Mothers Day, several years ago, I went with a friend to feed the ducks (and possibly nutria) at a local park. It was supposed to be a pleasant excursion to take my friend’s mind off of troubles with her own kids and to see some animals. It ended up being a sad and clarifying outing.
The nutria did not come out which was unfortunate as they’re really incredible creatures to interact with. We were flooded with ducks and geese grabbing our treats. After we ran out of goodies for the birds we sat talking and let everyone get back to their routines. It didn’t take long before we witnessed a horrific scene on the water of several drakes gang-raping a duck, her screaming out in pain and fear. We shouted at them and threw rocks into the water in the hopes of scaring them off but could only do so much to frighten them. They did let up soon after they were interrupted by us but it was too late, she was already hurt and violated.
The drakes swam off, we went back to our spot, reeling from what we’d just witnessed. The duck climbed onto land and waddled over near to us and began letting out the most incredibly heartbreaking, defeated cries. We chased off any drakes that came onto land to bother her. When they’d get near she’d scream and get close to us. We were there for awhile and her cries got further apart but every single one of them still deeply unsettled us. Thankfully my friend is a radical feminist so we could be honest with one another about the horror we’d just witnessed this poor duck go through but what could we do for her? She was wild and when we got too close she’d get scared as well. We had to leave her eventually with sorrow for the inevitability of her continued violation by the drakes she couldn’t escape. I left with perspective on the female condition.
A lot of feminists and progressive types ignore the fact that male violence is a cross-species experience. They blame masculine gender socialization in humans for the high rates of men’s sexual violence and general violent tendencies as a sex. There is no doubt that humans have the capacity for deep thought, reflection and the ability to make moral choices and that masculine gender socialization encourages men to embrace a very destructive way of being. Getting the message from birth that you are superior and entitled to female labor in all of its forms doesn’t help sway men away from treating women like garbage but why do so many forget that this particular destructive and violent way of being is overwhelmingly male? Outside of male contact, these ideas seldom come into female minds at all.
My only guesses are that it is so difficult to live with the knowledge that men don’t commit the acts they do because they’re ignorant about consent or masculinity. They do these things because it is a part of their nature. It is a drive they possess deep in their cells. Women suffer because man’s will has always taken precedence over our own. It may be comforting to think that through social engineering we can achieve an end to the male violence that permeates every part of our world but it is delusional thinking. It requires ignoring what females across many species are facing. No one socialized the drakes I witnessed that day into raping the duck and yet they did.
Philosophy, ethics, social reforms and advocating that our fellow human beings embrace enlightened values are excellent uses of time and there is a pressing need for them but they will not stop rape or man’s manipulation of force. This means that if we want to do something about the massive rate of male violence we will have to create a vastly different social order. We will have to become stronger, smarter and take responsibility for the direction of the species. I do sometimes wonder if women are capable of this. Many are so helplessly stuck that they’ll confuse what I’m talking about in this post with gender essentialism/biological determinism or some nonsense like that.
Understanding that male violence is an innate problem with male creatures is not the same as believing men are destined to rule over women. Instead, it makes plain the need for women to dominate human society for everyone’s benefit. It calls on us to be strict, firm and heavy-handed. How much of women’s unwillingness to face the truth of why men rape has to do with many women’s attachment to femininity? I’m reminded of the famous line by Dworkin in her speech ‘I want a twenty-four hour truce during which there is no rape’ – “Have you ever wondered why we are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.”
Let’s go further than she did. Let’s stop believing in that which there is no evidence for. Let’s analyze the data.
Recently the publication Maison Neuve ran an article by writer Erin Flegg which completely trashed and misrepresented the Vancouver Women’s Library, a place very dear to me. In her piece she mentioned my YouTube channel so I feel compelled to respond to what I found objectionable in her piece and to counter the manipulative tactics she engages in to reverse reality where the actions of the Vancouver Women’s Library are concerned. The Vancouver Women’s library has been subjected to a campaign that borders on a witch hunt.
She mentions my channel in her list of crimes the library has supposedly committed in an attempt to minimize the harassment the library, it’s organizers and it’s supporters. Here is the excerpt:
“The letter was widely shared on social media and the backlash was swift. Radical feminist writer Meghan Murphy published a piece on her website Feminist Current identifying one of the protesters in a video of the opening, misgendering her, sharing her Instagram account and referring to her by her former name (an oppressive erasure tactic known as “dead-naming”). Portland-based radical feminist Terri Strange posted the protest video on her YouTube channel, alongside another video where she derides the protesters and refers to some of the trans women present as men. The Vancouver edition of Xtra, Canada’s major gay and lesbian publication, framed the two sides as equally at fault for the conflict.”
Back in spring I uploaded a video recounting what had happened at the library’s opening night for my viewers as I am friends with some of the women involved. I recounted what I saw happening and yes, I derided the protestors. Everyone who has attacked the library, including Erin fucking Flegg at Maison Neuve, should be derided. It is absolutely disgusting these insufferable, upper middle class, liberal, anti-feminist cretins would invade a women’s space, destroy their property and some of the literature as well as scaring the women there on the supposed behalf of marginalized communities they wish they even belonged to. Women shouldn’t have to accommodate and pander to overgrown children’s victim fetishes. Women have a right and a duty to organize spaces that are centered around us, our oppression and our culture. Women’s writing and words have been suppressed for nearly the entirety of human civilization. Why is a library dedicated to women’s literature, especially the literature which speaks plainly about what men did, what they do and what they are doing to us, such a problem for some people who seem to care so much about oppressed people? As it always goes with liberals, women must never put their energy into challenging our own oppression. To do so is to challenge one of the basic universal patriarchal truths that woman doesn’t exist for herself or for other women – she exists for man and all her energy must go into man no matter what she does. Some of us radical feminists have figured out that that universally accepted truth is bullshit and we don’t have to live that way. In fact we have a duty not to. Sorry NOT sorry.
I also uploaded a video recording of the anti feminists that invaded the library on it’s opening night, tore up posters, shouted at women whilst being under the influence of alcohol, stole wine intended for the attendees and even physically prevented one woman from being able to enter the space. The most visible of these protestors was a very big man who claimed to be a “trans woman involved in sex work” – further research into this prick’s background revealed his involvement in sex work is to facilitate johns having access to prostituted women as let’s be real, johns are very rarely interested in paying to rape big fucking DUDES. Anyone watching or listening to the recording can clearly see the sex of this man and it’s yet another example of why allowing anyone to identify as whatever gender they want is a really bad idea for women. This is a male person who could very easily overpower and do real physical damage to most women.
Erin Flegg seems to find it super problematic that I called this man a fucking man and that many of my viewers did as well. Most people around the world would agree with my assessment of what was going on and it’s only the most mindfucked, privileged, liberal, academic-feminist types and teenage tumblr users that are going to say otherwise. Her piece takes the position that the protestors were the victims of the big, bad, Vancouver Women’s Library and they’re being too precious about their feelings of trauma regarding what happened when they opened, as well as the subsequent attacks on the space and organizers of it. She equates radical feminists online flooding GAG’s (gays against gentrification) Facebook page where they posted a letter calling on the library to get rid of one of their organizers and to get rid of many important feminist texts they were carrying. She mentions two of them with the following:
“ – titles like Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin, a second-wave feminist who once wrote that creating a perfectly androgynous society would eliminate transexuality, and Mary Daly’s Gyn/Ecology, in which the author lumps together transsexuality, cyborgs and weapons of modern warfare as stemming from men’s envy of motherhood.”
Andrea Dworkin’s book Intercourse is about the subject of intercourse, in layman’s terms it’s a book about men fucking women and how men fucking women is harmful to women for a whole myriad of reasons and a large part of how patriarchy itself is reproduced. Hmm. Why on earth would a gay organization have a problem with women not being fucked by men? Are the members even fucking gay? I’m getting a little tired of heterosexual ‘queers’ proscribing how lesbians and gay men should be down with heterosexual fucking and how every woman on earth should be down with being fucked regardless of what it means for her individually or for women collectively.
As for her assessment of Gyn/Ecology – where is the lie? All of that shit is true. Men’s entire culture and civilization they’ve created is a testament to their deep seeded feelings of inferiority and envy of women’s creative powers.
The only people who would have a problem with these books being read are people that don’t want women to have information about what they’re going through or have the language that women have created to express it. We have a few terms for these sorts of people – Men’s Rights Activists, Anti-Feminists or just plain old misogynists. There’s no way to oppose feminism and the activism that women take on behalf of their own freedom and not be operating from a misogynistic mindset. This is pretty easy to understand.
The next thing that really sets me off in this piece is her comments from Andrea Wheeler. I don’t know who she is but god damn! Just read this:
“Wheeler recognized the folly of her younger self in Wonders and Laurent. “I was also a twenty-two-year-old activist. There’s something that happens when you enter into university, no longer under the protection of your parents. You realize there are things happening in the world. You’re young and have all this energy. You want the world to be a better place.” The danger, Wheeler explains, lies in the fact that these students haven’t had the time to sit with the new ideas they encounter, to determine which ones have value and which ones don’t. And from the sheltered world of academia, it’s easy to preference theory above lived experience, and to dismiss people who don’t have access to theoretical language.”
As a younger (31) radical feminist who has been involved with radical feminist politics, activism and content creation for 7 years at this point but no, didn’t live during the women’s liberation movement – from my wealth of experience on this subject – This is so incredibly insulting to every single one of us. It is such a condescending bunch of ageist crap. There are plenty of older and experienced people who don’t know shit about anything and have terrible politics. Equating a woman’s youth with the ability of her mind to process information and filter out what makes no sense is such a classic patriarchal, divide and conquer tactic. Women respond to radical feminist literature when they read it because it is the only literature that actually speaks to what we experience. That’s why the ideas have “value” as she puts it. They are the first time that women ever get to hear that what they’ve experienced and what they are going through is unequivocally WRONG and a global phenomenon. It’s also the first time they hear it validated that yes, it is men responsible for it.
Women also don’t need arbiters of learning to understand literature written in the fucking language we speak everyday. That is some mind-control bullshit if I’ve ever heard it.
Many younger radical feminists aren’t even students/involved in academia so I’m also not sure what we’re supposed to do. Are we doomed to have reading comprehension fail because of a lack of academic learning? I thought I was managing okay understanding English this whole time and communicating fairly well!
While there are academic-style radical feminist texts, radical feminism as a movement isn’t based in academia. It’s based in women’s experiences. It’s based in consciousness-raising around our shared experiences and creating a way to speak about them that all women can understand and prosper from. Em Laurent and Bec Wonders have created a space that helps get literature to women who aren’t academics and they have refused to censor texts which offend men and handmaidens because of their radical clarity. This is hardly the result of political naivete. They’re intelligent women who have a mission to get women reading texts which can help expand their consciousness. Portraying them as misinformed or uneducated about what their ideas really mean is such a bunch of condescending tripe.
She also says this :
“Wonders and Laurent both identify as lesbians (they bristled when asked if they identify as “queer”; they do not) and are white university students in their early twenties—part of a larger trend of nominally progressive millennials adopting second-wave politics, often after encountering second-wave texts in university classes without sufficient critical guidance.”
Can you feel the lesbian-hatred dripping off of that shit? Why should two lesbian women identify themselves as queer? Queer doesn’t mean lesbian. It would be wrong to identify as queer then wouldn’t it? Do you ask queer identified women if they are lesbians? What do you think the fucking response would be? Secondly I just have to ask how women are encountering second wave texts in university classes but not having guidance? What the fuck are you on about? Most women who have studied “gender studies” and “women’s studies” tell me they have not encountered second wave texts other than paragraphs that are subsequently “debunked”. STOP PRETENDING THESE TEXTS ARE EASILY AVAILABLE TO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN THEIR EDUCATIONAL CENTERS. Women have to seek them out. Women are willfully going out of their way to educate themselves on feminist theory.
Also radical feminism may have originated in the second wave/women’s liberation movement but it is not something that has gone away. Women with these beliefs span all sorts of ages and always have. It’s like referring to Marxists as having adopted the politics of the mid-nineteenth century.
I get another mention in the article which I’d also like to respond to:
“And the VWL itself recently invited Max Dashu and Terri Strange, two transphobic activists, to give talks at their new location.”
I am not a “transphobic activist” but thanks for misrepresenting my politics as being about harming trans people – that’s so fucking rad of you Erin Flegg! I’m actually a radical feminist and my activism has mainly been around creating women’s spaces, creating accessible feminist content for women and reproductive rights – because women get pregnant and deal with a whole host of restrictions put in place by men based on this fact, Erin. How convenient of you to chalk my problems with transgender politics as coming from a psychological phobia rather than a principled political disagreement based in my support for women. My talk was also about witchcraft and feminism, not trans people just in case anyone was wondering.
She then goes on to list the many ways in which trans identified persons suffer from discrimination, violence and mental health issues. This is supposed to mean that feminists should no longer campaign for women, create spaces to help women who are fleeing male violence or dealing with the aftermath of it, or even talk about our own bodies lest it harm transgender identified people. I can’t even get over how inane, illogical and manipulative this way of discussing this issue is. Women are an oppressed people who are not responsible for men’s violence or laws. Women are also vulnerable to men who are trans-identified because identity doesn’t trump biology when it comes to knowing which half of the population should be breeding, changing diapers, doing all the housework, getting paid a fraction and experiencing a constant state of male sexual invasion and policing of literally every thought and feeling we have. This is some serious ALL LIVES MATTER shit. When we’re talking about the oppression of half of the population because they are born female (not “assigned female at birth”) bringing up that some men suffer bad things too is the most reactionary and hateful shit.
She ends the piece saying that there will be no place for places like the Vancouver Women’s Library in the feminism of the future if they don’t change their ways and genuflect to every absurd demand that these liberal dumbasses throw their way. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Plenty of people see what is going on and are challenging this type of reactionary politic that demands oppressed people’s give up their own spaces and ideas to their oppressors in the spirit of “inclusion”
Fuck your misrepresentations of the library, of myself and other women’s politics. Your unprincipled attacks on the library only further cement how important it is as a space and how important it is that we create more like it in the world.
Censoring Our Minds and The Power of Naming Bev Jo
The words we use may seem trivial, but actually they affect how we think and appear, and can make us recognizable as trustworthy or not. They show how we identify and who we ally with. And they always reveal class background.