Category Archives: Radical feminism

The similarities between pornsick men and spanking advocates.

While my regular readers will not be too surprised by this topic, a vast majority of people, I suspect, would be outraged by it: both people who are pro-pornography and anti-spanking (liberal types) and people who are anti-pornography and pro-spanking (conservative types). I have never seen this comparison made before, and for good reason: people devote a great deal of energy denying what pornography and spanking are, and comparing them truthfully requires one to first understand precisely that. What I intend to show here is that the arguments used by both pornsick men and spanking advocates are very similar. I don’t believe this is a coincidence.

1. “It’s not real abuse!”

This is pretty straightforward. Spanking advocates vehemently deny that spanking is abusive at all: it’s generally the very first thing they start their arguments with, as if we need to be “set straight” on this subject before we can even understand their arguments. They say that spanking is a necessary part of parenting, that without it children simply cannot be disciplined.

Pornsick men also argue that pornography is just fantasy and that the abuse we observe is not real, did not really happen, and are a necessary part of “the industry.” In fact, they apply considerable legal pressure against, for instance, mandatory contraception in pornographic shoots on the grounds that, without legal leeway, pornography simply cannot survive.

These arguments are great examples of delusional thinking. While there is an element of fantasy in both cases (in the case of spanking, the rituals associated with its use, in the case of pornography, the dialogue and acting that comes before the sex), spanking and sex in pornography are real acts that happen to real people and have real consequences. Real children are sexually assaulted every day, and real women are getting assaulted and raped on film every day. The rituals and the dialogue only serve to distance the participants (and viewers) from the acts, although nowadays pornography is increasingly getting rid of dialogue and going straight for the sex.

2. “Bad women/bad children deserve to be abused (because they chose to be bad)”

Both positions share the belief that women/children must be divided into two groups, “good” and “bad,” although the justification for those groups differs. In the case of pornography, women are divided into “good women,” usually described as “wives, mothers, sisters,” and so on, and “bad women” (“sluts”), who want to be abused and get no negative repercussions from the abuse. Even though they also have families, these “bad women” are never described as wives, mothers, or sisters because, again, the objective is to distance the pornography viewer from empathizing with those women.

In the case of spanking, children are divided into “good children,” who are “better seen and not heard,” and “bad children,” who are unruly, too loud, “wild,” refuse to agree with their parents, refuse to behave, refuse to obey orders. The latter deserve to be abused because they “chose” to be unruly.

The concept of “choice” is crucially important in both cases, and shows the similarity of views about “choice” for liberals and conservatives. For people who are pro-pornography, the women’s “choice” to be in pornography validates the abuse they go through, but it’s framed as a good thing. For people who are pro-spanking, the child’s “choice” to be unruly validates the abuse they go through, and it’s framed as a punishment, as a correction, or using the weasel word “discipline.” “Choice” is always used as a cudgel against the exploited group, no matter who’s doing the exploiting; they just frame it differently.

Many questions are buried under the word “choice,” and the most important of those is: what makes a woman or a child turn “bad”? It’s an important question because the people who push this “choice” rhetoric absolutely do not want to you ask it, and they will complain and whine mightily if you try to give some answers. Obviously the people doing the exploitation don’t want you to undo the illusion of “choice” that their moral high ground relies upon.

Furthermore, in both cases, the motivation is connected to the exploiters themselves in some way. In the case of children, it’s a direct connection: by and large, children are “bad” because their parents either put unreasonable demands on the child and have made it so rebelling is the only way out, or have mishandled the child’s early development. Most parents have no expertise whatsoever in child-raising, and you get the results you expect to get from amateurs, in the same way that you’d expect a group of amateurs to build a terrible house or fail at driving a plane (and a child is many orders of magnitude more complex than a house or a plane). So they compensate for their failures by inflicting physical violence, because force is the only thing that makes any sense to them.

In the case of prostitution, the connection is more indirect. By and large, women involved in pornography are economically motivated: they get involved because they are promised a high-paying career and they have no better alternatives. This is a result of the way capitalism has segregated people by gender, the same capitalism that the pornography industry is embedded into. And the pornography industry is no more kind to its workers than any other industry.

Now, I know many people are thinking “but surely there are women out there who are bad/surely there are children out there who are bad.” I reject that premise, because I reject the perspectives (misogyny, childism) within which these categories make sense. Just to be clear, I am not saying that women and children do not commit immoral acts. But that’s not what a “bad woman” or a “bad child” is. A “bad woman” is not an immoral woman, it’s a woman who wants to be sexually abused in pornography and who gets off on it. And there’s no such thing. A “bad child” is not an immoral child, it’s a child that deserves to be punished for being unruly. And there’s no such thing. No matter what they do, no woman or child “chooses” or deserves to be abused.

Pornography has an additional consideration about this dichotomy, and that’s the belief that if men are not free to exploit “bad women” then they will rape “good women.” In a sense, “bad women” are conceived of as an inferior class which should be abused for the benefit of the superior classes. In childism, there is a concept that “bad children” can negatively influence “good children” and drag them down to their level, although I don’t think it’s specific to pro-spanking rhetoric. Most importantly, “good children” and “bad children” are not really seen as different classes, since any child can be spanked if they “misbehave.”

3. “I don’t care what you say, my personal gratification is more important.”

Pornsick men don’t care about the abuse or rape they may be masturbating to, because they hold that their orgasms are more important. Parents don’t care about the assaults they are inflicting on their children, because their intense desire for a quiet home or obedient kids trumps any such consideration. In both cases, the evaluation is done on a selfish basis. They don’t care about the well-being of women or children, they care about their own well-being above all else. And that’s just fucked up. How self-absorbed do you have to be to support women getting assaulted and raped, or children getting assaulted, to protect your own little feelings?

4. Flimsy rights claims.

Pornsick men claim that they have the right to watch pornography. They argue for this in two ways: first, in claiming the right to free speech for producers of pornography, second, in claiming that their orgasm is so important that watching pornography should be recognized as a right, no matter where. I’ve previously debunked the use of free speech to defend pornography. As for orgasms, everyone knows men don’t need pornography to get one… except, of course, if they’re pornsick. Either way, it’s not clear why this is a human right at all.

But more importantly, it’s also not clear how these rights claims, which are rather tenuous, stack up with the rights of the women who get raped and assaulted within the production of pornography, or the rights of the women whose rape or assault is motivated by pornography use, or the implicit threat that widespread pornography and pornographic media content presents for women as a class. These are real, tangible crimes. Not letting pornsick men have videos of a woman getting choked by penises… not really a crime of the same magnitude. I don’t think you can reasonably compare the two.

Spanking advocates claim that they have the right to parent as they see fit, even if this includes corporal punishment. Now, logically, you can’t have such a right unless you assume that the child is owned by the parents. Otherwise how could you claim a right to control another human being to the point where you can assault them, or, if you prefer, “discipline” them? No human being has the right to assault any other, but we think that parenting should be the exception. From a non-childist perspective, that doesn’t really make sense: children are human beings and deserve to be treated like human beings. Human beings may be stopped from doing something damageable if they are not aware of the danger, and they may be prevented from harming others, but they may not be assaulted in order to conform to someone else’s desires.

***

As I wrote above, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that pornsick men and spanking advocates use the same general approach to justify their perversions, because both pornography and spanking involve sexual assault and personal gratification. The fact that pornography reproduces inequality, and that spanking takes place in a context of incredible inequality, has something to do with it as well. Finally, stereotypes about women often refer to infantile characteristics: the oppression of women goes hand in hand with the oppression of children (and this is true in terms of social value as well).

Now, I do want to be clear: I am not stating that pornography and spanking are “equally bad.” I have no idea how you could even measure such a thing. I am not organizing an Oppression Olympics. What I am saying is that the arguments are similar because the social context is roughly similar. If you support the use of violence in one hierarchy, then you have no particularly good reason to reject the use of violence in another hierarchy. You could say similar sort of things about capital punishment fans, corporate abuses, neo-liberalism around the world, BDSM, natalism, and so on. The same attitude underlies support for all of them. Underlying all these rationalizations is a simple principle: might makes right.

Here are my answers to each of these points:

1. Abuse against other human beings is abuse, no matter the rituals, contracts or other scripts put around it.
2. There is no such thing as a “bad woman” or a “bad child,” because no matter what they do, no one deserves to be sexually abused.
3. Any individual’s personal gratification is not worth the ongoing abuse against women and children.
4. The rights of women and children to be free from abuse are more important than the oppressors’ “rights.”

The eroticization of female body parts is the problem.

There is a lot of complaints about radical feminism from liberal types who believe that radfems are concerned with telling other women how to live. I’ve written about this phenomenon in this entry, and I explained why radfem, which is a form of systemic criticism, has nothing to do with criticizing women’s personal actions. Or to say it more simply, “it’s the institutions, stupid.” We cannot blame any woman for how she deals with the gender hierarchy or the patriarchy in general. What we should attack are the ideas, the institutions that spread those ideas, and the worldview underlying them all.

The way liberals talk about it, they seem to assume that both using makeup and not using makeup, shaving and not shaving, having long hair and having short hair, are equal “choices” (a nonsense word), that a woman may “choose” one or the other at a whim, and that the only thing wrong with the situation is that there are some “angry feminists” trying to make other women feel guilty. But this is clearly not true: the patriarchy wants women to police themselves.

The support and promotion of femininity is a backlash against a totally preconceived set of social beliefs and attitudes that doesn’t exist. Gender non-conforming women do not dominate the feminist movement nor the world at large, they are not widely praised and rewarded for their nonconformity, and their voices and experiences are routinely ignored. There is no similar amount of support for unfeminine girls and women, especially butch lesbians, who go through their lives being told that “real women” are thin, attractive, feminine, and pleasing to men. In fact femininity is so often conflated with womanhood that gender non-conforming women are frequently accused of misogyny (or even of being men!) for rejecting femininity and beauty standards.

The problem is not individual women not wearing makeup or not shaving, the problem is systemic. Generally speaking, the problem is the male gaze. More specifically, the problem lies in the premise, usually unquestioned, that certain body parts of women are, and must be, erotic: her hair, her face, her belly, her breasts, her vulva, her butt, her legs, her feet. Actually, there’s nothing innately erotic about them, and there is nothing in nature that says those body parts must always be erotic. The fact that we think a naked human body is sexual and scandalous is cultural, and is not, by far, universal.

We consider these body parts erotic because eroticism is constructed by society, and in the case of Western societies, that mainly means Western gender roles and pornography (as well as the extension of pornography into mainstream media). The body may grow hairs, stretch with fat, and grow old, but an erotic body cannot do any of those things. The ideal erotic body, as shown by pornography and mainstream photo shoots, is a body free from hair, slim and trim, free of blemishes, wrinkles and marks, flexible and pliable. If it becomes in any way blemished, it is no longer erotic (unless it can be heavily Photoshopped), and therefore no longer valuable as a female body.

And this comes with the assumption that each individual woman will “work” on herself in order to keep her body parts up to the erotic standards. It is assumed that a respectable woman will shave her legs, pluck her face, keep her hair professional (i.e. not “black”), wear makeup, and if she wants to be sexually active, shave the rest of her body hair (including her pubic hair), have her labia trimmed if necessary, and not be menstruating. It is contradictory to claim that the eroticization of women’s bodies is empowering, when it really limits women in how they’re allowed to move into the world if they want to get the credibility that men already get by default.

Men are not subjected to the same scrutiny, and their body parts are not illuminated by the spotlight of eroticism (except, to some extent, the penis, which is a staple of what is ostensibly “heterosexual pornography”). A man can refuse to shave, not wear any makeup, be old and fat, and this is (except in some specific settings) not counted as a demerit against him. There is an ideal male body occasionally put on display, but it is not assumed to be relevant to any other man.

No individual woman, or even women as a class, can wake up and decide that their legs (for example) are not erotic. Men will still judge them on whether their legs are shaved or not, what footwear they’re wearing, how they’re showing their legs off, no matter how much women complain. Women are judged primarily on their bodies, not on their accomplishments or the power they wield (while men will still bow to that power, they privately resent it). Neither women who shave their legs, nor women who do not shave their legs, can change the fact that they are not in control of the framework (the male gaze) through which other people perceive them.

The eroticization of women’s bodies also has social consequences at the level of specific body parts. For example, the eroticization of breasts, which is particularly important to heterosexual men, is a great hinderance to support of breast feeding, and warps the debate around breast feeding. The fact that breasts themselves are classified as erotic (and nipples, as downright pornographic and degraded) means that women are blamed for showing them in public, even though breast feeding in itself is not eroticized. The eroticization of the vulva, I think, has a lot to do with men’s revulsion of menstruation. And many people have already commented that the demand for women to shave their faces and legs derives from the infantilizing nature of femininity.

A lot is written about body image problems in women, but not much is written about their source. Body image issues are not only the fault of the mainstream media, as the mainstream media has been pornified. Pornography presents the female body as a sexual object which conforms on all points to the requirements of eroticization. Nowadays, it is through pornography that most people get their first experience of the erotic female body, and how women come to internalize the male gaze, not through magazines or advertisements, although criticism is only focused at the latter. This ensures that the problem itself will never be eradicated, which is convenient for those institutions that depend on female servility.

Incidentally, there’s been a great deal of research done on the effects of watching pornography on men, but I have never seen any research on the effects of watching pornography on women. I think there’s a lot of misogyny in that approach: we care about the effects of pornography if men are hurt psychologically, but we apparently don’t give a shit about women getting hurt psychologically. Ho-hum. Of course pornsick men who gain power and can make rulings about laws, or change the laws, are very dangerous to women, and should be monitored, but the effect of pornography on women’s self-image needs to be studied as well.

FETAs and the denial of the existence of the social class “women.”

All radical analysis is by definition a systemic analysis. And systemic analysis heavily relies on the concept of social classes as a way to understand and articulate the effect of social policies, indoctrination, and moral principles. Some people associate the concept of social classes with Marxism, but everyone uses social classes as part of their argumentation, even right-wing fanatics (given how often they talk about the poor, immigrants, black people, and how they’re responsible for all sorts of social ills). So you’d think that arguments against the concept of social classes would be pretty self-defeating.

There are people, however, who have a vested interest in denying the existence of specific classes. The privileged always want to downplay their existence as a social class. Some take it a step further. Many transgender advocates have dedicated their energies to denying the existence of women as a class. This seems simply blind, as women are very clearly targeted by genderist policies, including anti-abortion policies, opposition to contraceptives, anti-social services policies, wage inequality, and the lack of prosecution of rape and battering, to name only those happening in Western countries. If we start piling on the various forms of gynocide that have been in operation for centuries (sati, witch-hunting, foot-binding, forced pregnancies, female genital mutilation), then the proposition that there is no such thing as women becomes ridiculously untenable.

The reason behind this denial is to eliminate the importance of being “born woman.” They believe rightly that the transgender movement can only succeed if it first exterminates any female resistance. As long as women believe that they are a social class with its own interests (even if they have a narrow view of what those interests are), they will resist the idea that a man who thinks he is a woman, or who had his penis cut off, must be considered a woman on the same level as any other woman.

In order to argue this, they have pushed two main lines of reasoning:

1. The sex binary does not exist, therefore one’s genitals can have nothing to do with whether one is a “woman” or not.
2. Female socialization does not exist, therefore one’s assigned gender can have nothing to do with whether one is a “woman” or not.

In order to make sense of this reasoning, however, we must first ask the question: what is a woman? FETAs are singularly unable to answer it except by appealing to the concept of innate gender, which is not only pseudo-scientific nonsense, but fails to answer the question. The concept “woman” is used in order to describe the targeted oppression I’ve described. Women are targeted by men because they were assigned as women and socialized as women. And they were assigned as women and socialized as women because of their genitals.

Therefore we see that the two lines of reasoning above attempt to deny the roots of gender oppression: biological sex and female socialization. As a matter of fact, FETAs widely argue against these two concepts. How can this be explained, except as a deliberate attempt at erasing gender oppression, opening the way for their new brand of Genderism Lite(tm)?

It is hard to imagine that anyone seriously argues against the concept of biological sex, but there are plenty of FETAs who do (I analyzed one of them here). Their sole argument is that male and female are not absolutely, totally, 100% separate concepts: not all males are XY, not all females are XX, not all males have the same level of testosterone, not all females have the same level of estrogen, not all females have large breasts, not all males have flat chests, therefore there is no sex binary. Often intersex people (who are approximately 0.2% of the population) are trotted out as proof that there is no sex binary (they don’t give a shit about how intersex people are treated, they just want to use their plight as an argument).

But this is a profoundly anti-intellectual way of arguing. We do not simply deny the existence of clusters of data points because there are also points outside of them. Obviously there are some individuals who do not fit the criteria for male or female 100%. We could say the same about living species, businesses, video games, music, furniture, clouds, or any other set of entities that we classify into complex categories. Any definition we use for a complex concept will be probabilistic in nature, not absolute: sure, this makes people uncomfortable, but it doesn’t make us deny the existence of anything complex. Denying the existence of the sex binary is just as pseudo-scientific as, for instance, rejecting the evolutionary timeline because some species fall slightly outside of it.

Now, granted, one can also go pseudo-scientific in the other direction, and posit the existence of clusters where there are none. For instance, Creationists classify all primate human ancestors as being either “like modern humans” or “not like modern humans at all.” A FETA might describe this as a situation where a “human binary” has been assumed, and is clearly wrong based on the science that we have. But quacks cannot take refuge in science: the sex binary is a scientific fact observed throughout the animal kingdom, and it has far-reaching consequences (see for example sexual dimorphism, of which there are many stunning and spectacular examples). In the case of our ancestors, however, we see a clear gradation (e.g. in head shapes and head volume) which does not leave much room for clusters.

FETAs sometimes accuse their opponents of being obsessed with genitals. Actually, we’re not: we just point out the fact that genitals are what genderists use to assign gender on babies. It is therefore a tool of oppression, but it is necessary for genderism to operate in society because it classifies human beings in two categories, the oppressors and the oppressed. In a sane (non-genderist) society, genitals should have no more to do with who you are than your hair color, your skin tone, your height, or your favourite color. But the fact is that our genitals do have a huge impact on how we’re raised and who we’re seen to be. To ignore that fact is delusional.

To claim “not everyone who is born female can bear children therefore bearing children has nothing to do with being female” is rather like me arguing that because I was born with three nipples, any biology textbook which claims having two nipples is a feature of being human is making a random assertion rather than an obvious generalisation. And generalisations matter. To argue otherwise is not only to dismiss the history of discrimination but to perpetuate it.
Cordelia Fine

Their rejection of female socialization is no less irrational. In fact, both arguments are very similar in nature. Remember that the argument against the sex binary is that either all individuals are unequivocally either male or female, or there is no sex binary at all. Their argument against female socialization is that either all females experience their socialization in the same exact way, or there’s no such thing as female socialization. The only difference is that they do not argue that there are people who had an unusual socialization, but that any difference at all disproves the existence of female socialization. As such, it’s an even more absurd claim. Here is an example of it:

TERFs willfully misuse the word ‘socialization’ to misgender trans women and treat us as malicious “men,” saying trans women are and have been perpetrators of male violence, because us trans women pre-coming out and pre-transition must experience malehood and therefore male privilege. They generally base this off how we are read when we are younger, meaning read as male and treated as such. While I understand why folks argue this, it relies on omitting a few things: a key aspect of socialization called response, what privilege actually is, and, naturally, the lived experiences of trans women… As Reed puts it, “There is no singular, universal woman’s narrative. There are as many stories and experiences as there are women.”

And she’s right. What experience of womanhood is experienced by all women? You probably don’t have to think very hard to see that this really is impossible, and for shared girlhood to be a thing, it needs to ignore that us women are multifaceted.

There are two parts to this argument. One is the myth that children can somehow decide how to respond to the socialization they receive, and therefore that children whose innate gender differs from their assigned gender will somehow not assimilate that socialization. Another is that, if all women do not have the exact same experiences, then there’s no such thing as womanhood.

So what is the argument for the belief that transgender individuals have not internalized their assigned gender’s socialization when they were younger? Most FETAs don’t even bother arguing that point, but we are presented with an argument here:

Nobody internalizes all messages sent to them the same way (which is, again, why there are so many different expressions of womanhood). In fact, some are outright rejected, and that’s because folks know a message is not about them. TERFs often act like folks have no agency within these structures, that people, particularly women in this case, are more stone tablets to have their identities engraved upon them. That sounds pretty darn misogynistic, doesn’t it? Seems to be a pattern in TERF rhetoric. Acting like women don’t have agency over their own experiences sounds exactly like what patriarchy says about women.

Those who read my blog will recognize this argument immediately. I analyzed it in my entry “You’re just trying to turn everyone into victims”: the bigot pretends to be on the side of the oppressed by stating that they are powerful enough, or have enough “agency,” to stand against oppression, and that anyone who says otherwise must therefore think that the oppressed are “weak” and unable to stand on their own two feet. In this case, the FETA bigot is arguing that women have the “agency” to reject messages given to them in their female socialization when they feel they’re “not about them.” People who argue against this must therefore think that women have “no agency” and are “misogynistic,” thus projecting the misogyny of FETA rhetoric onto actual feminists. Women are not victims of socialization, as they can reject any message they want, and those women who feel oppressed by their female socialization are just complainers.

There are a lot of things wrong with this logic. For one thing, there is no such thing as innate gender. A child raised to believe it is a boy will internalize messages issued at boys, regardless of how they will see themselves later in life. For another thing, no one has any “agency” to decide to reject a message they do not like. We are all indoctrinated to believe in the social constructs enforced by socialization. Unless they are introduced to alternatives, a three year old will not know that they can simply believe that “there’s no such thing as boys or girls” or “it doesn’t matter how smart someone is.” It’s useless to talk of “agency” when there are no possible alternatives.

Furthermore, socialization is about a lot more than “messages,” and to reduce it to that dimension means ignoring all the other ways we’re trained to be boys or girls:

They said trans women don’t identify with the messages about boys they hear because they know they are girls, so when they hear that girls are weak they understand it means they are weak. But that doesn’t make sense. Socialization is so much more than just people telling you boys are this and girls are that. It’s being catcalled when you’re only eight years old. It’s being laughed at and patronized when you say you want to be the President when you’re older, when the boys in your class get told that if they study hard it’s possible for them. It’s being talked over and told to shut up and never getting a reason why but slowly realizing it’s because you are a girl. Socialization isn’t always easily recognizable, so how could an eight year old transgender kid just automatically know and reject all of it?

FETAs want to imagine that socialization is only a parent telling their child gender stereotypes, like “boys play outside and climb trees, but you should stay inside and read,” and the child standing there thinking “hmmm… do I accept this message or not… I consider myself a girl, therefore…”, and so on. But that’s just one of the ways in which we’re socialized (and we certainly don’t spend our time accepting or rejecting these messages). Most socialization is implicit and exists in the narratives we tell, the ways we treat each other, the ways other people act.

As for the argument that women do not all have the same experiences, it is quite true, but does not prove the non-existence of female socialization. When we say “female socialization,” we’re not saying that all women have experienced the same messages, the same narratives, the same incentives. What we are saying is that all women have been socialized into a certain gender role, and that men have been socialized into a different gender role. While no individual may have been indoctrinated into their gender role completely and totally, the outcomes are predictable: men as a class are more violent, more pedophilic, more sexually entitled, more confident in their ability to reason, more athletic, less caring, less compassionate, less able to deal with unwanted emotions. This is what we mean by socialization.

This reasoning applies to all groups: no one has the exact same experiences, but we don’t use this as an excuse to deny the existence of that group, or of the fact that the members have been socialized or affected in a specific way. As culturallyboundgender points out, we can say the exact same thing about gay people, native people, black people, or rape victims:

There is no shared gay experience. A gay man in Uganda, a lesbian woman in Vancouver–these people have incredibly different experiences of what it means to experience same-sex attraction and love. This does not mean that there is no such thing as gay, or that gay people should be unwelcome to meet without straight people saying “but my parents don’t like my girlfriend and people sometimes called me anti-gay slurs, which is, you must admit, pretty similar to some things that have happened to some of you!”

There is no shared American Indian experience. Some people of American Indian descent grow up on reservations, some don’t. Among both groups, socioeconomic status can vary tremendously. Different American Indian and First Nations groups have very different cultural norms and policies about assimilating into a white-dominated society. It would be ridiculous for someone to say that American Indians should be forced to admit the American Indianhood of anyone who claimed it, simply because they claimed it and there is no universal experience of being an American Indian anyway.

There is no shared black experience. Black kids in the Portland ‘burbs from an upper middle class background and black kids in the Florida panhandle experience very different “black in America” narratives. No one says that a lack of “shared blackness” should make it so anyone who has felt oppressed about their racial role can simply declare themselves black, and thus avail themselves of affirmative action policies designed to redress ongoing racial bias and discrimination against black Americans.

There is no shared rape experience. Rape survivors are a diverse group, including people from every demographic. Some rape victims are infants, some are elderly. Some are violently beaten, others are drugged, others are emotionally coerced. That doesn’t mean that just anyone should be able to claim the status “rape victim,” or use the resources allotted for rape victims in our society.

We do not object to trans women using women’s bathrooms because we are bigoted or because we are transphobic. We object to it because trans women were socialized as men and have a man’s psychology. We do not object to trans women entering women-only spaces because they have insufficient “womanhood.” We object to it because women must be able to assemble and organize if they are to liberate themselves, and having men invade those spaces will inevitably render them useless (of course, that is the clear objective of those transgender advocates who are anti-feminists).

The denial of the existence of women as a class is an attempt at erasing women’s accomplishments and feminist ideals. Not just in the way that some FETAs have started claiming historical women as “genderqueer” or “trans men,” but in the way that they are setting themselves up as an alternative form of genderism, and therefore as an alternative way to justify the oppression of women. This is nothing new for women, whose contributions have been erased for thousands of years and continue to be erased in our modern times (just look, for instance, at all the female scientists whose works were stolen by men, the women whose domestic and reproductive labor doesn’t count as “real” work, the female artists whose work is ignored, belittled, or who have to become sex objects in order to succeed, to name only those). The fact that this new erasure is taking place with the enthusiastic support of so-called leftists is only slightly more troubling.

Should we use personalized pronouns?

A big trend amongst the “genderqueer” and other supertrendy “gender is a performance” people is to push personalized pronouns. There are a great number of such pronouns, from the obvious “it” to “ze, “xe,” “thae,” and so on. There are also animal-themed pronouns, mythical-themed pronouns, royal-themed pronouns, and so on and so forth.

It’s easy to make fun of all this. Who speaks like this except a bunch of teenagers on tumblr who want to feel special? To have personalized pronouns is to force other people to remember your personal preferences. It’s an imposition on someone’s else attention and time. It’s a selfish demand on other people.

Now I know some people will argue that you should be respectful of others. I have no qualms with that proposition. I do think we should respect others. Political Correctness, for example, aims to respect others. We shouldn’t go around saying “bitch” or “nigger” because those words are established as demeaning or offensive words when used against women and black people (note that I said they were offensive, not that they offended people: whether anyone is offended or not is besides the point). We shouldn’t go around gratuitously demeaning people just because they are different from us. This is just common sense.

But where do pronouns factor into it? Obviously we can misgender as a way to demean someone: as telling a man that he is woman-like is the greatest insult one can utter, using feminine words or pronouns to a man can be seen as a provocation. Women can also be punished for their feminism or gender-rebellion by being called a man. This, however, rarely entails using the wrong pronouns, at least in my experience.

Calling a man a she or calling a woman a he can be an honest mistake (if one does not know that person and their personal appearance is ambiguous) or it can be a personal attack. But is it a personal attack to call someone the appropriate pronoun, because they demand that you use a different, made-up one?

I don’t see how it could be. Certainly the other person is free to be irritated at you. If a person asks to be called by a different name than their original one, and you keep calling them their original name, they may very well be irritated about it, but there’s nothing disrespectful about it. Living in a place where people speak English, I prefer when people can say my name right, but most people can’t, and that’s fine. Even when they get it hilariously wrong, I’m not too beaten up about it. It’s not a personal attack. Calling someone their actual gender is not a personal attack, it’s a statement of fact.

Then there are people who actually do have dysphoria and who have wrestled with their gender identity for a long time. The voices of those people get lost in the sea of wannabes, pretenders, and egoists. And I think that’s a very regrettable thing. Because those people deserve more attention and encouragement. Actual gender rebels are constantly under attack in our societies and the fact that so many genderists pretend to be gender rebels just takes attention away from the good people.

It may seem obtuse for someone who is against gender, like me, to denote gender with pronouns. When gender is unknown or abstract, I use ey and em, or they and them. The former has a tendency to confuse readers, and the latter is obnoxious because it looks plural. The obvious solution is to use “it,” which I use to clearly identify cases where using gendered pronouns is grossly inappropriate, but people greatly prefer “he”/”she” to “it”. There’s no good solution here. And in cases where there’s no good solution, I can’t recommend one solution above any others. It would be nice if we only had neutral pronouns, but that’s not the language we’re using (at least English does not go overboard with gendered words, unlike Romance languages like French or Spanish).

What about transgender people and their pronouns? That’s another issue altogether, because in this case it’s not simply an issue of personal taste. Transgender people actually claim to be of the opposite gender, and that therefore not calling them the “correct” pronoun is a form of profound disrespect (at best). Transmen should be called “he,” and transwomen should be called “she,” according to this ideology.

This goes back to the concept that gender is performance. If you agree with that statement, then you may believe that their position makes sense. If a transwoman is performing womanhood well enough, either through following stereotyped clothing, mannerisms, and makeup, or through biological mutilation, we should call them “she.” If a transman is performing manhood well enough, we should call them “he.”

But gender is not just performance. Gender is a hierarchy, based on the oppression of half the population against the other half. This hierarchy is maintained through socialization. Men are men because they have been socialized as men, and women are women because they have been socialized as women, each to fulfill their assigned roles by looking, acting and thinking in accordance with existing gender standards. To call a transwoman “she” is to ignore the fact that they were born male, assigned men as gender, socialized to be men, and reaped the benefit of manhood up to that point.

Look for instance at Caitlyn Jenner (if you have to). They became famous for winning at an Olympic sport which is not even open to women. And now they’re a woman? A little hypocrite, don’t you think? My point being, Jenner was socialized as a man and received the benefits of manhood for all their life. This fact was not contradicted by their later “transformation.”

Dressing differently, acting differently, thinking differently, or getting your genitals mutilated, do not turn a man into a woman. A man of 65 years old cannot become a woman, no matter what they do. So why should we call them “she”? A man is a man. They should be called a “he,” not a “she.”

Use by men of feminine pronouns conceal the masculine privilege bestowed upon them by virtue of having been placed in and brought up in the male sex caste. If men are addressed as ‘she’, then all this privilege, which affects their speaking position and may be crucial to their choice to be ‘women’ in the first place, is disappeared.

Sheila Jeffreys

Even if gender is performance, it still doesn’t make much sense. If gender is performance, and you have to tell people what gender you are, then maybe your performance indicates that you are not the gender you claim to be, or maybe you’re not performing very well. In either case, dictating gender pronouns would seem self-defeating.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that transgender people deserve to be called by a pronoun they do not like simply because they are not womanly or manly enough. I don’t believe in gender performance, because it’s all stereotypes anyway. It’s not based on any kind of reality. What I am saying is that, insofar as gender is real (as a social construct or, as they believe, as a performance), then the demands by transgender people to address them by their preferred pronouns doesn’t make much sense.

There is something to be said about trying to keep the peace with transgender people by indulging their choice of pronouns. As I’ve said before, transgender people are not the enemy. They are, by and large, innocent people who got trapped into an ideology of hate. It is the hate peddlers, the advocates of transgenderism, who are our enemies.

Feminist antinatalist arguments.

Although the connection between feminism and antinatalism has already been made (more notably in L’Art de Guillotiner les Procréateurs), it hasn’t really been explored in much depth. I wanted to expand on it somewhat and discuss more concrete arguments for what we can call feminist antinatalism, because I think it does deserve a category of its own.

I expect that many readers who are interested in antinatalism are not necessarily interested in feminism, so I should start by defining what I mean by feminism, because there are many different ideas out there of what feminism is about. By feminism I mean a movement by women to expose and eradicate the Patriarchy, the hierarchy by which men are superiors and women are inferiors (note that I am not saying they are actually superiors and inferiors in reality, only within the worldview propagated by the Patriarchy). I reject the view that the goal should be “gender equality” (I’ve already discussed why that’s meaningless). However, the fact that men and women are unequal, as a result of the Patriarchy, is a major fact worth talking about, as long as we understand that it is a consequence of the Patriarchy and not a brute fact.

Feminist antinatalism, following the other kinds of antinatalism, should argue that procreation is wrong based on specifically feminist premises. Based on this, I have identified five main ways in which one can argue a feminist antinatalist position. You may disagree with my classification or present new ones. We can quibble over what goes where. This is fine, and I make no claim that my way is the only way.

1. The historical case. As I’ve cursorily discussed before, the oppression of women and natalism have always gone hand in hand. I don’t feel I can really do justice to the history of this process, so I will, as always, refer interested readers to The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner. But basically, the upshot of this argument is that we cannot destroy the Patriarchy, and therefore the gender hierarchy, without also attacking natalist premises. The concept that women exist to perpetuate the species is deeply ingrained in most conceptions of gender that exist or have existed on this planet. There is no foreseeable way to advocate for women’s liberation without at the same time also arguing against natalism. Although this does not logically imply being an actual antinatalist, it does imply that procreation is wrong to some degree.

Furthermore, pushing for procreation makes women as a class dependent on men for genetic material, for resources, for support. This is contrary to the need for the kind of physical and intellectual independence that could emancipate women.

As I’ve said before, most antinatalists are not feminists. But antinatalists are in a unique position of actually being able to respond to natalist premises with a coherent and logical counter-ideology. This can be done for feminist reasons as well as for anti-feminist reasons, but I believe the latter does not detract from the former.

2. The harms of motherhood. While antinatalists argue that all lives can experience a wide variety of harms, women who undergo motherhood experience major harms specific to that role. They undergo the physical and psychological harms of pregnancy, as well as the desperate suffering of women who cannot deal with raising children (as I’ve discussed here). These specific harms are worth talking about because, under natalism, the needs, desires and bodies of women are considered to be irrelevant to the harm/benefit analysis of procreation. One of the things feminism does is expose the ways in which women are oppressed by the gender hierarchy, and this is definitely one of them. To this we must add the objectification of women as breeding machines and life-support system for fetuses, which harms women as a class.

The narrative of motherhood that we’re presented is inextricably linked with the rhetoric of gender: women are uniquely suited to care for children, women are psychologically driven to have children, the greatest expression of womanhood is to be a mother. Women are meant to be mothers and, when they do become mothers, they find their true role and their true happiness. Women can only “have it all” if they have children, otherwise they are just sad, incomplete women.

The argument here is similar to the misanthropic arguments: we should not bring more suffering into this world, and the harms of motherhood, as invisible as they are in our societies, are forms of suffering we should not want to bring about. No man who loves and respects his wife should seek to expose her to such harms, and I find any man who would do this repugnant.

3. Argument from gender inequality. There is a dramatic gender inequality in procreation: not only do women bear all the physical burdens of carrying the fetus to term, but a majority of the child-raising is still done by women. This means that women are less free to devote energies to real accomplishments or a more fulfilling career, or do anything else they value. It means they are being held down by having children. Only rich women are able to delegate the time costs of child-raising to other people, generally other women. Either way, child-raising requires an incredible amount of attention, time and resources which women could use for much better ends.

Some will argue that this is not really gender inequality because that’s women’s role and where they find their true happiness. This is still all based on the narrative of women being uniquely suited to child-raising, a myth which has no basis in reality (I don’t think most female parents are any more suited to raising children than male parents are). There is no reason to think that women can’t be happier as scientists, engineers, writers, athletes, or gardeners. All of these things have an actual social purpose, and may help relieve suffering in some way. Having children, on the other hand, adds more suffering to the sum total of existence, for no discernible reason beyond “I want one.”

The inequality does not end there, however. In society at large (e.g. in the workplace, in welfare, in homeless shelters), women who have children get special treatment, which hurts the other women (childfree or childless) who get short shrift. This is an unfair system, but it shows that procreation divides women into groups when they should be united.

Without procreation taking over women’s energy and resources, all of this gender inequality would cease to exist, and women would be as free as men to develop physically, mentally and intellectually.

4. Argument from socialization. All of us have been indoctrinated and socialized as children into all sorts of social constructs, including gender. And even if parents do not want the child to be socialized as a gender, they will be socialized nevertheless- through their own incompetence, by the media, by consumer products, by their friends, by other parents, by their school. Children will either be socialized as boys or as girls, and this has lasting consequences. Men are much more likely (90%+) to commit murder, mass murders, and rape. Women are much more likely (90%+) to be killed or raped by men than by women.

This means that a woman, whether she is a feminist or not, is giving birth to a child who will be socialized as either an oppressor or an oppressed. Every male child is a potential rapist and every female child is a potential rape victim. Either of these possibilities not only adds suffering to the world, but reinforces the gender hierarchy, and presents a cruel dilemma to feminists who want to have children. There are only two ways to resolve it: by attempting to raise one’s children without gender socialization (and failing miserably, because parents are not by far the only input in a child’s life), or by refusing to have children.

Furthermore, part of female socialization is not only psychological but also physical, through the imposition of beauty practices. Historically, these beauty practices have been gynocidal in nature, including footbinding (which crippled women for life), female genital mutilation (which removes sexual pleasure), corsetting (which can be lethal). Our beauty practices are less damageable than those of the past (apart from FGM, which is an ongoing concern), but they still reinforce the gender hierarchy: women exist in order to be pretty and serve male sexuality.

Socialization presents to us a specific kind of suffering which we should want to spare future lives from.

5. Argument against capitalism. As I’ve discussed before, natalism and capitalism go hand in hand. Capitalism is used to justify the need for procreation: while nationalism and racism sometimes take that place, capitalism is the main justification for natalism. Feminism and anti-capitalism are equally linked. Women’s labor is trivialized under capitalism under the guise that it is part of the “private sphere.” Women are massively exploited for their sexuality (or as liberals call it, “sex work”) and reproductive labor, while men are not. While all of this is not unique to capitalism, feminists have identified capitalism as the main source of this injustice.

Continued procreation continues the process by which some people (a majority of which are women) are economically exploited for the benefit of others (a majority of which are men). Anyone who’s against capitalism, like feminists are, should oppose procreation until the economic system is fair for all and ensures the well-being of people regardless of gender. Procreation gives capitalism its consumer base and its cheap labor.

In addition to these five arguments, I think other antinatalist arguments can be enriched by feminist theory. The consent argument, for example, is greatly augmented by the various ways in which the concept of consent is undermined in our societies, notably against women and POC. The ways in which natalists sidestep consent are neatly reflected in the ways men dismiss women’s consent or white elites dismiss POC’s consent. Women also have a specific perspective on the misanthropic case, insofar as they are exposed to a set of risks which men are barely conscious of.

The Big Lie that no man has ever spied in women’s restrooms/locker rooms.

Ever since laws have been proposed against men entering women’s restrooms or locker rooms, it seems that the mainstream media has been dedicating itself to the defense of a Big Lie (an absurdly false statement which, repeated over and over, becomes true): the “fact” that no man has ever tried to spy in women’s restrooms or locker rooms by pretending to be women. It is often explicitly said that this has happened zero times.

This statement is absurdly false, and anyone should be ashamed of propagating such a lie. As a matter of fact, many men have been caught spying on women while pretending to be women, and no doubt many more have not been caught. Here are some examples.

***

Meanwhile, in Birmingham, England, a man posed as a mannequin and hung around in the women’s bathrooms at a shopping mall filming women, um, doing their business. MSN reports: “The 22-year-old from Edgbaston was seen sneaking into the women’s toilets ‘dressed like a mannequin with a mask and a wig’ earlier this month… He also told police he found the sound of women on the toilet sexually exciting and said: ‘It’s good you’ve caught me—maybe now I’ll stop.’ Police found three images of women’s feet taken beneath cubicle doors on his mobile phone, and an audio recording of a flushing toilet, the court was told.”

On Monday, October 4, 2010 at 9:20 p.m. and again on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. a male disguised as a female was discovered in the Recreational Sports Facility women’s locker room. On both occasions the suspect fled the scene when confronted by staff members. In one of the instances the suspect was seen using a cell phone to photograph women inside the locker room. After each occurrence UCPD searched the area but was unable to locate the suspect. No one was physically contacted during these encounters.

North Little Rock Police arrested 39 year old Scotty Vest for sexual indeceny outside a women’s bathroom, near a playground at Burns Park. Vest was arrested Monday after police say he exposed himself and masturbated in front of three children, two 11 and one 12, while trying to lure them inside the bathroom.

Those three children ran to a group of adults nearby and asked for help. “They came up to me and they were waiving at me and next thing I know they’re running down the hill you know, call the cops, call the cops, there is this man there’s this man dressed up as a woman and he’s playing with himself,” says Mary Stafford.

MATSUYAMA, Japan, Nov. 27 (UPI) — Japanese police have arrested a man who dressed as a woman so he could enter public bath houses and watch naked women, Mainichi News said Thursday.

Police in Matsuyama charged 33-year-old Eichi Yamamoto with 17 counts of illegally entering buildings and peeping for his activities that began in April.

“I wanted to see women naked,” he was quoted as telling investigators. “Dressing up as a woman was a step to do that.”

A transvestite man caught dressed as a nurse in the female washroom at a Hong Kong public hospital has been jailed, a news report said Thursday.
Chung Kai-lun, 29, was found wearing women’s clothes and a surgical mask in the hospital toilet less than a year after being given a suspended sentence for dressing as a schoolgirl in a school canteen.

Campbell Police Sgt. Dave Carmichael said Rendler was arrested after having been caught in the womens’ restroom of an unnamed store for “several minutes.”

Police were tipped off to Rendler’s whereabouts shortly before noon on Friday, when a witness called authorities to say a man was getting out of his car wearing fake breasts and a wig and carrying a purse. The witness saw the man near a bank and thought it was a little “weird” to see a man wearing what seemed to be a disguise, Carmichael said.

According to the Megan’s Law Web site, Render has been previously arrested on charges of child molestation and indecent exposure.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University police are investigating a reported incident in which a man dressed as a woman was seen taking photographs under the wall of a women’s bathroom stall in Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts.
The incident was reported to police about 3:30 p.m. Monday (March 31).

According to a police report, a woman was in a bathroom stall on the third floor of the building and saw a hand holding a blue flip-phone camera beneath the door. She left the restroom and then returned to confront the person. At that point, she realized the person was a man dressed as a woman.

According to witnesses, Burnes was found in “stages of undress while on the stone floor and would do this in the presence of several young children.”

Police officers arrived to find Burnes wearing a dark woman’s suit including a short skirt and jacket, black leather coat, black high heals, red nail polish, green eye shadow and women’s jewelry. According to the witness, Burnes had been in the women’s section of the store with his skirt “kicked up showing his white girdle and dark thong underwear.”

Emory Police Department (EPD) officers arrested “Coco Dorella,” whose legal name is William Frazier, on Sept. 18 at the Dobbs University Center (DUC) for carrying a loaded weapon onto school property.

Frazier was reported by an Emory staff member, who said that a black male wearing a multicolored mini skirt and a wig had entered the women’s restroom, said Lt. Cheryl Elliott of EPD, adding that the DUC staff had asked him on many occasions not to use the restroom.

A 15-year-old male special education student reported being coerced into a shopping mall food court for a sexual encounter.
Police said Isaiah Johnson, 20, of Stamford, and “two other males dressed as females in the area of Veteran’s Park Bus stop” coerced the teenage boy into the bathroom of the food court of the Stamford mall on April 26, where a sexual encounter took place.

An investigation found that the suspect had gone into the rest room while two women were inside, according to a police report. The women were later interviewed and said they had no idea that the man was there.

When police interviewed the man, he claimed that he had gone into the bathroom to use the facilities.

But the investigating officer noted that the man was wearing a wig and bra. A search also turned up a pair of woman’s panties in his front pocket, according to the police report.

MILWAUKIE, Ore. — A registered sex offender dressed up like a woman, went into a women’s locker room at a pool and talked with several children before being chased down by a good Samaritan, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office…

According to the state sex offender registry, Benson was convicted in 1994 of sex abuse and was known to target girls between 5 and 9 years old. The state considers him to be a predatory sex offender.

That afternoon, a possibly middle-aged man was reported to be wearing older women’s clothing and a face mask, pretending to be a woman, La Mesa police said Wednesday.

The dressed up man came out of a stall inside the women’s restroom at the movie theater at Reading Cinemas Grossmont Center 10, said police Lt. Dan Willis.

“At the time, the reporting person, a woman washing her hands at the sink counter, was approached by the dressed up man, who asked the woman if he could shake her hand,” Willis said.

“When the woman said ‘No,’ the subject left and was walking around the lobby of the movie theater asking to shake the hands of women.

***

I trust I’ve made my point. And this is only a small sample of arrests revolving around men in women’s clothing harassing women in restrooms, locker rooms, or other gender-segregated facilities. This propaganda line being pushed in the media, that no man has ever done this, is not just a lie, but an easily refuted one. Presumably, all the researchers for those shows can use Google just like I can. So how has the process failed us so miserably?

Well, I don’t think it’s in their interests to do so. It’s easy for anyone to ignore contrary evidence when their livelihood depends on it. Those talk shows that push the propaganda line are all liberal shows, and they don’t want to appear to go against the transgender lobby, which is very “hot” right now. The more they speak out, the more approval they will receive from their target audience. Why would they pass that up?

Most transwomen are not claiming to be women in order to spy on women in women’s bathrooms. However, it opens the door for violent, abusive men to claim to be women in order to access women-only spaces. They already do it right now, and if they were allowed, they would only do it more. In cases where enacting a policy may directly cause people to be severely harmed, it is better to be careful than sorry.

It’s ironic, because liberals already use this principle in other areas where freedom clashes with risk. They support gun control because the added freedom of owning guns with impunity does not erase the risk of people with bad intent getting their hands on guns and shooting innocents. They support limitations on market power because the freedom of the market does not erase the risk of corporations putting out dangerous products or mistreating workers. They oppose vouchers because the freedom of private schools does not erase the risk of children getting a bad education. So why is it that they suddenly forget this principle when it comes to women-only spaces?

The obvious answer is that they’re misogynists. Gun control, market power and vouchers do not disproportionately affect women, but women-only spaces do. It is also an attack against butch lesbians, who already have a lot of trouble with bathroom checking.

However, I doubt that they even think that far. I think that their motive is probably a combination of pure ignorance with a desire to appeal to their target audience. Seeing through the transgender dogma takes a lot of savvy, and I doubt they have the time to concentrate on any issue that much, given that transgender issues are generally a very small part of their scripts.

Reason Magazine defending pornography while pretending to be against rape.

A vile article from Reason Magazine, a Libertarian rag, and therefore a pro-pornography rag, seeks to defend pornography from a new perspective: fighting against pornography, they say, provides aid and comfort to… rapists!

The argument is so bizarre, even for Libertarians, that it makes one’s head spin. Radical feminists are pretty much the last people who would provide aid and comfort to rapists, and to accuse them of such is laughable. Likewise, people who argue against pornography do so partially because pornography has been proven to make its users more open to supporting to rape culture. But the author, Brendan O’Neill, doesn’t believe in the rape culture, like any good woman-hater who supports pornography:

“Rape culture” is the name given to a vast array of mostly harmless cultural practices—from saucy magazines to sexist banter on campus—which feminists claim contribute to a social disregard and even disdain for women’s equality and security. On both sides of the Atlantic, the rallying cry of third-wave feminists is that culture makes men wicked and reduces women to victims.

O’Neill has to trivialize pornography and sexual harassment in order to pretend that rape culture does not exist. The problem is not “saucy magazines” or “sexist banter.” This is not what feminists are talking about when they talk about rape culture. They are talking about, for one, rape. They are talking about pornography, real pornography, which is violent, abusive and often the result of rape and sexual coercion. They are talking about the objectification of women that permeates our culture. They are talking about the sexual harassment that many women experience on a daily basis. They are talking about the lack of political power given to women, the fact that men decide of the fate of their bodies. And they are also talking about the ideology of hate that people like O’Neill propagate, an ideology which trivializes and demeans women’s concerns, an ideology which refuses to confront rape culture or sexism.

There are two big problems with the idea of “rape culture.” The first is that it is built on some very shoddy statistics. As Christina Hoff Sommers, Cathy Young, and others have amply demonstrated, it simply isn’t true that one in four women are sexually assaulted or that women in the 21st century live in a “sea of misogyny.”

Now we see this author’s true colors. Christina Hoff Sommers is an MRA who posts at A Voice For Men. Cathy Young is not an MRA, but she is a known anti-feminist. At this point it is now clear now what O’Neill’s agenda is: anti-feminism. His data is no more credible than relying on the Institute for Creation Research for your data on the biological evolution of species.

The second problem is that the fetishisation of culture as the cause of violence and shaper of attitudes smashes the idea of free will and moral autonomy. And this is a boon to those who have chosen, freely, to do something awful with their moral autonomy. Like rapists.

Libertarians tend to be big believers in these sorts of superstitions: “free will,” “moral autonomy,” whatever you want to call it. Like many proponents of these doctrines, O’Neill uses the same old argument for “free will”: “if we don’t have free will, then you can’t blame anyone, including criminals!” This argument has nothing to do with pornography or rape culture, so I have no idea why he decided to bring it up here. To continue my previous analogy, it’s like arguing against evolution by saying that we can’t really know anything and science changes all the time. Whether that’s true or not, it has nothing to do specifically with evolution. Likewise, the “you can’t blame anyone” argument has nothing to do with pornography. It’s a red herring.

But to address the point, “free will” and “autonomy” do not exist, and we cannot blame anyone for what they do. However, this does not mean that there is no such thing as personal responsibility. To use a crude analogy, if a machine in a factory starts malfunctioning and becomes dangerous to use, we don’t simply say “well, it can’t help it, so we better not do anything” and put workers in danger. Clearly the thing to do is to isolate it and fix it.

Now, as I said, the analogy is crude. Machines in a factory are subject to property in a way that humans cannot (despite Libertarian doctrinal claims of “self-ownership”). Also, machines can be fixed and reprogrammed in a way people cannot be (even brainwashing remains an art, not a science). But the point remains: from a purely functional social perspective, people like Jeffrey Dahmer are “broken” machines, because murder is a monopoly that the State claims for itself. Therefore, whether you believe they should be blamed (if you believe, like Libertarians, that human beings are little gods) or that they shouldn’t be blamed, they should still be isolated and “fixed” (the prison systems we have are incredibly unsuited for the latter purpose, but that’s a different issue). There is no place for laissez-faire here.

O’Neill seems to think that the role of rape culture in feminist thought is to excuse rapists and give them an “out.” Actually, the point is not to excuse criminal behavior against women (which is pointless anyway from a deterministic perspective), but to understand it in order to attack it at the source. This is why feminists have concentrated on rape culture and have pointed out how things like pornography and sexual harassment are based on, and feed, the objectification and demeaning of women: in order to attack the causes of rape, attack at the roots, effect some permanent change. They are not interested in exculpating rapists. Rather the contrary, their interest is in permanently reducing the occurrence of rape.

Can rapists take comfort in the existence of a rape culture? O’Neill is quite confident that they do, but he hardly gives us reason to believe this. It is not only rapists who have no “free will,” and rape culture is not an exception to “free will”: none of us have “free will” and we are all constructed by our culture, amongst other things. So it’s hard to understand why O’Neill thinks that the connection between rape culture and rapists is somehow special and that therefore feminists are to blame for aiding and abetting rapists, while no one else who studies society or takes a position about anything deemed illegal is to blame for anything. Are psychologists to blame for giving comfort to sociopaths? Are communists to blame for giving comfort to shoplifters? It just seems like special pleading to single out feminists and their discussions of rape culture as being the one area where people are to blame.

If his argument was consistent, O’Neill would be attacking all social sciences and all positions on social issues, not just feminists. But his argument is not consistent, because his goal is to undermine feminism, nothing more. In this, he fails.

Strossen pointed out that in the 1980s and 90s, some men who had committed foul deeds fell back on the Dworkinite idea that the culture made them do it in an attempt to shrink their guilt. Marcia Pally, academic and feminist against censorship, wrote about how in the mid-1980s, when the court refused to declare him insane, Ted Bundy started “collecting information attesting to the negative effects of pornography,” in order to show that wicked images made him wicked. He started quoting academic research as part of his attempt to “bolster his pornography-made-me-do-it claim.”

Trying to associate feminism with Ted Bundy is about as mendacious as it gets. No feminist believes that pornography “makes” people commit rapes or, as in Bundy’s case, become a serial killer of women. This is a common straw man used by advocates of pornography. They try to portray the situation as: either watching one pornographic video makes its viewer go out and rape women, or pornography has no influence whatsoever. But neither of these alternatives are based on reality. No story can change people’s personalities or actions immediately (not even brainwashing can do that), and no story that we watch has no effect whatsoever. Rather, the implicit and explicit content of those stories gradually influence how people think and act. Repetition is the main thing here.

Rape culture does exist. But again, to say that rape culture “shrinks the guilt” of rapists is special pleading. As I already said, his argument is irrelevant to rape, since guilt, as a mass delusion, is not limited to our judgment of rapists, but extends to anything we consider to be wrong. Rape culture is no more relevant to this than the study of sociopathy or communism (to come back to the two examples I used before).

Now, logically, no one is guilty of anything. This does not mean that we should not hold anyone responsible for anything, which is the implication made by O’Neill. I don’t think O’Neill should be personally blamed for being a woman-hating imbecile. It’s literally not his fault. But I do think Reason Magazine should act on that information and stop publishing such amazingly illogical bullshit. Then again, expecting Libertarians to do the right thing is pretty pointless.

Natalism is profoundly anti-feminist…

According to The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner, patriarchy began with the rise of agriculture, when women’s capacity to procreate became vital to the survival and flourishing of rooted communities. In essence, women’s bodies became first property of the community, and then, with marriage, property of their husbands. While you may agree or disagree with this theory, it’s hard to deny that the oppression of women has gone hand in hand with women’s capacity to procreate.

If we pursue this point, we may also observe that natalism has been used politically to justify women’s oppression, through nationalism and the need for more workers, more soldiers and more consumers. That the more a society needs children, the more women’s role of fulfilling motherhood is emphasized and enforced. Another fact which cannot fail to attract our attention is that partner violence is linked with unwanted pregnancies:

[A] compelling argument can be made of the indirect mechanism through which the climate of fear and control surrounding abusive relationships could limit women’s ability to control their fertility. Lack of fertility control can lead to unintended pregnancies, which are also associated with adverse outcomes for women’s and infant health, especially in developing countries. The association between intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy also suggests serious social effects spawned by a cycle of unintended childbearing in abusive households.

The ownership of women’s bodies, the enforcement of motherhood, and partner violence are all fundamental feminist issues. Therefore I think we can come to the conclusion that natalism is profoundly anti-feminist.

Natalists may reply that partner violence is not the way they want women to have children. But since natalist arguments typically ignore women’s and children’s well-being, it seems to me that such a reply would miss the point. Indeed, to posit the creation of children as a moral principle by itself entails opposing the well-being of women and children: the health and well-being of women who go through pregnancy and childbirth, the psychological health and well-being of women who must care for children whether or not they have any ability or will to do so, and the health and well-being of children who are either born compromised or who are destined to experience disease, hardships or poverty.

Note that the opposite is not true: antinatalism is not inherently feminist or anti-feminist. One antinatalist can see women as the main perpetrators of procreation, and therefore as the enemy. Another antinatalist can see women as the victims of procreation, and therefore see antinatalism not only as an ethical issue but also as a gender issue. These two views don’t necessarily contradict each other: a victim can also be a perpetrator, as we see for instance in internalized misogyny or internalized racism. But either way, I see all of us as victims of procreation, men and women, although women suffer more in its name than men. Most of us do internalize natalist propaganda and evaluations, and that is unfortunate, but it doesn’t in any way change the fact that we are all fundamentally victimized.

Given all the facts, it’s not surprising that second wave feminists (who were right about most things) thought that motherhood was a raw deal, and tried to attack the undeservedly high status of motherhood. Nowadays, the pressure on women is even greater because they’re supposed to both have a career and be mothers. So it is perhaps not that surprising that it’s men who want children more nowadays, although the percentage of acceptance for both genders is still very high:

Lauren is part of a growing cohort of women: those in their late 20s and early 30s who aren’t sure about — or are decidedly against — becoming mothers. In a nationally representative survey of single, childless people in 2011, more men than women said they wanted kids. (On the other hand, more women reported seeking independence in their relationships, personal space, interests, and hobbies.) A different poll from 2013 echoed those findings, with more than 80 percent of men saying they’d always wanted to be a father or at least thought they would be someday. Just 70 percent of women felt the same.

Women in general are starting to get a grasp of the problem, although they are still psychologically pressured to pursue the natalist party line. And men, well, have no reason to feel particularly responsible about it. After all, the procreation is done mostly for their benefit, not their wives’. Not to mention that men as a class aren’t particularly known for their sense of responsibility: just look at the most masculine institutions we have, sports teams, the military, the cops, which all not only lack any sense of responsibility (except for an abstract concept of “sportsmanship,” for sports teams), but glorify that fact.

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