Reactions to a Radical Feminist Conference

There have been a few months where I haven’t been blogging, or reading blogs, or even acting very nice. It’s not cool, and I’ve been struggling to articulate why, even to myself.

I’ve also been struggling to articulate my response to the Radical Feminist Conference in June.  And I just couldn’t. And then I realized that it was the same thing.

The Radical Feminist Conference, which was actually the Stop Porn Culture Conference and not explicitly radical-feminist, hit me like a ton of bricks. I met a lot of wonderful, inspiring women there, but I also had a full-on nervous breakdown. I’ve been doubting myself, even hating myself, questioning why, and beating myself up for it — but it brought me completely to my knees.

SPC was like being in the live version of I Blame the Patriarchy. It was a bunch of rich, white women (there were a handful working-class women and perhaps two women of color at the entire event).  Most of them upheld patriarchal beauty standards. And there was a moderator in place to make sure we didn’t talk about anything that might make those women feel icky.

But the SPC moderators were even a bit less feminist than the IBTP moderator/s, in that we were not allowed to: critique heterosexuality, talk about voluntary lesbianism or separatism, or suggest veering even a little bit from the patriarchal norm. Several of us, including myself, were even taken aside and told not to talk  about rape, or suggest that rapists are anybody other than pornographers, porn addicts, and frat boys.

And we were all encouraged to sing “Happy Birthday” to Gail Dines’s husband. Even Sheila Jeffreys, who had previously spent some time happily singing revolutionary feminist and manhating songs.

I felt this was a slap in the face. I was deeply offended. More than offended: hurt, and let down. I didn’t come to an antiporn conference to stir up shit or harm anyone, but I also didn’t come to cater to the delicate sensibilities of a bunch of upper-class straight women.

I didn’t sit through an immensely triggering week of slideshows in order to hear a woman lament the fact that viewing anal porn will affect her seven-year-old son’s sexuality. (By giving him penis anxiety.)

I didn’t come there to have a Woman’s Studies professor reassure me that some men are wonderful and one day I might “be normal” (ie, stop being a lesbian), or that my perspective would change once I met a nice man. If I was lucky, I could even have a son! And then my perspective would surely change.

I didn’t come there to be told we couldn’t talk about rape. I thought that was kind of the point.

(I can understand not wanting to trigger someone. Triggering someone is terrible. However, we had already sat through hours and hours and hours of triggering material, and our discussion of rape was no more triggering. Survivors I later spoke to said they found it almost a relief: to say “those images didn’t just happen to those women on the screen, they happened to me too.”
In fact, the comment I made was, “I was gang-raped. The men who raped me reenacted porn. Porn doesn’t just happen to women  who are in porn.” And I was told never to talk about that again.)

The idea of survivors-only discussion groups was floated, but a transman who dominated the conversation from the audience ultimately decided there wasn’t enough time.

Women who wanted to talk about the effects of porn and rape culture were quickly shut up, and their speaking time given to women who seemed like “more appropriate” victims. It was as though dissociation was being promoted. Dissociation, dogged heterosexuality (“gosh darned, I’ve been raped and trafficked, but I still just love the peen! some men are so wonderful!”), and patriarchal conformity — just with a side dish of antiporn activism.

It was like telling the patriarchy: “Look, we oppose all of your oppressive tactics, but we’re still pretty! We still behave.”

And that wasn’t what I’d come for at all.

At the risk of sounding crazy, I fell apart inside. It was like when I realized that other people in modern hippie or environmentalist or socialist or anarchist or activist culture still hated women, except a thousand times worse. As though it was all happening at once. Because while I’ve been a hippie and an environmentalist and a socialist and an anarchist and an activist, and I’ve been honestly devoted to what I’ve felt was their “real cause”, that was nothing like what I’d felt about feminism.

Once you realize that, not only does everyone in the fucking world hate women, but women in feminism still hate women, where do you go?

I turned inward, with a fury. I started to have all the old, patriarchally inspired doubts: what if I’m wrong? am I wrong? I really am wrong. I must be wrong. what if I’ve been too harsh? I’ve been too harsh. what if I really should just ‘get over it’? I should just get over it. what if I’ve been taking this too seriously? I’ve been taking this too seriously. am I really insane? I really am insane.

And on and on, ad nauseum.

I’m not saying I “embraced my inner slut”. I didn’t (because I don’t have one, because a slut is a made-up and dehumanizing concept). I’m not saying I went out and had PIV (in fact, I still get involuntary vaginismus just thinking about it). I’m not saying I bought makeup or shaved anything.
But I can’t lie and say I’m not still feeling those doubts. Those doubts we’re all made to feel, as women who speak out about their own oppression.

I am wrong, and insane, and taking this too seriously, and acting too harshly, and being too sensitive. I am outnumbered, and I am insane. Wrong, and insane, and outnumbered. 

I may really be insane. I may be taking this too personally. I may be overreacting and I may be irrational and I may be outnumbered.

But I don’t feel that a purportedly radical feminist conference should make a radical feminist feel that way.


About @trees

Thrillseeking female. Indie music shaman. Will almost certainly Like your cat pix.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Reactions to a Radical Feminist Conference

  1. nuclearnight says:

    There were many moments that felt bad, wrong.

    like intersectionality is important, but not important enough to actually have any women of color speak about how they’re organizing against their oppression.

    like pornography increases rape but don’t talk about how pornography inspired your rape.

    like you need to remain young and naive and not be given advice by older experienced women about how to live a better life.

    like you need to defend your abuse (especially when afterwards i had a dude at the conference trying to gaslight me).

    Andrea Dworkin said that we need to use whats happened us in service of the movement. We need to take our abuse and shed light on it, use our wisdom from it to educate, to inspire and to let people know that it HAPPENS to women.

    It would have been nice to have some counselors on hand for those of us who got triggered beyond being able to cope, It would have been nice to have childcare for those of us who have children, it would have been nice to have survivors in more positions of leadership without it being treated as though the stigma of it will make people not take you seriously.

    I don’t know, I have a lot of trauma from what I witnessed and a lot of what happened to me personally.

    I am also very grateful for being able to go, to speak and to meet women like you.

    • joy says:

      Thanks, nuclearnight. I was also glad to meet women like you, the other Portlanders, the delegation from Norway, the brilliant lesbians from the UK, Sheila Jeffreys (holy shit, Sheila Jeffreys!), and others.

      The childcare thing is something I didn’t even think of right away, so thanks for pointing that out. A lot of us did question why an infant was attending the conference; many of us assumed it was just a parental choice. Not until speaking with the parents did we realize that they simply didn’t have anyone to watch the baby.
      They certainly couldn’t have been the only people in that situation.

      They were also an anomaly, in that they were a heterosexual couple who were both equally, positively involved. Certainly a mother whose hetero ‘partner’ didn’t know about or support her feminism would have been unable to find care for their children while she took time to attend, unless she was wealthy enough to hire a nanny.

  2. DaveSquirrel says:

    Sorry to hear of your experiences there. It is always worthwhile to bear in mind that not all anti-pornstitution things are radfem, and that can make a world of difference. It is a bit of a compartmentalised section of radical feminism. The good news is that most do eventually become more and more radfem… it is almost inevitable.

    • joy says:

      Hopefully! A lot of said women were in their forties, fifties, and even sixties; the racist, sexist, and anti-lesbian “women’s studies” professor was even in her seventies. So … maybe. Maybe not. We’ll hope.

  3. smash says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sorry to hear that the space was not safe, and that it was so problematic.

    • anon says:

      smash, i know you won’t want to read this, but you, and others like you, are the reason 98% of females under the age of 40 reject feminism.

  4. Hecuba says:

    Unfortunately Lesbonaut I too have found Stop Porn Culture not to be women friendly and in fact one prominent member of Stop Porn Culture openly promoted the showing of a porn film by claiming it was ‘educational.’ I and a number of my real feminist colleagues challenged this prominent woman not because she is prominent but because she was hypocritically refusing to listen and accept she was wrong. Showing a porn film and claiming it was ‘educational’ is not anti-porn work and she should have known but reality is she is very, very afraid of upsetting the men and losing her academic position of a tiny amount of power.

    I have also noticed with increasing alarm how SPC is increasingly ‘pandering to the men’ in that one begins to wonder is their mandate about telling us feminists the harm men involved in porn suffer and/or the harm men who view porn experience. Feminism is not about putting men first second and last and neither is feminism (real feminism) about watering down the realities of living in a male supremacist system. If we cannot name the male perpetrators and hold them accountable then we might as well give up and believe male supremacist lies.

    No Lesbonaut you are not insane or crazy but when women involved in SPC silence female survivors of male sexual violence then clearly these women are not feminist but instead are ‘pandering to the men and worrying about upsetting men’s pseudo fragile feelings.’

    The woman who claims to specialise in Women’s Studies has clearly not taken in what Women’s Studies is all about and no it is not about telling other women ‘that one day the right man will come along etc.etc. ‘ That is male supremacist propaganda and is totally opposite to what Women’s Studies is all about.

    What I do see is the increasing acceptance that men and their interests must be placed first and women’s experiences/rights must once again ‘be thrown under the bus’ because we mustn’t upset the men must we? Furthermore what was a man in a frock doing at this conference dominating what was supposed to be women’s space. However, this is precisely what men do collectively and individually they take over women’s spaces and talk over women because men’s voices and men’s opinions are always far more important than women’s particularly when men do not want to hear about the realities for women of living in a porn culture. And yes the realities of why so many supposedly respectable men believe it is their right to subject women to sadistic sexual violence has to be raised challenged and yes discussed by women. Sure it will cause pain to the women but this why providing counsellors is essential and yes it can be done in a respectful and sensitive manner. If so-called feminists dismiss women survivors of men’s violence then these self-same women are not remotely feminist they are pseudo feminists.

    Andrea Dworkin was right and yet Stop Porn Culture is ignoring the reality and instead promoting the lie that only men directly involved in the making of porn are the ‘devils in disguise.’

    I happen to know there are at least a number of women I know who are real feminists and do not pander to the men/ensure their public statements do not challenge male supremacy. However I also know speaking out against male power which is both collective and individual will ensure the woman is demonised and punished. Real feminists have always known this and yet they refuse to be silenced. Andrea Dworkin was one – and I am certain she would not have entertained the notion of ‘pandering the men’ by singing happy birthday to the male partner of a pseudo feminist. Putting men first is not what feminism is about.

    • joy says:

      Thank you. Hecuba. I also don’t doubt that a lot of genuine feminists were in attendance, but certainly they weren’t given nearly as much air time as the others. It did seem like a lot of male pandering and “be careful, don’t upset the academic applecart!”

      In fact, I was directly, explicitly told as much. “We can’t risk being too radical because we will lose our jobs. So keep a lid on it.”

      I understand the thought, and I certainly don’t wish for any woman to be cold or hungry — but for those of us who *are* cold and hungry, who *have* no familial support, who do *not* have cushy jobs to lose, who are *already* considered “unemployable” because we are not conformist-feminine or because we are out lesbians or because we have PTSD etc. — it was a total slap in the face.

      From listening to other survivors, both of rape and of the sex industry itself, I feel safe to say that we do not want privileged women to gather together to “save” us, or “save” any of the women who are currently working in or being affected by the sex industry. We want other women to work *with* us, to support us, to stand by us, to stop ‘othering’ and often outright scapegoating us — and none of that happened.

      Also, the sexist “women’s studies” professor was also an overt racist. The token Black woman in attendance during the week (who later stated aloud to me and several other younger, non-academic women that she recognized her token status) related that this professor made several forehead-slappingly offensive racist comments to her over the course of the week.
      That speaks volumes to me about the current state of “women’s studies” as it is currently taught.
      And to add insult to injury: to my knowledge, this incredibly offensive woman was never talked to about her behaviors, which spoke even further volumes about the nature of academics as a whole. “Don’t rock the boat. Don’t make waves. Our paychecks are riding on this and the men who pay us will be pissed if they find out we’re stepping out of line.”

  5. watergate says:

    Yep, that pretty much sums up my experience at the ’10 conference. Sitting through a presentation about child porn, being triggered as hell, and then immediately working the book table where I was mobbed with hoity-toity rude, impatient women who wanted their academic souvenirs. I mean, they dished out shit–to the face of a dirty poor child porn survivor–that would’ve gotten them kicked out of Subway. The academic college girls got put on note-taking duty, and a survivor of the very topic got put in a shitty, abusive customer service role. What am I gonna do, put MY volunteer duty on my GED thesis? Harumph. Disillusionment doesn’t cover it: maybe something like “complete psychological implosion.” I mean, really? More female solidarity from a redneck manager at a minimum wage job than from attendees of a radical feminist anti-porn conference? Yes, really. My hopes were definitely too high, but some of it was worse than I could have imagined. The stares, fake baring-of-teeth smiles and up-turned noses at my insufficiently groomed and polished appearance come to mind.

    There were certainly high points and some very kick-ass people, and I considered going back this year. But for the time and money, I have the option to keep organizing on the ground here, and at least have my own bed to hide and cry in when it becomes too much.

    I’m a radical feminist because I consider patriarchy central to all domination hierarchies. In fact, I am writing this on my porch and just heard a little girl get hit by her father in a neighboring building and now I’ve lost that train of thought. But what bothers me is, damnit, middle-class and upper-class feminists have no trouble identifying the “male as default human” pattern and calling out political goals that pivot on that assumption–manarchism, et al. So why the refusal to deal with “white as default,” “middle-class as default,” “straight as default,” et cetera? I believe we can all achieve common goals (or I would’ve have given up a long time ago), but if they will only consider goals that specifically benefit white middle-class women–well, that’s not a common goal, is it?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your experiences. It hits close to home, thus my long-winded hijacking, ha!

    Lotsa love from the Bible Belt.

    • joy says:

      Thank you, watergate. (I’m the author of this post, by the way.) That sounds so similar to what happened to me and other women this year.

      I had thought I was the only one this happened to. That it really was my own fault for being so outspoken, for not hiding my hairy legs, for being unable to hide my implosion, and so on.

      While on one hand, I’m sorry this has happened and still happens to other women, within feminism no less, I’m still glad that none of us are alone in it. Another survivor who survived the conference suggested support groups, and I wish I could make that happen!

      • watergate says:

        By “I’m the author of this post, by way” do you mean I am indeed hijacking an intruding? If that’s the case, I’m sorry. If not, then damn, I’m either dense or missing a lot of tone in text. Also, I write all these comments with the assumption that you know who I am by my IP, but I don’t use WordPress so maybe I seem creepy.

      • joy says:

        Oh, no, you’re not hijacking or intruding at all!

        I wrote that “I’m the author of this post” simply because my wordpress blog is “Lesbonaut” but my wordpress name is “Joy.” That’s caused confusion in the past, with people thinking my comments are from another reader who’s unrelated to the post.

        For clarity, the statement should read “I’m Lesbonaut, by the way — to stave off any potential confusion!”

        I’m sorry for any miscommunication. Please comment away.

  6. joy says:

    I have more replies for other people, but WordPress just crashed and ate them. I’ll write them again later.

    Meanwhile, it should be said that I’m not abandoning feminism. Not by a long shot. I didn’t abandon any of the other causes I believed in, and I believed in them a lot less.

    But I am fairly sure I do not want to be affiliated with the public face of the movement (which, there is one: whether they are actually radical feminists or not, they are the part of ‘radical’ feminism that academia and the rest of the mainstream sees). I have problems with the internet face of radical feminism, too, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less of a feminist or that I don’t understand feminism or that I’m going to become a funfem/fauxfeminist etc.

    It just means that I’m not sure if discussion or my participation in the blogosphere is productive, and I am already discluded from the real-life radical femisphere by default.

    Although I understand that it’s up to us to put ourselves out there, if we do not want our public face to be a bunch of straight white academics, I’m not sure if it’s worth it for me personally to try right now. I’ve seen what has happened to outspoken women of color, other women who are not rich, etc., and at this juncture I am not strong enough to deal with it happening to me.

    I’m genuinely sorry if that’s cowardly or selfish.

  7. ball buster says:

    I feel punched in the gut just reading everything you wrote, Joy.

    To go to a conference with other radical feminists should make you feel *more* assured of yourself, *more* comfortable to openly say what is on your mind.

    What happened instead is a travesty.

    You are not crazy. You are not oversensitive. You are not wrong.

    Outnumbered? Yes. But not crazy, oversensitive or wrong.

    Yes, women hating other women in feminism is beyond wrong on so many levels. So is prioritizing men over women, it’s ridiculous to continue to call that “feminism” at all.

    I wish I could say more, but I am so shocked and disappointed that I am at a loss for words at the moment.

  8. aiysha says:

    I have attended SPC the last few years and I have always come away feeling restored and thankful that SPC is out there. I was there this year as well and I know of the woman’s studies professor mentioned in the article and yes she was infuriating. It was her first time and it was clear that she knew nothing about radical feminism. I’m sorry she said those things to you. I remember it because I spent some time with you after the fact.

    That said, most of the women there are involved in the most crucial work- getting young girls out of sex slave trafficking, working to change the laws in their respective countries and dealing with all of this at the most basic grass roots level.

    Also Gail Dines is one of the most committed radical feminists I know of. She uses every bit of her privilege to further the anti-pornography debate. She’s spent the last 15 years as a public target for the pornography industry and she has my undying respect and admiration for that. She has literally helped thousands of women.

    I encourage people to attend SPC next year and see for themselves.

    • joy says:

      Well, many other readers HAVE attended, and had the same experience. Read above.

    • joy says:

      Also, I’m sure if one is a white, upper-class academic or aspiring academic who is either not a survivor or can easily compartmentalize/dissociate from her trauma, and who also has too much at stake professionally to engage in much hands-on radical action, SPC is a great time.

      For the rest of us, not so much.

      For the rest of us, it was an alienating, confusing, frustrating, and often outright insulting experience. Unfortunately, those feelings weren’t just limited to me (the token crazy). Several commenters above, and several more in private correspondence, have related similar experiences. This conference was not meant for us, even though several of us were personally, directly invited. And it’s not because we aren’t intelligent or strong or brave or feminist enough.

      If you enjoy it, that is great. As you know, your hard work is helping women, if only a very few women and in very small increments. Something is always better than nothing. But telling people (you mean, women, right?) to ignore dissenting input and go to a conference anyway is a lot like, say, telling a bunch of women of color to “just attend a Slutwalk, you’ll see how unracist it is!”
      It also reminds me very much of the pro-burlesque comments responding to this article: Or the response to women who’ve had bad experiences with porn or BDSM or the sex industry or any particular sex act. “If you don’t like it, you’re just not doing it right! Try it again, but this time do it the right way, The Real Way, and you’ll have a great time.”

      As a final note, the conference costs money. There are scholarships available, but for many working-class women, that money (plus the money for transportation to the event itself) could be better spent elsewhere. Perhaps in organizing our own hands-on actions where we feel less like “the help”, or “the token brown women”, or “the silent lesbians”, or “the object lessons about being ‘bad survivors.'”

      • nuclearnight says:

        On top of this I’d like to add that no one is being personally attacked or called out by name for anything. Unfortunately giving feedback wasn’t encouraged so these things could be analyzed, changed & understood in the future.

        If radical feminism isn’t open with wide arms to the more disadvantaged and oppressed women amongst us then it will remain an elitist, academic affair, focused on talk, not action. Education not struggle. Women’s silence.

  9. Sargasso Sea says:


    What awful news. All I can say is, I’m sorry 😦

  10. I attended the conference this past year, and I’ve struggled with how to respond to this thread.

    I agree that there are things that could have been done differently–childcare and feedback forms are wonderful ideas, IMO. Certainly, two unpaid volunteers are not going to be able to fill every gap; so filling in gaps ourselves is something we should all think about–and do. For example, a few women could offer to organize childcare, create opportunities for feedback, and even offer to get the snacks/breakfast food. Surely you see that this is a huuuge amount of work for only two womyn. Also, there was an announcement at the beginning that counselors were on hand, though this could have been made clearer. One night when I had a breakdown, I had multiple women offer to talk with me; one even offered to give me her number in case I needed to talk later.

    While I had personal difficulties at this conference, looking back I can see how this was not at all the organizer’s fault. There were only two real organizers at this event, and there was no way they could take care of a couple hundred people’s needs….and the events went on for an entire week. I have seen how much time goes into planning conferences–I’m not talking about SPC ones right now–and it is a helluva lot of work. There are always people not involved in the background process who wonder why you didn’t do anything differently.

    I have come to believe that what one really gets at a conference is not what goes on in the lecture hall, but what goes on in the space after the conference, between sessions, while talking to one another, etc. I would say this is true for any conference on any subject. That said, I heard a number of women stand up for political lesbiansm during the conference. I know you left for quite a bit of the conference, so maybe you weren’t there then?

    I remember the days before SPC, and I would just read about Women’s anti-porn groups in the U.S. and wonder why there was not one now. And then I found out SPC was forming! I was sooooo excited!!! Finally, SOMETHING! And I’m still glad SPC exists even if it isn’t everything for everybody,

    It’s also true that unlike in some other countries, we *only* have SPC as an out-anti porn group (please correct me if I’m wrong). During the height of the civil rights struggle here in the U.S., there were non-violent groups and groups that advocated more ardent strategies. There is evidence that they both played off of each other. Do you see what I’m saying? We can have more groups without launching attacks at SPC, or members of SPC.

    The reason SPC uses many academics at their conferences is because academics can often get funds from their schools to attend. Personally, I am glad there are *some* people in academy that are on our side. That said, I do not think the movement should be solely, or even mainly, based on academics. I’d love to see radical/revolutionary cells from around the country (and globe) to do some serious ass-kicking, as well as have SPC.

    I know many women who left in wonderful spirits, as did the poster above. Women including survivors with long histories in the industry.

    We don’t know how many women who spoke were survivors, since not everyone is going to come out about what they endured in front of a large group of strangers. I was really impressed by the number of sex-industry survivors I met one-on-one. I’m glad they were able to attend the conference; several of them did speak on a panel and there was at least one other survivor who spoke later in the week.

    One last thing: Women attacking women who have the same basic goals is the reason the movement has failed over and over again. Even if one doesn’t agree with everything Gail Dines is doing, I would hope we can at least agree that she has her heart in the right place. I wish women who disagreed with her strategies would work on forming their own revolutionary activism, rather than spending time bringing down another woman. She already gets shit from, oh, all pro-porners. But then, *everyone* in the radfem movement, including Andrea Dworkin, has gotten shit on by other radfems.

    Personally, I wish RadLesFes–an intimate gathering of radical womyn–was still around, but then infighting led to the demise of that gathering as well. Should we see how many groups we can bring down, or create the revolutionary cells dreamed of to compliment our needs?

  11. Your post is not completely honest, Lesbonaut. I was there. You THREW a water bottle at someone and came way too close to hitting a baby with it. The bottle slammed against the wall with a great deal of force, splattering water everywhere.

    There were counselors present–you could have asked someone for help or left if you were overwhelmed. There are always options besides violence. If it had been my conference, I would have asked you to leave, end of story. You don’t get to throw things at people. I’m amazed they let you stay.

    It’s also not true that was no room to talk about political lesbianism. Sheila Jeffries, Lierre Keith, Susan Hawthorne, and Renate Klein all talked about lesbianism as a possible solution. And there were lots of non-academic speakers, including the amazing activists from Australia, Norway, and England, and some women who spoke openly about their experiences as survivors of stripping and prostitution. Please don’t erase them, or all the effort that SPC made to put on this event. I have put on conferences and it is thankless. Especially when all you get afterward is this kind of unfair criticism.

    For others who are reading this, don’t believe everything you read here. SPC gave me money for travel, paid for my dorm room, and then even gave me cash for food. Everyone was helpful, kind, and very radical. Of course we’re going to have disagreements, many of them intractable. But Joy’s characterization of SPC is not accurate.

    • I agree that SPC has been incredibly generous with their scholarships. I have been to other conferences where the cost was MUCH higher, that were hosted in hotels which meant one had to pay the hotel rate, and “scholarships” consisted of working throughout the entire conference to pay your way. Or in one case, I was given a check at the end of the conference, only to find it bounced.

      None of this was the case for scholarships given by SPC. And I have NEVER been to a conference where they offered to give you cash for food. That was really very generous of them.

      BTW, I am very interested in how exited women feel about the role non-prostituted women should play in the movement. I started a blog post about it a little while ago, if anyone is interested in commenting:

    • Truthful Nacho says:

      Throwing a water bottle is nothing compared to having to deal with women who grab the reigns and treat you like a subordinate at their super offishal meetenings. I mean, big deal. To act up is known as civil disobedience. The baby ‘almost’ got it. Almost doesn’t count and it ain’t going to kill the kid. Tired of the “THE CHILDRIN YOU MONSTR!” bs.

      Now what is more interesting is that when Joy describes the treatment she dealt with, I know exactly what she’s talking about. This mess is the face of academic feminism.

  12. nuclearnight says:

    Well for anyone reading this its a great opportunity to explain *INTERSECTIONALITY* which is so important to the rich white feminists mind you.

    People with privilege tend to never see it, when its challenged THEY feel like they’re being oppressed and when they’re criticized for overlooking things like classism and serious chauvinism towards prostituted women they feel like they’re being attacked. It doesn’t matter what the non-privileged person says or how they say it. What matters is the feelings of the privileged person who had the decency to even let them speak or attend. Even though the language of this blog post is all very respectful, coached in language that shows the author CARES about this movement and thats why she is writing it and doesn’t say anything that ISN’T true.

    There were many survivors at the conference that is true, but there was an obvious pecking order and there was obvious preference shown towards those survivors that to any normal radical feminist looked and acted like they haven’t even BEGUN the process of dealing with their trauma. (because thats ugly and it won’t look good on TV to normal America right?) I seriously thought one woman was going to take her top off the way she was performing with all the fake movements and smiles.

    Some of these comments are fucking absurd. Its like dealing with sex poz women, you might as well say nothing because they’re just going to use whatever they can get on you against you to discredit you.

    To Joy — just shut the fuck up and go back to being a silent victim of the patriarchy because you’re making us all look crazy and if people think we’re crazy then our liberal education programs won’t work as well.

    Fucking faux-radical patriarchal bullshit.

    • “Well for anyone reading this its a great opportunity to explain *INTERSECTIONALITY* which is so important to the rich white feminists mind you.”

      Why do you think everyone who is replying is rich and white?

      • nuclearnight says:

        I’m talking about the conference which you were at which was very rich and very white.

      • nuclearnight says:

        Thank you for addressing what I said too. Thanks a bunch.

      • nuclearnight says:

        This is also a perfect example of gaslighting. There were maybe 4 non-white people at the entire conference and the likelihood of any of them stopping by here to admonish Joy for speaking up about how she felt about it is very small.

        Of course you know that as you were at the conference and could see the mass of white faces. So basically you’re trying to make it out like it would be an odd thing for someone to assume even though you know its pretty accurate. This also enables you to come after some small comment I’ve made to discredit the validity of me and what I’m saying rather than what the message is.

        I spent over 600 dollars in getting to Boston, I work part time and had to fundraise to get the money to go. I appreciate that the 25 dollar conference fee & dorms were waived but if I knew it was going to be used against people this way I gladly would have just paid it. Nothing worse than people who have disposable incomes holding what amounts to a few bucks to them over your head.

  13. nuclearnight says:

    There’s never an excuse for violence. Yep, thats right ladies. Take all your anger outside and take it out on yourself because even though pacifism is bullshit and only people who never have actually dealt with violence as a real thing and not an abstract concept believe in it you need to suck it up. What about the women with their nigels and sons back home? Don’t alienate the heterosexual women who can’t admit that nigel is a sexist idiot like most men because then she’d feel bad and not as radical as she wants to because she recognizes what should be OBVIOUS to anyone, that pornography is VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

  14. Sargasso Sea says:

    You THREW a water bottle at someone and came way too close to hitting a baby with it.

    Nice touch with the baby there, SNS. Only BAD women throw things anywhere near BABIES!

    And let me guess, the *water* bottle was made of jagged glass and had poison water in it and was tightly sealed and that’s FORCE! to have it spill the poison, baby-killing water.


  15. joy says:

    I hate to disappoint y’all, but I was aiming for the trash can when I pitched the water bottle. I felt horrified when I splashed the woman and her baby, and apologized later. She accepted, and sent me a friend request on Facebook; if she secretly had a lingering problem and did suspect me of closet baby-sabotage, I suppose she should have taken that up with me.

    Also, for the record, I wanted to leave the conference after being triggered out of my ability to cope, and then having that old woman tell me my rapes and abuse were my own fault for not being nicer to men (TRUE STORY), but I had already spent all my disposable income getting there! “Affordable conference”, my ass.

    If you would rather believe that my “violence” was purposeful, completely random, and totally out of left field, therefore making me unreliable, unbalanced, dangerous, and easy to discredit — I can’t stop you or correct your assumptions. But perhaps you should reassess your ability to understand PTSD, and possibly stop working with us messy, unreliable, difficult, and “ungrateful” survivors. We each have our own area of expertise (for example, many of us cannot stomach the thought of working with hypocritical and patriarchal legislators, so kudos to you if you can) — and this, perhaps, is not your area of expertise. There is nothing wrong with that. Just stop pretending like you are the expert on our survivorship, on our mental and emotional states, and on what is best for us.

    You have at least six women here — that is half a dozen living, breathing, feeling human beings — telling you how we feel. Instead of insisting that WE are so totally wrong and inappropriate, maybe just accept that we are telling the truth. It may not be your truth, but it’s ours, and we deserve at least that much respect.

    • Joy,

      You begged the organizers not to call the police, so clearly you knew you did something wrong with the waterbottle.

      From what I understand, the other women’s anti-pornography groups in the U.S. fell apart because of infighting, for example lesbians versus het women, etc. As a feminist, I feel it’s important to fight for all women. I do believe political lesbianism should be brought up much more than it is, but the first day of the conference I sat with lesbian separatists who were unhappy with your behavior in the auditorium.

      It’s easy to say what one would do differently if they were the organizers without actually *being* the organizers.


      • Sargasso Sea says:


        It would be my suggestion that you stay out of this one. I understand completely that you dream of “revolution” and “real equality for womyn” but this is not the way to go about it.

        You accuse Joy, in a round about way of being devisive when that in itself is divisive. You accuse her of “begging” not to be reported to the police. FOR WHAT?! There is no reason to call the police in the first place as there was no actionable assault!

        Essentially what you are doing is telling Joy that she’s the PROBLEM and that everything would have been fine if she had just, what, not shown up in the first place? That’s called “silencing”, and it is telling, male-centric behavior.

      • Sargosso Sea–

        Were you even in attendance at the conference?

        If radical feminists really want to do something nice for women they could start by treating other women they way they would like to be treated.I’m not not even just talking about the posters on this thread,. It’s about how this horizontal hostility happens over and over again and wrecks every damn event and action radfems try to put together. It is why womon after womon stops hanging around with other radical feminists. II’ve talked to radfems who were around in the ’80s and they say 90% of the fight was against other radfems.

        Joy is not the enemy. Nor is Gail Dines.

      • Sargasso Sea says:

        …this horizontal hostility…
        If radical feminists really want to do something nice for women…

        And just what, exactly, IS “horizontal hostility” beside some notion that men like to throw around so they sound like they know what they are talking about in our space?

        As for doing something “nice” for women… Do I even need to address that? As I said, it might be wise to stay out of it.

  16. Joy –

    What more do you expect the organizers to do to make a conference affordable than ask a waivable $25 fee? Did you want them to buy you a bus ticket and a hotel room also? I don’t get why people who are digging deep into their own pockets to make these radical events happen are being maligned and slandered as somehow pro patriarchy. Seriously, what more do you expect people to do to get you there?

    Are you actually saying that you would have liked to leave the event after you were triggered but that you were financially unable to?

    I was at the conference, and I didn’t see a transman there this year. I thought the moderators were in place this year to prevent distractions like occurred last year from occurring again (I wasn’t there last year so I won’t pretend to know what those were; but I was under the impression there had been a transman at the event two years ago but not the event which we attended this summer. Why would you say there was a transman there this year when you must know that wasn’t true. Who was he? I admit, it’s possible there was one, but I have asked others who were there if they have any idea who you’re talking about, and no one I’ve asked remembers seeing a trans man there.

    Also, I think the point of bringing up the baby and the water bottle was not that you were trying to hit the baby with the water bottle on purpose; it’s that you made a decision which led directly to the endangerment of the baby. I’m the baby’s father, so if we really wanted to know what the baby’s mother thinks about whether or not the throwing of the water bottle was a danger to the baby, we can find out. I also don’t believe anyone who witnessed the thrown water bottle could have mistaken it for a toss into a garbage can. It was thrown forcefully and there was no garbage can anywhere near the stroller where we were seated.

    The conference organizers did in fact ask us if we wanted for them to ask Joy to leave, because it was obvious to everyone present that what happened was more than what is being presented as now. We asked if the Joy had intended to throw the bottle at us, and were told that someone else was the intended target; at when we asked what had caused it we were told it was the triggering material. So we decided that we didn’t want to tell Joy to go home, especially if the person who was the intended target didn’t have a problem with her staying – and we didn’t know who that was.

    I just don’t understand why there is all this horizontal hostility. I don’t see how anyone who was actually at the conference could believe most of the things written in this blog post and I was just kind of amazed to come across it myself. I don’t understand why these hurtful lies being disseminated, or how it could be serving the greater good to point these things out, even if they were true. And I’m sorry to use such harsh language as “lies,” it’s just that I don’t see any other way of accurately characterizing the statements from your blog post.

    • riverwalker says:

      I want to correct a rumor before it goes any further. I have talked to one of the organizers to get clarity. SPC’s conferences are public events open to anyone who wants to attend. There is security present, but it is not to keep anyone out. The security is needed because some of the speakers receive threats, including death threats, on a regular basis and they have to take that seriously. One of the organizers was assaulted once while giving a public talk. So I wanted to correct that.

  17. ball buster says:

    The statements being made in this thread disturb me.

    I am a grown woman with my own mind. If I believe Joy’s account, it’s for a reason. That reason being, that she is one of the most articulate, thoughtful people I have interacted with. I have no reason to believe that she threw a bottle at a baby on purpose, nor do I have any reason to believe that it endangered anything except the fragile egos of parents who don’t want anyone questioning their status of having a son.

    I do not like people treating Joy like she is a child that needs reminding that violent behavior isn’t acceptable. Oh please, as if any of us need reminding that anything less than complete polite passivity can’t be tolerated. This leads me to believe that Joy received the same condescending attitude at the conference.

    And to say nothing about the mental gymnastics that are required for me to accept the word of two total strangers above the word of someone I have associated with since February – simply because they say so. Two total strangers, I might add, who haven’t associated with Joy as long as I have. Yet somehow I’m supposed to believe the worst in her, just like how men demand I believe the worst in every other woman because that’s how Patriarchy works.

    And, since one of them is male, he expects that his version of events gets to decide once and for all the most accurate reflection of reality. This man, who sneers at Joy’s poverty, and does what every other man does and puts financial issues first and foremost ahead of everything else. Just look at his statement – it’s the FIRST fucking thing he starts in about. Money. Sprinkle me unsurprised.

    And then he goes on to say “We asked if the Joy had intended to throw the bottle at us, and were told that someone else was the intended target; at when we asked what had caused it we were told it was the triggering material. So we decided that we didn’t want to tell Joy to go home, especially if the person who was the intended target didn’t have a problem with her staying – and we didn’t know who that was.”

    Oh it’s so nice to see that “you” were so fucking generous not to dismiss Joy with a wave of your privileged hand. Not just Joy, “the” Joy, the object Joy, or Joy the nonperson.


    Has it really come down to this, that even in radical feminism, males will continue to be prioritized over females? That’s not radical. It’s done everywhere else already. There is NOTHING RADICAL about men deciding if women stay or go from “the group” wherever it is, whatever manifestation it has (online or in real life).

  18. Sargasso Sea says:

    I’m the baby’s father, …

    You needn’t have said. You are rather obviously the biggest DICK in the *room*.

  19. Ball Buster –

    No offense taken Ball Buster, I would have believed Joy’s account too over some random male’s if I hadn’t been there myself to see the drastic difference between Joy’s account and reality.

    Honestly I don’t expect to convince anyone here that they should believe me over Joy, I just posted because I was involved in the water bottle situation and happen to know that it’s not true that Joy was attempting to pitch the water bottle into a garbage can, and because it’s the right thing to do to challenge untruths when one sees them and was there. I don’t expect to convince anyone because I’m male; if anyone is swayed by what I say about the water bottle incident in particular – that they would be swayed by the power of truth; not by nature of my maleness. Similarly, if anyone is convinced that it’s ridiculous of Joy to expect the organizers of the conference to provide a more financially accessible conference (free-$25 sliding scale), I think they’re convinced by the nature of Joy’s expectations; not the nature of my maleness.

    Also, it’s interesting how you sweep the baby’s mother in with my opinion automatically, not only taking my word for it that her opinion is not what Joy’s is, but also apparently drawing the conclusion from somewhere that her opinion would be identical to mine. You automatically lump the baby’s mother in with me as “Two total strangers” you’re expected to believe – but we haven’t even heard from her yet, assuming we do at all. Do you notice how in doing this you gave her zero credit for having any autonomy of her own?

    “And, since one of them is male, he expects that his version of events gets to decide once and for all the most accurate reflection of reality.”

    False accusations with no basis in what I actually wrote.

    “This man, who sneers at Joy’s poverty,”

    Whom you don’t know and whom has lived homeless for the majority of his adult life; and who didn’t actually “sneer” at anyone’s poverty; but who actually committed the apparent sacrilege of wondering why the organizers should have to pay not just to put the event on, but also for everyone’s travel expenses and room and board. Seriously; what more does Joy want than what the organizers did to make the conference financially accessible. The question is an important one because it’s about expectations and perceived entitlements.

    “and does what every other man does and puts financial issues first and foremost ahead of everything else. Just look at his statement – it’s the FIRST fucking thing he starts in about. Money. Sprinkle me unsurprised.”

    You don’t actually know me, and you don’t know my thoughts on money. I didn’t write my post with the goal of surprising you. I wrote my post because it 1. asked an important question about how much should be expected of the organizers of an event and 2. because I was a witness to the water bottle incident which Joy attempted to minimize instead of taking responsibility for and apologizing for it like she claimed to have done.

    Also, what’s the big deal about people singing Gail Dines’ husband Happy Birthday? It wasn’t part of the event. So what if people were “encouraged” to do so; and aren’t we being led to believe that the organizers were disrupting the conference in order to do this? Actually, I believe this occurred at a voluntary dinner following one of the days’ events, and no, the people who sang happy birthday weren’t rewarded with free dinner – everybody paid their own way. It seems to me not every radical feminist would be offended by this. I think the main difference in opinion here is in separatist and non-separatist views; the separatists believe the non-separatists are not radical enough and the organizers are being grilled for not being separatist enough.

    Further, on the financial issue, I think we have to ask ourselves how difficult we want organizing these kinds of events to be. The more demands we put on the organizers the more difficult we make it to organize. The more financial demands we put on the organizers the more we guarantee that organizers can only emerge from middle or upper class backgrounds.

    I also just wanted to say that one of the organizers/speakers was Saba Malik, and I think it’s a minimization of her contributions to be calling the women of color at the conference “token” representatives of their cultures.

    If someone here agrees with anything I have to say, I would just point out that on a blog like this one that is probably in spite of rather than because of the fact that I am male; so please don’t do your sisters the disservice of denying the reality of their cognitive autonomy in the context of reading my responses on this blog. If I’m privileged in being able to differentiate between truth and lies in this context it is by ‘virtue’ of my having been there, not by ‘virtue’ of being male.

    I’m going to stop participating in this thread now, as I am a man and want to respect womyn’s space.

  20. ball buster says:

    Green Not-so-Revolutionary, I’m sure it really chaps your ass that you and “the baby’s mother” (your words, not mine) don’t have the same status here that the rest of society gives you everywhere else. But get used to it. There is at least one internet outpost that doesn’t put out reverence for the male condition. Cry me a river and do a backstroke for all I care.

    As for your comment, it’s so full of irrelevant, pseudo-intellectual egotism, it would take forever to go through properly with a fine toothed comb. I’m sure that’s what you want, because you feel entitled to waste women’s time and energy with fallacious garbage. You have absolutely no fucking room to talk about doing a disservice, when it is you who are intruding on feminist space with your holier-than-thou attitude, saying shit like this:

    I hadn’t been there myself to see the drastic difference between Joy’s account and reality.

    Right, because YOU DECIDE what is reality, because you are male. And this is the crux of the issue, isn’t it? The point I was making in the first place. You assume your version of events is automatically the correct reflection of whatever happened, and apparently Joy has no business expressing her own perspective on her own blog, and your maleness grants you special objectivity that the rest of us don’t have.

    Shit like this makes me wonder what the fuck you were doing at a radical feminist conference. Misogyny is literally festering inside you, rotting in your core.

    You don’t give a fuck about the autonomy of women, if you’re willing to come back in some lame attempt to put me in my place. Since apparently, dangling your maleness above my head doesn’t work, dangling the fact that you have a son doesn’t work, you then make some kind of desperate attempt to use “the baby’s mother” (another nonhuman object to you, obviously) and all these mysterious, unnamed “other women” as leverage to legitimize your point. Along with being as condescending as possible, to compensate for the fact you really can’t formulate an thoughtful or honest response to anything I wrote.

    Whom you don’t know and whom has lived homeless for the majority of his adult life;

    Hold it right fucking there. Men don’t have to have money to love money. Just ask any pimp or street hustler. It doesn’t take knowing you, or any other male personally, to deduce how obsessed men are with money. #occupywallstreet!

    And just because the rest of the world puts out compassion and concedes to your opinion because you’ve been homeless, does not mean it will work with me.

    And I lol at how you say “my entire adult life” – but that could be six whole months for all I know.

    I’ve been homeless as a child, as an adult, and as an adult WITH female children. You want to see a severe and scarily disadvantageous situation in a rape culture? There you go.

    Because of this, I know for a fact, if you were a woman, your homeless would essentially mean nothing. Nobody bothers to listen to women at all unless they are RICH and rolling in GOBS AND GOBS OF DEAD TREES. I think that was one of Joy’s points in the first place – a point that went whizzing above your head the moment you started pissing on this thread. Observe:

    and who didn’t actually “sneer” at anyone’s poverty; but who actually committed the apparent sacrilege of wondering why the organizers should have to pay not just to put the event on, but also for everyone’s travel expenses and room and board.

    “Sacrilege” is your choice of words, not mine. But far be it from me to part a male with the religion of the almighty fucking dollar. Money=God – no doubt that’s the true reason for the “green” in your name (I don’t buy any environmental bullshit from men who have PIV. George Washington Carver, Johnny Appleseed, Nikola Tesla, now THEY were green revolutionaries. You’re just an imposter).

    And you’re beating a dead horse the more you harp indignantly about how fucking terrible it is for Joy (or any other woman, let’s be real here) to expect anyone to feed and shelter her for even one goddamn night. Well Jesus, I guess womankind should collectively sit back and concede that we don’t have the right to even ask for access to resources, let alone feel it’s safe to assume we require any (we’re all supposed to be walking blow up dolls anyway, and blow up dolls don’t need food or shelter, right?).

    Not that any woman really needs this Patriarchy 101 bullshit, as we’re socialized with it from the womb, but it’s crystal fucking clear that men are willing to dish out refresher course in case we start getting the dangerous idea that we deserve equal access to resources.

    And let’s face it, you aren’t leaving this blog out of respect. You just can’t stand the idea of being wrong, or having to face your own putrid misogyny. You’ve also done what you’ve set out to do – given us all a stern warning to never to assume we’re worthy to have our needs met at any given time. All while pretending to give a shit about the perspectives of women – right, so where’s the respect for Joy’s?

    It must have been difficult for you to sit through an entire conference of people telling you that you *might* not have the right to objectify women and fuck around with impunity. So difficult, in fact, that you trolled the internet looking for a place to start shit to take out all your male entitlement and frustration out on the most acceptable scapegoat. And who better than the real radical feminists that don’t put out obligatory fellatio to men who claim to give a fuck about us?

    And for that, you can take your paternal lecturing and shove it in your most convenient orifice.

    ps – The only reason I’m being so nice to you, is because I am a guest here. There is a LOT more I could say about the mountain of filth you dumped on this blog, but there’s the very real possibility it might be overstepping my welcome – and it also might cater to any self destructive desire you have to be humiliated, so I’m biting my tongue.

    For now.

  21. nuclearnight says:

    This garbage just sounds like date rape to me.

    ‘ I paid for you to stay at the conference and attend, you can’t criticize what happened to you there! ‘
    ‘ I paid for your dinner and movie you need to spread your legs. ‘

    Oh yes, quite a familiar experience indeed.

  22. Brooklyn83 says:

    I think it’s really disgraceful how the experiences and observations of Joy and quite a few other women who attended this conference, are completely dismissed and that Joy is accused of being divisive and disruptive. There were multiple women who found the conference to be very unpleasant, leaving them feeling silenced, excluded and patronized. Women who had endured the most severe degradation, were treated as if their experiences -relating directly to a culture in which pornography thrives- would lower the tone of the conference. The life experience of Joy and others as victims of this misogynistic male-dominated culture, is what has made them conscience and radical. Not a left-wing upbringing, or an academic backround in feminist theory. They have the most authentic perspective and this is the reason why they should be heard more than anybody else in the anti sex industry movement. It would obviously be wise to listen to the concerns of these women and make the changes necessary to produce a more authentic and ultimately more effective movement, rather than praising the “generosity” of the organizers and trying, in a not-so-subtle way to suggest that Joy is mentally unstable.

  23. joy says:

    Dude: I did not directly apologize to you for “trying to kill your baby” because (and this may seem far-fetched!) — *I didn’t try to kill your baby.*

    I know, I know. Crazy talk. Obviously radical feminists are insane bitches who hate children, especially male children, and are willing to attempt murder out of the absolute blue in front of an entire room full of people.

    But get this. I didn’t try to kill your kid. I don’t personally care if you have a kid. I have nothing against you or your kid. I wondered why anyone would bring an infant to a conference, but then we figured it out (oh, lack of childcare!), the ramifications of which were kind of a big deal for the conference at large. Imagine how many women were potentially discluded because they couldn’t find childcare! So if anything, your darling PIV trophy was a help to our radical analysis. Even if I was totally insane enough to attempt murder, out of the blue, in front of a room full of people, I wouldn’t have wanted to. For one thing, it wasn’t exactly a priority.

    I know men are used to having everything revolve around them, to assuming that everyone is thinking about them all the time; and they definitely have a long history of telling women what is and isn’t true, what women are and aren’t thinking, etc. — so this really isn’t surprising. We could keep having this whole “YOU’RE LYING!”, “No, I’m telling the truth,” “NO YOU’RE LYING!!” back-and-forth, but it’s absurd and frankly a little disturbing.

    Also: yes, poor people have children. Poor people do a lot of things that are of neutral or questionable value, from supporting slave labor by shopping at Wal-Mart (because it’s what’s affordable), to voting for shitty politicians who are often somewhere to the right of Satan, to enlisting in the military and/or practicing rampant jingoism, racism, and misogyny. Supporting the poor and having solidarity doesn’t mean we have to support all of that. It also doesn’t mean any of us want to kill anyone for it.

  24. joy says:

    Also, womononajourney:

    You are speaking to me as if I was an unruly child or a special-needs patient. Please consider that the condescension dripping from your every comment is proving the point of this post.

    For whether or not I am an attempted murderess, see above. Honestly, it’s upsetting that you decided to come here and make these allegations, much less email your contacts to come and make the same allegations. Especially because they are not true.

    As for me “begging for [organizers] not to call the cops”, did you witness this (and are misrepresenting the situation), or did someone misrepresent it to you? I did ask them not to call the police, because I have self-awareness to know that the situation seemed far worse than it was. I missed a trash can free-throw, and to onlookers it seemed pretty random and messy. If you all, supposed feminists, are so certain that I’m lying and am in fact an attempted murderess, imagine how fucked I would have been if the (patriarchal, notoriously bigoted, assholish) police had arrived! I don’t have anyone to bail me out of jail, even for false charges.

    Did I “do something wrong”? Well, I definitely don’t advocate “take whatever is in your hand and pitch it at a trash can halfway across the room, when you are a notoriously poor shot even when you’re not upset” as a coping strategy for anyone, so there’s that. I feel (and felt, at the time) very terrible for scaring people.

    However, I think the horrible old woman who informed me and a bunch of lesbians that we would change once we met a nice man, then told me that I deserved my own rapes, *then* proceeded to make racist comments to one of three (one! of three!) women of color in attendance, was a lot more wrong. And I notice you, and the organizers, spend a lot of your time defending her while scapegoating me as the bad, mean, terrible, babykilling feminist.

    Other antifeminists throughout history have delighted in calling radical feminists “babykillers.” I suspect they were wrong then, too.

  25. joy says:

    Also, the organizers? Other than mentioning that singalong for Dines’ husband (which I didn’t say was bad or horrible or the world’s worst thing, but I did say was inappropriate: would you encourage a gathering of, say, Vietnamese people at an Agent Orange survivors’ conference to pause and sing “God Bless America”?) — I didn’t say a thing about the organizers. You’re the one bringing them up again and again and again.

    Does Dines pay you by the word to defend her in unnecessary situations? Because otherwise you just look like you’re desperately defending something *you* know is wrong.

    A lot of what goes on at a conference is not directly the organizers’ faults. A lot of what happened at this conference was not the organizers’ faults. I have no interest in naming them or calling them out by name, other than what has already been said here or what other women wish to add.

    womononajourney, by going on and on and on and on in defense of an obviously flawed system, and by attempting to intimidate dissenters into silence, you sound a lot like the white women on this thread:
    (By the way, how do I know many of the women in this comment section are white? Because I’ve read our blogs, and beyond that I know many of them personally. Deliberate obfuscation of the issue is not appreciated.)

    I am not going to singlehandedly destroy feminism with this post. Hey, you all think I’m flipping nuts anyway, so what’s the harm in my speaking my piece? And although other women agree with me, they’re the minority out here. Often quite literally, and in more ways than one! So stop trying to shame and threaten us into shutting up.

    This is about more than me — speaking of which, I never even once mentioned political lesbianism in this post, but thanks for reminding all of us that there was in fact heterosexism at this conference! oh yes indeed there was! lesbian separatist presence aside. You don’t have to be white to “think white”, and you don’t have to be male to think like a male. This is Radicalism 101. And if the face of a movement thinks white (not to mention, is white … is QUITE white), thinks rich, and thinks male — it would behoove us to spend more time fixing those problems, than going on and on and on about how those problems supposedly don’t exist.

  26. joy says:

    Last, this, from a post at Rididill (

    “Summary [of privileged position]:
    ‘If only those oppressed groups weren’t so offended all the time (which of course they do for NO REASON AT ALL), we could just get on with helping them! Why do they have to make it so HARD when I display a little unexamined privilege?! I mean I’m trying! Can’t see you how hard I’m trying?

    *lists all previous things ever done for said group*

    See? See how much I do for you people?! And you aren’t grateful enough to just let it slide when I participate in oppressing you from time to time? Don’t you know that participation in the liberal cause makes me, by default, part of the solution, even if I shit all over you occasionally? Ungrateful bastards, wonder why I bother.

    *Throws toys out of pram.*

    Guess you just want your movement to fail, huh, cos that’s what’ll happen if you don’t suck up to guys like me, yeah, cos you NEED us, losers.'”

    You don’t want to be like that.

  27. I’ve only been to one feminist conference and I bloody loved it. It seems that it had a few things that this conference didn’t have.
    1) Childcare facilities. SOOOO important for women. What kind of feminist conference excludes mothers??!?!?!?!?!! At the one I went to in London there were free all-day childcare facilities for kids of any age. All day
    2) There was no set fee. So you paid what you could afford on a sliding scale. It was based on contributions
    3) There were only about 3 men in the room, if I recall. I did see one tranny hanging about like a freak in the ladies’ toilets for ages, though.

    • LL says:


      1) Wow, “tranny”? So you’re openly transphobic, and apparently think it’s something to be proud of.

      2) And of course, mothers are the most SPECIAL and PRESTIGIOUS groups in feminism! Non-caucasian, homosexual, and other marginalized-group feminists just don’t deserve the level of consideration-much less catering-that mothers do, by default! And having that mentality is not discriminatory by any means! /Sarcasm

      Speaks volumes about the type of “feminism” you embrace. I believe that cluelessly privileged “feminists” like you are one of the reasons Joy wrote her reactionary post (which I suspect you didn’t actually read beyond the 4th paragraph, and thus missed her main point by a long shot).

      Or maybe you’re just a boring troll.

      • joy says:

        Well, the word “transphobic” is a kinda trolly word in radfemland, to be honest. There are some pretty good blogs, like GenderTrender, that can explain why.

        Also, mothers might not be the most marginalized group of women, but they do get the short end of many sticks, and they deserve to have childcare made available to them if they wish to attend events outside of the home. Especially if they want to do something like “go to a feminist conference,” an event where the organizers should be aware by default that not all women can afford to hire a nanny.

        Just clearing that up.

    • LL says:

      Well, I do apologize, Cherryblossomslife. Looks like my reply was made out of brash cluelessness towards the concepts of radfem here; it’s definitely not the one I’m familiar with (I’m a lot more used to concepts of feminism 101 and somewhat beyond, but that’s it).

      I’ll be checking out more of the linked/provided websites before I express another opinion. Good thing Joy was gracious enough to clarify things to me nicely.

  28. witchwind says:

    Hello Joy, it was really nice to read your experience of SPC, thanks for sharing it. It doesn’t surprise me SPC isn’t that radical cause it reflects the impression I had when I discovered the website last year – although I was really happy to find it, I was disappointed to see that it was narrowly focused around porn, without putting it in the context of patriarchy and the patriarchal heterosexual institution – as if it existed in a vacuum.

    Something I really disagree with Dine’s slideshows is her showing real porn images. I don’t understand her choice, especially coming from a person who’s worked on media and its effects on people. There is no need whatsoever to show porn images to raise awareness about it. Andrea Dworkin never used a single image of porn, she described them with words, either through writing or in her speeches, and it was way more powerful because there weren’t the eroticised images of torture behind directly contradicting what she was saying. Not showing the images is also giving a feminist space for women free of violence and visual proofs of men’s hatred of women: this is important, because everywhere we look we see pornified images of women. Showing the images is either triggering for the women watching, or arousing for those (especially men) who aren’t able to see the violence in the images. There’s no way you can cut out the violence of the images even when you add a feminist speech over it. When I saw Dine’s slide-show on the net, it made me want to puke. That isn’t raising awareness, it’s just submitting us to more violence.

    Obviously SPC’s work is important, but we need to ask what prevents women from being radical in this case. Academia is definitely a big radical-stopper – there’s only so much that a patriarchal institution will allow you to do inside it. Men still decide what you say, how, and how much, and where you work, etc. How useful is it as a radical feminist strategy to work within a patriarchal institution, even with the advantages that status & money give? Whenever I worked in one, even when my job was to work for women’s rights, my freedom of expression was instantly taken away, I couldn’t say what I wanted anymore, or do what I wanted. I had to constantly water down my message, I was always afraid of being shut out or censored, or going too far. After a while it easily becomes a habit to fit in, not to say things as they are, because your job depends on it. If patriarchy gives you some status it’s because it serves patriarchy, not the other way round.

  29. witchwind says:

    Re the question of “violence” within radfeminism:

    For all the feminist conferences / General assemblies / debates I’ve been to, there’s one thing that I’ve noticed: horizontal violence (or whatever you call it) and internal fights tends to happen when it isn’t radical. Whenever there’s misogyny, racism or classism, contempt or silencing of some kind, then it automatically becomes violent. It’s violence in itself, so women then react violently to it – and those who do/say men-catering, silencing, misogynistic/racist/classist things tend to be the most divisive, violent, manipulative and aggressive in the first place.

    The latest feminist GAs I’ve been to, it was so violent and draining that it systematically ended in women insulting, shouting at each other, even physically assaulting each other. I sure ran away from it as quickly as I could. The only reason for this (as I see it) is that it was seeped with women hatred. There wasn’t even an agreement on whether they should be abolitionist or not, as in, see prostitution as a violence against women. !!!!!

  30. Bev Jo says:

    I’m so sorry that you went through this, Joy. It doesn’t sound “Radical Feminist” at all, and that’s a problem with so much that I’m seeing lately with that label. What you described is what I would have been afraid of experiencing if I had gone. It’s hard enough to feel not acceptable for all of our lack of privilege without going to where we SHOULD feel safe and home. And what that professor said is horrific.

    I really agree with “If radical feminism isn’t open with wide arms to the more disadvantaged and oppressed women amongst us then it will remain an elitist, academic affair, focused on talk, not action.” The article I wrote recently against “intersectionality” is exactly about that.

    A few years ago I considered going to a “radical Lesbian feminist” conference, but then saw the ad for it saying that some het women would be there and Separatists should respect their choices. Clearly, het women were more welcomed than I would be. So what made it “Lesbian,” “feminist,” or “radical?”

    Unless there is a truly Radical Feminist analysis and standard for such conferences, the most privileged — white, middle and upper class, het, etc. will dominate — even when they’re in the minority. I’m seeing that online as well, with bullying and censorship to keep the most privileged dominant. It’s a relief to see the politics here and awareness that of course our differences must be acknowledged and the hierarchies stopped if we want a truly inclusive, welcoming Radical Feminist movement. Otherwise, it’s like a segregated country club, which inevitable is right wing and very boring.

    Trying to appeal to men and more privileged women will never work either. It only dilutes and destroys real Feminism.

    Displays of actual porn is very upsetting too. I never understand that. A friend who has written books against porn has a book she published that is full of porn.

    You’re not alone!

    The only thing I disagree about is the assumption that childcare is a Radical Feminist issue. It was originally a mainstream feminist demand that men help take care of their children. And then it was slipped into Lesbian Feminism with only a few of us questioning it (which we did in our book.) The result was the destruction of female-only space.

    No Lesbian or woman who has decided to not have children and not get access to all the privilege and worship that mothers get in patriarchy should be required to support the institution of motherhood (not to mention it’s a death sentence to the earth.) Yes, mothers are oppressed by patriarchy and men, but they have more privilege for doing exactly what is demanded of all females to do, including reproducing men.

    • joy says:

      Re, childcare: That’s a good point, Bev Jo. Because if outside providers were hired, who would they most likely be? Chances are very high that they’d be poverty-class or working-class women, almost certainly women of color.

      I am childfree by choice and do not have sex with men, and I agree that children are devastating to women and to the environment. (Although in case this needs to be reiterated, that doesn’t mean I would ever kill one.)
      But I do have a lot of sympathy for women who, for whatever reason, have been saddled with children — because they have been raped, because they couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to abortion, because the child/ren’s father abandoned them, etc. If these women, and many women who are still trapped in het relationships with children but don’t want to be, are denied access to radical feminist organizing and supportive feminist spaces, then the movement is at risk of becoming elitist in *that* way. Particularly because the women most likely to be saddled with children but politically aware of their situation, are class-disadvantaged women and specifically women of color.

      Of course, that point is moot in this case anyway, as the conference in question was neither a radical feminist space, nor a supportive space. It was a strongly class-privileged, deeply liberal (leaning towards moderate/conservative, as in ‘maintenance of the status quo’), academic space with an antiporn slant. Which, in our current political climate, is at least something! It just should not call itself radical (which it sometimes did, sometimes didn’t, depending on who it was catering to at the time).

  31. Bev Jo says:

    I agree about wanting to support poorer, more oppressed women with kids, but most of who I see in our movement are SO proud and arrogant that they reproduced — especially boys (which is 85% when it’s AI.)

    You’re right about the misleadingness of a liberal event calling itself radical. I keep seeing liberal feminists who are bordering on right wing insisting they are radical and calling true radical “liberal.” It’s so upsetting when the goal of some seems to be to welcome the most privileged, even if it means driving us away. I am so fed up with going over the same basic issues and being insulted and called classist names.

    Those of us who ARE radical and who really care, need to find each other and band together.

    Thank you again for your post. It, and many of the responses are such a relief to see!

    • joy says:

      Re: self-congratulatory privileged women — agreed. And you mentioned artificial insemination, the whole idea of which seems practically insane from a radical perspective. To begin with, how many women would truly want children, much less their own biological children, much less THAT BADLY, if we were not in a patriarchy wherein our broodmare status mattered so much?

      As per the phenomenon of Nice White Status-Quo-Maintaining Ladies claiming radical status: they really remind me of Nancy Reagan. I think of them as “Reaganical feminists.” Or just “Nancy Reagan.”

      And I don’t mean that in a hateful way. I can clearly understand why a woman would like to maintain her Nice White Lady facade and therefore all the attendant Nice White Lady privileges (such that they are; we can probably all agree that even rich women, even white women, and even rich white women are still tremendously oppressed).

      There’s nothing not to understand, at the very root of it. We get punished pretty severely for stepping out of line, after all. But such women should really think up another name for their feminism, rather than renaming/reclaiming ours. (“Radical only means root, it doesn’t have anything to do with our actions”, or “We can’t have a revolutionary women’s movement, don’t be silly — and by the way, won’t you brush your hair, you’re making us look bad.”)

      It reminds me of Dworkin’s speech (quoted recently, and quite ironically, by a man on the radfem internet) wherein she talks about more and more moderate- to conservative-leaning women joining feminism’s “base” and deradicalizing it. I will write another post (or several) about that specific issue another time.

  32. Bev Jo says:

    Oh I love that, Joy — “Reaganical feminists.” We have to take our
    movement back!

  33. This was extremely helpful. Many thanks for a terrific article and web site. I really enjoy your site layout.

  34. Pingback: Strange bedfellows « some of this must be true

  35. femmeforever says:


    Even though this is going into the void unnoticed I want to say that I understand so deeply what has happened here and I’m so sorry you were made to feel rejected and wrong yet again. You went to a purported safe space for women where they were supposed to get it. Were supposed to believe in your humanity and Not in male supremacy and they revealed that they were no different than the world at large. This is the primary, standard misogyny that the world spews at women. Why can’t you be men? It is unacceptable not to be a man. Rearrange everything you are to mimic maleness. And then, why can’t you at least live your life in a way that pleases men and puts them first at all times? This is ruination. I so understand. It breaks my heart that you were treated like this. I am sorry on behalf of all womanhood. I want to say this should NEVER have happened to you or any woman. For myself I want very much to congregate with the radfem community of women. For healing. For community. For safety. For understanding. And to have that great vulnerability turned against you by your own specific community is unforgivable. Again I say, I am so sorry for your injury by these women. Let me clearly say that you did NO THING WRONG. YOU are not wrong. You are not insane. I didn’t have to be present. It’s the same old same old. A women’s conference is supposed to be free from misogyny and othering and so is the feminist blogosphere but neither is so. If you want to connect feel free to do so. If not that’s OK too. I remember you from the webs as a gifted thinker and lover of women with your own unique voice. That is rare even inside the movement, I am learning. Wherever you are I hope you are OK.


  36. by the way, this blog entry is now being used (linked to/ copied&pasted, as seen on bansmut) by the pro-porn lobby to drag anti-porn activism through the dirt and to show us off as in-fighting. really bummed out about the fact that a flying bottle divides us. none of us get the microphone like gail does– she’s brought the conversation into the living-rooms of people who didn’t care and who now see and are outraged that women are suffering (and children, i’m sorry to say) and the outrage leads to porn being blocked in the UK, or strip clubs being banned in the US, and i walked into my local kiosk and told the owner to take the adult magazine off the rack (and he did, and i haven’t seen it since). so maybe that’s a tiny success. one dude got the hint. but it makes a difference in my life because i can walk into a shop i like for its variety without being triggered by the public display of abuse.
    we have to start *somewhere*!

    there are two problems with pornography: a consumption side problem, and a production side problem. Gail acknowledges both. it’s incredibly useful to examine the problems both of those sides create for all of humanity because it allows different groups to relate. if your issue is with the production side of the problem, organize your activism around that. but please don’t drag anyone else off the horse. it’s bad for the movement and it’s ultimately bad for women.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s