by Sekhmet She Owl
So Jacobin Mag, that vaguely socialist dick fest of a publication, predictably ran an article condemning radical feminism. The piece was written by a handmaiden who identifies herself as a socialist, and despite the fact that she’s currently in pursuit of a PhD, she managed to write a disjointed, dishonest smear job thinly veiled as political concern trolling, telling readers that radical feminists are down with capitalism and (gasp!) exclude males from our movement even if they live life in drag.
Meghan Murphy of Feminist Current already wrote a phenomenal takedown of the ridiculous article that you should go read. Rather than rehash her commentary, I want to offer a more finely focused response to certain points of Erica West’s weak-ass sales job for male-inclusive socialism as a superior alternative to feminism. (Note that she talks about “socialist feminism” as its own separate strand of feminism, but when you take a good look at her argument, it becomes obvious that she’s simply advocating for socialism, not feminism. By definition, feminism is about liberating all females from male oppression, not just from male-created capitalism and economic exploitation.)
West makes the same boring objections to anti-porn activism that men have been spewing since radical feminists started doing said activism, but she shrouds her support for porn in a criticism of radical feminists collaborating with the Right Wing when attacking the industry. This is a clever tactic, as it invites knee-jerk doubt about the Leftist credibility of radical feminists. These days, most people are incapable of understanding or accepting that different sections of the political spectrum can share common views on some individual issues, without being fundamentally aligned or having the same reasons for taking the same stance on a subject. Anti-feminist liberals and Leftists love to pretend that radical feminism is Right Wing on the basis of sharing the Right’s anti-porn, anti-prostitution, and anti-gender identity positions, while ignoring that feminists are opposed to the Right Wing on literally every other subject and in fact are more Leftist than liberals and just as Leftist as the anti-feminist Left.
“Radical feminists’ anti-porn work throws into sharp relief the dangers of misidentifying the roots of women’s oppression. Relying on the state for censorship, emboldening the carceral apparatus, making alliances with opponents of progressive change — this is where radical feminism’s analysis leads us.”
We’re going to break this bullshit down piece by piece.
“the dangers of misidentifying the roots of women’s oppression”
Let’s be clear about what West is telling us: we’re wrong about the source of female oppression being our sex and we’re wrong about men being the oppressors. It’s dangerous for us to believe that our biological sex and men as a category are the sources of our common oppression.
I just want to know: dangerous to who? How are women in danger by locating the source of our oppression in our femaleness and naming men as the oppressor?
I think what you meant, Erica West, is that feminist analysis of female oppression is dangerous to men and their dicks in particular.
“Relying on the state for censorship”
This is a classic pro-porn argument right out of the male creep’s playbook. Outlawing porn is censorship, and censorship is worse than the repeated paid rapes and physical and psychological abuse of women and girls. It’s also worse than underage girls being sexually harassed, raped, abused, and coerced into porn-inspired sex by their disgusting, pornsick male peers.
“Emboldening the carceral apparatus”
She’s saying that if we outlaw porn, men will make it anyway and then theoretically end up in prison when convicted. Apparently, male rapists and pimps going to prison is a bad thing?
Granted, if women in porn were subject to criminal charges and prison time, the way prostitutes are in the US, that would do more harm to them than good. But that’s why the Nordic Model exists, and it can absolutely be used to outlaw porn. Prosecute the males, leave the females alone. That way, you discourage the men who run the whole show from continuing to operate and avoid punishing the women and girls who end up manipulated, coerced, or pushed into the porn (often by their own class oppression, which is supposed to come to an end in the socialist/Marxist utopia, right?).
“making alliances with opponents of progressive change”
West doesn’t see the irony in accusing anti-porn feminists of collaborating with Right Wing opponents of so-called progressive change, even while she herself maintains an alliance with Leftist men who want to jack off to women getting raped for money on camera. I guess “progressive” is defined by men, in Erica’s world.
How she and all the pseudo-socialist bros at Jacobin Mag have convinced themselves that there is nothing capitalist or exploitative about the porn industry and prostitution, is beyond me. I think we have to chalk up this kind of political hypocrisy to the truism that men don’t value anything more than sexual gratification, certainly not political or intellectual integrity.
“Radical feminists don’t always acknowledge capitalism, but even when they do, they regard it as a completely separate sphere, siloed off from female oppression. Their ultimate goal is to abolish gender, which they see as inherently hierarchical and oppressive toward women.”
So this is the two-part premise of West’s essay. And it’s complete bullshit.
Radical feminists don’t acknowledge capitalism? Radical feminists separate capitalism from female oppression? Who the hell has this woman actually spoken to about radical feminism?
Of course radical feminists acknowledge and understand that capitalism oppresses women. Many American, Western European, Canadian, and Australian feminists grew up or currently live as poor or working class women, especially the lesbians, and global majority women in second and third world colonized countries, who don’t have to bother calling feminism “radical” because they know it’s the only real feminism there is, are exponentially more likely to be lifelong members of the poor or working classes. Women are the majority of the poverty class worldwide, and there are far more women living in the poor and working classes in the US today than 20 years ago. How much of an ignorant asshole do you have to be to assume that most radical feminists are middle and upper class women who have no need to analyze class struggle or oppose capitalism? Really?
What class are you in, Erica West? What class are all the men of Jacobin Mag in? What class did you all grow up in? I bet money it isn’t the poverty class or the working class. How many people do they even know in those classes? Let’s not forget that so many self-identified “socialists” floating around these days are middle class, and according to one of my trusted sources, this was true even back in the 70s. Being a middle class person or upper class person who assumes that actual poor and working class people are too stupid or ignorant to understand what capitalism does to them or to hold anti-capitalist politics without being taught by middle-class “socialists,” is itself a display of classism. And it’s disgusting for class privileged anti-feminist, misogynistic “socialist” men and women to lie about the class consciousness of poor and working class radical feminists, without even making any contact whatsoever with those feminists.
West does get the feminist take on gender right: we do see it as hierarchical and oppressive. But she betrays her ignorance and her sources of information on radical feminism when she claims that abolishing gender is feminism’s “ultimate goal.” Right there, in that single phrase, we know that her “research” of radical feminism consisted of trolling through the liberal, trans cultist, queer theory religion circles of the internet.
I got news for you, Erica West. Radical feminism’s ultimate goal is liberating all females from every form of male oppression. That’s what it’s been about since day one, which is why back in the day, a lot of people called feminism “the women’s liberation movement.” Go find me documentation of 1970s feminism being called “the gender abolition movement.” I’ll wait.
This is a perfect example of why it’s a problem for gender abolitionist liberal women and anti-trans Right Wing women to brand themselves “radical feminists.” Ignorant liberals and Leftists like Erica West end up seeing them online and lazily concluding, out of confirmation bias as much as ignorance, that radical feminism really is just a crusade against the gender identity cult. Nope. Wrong. Gender is only one form of male oppression and not even the most important one.
“As Marxists, we know the enemy is not men, but the capitalist class — which itself is multi-gendered and multiracial — and that our strategy must reflect this. Women’s oppression is not innate in humans but instead arose at a particular historical and political moment, alongside the development of class society and the nuclear family.”
Ah, so here we are. The fundamental and irreconcilable difference between Marxist anti-feminist women and feminists. Marxist and socialist anti-feminist women have bought into the political position of their men: that women’s oppression is rooted in classism and class warfare, and will cease to exist once a classless society is achieved. It’s not men who are the problem, it’s the upper class. Working class women can and should trust working class men and cooperate with them, in order to overthrow the bourgeoisie and achieve economic equality. Once they do that, they’re home free.
So according to these women (and the men who lead them), any misogyny that working class men display toward women is just a side effect of the class oppression those men experience. It’s not that they hate women the way upper class men do; they’re just lashing out because of their own class oppression. If we can just give working class men economic power and liberty and dissolve the class lines separating the male population into a hierarchy of income brackets, they’ll stop hating women and oppressing us physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and financially.
Give me a break.
Do you know how many times I’ve seen young women online tell horror stories about the misogyny they experienced in dude-run anarchist, Marxist, communist, and socialist spaces and organizations? Do you know that some radical feminists are actually ex-members of these anarchist, Marxist, socialist, and Leftist political groups and actually did real work in those groups before getting fed up with the woman-hating? And you expect radical feminists to believe that destroying capitalism and installing the male vision of socialism or communism is going to magically purge all males on earth or in this country of their violent misogyny and lesbian hating?
What does the economic system in any given country have to do with male violence against women? Or males raping females, children, animals, and other men? What does capitalism have to do with males beating and abusing women in heterosexual relationships? What does capitalism have to do with heterosexual men (and women) oppressing lesbians since time immemorial? If you’re going to argue that the nuclear family model is the problem and that somehow it would cease to exist in a socialist/communist/Marxist utopia, even while most women choose to be heterosexual (because of course), where’s your proof? Where’s your proof that men abuse and kill female partners because of class oppression? Where’s your proof that rich men in capitalist society DON’T commit violence against women? Where’s your proof that men who lived in the Soviet Union or Cuba or North Korea or Vietnam, quit committing misogynistic and lesbian-hating violence after the end of capitalism in their country?
The fact that Jacobin Mag, a supposedly “socialist” publication overrun with men, has displayed the same support for porn and prostitution that so many other “socialist” and “Marxist” men unapologetically and uncritically espouse online and offline should be enough proof to Leftist women that anti-capitalism has nothing to do with a male’s misogyny and natural impulse to oppress women using violence and rape. And yet here is Erica West, PhD hopeful, telling herself and other women that radical feminists are wrong for choosing feminism instead of phallocentric socialism. Is rape less terrible under socialism? Are men who like porn and prostitution now, under capitalism, including the ones who call themselves “socialist” or “Marxist,” going to quit once classless society is actually realized? Or are the men going to make porn and prostitution “better” somehow under socialism? Are men going to stop molesting underage girls and committing murder in the socialist utopia? Are they finally going to leave lesbians the hell alone once they’ve eliminated their own economic oppression? Is that what we’re supposed to believe?
See, this is the problem with Erica West and every other socialist- or Marxist-identified woman (and man) who condemn radical feminism in the name of socialism or Marxism: their whole argument is based on lies. The lie that radical feminism’s only or primary goal is to abolish gender. The lie that female oppression only takes the form of poverty and working class struggle. The lie that male violence and sexual predation are not global forms of oppression that all females face and have faced for thousands of years prior to capitalism, or else that they can be explained away and solved through economics. They can’t even make an honest critique of feminism. They invent a fantasy of what radical feminism is, then criticize that. This is a logical fallacy called straw-manning.
West spends a whole section of her essay crying about TERFs, and really, that’s enough to invalidate her whole strawman critique of what she pretends radical feminism is. It also exposes her real agenda, which is the same old mission that anti-feminist liberal and Leftist women have always had: protecting, soothing, pleasing, and placating dick. Earning a pat on the head from the men in the room, by nodding along as they call disobedient women bitches and cunts for refusing to fuck them and follow their lead unconditionally. She never even bothers trying to explain why serving the sexual desires and validating the feelings of men in occupational drag is in the interests of socialist revolution. I guess she decided to drop the charade for a bit.
I don’t have to tell you that femininity is not womanhood or that biological sex is unchangeable or that men who claim to be women are just as nasty, violent, abusive, woman-hating, lesbian-hating, and prone to rape as all the other men in the world. I also don’t have to tell you that feminism is by and for females or that the claims trans-cultists make about MtTs experiencing more violence than women don’t actually have any verifiable evidence behind them. I don’t have to remind you that men being bullied, harassed, or attacked by other men for their performance of femininity, is not a problem women are responsible for solving, and is in no logical terms an excuse for including men in a movement that seeks to liberate women from male oppression. You already know all of that, if you’re a feminist. Erica West apparently doesn’t get it, or doesn’t care.
She makes a weak, clumsy, transparent attempt to connect feminism’s exclusion of men in drag with racism, lying once again about feminists’ actual politics by accusing us of ignoring race and racism. You can almost hear the stereotypical “white feminist” slam that liberal anti-feminists have made a staple in their toolbox of rhetorical devices used to attack feminism, as West insinuates that only white women are (radical) feminists. These people have hijacked the concept of intersectionality, originally conceptualized by a black woman to talk about the experiences black women have of misogyny and racism, in order to argue for their fake “feminism” including males. That’s the purpose of West combining her little rant on TERFs with a brief claim that feminists ignore racism’s ramifications on black and brown women. Liberals now use racism as a red herring in arguments with women and feminists who don’t submit to their phallocentric politics, which is not only intellectually dishonest and manipulative but shows how little they actually care about racism and racially oppressed women. Erasing black and brown radical feminists, pretending that black and brown women don’t know the difference between males and females, acting like prioritizing male feelings and dick in your politics will contribute to the end of racial oppression of black and brown women, pulling the racism card in order to defend white heterosexual men’s desire to violate female boundaries and rape lesbians and get away with all the violent and abusive speech and actions they care to pull—all of this amounts to gas lighting women and smearing the feminist movement, for the purpose of reinforcing male power. Not anti-racist activism.
“While radical feminists posit separatism as a political strategy — and for some, the goal — socialist feminists understand that our power lies in our numbers.”
This deserves calling out because, if there’s one property of radical feminism that drives anti-feminists crazy, it’s female separatism. I remain baffled, on some level, by how much men and anti-feminist women hate separatism. Some radical feminists, including lesbians, even display hostility to separatism! And when I say “separatism,” I’m not talking about female-only spaces. West seems to equate female-only spaces or a female-only political movement with separatism, which is telling of the underlying male fear that if women create female-only space, it will actually lead to female separatism. And men can’t have that, because they need to fuck and leech off of females, whether we like it or not.
Feminists, and separatist feminists in particular, understand that creating female-only space is itself an assertion of power. We understand that female power is impossible under male surveillance and male control, which means that a feminist movement is impossible without female-only spaces. We understand that oppressed men achieving more power doesn’t translate into women as a category experiencing less oppression at the hands of those men. Separatist feminists understand that if most women became separatists, androcracy would end as soon as tomorrow, and that this is the reason why men and their handmaidens are so anti-separatist, whether they understand it consciously or not. Separatism threatens male power like almost nothing else, which is one reason why the trans cult started receiving massive support overnight from heterosexual liberals and Leftists in its crusade to force men into all of women’s public spaces, onto lesbian bodies, and into feminism itself.
“Recently, Left Forum came under fire for including a panel that questioned the legitimacy of transgender people and their need for health care. After much controversy, it was ultimately cancelled — and rightly so. As the movement for transgender rights gains steam, the Left must be forthright in our solidarity with transgender and gender non-conforming people.”
Once again, Erica West straight up lies. The cancelled panel at Left Forum was about the money behind the transgender movement within the medical and pharmaceutical industries. The panelists don’t argue for denying trans-identified people healthcare; chemical and surgical transition are not in the same category as preventative healthcare or medical treatment for actual illnesses, first of all. Second of all, investigating who profits from popularizing chemical and surgical transition for trans-identified people, particularly for small children who don’t even have the capacity to understand how gender is an unnecessary and oppressive system attached to biological sex, is not equivalent to standing in the way of adults pursuing chemical and surgical transition. You would think that Erica West, alleged “socialist,” would extend her critique and resistance to capitalism—that she says is the only path to human liberation—to the medical and pharmaceutical industries exploiting people to create a whole new revenue stream for themselves. But apparently capitalism’s cool if it serves the trans cult.
We should acknowledge West’s demand for the Left to get behind the trans movement and take it seriously, because it speaks to the ultimate conclusion that any woman on the Left must reach if she wants her own oppression at the hands of men to stop or improve.
The Left is not here for women. The Left, outside of radical feminism, is as misogynistic and lesbian-hating as the Right Wing, because it is dominated by men and steered by men to serve male interests, primarily their dicks. That’s why the anti-feminist Left became trans cult converts in the blink of an eye. Advocating for the trans cult is the politically correct method of being misogynistic and lesbian-hating, that liberal and Leftist men have been praying for, for decades. And for that reason, the Left has and will champion transgenderism, erase and excuse the violence of MtTs, and fight for every insane demand that the trans cult makes of women and lesbians.
We’re on our own, feminists. But that’s nothing new.
In closing, let me make it clear that I am not criticizing socialism, Marxism, or communism out of hand or advocating for radical feminists to be capitalist sympathizers. I don’t believe that you can be a radical feminist and a capitalist simultaneously, as I already made clear in my post defining radical feminism. If you want to see all women and girls set free from male oppression, you pretty much have to be anti-capitalist, because at this point, capitalism oppresses most women and girls in the world and will continue to do so. That’s not to say that male-designed and male-controlled socialism or communism or anarchism or any other economic model is the answer to all of women’s problems–it isn’t–but eliminating capitalism would go a long way to relieving most women in the world. Personally, I think that a successful, humane, equality-based economy must be controlled and implemented by working class women alone and an economically just society is probably a female-only society. But that’s another essay.