White cis men in feminist spaces: episode one million

As seen in Feministe, on a post written by DrRubidium, Woman of Color scientist about the issues faced by DNLee5, another Black woman scientist who was called “an urban whore”*:


I really, truly need to understand this phenomenon: what exactly drives a cis, white man to a feminist space so that he can mansplain sexism to the ladies? (And yeah, I had to say something because WTF is up with that comment even being allowed to stand, let alone left unchallenged?!). It seems that no matter what happens, nothing is learned from the participation of these types of men in feminist political discussions. Because when I need to understand how white, heteronormative patriarchy operates, nobody better than a cis, white dude to explain it to me, amirite?

* On this topic, Trudy has been writing extensively at Gradient Lair as well, I suggest you check her posts for more coverage.

Whose mental health? On feminist responses and who is STILL centered

So, Twitter is outpouring with discussions about a white cis man’s mental health issues and whether current depictions of his behavior are ableist or not. They might be ableist, I wouldn’t know because I haven’t been following the way his mental health diagnosis or its manifestations are currently being framed. And here’s the discussion that is not happening: how years of abuse might have impacted the mental health of Women of Color. Here’s another discussion that is not happening: feminist community response to the possible mental health issues of the WoC in question. And here’s yet another discussion that is not happening: who is accountable for the well being of the community and the members that are cast away.

But you know, even when we denounce an abuser we are still going to be erased from the subsequent discussions in the aftermath.

I blame Schwyzer for the ineffectual, whitewashed, lukewarm feminism that is incapable of producing substantial change

A while ago, everyone was talking about Anne Marie Slaugher’s piece “Why women can’t have it all”. Back then I wrote that the reason why women cannot have it all is because feminism has stopped being about dreams and utopia and revolution and instead, it has become a movement set to compromise with patriarchy. We are supposed to want to have better positions at capitalist exploitation (women should aspire to be CEOs, earn more even at the expense of other women who are subjugated across racist poverty, exploitation of resources in the Global South, etc.). And now, of course, I have also spoken out about Schwyzer’s attempt to silence me (which as it is rightfully noted here, is not the first time he does to a Latina blogger).

Meanwhile, Schwyzer continues to have a place on the feminist table. He continues to be interviewed, his “side of the story” is made to matter, he is allowed to continue forcing himself into feminist spaces, he gets paid to write about women’s issues, for women, in mainstream media publications, etc. AND THEN WE WONDER WHY PATRIARCHAL POLITICIANS A LA ROMNEY DO NOT TAKE FEMINISM SERIOUSLY?! Then we wonder why the erosion of women’s rights across all the Western world continues unabated? Then we have round tables, talks, conferences, dissertations, seminars, paid writing gigs, debates, to discuss why women’s rights are on the first line of attack when racist, heteronormative patriarchy needs to be enforced? How can we even dare to wonder about the root cause of this when the most mainstream form of feminism allows a guy like Schwyzer to “represent” women? Have we been made so submissive by virtue of capitalist consumer culture that we misguidedly believe we need to “negotiate” our own fucking spaces with a guy like Hugo Schwyzer? Have we been collectively beaten into compliance that a White, cisgender, American man is “approved” to speak on our behalf and then we wonder why our interests are not well represented?

And while Schwyzer, individually, cannot be held accountable for the complete demise of feminism, I believe him to be a very good metonymical representation of the movement’s failures. The failures represented by compromise, lukewarm attempts at “change” that only serve to further subjugate women, that continue to keep Women of Color “in their place”, boxed in an asphyxiating structure of White Supremacy, relegated to the role of “trouble maker” to be silenced, to be demanded “proof of her own oppression”. Schwyzer, allowed to be the executing arm of this White Supremacy, in the name of the very same ideology that is supposed to “liberate” women.  

For as long as a man like Hugo Schwyzer can silence Women of Color and “groom” White women to act as his shields against our “mean anger”, no woman will be allowed to have it all. We have gotten to a point where the most revolutionary thing feminism can do is say NO. Just that. No. A white, cisgender American man can never have a woman’s best interests in mind. A feminism that gives Schwyzer the benefit of the doubt while he demands that we “prove” our oppression, is nothing but a sham. When white, cisgender, male politicians come for our rights, let’s not forget who kept the door open for them.

Patriarchal fish punish powerful females

via New Scientist:

Now it turns out that one animal does punish just like a human: the bluestreak cleaner wrasse. But their carefully nuanced punishment of “cheats” is really an elaborate plot to oppress their females.[…]

Bluestreak cleaner wrasse have small home territories called cleaning stations. Each male maintains a harem of around 16 females dotted around his territory, who help him service his clients.[…]

When the female ate a piece of prawn from a plate that had eight fish flakes – thereby depriving the pair of all those fish flakes – the male chased her more than if the plate had only four fish flakes. When a second eight-fish-flake plate was offered, females who had experienced this severe punishment were less likely to eat the prawn.

"Harsher punishment makes them cooperate more," Raihani says. The males must somehow be judging the seriousness of the females’ crimes and punishing accordingly, something no other non-human animal has ever been seen doing.

The system may sound just, but it is actually systematic sexual oppression.

All bluestreak cleaner wrasse are born female. The largest individual in a given area changes into a male and dominates the remaining females.

That means each male is under constant threat from his attendant females. If one of them manages to grow bigger than him, she can change sex in just two days and potentially take over his territory.

For a female to grow bigger than her male, she needs to eat more than him. So taking chunks out of client fish could work well for her: she gets a particularly nutritious meal, but her partner gets nothing because the client fish leaves in disgust.

Accordingly, Raihani found that males were more likely to dole out harsh punishments if their partners were a similar size to them. Such large females would have been on the cusp of changing sex, so the males controlled their behaviour more strictly.

image owldeermaybenexttime replied to your photo: Would you like to take a manly man holiday? Yes? I…

You might have already read it, but Roland Barthes’s Mythologies has a really interesting chapter on the rhetoric of cleaning-product-adverts. I don’t know what it’s called in the English version, but in the French it’s ‘Saponides et détergents”.

YES! Actually it was this text what partially inspired my quest for the subject. Together with this ad where the father “inspects and disapproves” the daughter’s skirt.

Would you like to take a manly man holiday? Yes? I found the perfect spot to do so, Patriarchy Park Residence, where you can also eat manly Italian food at Il Patriarca Restaurant and stroll through Patriarchy Park for daily exercise.
And to think I came across this while trying to find research on reinforcing patriarchy through cleanliness, the masculine rhetoric of the “war on dirt and germs” and how that ties to Mr. Muscle.

Would you like to take a manly man holiday? Yes? I found the perfect spot to do so, Patriarchy Park Residence, where you can also eat manly Italian food at Il Patriarca Restaurant and stroll through Patriarchy Park for daily exercise.

And to think I came across this while trying to find research on reinforcing patriarchy through cleanliness, the masculine rhetoric of the “war on dirt and germs” and how that ties to Mr. Muscle.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Fathered A Son With Latina Maid?


I googled specifically because I had the intense conviction that the housemaid in question could be a Latina woman.

I cannot even begin to decode the many layers of fail in this. The eternal invisibility of Latin American women in the North. The eternal status of Latinas as “good enough to be housekeepers or nannies”, the demonization of immigrant women who work as domestic labor. And now this woman who is going to have to endure it all, every stereotype and stigma carried on her back.

And just think for a second how this is not the usual tale of infidelity involving the regular trope of powerful male politicians. Think of the power disparity and how little options a Mexican housekeeper might have. How consent becomes blurred and it involves not only consent during the act but also the woman’s employment, perhaps her immigration status, her future in the country (and the future of her child(ren)), etc…

Infidelity obviously wasn’t enough for the Governor. He had to exercise the worst kind of power a person in his position has access to and make sure it’s kept hidden and hushed.


Beer and civilization


Beer Lubricated the Rise of Civilization, Study Suggests


May beer have helped lead to the rise of civilization? It’s a possibility, some archaeologists say.

Their argument is that Stone Age farmers were domesticating cereals not so much to fill their stomachs but to lighten their heads, by turning the grains into beer. That has been their take for more than 50 years, and now one archaeologist says the evidence is getting stronger.

Signs that people went to great lengths to obtain grains despite the hard work needed to make them edible, plus the knowledge that feasts were important community-building gatherings, support the idea that cereal grains were being turned into beer,  said archaeologist Brian Hayden at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

“Beer is sacred stuff in most traditional societies,” said Hayden, who is planning to submit research on the origins of beer to the journal Current Anthropology.

Good to know that we’re still keeping in touch with our ancestors. Cheers!

I would prefer if the original archeologists had used the more accurate term: patriarchy, rather than civilization. One might wonder what does the raise of patriarchy have to do with beer. Well, I will differ to Terence McKenna’s Food of the Gods (available in its entirety at the link) with an analysis of alcohol and Western civilization that makes much sense to me:

The suppression of the feminine has been associated with the use of alcohol since very early times. One manifestation was the restriction of alcohol use to men. According to Lewin, women in ancient Rome were not allowed to drink wine.’ When Egnatius Mecenius’s wife drank wine from a barrel, he beat her to death. He was later acquitted. Pompiliu Faunus had his wife whipped to death because she had drunk his wine. And yet another Roman woman of the gentry was condemned to die of hunger merely because she had opened the cupboard wherein were kept the keys to the wine cellar.
Dominator style hatred of women, general sexual ambivalence and anxiety, and alcohol culture conspired to create the peculiarly neurotic approach to sexuality that characterizes European civilization. Gone are the boundary-dissolving hallucinogenic orgies that diminished the ego of the individual and reasserted the values of the extended family and the tribe.

The dominator response to the need to release sexual tension in an ambience of alcohol is the dance hall, the bordello, and the institutionalized expansion of a new underclass-that of the “fallen woman.” The prostitute is a convenience for the dominator style, with its fear and disgust of women; alcohol and its social institutions create the social space in which this fascination and disgust can be acted out without responsibility.

Yet how can we explain the legal toleration for alcohol, the most destructive of all intoxicants, and the almost frenzied efforts to repress nearly all other drugs? Could it not be that we are willing to pay the terrible toll that alcohol extracts because it is allowing us to continue the repressive dominator style that keeps us all infantile and irresponsible participants in a dominator world characterized by the marketing of ungratified sexual fantasy?

Free vibrators for the girls, but the boys get the batteries

In “news you wish were Onion headlines”, Free vibrators for the girls, but the boys get the batteries:

'Fever. You are going to vibrate.' Under this slogan, the infamous Cuomo club, located in Valencia's Mislata estate, has announced a party for next Saturday in which the disco will be giving away a free vibrator to the first 300 (female) customers. The famous disco, which has achieved national notoriety for its alledgedly “sexist” parties in the past, has gone on the defensive and announced a party where the women don't need men. The disco, one of the largest in Spain outside of the “hardcore” party areas such as Ibiza, is expected to be full to capacity with some 4,000 clients attending.

For 15 euros, female clients will be entitled to a free sexual gizmo and a drink. Women can choose from three sizes (12, 15 and 17 cm) and various colors.

But the novelty of the party is that the boys aren’t entirely forgotton, and the event organisers have decided that the first 300 men entering the club will receive the batteries, and condoms of different flavors. The sex toys given to women will not have batteries.

Who controls your sexuality and your pleasure, uh? A random stranger who got there early, that’s who! Now, submit your dildo to the patriarchy. You know it’s the right thing to do.

Thought crime punished in Italy

via The Guardian, Woman denied alimony because she had talked about open marriage:

Italy's highest appeal court has denied a woman alimony – because she once discussed the idea of an open marriage with her husband before they married.

The court heard that the woman had “theorised” that marriage did not have to be based on sexual fidelity, but had never put the idea into practice.

"We fully support the lower court’s findings, even though there was no evidence of the woman frequenting other men," the Cassation court said in a precedent-setting ruling today.

The couple’s Catholic wedding was annulled by an ecclesiastical court in Modena due to the woman’s ideas on faithfulness, even though the man had willingly tied the knot.

Fearing the loss of alimony, the woman appealed against the annulment in Italy’s civil courts, only for them to back the church’s ruling.

This happened in the European Union. Not some isolated community we are being told is trying to overtake our “Western Christian values”. Fear Sharia law? No need! The Catholic Church seems to be doing a great job on their own bringing us back to the dark ages!

Presa por abortar (Jailed for having an abortion)

Jailed for Abortion

Since 2001, spontaneous abortions due to malnutrition or any other physical limitation as well as voluntary interruptions of pregnancy, are punished with up to 35 years in jail in Guanajuato.  For the El Bajío Taliban, these are “homicides of kinship by reason of aggravation of a product in gestation,” according to the state’s penal code. Or, as simplified by Governor Juan Manuel Oliva Ramírez in an interview published yesterday by La Jornada, they are “infanticide.”

Just today, because of this vile accusation, five young peasant women woke up in jail at the Social Rehabilitation Center in Puentecillas, in the outskirts of Guanajuato’s capital, and another one in Valle de Santiago, near Michoacan. They are all sentenced to more than 25 years of  imprisonment. The oldest one in the group (who is just 26 and has already served 9 of her 26-year sentence,) has never received medical attention, reproductive health education or assistance to prevent or interrupt her pregnancies. One of them became pregnant the fourth time she was raped, and was arrested after she had an abortion, while she received no protection against the men who abused her for years.

Aside from being victims of such an atrocious and unacceptable injustice, all these women received the same surprise when they arrived to public hospitals, dripping blood and psychologically devastated:  before they were treated in the emergency room, the hospital personnel called agents of the appropriate public agency in order to catch them “in the act.” 

The six of them –plus Alma Yareli Salazar Saldaña, who was freed– went from the hospital straight to jail. After being sentenced, some of them appealed to the Superior Court of Justice, but they lost the case due to the lack of good lawyers. Now, in order to bring it to the Supreme Court (Mexico’s moral dump,) each of them needs to gather at least 500 thousand Mexican pesos [almost $40,000 USD] to get a lawyer to represent them. An impossible dream, since their families live in extreme poverty and rarely have the means to gather the 400 pesos ($32 USD) to travel from their villages to the Puentecillas Rehabilitation Center to visit.

At this moment, there are 166 women in Guanajuato who were also turned in by their “doctors” to the police. Forty-three of them are at the mercy of the court to be submitted to a penal process. It is not only a matter of the six peasant women who are imprisoned or about the ones who are sitting in the waiting room of terror, but about all women in Mexico and throughout the world.

When we think of choice, being pro choice, having a choice, we usually think of it in abstract terms as in “I wish for every woman to have access to reproductive choice”. However, this, six jailed women + another 166 awaiting trial is what “lack of choice” means. Something we need to remember when we allow the discussion to be in terms of “pro choice” vs. “pro life”. In reality, the argument is one of “pro freedom to decide over our bodies” vs. “people who would like to see us jailed for doing so”. Then suddenly, the discussion is no longer so abstract.

Oh Pravda, how I love this headline of yours! Probably not for the reasons you might suspect, but I love it nonetheless. Here is the acknowledgment that “family” in its current, Western notion is neither equal nor feminist. So yeah, I won’t be shedding many tears when it finally goes extinct.