Originally published on forbes.com on Octobter 23, 2011. This was in response to the respone to an earlier piece of mine (a guest post by Tom Cahill actually) that had been picked up by radfemhub -a radical feminist collectivist blog. Sadly radfemhub is just an archive now. I began following contemporary radical feminism somewhat in earnest at this point. I didn't become a convert, but I find that the belief system that it supports gives you a way of viewing the world that will cause you to see things that you might otherwise miss. I did not think that I would ever have call to write about it again, but it turned out that I was mistaken. Stay tuned.
My friend Tom Cahill gave me a guest post that is timely in light of Occupy Wall Street to the effect that a brief stay in jail for civil disobedience can turn int0 a lifetime of post traumatic stress disorder if you end up being sexually assaulted. There were two words in Tom's piece that I considered cutting, since I thought them beside the point. Anyway those two words got a reaction from fellow, contributor Victoria Pynchon which you can check out. More significantly the piece got quoted at length at radfem HUB. My introduction and some of Tom's message got conflated with the whole thing be attributed to forbes, which is really a little funny if you know me and hilarious if you know Tom. Regardless here is part of that piece:
of course, most if not all women already ************ know that we are the targets of male sexual violence no matter where we go, and that prison-rape is a very real possibility for us too. we dont need to be reminded. so who is forbes talking to here? this is not a rhetorical question. importantly, the threat of men being raped in prison is also a really good ******** reason (for men) to not get the cops involved for any reason, lest some poor male be brutalized himself while in police custody. even where that man was arrested for sexually brutalizing a woman or women himself. getting the police involved could lead to men being raped. even when the cops get called because the men themselves have raped. which sheds some meaningful light on the anarchists’ motivations in every context, does it not? including how highly they value women, and protecting womens interest in not being sexually violated in general, and in not being sexually violated by them. and as jezebel reports, apparently theres alot of PIV going on at OWS too, which isnt really a surprise: keep the drugs, alcohol and sex-positivism flowing and hopefully none of the women will “cry rape” and kill everyones buzz i mean foul up the atmosphere of male-centric entitlement which hangs heavy over OWS and all male-centric political movements (including slutwalk) like a rain-soaked sleeping bag. can women just never escape our reality that we are fodder for sexually predatory men, even when we are politically-active and are trying desperately to evoke meaningful political change alongside men, on mens terms? radical feminists know the answer to that: the answer is obviously we cannot. when organizing with men, our role is and will always be primarily (or exclusively) as sexual commodities, helpmates and masturbatory aids
the reality is that OWS is a mens movement, and the treatment of the sexual predators in their midst as well as the male protesters’ PIV entitlement tells us everything we need to know. women should be able to peacefully protest and be politically active without giving up their legal rights, or winding up impregnated, worrying about having been impregnated, and becoming trauma-bonded to the other protesters through dangerous male-centric sexuality. this is complete and utter bullshit, and it doesnt help women. thats the thing. politically-active women should never be put in the position of being politically-active mens sexual service stations. ever. but this is in fact what we see, and it has been this way for decades. politically-active women in the 1960s and 70s counterculture dealt with the same damn thing. critically, there was little to no fundamental change with regard to womens social or political status or with regard to sexual politics as a result of that movement. we must learn from this.
I don't know what it is about radfems and capital letters. Maybe somebody will explain it to me someday. PIV is I think a radfem term of art. The "I" stands for in. PIV is what our former President meant by sex, when he said he did not have sex with "that woman". The first place I wanted to go with this was back to 1840 as I already did when I wrote about Adin Ballou. I saw the Occupy Wall Street critique of capitalism as taking up the unfinshed business of 19th Century Reform. The radfem critique of OWS immediatly made me think of Margaret Fuller. Margaret Fuller was probably the best educated person of her time. She found that the Conversations she conducted with women did not work that well when men were admitted. As a correspondent for the New York Herald she visited and wrote about imprisoned prostitutes. She did not let her Conversations be subsumed into the abolitionist movement. The other feminists that she inspired with Woman in the Nineteenth Century came into women's rights through their experience in the abolitionist movement. She had started there. So I was thinking that the radfem critique of OWS could be something like Male Sexual Restraint - The Abandoned Business of 19th Century Reform.
My first consultation simplified the task for me. I spoke with someone who has forgotten more about Margaret Fuller than I can ever hope to learn. She agreed that MF would probably be with the radfems to some extent but she followed that up with a story about a demonstration that she went to. She had felt safe with her compatriots and then found that one of them was carrying a gun and expected that she would be sharing his sleeping bag.
So whatever I may think about the radfem worldview and from their comment policies it is pretty clear that they don't care what I think, they are clearly onto something. They have put together material to confront the bad behavior that is likely to go on at some of the occupations. The title is Occupy Dudeville, which I have to say is pretty clever. The chaotic environment and hesitancy to bring in the police does create serious risks particularly to women. Actually even purely consenual PIV in that type of atmosphere is probably a really bad idea regardless of which letter you have. PIV is best done between people who have known one another for a while in various circumstances and have a high level of trust.
The radfems don't want me commenting on their blog, but they are certainly welcome here. I spoke with a young woman who was a senior majoring in gender studies, who did not know who Maragaret Fuller was. I really hope that there are more people in gender studies who have read Woman in the Nineteenth Century than there are those who have never heard of Margaret Fuller. Maybe I'll find that out someday. Activists frequently do not pay enough attention to history and end up repeating the same mistakes. It would be interesting to speculate on why, but I will leave that be for now.
Tom's two offensive words were "especially him" referring to how jail house rape can silence activists. Based on over forty years experience in his own recovery and those of other survivors, he has come to believe that it takes longer for men to heal. I really don't have an opinion on whether or not that is true and actually don't think it is that important if it is.