Thursday, February 10, 2011

No Men Allowed Policy

I thought I heard every pseudo-feminist piece of insanity under the sun but, never fear, there are always new and inventive ways to make feminism sound completely ridiculous. A pseudo-feminist blogger recently announced that her blog will be a male-free zone. Men will not be allowed to post comments if they insist on identifying as male:
As always, dudes are welcome to both spectate and contemplate the ideas discussed in this blog and in other feminist work. But from now on, I’m inviting them to do us the courtesy of shutting the fuck up. Of course, I’ll grandmother in those guys who’ve been around for years and have shown themselves capable of human decency. New dudes can bypass the sex restriction by going incognito. I got no problem with that as long as they complete the prerequisites, never use the personal pronoun “I,” and knock it off already with the fucking tiresome-ass male viewpoint and supercilious tone. Good luck with that, though, because you know as well as I do that sooner or later they always start mansplaining or yakking about dudesex. If we can tell they’re dudes, they’re out.
What I find so curious about this initiative (which, by the way, has been supported by other pseudo-feminist blogs) is not only the idea that an all-female ghetto is a good thing, and we should work hard to build a ghetto around ourselves in case none is readily available, but also the very idea of a "male viewpoint." Wasn't the whole point of feminism to dispel the myth that having a penis or a vagina makes you think, feel, or act in a certain way? Haven't we been working hard this entire time to make sure our lives are not defined by what our genitals look like?
There is nothing more patriarchal than the idea that certain spaces should be reserved for women. Russian Domostroy specified special areas in the house that were reserved for women. Most fanatically religious and primitive communities believed that women had to be placed apart from men in the home for a variety of oppressive reasons.

Now, when we finally can participate in both public and private spheres freely, we are going to lock ourselves into yet another gender-based ghetto? And then don burqas to make our feminist stance even more obvious? Seriously? Have people gone insane, or what? This is enough to make one think that somebody is paying these pseudo-feminists to discredit the idea of feminism altogether.


Patrick said...

I was always confounded by those 'feminists' who worked tirelessly to break down gender barriers on one side (e.i. - male only golf clubs) only to erect their own walls around women. Segregation is rarely a positive.

Pagan Topologist said...

I remember a women's only newsletter that a local group published in the 1970's. It may still be being published. Any woman who wanted could subscribe, but men were not allowed to do so. They contemplated trying to prevent men from reading it at all, but decided that they could not stop men who lived with subscribers from picking up a copy at home.

Clarissa said...

This is too funny. How can people reading something be harmful to the group publishing the newsletter?

Some people are too ridiculous.

Pagan Topologist said...

I think they thought that women would be less than candid if they feared that men might be reading what they wrote. The amusing thing to me is that at one time one of the editors asked me if I would help get the newsletter out and into the mail. I declined, and another of the members of the staff agreed with me.

Anonymous said...

Clearly this pseudo-feminism replicates patriarchalism, but I wonder if this no-men blog is theoretically rooted in a particular brach of feminism which clearly differentiates a "male" from a "female" viewpoint. I am thinking about the concept of women writing or women way to see the world. Wasn't this essentialist "female perspective" part of the diffences between the so-called French feminism and American feminism?


Clarissa said...

There used to be a difference, you are right, but not any longer. The cuase of "difference-based" feminism now reigns supreme in the North American feminism.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes call myself a feminist, mainly to piss off conservatives, but really I am not. I am an egalitarianist.

Things like Twisty is doing harm the cause of feminism very directly. Her actions are not too many steps from, as you note, from having women wear burqas, which would be the ultimate feminist statement in this scenario, I guess. Funny how the extreme left and extreme right wrap around.

Twisty is a bigot -- against anyone in the BDSM scene, anyone who enjoys het sex, and now apparently anyone male.

I used to go to her blog years ago, but stopped to save my sanity.

There are nearly as many anti-feminist women as men, in the US especially (though they don't tend to be as loud). What genitalia has to do with that I have no idea.

The main reason I dislike Twisty and her ilk is not that they are bigots -- there is no lack of those -- but because the world they desire just doesn't sound like it's any fun.


Clarissa said...

"The main reason I dislike Twisty and her ilk is not that they are bigots -- there is no lack of those -- but because the world they desire just doesn't sound like it's any fun."

-So true. Such people always express themselves in this earnest, holier-than-thou tone that repels anybody with a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

She already moderates the hell out of her comments anyway, to the point where if anyone disagrees with her or doesn’t share her views on a certain issue there comment isn’t going to stay up for long. Which can make for some bizarre lopsided threads, where people reply to stuff that isn’t there anymore. I don’t know why she just doesn’t go all the way and ban everyone from commenting it would save her a lot of time.


David said...

I've gotta tell you it's funny seeing the rhetorical contortions some pseudo feminists go through in order to justify excluding men. (By the way, thank you for the term Clarissa. I intend to use it from now on to describe people who are feminist in label only)

I looked at the commentary on feministe. If I were drinking some kind of soda, I probably would have done a spit take. Maybe I missed the memo on how self isolation was supposed to be empowering. Maybe I missed the memo on how diversity was supposed to be a bad thing. Maybe I also missed the memo on how being a "dude" was in any way wrong. Today's the last day that I even contemplate bothering to post on such a clusterf*** of a site. It'll save myself some sanity, and save the women there the pain of smelling my man-musk over the internet.

Clarissa said...

I know what you mean, David! I avoid discussions at such blogs like the plague because it's scary how deluded some people can be. It saddens me that a name of a political movement that I identify with is often overtaken by people who pervert it and turn it into its exact opposite.

figleaf said...

Eh. I think it's fine to create people-where-you-are spaces, even when I'm not one of the people where you are. For instance there are quite a few "pickup-artist" forums that are actually quite closed to outsiders. There are feminist and womanist spaces, obviously. There's some tremendously angry guy in Portland who runs a closed anti-porn site. Glenn Beck types have their spaces. Trans people have theirs. Gay conservatives have theirs. Angry divorced men have theirs. And so on.

In each case, for better or worse, having a space where you can stand down from your belief that you must present your "unified public face" and actually talk about stuff you feel really vulnerable about. (The friend who told me about the PUA sites said, for instance, that it provides a critical space for men who are really worried about masculinity to safely *question* their masculinity.

So the question for me isn't so much that people have themselves-only spaces, or even that they brag about it. What matters is whether they *stay* in it. You sort of get to see what happens in, say, the whole Fox News "epistemic closure" phenomenon, and that sort of echo-chamber/amen-chorus effect shows up in places like IBTP.

But hey, there's a point in almost any consciousness-raising processes where frustration and impatience with the status quo boils up. And while it happens to be, I think, a huge mistake to stay angry, I think it's also problematic if you never get angry at all.

(Case in point that only seems completely off the wall: kid I was in high-school with maybe 40 years ago now still walks with a limp from the injury he got putting his whole heart, soul, and body into not losing the homecoming game in his senior year. Playing with unreported broken bones can evidently do that. At the moment, though, school spirit and winning that game was that important to him. Would he do that today? No, almost certainly not: he's gotten perspective. It's not that community isn't important to him -- I'm sure it is. It's that he, like numerous teammates who weren't crippled by zeal, were, well, so full of zeal they were willing to cripple themselves. And not to put too fine a point on it, if he hadn't felt the future of his team, his school, and his life were about to be lost to an opposing team he might not have hurled himself so thoroughly into harms way. My point is that people experience zealous feelings, and thrive on opposition. Particularly when they feel they're in an easily extinguished minority. When they can find a safe place to spread out their thoughts without opposition nearly all of them are eventually able to move on. Without feeling obliged to virtually set themselves on fire.)

So there. That's my pitch for tolerating and even encouraging safe-space venues for people to air out their demons. First, it's actually good for most people. Second, the more outsiders push, the more zealously they risk irreparably windmill-tilting themselves. When someone's in that space all the reasonable chiding in the world won't help.


figleaf said...

About the pseudo-feminist thing. I'd just point out that feminism is a very big tent -- big enough to hold the almost diametrically opposite Twisty Faster and Sarah Palin, not to mention everyone else in between. Where "in between" isn't even a single file but wide field. Considering the breadth of the field almost everyone on it can be branded a pseduo-feminist by one or more others on the field. Nor is it the case that the field slopes upward from, say, a least-feminist Palin to an ultimate-feminist Mary Daly. Instead I think the way to look at feminism, as with most other fields, is to look at their impact on the rest of the field rather than their authenticity. By that metric the Palin and the Daly factions are both noisy and noticable, but for all that they're neither terribly influential and thus, for all their visibility, not very significant. (Even though, referencing the "angry" stage, above, many or even most feminists may at one point or another go through a transitional Palin or Daly phase.

Anyway, that's why I'm less inclined to call one group pseudo-feministst: it reinforces the idea that there's one single "authentic" feminism one could belong to instead; it allows us to imagine that the definition we're using to judge others is, in fact, the most authentic. Both of those require more authority than pretty much anyone has -- not me, not you, not Palin, not Twisty, not bell hooks, not Shulamuth Firestone, not Caitlin Flannagan, etc.


Clarissa said...

I get your point, figleaf. I just don't understand how having a vagina is expected to prevent any one from rendering any space extremely unsafe. I've had female readers who tried to stalk me and harass me, and it felt no better than being harassed by male readers.

NancyP said...

I remember the alt.feminism days, and unrestricted access made the usenet group useless. The ratio of thoughtful posts to flame/flame-bait approached zero at times.

I think that occasional requests to readers to desist from posting "but what about the (menz)(whites)..." or demands to get spoon-fed "feminism 101" or "anti-racism 101" are perfectly reasonable, because the discussion gets thread-jacked by posters who have no intention of listening seriously or who just can't get the concept that "Sometimes it's just not about you." It is also reasonable to moderate the discussion to favor people who tend to get ignored in the rest-of-world. Members of dominant groups should be willing to listen and learn about the non-dominant group members' experiences.

I consider it reasonable to warn readers ahead of time that off-topic posts or flames will not be accepted.

Clarissa said...

I moderate comments too, of course. Just not on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. I moderate on the basis of stupidity. :-)

Jam said...

Wow. It baffles me how people act as though "feminism" is interchangeable with "misandry" or less harsh but still problematic "no men allowed." Excluding men from the discussion and movement is not the answer.

There is value in (fill in the blank)-only spaces; however, when those spaces become about entirely rejecting all others who aren't that group, I wonder if it stops being so much a safe space and becomes about -isms. When one refuses to interact or listen to dialog from people who don't belong so that safe-space group, the situation becomes reverse. In this case, reverse sexism. That blog isn't feminist, because feminism is about equality between people regardless of sex or gender.

Places like that are the types which make people think feminism = hating men.

Sorry. I'm rambling. Basically, yes, you said it all just right.

Clarissa said...

The saddest thing is that excluding men will not remove patriarchal mentality. Ideology is inside people's heads, and not in their genitals.

MissCherryPi said...

Twisty is not a "psuedo-feminist." She is a radical feminist. And she is making her comments closed to men who insist on derailing the conversations on her site.

Twisty isn't saying something gender essentialist. She is banning the comments that presume the people on the thread do not truly understand feminism and are incapable without a stale, antifeminist talking point, for example "Have you considered that sometimes women acquire free drinks at bars?"

I agree with Figleaf and Nancy above. If you want to have the same Feminism 101 arguments over and over again, great! But Twisty wants to write about radical feminism and to have that discussion on the internet in 2011, it is necessary to keep people from commenting who are disruptive, or who are so ignorant of feminism that they don't understand they are being disruptive.

Clarissa said...

And those disruptive people all have penises? While non-disruptive people have vaginas? Seriously?

Please don't make me laugh.

SnowdropExplodes said...

I normally argue against the "'X'-only space" idea (in this case, 'X'='women'), but on at least one point I want to make fair representation of the argument in favour:

What I find so curious about this initiative ... is ... the very idea of a "male viewpoint." Wasn't the whole point of feminism to dispel the myth that having a penis or a vagina makes you think, feel, or act in a certain way? Haven't we been working hard this entire time to make sure our lives are not defined by what our genitals look like?

The argument is not that biology makes gendered folks different, but that experience does. A male voice speaking from a perspective of male (and often white, cis, het) privilege is going to be coming from a different viewpoint than a female voice (although female voices may speak in anti-feminist ways and contrary to Figleaf above, I think that Sarah Palin is one such voice). Inasmuch as gender produces class distinctions between men and women (that is, socially constructed differences based on social constructions of gender) it may fair to speak of "a male viewpoint". Whether the commonalities of male viewpoints are predominant, or the differences are, is another debate entirely.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say thank you for writing this post. I've been reading feminist blogs for years now, and yours and feministe are among the ones I check every day. I never comment on blogs, but as I read more about this issue on Twisty's blog, I really want to express my approval of what you're saying here.

It's bothered me a lot to see the sexism on this issue coming from bloggers I normally respect and admire, especially feministe. A couple of times over the last couple of weeks I've read something support of Twisty's policy, and felt very disillusioned with the feminist community. Every time, I've reread your post and it's reminded me that there are feminists who are for true equality and abolition of gendered barriers. I completely agree with everything you said here, and thank you for expressing it.

MickieT said...

I found this page via a link from Feministe. I'd like to add my vote of support to figleaf, et al. I'd also like to affirm that radical feminism is not "pseudo feminism." Please don't call it that.

I used to be (or tried to be) a radical feminist separatist, and even though I've moved away from that, my time separated as much as possible from any male or male-identified stuff gave me the freedom to grow, to expand my horizons and, simply put, become a free, grown-up woman.

Sure it has its flaws - what movement doesn't? - but in spite of those, that movement is still valuable and helpful to many women/wimmin/womyn and to their growth as feminists and people.

OTOH, I think that trying to maintain radical feminist separatist principles on the internet with an open blog is almost impossible. So, maybe the medium doesn't quite fit the message in this case?

Clarissa said...

I find this kind of offensive, actually. Can you please quote where exactly I said that radical feminism is pseudofeminism? Or where I said anything at all about radical feminism? The person whose blog post I quoted is not a feminist. She is an angry fool who writes poorly and cannot construct a logical argument worth a dime. There is nothing "radical" about her ideas. Just childish silliness.

I have no idea what a "feminist separatist" is but it sounds like the most ridiculous idea ever to me. If you need to create some completely artificial circumstances to grow, then something must be wrong with your concept of growth.