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Men’s “token torturers” in feminist spaces

(114 Posts)
EatsBrainsAndLeaves Sun 23-Sep-12 02:51:33

"Where men can’t reach women because the space is women-only, these women, most of whom are deeply damaged, serve as the perfect Trojan horses and cannon fodder for the destruction of feminist spaces. To use Mary Daly’s term, they are men’s “token torturers” in feminist spaces, doing men’s dirty work of demolishing women’s capacity for resistance.[18]

In most cases, pseudo-feminist (masculinist) practices or ideologies are the perfect terrain for such abusive behaviours because they give both the sense of legitimacy and individual rationalisation for them. Token torturers within feminist or women-only spaces almost always justify their continual acts of women-bashing with male-identified ideologies disguised as feminism, and some may be more obvious than others. This is particularly true for pro-prostitution positions, BDSM practices, pseudo anti-racism, intersectionality, male-centric anti-capitalism or leftism, focus on male institutions or law, queer theory, butch-fem ideology, radical lesbianism, and the “phobia” ideologies (Islamophobia, etc.)."

-- Féministe radicale francophon

Nigglenaggle Sun 23-Sep-12 07:49:57

What does this even mean???

enimmead Sun 23-Sep-12 08:40:22

Some people on MN say they don't go on FWR because they don't understand half the language. Can't think what they mean by that?

It sounds like Sir Humphrey. smile

ecclesvet Sun 23-Sep-12 08:51:11

Great, yet another way for rad-fems to deny any other sort of feminism than their own - if you don't toe the rad-fem party line on every issue, then you're not a free-thinking woman, you're a deeply-damaged male plant! hmm

meditrina Sun 23-Sep-12 08:52:42

Presumably safe space refers to validated registration and actively moderated or pre-moderated sites if referring to Internet postings.

Personally, I prefer open sites such as MN. For I prefer to see inclusion and do not want to write off the vicissitudes of any sector of society on the basis of sex and that means tackling issues as they affect everyone. To me, feminism inherently involves consideration of, and efforts to improve, society for everyone. I do not like to see victims written off as token just because they are fewer in number.

EmmelineGoulden Sun 23-Sep-12 08:54:18

Eats that starts off talking about women only spaces then morphs into feminist spaces. It takes the position there is only a very narrow definition of feminist but talks about it as though all women-only spaces ought to be subscribing to that view.

It's only a couple of paragraphs, so maybe I'm reading this out of context. But I read it as assuming that all women-only spaces or possibly just all feminist spaces should subscribe to one branch of feminist theory. I understand the desire not to be railroaded when discussing from that standpoint, but there is no entitlement to thinking that women will subscribe to that viewpoint just because they are women or identify as feminists.

If a group of women want to tightly define what and how women can converse they need to be creating something other than women-only spaces.

Greythorne Sun 23-Sep-12 08:55:11

What's "intersectionality"?

Isabeller Sun 23-Sep-12 09:27:38

Just what I wondered Greythorne

Is a space only women only if if is defined that way by the women in the space and they have control over the boundaries of the space or are other spaces containing only women but not defined by women only groups not women only spaces IYSWIM?

ArtexMonkey Sun 23-Sep-12 09:35:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KRITIQ Sun 23-Sep-12 09:39:56

Can you provide a reference for this cut and paste segment please?

I agree with both meditrina and Emmeline with regard to the piece and what it appears to advocate. I find it actually quite depressing - reminding me how much feminists have forgotten (or choose not to remember) about the past, and how much they fail to acknowledge about oppression in the here and now.

Mary Daly was famously called out by Audre Lorde for her racism in the late 1970's. The wisdom and insight of some of her work was always tempered for me by her failure to acknowledge the role of white privilege (including her own, and that of other white feminists) in the oppression of women of colour. Ditto for her views on trans women.

Greythorne, the wiki definition of Intersectionality is a pretty good starting point:

Intersectionality is a feminist sociological theory first highlighted by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989). Intersectionality is a methodology of studying "the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations" (McCall 2005). The theory suggests—and seeks to examine how—various biological, social and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic social inequality. Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and religion-based bigotry, do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the "intersection" of multiple forms of discrimination.

This article by Crenshaw led to something like a Damascus Road moment for me nearly 20 years ago.

What bothers me alot about what seems to be a more recent incarnation of Radical Feminism (remember folks, I'm very old and was involved in many women's campaigns 20 plus years ago, with radical feminists, who most definitely didn't not subscribe to such a prescriptive, exclusive philosophy,) is the focus on exclusion, on "othering" those whose actions, behaviour or appearance do not conform to the requisite ideal.

So, a rejection of intersectionality basically means seeing racism (and other forms of institutional prejudice) as not important, or at least far down the ranks below misogyny. Worse, I've heard the racism experienced by some women of colour as "a result of patriarchy," which neatly absolves white, privileged feminists of any responsibility for perpetuating racist oppression. Clever that, but women of colour ain't buying it.

EmmelineGoulden Sun 23-Sep-12 09:41:58

Wikipedia on Intersectionality

(Very) Basically that sexism, racism, classism etc. are interlinked and work together to maintain the power structures of an unfair society.

WofflingOn Sun 23-Sep-12 09:42:17

Are you meaning something along the lines of Stockholm Syndrome and brainwashing?
That certain women have been manipulated by men, or by the patriarchy into adopting the very philosophies and methods that they claim to be opposing,
instead have take them on board and rationalised them, thus becoming unwitting Trojan horses?
Do you demonise such individuals, attempt to re-educate them, dismiss them, annihilate them?

EmmelineGoulden Sun 23-Sep-12 09:42:23


KRITIQ Sun 23-Sep-12 09:45:33

This is a short but good article illustrating what I meant in the last paragraph above

garlicnutty Sun 23-Sep-12 10:00:23

Good question, Woffling.

Also what Emmeline said.

ComplexityAndFecundityOfDreams Sun 23-Sep-12 10:09:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EatsBrainsAndLeaves Sun 23-Sep-12 10:27:56

It means that some women try to destroy anti feminist thought, spaces and arguments by arguing idelogues that are deeply anti feminist but are presented in a feminist manner.

And this is not about different branches of feminism, but simply about feminism.

Of course racism exists and of course we need to recognise and fight it. The original theory of intersectionality was actually written by a radical feminist. These days however intersectionality is used to largely obscure men and patrirachy.

Instead intersectionality is used to argue - there are all these different oppressions class, race, fat oppression, etc that mean everyone is oppressed in a different way. So it is anti feminist because it fails to recognise how men as a class oppress women as a class - which is basic feminist theory.

solidgoldbrass Sun 23-Sep-12 10:30:54

It means that a percentage of radical feminists are whining bucketheads who not only can't stand to be disagreed with but will attack anyone who questions anything they say.
Twas ever thus.

RumbleGreen Sun 23-Sep-12 10:36:06

I'm sorry what? It is anti feminist to point out that people can be oppressed by things other than their sex. I think you are guilty of what you accuse privileged men of doing, because of their position in society they fail to recognise the difficulty other groups of people can have.

EatsBrainsAndLeaves Sun 23-Sep-12 10:41:03

Rumble I know from personal experience the difficulties caused by many of these other issues. As I said intersectionality was written by a radical feminist. But it is used now not to explain how different issues affect women, but to hide the fact that patriarchy exists.

OrangeKipper Sun 23-Sep-12 10:41:09

Thank you so much for your post at 09:39, KRITIQ. I didn't know the lingo, but you have given coherent form to my precise position, and made clear to me exactly why I'm so uncomfortable with some stuff I read in FWR.

SageBush Sun 23-Sep-12 10:50:59

Please could you relink to the Crenshaw article, KRITIQ, as the current link leads to Wikipedia. I'd be really interested to read it, as your views seem wise.

RumbleGreen Sun 23-Sep-12 10:54:36

It is not really hiding it though it is pointing out other factors which affect people's lives. People may discuss things which they feel has a greater impact on them than their sex does. A black working class woman may feel that she has more problems associated with her race than her sex but putting other factors above patriarchy is not the same as saying it does not exist.

Himalaya Sun 23-Sep-12 11:25:44

It sounds a lot like religions saying "don't listen to that, it is the work of the devil sent to tempt you" or dictators saying "don't listen to them, they are capitalist running dogs" or homeopathists saying "don't listen to them they are in league with big pharma".

That is how ideas protect themselves against competing ideas, and ultimately stagnate. I don't think feminism should be a walled garden.

Leithlurker Sun 23-Sep-12 16:38:29

Eats,Intersectionalityis not now being used to hide the patriarchy. It is now being used to distinguish between different way's of looking at difference and equality. It recognises all forms of oppression including feminist against trans btw, and seeks to provide a space and a way of working that once all the different forms of oppression have been identified then they are methodically eliminated allowing PEOPLE to be themselves without fear of repression or isolation.

It is currently a term much in favour with the Scottish government who are funding a worker, looking to encourage use of the practice, and of a growing number of not for profit organisations who want to practice equality or promote equality to a more diverse audience.

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