I currently have a piece up on Liberal Conspiracy http://www.liberalconspiracy.org about my views on feminists’ campaigns to legislate against the sex industry in the UK. I hope you might take a moment to have a look at it. The sexual fantasy pieces I write here, have a political context to do with how our sexuality is policed in this country. My feminism and my writing challenges that policing, supports people who work in the sex industry, and ends up in almighty arguments with feminists who have a more puritanical view of sex and work than me. And, I hope than you too!
Archive for June, 2010
I am transcribing this directly from the notebook. It is hard to resist the urge to edit my words but this is the challenge I have set myself. Trust me.
It was a hot night. Humid and close. I knew I would not sleep well. Lying there in the dark alone, I resigned myself to fitful sleep.
My hand reached down to find my cunt. It was difficult to know what else to do on a night like this. I was wet already, but that was partly sweat, and the remains of my period.
I’m not sure how to describe how I felt. I never have any trouble getting myself off. But, just as a mood can change between two lovers, so can an atmosphere shift and darken, even when I am alone, my right hand finding its way into my sticky wetness.
As I lay there I began to imagine you, approaching me with your belt. Me bending over, ready for the blows. I felt the heat of the first strike as I pushed my fingers further into my cunt. It was so dark and hot.
But my thoughts blurred and wavered and the scenario flickered and faded. The more I rubbed and probed, the more I connected to myself, just me. Lying in the darkness on this hot night. You disappeared.
I thought about how I’d come to be this girl. This whore. I didn’t really know but I knew I’d got there somehow. I knew it hurt. As my orgasm began to peek through the gap in my thoughts, as the wetness intensified, a wave of loneliness and despair coarsed through my body.
I remembered feeling like this before. Totally vulnerable and scared and sad. I remembered my partner entering me and the deep well of sadness inside being too much. Because that was where ‘He’ got to me, how he (that other, malevolent ‘he’ of my nightmares) had reached in and taken all my sense of wholeness. He ripped me apart from inside. And when my boyfriend tried to fuck me with love, all I could do was cry.
And all I could do was cry now. My orgasm made my muscles twitch. My body shook with involuntary sobs. I cried for that hole that void inside that ‘he’ had left. I cried for the little girl that always felt so lost.
My body shook as I came. I came and I cried and when I turned over to reach out my arms to you there was nobody there.
*I might have called this ‘Coming and Crying’, but that belongs to Melissa and Megan. www.melissagira.tumblr.com T: @melissagira @meaghano
Coming and Crying is a set of personal stories from ‘the other side of the bed’. Out soon in U.S.A
** I changed two or three suffixes to make the past tense consistent. Sorry.
The notebook was defaced. Actually it is a relief: I can’t control who writes or doesn’t write in it, or what they say. Judging by the graffiti, I can’t control what I write in it either.
The word is written in thick green marker pen, over my last entry, that I scrawled on a train again, pissed and pissed off. I didn’t say anything interesting. ‘Whore’ is the most interesting word on that page. Someone refused to take the notebook away, but still managed to read it, my words and his words, that we had so carefully written, respectful of the exercise and its rules. This guy came in and pissed all over our precious exercise. And then he disappeared, off into the London night, never it seems to be heard from again.
I haven’t had that deafening silence as the outcome of a date for a long time. It is unnerving in its contrast with the pre-date virtual chatter and flirting. And it is more annoying because it involved him gaining access to some personal material.
I wrote some rubbish on the train coming home, I clutched the notebook to my chest. I read the proper, spidery handwriting entries of the last contributor and felt strangely moved. I missed my stop. I woke the next morning with a graze on my elbow, a metaphorical wound. I called myself a whore for all to see.
But the good thing is it has freed me up. I am not little miss muffet sat on her tuffet anymore. I’m just a whore that wants to meet some other whores, and read what they have to say. I wonder who will be next.
Feminism Will Eat Itself: Examining the New Backlash (in UK feminism)
Part Two: Ghetto Women
So I am a small voice in the wilderness, trying to make myself heard. I am saying that this ‘resurgence’ of feminism that is being hailed by the liberal press and the ‘new feminist’ movement, it’s not sitting very well with me. And when I try to talk to ‘feminists’, not always to critique, sometimes to learn, to educate myself, to not feel so alone, I am suddenly a kid again, putting her hand into a box, and recoiling as I find it is full of stinging nettles or wasps.
What I learned about gender in the 1990s, was that it is a collection of multiple ‘intersections':
‘Intersectionality may be defined as a theory to analyse how social and cultural categories intertwine. The relationships between gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, class and nationality are examined. The concept can be a useful tool in tracing how certain people seem to get positioned as not only different but also troublesome and, in some instances, marginalised.
Suzanne V knudsen http://www.caen.iufm.fr/colloque_iartem/pdf/knudsen.pdf
What seems to have happened is that many feminist interest groups have taken on this concept of ‘intersectionality’ but interpreted it in a simplistic way. They acknowledge how ‘feminism’ cannot represent all women as a homogenous group. They identify themselves as a minority who is ‘othered’ by the dominant feminist ideology, and is seen as ‘troublesome’. But their reaction is to retreat into their own ‘ghetto’, where they feel safe and are not ‘troubled’ by anyone else’s differing identities and opinions. So the radical feminists, trans women, ‘womanists’ , liberal feminists, anti-sex industry feminists, pro-porn feminists, trade union feminists all inhabit different discursive and physical spaces. In some cases they are patrolled by guards and have high fences round them, to keep out intruders.
But I have no interest in ‘ghetto’ politics. There were some key single interest movements in the past, such as Radical Feminism and Black Power, which needed to distinguish themselves from ‘mainstream’ society and organise, educate themselves separately. But this is 2010 not 1970, and even if people need to work in single-issue groups at times, if there is no coming together, no communication, no acknowledgement of the inevitable intersection between us all, there is no future for feminism.
Here are a few examples of what some of these ‘ghetto women’ said to and about me, when I attempted to ‘intrude’ on their territory, to ask questions and make a dialogue between feminists about difficult subjects such as transgender issues, cissexism, rape, sexuality, pornography and ‘objectification’.
‘she’s just a cis white princess. #enemyatthegates’
‘if cis women have better stuff than trans women, remember its because they beat us down and stole what little we had and destroyed the rest’.
‘all cis gender academics should be killed’
‘Quite Riot Girl, you do know that the sadism in BDSM is named after the Marquis de Sade, the serial rapist of poor French women? Is that really something you want to support in aid of your “fantasies”?’
‘Why should “kink” be respected anyway? Eroticised male violence to women is harmful to women.’
‘Tell that to the girls who had their clitorises cut off for men’s pleasure Quiet Riot Girl. Capitulating isn’t an adequate political response you know’.
‘Quiet Riot Girl – your posts (that you widely publicise) don’t just criticise feminism, they are offensive to the max. Especially your posts about rape. You think you are ‘big and strong enough’ but actually you are misinformed and vile’.
‘But have you ever raped anyone though?’
I found all these comments (and more) about me hurtful at the time. I was struck by how easily some of the people who made them found it to use violent language in their personal attacks. But I reproduce them here, not to gain sympathy. I know I am a privileged white cis woman. I do not feel ‘othered’ by society, except in the ‘small’ matters of my sexuality and my choices around who my partners are and what I write about. I put up these quotes to illustrate how feminism is operating in ghettos, and how anyone who tries to break down the barriers and climb over the fence, gets her hand bitten.
The discourse amongst liberal white feminists, the ones who write the Guardian articles and run the national feminist organisations, the ones who hold the power and privilege in this context, I think, is that this is all part of the big melting pot of feminist thought and action. That all voices can be heard, and all identities can be represented.
I call bullshit on that view. I think trans women are completely ignored and marginalised in our society, including by ‘feminism’. I think a lot of the writings and organisations that are feminist are racist. I think that working class feminists are silenced by the majority of middle class feminism. I think that radical feminist views on rape and sexual violence that were formed in the 1970s, dominate feminist discourse, and other opinions and approaches are vilified. I think the anti-sex industry lobby is doing very well at changing laws and criminalising sex work further, and that people whose sexual proclivities include S and M and kink are treated as ‘vile’ by dominant feminist views.
I think as well there is a case of ‘blame the messenger’ going on here. I am one of very few feminists that I am aware of in the UK who is drawing attention to these divisions and conflicts within feminism. I have been accused of getting involved in ‘infighting’ instead of focussing on our shared aims and objectives. I have had my articles rejected for publication in feminist online journals, and treated as somehow ‘marginal’ in themselves. I have not had emails and correspondance answered by feminist organisations who don’t like what I have to say. What I have to say is not comfortable listening. For something is rotten in the state of feminism, and we need to address it before the whole kingdom comes tumbling down around our ears.
My vision of where feminism is going is bleak. I see a liberal white elite of cis middle class feminists, continuing on their merry way, serving their own interests, and ignoring the rest. The rest, I believe, will retreat further and further into their ghettos and become more and more resentful, so the language of hate could become the actions of hate. Violence against trans women, against sex workers, against gay women, against black women is already occurring (as is violence against white cis women but that is much better publicised and challenged by feminist campaigns). The feeling I have had when visiting these groups, even just online in some cases, is that they are ready to fight back. And that they see ‘feminists’ as a valid target as any for their resentment.
So if we don’t want a war on our hands, don’t you think we should start talking to each other?
With all these ghettos in feminism, I am concerned by the lack of discussion about the biggest ‘ghettos': those of ‘men’ and ‘women’. Without men, feminism does not have a hope in hell. But in this ghetto politics, men and their various ‘intersectional’ identities are not given any credence as far as I can see. My next section will address men and masculinities.
Take a final drag from your cigarette,
Before you let the bitch have it.
Summon the strength, the necessary power
To do the job. Kick down her door.
Think of your anger, rising within.
Make her the cause of all your pain.
Look at her snivelling, sneering expression.
Tonight you’re going to teach her a lesson
She’ll never forget. Concentrate.
Force her to look at you square in the face.
Next on the cheek you once gently kissed,
Accurately plant your fist.
Pull her towards you by the roots of her hair.
If she is screaming then do not hear.
See how her blood turns your hands red,
How strands of her hair stick to the blood.
Throw her down, onto the floor.
This is all she was ever good for.
Kick her, hard, in the small of her back
Till her body goes limp as if she’d been fucked.
Step back for a moment. Check she’s not dead.
Go in for one last punch in the head.
Ask her if this time she understands
Who’s boss. Now wash your hands.
Part One: Backlash Redux
My feminist heart is breaking. That may sound hyperbolic, but it is true.
I was born from the belly of 1970s Women’s Liberation Movement. One of my earliest memories is of being pushed around in my pushchair at a Women’s Lib march. I grew up with the iconic image of the fist inside the women’s symbol, the way other kids grow up surrounded by Star Wars posters. If I cut myself I bleed red, feminist blood.
According to the liberal media, the current epoch is a new ‘golden age’ for feminism, not seen since the second wave’s heyday in the 70s, that I scrutinised not a little critically from my pushchair.
‘There has never been a better, more exciting time to be a feminist’ : Zoe Margolis AKA Abby Lee, author of Girl With A One Track Mind.
‘There’s a resurgence of feminism happening now’ : Catherine Redfern,founder of the popular feminist blog The F Word and co-author of Reclaiming The F Word: The New Feminist Movement.
These are good times we are being told. The third wave of feminism is rolling and crashing onto the beach. So why is this life-long feminist crying into her beer? Why do the words that come to my mind when I think of the state of feminism today include ‘meltdown’ , ‘crisis’ and ‘self-destruction’?
I can’t stop thinking about Backlash. In 1991 Susan Faludi wrote this amazing book on ‘America’s undeclared war on women’. She talked about how
‘the creators of commercial culture distort feminist concepts to sell products while selling women downstream, how the feminist ethic of economic independence is twisted into the consumer ethic of buying power, and how the feminist quest for self-determination is warped into a self-centered quest for self-improvement’.
Faludi told us that the concept that feminism had damaged women and men was a symptom of this ‘post-feminist’ backlash and a myth that needed to be challenged, and, back in 1991, was being challenged by feminist women.
‘Women themselves don’t single out the women’s movement as the source of their misery. To the contrary, in national surveys 75 to 95 percent of women credit the feminist campaign with improving their lives, and a similar proportion say that the women’s movement should keep pushing for change. Less than 8 percent think the women’s movement might have actually made their lot worse’.
But I am beginning to think that the backlash virus has infiltrated feminism itself, and we are attacking our own immune system. So ‘feminism’ is not necessarily the solution to the problems caused worldwide by patriarchal power structures. Feminism has become part of those power structures itself.
Here I list four examples of this shift: they are only symptoms of the disease. To diagnose the cause I would need a lot more time and research.
1. Ghetto Women
2.Men and Masculinities
3. Dumbing down
4. Written on the body.
First section next up: ‘Ghetto Women’
I got the notebook back last night. I could tell by the way it looked a little bit ‘lived in’ that he had used it as I intended. I could also tell, that the experience of carrying the notebook around had affected him, not in the same way, probably, but as it had also affected me.
He wanted to read from his entries but I said no. Suddenly seeing it there in real life analogue again, with him sat there beside me, I felt shy about the words I’d scrawled. I started to wish I hadn’t got it out that time on the tube when I was pissed. He did say that I ‘lost it a bit in the middle’. Too right I did.
When we parted I decided not to read what he had written, not yet anyway. The notebook was burning a hole in my bag and all I could think of was how to get rid of it. Luckily or rather cleverly, I had already made a date with the next potential ‘guardian’ for the following day. The hot potato would be out of my hands again very soon.
I hope the next person agrees to take part. I hope that he enjoys reading the personal confessions of two strangers. I hope he doesn’t think I am a complete headcase. Or if he does, that he realises this little band of secret scribblers have self-selected to a degree.
The notebook belongs to all of us. We just don’t like to admit it out loud.