Without apology: the abortion struggle now

Is a short book by Jenny Brown, that is free to download ( for now) on verso that speaks to the question of abortion in quite a very powerful way. In it she links the abortion rights issue to the reproductive rights debate, in a way that is both convincing and powerful.

Some light bulb moment for me was to learn that some phrases that i use often have their beginnings in feminist organising. ‘The personal is political’, ‘consciousness raising’ among others.

It also does seem that capitalism is antithetical to women reproductive rights. That whenever countries become more capitalist, the more restrictive their reproductive laws.

Ain’t it absurd that a country as the Uneducated States of A would ban distribution of sex ed, birth control and other material on reproductive health to women while expecting cases of unwanted pregnancies to go down.

One other thing to note is what Brown calls the feminism of 1%. The pro-choice feminism. If you get pregnant its your choice and you should deal with it as being inimical to the overall struggle of the women. Something which i have read somewhere else.

If you have two hours on the train, or at home after mowing the lawn or doing dishes, pick this book. You will be the better for it.

Tomorrow sex will be good again

By Katherine Angel

Is a book I would recommend for those still actively having sex or who plan to get some action in the future.

In it she addresses the issues surrounding consent especially following #metoo and other campaigns aimed at addressing sexual violence against women( especially women because they are overly represented in the number victims of sexual violence) and explored whether that active consent is a sufficient guarantee that women will be safe.

She explores arousal, desire, vulnerability and asks some very pointed questions. Many times men are won’t to say that women when they say no actually mean yes or that their bodies speak a different language which is not said for men. It is argued that the female body is disconnected from her person. And this unfortunately has been used in legal cases to argue against rape where defendants have said the woman was wet and so she must have wanted it, regardless of her protestations.

A very interesting question or theme that runs through the book is how can sex research which claim to be objective give us any results when sex is removed from its very subjective context of negotiation, desire, arousal and all those things we associate with sex?

Sex she argues is political. Especially in the manner in which the female body and desire is policed. And asks whether to demand that women be performative in the sex game will lead to any liberation? Is it the panacea to sexual violence? I don’t think so.

Go read the book. Happy week everyone and have some good sex while at it.

A room of one’s own

By Virginia Woolf is a book(extended essay) I would recommend to anyone who wants something short and interesting to read.

The question she is answering is women and fiction and she argues that to write a woman needs her own room and 500£ a year income(this was 1928).

She should have the freedom to say what she wants and at the same time have an opportunity to observe reality.

If you have no book to read during quarantine, here is a place to start.

On the emancipation of women

And here I will let Kropotkin speak for himself

Why has woman’s work never been of any account? Why in every family are there mother and three or four servants obliged to spend so much time at what pertains to cooking? Because those who want to emancipate mankind have not included woman in their dream of emancipation and consider it beneath their superior masculine dignity to think ” of those kitchen arrangements”, which they have put in the shoulders of that drudge- woman.

To emancipate woman is to free her from the brutalizing toil of kitchen and washhouse; it is to organise your household in such a way as to enable her to rear her children, if she is so minded, while still retaining sufficient leisure to take her share of social life.

how da women lost da power

to da men.

In Joseph Campbell’s The masks of god: primitive mythology, he writes of this myth  of  the Ona of Tierra del Fuego,of the origin legend of the lodge or Hain of the men’s secret society.

In the days when all the forest was evergreen, before Kerrhprrh the parakeet painted the autumn leaves red with the color from his breast, before the giants Kwonyipe and Chashkilchesh wandered through the woods with their heads above the tree-tops; in the days when Krren (the sun) and Kreeh (the moon) walked the earth as man and wife, and many of the great sleeping mountains were human beings: in those far-off days witchcraft was known only to the women of Ona-land.

They kept their own particular Lodge, which no man dared approach. The girls, as they neared womanhood, were instructed in the magic arts, learning how to bring sickness and even death to all those who displeased them.

The men lived in abject fear and subjection. Certainly they had bows and arrows with which to supply the camp with meat, yet, they asked, what use were such weapons against witchcraft and sickness? This tyranny of the women grew from bad to worse until it occurred to the men that a dead witch was less dangerous than a live one. They conspired together to kill off all the women; and there ensued a great massacre, from which not one woman escaped in human form.

Even the young girls only just beginning their studies in witchcraft were killed with the rest, so the men now found themselves without wives. For these they must wait until the little girls grew into women. Meanwhile the great question arose: How could men keep the upper hand now they had got it? One day, when these girl children reached maturity, they might band together and regain their old ascendancy. To forestall this, the men inaugurated a secret society of their own and banished for ever the women’s Lodge in which so many wicked plots had been hatched against them.

No woman was allowed to come near the Hain, under penalty of death. To make quite certain that this decree was respected by their womenfolk, the men invented a new branch of Ona demonology; a collection of strange beings—drawn partly from their own imaginations and partly from folk-lore and ancient legends—who would take visible shape by being impersonated by members of the Lodge and thus scare the women away from the secret councils of the Hain.

It was given out that these creatures hated women, but were well-disposed towards men, even supplying them with mysterious food during the often protracted proceedings of the Lodge. Sometimes, however, these beings were short-tempered and hasty. Their irritability was manifested to the women of the encampment by the shouts and uncanny cries arising from the Hain, and, it might be, the scratched faces and bleeding noses with which the men returned home when some especially exciting session was over.

He writes also of the Yahgans (or Yamana) who are neighbours to the Ona, that

it was not so very long ago that the men assumed control. This was apparently done by mutual consent; there is no indication of a wholesale massacre of the women such as took place—judging from that tribe’s mythology—among the Ona. There is, not far from Ushuaia, every sign of a once vast village where, it is said, a great gathering of natives took place. Such a concourse was never seen before or since, canoes arriving from the farthest frontiers of Yahgan-land. It was at that momentous conference that the Yahgan men took authority into their own hands.”

and this my friends is why we are where we are today 🙂


Africa Writes 2016: Nawal el Saadawi

I don’t listen to podcasts usually but I enjoyed this one too much. It is great. Saadawi is awesomeness personified.

I like her comments on middle east, on identity politics, on academia, on post modernism, on being a doctor and an author. In short, I am, for lack of a better word, in love. I am going to look for her work.

This podcast comes highly recommended.

the fraud of feminism?

Is a book by E Belfort Bax written in 1913 against the feminist cause.

In it he argues that the claims of feminism are unfounded and are buttressed by fallacy upon fallacy. He argues women are  physically, intellectually and morally inferior to men. I am going ahead of myself.

Bax says feminism consists of the assertion of equality in intellectual capacity, in spite of appearances to the contrary, of women with men. In his view, because of the inequalities, women shouldn’t have been allowed to vote. He was assuredly against the suffragettes. To the question of why men of decidedly inferior mental capacities could vote when women couldn’t, he deferred to an argument for averages. He says in all these matters we have to deal with averages.

Bax tells us and he would gratify those who see women only as sexual objects

[…] the truth in question consists in the fact, while man has a sex, women is a sex.

Quoting Otto’s book Sex and Character, he writes

Woman is only sexual, man is also sexual. In woman, sexuality is diffused over the whole body, every contact on whatever part excites her sexually.

But he doesn’t stop here, he goes on to write

……woman has continued to find her chief function in the direct procreation of the race.

We are told specialists are all agreed that at all ages, the size of a woman’s brain is smaller than that of a man. And this difference also differs with civilization.

He says hysteria is an affliction that affects women only and has its origins in the uterus.

A strand of argument that still seem to have currency in our day is the argument that feminism is an anti-men crusade. I should mention here, that in this treatise, Bax is mainly responding to male feminists. He says the female feminist is too biased for her opinion to be considered. In support of this thesis, he writes

we see the legislature, judges, juries, parsons all vie with one another in denouncing the villainy and baseness of the male person and ever devising ways and means to make life hard for him.

Examples he give include (remember this is 1900s England)

  1. the marriage laws in England are a monument to feminist sex partiality- if you promise to marry a damsel and go back on your word, jail or fine for you
  2. the right of maintenance accrues solely to the woman
  3. the law affords the woman to commit torts against third parties, the husband alone being responsible
  4. the wife can obtain, if not a divorce, a legal separation by going whining to the nearest police court[?], for a few shillings, which the husband has to pay!

He said the law made it a crime to receive succor from a woman who plied the sex trade (refer to White Slave Trade Act).

He argues, the feminists present the woman always as the “injured innocent“. In his view, where crimes are involved, the feminists ditch the argument for equality with men and pursue a line of innocence for the women. To them, he says divine woman is always the injured innocent not only in the graver crimes of murder but also in minor offences. He gives a number of cases where the punishment meted out to women and men for the same crimes differed with the women getting a fairer and shorter punishment.

He argues chivalry has been turned on its head.

Women, he argues, are not the weaker sex. He says women can endure more pain, live longer than the men folk, that child mortality is higher in males than females.

He goes on and on and I am tired of going on.

I have read this book, so you don’t have to read it.

And today we end in a song.

The hypocrisy of third wave feminists. Bax seems to still have supporters though not all through

Walking on eggshells

This post or rather set of questions have become very sensitive. One is almost always wrong, especially if they happen to be male. 

Mansplaining- is there a women corollary?

All men are trash- is there an opposing corollary?

All men are retards- is there a women corollary?

How are men to navigate the discussions around feminism without appearing to silence women’s voices, appearing to be guilty of mansplaining and so on? 

To put it differently, how are men to be feminists allies?

And finally, what is feminism?

The book of the city of ladies

By Christine de Pizan

In this book, Christine is making a case for the equality of the female sex with their male counterparts. To do this, she builds a city to populate with ladies.

In her view, any woman of virtue is a lady. Birth does not necessarily make a person noble but virtue is the highest nobility.

The book reads like the life of the saints, especially in part three where justice is roofing the city.

There have been men, and even recently some catholic priest argued women want to be raped or battered. She gives examples of women who were raped to dishonour them and killed themselves thereafter. Anyone who would think a woman wants to be raped should have his head chopped off. He doesn’t need it.

Does a woman have to be a virgin to be honoured?  Is virginity in women of such great value? In the third part of the book that I have spoken of already, most if not all the women mentioned are virgins or are married but living in chastity, which is the same thing.

It is so full of fable that some people would find taking it seriously impossible. There are so many miracles that are mentioned in it that for me, took away from the very important business of the book.

I also found it a bit disturbing where some of the women mentioned in building of the city are praised for their goodness in overseeing the death of so many people.

A lady’s lament to god

Alas, god, why did you not let me be born in the world as a male, so that all my inclinations would be to serve you better, and so that I would not stray in anything and would be as perfect as a male is said to be?  But since your kindness has not been extended to me, then forgive my negligence in your service most fair Lord God, and may it not displease you, for the servant who receives fewer gifts from his lord is less obliged in his service.

Christine de Pizan