ExitMale means exit Male, not exit male. He who aligns himself with women exits Male to become male. The transgender, in contrast, by asserting his invented identity as an actual female, not only bonds more closely to Male but is assured by Male that his new sex is both pure, socially embodied, and legally ratified.
“At present a stronger unconscious, psychic alliance exists between the men of the worldwide Left and the men ruling the most powerful patriarchy in history, than between the men of the Left and the feminist movement.” (116 On Lies, Secrets, and Silence)
“… men can, and do, live for years in the most equivocal conditions of mind about the most vital subjects, the most personal subjects…” (Sean O’Faolain)
“… any man is free to renounce his superior position provided he is willing to be treated like a woman by other men.” (Redstockings Manifesto)
The Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s was utterly compelling but, more importantly, a political necessity. It was not only what the Left chiefly suppressed but, as the collective voice of women, was a distinctly different politics.
This broader, more cohesive vision, by fits and starts, became not only an integral part of my radical identity, but widened, revived, and ultimately gave it a new form.
Soon I perceived life as heavily permeated by sexism: the mass media, advertising, communication systems, the arts, sports, the social sciences, sciences… beauty contests, weight loss programs… were all weighted down by a powerful anti-woman bias called misogyny, and driven by a perpetual propaganda campaign.
I learned that sexism was the model for all other forms of subjugation as in racism, classism, and colonialism. That the humiliation, terror, exploitation, and de-politicalization visited on half the world’s population, was extended to anyone who was Other.
I soon grasped that to split yourself off from your own oppression retracted one’s political stance. It not only caused one’s own assumptions, and dominance to go unquestioned, but undermined one’s response and connectedness to all oppressed groups. It marked the difference between the liberal and the radical, the individual and the collective, the abstract and the passionate, the surface and the root.
Yes, feminism was radical. All other versions were either a motion toward it or away from it. To fail political consciousness, was to fail radical feminism. The pro-feminist who missed this point, had to realize that, if women were to be taken seriously, there was little virtue in moderation or half measures.
But the dominant 1970s pro-feminist response was nevertheless liberal. Every pro-feminist group that I belonged to or knew–then and since, either initially or soon after, refused radical feminist positions. These groups wavered and split up because they had no persona, relied upon a quid-pro-quo structure, and had no foundational principles. So sure enough, each organization either ceased to exist or became largely irrelevant.
(The single radical exception was a brief rising in 1972, led primarily by gay men, which denounced the central tenet of male sexuality: objectification. But this was immediately counter-attacked–and defeated, by the porn profiteers that kept many gay publications afloat.)
My thinking on the radical-liberal divide has been that although these two can co-exist in individuals, they represent two different world views. Radical feminism is constructed by women for women; liberal feminism by men for men. Women can function inside the latter, but to one degree or another, they are acting against themselves and other women. liberalism a tool of men’s o0p0ression in the same way porn is. liberalism is a male invention.
Radical feminism holds to a moral and political exigency. It asks the questions that all of us have been trained not to ask. It names the agent of coercive and/or violent acts against women. It commits to social reality as a basis for theory and action. It rejects obtained “consent” as a defense in a victimizing and criminal act. And its autonomy means it is non-conforming, non-assimilative, non-reformist, self-directed and, when compelled, confrontational.
So is liberal even an option for the pro-feminist? First, there’s no way feminist work is less men’s responsibility than women’s. Second, liberalism adds to the loopholes already accorded the ruling male. And since “radical” was the dominant politics of the Women’s Liberation Movement, this should be the guide.
Because radical and liberal represent opposing paradigmatic views, it means that their language, culture, and political stances are significantly at odds too. However, some issues sharply define and determine the two dispirit views. The following male-defined institutions are at the center of the divide.
1) Prostitution: No, it’s not victimless; not “sex labor,” not optional.
2) Pornography: No, it’s not victimless: not free speech, not fantasy, not consent.
3) Transgender: No, it’s not victimless; not a change in sex identity, not an entitlement to female space or title XI.
4) S-m sex: No, it’s not victimless; not play-acting, not harmless, not consensual.
5) Reproductive technology: No, it’s not victimless; not about freedom of choice, not about self-fulfillment, not about her self-determination.
The “no’s” and “nots” express the radical response to liberal obfuscations and cant. They construct, through protest, abolition and banning demands, the axis of feminist consciousness. Rape, incest, sex-trafficking, Viagra, marriage, militarism, racism, environmental destruction and other serious male-driven formations also fit the bill as distinguishable. For example, while liberals want to reform the rape laws, radicals demand “End Rape;” while liberals want to improve upon but valorize that centerpiece of the male ethos, marriage, radicals see it as “compulsory heterosexuality,” unending dependency, and male-determined; and while liberals easily bought into the “save the women” pretext for invading Afghanistan, radicals, balked at and rejected it as empire hypocrisy.
Radicalism may seem less “practical,” “realistic,” “successful,” and “tolerant” than liberal ideology but no visionary, or transformative social change can occur without it. And the male-defined world which counts on its liberal infra-structure to sustain its power, would be invulnerable, but for the subversive force of radicals.
No, I don’t expect this notebook to change the world (ha), but if it stirs up a bit of mutiny, that would be good. One of the calls of the first national women’s organization in Vietnam (1927) was: “Abolish the habit of holding women in contempt.” Aimed at men, not at “society,” it envisioned both a response and a shift in awareness. May this blog convey, to some degree, that change.
This is a notebook, and not, in any sense, one that speaks for the generality of pro-feminist men, and certainly not for the falsely-termed “feminist” men. It will say what I generally can say only to myself. I’ll write from the past and the present. Given my age, isolation, achy complaints, and computer ignorance, it will be more occasional than regular.