Critical mass?

Sexual politics ensure that women remain a sexual underclass–or rather a sex caste. Caste is somewhat different to class because it is a closed system, a complete dead-end, a “form of social stratification in which membership is determined by birth and remains fixed for life“.

Although wealth and social-standing are able to cushion the female person from the worst excesses of patriarchy she will always remain a member of her caste. Similarly, the poorest and most disenfranchised of men, the male dregs of society, are regarded as fully human and are entitled to bodily autonomy. Rape of any man is a serious human rights violation. Anal rape–the act itself– is often defined as “male rape” even though women are far more frequently targeted for this crime. This is because when the act is perpetrated against a man, it has been perpetrated against an autonomous human being– i.e a person who was not born to be penetrated. But when any type of rape happens to a woman there is a tacit understanding that this is what she was born for, making the crime not quite as serious, which is why until recently it was regarded as being little more than a property crime— committed against her father or husband…

Historically and by law the police and judiciary would scrutinize how a raped woman had behaved prior to the incident. If an unmarried woman had been raped, it was exceedingly important to determine whether or not she was a virgin. If she was,  then it would be agreed that a crime had indeed been committed. Against her father that is; whose property she was.

If it was proven that she was not a virgin, then no crime had been committed because no man’s property had been violated. In the case of a wife being raped by her husband it was always easily resolved: no one had trespassed on another man’s property, ergo no crime.

The system is still fairly preoccupied with a woman’s behaviour prior to the rape (“What was she wearing?”) although some strides have been made and radical feminists have managed to convince people (men) that the rape of a woman is a crime against a human being… in other words that it is inherently traumatic and dangerous to the victim. But this is all new stuff and it is only during the past couple of decades that this has become accepted as truth. However, the system ( the media,  politicians and especially the judiciary) has since then moved the goalposts, and gets around it these days by declaring that female rape or abuse victims are liars.

All of this backstory shows how entrenched the caste system is, and how thoroughly women’s lives are controlled by the arbitrary dictates of the men who make the rules. Radical feminists accept, therefore, that just because a particular woman has lived a relatively uneventful and privileged life, does not mean that she has risen above her caste.

Caste is most commonly associated with India, but many countries employ a caste system. Japan’s caste system worked in much the same way, whereby members of the untouchable caste were relegated to working  in jobs involving blood and death, because doing that type of work (making leather, cleaning dead bodies etc) put you at great risk of catching a disease. The existence of a caste of people who were born for dirty work meant that members of other castes could then “legitimately” avoid this fate. The political motivations behind creating a caste, whose continued subordination is ensured through the creation of certain laws and social customs, are simple: those in the ruling caste do not wish to do the work relegated to the subordinate (untouchable) caste, and in the same vein, the work of the underclass ensures that the dominant caste are freed up to pursue their own interests/work/research.

Women’s caste status is ensured by the fact that men make laws exonerating themselves for crimes committed against women, and women are prevented from being allowed to take justice into their own hands and to deal with rapists as they see fit. Patriarchy effectively shelters and harbours rapists, shielding men from the comeuppance they would inevitably face if mothers were free to kill the men who rape their daughters, as this woman did in Spain.

So what to do? First of all laws can, and have been changed. Catherine McKinnon, the woman who invented the concept of sexual harassment (i.e the notion that women had the right to keep their jobs despite refusing the sexual advances of their employer or colleagues) made great strides in the field of law.

Western women have fought for– and won–the right to divorce. Unbelievably– and yet not surprisingly– for centuries women were not allowed by law to leave their husbands. Despite the fact that all routes to economic independence (the professions) were closed to women, men knew that it was still possible that women would try and make a break for it, even at the prospect of living in dire poverty. In order to prevent women from taking their chances with poverty, and from acquiring any freedom at all, it became necessary to create laws tethering them to their husbands. Just in case.

Men knew that if they allowed women the right to divorce they would drop their husbands like hot potatoes. And they were right. Women have in fact taken full advantage of the opportunity to no longer live with men. Over 70% of divorces are initiated by women, and among college-educated couples the percentage of divorces initiated by women is approximately 90%) Unfortunately many women around the world are still held ransom by draconic laws forcing them to remain with their husbands. This summer Bangladeshi women made headlines in their fight for the right to divorce. Britan fares no better; battered women looking for financial support from the government to help them leave an abusive spouse are accused of lying by the men who have the power to grant them their freedom.

Under patriarchy children do not, and have never belonged to mothers. In the UK if a man died he was entitled to leave his children in the care of whomever he chose. His wife, the mother of his children, had no say in the matter despite the fact that women (and many men), feel instinctively that if children belong to anybody at all, it is to the person who carried and risked their life to birth them i.e the mother… but patriarchy has turned children into property, goods to be fought over and used so that men can better control women by keeping them bound to them. Some strides have been made in this respect. Women can now divorce and in western countries at least (if they fight hard enough) they can keep their children.

Unfortunately, although laws can be changed, they are easily retracted. The UK Conservative- Lib Dem Coalition has undone a lot of hard-won policies and attempted to reverse laws that were put in place to help rape victims. It targeted women–who are already poorer–for financial cuts, simultaneously supportting men–who are already wealthier, rendering women evermore financially dependant on men. Laws, and the men who make them, are fickle. (Having researched the ConDem government’s targeting of women, which I detail in an article here, it would not surprise me at all to learn that the government have made solid plans to take away women’s right to vote).

If we accept that women are members of a caste, then individualism (or liberalism), as an ideology, is futile. It is the cousin of capitalism, and indeed patriarchy itself, because when society is structured so that women are the primary carers for children, the elderly and the disabled then individualistic policies and politics can only serve men. So when women take on board such ideas as their own, for example, by falling into the trap of believing that career success for them as an individual will make a dint on male power, then they are being duped.

But what about women-driven, women-centred decisions, taken by a particular individual, as part of a coherent plan centred around radical feminist theory?

If the personal is political then to what extent can an individual woman’s decision affect the patriarchal structures? Can it create any dint in it at all?

I think, that if the decision is made in an organized way, with a radical ideology as its backdrop, then yes, it can.

I was not alive during the seventies, but by all accounts it seems that some drastic social changes took place, not only via laws, but also by women organizing and making decisions about how to live their lives. Deciding to divorce your husband is indeed political. The ever-present controversy revolving around abortion is another instance of sexual politics. Celibacy–deciding no longer to have intercourse–in order to avoid abortion and disease, among other reasons, is political. Even the simple step of identifying yourself as a radical feminst is  a deeply political act.

Separatism, for example, can manifest as an individual woman making the personal decision not to live with men, to only visit care-providers who are women, to make a concerted effort to support female-run companies. And if a heterosexual woman decides to renounce men altogether and reject her socially designated nurturing role by setting up home with a friend, or more than one friend, what then? By herself nothing would happen. But if enough women made the same decision, then perhaps we would reach critical mass and society would bend and stretch, some cracks would appear in the underlying structures and perhaps eventually it would cave in. It has happened once before.

The fear, of course, is the backlash. When men’s power is threatened, reaction is swift. What has  always concerned me is that men would up the antse. Women can regain some of our sovereignty and the power that has been taken from us…but what then? There will be a tipping point and something will happen…

This was what drove the witch-craze. It happened in an era when women owned land, and were in control of medicine (or healing as it was known then). They brought babies into the world with midwives, and men were categorically excluded from health. If you were sick it would not cross your mind to go to a man; you would go to a woman. The desire to be tended to by a woman when you’re sick makes instinctive sense to anybody. But men.. well, understanding that women had power and knowledge that they did not, and seeing that women were thriving without them…their egos could not stand it…

In order to be taken seriously in the field of medicine they first had to murder millions of women. Even then they were not trusted, and their incompetence caused the deaths of many women labouring in childbirth because they didn’t have even have basic knowledge about hygiene. Male “doctors” would “help” women deliver their babies after  doing an autopsy on a dead body without even washing their hands in between. Women of the upper classes learned that it was safer giving birth alone than calling the doctor.

So the problem is perhaps not liberating women, it is keeping women liberated. Men have much to lose with the fall of patriarchy. In a previous post I argued  that without the economic benefits the system provides them, which enables them to coerce, manipulate and distort women’s behaviour,  many men would never become fathers. Many would never experience sex with a woman. This, in itself, is enough for them to fight to the death. Life without women is meaningless after all, because women bring color to all our lives,  so they would rather kill all the women in the world than forfeit acess to our bodies and minds. They would rather see women, planet earth, and themselves destroyed before they would willingly witness us escape our sex- imposed caste. I’ve read the history books, seen what men have done to us before, and it worries me.

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38 thoughts on “Critical mass?

      • Yes indeed, for the deprivileging of ‘cis’ and for the permanency of our caste.

        It’s not an ‘identity’ of woman/female, we are marked from birth, as part of that caste. Only if we go down the road of ‘transman’ (convincingly) can we possibly escape it, which is why the ‘transman’ thing exists – as an attempt to escape the class of female/woman.

        It does not make any sense to ‘escape’ into a lower caste, even if unsuccessful in the higher/ruling caste – except as ‘bigger fish in smaller pond’ syndrome – which M2Ts have definitely done, by their elevated positions everywhere. In fact, the male-born M2Ts are actually replacing FABs in many areas, both male-dominated fields and some strategic female areas like ‘womens studies’. It is like this huge cosmic joke we are meant to buy into – that these new caste members are exactly the same – they are not, and no one in the world treats them the same as genuine female caste members.

      • That transwomen are counted as women in national statistics is a HUGE problem for women, and for feminism. They are violent, because they’re men, but it is recorded in the stats that a woman has committed the crime. I know Twanzphobic since forever and GenderTrender have documented this well. They do well in male dominated professions from which women are excluded, such as IT and engineering, and then it looks as though women are gaining ground in the equality stakes, when we’re not.

        The whole thing stinks. I wish transwomen would just FUCK OFF and leave women alone, and stop appropriating our oppression.

    • Gosh that’s a really good point. When transwomen transition they do suddenly become big fish in a small pond don’t they.

      Just look at all ATTENTION they’re getting from women right now: all the fussing and fawning and pandering and nurturing they receive… They’re the loudest voices in any women’s gathering, they insist on “leading” feminism, on “teaching” us women what feminism is, and how we’ve got it all wrong etc etc …

      They behave so much like men it. is. unbelieveable!!!!

      I’ve also noticed they have have a tendency to channel the miniscule, pitiful resources allocated by society for women towards themselves. Transwomen”academics” are now receiving bursaries and awards that are set aside for women; transwomen athletes compete against women in bodybuilding and other sports… because if they to compete against their own kind–men– they’d be non-entities, *despite* posessing the Y chromosome and secondary sex characteristics that set them far *far* apart from women.

      I’ll never forget delphyne saying “If anyone really thought they were women nobody would give them the time of day.” That just about sums up “trans” in a nutshell.

      • ‘Big fish in small pond’ is exactly what they do. Primarily because EVERYONE knows they truly were not born into the female caste, and came from the higher one.

        Libfems fawn over them, taken in by the ‘but we are the mostest oppressedest of all women’ schtick, which is again one of the patriarchical reversals – they are higher in the caste because they truly do not belong to the caste of female.

        It is working against females in the workforce, and those that believe the ‘equality’ thing, because M2Ts count as ‘women’ in the equality monitoring stats. No addtional females go into those roles, but the equality stats show an increase in females in those male-dominated fields or higher positions. Bait and switch in other words.

        And it’s just a big fucking joke that M2Ts – or even regular dudes – are teaching feminism or women’s studies to females.

    • You’re a stronger woman than me, Yisheng Qingwa. Their babble hurts my brain.
      Although it is good to keep on top of what they’re up to, and to be aware of their latest tactics and strategies. The patriarchal reversals in that article were painful to read.

  1. You nailed it, CBL. It is a caste system. It is not a choice or something one can jump in and out of. It is something one is born into, which remains fixed. Tho it may not be as obvious as India’s caste system, the U.S. too has a caste system, which I’ve always labeled “class.” As I tried to explain to folks, it’s not something one can buy. It’s something one is born into. Caste describes it much better than class tho. Thanx for this, CBL. It exposes gender for the red herring and bogus b.s. it really is.

    • Thanks Luckynkl.
      Gender is a “red herring” and “bogus b.s”.

      And I’ve just thought of another reason why transwomen are so ridiculous:
      Bangladeshi women are currently fighting for the right to divorce i.e the right not to live with men…something which women have always wanted over the millenia, but have been prevented from doing.
      It doesn’t matter how many women say “but I like men, I WANT to live with men”, because the real question they should be asking themselves is “can I survive financially without a man in my life” and the majority of the time the answer to that question will be “no”.

      Then we have transwomen. Whose activism is focused on “sleeping with lesbians” and “shutting down women’s conferences” and “getting into women’s bathrooms”.

      Women= Want to live without men.
      Transwomen= Want a “hole” carved into their body for men to stick their dicks into.

      The difference between women and transwomen has never been clearer.

      Aargh. The *narcissism*, the lack of empathy, the *stupidity* of transwomen and their movement and anyone who supports them hurts my brain.

  2. i suspect theres something to the “energy” argument too, that if we withdraw our energy from men, and our “choices” accomplish that, that this kind of “choice” is more significant than other kinds of “choices” like whether or not we wear lipstick, for example. its a conceptual barrier, or a problem of language perhaps that these actions are difficult to differentiate? are we in choosy-choice territory, or not, and if not, why not?

    and you are of course very right that the question is not whether but WHEN the backlash will arrive, how bad it will be, and which women will bear the brunt of it when it happens.

    • It’s possible that white women will bear the brunt of the backlash. They will be scapegoated for the colonialist and imperialist crimes of white men. And white men will lead the onslaught against them.

    • Yes, there is a conceptual barrier here, thanks for pointing that out. Why are some actions different, and effective, and others not.
      I reckon it has a lot to do with whether or not those actions and decision were invented and created by the women’s movement itself (i.e radical feminism). If the choices set before us have come from any other source then it’s just a case of “making the best of a bad job”.

      • Acts are organized in themselves too. I see them as hierarchical like sets. The act of wearing lipstick is a sub-act of (among others) the act of pleasing men .
        The “lowest” acts are the ones that are not sets themselves, but you can directly act upon – lipstick would be such a base-level act. (We are in the domain of female oppression, so possible sub-acts like going to the shop etc. I ignore.)

        The act of widthdrawing energy from men, will consist of a lot of sub-acts (which will also consist of sub-acts etc.) and eventually lots of base-level acts.

        You could say that a non-base-level act is acted upon (or not) if the majority of its sub-acts are acted upon (or not). Let “weight” denote the minimum amount of base-level acts necessary for the act to be acted upon… then the energy thing has way more weight than the lipstick thing. For “giving energy to men” to be set to “false” it can be needed to set “wearing lipstick” to “false” (but not necessarily, if only the majority of sub-acts needs to be true/false). But never vice versa.

        Girls are brainwashed bottom-up. But it’s not clear to everyone that these low-level acts have effect because many low-level acts are needed to make a higher-level act (unconsciously) appear. Funfems always present the lower-level acts isolated, like they don’t accumulate together to something else.

  3. Feminists used the word caste more often in the first wave than they do now. I think you are right it is a better word because it better exemplifies the impossibility of escape to the other side. If we know we are stuck in a caste system we are less likely to believe it will be different for us, or that we are going to find that persuasion technique that has eluded all other women for millennia. Women in general may begin to realise the only way to really improve the lives of women is through collective female action.

    It also makes it easier for women to unite across class divides; men are always trying to pit women of different classes against each other and the caste concept is a good way of preventing that.

    • Yes class and race.. White men are exceptionally adept at dividing women up like this.
      Well I guess that’s because it’s true that “divide and rule” is a very effective political tactic (again, it goes back to politics. None of this is natural).
      Julian Real is a classic example of a “pro-feminist” man who insists on pitting white women against other women”

  4. Lovely points, all of them!

    The only one I’ll disagree with, and this is just a national difference, is that in the US, men have a harder time gaining custody of their children. Of course….this ONE TINY BENEFIT of being female is rapidly and rabidly being fought against by “men’s rights activists.”

    The US is a rather frightening place to have a vagina these days. I don’t know how much US news you get in the UK, but people in the US there are hundreds of PUBLICLY ELECTED POLITICIANS IN OFFICE who publicly admit that women shouldn’t be in control of their reproductive health, that rape should be “renamed” as “failed sexual negotiations,” that rape penalties should be lower, that rape should be even harder to prove, that all abortion from the moment of conception on should be criminal, that pharmacists have the right to refuse women birth control.

    In addition to doing more to support female-centered care and business,I run a blog and I just started a feminist podcast…this is my best way to fight back, for now, but I’d love to hear more ideas!!

    • Hi Katie,
      If I understand correctly, the children are given to the primary carer i.e the parent who spent most time with the children. In 99% of cases this is the mother, which means the children should go with her. WHen you think about the fact that if a woman conceives a child she will probably experience morning sickness which means she might have to give up work, or turn down a promotion.. she can’t travel because she’s pregnant, and it takes roughly 18 months for a woman’s iron levels to restore themselves after childbirth…
      Well when you think that nothing happens to a man’s body at all, that he can continue travelling/taking promotions etc throughout his wife’s pregnancy… then it makes sense that the child should always go to the mother.
      This is even before we get to the fact that women breastfeed and take maternity leave after the child is born, and take days off when their child is sick.
      Men have a tendency of thinking that if they read their child a story in the evening then they’re carrying out 50% of the childcare… Men can never put in the same amount of energy as women, and do not have the same stake in children as women do, therefore women should always ALWAYS be given first refusal to keep the children.

      IN any case none of it has anything to do with “mother’s rights”. There are no “mothers rights”. There are only “Primary caretaker’s rights”.
      But Fathers have lots of rights.

    • Obviously I take offence to this:
      “a frightening place to have a vagina”

      When commenting on a radfem blog it’s more appropriate to write:
      “a frightening place to be a woman.”

      This is because in radical feminism, women are not defined by the fact they have a “hole down there”. This is a misogynistic view of women, invented by men.
      I mean, why not say, ”
      ” a frightening place to have a vulva” , or “a frightening place to have XX chromosomes” or ” a frightening place to have the secondary sex characteristics of females” etc.

      Defining women as “people with vaginas” makes you sound like a man!

  5. This may be of interest. 🙂

    “It may be that the psychological root of selective nit-picking about the use of the term “caste” to describe women’s situations is a desire not to be open to the insights made available by such a comparison.”

    – from p. 2 of Mary Daly’s Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation.

  6. Cherryblossom I am transported transpired exploded and enriched to find you!
    I am a Radical Feminist from the 70s and I find your writing solidly Radical Feminist on that her-itage. Yet with new insights. THANK YOU.

    I do not remember much talk of caste back then. Nor did we talk of gender. Gender came later when it all got diluted away from a Women’s Movement worlwide to “feminism” a nice sift word that meant a clever way of thinking about men and women. So no more raised fist no more Women’s Movement.

    If ‘caste’ was mentioned back then it was not widespread. It is a beautifully simple and clear way of explaining sisterhood. Thank you.
    Sisterhood is not sentimental, not particularly pretty and not sophisticated. It links those of us who are genetically female, who have vaginas, who bleed, and birth. Though some may lack some female functions the genetics usually make it clear and ENOUGH of the female stuff exists to show whether we are female caste or not.

    So here sister Cherryblossom I do not agree with you. To speak of those with vaginas is not men talking. It is US TALKING. We are the vaginas who TALK! We are the vaginas with teeth! a parallel with the mouth that is a psychological male fear!
    To speak of those with vaginas widens sisterhood to all females so we are not in lonely human isolation but intimately connected to the sexy ferocity of she-cats, the hunting experts lionesses, the great matriarch elephants and so on.
    Surely if I love my silken glove vagina with her incredible strength I can be proud of being “a person with a vagina.”

    I wish here I could keep clicking Like because I found so much I delighted in in your article AND the comments.
    You said “A woman is born to be penetrated” oh yes that defines us. The nitty gritty. (Note in making a “person with vagina” OK I define it as “designed to welcome chosen penetration.” Not just to be penetrated by whatever.)
    So if we are just things to be poked if we refuse penetration, if we live without a man we are unnatural and must be punished by harassment (having my phone cut off I kid you not repeatedly!) violence and rape (no comment).

    I discovered just how massive is the difference about living an independent life when at 40 I went into genuinely and deeply loving a man for the first time. Not a common story, usually the other way. Wow how much EASIER life became. Suddenly I was automatically respected wherever I went, treated well, occasionally overlooked yes, but mostly life was so much gentler and easier. Point taken.

    You say “Men have much to lose with the fall of patriarchy.” I would go further on your following remark: many men under patriarchy do not become fathers. The model is the cow herd where many young males are castrated. Only those males who learn the masculine game and win status get to breed. Mostly.

    Men have a primitive need of women – read Valerie Solanas way back in the 60s. (“SCUM”) Men are deeply dependent beings who need a woman to feel OK. We are like the batteries they plug into (literally) to recharge.
    Why? They grow up as lost boys seeing the Great Mother in all her awesome power since small children mostly live in mother care. Little Girl can see she’s going to be a Great Mother one day but Little Boy has no such future. All he has is bits and pieces, gadgets, outings, and fantasies of Superman (which make him feel inferior).
    But once he grows up he can plug into that electric power and WAZZAM he’s STRONG. Without that he’s nothing.
    We know that men on their own survive badly where women alone survive very well.
    So the roots of the ghastly system is a lot of frightened little boys dick waving, pointing penis guns, and desperately plugging into any female they can bully, beg or pay to have them.

    It is possible for a man to learn to grow up. I am lucky enough – now – to have one sharing my life. It took bloody fighting for over a long bitter decade to make it work. Was it worth it? I don’t know. Many times I was close to ending it and we did separate several times. I do know I’m happy now but the price was too high over the years.
    But he learned. He never limits my freedom. He enriches me sexually and cherishes me. It IS possible but horribly rare. I offer it as a sign of hope for the future. I think my son will not have nearly so much to learn.

    • It’s possible we may not agree on every single issue, or definition (particularly with regard to trans. I will never call them “she” or “woman” and certainly not “special women” , for they are men– male through and through– not women) , but do continue commenting and reading here 🙂
      Cherryblossomlife

  7. I write separately on trans women. I agree they are a problem. I have seen their masculine aggression. I have seen how they hog attention and resources. Just like male toddlers who don’t know how to share and make a big fuss.

    These are not truly women. No amount of mutilation, castration, hormonal doping up can create a woman. Women are born and reared. We learn what it is to be female as we are held differently as babies and cooed at instead of jerked up and down. We learn what it is to be female as we wait anxiously for breasts to grow and first blood to appear: mirroring anxious waits on fertility results later. Trans do not experience all that.

    I think it is best to permit them the courtesy title of ‘woman’ and ‘she.’ That is superficial and similar to saying someone’s name properly if they are foreign, or providing veggie food/ carnie food for a guest. Politeness.

    But as Jani a leading trans here in the UK debated with me, and agreed, they are “special women” not “ordinary women.” They have, in the most sympathetic view, a journey of suffering of their own.
    We can argue about breasts, vagina, bleeding, conception, birth, lactation. Not all women have or use all those badges so the argument gets incredibly complicated.
    But it gets a lot clearer if we stick to genetics and use male/ female language.

    So I have 2 x X chromosomes. I am biologcally female and my social caste is allocated as woman.
    A trans has only 1 x X chromosome. ‘She’ is biologcally male and ‘her’ social caste is chosen as woman.

    In shorthand I am a female woman, she is a male woman.

    This to me makes sense of the male aggression trans women employ and their demanding natures which assume they belong at the centre holding privilege.

    It also makes sense of my aversion to sharing sisterhood with them except in certain general ways such as some laws. I do not want to share personal feelings in a women’s group with a male woman for example. But I might consent to campaign alongside them on finance issues.

    I hope others might find “female woman” and “male woman” helpful.
    If not we women are clever and resourceful so you’ll find your own way of making it clear.

    One area I do detest bitterly is the UK change in law that means a male woman can get her birth certificate changed to conceal her genetic gender. So my son and men like him might be duped into marrying a male woman who cannot create a child, without knowing it. Such deception should not be permitted and I’m surprised that our male masters at the top have not seen their own trap.

  8. “The only one I’ll disagree with, and this is just a national difference, is that in the US, men have a harder time gaining custody of their children.”

    It’s not true, but that’s what most Americans believe. Which tells us how powerful men’s propaganda machine is in the U.S. Phyllis Chesler did a 7 year study on it tho. The truth is, men are awarded custody in 83% of cases in the U.S. when they challenge custody. 90% if they appeal. Abusive men are 9 x as likely to sue for custody. In all likelihood, he’ll get it too. Women only tend to get custody when men don’t want custody or can’t be bothered to challenge it.

    So much for the lies and bullshit of men and their patriarchy and all this onsense about the “best interest of the child.” The system was created by the powerful for the powerful – to serve and protect their interests, no one else’s. Patriarchy = the rule of the fathers. Need I say more? It is a myth that women get custody. Children have always been viewed as the property of men. Up until the 20th century, women were also thought to be the property of men. Still are. The laws and attitudes towards women really haven’t changed much in the last 500 years.

    Women started gaining custody in the 20th century when the Child Labor Laws came into being. Up until then, children provided free labor for men so men considered children to be assets. The Child Labor Laws changed all that. Children then became liabilities instead of assets, so men abandoned their families in droves, leaving children in the custodial care of their mothers. Men’s standard of living went up 80% while women’s and children’s plummeted 80%. It resulted in millions of women and children being poverty-stricken and having to live on welfare. This continued until the 1970s. That’s when the gov’t stepped in and enacted the Child Support Laws – which forced men to be responsible for the children they sired. But leave it to men to bastardize the laws and reverse them. Child support meant $$$. Wherever there’s $$$, you can bet the farm men will make sure they receive the lion’s share of it. Children once again became an asset to men. Men sought custody of children, demanded child support from their mothers, and as a bonus, could control the mother through the children. Many of these children have now grown up. Some of them came forward on a thread at Twisty’s a couple of years ago. They reported that life at dad’s house consisted of their having to clean his house, do his laundry, and cook his meals. IOWs, they served him instead of the other way around. Voila! We’re right back to square one. Men using children for free labor and profit and to control women. Since men don’t do human maintenance, is there any other reason for men to want children?

    • Thank you for that detailed reply Luckynkl!
      I knew that mothers’ rights didn’T exist in any country on earth (!), and that fathers had rights in every country…

      …but what I didn’t know was that if the father contested custody there was a high possibility he would get the kids, even if the mother was the primary carer. The reason I had no idea about that is because most men do just abandon children when they’ve had enough…UNLESS (as you point out) they’re abusive enough to use the children to control and upset the mother.

      Plenty of women stay in miserable marriages because they don’t want to take the risk of losing their children to an abuser. They figure that at least if they’re in the house they can limit the damage he can cause to the children… Then what happens is social services find out that he’s abusive and she stands the chance of losing her children anyway because she didn’t try hard enough to keep them away from him (even though she often has nowhere to go!).

      It is all very fucked up indeed.

      I checked the commenter’s facebook link and found that she was fairly young… and I’d say you’d have to be either a young, childless woman, or a man, to believe that any court system in the world treats mothers fairly.

    • And as you point out, women only *inadvertantly* get custody (because of Child Labour Laws, or because it is proven that the father spent no time at all with the children)…. not because anybody thinks:
      “OH, hang on a minute. This woman birthed this child, and if there were complications she risked her life to do so, and therefore maybe she should get first refusal.”

  9. Cherryblossom in defining trans as “special women” I did not mean in any way the sense of “special” as ‘better/ more/richer.’ My usage comes from philosophy and logic, as in ‘special case.’ My apologies I should have made this clear before.
    In this usage it is actually just a way of separating and distancing trans (male women) from female women. It makes them a separate and distinct group, instead of what many want and some laws give them, a merging as all women together.

    My acceptance of the social language woman/ she/ her is entirely superficial. Typically I have to call a woman by her married name because I am not told any other. That doesn’t mean I agree with it. I do it as a dishonest kind of courtesy, as I do calling trans a woman. It means I reserve my struggle energy for other more important issues like how that married woman negotiates her power and safety. It may be possible to raise the issue of naming later if I win her trust.

    An example of strategic use of courtesy is if trans / male women are harassing us about being included in a women’s group or event I would strategically use the woman/ she language. This has the advantage of courtesy which does gain points. It also has the advantage of ‘giving ground’ so I can then stand firm on another ground. Which is the core ground in that situation which I really really want to win.
    So I’d say “Yes it’s accepted that you are women, but there are genetic female women, and genetic male women. This group/ event is for female women.” I have had success using this strategy.

    • HI Shan Morgain (I like your name, by the way. In Welsh it would be Sian Morgan).
      Anyway, yes I do know what you meant by “special”, and I do see exactly where you’re coming from. In fact I would say that your approach is still radical feminist.

      It’s just that, well, having interacted with transwomen for years and seen the worst excesses of their misogyny ( I mean, really, they are far more misogynistic than your average guy) I have decided to make no concessions at all. Not in my feminist politics in general, and especially not with transwomen.

      The reason is this: you, Shan Morgain, are a woman so you think like a woman, which means that your default approach is to meet them halfway, or at least be polite to them. Women are conciliatory like that. You might not believe this but four years ago I even felt sorry for transwomens’ “plight”…

      … until I realised they don’t give a shit about women, and in fact want women to use our energy to fight their battles for them and even call it feminism.

      Transwomen are men and therefore they very much think and behave like men, either because of their Y chromosome or because of their early socialization ( I do not know–or care!– which it is)… which means they are driven to ride roughshod over women, women’s concerns, in fact anything to do with women.

      They desire to conquer and assimilate women. If you spend enough time in the radfem blogosphere you will begin hearing of how transwomen take over women’s spaces, how they are always the loudest voices in the room, how they believe that lesbians who are not attracted to them are transphobic– even if they still posess a penis!
      So at some point, you begin to realise that these are not “women trapped in a men’s body”at all or whatever their latest line is… they are men with a sense of entitlement who get a kick out of making women submit to them. Getting us to call them “women” or “she” is but one way that they demand our submission.

      And I simply refuse to comply.

    • But yours is probably a more effective political strategy, for sure.

      Kind of like a married women soothing her husband’s ego even though she knows he’s in the wrong (and stupid) if it means he’s not going to demand sex or beat her up that night.

  10. > HI Shan Morgain (I like your name, by the way. In Welsh it would be Sian Morgan).

    Shan Morgain is just as Welsh as Sian Morgan. Welsh is not rigid on spelling and has many variations which is typical of tribal societies like the Celts whose language was only written down late in history. I live in Wales by the way 25 years now, and my Welsh consort and I have a beautiful Welsh son.

    > Anyway, yes I do know what you meant by “special”, and I do see exactly where you’re coming from. In fact I would say that your approach is still radical feminist.

    Having been a Radical Feminist since it was first introduced to Britain in 1973 I’d find it odd to not be one suddenly!

    Myself I avoid trans society like the plague. When I was a young woman in my teens in gay clubs of the 60s and 70s, I used to attract them mightily goddess knows why except I certainly was extremely sexy and had endless problems just walking around comfortably without being groped by blokes. But trans never appealed to me in the slightest. What was worse they reacted as men, finding it amazing I didn’t want them, and persistently bothering me after I said no, no way. Ugh.

    My politeness is as you say strategic. But comparing it with a bullied wife is not quite right. I do not do it out of fear or weakness. Politeness can be contempt, a way to create distance3 too. It is also pure diplomacy, to get what I want. Which is to be left alone by a type of person I do not choose as a personal associate.

    Political correctness typically does not distinguish between ‘respect’ and ‘like.’ This is important. and often guilt trips people unnecessarily.
    As a freedom lover I am bound to support freedom struggle where I can. For those in power use oppression of one group as practice for use on another. As long as it doesn’t drain my energy from more core efforts centred on women, I will sign a campaign petition, or make a brief support comment on trans. I would certainly speak up on any brutality to them by police if only because that is connected to brutality to my son’s generation, and to women.
    But while I will give certain limited support, as I do to Black people, immigrants etc I do NOT have to like them if my natural reaction doesn’t go that way. I don’t have to talk to them beyond bare politeness (which saves draining my energy in confrontation I can’t be bothered with), I do not have to guest them in my house, or permit them in my groups.
    Liking is free choice, respect is governed by a general principle.
    .
    I agree women are trained and possibly genetically inclined to be conciliatory. I have fought this in myself quite successfully so I’m usually aware when I’m lapsing into that weakness. But I think as long as we are aware of this weakness and keep checking it, we can transform it into a great strength. We become excellent negotiators and achieve what we want. Sometimes though this is not appropriate, and direct confrontation is required.
    The essential thing is to know deeply we have the choice on how to act. We are not compelled to confront and fight, nor are we compelled to conciliate and diplomatise. The day I decided NOT to speak up when the people around me were insulting women was very liberating! I stopped being a slave feminist and became a much better one with more energy for what I chose that really mattered.

    I once asked for help after getting drained in a meeting. The person I asked pointed out that I was reacting to everything in a very innocent, direct way. I was advised to select my targets at the start and stick to them, focusing my strength on them, letting other matters pass by. This way I would far more likely get what I wanted, and not become exhausted either. I found it worked very well.

    I guess it comes back to Radical Feminism being about choice, the choice to be fully a woman in the way I choose to be.

  11. Hi, Cherry, thank you for your article. All I can do is nod, nod, nod. How to characterize women’s unique oppression took me some time, until I saw Germaine Greer’s characterization of us in The Female Eunuch as a “subjugated caste” many years ago. A caste is something you are born into, almost impossible to escape. A class in the Marxian sense is not as inescapable. It is more than an accident of birth, it is also a condition of a whole life. A caste based on sex – it is unique. We do handle the blood and the taking care of the dead, just like the untouchables in many countries. We are the servant caste, the unpaid laborer caste, the caste of those to be used occasionally and furtively as in the extraordinary movie from India, “Water”. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240200/ .

    • Hi Karmarad,
      Thank you, and yes I never thought of that. Women are the ones who deal with blood and illness… and then men are the funeral directors and the priests, taking away our right to deal with the deaths of our loved ones in the ways we see fit. In some cultures women are not allowed at the funeral.

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