Yes, #YesAllWomen!

I am incredibly heartened to see the huge explosion of the #YesAllWomen hashtag/meme. And flabbergasted. I see women I know coming out about being raped or sexually assaulted. I see stories and stories and stories spill over. I see men getting it. I see the mainstream media shift its interpretation of the Isla Vista shootings from just being about guns and “mental illness”.

It reminds me of this great passage about the movie Django from a blog post on The Last Psychiatrist:

Anyway, perfectly ordinary slaveowner DiCaprio asks a rhetorical question, a fundamental question, that has occurred to every 7th grade white boy and about 10% of 7th grade white girls, and the profound question he asked was: “Why don’t they just rise up?
[I]t’s completely legitimate for a guy who doesn’t know the score to ask this question, which is why 7th grade boys ask it; they themselves haven’t yet felt the crushing weight of the system, so immediately you should ask, how early have girls been crushed that they don’t think to ask this?

I myself have thought for a long time about women: why don’t they rise up? And it’s great to see you rising up. With all due respect to Yoda, anger leads to change.

Book Review: The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the United States

Specter of Sex book cover: woman in 19th century dress

I’m a well-off, well-educated, straight, white man living in the US, so I sit in the intersection of pretty much every dimension of privilege. I’m also a radical committed to real freedom and equality for everyone, for the destruction of all these systems of oppression. So the question I’m often faced with is: what should I work on? To what specific struggles should I contribute?

Over the years I’ve become more and more convinced that patriarchy is a linchpin hierarchy, upholding many others. It’s also historically ancient: even among the most egalitarian, classless, aboriginal societies anthropologists have reported on, most have some degree of patriarchy, and this seems to have gotten distinctly worse with the rise of agriculture, settlements, and class structure.

Accordingly, I have, for example, worked on campaigns for LGBT rights, because I believe that attacking homophobia and discrimination against LGBT people is fundamentally feminist: the basis for these kinds of discrimination is that men and boys should act certain ways, and women and girls should act certain other ways, and there are no exceptions. I can see from years of living in San Francisco how a queer-friendly environment allows even the straightest, most gender-conformant people freedom from gender and sexuality norms that don’t suit them.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the United States”

Feminism Tomorrow

I came across some discussion by evangelical Christians about “egalitarian marriage”. This is in response to the concept of “complementarian marriage”, which is all the rage in evangelical Christian circles. It’s basically the latest gloss on patriarchy.

I step back and think that I’m glad that these more reasonable folks are having the argument, but to me it’s astonishing there’s a need for the argument at all. But this is the continuing strength of patriarchy today.

This light of feminism among evangelical Christians, while of course moderated by “I’m not a feminist” caveats, is quite encouraging. Two recent events show the core, solid character of feminist gains over the last few decades: the brouhaha over the Susan G. Komen foundation’s withdrawal of funding from Planned Parenthood, and the shitstorm over the right wing’s attempt to treat contraception as a truly controversial subject like abortion. Part of the outrage is over the simple fact that Congress had a discussion about contraception and “religious liberty” with several invited speakers – not one of whom was a woman. It wasn’t too long ago that it would have been normal to exclude women’s voices from a discussion of women’s reproductive health.

One comment on the blog of an evangelical says:

I think a change is coming, and right now, the swell is far off in the ocean, and so it is barely noticed. But as it approaches land, it will rise to tidal wave uprising of people who see God, church, and Scriptures in a new, liberating light.

I agree with the imagery, except I see this as the swell of the next wave of feminism, of which the conversation among evangelicals is only one part.

There is another, deeper swell. In some ways Christians make the best communists, and life is going to get really interesting when that conversation starts among evangelicals.

Update (2018-09-03)

Six and a half years later, we have a large patriarchal (even fascist) counter-movement, but there’s no question that the wave of feminism in the intervening time, with #YesAllWomen and #MeToo, has been and continues to be massive.