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For those who identify as radical feminists, and those who are leaning towards it...

(13 Posts)
ArmyOfPenguins Mon 24-Sep-12 20:38:05

... What was it that made your perceptions shift? And how do you stay strong when swimming against such a strong tide?

I have always identified as a feminist, but after reading Dworkin's 'Woman Hating' in 2004 I felt uncomfortable and zoned out for a while. Then I zoned back in, read some more, came across some amazing blogs including this one (archives only), and my mindset totally changed.

My behaviour changed with it, and I analysed a lot of the sexual practises I was engaging in, as well as some 'beautification' rituals like shaving and make-up. I also challenged men and some women on a daily basis about the foundations of their beliefs/attitudes.

Now I am still firmly radical feminist, but also often find myself wanting to sway a bit to give myself an easier time. I often 'sway' in terms of relatively minor things, but sometimes I'm tempted to go with the flow even when veering toward antifeminism just to keep the peace when I'm in the pub.

Am curious about other radical feminist's experiences, and how to keep momentum going when everything seems to be against you.

Lottapianos Wed 26-Sep-12 09:08:09

It can feel very alienating ArmyofPenguins, like anything where you act in a way that's different from the herd. I find chatting with other feminists helps - like on here! - and reading blogs written by feminists I admire. I know the 'biting beaver' blog you mentioned, can't say I was ever a huge fan of it, but there are so many blogs around that there is something for everyone. Personally I enjoy 'The F Word' and

I'm a huge fan of Grace Dent, who writes for the Independent and the Evening Standard. She's an extremely funny writer who mentions feminism regularly and is just fierce all round. I enjoyed parts of Caitlin Moran's 'How to Be a Woman' (her chapters on abortion and choosing not to have children were very brave) but in general I think she's too much of a play-to-the-gallery type and is massively overrated as a feminist role model. But I know some people love her!

I know what you mean about keeping your views to yourself at times. It's very difficult to be heard in a group where people are just chatting and don't really want to have the status quo challenged. I haven't really found an answer to this I'm afraid! If you can make your point with humour, that tends to win people round a bit more easily, or at least is less likely to leave you feeling foolish and exposed, but that's not everyone's cup of tea and it's not easy to think of witty one-liners when you're seething with anger either smile

Great thread idea - looking forward to reading other responses smile

FoodUnit Wed 26-Sep-12 10:00:22


Yes, for me I became more steeped in it and more courageous by simply hanging out with other feminists- most who were further down the road than me, challenging my misogynist assumptions as I went, until now I have to stifle yawns when in conversations with people other than (mostly radical) feminists.

I find that news groups and forums are better for me than blogs. I've found individuals better than umbrella blogs. The British F-Word is pretty wishy-washy and the Canadian one was good with Meghan Murphy, but I hear she'd been pushed out- or is it just a rumour? Herbs & Hags one is great, and Cath Elliot's. You know what I haven't got time to go through the great blogs I read, have read right now sad

I think (if you are a facebook user) it is a good idea to stop all your non-feminist friend's stuff from getting onto your newsfeed and friending feminists you respect so that their stuff gets on, so your newsfeed that supports the idea that the world isn't full of misogynists, handmaiden's and f*ckwits.

If I think more I'll post again but must dash....

OneMoreChap Wed 26-Sep-12 16:02:46

FoodUnit That's really interesting!

I deliberately widen the circle of people I read (not friend, FB is for about 25 people I know IRL) or follow on Twitter to avoid the Filter Bubble as otherwise I don't see the nonsense Republicans talk, or the idiot Islamophobes.

I either anonymise Google or use alternative search engines so Google doesn't choose what I read... I certainly wouldn't filter friends as you suggest, but then maybe I use FB differently.

FoodUnit Wed 26-Sep-12 16:39:35

Perhaps its because you don't find Islamophobes personally oppressive (are you a Muslim?) or Republicans either (are you poor? Female? gay?). If it isn't you being targeted by the works of nonchalant oppressive group hate bandied on Facebook and getting 1000000000570 'likes', you won't get the -punch-to-the-stomach kind of dispiriting offence that members of these groups do when they read it. Its a matter of psychic protection keeping the cr*p out of my newsfeed, and also keeping me abreast of personally useful news stories, and a sense of camaraderie to have feminists as 'friends'.

FoodUnit Wed 26-Sep-12 16:48:00

Sorry - just read the 'filter bubble' link. I've realised that the 'filter bubble' like that is something that privileged people will suffer from because they don't have the oppressive reality to fight against- its all silly self-indulgant d*cking around in privilege land. So what I have done is effectively filtered out the 'privileged dominant group filter-bubble'... I am constantly getting important and relevant information through my newsfeed, even that of women on the other side of the world in small communities, etc.

OneMoreChap Wed 26-Sep-12 17:07:40

Yes, interesting.

As straight, white, cis-male with no other groups I play from a pretty privileged hand - so I want to see everyone else's views...

I can see as a less-privileged player, I might like to see what my peers are saying.

It's a real problem when the religious white, abortion hating, gay loathing communities in the states just separate themselves from discourse - as there's limited opportunity to engage them in any constructive way whatsoever.

Of course, WoC/womanists might be filtering other feminists, too. Guess we'll never know.

Beachcomber Wed 26-Sep-12 19:00:42

Just posting to say that I support this thread and hope it develops, but not sure I feel like contributing.


IdCalUaCuntBtUvNtGotTheDepth Wed 26-Sep-12 19:18:03

I think generally speaking I have always behaved in a feminist way but up until the past few years thought a lot of feminism was whiny bitching. The more I made an effort to inform myself the more I realized it was angry bitching and there was a damned good need for it. I don't identify as a radical feminist, but I imagine that I could later become one. If that makes sense, I seem to be continually becoming more "extreme" in my views.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 26-Sep-12 20:15:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 26-Sep-12 20:30:09

I am badly read too, much more badly read than you SGM, though better than I was.

But I think I would identify as a radical feminist (while being well aware lots of radical feminists would look askance), because I would rather be a work in progress towards something I truly believe is the right ideology, than pretend I have some other kind of belief. It reminds me to work on things. But that is a very personal motivation, and not a statement of 'how I think it should be for everyone'.

My perceptions shifted gradually, and they're still shifting. Big things have included my ex, and learning through him just how normalized misogyny is and how many perfectly 'nice', perfectly 'feminist-friendly' people I know still tolerate it and guilt-trip women for speaking out against it.

<massive twee misuse of metaphor coming up>

I do sometimes just not have a lot of energy for swimming against the tide, but it's good to know that if I just tread water for a bit then carry on, it's still worthwhile and much better exercise for me than doing laps in the swimming pool.

Beachcomber Wed 26-Sep-12 21:11:11

What was it that made your perceptions shift? And how do you stay strong when swimming against such a strong tide?

I'm not sure that one needs to stay strong or be strong. I mean unless you are a public persona who comes under attack (and then you need to have nerves of steel). I think you just need to be humble.

Not in a self deprecating or apologetic way but in a listening way. By that I mean listening to yourself and listening to women who seek to really get to the bottom of things. Those women can be people who produce brilliant feminist analysis like they can be, well, just anyone.

I think some of the most inspirational radicals are people who lay all personal ambition to rest and who really speak from the heart about painful and violent issues.

For example I will never forgot the first time I heard Andrea Dworkin's "In this country where I live" testimony. Her voice is shaking from hurt and anger and telling terrible truths. Searing grass roots feminist speech.

I think feminists (radical, whatever) have to be ready to take a lot of shit on the chin - not personal shit about you as a person, but women as a group's shit. And you have to take it over and over again and become neither desensitised to it nor fearful of it.

KRITIQ Wed 26-Sep-12 22:14:50

Hee Hee SGM - I did say it was a journey, but not necessarily a linear one! smile

As I've often said, I'm not overly fond of labels as the meaning of these can vary over time and I'm much more interested in what people believe and what they do than what they call themselves (or are called by others.)

About 20 - 25 years ago, I'd have probably said my views were very close to what was termed radical feminism at the time. I read voraciously - Dworkin, MacKinnon, Stoltenberg, hooks, Griffin, Spender, Morgan, Lorde, Willis, Firestone, Millet, et. al. and my college room mate's mum was Cheris Kramerae, which was REALLY cool!

Obviously, a lot of life has happened in the intervening years, and the world has also shifted around me. I don't feel as though my central beliefs and values have changed - just been enriched, deepened by learning and experience - some painful, ghastly ones and some life-affirming, positive ones. But, for me at least, it feels as though what's termed "radical feminism" has shifted over time. I wouldn't attach the label to myself now but I already said I don't like labels! Dunno, maybe I'm more of a "feminist radical" than the other way round, not that that makes alot of sense.

. . . and not that I think that's the kind of answer the op was looking for either . . .

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