed to be like this' messages I got were labelled "feminism" or flagged as in response to feminism. Which confused things further.

I think I'm about the same age as Trinity (a year older, by date in LJ userinfo); I have no idea how much of this is "Experience of our generation" as opposed to "Individual variation happens."

kactus said...

speaking of institutional sexism:
You all probably know this, but when Daisy & I (and a few others of you, I don't know your ages)were in middle school, we weren't allowed to take shop of any kind. All of us pushed into "home ec", sewing, cooking. And none of the boys were allowed to take home ec, either, so the institutionalized sexism and heteronormativity extended both ways.

I don't even want to get into all the years we weren't allowed to wear pants to school.

All that did for me was make me hungrier for activism, of any sort, in my bland, small-town Iowa school. I eventually became the loud-mouthed women's libber teenager with the Ms t-shirt who got on everybody's nerves.

Trinity said...

"Which means the bits of "Oh, if women ruled the world, it would be so much better" get responses from me somewhere between that place of nervous, awkward laughter that goes with 'You really mean that, don't you?' and the stuff describable as 'Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" while looking for a rock.'"

Mmm-hmm. In disability circles it's very often women who are the therapists and special ed teachers -- which means it's very often women who are the abusers. Was in my case.

And actually the most fucked up relationship I ever was in, the one full of silencing and pressure and shaming, was with a woman, not a man.

So honestly the idea that women are better, that being abusive or negatively hierarchical is "male-identified", and that just hooking up with one's woman-sense gets rid of it somehow just gets a blank look from me.

I can't even parse how or why such a curious construction would even come about. Can anyone help me out here? :)

And yes dw3t-hthr, I think we are from the same generation and suspect it matters.

Renegade Evolution said...

Trinity:

Yep, in my house growing up, well, my mom was the main provider, the disciplinarian, all that...so, I hear you, and find myself nodding as saying "Yes!"...

She and my father also made a huge effort to raise my brother and I as equals, same rules, same expectations, and I think that made a huge difference....I mean, the oppression and sexism and stuff never hit me quite in the face like it seems it hit everyone else...

and age wise/generation gap, if I am guessing right, I'm sort of in the middle of the crowd here, I think.

Daisy said...

Trin, I would like to send you an email. How about you send me one, and I can reply to whatever address you prefer? I couldn't find an email address on your blog. (I guarantee you'll find it interesting.) Your comments about your family are fascinating... I was writing on Octagalore's blog, how I really "got in touch" with male privilege when I started to hitchhike. That is "male territory"--and I think whenever women invade traditionally all-male territory, that's when radicalization can be very rapid. That's why the military is so problematic for women. Some of us don't like the military, however, almost every woman I've known who has been in the military came out with a great feminist analysis, and saw male privilege up close and personal. (But at what cost?)

Kim, my daughter went punk too, as a way of "opting out" of the pressure. I was pretty surprised at the nastiness directed at her by other girls, for doing that. She had a very difficult time in high school (with other girls), and I really didn't know how to handle it very well. I felt responsible, in some bizarre way, since I didn't teach her to be all girlie-goo and "fit in"--and of course NOW I am pleased. But at the time, I felt terrible about it.

And Kactus, another similarity between us is that I was a "welfare mother" (do ya love that label or what?) for about two years. This is something I don't talk about online, either. I've always said it wasn't exactly shame, but that people simply will not "understand"... but bullshit, you have given me the courage to go ahead and say it! I think it undoubtedly has been shame! Your honesty in who you are has been constructive today, so congratulate yourself. :)

I think yall know (or at least Kactus certainly does) what I mean, when I say "welfare mother" was the hardest job I ever had. I felt like I was scrambling and juggling every second, which I was. To be treated like shit when I felt I was DOING SO MUCH; to be assumed to be sitting on my ass watching THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS when it took every single spare second to plan where every cent was gonna go or not go, was just horrendous. And then, someone snitched me out for "unreported income" after my grandmother bought me a fucking washing machine. Do you believe???? Awful. Just really awful. It is psychologically very taxing to be monitored all the time! It was a very, very difficult time for me, since I was also dealing with a hostile and possibly homicidal ex, who seemed to think the way to repair our marriage was to empty a bottle of George Dickel, stand outside my house and scream in the middle of the night (you fucking cunt!) and then drive off after the whole street was awake. Good times!

And more similarities between us: my mom hated men too, but kept on marrying them. Go figure! I haven't hated them as much, and haven't married as many as she did either. I think it's related! :P

AND my mother was a union steward and EEOC representative, Kactus! It is really awesome to read these similarities. :)

Dw3t-Hthr said...

A friend of mine (a PWD, feminist, and blogger, as it happens) did her PhD research (if I'm remembering the details right) on differences in how parents disciplined disabled children vs. non-disabled children. Some scary stuff. And since childcare is disproportionately put on women (whether mothers or other care providers or therapists or whatever else) ... yeah.

ms_xeno said...

...Renegade Evolution is a beautiful woman, and I think some feminist dislike of her and other highly sexual women (most especially sex workers who show a high level of independence), is based on jealousy and rivalry...

That's almost as glaring an oversimplification as the hoary old concept of "penis envy."

I really, really hate it when the court of first resort in discussions about the legitimacy of sex work as feminist is "Oh, well, you're just jealous."

Once upon a time I had a quasi-job doing cartoons and occasional reviewing for a local art rag. "Quasi" because the promise of earning some dough was always bigger than actual dough. A huge portion of what revenue the mag made came from strip club ads and escort service ads. Portland, OR being somewhat legendary for how many of these venues/services it can support for a town its size.

After awhile, I started to bitterly resent the presence of these ads. I thought about how hard it was for me to make money at the crafts of art and writing, and how at the same time a whole slew of hipster men would have been happy to throw twenties at me if I just got on a table and shook my ass and wiggled my tits.

IOW, I didn't want to get on a table and shake it. What I wanted was for the crafts I pursued and felt strongly about perfecting to be as important to the public at large as they aparently thought stripping was, for women. I wanted the parts of me that I valued to be valued by others, not for the parts I valued to be changed to what others already had decreed to be of primary value.

When Freud devised the notion of penis envy, it didn't occur to him that the women he disparaged as insane was not the organ per se, but the rights that men granted each other simply because they had that organ.

So, again, "you're just jealous of my beauty, my skills, my blah blah blah" doesn't begin to cover it.

ms_xeno said...

Sorry. Last paragraph should be "it didn't occur to him that the women he disparaged as insane DID NOT WANT the organ per se..." etc.

Cheers.

kactus said...

I'm curious about how many of you who were raised in two-parent families wish you'd been raised by single parents. Or did the presence of two adults mean that one invariably took your side? Or even that the chance of that doubled?

I ask because I was raised by a single mum and am single myself, and have often wondered how the dynamics of two-parent households really affect the people who grow up in them.

kactus said...

Daisy, reading about your mom: last night I was lying in bed remembering being very small--I think 5 or 6--and my single mom on welfare couldn't find a babysitter to take me while she went to get sworn in as an employee of the postal service. That was a HUGE, ENORMOUS deal for her--that was the breaking point, that was what was going to allow her to walk away from welfare and my non-support-paying "father" and have a chance.

In the end she took me with her. She gave me a very serious lecture before hand--mostly, though, she told me that she knew I knew how to behave, that she didn't have to pound that point home--dressed me in my best dress and Mary Janes, got me a coloring book and some crayons, and took me to the swearing-in with her.

And yes, I was very well-behaved. I still remember Mom raising her hand and being sworn in, because she told me that was the part at which I had to be absolutely silent, no matter what.

For a divorced woman there are no words for what this meant. It was out-of-poverty.

I'm well aware that my admiration for my mother informs a great deal of my feminism. That's as it should be. She was my first icon of strength.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

kactus --

I can't really answer the question as asked, as the concept of wishing I'd been raised in a different family/family structure honestly never occurred to me. (The concept of running away from the one I had, yes. Having a different one, no.)

The only good thing I have to say about the way my parents went about their divorce was that they took long enough at it that my brother achieved legal majority and thus custody of him was no longer there to be treated as a win token. (My brother was still at home for part of that; he walked out and vanished for about a week and a half once. Possibly more than once.)

I think the dynamics of two-parent households vary wildly, as there's not just the personality of each parent but their manner of interaction to take into play. I was raised in a household with one parent obviously afraid of the other, and trying to simultaneously hide at the office for extra-long days to hide and protect us kids. Someone with two sane, healthy parents is going to have a wildly different dynamic than what I grew up with. Someone with parents who were crazy or broken in different ways than mine, likewise.

kactus said...

So honestly the idea that women are better, that being abusive or negatively hierarchical is "male-identified", and that just hooking up with one's woman-sense gets rid of it somehow just gets a blank look from me.

No matter how my mom hated men, she didn't have a very high opinion of women, either, especially in groups.

I grew up so socially awkward that to this day, even though I prefer women, I've never become facile at navigating that female territory. I often feel like the markers are what is female are a mystery. Men, I can break down into recognizable categories and either dismiss or engage.

Women that I've known have taken much more finessing. And I don't know that language, how to do it. Don't know how to do it in my own appearance, either. A day with earrings is rare enough to draw comments--dunno what would happen if I went all-out and put on makeup.

At this point in my life, the women who I feel most comfortable with are the ones who've had hard-knock lives kind of like mine. They've gone beyond femininity/femaleness to crone-hood in some cases, which can be a very freeing time of life.

P. Burke said...

Trinity:
And I raise my hand and I'm going "Uh, so how many of you were disciplined by Mom?"

Yup, me too. I don't believe I've ever heard my dad raise his voice.

miss_xeno
I wanted the parts of me that I valued to be valued by others, not for the parts I valued to be changed to what others already had decreed to be of primary value.

I thought this was an excellent description of what it feels like to be in that position. On the other hand, it is a sort of jealousy and it's not ultimately very productive. It's not like Renegade is to blame for stupid hipster men, and it's not like shaking your tits is incompatible with having valuable intellectual and moral qualities either.

I agree that there's a fucked-up system of values around women and sex in our society, but jeez, I don't want to be the kind of woman who spends all her time ripping other women to bits over stuff like hair and makeup. Because that's not a very intellectual and moral pursuit either, when you think about it.

P. Burke said...

kactus
I'm curious about how many of you who were raised in two-parent families wish you'd been raised by single parents. Or did the presence of two adults mean that one invariably took your side? Or even that the chance of that doubled?

When someone took my side, it was always my dad, and it was always when my mom got too shouty and angry. That didn't happen all the time, but the thing dw3t-hthr describes is a little bit uncomfortably familiar to me.

Renegade Evolution said...

kactus: Two parent family here, and never wished anything except that we'd had more money...truth is, most of the "patriarchs" in my family tree are, well, really decent guys.

Ms_Xeno: Let's see...where to start... I agree that often it's not a jealous thing, I really do. I think often jealousy has nothing to do with it. Two, well, I don't consider sex work, for the most part, to be feminist, though in some cases it can be, and sex workers can be feminists. And, sorry, but, I do consider what I do to be an art, and a craft, which requires more skills than the shaking of tits and ass, thanks. Most strippers, you know, the ones who get the money from the guys who see those adds? More to them than looks. They can actually dance, and are damn athletic, and as unfeminist as it may be, pole dancing? Takes some strength, grace...it takes some art. Also, tis not the sexworkers with feminist leanings or who claim the word feminist running around the net slamming people for their looks, it's the other way around....

Octogalore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Octogalore said...

"And I raise my hand and I'm going "Uh, so how many of you were disciplined by Mom?"

I was, primarily. My dad was an absentminded college professor, not around as much as she was (she was mostly at home, but began teaching in my early teens). Their situation was another one in which my mom seemed to have more power, as she bossed us all (including him) around. When they later divorced and I started interpreting events differently, I realized that she had subordinated her career and goals, with substantial undetected-by-me pressure exerted by him, and maybe acted out a bit by pulling the reins hard in every other way.

But one thing my parents did do, being liberals and forward-thinking if not -acting, was bring me and my sisters up to believe we could do everything men could. I think at some level, though, the subtleties of the real power balance there were clear to us and impacted us later on.

The need for feminism really slammed home for me for the first time during my five years in the auto industry (one of the big 3) during my early/mid twenties. That was really a textbook example of not only glass ceiling but glass desktop, basically. The more intellectualized, heavily nuanced issues that were dissected by women in my law school (factoid -- Kitty McK taught there briefly during my stint) were hard to take as seriously as being real low-hanging fruit, coming from Detroit.

ms_xeno: "a whole slew of hipster men would have been happy to throw twenties at me if I just got on a table and shook my ass and wiggled my tits. ... What I wanted was for the crafts I pursued and felt strongly about perfecting to be as important to the public at large as they aparently thought stripping was, for women."

I think p. burke and Ren have the right reactions to this. I think it is jealousy, in a way; although you don't want to be a stripper, you want the same valuation she has. So it's a step removed, but still a pretty pointless reaction.

One of the issues in capitalism is that certain activities don't exploit the same kind of captive market willing to pay big bucks. It doesn't make those activites less worthy, but does make them less lucrative. This isn't just about sex work (and after all, not all sex work is as lucrative) but about investment banking, big ticket sports, and other careers in which there are high returns.

We could all spend time feeling resentful of NFL dudes, CEOs and gentlemen's club stars, and explain at length how we're not really JEALOUS of them, but but but... but in the final analysis, it kinda boils down to the same thing: a waste of time. The best solution is to accept that what we are doing is more personally meaningful, and/or find a creative way to market it in a more lucrative way, if that's possible.

And I agree with Ren on the stripping: it's not a foregone conclusion that "a whole slew of hipster men would have been happy to throw twenties at me if I just got on a table and shook my ass and wiggled my tits." I spent two years as a stripper, and guys don't typically throw twenties on stage. The process of parting men in strip clubs from their money, like the process of parting anyone from their money anywhere, is a fairly intricate dance that's not just about T&A, as plenty of people who are rocking that are not making bank. We like to speculate that professions with ditzy reps are something we could all do, but we'd be wrong.

a.w. said...

I'm curious about how many of you who were raised in two-parent families wish you'd been raised by single parents. Or did the presence of two adults mean that one invariably took your side? Or even that the chance of that doubled?

Two parent household here, before and after they divorced I remember wishing the parts of my parents that were 'broken' weren't, so daily life would've been, well, smoother. My mother was worse when it came to 'discipline' because her mistakes got foisted on us, whereas Dad tried very hard not to come home until after she was asleep. When Dad took sides against Mom, it tended to make things worse for my brother and I. She seems to have mellowed a lot with her last daughter, though. To bad he hasn't, at least not yet.

Renegade Evolution said...

Octo:

No question I'd like to make the money the NFL dudes make!

belledame222 said...

yeah, my mom was always by far the stronger personality as well. Dad earned more money, Mom did more of the traditional cleaning, cooking, etc.; but in terms of scary-anger and so forth, Mom was always the go-to. i never really got the "men are the Enemy" thing on a gut level. although i picked up a sort of instinctive feminism, i suppose, from interactions with horrid little boys at school and in the street, etc.

KH said...

Ms_Xeno,

Ren & Octolore have it right: it’s not that you don’t feel jealousy (or envy or resentment). You may not resent the qualities – looks, temperament, willingness, whatever – that enable a stripper to make more money than you do. Granted, you wouldn’t want her qualities.

But there’s the point: you resent the value other people put on those qualities compared to your own because you don’t agree with their valuation. (Cf. the complaints one used to hear from low-level white collar workers of the injustice that – gasp – plumbers made as much as they did.) It’s interesting that you don’t complain about the higher relative value placed on the skills of physicians or tenured professors of women’s studies. Isn’t that because you think what you do is in some sense superior to, more deserving than, what a stripper does in a way it’s not superior to what a physican or professor does? It’s not entirely that you don’t care what value people put on stripping, & only wish your own skills were more valued. It's your relative standing – & the stripper’s qualities’ relative worth – as well as the absolute level of your compensation that's bothering you.

The distinction you make isn’t between jealousy & no jealousy but between jealousy of someone for qualities you value & jealousy of someone for the benefits they receive for qualities other people value but you don’t. It’s the difference between an attitude of jealousy plus respect and the (hardly less problematic) attitude of jealousy plus disrespect.

Renegade Evolution said...

KH:
Have I said recently that I love you? And I am way jealous of your BRAIN?

KH said...

Family structure, discipline: I was born < 1 year after my parents married; they divorced < 1 year after by birth. So it was just my mother & me. She worked, but as a musician, & made relatively money (& was by orders of magnitude more helpless about the practicalities of life than anyone I’ve known, myself included), & I always was under the impression that she got sizeable help from both my father & her parents, the latter (who also had no other children) being an important part of our lives. I remember almost no discipline. My mother, although herself a convinced irrationalist, always treated me as open to reason & fundamentally an equal, & I was a very mild child until adolescence. No one had any strong feelings against my father, but I always held a distinctly condescending attitude toward him, &, although I suspected a latent authoritarian streak in him, he always ineffectually sought my approval – so no possibility of discipline there, even on the rare occasions I was under his care. Less than a year after I left for college, & without any prior notice, my parents remarried, & were happy until her death. It always struck me as an odd dynamic.

KH said...

Ren: it's mutual.
XXX

ms_xeno said...

... it’s not that you don’t feel jealousy (or envy or resentment). You may not resent the qualities – looks, temperament, willingness, whatever – that enable a stripper to make more money than you do. Granted, you wouldn’t want her qualities...

Ah, but KH. I didn't deny that women are jealous of one another. What I deny are the emphasis on oversimplifications that do more to cloud communication than clear it.

To be honest, I'm not even sure that I wouldn't want some of those qualities, whatever they might actually look like in the 3-D world. I don't really know because I haven't seen them. But we live in a society where women in general make less than men, and when they make more, or as much as men do, it's generally because they are willing to openly sexual as a form of trade. There are all kinds of reasons for it, which I'm not going to waste everyone's time quizzing Ren about. I know she's got her own space for that.

We also live in a society that is highly concerned with assigning monetary value to everything we do. I never bought that crap from Roosevelt about how nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. When it comes to commerce, consent can't be considered on a pedestal and all kinds of shit just plain goes out the window.

...The distinction you make isn’t between jealousy & no jealousy but between jealousy of someone for qualities you value & jealousy of someone for the benefits they receive for qualities other people value but you don’t. It’s the difference between an attitude of jealousy plus respect and the (hardly less problematic) attitude of jealousy plus disrespect.

Well, I'm not sure we're arguing then, since this is at least in the neighborhood of what I was trying to say. OTOH, I hope everyone who throws out the "you're just jealous" canard has stopped to consider whether it's really possible for that to be a one-way street in this society. Nobody has everything they want out of life, after all.

Also I have known a few folks who do what Ren does IRL, and frankly, it's hard for me to imagine anything I could think, say, or call Ren that would be worse than some of things I've heard those women talk about experiencing from the patrons who apparently don't discern all that well the difference between money and respect.

Which is a whole related, but other, topic in itself. Why are feminists so much easier on men when they behave like assholes than we are to each other over similar behavior ?

ms_xeno said...

Octo:

...I spent two years as a stripper, and guys don't typically throw twenties on stage. The process of parting men in strip clubs from their money, like the process of parting anyone from their money anywhere, is a fairly intricate dance that's not just about T&A, as plenty of people who are rocking that are not making bank. We like to speculate that professions with ditzy reps are something we could all do, but we'd be wrong...

Sorry. I was indulging in a bit of hyperbole, which doesn't translate well over the internet, I guess.

FWIW, I have had clients attempt to shortchange me numerous times, or people demanding free work, making the assumption that what I was doing was not "Capital-W WORK" like they did. So that part I hear.

And I damn well do obsess some days about why NFL players make more than teachers, for instance. It's part of being a political malcontent and being too skeptical to believe that shit just happens and shouldn't be analyzed for its place in the big picture. But I don't exactly bite nails in two over it. (Sorry. Hyperbole again.)

ms_xeno said...

I agree that often it's not a jealous thing, I really do. I think often jealousy has nothing to do with it.

[Grin] I'm sorry, RE. Here I was trying not to deny female jealousy but to try and place it in context or consider it as overlapping with other emotions, and you-- the person I was referring to at the beginning, are cutting me slack on the issue. Ironic, that.

I appreciate you and the others taking time out to talk to the "guest." (I wandered over after reading Daisy's comments at Alas.) Thanks for the food for thought. It's appreciated.

(Damn I do hate Blogger comments. When I rule the world, everyone will have to use Haloscan. :p)

Renegade Evolution said...

ms_xeno:

It's okay, it's just a really, really sore subject for me these days...hence the whole walking away from feminism thing.

Renegade Evolution said...

oh, and...

"Why are feminists so much easier on men when they behave like assholes than we are to each other over similar behavior ?"

Because feminists expect it out of men, not out of their "sisters"...
which is why yeah, I have been called a whole lot of things by men, and women, but somehow it's a helluva lot worse hearing it out of feminists....

Octogalore said...

"Which is a whole related, but other, topic in itself. Why are feminists so much easier on men when they behave like assholes than we are to each other over similar behavior ?"

If you look over on my blog or on feminist critics or anywhere men are showing up and discoursing on feminism in a critical way, you will see that they are treated pretty sternly.

In the real life context you are talking about, I'm sure the strippers in question deal with men outside the club who are disrespectful just as, if not more, sternly. But inside the club, realistically one is not going to bite the hand that feeds, whether it's male OR female.

In most jobs, we're forced to suck it up sometimes -- stripping isn't unique in that regard, although typically the sentiments expressed are more extreme. When I was a lawyer, and now being in placement dealing with them, there are some major assholes. Sometimes worse than what was in the strip club; at least in there, they're showing some vulnerability. But I don't get to choose who I make my money from at this point, and I don't think many of us have that luxury. Too bad, because that woudl be pretty sweet.

Octogalore said...

"And I damn well do obsess some days about why NFL players make more than teachers, for instance."

I will chime in with you and Ren on this!

I think the problem is that in this economy, whichever worker is responsible for revenues can bargain for a percentage of the net, and this is bid up based on everyone who can make money in turn from that worker. So NFL players or movie stars can bid up their compensation because there's no governmental cap on free enterprise.

I don't think a cap would be a bad idea, but I do think it would be a slippery slope.

It does suck how little teaching, at all levels, is rewarded. (My dad, in his 40th year as a college professor, made less than a first-year lawyer at a big firm). With all the "no child left behind" hoopla, nobody seems to be paying attention to incentivizing/rewarding teachers better.

Trinity said...

P Burke:

"Yup, me too. I don't believe I've ever heard my dad raise his voice."

Ha! Yeah, my experience was a bit like that as well. "Young lady, I'mma turn ya cross my knees" definitely didn't come from Dad.

Daisy said...

Me: ...Renegade Evolution is a beautiful woman, and I think some feminist dislike of her and other highly sexual women (most especially sex workers who show a high level of independence), is based on jealousy and rivalry...

Ms Xeno: That's almost as glaring an oversimplification as the hoary old concept of "penis envy."

And I dislike when it when people do not read carefully. I said "some"--and YOU are the one reducing what I said to "oversimplifications." I am not jealous of Ren, and I am a feminist too. I said SOME, not all. And I specifically referred to the comments on her blog, which thoroughly trash her for sleeping with other women's husbands. How does that sound to you, if not jealousy? I'd be jealous if my husband was sleeping with another woman, no matter who it is or under what circumstances. What about you? Wouldn't you be jealous if your spouse or partner slept around? I mean, duh!

This isn't rocket science, people.

I really, really hate it when the court of first resort in discussions about the legitimacy of sex work as feminist is "Oh, well, you're just jealous."

First resort? Do you know how Ren has been attacked on other blogs? Ain't she a woman too? I am trying to figure this out, and I am far from the FIRST person to wonder why this is happening--have you been reading her blog? Hello?

Are you saying the women in this study of Barash's were all just lying then, about being jealous of each other and the fact of jealousy being a major factor in women's lives? Why do you disregard the voices of women, just to suit your ideology?

Barash: We can't understand female rivalry without understanding the pressure to conceal it.

I'd say so.

Daisy said...

Yes, I am also way jealous of KH's brain.

Thank you for stating it far better than I could, too!

Dw3t-Hthr said...

And I specifically referred to the comments on her blog, which thoroughly trash her for sleeping with other women's husbands. How does that sound to you, if not jealousy? I'd be jealous if my husband was sleeping with another woman, no matter who it is or under what circumstances. What about you? Wouldn't you be jealous if your spouse or partner slept around? I mean, duh!

What gets me about those is that Ren is quite clear about only getting sexually involved with people who have permission for such from their spouses, if those people are married. Which takes it quite out of the realm of stuff I consider legitimately critiqueable.

But I'm one of those freaks whose husband and boyfriend both have other partners. :P I've had jealousy issues with my husband ... playing Warcraft with his local girlfriend to the exclusion of playing with me.

The jealousy issues I had with my ex was because that bitch, his PhD thesis, wasn't letting him see me, though. Does that count? ;)

Daisy said...

The jealousy issues I had with my ex was because that bitch, his PhD thesis, wasn't letting him see me, though. Does that count? ;)

Hey! I have just been invited to attend DragonCON in Atlanta! I am being invited to his ORGY! :P

This is the first time he's asked me to go with him, so I feel good about it.

Comix are a harsh mistress! lol

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Dragon*Con is fun, but way too big for this cranky introvert. One of the years I went I spent pretty much the entire con hiding in the gaming room, where things were fairly mellow and uncrowded.

(One of my college friends I see too rarely is in the area, so every so often husband and I take a long weekend in Atlanta, crash at her place, and do DC.)

belledame222 said...

and frankly, it's hard for me to imagine anything I could think, say, or call Ren that would be worse than some of things I've heard those women talk about experiencing from the patrons who apparently don't discern all that well the difference between money and respect.

Ren can speak for herself, again, but she's been on record several times saying that the most hurtful shit she's heard, repeatedly, has been from other women (feminist and otherwise). As for what kind of crap she gets--you can peruse her blog and scan any post for some of the lovely trolling comments she receives. Yeah, there's a difference, even if some (and not all of it is) the same shit as is being yelled in medias scene (in the porn, on stage).

1) She didn't consent

2) She's not -even- being paid for this shit

3) At the end of the day, it's just strangers hurling the worst words in their stomach at the whore, because that's what she's there for, right? How on earth is it somehow excusable or minimizable just because other people have abusive patrons? How is it any -different?- Hell, how is it not worse in some ways.

There's more than one way to be a receptacle for other peoples' crap than to literally be a--what was the charming phrase used by some lovely feminist recently?--a "cumdumpster." To focus on the fluids and the acts is to overly literalize; what matters isn't the "cum" but the "dump." People nonconsensually dump their emotional and psychosexual shit onto Ren -all the time.- It doesn't MATTER if they're not actually her clients. It's WORSE that they aren't. They're -using- her at least as much as any of the yelling men, understand? She's the projection screen, and they justify it to themselves with a layer of self-righteousness, but that only makes it more foul. At least "this gives me an orgasm" is more straightforward than the more dubious and deviously scored jollies gotten by people who, o I don't know, gratuitously drop by to rub salt in the wound when someone else has just made her feel like utter crap (bad whore, you can't work at our charity, you're tainted); or randomly drop by to tell her how much they hate her and what a waste she is, how self-deluded and selfish; or how her own pictures of herself are "triggering" even though they use far worse and nonconsensually derived pictures and phrases with impunity; or...

Also, at least the disrespectful patrons, barring the furtive Republicans who go back and cobble together punitive laws in the cold sober light of day, of course, aren't crusading to make her just...disappear, like some of the people who are supposedly doing all this "for her own good."

Daisy said...

Hey Ms. Xeno: very good art! Nice work. I love the one of the woman and the stove, don't care if it's an electric or gas stove! :)

ms_xeno said...

Daisy:

...Do you know how Ren has been attacked on other blogs? Ain't she a woman too? I am trying to figure this out, and I am far from the FIRST person to wonder why this is happening--have you been reading her blog? Hello?...

Errr... no. I'm about as well-versed in Ren's blogging career as she is in mine, at this point. Also (in response to belledame) I'm not speaking for every other feminist out there, or even every other married woman out there. Just for myself. Believe me, I've heard some pretty thoughtless shit in my time from sex workers, directed at those of us who view the whole thing with something of a jaundiced eye. It might be tough for you to tell, but I'm sincerely trying NOT to assume that that's Ren's game. Or anyone else's here, for that matter.

Daisy, if the only way we can engage each other in these discussions is to read back six to seven weeks/months/years on each other's blogs before we can talk at all, I'd call that a hard road to hoe. I certainly wouldn't expect you, or anyone, really, to do that in my space before you address me. And in any case, I keep a lot of deeply personal stuff locked. So the advantage would be mine. It wouldn't neccessarily make these exchanges any fairer than they are now.

...Why do you disregard the voices of women, just to suit your ideology?...

Disregarding ? Uh, no again. Since when do I have to adhere to every tenet espoused by another woman on a controversial issue lest I be accused of wholesale disregard. Personally, I wouldn't trust anyone who showed up out of the blue in my own space and went from near-total disagreement to near-total agreement in the space of a post or two. I'd suspect that I was being played. Seriously, wouldn't you ? Ehh... maybe I'm just jaded.

Thanks for the kind words about the picture(s). I think I'll quit now while I'm still sort of ahead. Take care.

Daisy said...

Personally, I wouldn't trust anyone who showed up out of the blue in my own space and went from near-total disagreement to near-total agreement in the space of a post or two.

You mean me and Heart? I have long disagreed with Heart about trans issues and the way she frames them, I simply never participated in any of the threads about trans before. I only started posting on blogs regularly in May or so.

And as I said over on Alas, I have been very confused and unsure about the whole thing. I didn't know what to think. As I said, it wasn't until Piny wrote those passages that I quoted, that I "got it"--but I fully admit still don't get everything, as I said over on Alas.

I would still prefer some scientific "explanation" for transgenderism; it would make more sense to me than it does now. But as in Piny's post, the least I can do is be accepting of people's choices. Their life should not be contingent on the majority understanding or accepting what they feel they have to do. That is my position now.

You can hang here any time you want. I am very indulgent of artists. :P

Daisy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trinity said...

"I would still prefer some scientific "explanation" for transgenderism; it would make more sense to me than it does now."

There are some theories that suggest it has to do with baths of hormones in utero. I've even seen some theories (not at all sure how good they are and don't mean to endorse them) that the number of MTFs is rising because of pollution in drinking water including estrogens, which then affect the hormone levels of male fetuses.

But I have no idea if any of this is actually "the explanation", and personally I honestly don't care if I get one :)

ms_xeno said...

Daisy, I didn't see the exchange between you and Heart. Was it here, or somewhere else ? Heart and I had many a run-in, back in the day, and now I give her and her boon companions as wide a berth as possible. Some of them pulled some extremely nasty shit on me and others I admire back in the day, so I prefer not to risk drawing their attention once again. Ergo I don't post on her blog (never did, in fact) and no longer bother addressing her elsewhere, either. But if you want to post the link in question I might as well grit my teeth and have a look.

Daisy said...

Hey Ms Xeno! The link to the thread in question is in my bell hooks post. Hold your nose, first! :P