Podcast: Stop Patriarchy! Sunsara Taylor on human nature, domination, and the war on women

This episode of Feminist Current features an interview with communist, atheist, feminist, activist, and writer, Sunsara Taylor. Sunsara co-hosts a radio show called Equal Time for Free Thought on WBAI, writes for Revolution Newspaper and and sits on the Advisory Board of World Can’t Wait. She recently initiated a call to action at stoppatriarchy.org and participated in 10 days of action took place in New York city from August 4th to 14th. Take Patriarchy by Storm demands an end to pornography, patriarchy, and the degradation of women.

Listen to that interview here:

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Terre Spencer

    An excellent interview of an outstanding feminist! Thank you so much for covering Take the Patriarchy by Storm and Sunsara Taylor.

    I am inspired by both of you.

  • marv

    What an intrepid warrior Sunsara Taylor is. It was so enlivening to hear of feminists (and profeminists) taking direct action to counter pornography and other forms of patriarchy. My heart and mind were soaring, spinning and diving. Their tactics need to be replicated everywhere. Only unenlightened people are pro porn. It is hate literature that has a cult like status and distinct importance in the exotic and sealed tradition of men. The male doctrine of porn emanates developmentally consuming women and girls as inferior, fuckable objects, made for men’s pleasure and disposal.

    I do differ from Sunara’s conviction that only widespread revolution (protest) and consciousness raising will bring down pornstitution. I think that legislation has a role to play as well. Some feminists are proponents of a civil law that would allow victims who are injured by pornography to initiate legal proceedings against pornographers – sue them – for human rights violations. This was not posed as a statute that would criminalize pornographers, like the Nordic approach to prostitution rightly does to pimps and johns. It merely petitions for financial compensation for harm. Similar enactments have been made in many jurisdictions penalizing the subordination of people of colour in pictures, words and video. If the dictates of the legal code can be used to end prostitution and racism, why can’t we employ them as one more tool to end pornography while we are agitating for a ” total revolution” against patriarchy? The law itself can be applied in subversive ways in the hands of feminists.

    For other phenomenal ideas read, Big Porn Inc.: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry, Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray (eds.).

  • Chris

    I appreciate efforts to combat patriarchy, and Sunsara made some strong statements about pornography, rape and oppression. Nevertheless, I’m not sure whether her organization is actually aiding in this effort. One would expect, especially after all her comments, that she might condemn western society as being a culture of domination, exploitation and rape.

    The organization she represents still believes that there is a basis for common struggle between western white male “workers”, western women and men and women in the third world. I believe many others have already documented and made clear the extent to which we in the first world benefit from the oppression of people in the third world. Since Sunsara identifies as a “communist”, I would point out that this is something Lenin spoke about 100 years ago (see “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”). I don’t normally quote Lenin, but if you’re going to call yourself a communist, you should probably know what you’re talking about.

    Obviously women in the west are still under the constant threat of rape and violence. At the same time, some western women benefit from patriarchy, and as a society, we all benefit, male and female, from both the economic and gender exploitation of women and men in the third world. I don’t think I need to go into a lot of detail on how we benefit economically from the exploitation of third world peoples. This has already been well discussed here and elsewhere. The degree to which we in the west benefit from gender oppression of the third world is much less discussed. I’ve already talked about sex slavery and domestic slavery, but I would also refer, as another example, to the book “Reproductive Rights and Wrongs” by Betsy Hartmann. The book covers many areas, including population control, forced sterilization, and the experimental testing of birth control methods, that western women and men benefit from, on third world women. (Unfortunately, the book was written in the 80s, and lacks a current understanding of environmental issues.)

    The idea that millions in the west will rise up for “revolution” is ridiculous, unless of course, you mean a tea party type of revolution where the goal is to stop pretending to be nice, and just take what you want and stop apologizing for it. Any real global move toward reducing climate change, increasing justice and equality, stopping colonization, etc., is going to necessarily mean a reduction in *our* material wealth. That doesn’t mean we can’t have great, valuable, useful and productive lives, but we can’t keep having *more*. And I don’t see millions of people rising up to fight for socialism and all of us having less stuff, unless by socialism you mean we share the spoils equally, and we all band together as comrades to keep imperialism and exploitation going, just so long as we all share it equally.

    If you have the chance, I think it would be great to have a panel discussion, or debate, with Lierre Keith and Sunsara Taylor on these issues.

  • Sunsara Taylor is a strong, courageous woman–we need more like her. Thanks for having her on the show.

    I’m really glad you do this radio show, Meaghan. It’s something I consistently look forward to listening to.

  • There are many MANY types of feminism, but there is one point and one thing that I hear a lot coming from the mouths of some certain feminists that I just can’t deal with or seem to reason with. It’s this myth that BDSM relationships or pornography are/is ‘woman-hating’.

    The type of people that believe this don’t seem to consider the fact that perhaps these women ENJOY being dominated. Yes, they scream and cry and plead them to stop but that’s all part of it. Role-play and make-believe is getting mixed up with reality. Being in a BDSM relationship often involves a seriously high amount of love and caring and trust, trust being the main feature of D/S relationships which, too, involves safety. Safety and trust are the most important things for a couple that partake in D/S activities.

    It is a slight minority of pornography with taboo-type contents, and the female participant almost certainly gives full consent to what she is taking part in, and feminists, bare in mind, being porn star is one of the only jobs in the world where women are paid more than men.

    • Meghan Murphy

      No, no. Feminists who are critical of BDSM completely understand that some women ‘enjoy’ being dominated. That just doesn’t change the critique. http://feministcurrent.com/5618/its-not-about-you-beyond-kink-shaming/

    • Ruthie Zofia,

      I think the question is WHY some women enjoy being dominated. There are plenty of things people enjoy, but that doesn’t mean participating in them leads to a healthier, more egalitarian society.

      And what does it say about what our society values women for that porn is one of the only jobs where women are paid more than men?

    • Candy

      “Yes, they scream and cry and plead them to stop but that’s all part of it.”

      I was okay with your post (unless you also mean humiliation) but I’m wondering why crying and pleading them to stop is part of it?

  • DS

    BDSM wouldn;t make me so angry if it didn’t seep into the mainstream…look at the 50 shades of grey crap…I keep hearing about how women WANT to be dominated by men and if they say they don’t they are lying. Guess what…I don’t want to be dominated! You try that forceful shit with me, you will get a kick in the pants!

    Also why is female submissiveness so fetishized…male submissiveness is consered weird and gross…so why are women excepted to be so submissive…whats wrong with wanting equality

    As for fem dom, it is more rare so I can’t comment on it