LADIES’ AUXILIARY OF THE PATRIARCHY – What a Real Radical Feminism Would Have Looked Like

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It would have looked like the MRM. It would have attacked toxic femininity – female hypoagency, imprisoning female privilege, female victimhood and dependency – as well as male hyperagency, male disposability and chivalry.

There was such a feminism in the early years, in the form of Women’s Liberation. Or maybe it was cultural feminism. Daisy can maybe help us on the historical details. Anyway the early slogans had to do with getting men to stop “pedestalizing women” and protecting them like they were made out of glass. There really was such a feminism. It was about equality and even if it was a little vague on the details and maybe not even clear on what that equality would look like, and even if its proponents might have balked at it if they had known, its intent was clear – real gender equality. That was before all that goddess feminism and the woo about women as natural nurturers. Now the only people talking about the pedestalization of women in the culture are MRAs.

And it was not just spoiled little fun feminists who clung to chivalrous assumptions and betrayed the revolution. Even those who imagined themselves real gender warriors, real revolutionaries, fell back into traditionalist assumptions and modes of behavior. It became a women’s advocacy movement, and started appealing to men’s chivalrous feelings of protectiveness, and acting like the censorious church ladies that arenow the face of feminism.

Commenter Astrokid quotes the RedStockings manifesto from 1969

“We do not need to change ourselves, but to change men.”

Good catch. This right here encapsulates the inherent traditionalism and patriarchalism of feminism, or that form of feminism, which is pretty damned dominant. Changing the man – how wifey is that? Woman as the moral paragon, the voice of conscience – how tradcon is that?

It just drips with the gynonormativity every little boy grows up drowning in. Yeah, that’s really the way forward. It just reinforces the traditional female role.

You know what would have been a truly radical feminism? Not the retreat in patriarchal gender assumptions we now call radical feminism, but a feminism that analyzed and attacked traditional toxic femininity with the same “sexist pig!!!” ferocity it went after traditional masculinity. Something like the MRM.

That assault on traditional femininity had been going on since at least 1900. In that era you had figures like Annie Oakley, who in an earlier time would have been the object of horror, not a cultural icon. It was all aspects of traditional femininity that were coming under scrutiny – there was a general repudiation of and anxiety over the privileging of refinement and delicacy, a reversal of a cultural trend toward refinement and delicacy that had been going since the Baroque period. You see this in pieces form the turn of the century moaning about the feminization of young men. You see this in the Teddy Roosevelt persona, all horses and guns and ten-gallon hats and going out West to make a name for himself.

When it came to femininity it translated to a crumbling of all the gender policing around being a lady. This process took decades. Eventually it got real – it got down to short hair and short skirts, and then women smoking – the horror!!! – and then the road was open. In essence the female role and femininity became infinitely expansible.

It’s time for the male role to do the same. And some of the most vociferous opposition is coming from women, in fact that’s where most of it is coming from. We have been seeing since the early 90s articles in popular magazines about men who won’t commit (to women), where are all the “good” men, articles mocking men’s recreational choices or failing that, decrying them, articles mocking men when they don’t settle down and make some woman happy and further articles mocking them when they do just to keep the pressure on. It is all about gender policing men and keeping them inside a narrowly defined gender role, and all for the benefit of you know who.

And it doesn’t matter where someone says they fall on the ideological spectrum – you see this coming out of all kinds of people.

And so an MRM that undermines all this, that criticizes male disposability and interrogates male hyperagency and the presumption of male guilt, that offers competition to women in the areas of vulnerability and victimhood and oppression, is a real deep threat, both ideologically for some and psychologically for all but a very few actual egalitarians. This MRM undermines female hypoagency and dependency because women will no longer have men to lean on and protect them, so they can be all frail and dainty. That will all be over.

What does the MRM offer women? It offers them real feminism, the feminism that calls itself a movement for gender equality.

It is a damning indictment of modern feminism that so many feminists fear and condemn this.

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Jim Doyle

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="2957 http://www.genderratic.com/?p=2131">37 comments</span>

  • For many feminists, especially many radical feminists, conventional femininity has been something others forced on us, and something we have fought back against or at least fought to remake. Some feminists reject the word entirely. Other feminists reclaim the word for unconventional femininities. But many radical feminists emphasized androgyny.

    When you’re busy resisting something, I guess it can be harder to think of ways your using that same something.

  • yeah, well, we had certain elements of masculinity forced on us….

    they never asked us (as in low status men) what our experiences were-they just abstractly theorized about it….

    I’m personally fighting against it by opting out of the provider and protector role….

  • @marja: If you can’t be bothered to think about the ways you’re using a stereotype you supposedly are busy resisting, and get indignant (in a mom-selling way) when someone points that out to you – then you really aren’t busy resisting that something.

  • PS:

    For many feminists, especially many radical feminists, conventional femininity has been something others forced on us

    There’s a pretty neat example of wallowing in the toxic femininity Ginkgo talked about, with all the female hypoagency and victimhood assumed …

  • I remember that feminism from my childhood. It was (to me) tied in with the last gasp of the ERA. I grew up with the understanding that traditional gender roles were obsolete, and that options were now “a la carte” — anyone could do anything.

    Imagine my surprise when I grew up.

  • Sheesh, this piece is freakin’ brilliant. Well done! I’m bookmarking it for later reference, and I wish more feminists (particularly the anti-MRM ones) would read it for a bracing dose of realism.

  • Elementary,

    “There’s a pretty neat example of wallowing in the toxic femininity Ginkgo talked about, with all the female hypoagency and victimhood assumed …”

    Except that with bad parents, and with sexist school policies as Daisy mentioned in another thread, one might not have much power to refuse in childhood, which is when most of these people talk about femininity being imposed, and with gatekeepers, one might not have much power while dealing with them.

    I couldn’t shrug off my gatekeeper’s suggestions, and that messed with my head. I can usually shrug off street harassment, because most harassers have no power over me.

  • Except that with bad parents, and with sexist school policies as Daisy mentioned in another thread, one might not have much power to refuse in childhood

    Is this relevant? Feminism strives to be an intellectual endeavor. If it’s nothing more than the sum of it’s environment, then it’s just part of the very “system” that it rallies against. (I wouldn’t rule out that very real possibility, either.) All you have to look at is just how self interested this gets. Anything that involves changing how other people view femininity, they’re in favor of changing. Anything that involves changes how feminine women view everyone else, they’re unwilling to change. So for example, they repudiate all the presentation that’s intended to passively attract men, but they still expect men to actively engage in courtship. Another way – they repudiate the fragile, dependent image of women, but they still expect men to become providers & protectors. You just can’t tell me that feminists are just somehow too busy resisting femininity to ever see the big picture. From where I’m standing, it looks like they’re mostly being a bunch of selfish hypocrites. If that’s what you mean by “bad parenting” then yeah… okay I’ll give you that.

  • I’m trying to recognize and explain my biases, and trying to explain other feminists’ biases, to understand why the movement hasn’t really addressed these things that well.

    So what should we do about this? I’m not sure what I should do about this. I’m not involved in het relationships.

  • “So what should we do about this? I’m not sure what I should do about this.”

    Me neither. That’s why I’m here. Generally speaking I find that asking yourself “would I find this request reasonable if a man was making it of a woman/a woman was making it of a man” when judging whether someone is being reasonable helps. Another thing is trying to keep your willingness to allow excuses for actions you disapprove of relativly equal across genders.

  • “When you’re busy resisting something, I guess it can be harder to think of ways your using that same something.”

    Marja FTW! Nice translation into common language of an old truism “You become what you fight.”

    EW, I agree with Marja more than you, because, as she says:

    “Except that with bad parents, and with sexist school policies as Daisy mentioned in another thread, one might not have much power to refuse in childhood.”

    Even good parents, doing their best, are going to indoctrinate you this way if they think that’s the preparation yoyu are going to need to succeed in the world as it is.

    Dungone,
    “Is this relevant?”

    Yes, because it’s the first step in recognizing that you are going to have to make the effort in adulthood.

    JE, I think you are right, the simplest and the first method you should try is “flip the genders”. It may turn out not to be that simple, but it’s a good start.

    TB, thanks – let me run off and go look at that link.

  • I really enjoyed this.

    Except all the big words and neopolitical lingo. There has to be a more down-to-earth way to say “gynonormativity.”

    But then again, if you didn’t employ such an elaborate vernacular, your detractors would fallaciously reject your argument and target your diction for a scapegoat.

  • It’s okay to agree more with Marja than with me, Ginkgo, everyone’s wrong in a while … 😉

    I see the point about indoctrination in infant years, but do not buy into the strong gendering of the argument that goes from there:

    “Women get indoctrinated into a feminine gender role, and they therefore are powerless to reject it in their later years, because they are women.”

    “It certainly is not asking too much of men to refuse to embrace the toxic masculine gender role they were indoctrinated into, they can’t always blame their childhood for their adult behaviour.”

    “Women got infant indoctrination that they cannot shake off? Well, the problem are the people who forced that indoctrination upon them (especially the male ones, since the female ones had no other choice, having also been indoctrinated in tender years).”

    “Men got infant indoctrination that they cannot shake off?Well, it’s obvious that those men are the problem, duh!”

    The better argument would have gone “Women got indoctrinated with toxic beliefs, and we need to make huge efforts to change those views and stop them getting propagated”, rather than “Once the patriarchy has stopped indoctrinating little girls we can talk about women being responsible for the views they hold.”

  • EW, I don’t think Marja was making that assertion; in fact when she asks what she can do about it, I took that to meana she wanted to make the change, not be excused from having to make it.

  • TB, that’s a very good article Dean has up. Very good springboard to an article “Comparing patriarchy and feminism: spot the differences (neither could I)”

  • While Marja wasn’t making this claim, it’s certainly something one has been hearing a lot from those pesky “radical feminists”. The “you” in my first comment was the “one” “you”, not referring to Marja (sorry, Marja, if it came over that way).

  • EW, I have certainly seen that. it’s right therein the redstockings manifesto – some theoretical tripe about how the oppressed can enver be blamed for their oppression – childish binary thinking, dividing the world into the righteous and the evil ones, and only the evil ones can ever be blamed for eanything, because they alone are the source of all evil.

    This a priori exoneration of women, this Victorian pure vessel trope, is also the source of the demonization of men. It requires it.

  • Gingko:
    Yes, I guess I should explain for those who might be a bit confused:
    That area of the country is pretty much Ground Zero for the Duluth Model (no, not where it was propounded first but where most of the “disciples” seem to reside) and Women as Eternal Victim. In the present case, apparently the Sheriff and his wife had a brouhaha that led to a grabbed arm and a small bruise. Long story short, despite the woman’s wishes this was pushed (for political reasons) by the Mayor and a few other groups to try and get the newly elected Sheriff kicked out of office. The family was split apart against the wife’s wishes via restraining order , the Sheriff endured nearly a year of being compared to the stereotypical battering “wife beater”, and etc. Ultimately the Personal is Political was taken to such an extreme there that the grabbed shoulder was considered to be evidence of …well, I’ll let one of the local papers speak: “n a shocking end to the melodrama that has consumed San Francisco City Hall for the past nine months, the Board of Supervisors bucked Mayor Ed Lee late Tuesday night by giving suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi his job back.

    Four members of the board rejected Lee’s call that Mirkarimi be permanently removed for committing official misconduct, an allegation that stemmed from a New Year’s Eve fight with his wife for which he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of false imprisonment.

    Lee needed nine of the 11 supervisors’ votes to oust Mirkarimi. Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim and – in a major blow to Lee – the mayor’s appointee, Christina Olague, voted to reinstate Mirkarimi.”

    The policies and rhetoric surrounding this are troublesome. The policies because treating singular grabs/shoves (minor violence) the same as beatdowns does no one any favors, denying the wife input in this situation treats her basically like a child, and the rhetoric because using the language of batterers to describe this single act by the Sheriff deprecates those concepts.

  • I should also point out that many domestic violence organizations and counselors consider things such as raised voices and slammed doors to be “domestic violence”. Imagine if you could be accused by the Mayor of “Official Misconduct” because you slammed a door when you were mad at your S.O, and perhaps the four “nay” votes become more understandable.

  • Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I to find It truly useful &
    it helped me out much. I’m hoping to give one thing again and aid others such as you aided me.

  • @Clarence:

    I should also point out that many domestic violence organizations and counselors consider things such as raised voices and slammed doors to be “domestic violence”.

    So exhibiting any visible sign of anger is domestic violence, apparently. That has unfortunate implications.

  • This a priori exoneration of women, this Victorian pure vessel trope, is also the source of the demonization of men. It requires it.

    Ginkgo, can you expand on that?

    I’m really interested in the vilification/fear cluster that comes along with “every man is a potential rapist” and the indoctrination that goes along with it. While I see the demonization of men and male sexuality pretty clearly, I’m not sure how the “pure vessel” idea is transmitted so effectively.

  • “This a priori exoneration of women, this Victorian pure vessel trope, is also the source of the demonization of men. It requires it.
    Ginkgo, can you expand on that?”

    Yep.

    The evil in the world has tot come from somewhere. If none of it comes form women, then all of it must come from men. it is a restatement of the male hyperagency/female hypoagency binary.

    It demonizes the humanity of men and denies the humanity of women.

  • Clarence,
    “I should also point out that many domestic violence organizations and counselors consider things such as raised voices and slammed doors to be “domestic violence”. ”

    Jesus Christ, Clarence – imagine what the DV stats would look like if that standard were applied in a gender-blind way.

    “Long story short, despite the woman’s wishes this was pushed (for political reasons)….”

    That’s an old story! It was all just false consciousness, she didn’t realize she was a victim until the four-hour counseling session in an interrogation room to get her to see the light. Thank God that more informed people ignored and overrode her delusional refusal to see herself as a victim. Imagine the damage to our agenda if that kind of thing isn’t stopped!

  • Gingko:

    Here’s the thread where I was banned from “Alas”.

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2012/01/02/did-no-fault-divorce-create-a-divorce-culture/
    While the post may not be about Domestic Violence per-se, the thread quickly goes there. Read esp comments from Myca , and at 53, on, Grace Annam. Grace is a guy and a cop.
    Note the claim at 61 to a perfect marriage, and understand that raising one’s voice can be considered yelling. Do you think this person is telling the truth?

    This is what we deal with when concerning the “defenders” of the current system.

  • This is also a good time to mention what many MRA’s have pointed out over the past year or so: that some section of, I believe, the Violence Against Women Act (going from memory here) set a limit of 15 percent arrests as being of women, and call for some sort of investigation if any jurisdiction that receives funding has higher ones for female arrests. Literally, have your cake and eat it too.

  • “This is what we deal with when concerning the “defenders” of the current system.”

    When I say feminsim is just radcon patriarchy in lipstick, this is exactly what I mean.

    I think the disconnect for a lot of people comes frorm coming out of other traditions and cultures, so they imagine that this traditional culture of pedestalizing women is somehow progressive. If it really is progressive compared to their cultures, that says something really damning about the backwardness of those cultures.

  • The evil in the world has to come from somewhere. If none of it comes form women, then all of it must come from men.

    This betrays a preference for inaction over action; passivity over activity. Ultimately, that evil has no ontological inertia — that active maintenance is necessary for evil to thrive, and that if the bad people would just leave the world alone, we could all be happy fluffy bunnies.

    Here, the hypo/hyperagency is in full swing — man are active, and women are passive. Hence, men are bad, and women good. The idea that evil must be maintained implies that every man (active person) holds a continuous responsibility for maintaining the ste of affairs as it is. This ties in directly to discussions of patriarchy. Under this structure, you can’t just say you inherited it.

    Compare to:

    The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

    Here, action is required for good to triumph, while passiveness leads to evil. I have yet to see anyone ascribe active/passive to male/female in light of this philosophy. The outcome here is to claim that bystanders are not victims, they are collaborators.

    (I may have gone too far into the philosophical there.)

  • “This betrays a preference for inaction over action; passivity over activity. Ultimately, that evil has no ontological inertia — that active maintenance is necessary for evil to thrive, and that if the bad people would just leave the world alone, we could all be happy fluffy bunnies.”

    That last bit is a correllary of this thinking. It reveals a deeply sheltered and therefore privileged worldview.

  • Very good post.

    JE: Me neither. That’s why I’m here. Generally speaking I find that asking yourself “would I find this request reasonable if a man was making it of a woman/a woman was making it of a man” when judging whether someone is being reasonable helps.

    Me too. I find it helpful in most respects actually.

    For instance, I recently wrote about the murder of Sam Cooke (by a woman), and as I told Danny, it was shocking to me how many internet accounts I read that used some variation of “Sam loved the wimminz, which proved to be his undoing!” It is true they used to say this about women (i.e. the protagonist of the book/movie “Looking for Mr Goodbar”) but it is now considered very BAD FORM to say “She loved the menz, which proved to be her undoing!” –and such comments routinely (and rightly) raise a hue and cry throughout the land.

    I would not have been as aware of this double standard, if not hanging out at places like this blog. It would have “bothered me” but I would not have been able to pinpoint the exact dynamic; I would have attributed it entirely to race, rather than gender.

  • Elementary: “Women get indoctrinated into a feminine gender role, and they therefore are powerless to reject it in their later years, because they are women.”

    No… what it means is, we become passive-aggressive instead. Aggression in women was punished when I was young, so you habitually claimed you weren’t being aggressive (sobs)… you are SAD! HURT!

    My AA sponsor used to say men claim anger when hurt and women claim hurt when they are angry, because these are acceptable within the gender roles. She also said in recovery, men focused on drunken behavior and actions (e.g. “We were hanging from the freeway overpass, woooo!”), while women focused on feelings and emotions (e.g. “I was sad and lonely and cried every night!”). I started paying attention to this in meetings, and she was right. Thus, she said, the task in recovery was to get men to focus on articulating feelings/emotions and admit these to themselves, and women to focus on behavior/actions and become accountable for actual things they/we had done. (yes, gross generalizations, and I realize that… speaking very generally)

    I think that applies to recovering from gender-psychosis also. 😉

    Elementary: The better argument would have gone “Women got indoctrinated with toxic beliefs, and we need to make huge efforts to change those views and stop them getting propagated”, rather than “Once the patriarchy has stopped indoctrinating little girls we can talk about women being responsible for the views they hold.”

    This was actually a huge ideological intramural fight within the 70s movement… you have pinpointed it perfectly. I guess you know who won that one?

    Those of us who took the first view were accused of being patriarchal collaborators and ‘blaming the victim’. It was one of the first major rifts in the movement, circa 1976 or so.

    I think one reason “recovery” stuff became big with feminists in the 80s was because it was about being accountable. Off Our Backs and other feminists then attacked the popularity of recovery groups among women, saying it was too personally-oriented and not political enough. (This from the movement that first proclaimed “The personal is political”) Elayne Rapping’s “The Culture of Recovery” basically took this line.

  • Well damn, Clarence. I think its amazing you said you had seen the emotional abuse of your mother and Myca concludes (in the very next comment!) you “can’t or don’t see it”.. that is the categorical opposite of what you said.

    Speaking of passive aggression, I assume someone who claims they have never yelled a single time their 20+ year marriage, is a MASTER at it.

    Sorry you got banned, dude… I thought you were very polite, under the unpleasant circumstances.

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