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the word should have a clear definition

Okay, so this here isn't any kind of usual or representative definition of feminism. Only a small subset of self-styled radical feminists talk this way, and this one's worse than the usual suspects. I did, though, want to pick at one small part of her "definition" because I think it's a real problem.

In her description of "feminist behaviors," she lists (in addition to many other "behaviors," some of which I agree with and some of which I don't):

  • not raping women, even if they want it, ask for it, consent to it, beg for it: Rape is rape.
  • not hitting/beating/tying up/torturing women even if they want it, ask for it, consent to it, beg for it: Violence is violence.
I could talk about how BDSM isn't violence, here, but that's not my big point today, children. (ETA: And this person seems to have had some bad experiences with BDSM. So while I don't agree, I'm not gonna pick on someone who has bad memories... it's not at all productive.)

My big point is that "rape" should have a clear definition, as clear as we can get it. The general understanding of the word is that rape refers to nonconsensual sexual activity. I see no reason to broaden it such that there's such a thing as "wanting rape" or, heavens above, "consenting to rape." That's incoherent.

It's true that in our current culture, there is a lot of misunderstanding of and debate around the notion of consent. There are indeed a lot of non-feminists and others who will take certain kinds of conduct or even certain sorts of character as indicative of implied consent. This may -- I don't know that I think it does, actually, but I can see reason to believe this -- indicate that our notion of "consent" is deeply flawed. Which in turn implies that defining "rape" as "nonconsensual sexual activity" will inherit ambiguities and problems.

So I suppose someone who wants to eliminate all that could redefine the word rape with reference to something other than consensuality. Some notion of violation, perhaps, or a particular account of what violence means (violence against women? Then you'd have some interesting backflips to do wrt male survivors). But the remapping isn't even offered here, just "don't rape someone even if she begs you" which is incoherent. What definition of "rape" are we working from here?

I could guess at it. Maybe I could even come up with something internally consistent. However, it seems to me that so radically redefining the term, such that regular people outside of your "feminist" enclaves are saying something different than you are when they say "I was raped" is a bad, bad idea.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 23rd, 2007 12:04 am (UTC)
Isn't that that same chick who posted something a while back about her ex-lover who is an FTM and she used female pronouns throughout?

I love how this contradicts itself all over; must oppose classism, yet you can't shop at walmart and should buy organic? Are against ableism yet you should be able to tend to your own garden?

And being queer is abusive towards women! Great, I didn't know that being a guy who is rarely interested in cis*women makes me abusive.

Reading the comments-- I <3 Belle.

Sep. 23rd, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
Isn't that that same chick who posted something a while back about her ex-lover who is an FTM and she used female pronouns throughout?

rartgh. no idea. wouldn't be surprised.

y'know I so don't get the anti-trans thing. as much as I can understand critiques of medical models, you'd think it would be impressive to someone in that big somewhere out there that the medical community actually endorses transition as the proper treatment for gender dysphoria. (here I sound like I'm all for judging transfolk as mentally unhealthy, and I don't mean to, I just mean there's a medical model that does.)

I mean, some surgeons are very body modification-happy but how much did it take to convince gaggles of doctors and head shrinkers that the proper course of treatment is something so drastic-seeming as taking on a new role and modifying one's body?

But no, that couldn't have happened in the face of y'know EVIDENCE that transition was right for people, it must have been a male plot to infiltrate women's space or the minds of poor poor confused butches.

Sep. 23rd, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
And yeah, I just checked and it was her. A while back Heart linked to one of her posts, Puzzles, and I went and read it and commented. Basically it was about how her ex called her to ell her he is transitioning and how she told him she will always see him and love him as a girl. She made a horrible analogy with medical transition and throwing puzzle pieces out.

And I think some types of trans*ism belong in the DSM--though not because there is something wrong with us. (Which is a major point of contention in trans* communities)

And yeah, doctors never do what is right for their patients, they always want to cause as much pain as possible! All doctors/therapists everywhere are like the dentist boyfriend in Little Shop of Horrors.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
y'know I was just poking around her blog and well:


and... eh. I'm glad she's no longer doing BDSM, since it clearly bothered her so much. (I personally quit doing certain things in my D/s because they bothered me, and it's been all uphill since. Don't care what others do, am not doing them myself.)

But, well, looking at it closely:

"Then Yawning Lion started to have this funny, twisting feeling in her stomach every time she saw a woman tied up for her girlfriend's pleasure. She started to wonder why violence aroused her so much. She started to question why her girlfriend was willing to tie her up and hit her."

The way this reads, it's like "I was with someone who was into BDSM and I really didn't like it and thought it wasn't a good thing, but because I was That Other Kind Of Feminist I didn't get out."

and that, to me... eh. ANY TIME your "feminism," whether it's sex-positive, radical, or anything else means excusing something you're not okay with in the name of politics it's time to rethink your attachment to that politics.

Funnily enough, it's similar revelations from the other end that made me abandon radical feminism. I just saw way too much "everyone must have sex this way and have this opinion and do this thing and talk this way" and it really got upsetting and uncomfortable.

It's strange how many of them will accept wholeheartedly the former sex-pos but will write off my story about having a terribly rough time with things like, well, YL's List Of Things A Feminist Is And Does Or Else She Isn't One.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
Because, of course, if you Really Got It, you wouldn't whine about how haaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrd being a radfem is.

That's basically what it boils down to. "You just think it's too hard to be truly committed. Well, we don't need someone so WEAKLY COMMITTED as you."
Sep. 23rd, 2007 02:01 am (UTC)
yes, exactly.

if you're kinky, if you're pornulated, if you're rich, if you're not veg*n, if you FREAKING SHOP AT WALMART (funny thing, when I was in college it really was often the easiest place to shop for various things, unless you wanted to go to one of them costco-ey places and buy in bulk) you're not sufficiently committed.

and well, thing is that keeping track of yourself like that means expending all your energy on being good, and not actually helping anyone.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
I mean, some surgeons are very body modification-happy but how much did it take to convince gaggles of doctors and head shrinkers that the proper course of treatment is something so drastic-seeming as taking on a new role and modifying one's body?

You'd think the medical community as a whole was as one on this. I can tell you: it isn't, not even close. There are STILL doctors out there claiming and campaigning that trans* feelings are the same as body dysmorphic disorder, and 'you wouldn't staple an anorexic's stomach, would you'?

Sep. 23rd, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)

Point taken.

That reminds me of shrinks on BDSM actually: technically it's really not easy to be diagnosed with the paraphilias. The "official position" is that most of us are fine. But not everyone who has a practice is happy about this.

It's funny, my current therapist was *stunned* when i told her some of the things people have said to me about my interest/activity. "That's totally unprofessional! That's not what it says!"

No, it's not, but reality doesn't stop some people.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 02:12 am (UTC)
The official position is 'only if the person is bothered by the acts/feelings', no? That's what I vaguely remember.

Actually, thinking of the class that I read the article of the two doctors arguing about trans* surgeries and my other sexual psych classes... I want to make a post about rules formation, because I kind of think it applies, and it ties into Belle feeling like she's dealing with fundies.

(Basically, there are 3 types of rules-making; 1. autonomy, where anything is okay as long as it doesn't take away someone else's autonomy; 2. community-based, where if most people agree something is bad/gross, it is; 3. divinity-based, which may or may not actually be religious, where certain things are imbued with Sacredness and can't be messed with no matter what...)
Sep. 23rd, 2007 02:13 am (UTC)
Er, applies to radfem vs. sex-pos arguments. Not applies to trans* issues/the medical model.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 02:19 am (UTC)
The official position is 'only if the person is bothered by the acts/feelings', no? That's what I vaguely remember.

Yeah. Only if the person is experiencing distress as a result.

The anti-SM therapists I've seen decided they couldn't diagnose me with it, but they'd make a big deal out of it. Like "well, I CAN'T write down what you NEED (implication: "I want to, but damn the stinking bureaucracy"), but I want to HELP, so I'll have to come up with SOMETHING to write on these bills. How about anxiety?"

And the therapy involved a lot of weird questions like "WHY do you think you fantasize about using dildos? what does that MEAN to you?"

"um, I think being inside someone would feel really good. Wouldn't that be what most people with penises think too? I doubt they'd get more intellectual about it than that."

"Hmm. But what does this mean to you?"


Her eventual Grand Unifying Theory was that I am bitter at my mom and want to hurt her, so I find consenting sexy people instead.

Which is so fucking revoltingly nasty... gah. No. INCEST IS NOT HAPPENING NOW KTHX EWW BAI.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 12:33 pm (UTC)
You would think after seeing shit like this on the internet for all these years, I wouldn't have this reaction anymore, but every single time someone says something that sounds like it is at all possible to consent to rape (be it "radical" "feminists" or staunch anti-feminists - and, hmm, maybe the former ought to examine how it ends up on the same side as the latter so much), I feel so deeply offended. That is so grossly dismissive of rape survivors, and it makes me feel used and commodified by women whom I should be able to trust not to do that to me.
Sep. 23rd, 2007 03:35 pm (UTC)
deleted and reposted because I left something in that made no sense w/o context
Exactly. I've been trying to stay away from these sorts of people, with varying degrees of success. I kept telling myself "this is a year old, and this person isn't even someone I see around, don't bother..."

but the whole idea that rape can be consensual just makes me see red. It's just so totally dismissive. To act like the "against someone's will" part isn't even part of the harm, the harm is something else, violence or "domination" or class struggle or something... No.

If you want to say "don't consensually act out 'rape fantasy'," it's easy to say that without saying that real rape can be consensual. I just did. :)

And that bothers me about the BDSM bit too. Surely if consensual BDSM is harmful, it's harmful for a reason other than the reason nonconsensual BDSM is. They're not the same thing.
(Deleted comment)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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