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Separatist Feminism - Thread Two

(159 Posts)
LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 02-Aug-11 00:07:04

A second thread to discuss separatist feminism.

If you clicked on this thread and want to know more, there's a wiki link for the basics here:

On the previous thread there is more discussion, including links to some articles about existing separatist communities, and some personal experiences from MNers who live in a separatist or partially separatist environment. If you're interested in more discussion of separatism, what it might mean for feminists, and what women's spaces can do for us, please come back and join me so this OP doesn't sit unanswered like a lemon! grin

Link to thread no. 1 (and kudos to the lovely VictorGollancz who started it all off) here:

Prolesworth Tue 02-Aug-11 00:08:41

Message withdrawn

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 02-Aug-11 00:17:47

No problem. I hope no-one else minds, but I thought it was a great thread so didn't want it to just end. Maybe, like the 'resisting femininity' ones, it doesn't matter if things get repeated? I was hoping it might be a bit like a support thread as well as an information/discussion one - for me, I don't think I want to be a separatist but I am thinking much more about women-only spaces and how to maybe make some in my life, so I want to hear the advice of people who've already tried it.

jennyvstheworld Tue 02-Aug-11 00:38:07

I thought single-gender spaces were a BAD THING? I'm confused...

MrsReasonable Tue 02-Aug-11 00:46:30

"Feminist theorist and author bell hooks believes that the beliefs of separatist feminists run counter to many of the original goals of feminism, and instead of seeking to create equality, attempt to establish a female-centric and female-dominated society in which men are subjugated and misandry is brought into the mainstream."

Came to put down my thoughts on this, found that bell hooks had already done it for me. Easy-peasy!

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 02-Aug-11 00:59:25

jenny - why do you think they're bad?

Don't worry about confusion - I don't think there's any absolute position on women-only (or men-only) spaces.

I think it's important to have spaces that form a refuge for people who are discriminated against - eg., if you are attacked for being a gay man, it is a very good thing if you can find a place where no-one will do that; if you're a woman who has been raped, it is terribly important you should be able to find a place where you don't feel scared. If that means you only want to talk to women, I can understand that. In some contexts, I think as a woman you can feel constantly on edge. I find this in some of my work life. Then, I can see t he appeal of women-only spaces.

It seems to me ... this is very speculative ... that the good/bad confusion partly comes from the way that men-only spaces in our culture tend to exclude women by making women feel unable or unwilling to stay - few places actually ban women, but they make it so hard or so unpleasant for women to get in, that the result is the same. In contrast, many woman-only spaces are refuges: women aren't excluding men because they want men to feel uncomfortable, but because the women are reacting to pressure from men in society at large. That distinction between hostile exclusion and refuge is key.

madwomanintheattic Tue 02-Aug-11 01:10:12

lrd, the guides use the same sort of logic - and remain a resolutely female organisation. girls can be beavers/ cubs/ scouts, ie they aren't banned in the same way boys are from the gga. girls still feel the 'unwanted' pressure in scouting and not many seem to stick it out. (disclaimer, not checked stats). the difference seems to be in the leaders - male leaders are not allowed for the gga, whereas lots of beaver/ cub/ scout leaders are women (and are positively encouraged). male scout leaders are viewed with a small amount of suspicion. presumably this is tied up in caring/ childcare knots, but i've always been interested in the two organisations views on gender... and single gendered spaces.

<it does feel like hostile exclusion from the gga, though it definitely comes from a 'refuge' position wink>

i know this stops a long way short of the entire sep agenda, but sort of ties in loosely in an entirely socially accepted (and acceptable) fashion.

madwomanintheattic Tue 02-Aug-11 01:11:42

i often wonder whether scouts had to change their rules re accepting girls because they needed the female leaders, though. now i'm going to have to go and look it up grin

jennyvstheworld Tue 02-Aug-11 01:12:51

I think I see and understand your point LRD, but I also see the same in the bell hooks quote above... These seem two different ends of the same stick though; you are referring to refuge from violence, but surely that isn't always the case? As to pressure, well I would assume that many men might feel that they can escape the pressures of mixed society in a refuge. Finding a place of personal sanctuary is surely important for all humans... but feminism has sought to gain entry to all male-only refuges hasn't it? There is also something rather divisive about doing it for its own sake.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 02-Aug-11 01:16:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 02-Aug-11 01:19:49

That's interesting madwoman - I didn't know any of that, and my mum was one of an (all female) cub scout leader team (they wanted blokes to get involved and finally some dads did, which was nice I think).

jenny - I was referring to refuge from violence, but not necessarily physical violence. I think the emotional aspect is pretty important. I don't think arguing women need women-only spaces purely to keep them away from violent men is any good at all - it's actually offensive, imo, because it suggests the onus is on women to avoid, not men to change. It may be 'refuge' is the wrong word as it suggests fleeing ... but I am not sure what the right word would be! Sanctuary is good, I agree.

I don't know if you were reading the other thread, but something really interesting that came up was that men-only spaces such as monasteries, that have been around for centuries, don't seem to come in for the peculiar mix of criticism and gossip that woman-only spaces do. It seems that women on their own often get very specific and disproportionate responses from society - perhaps that is reason enough to explore the idea?

jennyvstheworld Tue 02-Aug-11 01:40:25

LRD surely the issue with monastries and convents is that the people have entered them in acknowledgement of their own sins to avoid temptation. That gives them the exact opposite reasoning from a women-only institution established to avoid the sins of men...

I don't have an answer here - I'm simply suggesting that to tear down the walls of one establishment whilst setting up another in its image is rather perverse!

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 02-Aug-11 01:43:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jennyvstheworld Tue 02-Aug-11 01:47:38

SGM Isn't it? Is it? Thanks for that. I'm not sure that monks and nuns would agree with your carefully constructed arguments though.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 02-Aug-11 01:50:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jennyvstheworld Tue 02-Aug-11 01:54:40

Again, I think you're taking a few dubious examples of something and extending it to suit your point. For the most part that is simply not the case.

I actually think you'd argue black was white if it fitted in with your agenda...

sparky234 Tue 02-Aug-11 01:55:51

monks and Nuns have had great power.
its interesting though that entering a monestry or nunnery makes them respected[by some]but a woman who is seperitist/semi seperetist is seen as a wierdo.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 02-Aug-11 01:59:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sparky234 Tue 02-Aug-11 02:01:37

well its not wierd SGB-its patriarchic isnt it.
the whole instatution is patriarchic-this is why one things ok and anothers not.

sparky234 Tue 02-Aug-11 02:02:46

sorry-i do appologise-i mean SGM-not SGB

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 02-Aug-11 02:04:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sparky234 Tue 02-Aug-11 02:04:49

yep-homosexuality is within monestrys[blind eye]but its frowned upon outside.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 02-Aug-11 02:05:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sparky234 Tue 02-Aug-11 02:08:48

indeed it is.

sparky234 Tue 02-Aug-11 02:09:31

think "man of the cloth"and paedophillia.

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