Man Cleanse PLUS

Readers have privately alerted me to the fact that, for experienced harridans and women who have really let themselves go, MAN CLEANSE is pretty much 101-level stuff. They want a greater challenge! More, more, more!

And I aim to deliver, as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you have any hints to help fellow man-cleansed women fill in the blanks of our detoxification processes, please feel free to share them here. You will be duly and gratefully credited in the eventual post.

Thanks, all! Keep revolting.

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Letting yourself go

Women, this is what happens when you let yourself go!

This revolting, inhuman image is me after years of not shaving or doing makeup, months of neither shampooing nor brushing my hair, and a lifetime of not plucking my eyebrows.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. BEAUTY MANDATES ARE FOREVER.

PS: that’s my radical feminist friend’s cat, who is herself a radical feminist separatist.

And the mustache is not attached to my face.

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Mer’ Xmess

Naturally, the previous post was meant for women who have at least a measure of class privilege and also still practice femininity* (whether because they have a Nigel/are het, or because heterosexuality is their absent referent/internalized mindset imposed by the dominant paradigm).

For the rest of us, of course, the capitalist holiday season fucking sucks a lot too. In order for the middle and upper classes to have off of work and school, the lower classes have to provide service work, and many of us don’t get any time off.

Then there are those of us who “leech off the system”**, are homeless, depend on living with others who may or may not be radical at all, etc., any and all of the above.

I wish I had a plan for us to overcome our stressors, but unfortunately I don’t. The holidays have driven me deep underground, where I wait for New Years’ when I can start trying to do things differently.
(Everything freezes, literally and figuratively, after mid-December, as everyone else bustles to get ready for the holidays. The freeze typically lifts and life resumes a semblance of order after New Years’.)

So if you’d like to have an open thread to talk about stress mitigation tactics — tactics for dealing with jobs, relatives, etc. — please let the comment section be your playground.

Personally, this year my coping tactics are a copy of Gyn/Ecology and a Mason jar half full of moonshine, and I am only very selectively answering my phone.

Mer’ xmess, comrades.

* [Note: from what I know of, most of my readers are established rad feminists. But if you know any newer radical-leaning feminist women who can’t seem to shake the shackles of codified submission, or other radical women who are otherwise deeply het-entrenched, and you think that post might be of assistance, feel free to link away.]

** Note — I do not consider being unemployed, receiving welfare, etc. as “leeching off the system”. Giant man-babies do that much more than we do. But try telling that to a lot of people, including some other self-identified radicals.

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Man-Cleanse [TM] !

This time of year, people in many countries tend to celebrate (whether by choice or by cultural compulsion) a series of pagan holidays that have been appropriated and significantly diluted from their source material.
In honor of this consumer-driven season of imposed cheer, many of us get a break from our daily obligations, like work or school. Many of us are forced into uncomfortable proximity with people we don’t necessarily like, such as some family members; many of us also strain under extra financial and social pressure. So it can quite be a stressful season. Because of all of these facts and more, it’s the perfect time of year to give oneself the gift of a Man Cleanse [TM].

(Man Cleanse is obviously not trademarked. No company would ever be foolish enough to take such an idea on, as it’s the antithesis to modern gender roles, and modern gender roles are the foundation upon which at least half of the global GDP is based. Can you imagine how much money powerful men would lose if more women threw off their shackles for the holiday season?! No, I’m just using the [TM] designation as humor.)

The goal of Man Cleanse is pretty simple, but proves difficult for so many women — especially women who have jobs and/or consider themselves heterosexual. It is the elimination of as much toxic patriarchal male baggage as possible.

So I encourage anyone to try this, at any time, but especially now. Here’s some suggestions.

Stop shaving. Or waxing or plucking. Anything. If you feel that a boss or parent or Nigel will complain about the weeks’ worth of stubble on your terrifying legs or underarms, the weather is cold (if you live in the northern hemisphere); try wearing sleeved shirts, trousers, tights if your work mandates skirts (I live in tights for most of the winter, as they add a layer of warmth beneath my clothes, and I refuse to wear anything that’s uncomfortable, so contact me if you want recommendations), and/or socks. Also, if you can, tell these people to fuck off and mind their own business. If you can afford a lawyer or can find a good public-defense attorney, a lawsuit is an excellent holiday present for your sexually-harassing employer. And a well-timed stinkeye will probably suffice for a relative.
If you must, claim that you are too tired from holiday stress to shave your legs, and ask why these people care anyway. But really, stand by your feminist principles if you can.

Eschew makeup. That shit causes cancer, and except in cases of people whose job is to be artificial (such as those who are paid to be in front of a camera), your face doesn’t really look that different without it. The wind and cold can give you a nice ruddy glow if you want one. Chapstick does a nice job on lips. Etc.
Again, plead holiday stress if anyone asks you, but if anyone asks you, remember that they are a fucking asshole.

Leave the heels at home. Preferably packed in a box. Who wants to risk tendon injury, frostbite from inadequate foot coverage, or a slip-and-fall in adverse weather conditions? Again, anyone who begrudges you this lack of concession to femininity is a dickhead.
If you feel very un-glam in flats at holiday parties, remember that anyone who’s studying your feet is a shallow asshole. Claim injury if you must publicly validate your choice in footwear.

Don’t worry how you look. You are a human being, and you look like one, which is great.

Evidently, one of the biggest reasons het or bi women stand by their femininity practices is that they want to remain in good standing with men. Which leads to the next step:

Stop giving a shit about men. Whether it’s your father, your brother, your uncle, your grandfather, your Nigel, a potential Nigel, an in-law, or whatever, he’s not worth your time if you can’t act like a genuine human being around him.
That goes the same for Aunty Anns, women who will judge your appearance and behavior and sell you out to men. They are only parroting the patriarchy anyway, and they do not deserve your time either.

If anyone gives you shit for kicking back and being a regular person at the holidays, they are double the assholes. Nobody ever goes up to Nigel and Uncle Perv to say, “Excuse me, but could you get your nasty asses together and be pretty instead of flopping like carcasses in front of the game all weekend?” (Although they should get up off their asses, just not to be pretty.) So don’t put up with that shit yourself.

Stop putting up with shit. Nigel won’t stop watching porn? Brother won’t stop committing various indiscretions with a woman ten or more years his junior? Uncle won’t stop making ‘ironic’ racist jokes? Father won’t stop pretending like he was Father of the Year, Every Year, when in reality he jerked your mother around for decades (possibly even still to this day)?
Then stop being nice to them. You don’t need to go apeshit and tee-pee their cars (although if you do, send me pictures) or get into all-out screaming matches (although that would also be hardcore and I would give you as much support as possible through this blog platform), but at the very least, stop enabling. Stop trying to keep the peace by acting like you think this bullshit is all right. Even a subtle tuning-out, a turning of the head, an expression, can communicate wonders and it will make you feel better at the least.

Go from there. Spend the holiday weekend in sweat pants. Refuse to do the cleanup and encourage female family members to do the same. Shit, you can even stop brushing your hair! (Secret: I haven’t even used shampoo on mine for two months, and no one can tell.) Take time to explore how it feels to not maintain your appearance. Depending on the amount that you are marinated in patriarchy (as we all are), this can be easy or hard, but regardless, please feel no guilt.
As long as you’re on a roll, tell Cousin Lech what you really think, to his face. Write a sarcastic letter to a former Nigel and burn it — or, if you know he won’t come after you, send it. Spend time with female relatives, to the exclusion of males; if these relatives are younger, encourage their creativity and teach them how to do something interesting with their time. Give your sister a copy of Gyn/Ecology and tell her to call you whenever she wants. Give yourself the gift of a new skill, like learning how to fix parts of your car or house or bike, or exploring an art form (like music or drawing) you’ve always wanted to try but were told you weren’t good at, or just turning on music and dancing alone in your house with the knowledge that nobody is watching.

Take whatever steps you need; even small steps are still moving forward.

Why is this important? you may ask. Joy, seriously, why do you care? Is it such a big deal that I shave my legs? I mean, I know you don’t, but whatever, you don’t have a Nigel! Also, cultural conditioning has done a number on me, so I feel so fucking ugly without my makeup — and I know you just don’t understand because you hate everyone and don’t give a shit about men and maybe are a lesbian and besides, you have awesome bone structure anyway so you never had to worry about any of this. Plus, I don’t give a fuck about shit like art and you know it.

In the grander scheme of patriarchy, individual actions don’t really matter, but at the same time, they do. Every time we submit, every time we conform, we are reinforcing the submission and conformity. Even in small, subtle actions like shaving our legs, or dyeing the grey out of our hair, or hiding our true feelings, or neglecting to pick up the pencil to just write without caring what anyone thinks.

Every time we do these things, a bit of ourselves dies. That might sound melodramatic, but it’s true: the more we strangle ourselves, the more we wither, and the further we stay closed off from an authentic aspect of ourselves as human beings.

In case you were wondering, an ex-Nigel once told me what femininity behaviors were really all about.

“I don’t really care if you shave or do makeup or not. I just want to know that you’ll do something for me. It gives me a little rush.”

So stop giving props to the patriarchy, and give yourself the gift of saying fuck, no. If it gets too uncomfortable, you can always go back to compliance. But you might find that rebellion is a really good feeling, and you can sneak small actions in under the radar. Besides, every time you do, it gets easier for some other woman to do the same thing.

PS: This patriarchal behavior bullshit is not your fault. It is not our fault, as women, either. I’m not blaming you, or me, or us. We didn’t get ourselves into this situation. But as much as possible, even a tiny little bit at a time, we need to get out.

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Lesbian Separatism?

Apparently, I’m primarily known to fellow feminists for the following things:

1. An irrepressible murderous instinct towards full-term human children
2. Terrible cooking skills
3. Tendency towards excessive metaphors that defy understanding, along with dry humor or deadpan statements that read like open aggression to those unfamiliar with my writing
4. A compulsive desire to do my laundry
5. Anarchistic leanings
7.  Inexplicable taste in music, I mean seriously who cares about that shit?
8. Preoccupation with lesbian separatism.

So I thought I’d address that last point. Am I a lesbian separatist?

Idealistically speaking, yes. Practically speaking, no. Here’s why.

Point A. Am I a lesbian?

To be totally honest, the more I read, the less I’m sure. As an ex-het (or ex-bi, or ex-closet case, or whatever most accurately describes my experience), I don’t know if I can ever feel comfortable calling myself a Lesbian. It feels like an appropriation of lifelong Lesbian experience, and that’s the furthest from my intentions. For more discussion and a primer if you need one, see these comments at GallusMag’s.

In this social climate, I feel it is almost impossible to know the difference between innate and learned instincts. Did I find boys repulsive when I was a child because I was born a Lesbian, or because I found boys’ behavior despicable, inexplicable, and the opposite of what I wanted to experience? Do men continue to frighten and off-put me to this day because I am innately attracted to women, or because men as a general group are some scary freaks? It’s impossible for me to know for sure, because I’ve been trained (as all women are) to doubt my own feelings and I think some women never doubt these things about themselves.

I only know: 1. that I am attracted to some women and love all women as a class, but 2. for a time, in my late teens and early twenties, I chose to pursue sex with males in an attempt to mitigate my own pain at being part of the oppressed class.

Yeah. I totally sold out. And there is no taking that back.

So in my pursuit of truth, and calling things what they are, and not being disingenuous, I can’t call myself a Lesbian simply because I love women and have no physical or emotional interest in men. That is not enough.

B. Am I a separatist?

Much as it pains me, at this juncture, I am not. In my current situation, I absolutely need housing, and thus have been renting a room in the same house as a man. I live in the basement, he lives upstairs, and we rarely interact, but I am polite to him when I see him and I devote energy toward staying out of his way.

Though I am moving out soon, I may end up moving into another similar situation, at least until I can find other females who are seeking the same things I am. Because I’m not sure if I can really communicate how difficult it is to room with postmodernists, or funfeminists, or antifeminists, even when they are also female. In fact, the betrayal feels double when the offenders are other women — because we expect that shit from men. We have emotional and physical tactics in place already to deal with that shit from men. We don’t, so much, to deal with it from women … or at least I don’t.

I would rather live in a married het couple’s basement and stay far out of their way, than I would live in a more intimate set-up with women who actively hate women. Especially if they use postmodernist circular language to justify it, and consider me a prude or unliberated fuddy-duddy with religious hang-ups for not agreeing with their quasi-empowerment bill of goods and services.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure: I talk to a male social activist sometimes, of my own volition. It sucks, but I’m currently far removed from anything like radical feminist interaction other than texts or emails, and I’m lonely as hell. Obviously, talking to a dude is less than ideal, because I feel a compulsive need to watch my words around him, but he is not attracted to me physically, I could doubtlessly take him in an arm-wrestling match, and it gives me somebody to talk to every couple of weeks. Some separatism, I know. I’m a sellout.

But nevertheless: it’s true, I do still advocate for separatism, and for voluntary lesbianism too. Men take up too much female energy, and cleansing some of that from one’s system is liberating beyond even the wildest belief. I advocate that every woman take a Man Cleanse [TM], lasting as long as she personally desires, even if she cannot feasibly practice total separatism. The next post will be about that — just in time for the holidays.

We all do what we can.

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Mental ‘health’

One of the things that peeves me is the term “mental health.”

How does one define the state of (physical) health? Perhaps “being able to conduct one’s usual business without pain, fatigue, or discomfort.”

In other words, “adapting to and being able to carry out social expectations”. Like work, family life, social interactions, etc.

But this is patriarchy. Capitalist patriarchy in which everything we do is completely artificial and externally dictated. Being able to adapt to life in a patriarchy is perhaps the opposite of health.

It’s like trying to adapt to life in the Chernobyl disaster area. Sure, many animals and people can do it and have done it, but how “healthy” is it?

When a human, especially a human female, is unable to adapt to social demands in “acceptable” ways, I don’t see anything “ill” about it.

I’ve read similar thoughts elsewhere, such as on VeganPrimate’s blog. But it stands repeating: what is “unwell”, “unhealthy,” or “ill” about being unable (or even simply unwilling) to conform to an unnatural lifestyle and meet often impossible standards?

So, no. I don’t think that any of the “mental illnesses” that females exhibit are actual “illnesses.” I think they are completely natural and normal reactions to the lifelong trauma we experience by virtue of being born female.

Depression is normal when you live in a 24/7 warzone. So is PTSD (which, it also stands repeating, is absolutely nothing like “being lobotomized”). Who wouldn’t have anxiety over the constant threat of rape, if nothing else?

From there, it’s almost easy to see how the mind can fracture even further and become schizophrenic, dissociated, obsessive-compulsive, etc.

Ergo, I feel the term “mentally ill” is sanctimonious and in fact antifeminist when applied to women. Failing to function at the level demanded by patriarchy is hardly an illness when you are female.

Here’s Carolyn Gage’s series on the subject, specifically about the overdiagnosing and medicalizing of “mental illness” :
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

(For the record: If you take psychotropic drugs and they make you feel good, go for it. I personally prefer marijuana, which is also a drug. The point I’m trying to make is, outside of this completely unnatural patriarchy, we would not be told we are crazy and/or made to drug ourselves; we might not even have our ‘mental illnesses’ to begin with.)

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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.

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