Radical Feminism is a framework that fits the data. Too bad I figured it out so late. Better late than never?

So, I started this blog mostly because I have been really encouraged by the small group of radfem bloggers on WordPress, and I wanted to archive the posts that resonated with me by reblogging them. I enjoy some radfem blogs onTumblr too, but I think WordPress is more my style.

As a white, 40 something, middle-class, het/married woman, I’m not sure my voice and perspective are really needed. I like to listen/read. But then I discovered there is kind of an etiquette involved with re-blogging. The idea seems to be that one should ask each author about her rules/preferences about re-blogging her posts. Because I’m a lazy so and so, I haven’t done this. So I’m kind of at a standstill with the blog. I’m also too lazy to learn about things like tagging and other WordPress knobs and whistles. Can anyone recommend a tutorial?

I notice that I have some followers, so I thought I should say hi. Hi! I’ll tell you a little about me and my journey to radical feminism, in case it is of any interest. I’ve been very close with my mom, Aunt, sister, and maternal Grandma my whole life, and I’m lucky to have had them. On the other hand, every single teenage or adult male I spent any amount of time with–dad, stepdad, babysitters (yes, my parents were that naive), “friends of the family” hurt me in many and varied ways–though none of them inflicted violent physical or sexual abuse. Like, I never had marks. My maternal grandfather tried very hard to be a dependable, decent man, and he succeeded–but even he sat by while my stepdad physically abused my mom for a decade.

My aunt was a seventies style feminist and a liberal in the Steinem, Jimmy Carter sort of style. She also worked hard to educate herself about race and ethnicity in America, reading African American, Hispanic, and Asian fiction and non-fiction authors voraciously. She was the only political person in my family and she shaped my world view quite a bit.

So, since high school/college I’ve had a feminist consciousness, and been aware of my various privileges. But until my mid-30’s I was operating with the liberal framework that sex-based oppression, as well as other oppressions, were sort of misunderstandings. That if women (adult human females) and other oppressed groups worked hard enough to explain that 1) we are fully human, 2) that we as humans are suffering hugely as a result of current structural power arrangements, and 3) that the human race is missing out big-time by not fixing these structural power arrangements; then those in power would change their ways by and large.

I got a graduate degree, started working in international community-based development, got married to a Nigel, and had a daughter. And when I was in my mid-30’s, I realized that someone had been pissing on me and telling me it was raining for a long time. Nothing was working–in my life and in the world–the way that a liberal feminist framework told me it should.

I found some libfem blogs, then moved quickly to I Blame the Patriarchy, RadFem Hub, and Femonade (compressing a couple of years here). It was like a fucking huge light switch came on. A radical feminist framework is the most effective framework for interpreting what actually happens in the world–not what people say, but what physically, psychologically, and spiritually happens. As many others have said, this was a double-edged sword. It was good, because it allowed me to start a journey toward honesty, toward seeing what I was seeing and saying it (if only to myself and people on blogs). It was bad, because I understood that girls and women are well and truly screwed, and only the with-holding of our productive and reproductive labor–protected by any means required–would likely change the situation.

So, for the last 7 years or so, I’ve been in a holding pattern. My daughter is growing up, and I can’t deny that she benefits from being raised in a conventional marriage, with two incomes. So I stay, reaping privilege for her and me, shoring up the patriarchy. What I can do at the moment, is discourage any women I know, including my daughter, from focusing any energy on men, from having relationships with them, from marriage, and especially from having children. Again, as many radfems have pointed out, children, no matter how amazing they are as humans, no matter how much we love them, are huge resource sucks, and hold us hostage to the patriarchy.

I’m trying to figure out the economics angle of all this. I like Twisty Faster’s “megatheocorporatocracy” as the characterization of the current powers that be. Capitalism sucks–I mean it is hard to imagine a worse economic arrangement, but if sex-based oppression is the root of all oppressions, is there a hope of saner, less nihilistic economic arrangements without obliterating the gender hierarchy? What is the balance of “harm mitigation”, self-care, and “spinning and sparking” that is effective for keeping women as safe and sane as possible, while eating away at the roots and branches of patriarchy? How does that change from person to person, depending on her circumstances? These are some of the questions I’m asking.

Thanks for reading, and thanks most of all for writing down and sharing your insights and journeys.

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3 thoughts on “Radical Feminism is a framework that fits the data. Too bad I figured it out so late. Better late than never?

  1. “Again, as many radfems have pointed out, children, no matter how amazing they are as humans, no matter how much we love them, are huge resource sucks, and hold us hostage to the patriarchy.”

    True. As a woman of reproductive age, I find this very hard to accept. I have always wanted children. I have been considering different options – have a child of my own and give her up for open adoption? (Meaning I can see her a couple of times a year) That would mean patriarchy benefits from my reproductive labour.
    Keeping the child and trying to raise her as radical feminist on my own would mean poverty for me, and a thus a win for patriarchy. Even a radical feminist has to pay taxes.
    Adopting a girl from India or China, thus ensuring her survival, would, again, be a huge drain on my resources.

    It would all be easier if there was a truly equal society to emigrate to.

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