Feminist Therapy: Reconciling political disagreements and conflict with friends, as a radical feminist

I am a therapist, but I am not your therapist. Therapy, in my opinion, is not just about the information I give, but also about the highly individualized relationship I build with each client, getting to know their unique needs, strengths, and challenges. This column is not meant to substitute individual therapy. When in doubt, speak to a therapist about these issues — preferably someone who knows you, who you feel safe with, and who is equipped to support you exactly as you are.

** All of the questions I received were complex, and profoundly honest. Thank you for your submissions. The questions answered in this month’s column were edited for length and privacy, while attempting to preserve the original question.

Dear Feminist Therapist,

As I’ve become more outspoken about my politics, it’s created a lot of rifts and awkwardness amongst my real life friends. I’ve been posting articles and comments that challenge things like porn and prostitution, but also that question things like “gender identity”… I had hoped that my friends could simply disagree and have a respectful conversation, but instead, I’ve been unfriended, ostracized, or publicly chastised and attacked by people who I thought cared about and respected me. It really hurts. How can I cope with this? Should I just forget about the people who treat me this way? Or should I be the bigger person and try to reach out and have a conversation?

– A

Dear A,

I’m so sorry to hear that being who you are — who you want to be in this world  — has made it hard to be in relationships with those you care about. This makes me think about Carol Gilligan’s work — she researched the lived experience of women and the way we are socialized to sacrifice ourselves for our relationships, slowly cutting of parts of ourselves for the sake of feeling togetherness. I believe that we are more fulfilled and secure when we have a sense of belonging. But I also think that we can’t ever fully belong if we are being less of ourselves to make our relationships work.

To be clear, I don’t mean to say that we should just say whatever we want to those around us because that’s just “us being ourselves.” What I’m saying is that we are most fully satisfied and fulfilled when we can share space with those in our lives, disagree with them sometimes, and know that agreeing all the time doesn’t mean that we’re more connected or loved. It is incredibly powerful to disagree with someone, see an issue from different points, and still respect the other person’s story, humanity, longings, and strengths. That does take two people, though.

I believe that our worlds are more rich when we have people in our lives who think differently than us. I find it is easier to think that way, personally, the more secure I am in myself. When I’m feeling insecure, it gets more uncomfortable and anxiety provoking when people see things differently than me because I feel like their approval of my ideas equates to approval of me. So maybe it’s hard for those people to see things differently because it makes them feel insecure. And maybe it’s the same for you. Having security in our sense of worth and in our identity can make it easier to go into conflict or into situations which feel conflictual.

From a place of groundedness and security in yourself, it might be interesting to see what happens if you reach out again. Try to do that with transparency and vulnerability. (That would be how I would do it, in any case, but we are different people…) I might touch base, ask how they’re doing, and then mention that it seems like it’s been hard to connect lately, and ask if that’s because you two see a few things differently. Then I might ask for the person’s thoughts and remind them that I value them as a person and don’t see them as an object that needs to agree with me all the time. I would say that I appreciate dialogue and friendships that are rich, challenging, and intellectually stimulating.

If it feels hard to have this conversation it might be because you aren’t very close, and this would be a big leap into vulnerability. Or it could also feel challenging because it’s hard to say things like this in general. If they shut you down or disrespect you, it’s OK to share with them that this hurts. Believe that if you’ve made an effort and it’s not reciprocated, or if the relationship doesn’t feel safe, it’s OK to not have that person in your life. Maybe there will be a time in the future when it feels like something you’re willing to try again, but you don’t have to have these people in your life if you make respectful and authentic efforts to connect, but they reject or hurt you.

I imagine that lots of readers will appreciate you asking this question. This reminds me that you’re not alone and that the invitation for belonging and community may be here, through this avenue, waiting for you in the comment section, or at the next protest, or lecture series. We need each other.

~~~

Dear Feminist Therapist,

I am about one year into my new life as a radical feminist. It took a pretty major crisis to get my head out of the sand, and since then feminism has become a major part of my life. I spend a lot of time reading about feminism — both opinions I agree with and ones I don’t. But I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be friends with my female friends who don’t do this work.

I have one friend in particular who is from the same rural area, who has the same education, and works in the same profession as me. But she married a man who spent months trying to convince her to change her last name and legitimately wanted her to quit her job to have babies and be a stay-at-home mom. While he is a “nice” guy (in the way that we call these assertive, overconfident, slightly controlling provider types “nice”), I now find their relationship kind of revolting. Anytime I visit them, I feel like I might as well not have bothered because it’s like there’s a frosted glass door between me and my friend.

I found myself withdrawing from this friend since my feminist transformation began, probably as some kind of self-protective mechanism. Now our friendship just feels weird. Anytime I share things I’m excited about with her, like articles, for example, she takes the devil’s advocate/choice feminism position. When I share my thoughts/reflections on something I’ve discovered for my own life (often after months of reflection and/or counseling), she disagrees with me out of hand (certainly not from a position of reflection). Part of the reason it bothers me so much is because she’s actually highly educated and so I feel like she should know better.

What’s the answer here? Just let this friendship drift away? Is there a way I can not be an asshole around her? Maybe I’m just being a jerk by sending her articles that challenge her life choices?

– K

Dear K,

You are not alone. I can imagine that what you’re going through is hard. Similar to the question above, it’s hard when we grow in a different direction than someone we love.

I don’t think you’re a jerk for wanting to share the things that are important to you with the people you love. We do that when we are excited and passionate about something. But I don’t think it is always fair for us to expect that other people will “get it” or agree. It is also possible that she might get it more than you think she does, but feels defensive and insecure about her life choices, so feels like she has to push the content away, argue back, and dismiss it, in order to protecting herself. The point is, you don’t know what’s going on for her and you won’t unless you both talk about it.

It could be really valuable to talk about your relationship at some point. For example, you could say:

“I love you and  miss you. I know I’ve changed a lot the last few years — we both have. I’ve become really enthusiastic about this new way of seeing myself and the world, and I’ve wanted to share that with you, but I wonder if at times my enthusiasm has been too much for you and makes it feel hard to connect. I really care about you and value you in my life, and I want to make sure that we can both share the things that we are going through together — the good stuff and the hard stuff.”

When we are trying to repair a relationship, it can help to approach the person with vulnerability and speak about something that feels raw for us, instead of coming at them with anger, defensiveness, and judgment. Try to be curious. Ask her what it’s been like for her watching you change and see things differently. And remember that connection and safety are always the best ways for us to risk venturing into something different and new — including new perspectives and ideas. Sometimes we don’t do the work because it feels too scary to change, or because it would mean giving up the certainty of affirmation or affection we have secured. Even though it’s your friend’s choice to change if and when she is ready, it’s going to be easier if she has your soft, kind, open arms to fall into.

That being said, I think you can be kind and still be you. Just check in with her about how she feels when you send her things and tell her what’s going on with you when you send them (i.e. “I share things with you because reflects the learning that’s going on in my life and I feel like if I show you these articles it might help you understand me and how I see the world”). You can’t create connection on your own, and if you make an effort (sincerely and genuinely) and that feels too much for her, then I think it’s OK to walk away or give the friendship some time.

Good luck.

~~~

Dear Feminist Therapist,

How do I reconcile my feminist beliefs with my love of hip hop and R&B? (The sexist, degrading kind…)

-S

Dear S,

What a big question. Thank you so much for asking it because I think it’s really two questions in one. It is the question you asked, and a much bigger question that many of us feminists ask at some point: when I decide to align myself with a set of political beliefs that makes me think critically about how patriarchy has shaped society, what do I do with all of the things that I enjoy (or have enjoyed) having in my life? I think this bigger question is related to many of the questions I’ve been asked by women: “How do I still stay a feminist when”…

– I like having violent sex with my partner

– It’s hard for me to get aroused if I don’t watchporn

– I think having my anus bleached looks better

– I like the attention I get when I dress to get the attention of men

–  [fill in the blank]

I’m wondering if implicit in this question is your sense of frustration that you can’t reconcile them, or haven’t found a way yet. Because it also seems like implicit in your question is the knowledge that these two things (feminism and certain kinds of music) are fundamentally incompatible and represent movement towards different ends. It would be really nice to say to you that they can be reconciled, and tell you how to do that [insert witty and wise suggestion here], but the more I think about it, the more I think that they do not work together at all. There is empirical research that suggests that the media we consume actually changes the way we think about our bodies, the bodies of others, and people’s lived experience. So I have to believe that listening to degrading music and being a feminist work against each other neuro-cognitively, competing for cognitive space, as the music shapes our implicit biases and unconscious judgments without us even knowing it.

Think about it this way: it gets really hard to find things entertaining when we know how much they hurt us or others. For example, as a therapist, helping people work through the catastrophically devastating effects of their sexual assaults makes it literally impossible for me to laugh at a rape joke. I feel immediately transported to my office where I sit with people for hours — for months — as they process what happened to them and talk about the ways it has robbed them of safety, relationships, joy, normal sleep, and so on. Really understanding the impact of sexual assault makes those jokes not funny and actually makes me feel protective and angry.

Next time this music is on, try not just hearing the beat and words, but actually think about the story you are being told through the music. Think about if that happened to you or someone you love. Make the subjects of the song not just as objects used to make a catchy song, but as real people. Then see if that changes your love of the music.

I know that this isn’t the fun answer. But I think that having feminist values — and really trying to ensure those values shape the way we live our lives — needs to influence all our choices. We may not be able to change everything all at once, but I would like to think that, slowly and steadily, we can make our lives into a story that moves towards ending the oppression of women and joins with others who long for that as well. This involves active resistance to the little things that seep into our daily lives that subtly and existentially join us with values that are complicit in our own oppression.

I hope for you that you are sensitized. I hope for you that, as you make choices to change some of your behaviors and daily practices (like what music you listen to), you will feel the struggle as you rip yourself from old habits. I hope that being in that struggle will help you feel powerful and like you are winning against the pull of patriarchy, even just for those moments, and that you are doing something good for yourself and for others.

You can send your questions for Hillary, our Feminist Therapist, to info@feministcurrent.com or hillarylmcbride@gmail.com with the subject: “Feminist Therapy,” or tweet her @hillarylmcbride using the hashtag, #feministtherapy. (We will anonymize your questions, unless you specifically ask us to include your name.)

Hillary McBride
Hillary McBride

Hillary McBride is a registered clinical counsellor working in the Vancouver area. She specializes in women's experiences and feminist therapy. Hillary is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, where she researches women's experiences using feminist methodologies. She is the author of "Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are" and recently won the International Young Investigator Award in Human Sexuality from Taylor & Francis for her research and clinical work on sexuality in mothers.

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  • Lucia Lola

    How I love this series. Please keep this up.

  • Leo

    Was interested to read these questions and responses especially. My problem with serious disagreement with politics tends to be that they’re not even trying – and I can definitely relate to the frustration when someone who is educated and intelligent doesn’t (and get deeply wound up at times by dudes playing dumb, too, goddess is that an effectively frustrating gaslight-y tactic). I can disagree on stuff I deeply care about if they’re actually discussing on the same level as me, that’s interesting and beneficial, but if not, I don’t feel like there’s a lot to gain from talking with the person about it at all, and it can mean there’s no real connection there. If all you’re getting is ‘I don’t agree (because it’s not convenient for me to), and I won’t give any actual reasons or debate properly’, what’s the point? And I’m sure we’ve indeed all been there with liberal feminists. >_<

    Apart from anything else, I'm simply bored by that type of conversation, so it's not that conducive to friendship. It's not agreement that's vital, it's intellectual honesty and curiosity – and yes, I do think that would tend to lead to at least some level of agreement, anyway. At least, I do try and ask myself 'what if I'm wrong?' often enough it'd probably be workable with on both sides, which I think we should all do more, even more as radical/second wave aligned feminists. Sometimes things get a little dogmatic for me (ie. I wish we could talk about biological influences more), compared to how it seemed to be back in the second wave itself, and I'm also not sure we've moved with the times on everything, but I'm not always sure how to handle that.

    • Raven

      I think I lost a couple friends because I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary even though I voted for Hillary in the general. Maybe they weren’t real friends if we couldn’t talk politics at all…

      • genny

        I just think it’s exhausting to have friends whose ideology is the polar opposite of your own. As a socialist, I don’t keep conservatives in my life. I need to respect another person’s belief system and at the end of the day, someone with a belief system opposite your own has a different view of how human beings should be treated and that’s hard for me to get past.

  • Raven

    The second letter could have been written by me 5 years ago when I started seriously getting into feminism. My best friend was also in the same field as me and was newly married. I resented that she took her husband’s last name as well because I didn’t believe in it at the time. She talked about wanting to have children and take time off to stay at home to raise them while her husband worked. I was so immersed in all the new things I was learning at the time that I regret making a lot of assumptions about my friend. I didn’t realize I was being selfish around her.
    All I could think or talk about was feminism and I didn’t realize how I was neglecting my friend for not asking her about her interests at the time. Because she wasn’t as immersed as me I assumed she didn’t understand, and because she took her husband’s last name when I urged her not to. I was being a very selfish friend. My friend called me out on it one day while I was visiting her because I was being very rude to her husband for no reason other than he’s a man. That was a wake up call. She was absolutely right and I was ashamed. I avoided her for several months and I had to do some soul-searching. I noticed how I was destroying relationships with other friends and family. I noticed how I generally was treating any male stranger I came across throughout my day like shit if given the opportunity. I was a very negative-minded person and I wasn’t enjoying life at all. I missed my friend who ha been there for me since the beginning of college. I asked her what I needed to do to be a better friend. She told something I didn’t want to hear at first but it really changed my perspective. She said ” you have to accept that Grant (her husband) is my best friend and you can’t say negative shit about him whether he’s around us or if it’s just the two of us”. So I decided I would try my best and I’m proud to say now all three of us are great friends, I love them. He’s an amazing guy, very smart, funny, takes great care of my friend and their 2 kids. They refer to me as Aunt Ray Ray to their kids. I feel like a part of their loving family. I look at the world in a very positive way now. When there’s something that bothers me I feel like I can take a step in a positive direction and make a difference.

    • Tired feminist

      Cool story, bro.

  • Raven

    What if they were against prostitution but pro-marriage? I ask because I used to be very anti-marriage for a time but have since changed and I lost the few rad fem friends that I had because I made my case for it being useful to certain people.

    • genny

      I personally prefer women friends who, like me, are against all patriarchal strangleholds – porn, prostitution, and marriage. I just don’t have respect for women who value boner rights over women’s liberation, and well, married women? They tend to be assholes. I never had the bride fantasy or the desire to take some dude’s last name (I don’t even have my father’s last name – I made up my own last name and had it legally changed) so I can’t relate to women whose lives revolve around landing a man. I’d rather be friendless than waste time listening to a wife complain about picking her husband’s dirty drawers off the floor, and believe me, married women do nothing but complain to their single friends.

  • genny

    Back when I was a libfem I loved listening to Howard Stern. I hated all the sex talk but some of his interviews and political talk was interesting. Then, last year I met a man online who “sexted” me after our first meeting for coffee. I told him that he doesn’t even know me and that it was inappropriate and I was not going to see him. His response? He got furious and started calling me filthy names and said that as a Stern fan I should have been fine with him sending sex talk to me. Today, Stern and all other liberal men are out of my life.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, I agree. Being in heterosexual relationships with men will always mean pushing aside the entitlement and privilege men have but don’t see. Like you say, even the ‘good’ ones hold privilege and behave in ways men have been socialized to behave. Holding him accountable for his privilege, entitlement, behaviour, will always take up our energy, as women. (And I do, for the record, this women must hold men to account for their behaviour — too many women do not, and it hurts all of us.) Being in a relationship with a man means doing this work all the time. It’s exhausting.

  • melissa

    What the fuck? Ughh,,, so messed up. This is exactly the kind of crap I’m talking about. And you always get gazillions of men and women going “OOOOH SOO HAWWT!” all over the comments to this kind of stuff.Always, without fail. Makes me want to throw up. Its like violence against women just gets sexier and cooler every day with these people. There’s really no end. Its everywhere.We’re fucked as a species.

    You know,sometimes I wish people that worry about A.Is taking over in some dystonia future turn out to be right, lol.

  • Tired feminist

    Yeah, I blame porn on this. It’s mostly porn that sells this idea that all women are just waiting to be abused and that we looooooove to be treated like shit. Men like Stern and his fans would LOVE it to be true. They want to believe it. Then they throw this kind of tantrum when it turns out not to work in real life.

  • Meghan Murphy

    In general, liberals seems to get defensive about *any* feminist critique that happens to make them feel as though they *might* need to think critically about their own choices. Being critical of marriage makes married liberals defensive (but *their* marriage is different!) just as being critical of heteronormativity, porn, makeup, etc makes them feel defensive and ‘under attack’, despite not being under attack at all. Thinking about things differently/critically is very scary for people who have decided the things they do couldn’t possibly be problematic because they ‘chose’ those things of their own ‘free will.’ It’s incredibly annoying.

    And yes, Mermaid, I completely agree with you about the normalization of abusive behaviour. They’ve decided it’s fine because ‘that’s how men are’ or whatever other bullshit they use to excuse men’s behaviour and therefore you must also, so we can all continue on with our lives pretending things are fine and changing nothing. Meanwhile, we — the women who name abuse/entitled, sexist, or violence male behaviour — are accused of being crazy uptight unforgiving nags, because these other women never said shit about the behaviour, and pretended it was totally fine and normal.

  • Tired feminist

    LOL what!? If I wanted to read stuff that’s just critical of me I could just buy one of those women’s magazines.

  • genny

    I’m with you Wren. I struggle with wanting to have a companion (though I’d never live with a man) and balancing my hatred for them as a class. I recognize that there are individual men who don’t look at porn or hire prostitutes, but in my mind I would always be suspicious, especially since I’m basically asexual – not a lot of men standing in line for a lifetime of celibacy. Plus, I fear men something awful. So many of them put on a good mask in the beginning, then turn abusive out of nowhere. I have to wonder if the headaches and the emotional investment is worth it for so little payoff.

  • genny

    I think you’re taking my calling my former married friends ‘assholes’ a little too extremely. I call anyone who pisses me off or talks down to me an asshole – it’s like, our world’s most convenient insult word. It doesn’t mean I think my former married friends are horrible people, they’re just women who don’t get it and want to fill my life with complaints about things I warned them about. They bore me and I don’t respect women who compromise their entire lives for an opportunity to wear a fancy dress and play princess for a day. In other words, I have nothing at all in common with these former friends and I don’t have warm fuzzy feelz when I think of them and their put downs of me for not centering a man in my life. That’s all I meant.

    • FierceMild

      I hear what you’re saying and you’re probably right. I’m a bit defensive about being a married radfem (who absolutely will entertain and discuss criticism of marriage as an institution of Patriarchy).

      I find, as this article illustrated, that being a radical feminist is enough of a challenge to friendships with most people I hate to winnow the field further (or in this case, be winnowed) based on relationship status. I find that our culture basically does everything possible to keep women from forming strong friendships and it undermines our power and our ability to come together.

      • genny

        I’ve had to go virtually friendless after becoming a radfem. The libfem girlfriends irritated me and where I live I’m unlikely to find feminist friends with even second wave leanings. Respect is a huge thing to me, to the point where it gets in the way of making friends. If I don’t respect a potential friends political or feminist beliefs, I can’t in good faith call that person a friend. I do have my best friend left, who is more of a liberal but is coming around to radfem ideas. It’s work debating with him, that I’m not willing to do with anyone else, but I make an exception because I’ve known him 25 years. I recognize that if I had a more compromising personality I’d have more friends, but at the end of the day I think it just makes sense to surround yourself with those who share your values.

  • genny

    Where I live most women are not feminists. It’s a working class section of Philly where girls are encouraged to center a man in their lives and get married right out of high school, which most of them do. I’ve tried to be friends with them but we have nothing in common. I can’t relate to planning my schedule around a man’s needs, which always come before getting together with female friends, and the times I’ve tried to school them on feminism, they just change the subject and talk about something dumb, like celebrity gossip or the Kardashians. I personally don’t understand why all women aren’t feminists when I was basically born one. Boggles my mind.

    And I would definitely encourage you to change your last name. I did so right out of high school because I can’t stand my father and want nothing to do with him. I thought of my favorite thing – the ocean – and came up with a name that relects that.

  • FierceMild

    I’m glad you’re lucky enough to have so many Radfem friends that you can choose between demographic subgroups of them. I hope to have such a luxury someday!

  • Meghan Murphy

    My friends (and boyfriend, in fact) think it’s weird I only want to see my partner once a week and don’t feel bothered when he works long contracts and we don’t see each other for a week and a half or more. The fact that we, in this culture, understand “relationship” to mean our lives must revolve around our partners is so gross, imo. I don’t have time for that shit! I *like* being alone (avec puppy, obv), I *like* working, I *like* my own routine/life… I also have a lot of extra curricular activities I need to fit in, between feminist events/organizing, social events, and my various friends and friend groups that I make an effort to maintain/fit into my life. I am a busy person! Like, how on EARTH could I even find time to see some dude more than once a week?? Even that is hard sometimes. I guess the thing we’re *supposed* to do is to drop our friends, focus less on work/whatever extracurricular activities we’re into, etc., once we’re in a relationship. Why anyone would want to do that is beyond me… Unless they we’re so insecure and disinterested in their own life that they felt they needed to glom onto someone else’s in order to be worthy… idk.

    I feel like being with someone who was away regularly would be PERFECT. Ugh. Co-dependent relationships gross me out. The fact that women are rewarded socially for *not* being independent is gross.

    • genny

      My problem would be in being able to trust someone I don’t see for a week or so. So many men are porn-and-prosti-fied I would be constantly thinking he’s cheating. I especially feel that way knowing that my former friend’s boyfriend goes to massage parlors when he’s away on business – AND that she’s okay with it.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Fair enough… I’ve felt that way about past boyfriends, but really only because they gave me cause to worry (i.e. they watched porn, lied about watching porn, lied about other women, lied in general). At this point in my life, I simply don’t have the time or energy to worry about what my partner’s doing when I’m not around. I trust him well enough, also, which helps, but the other thing is that I really just don’t think about him much when he’s not here.

      • Wren

        JFC, I guess he scored the ultimate cool girl.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It is nice to have someone to do things with sometimes… (I’ll be honest, I appreciate the buffer my partner offers at family events, which can be a challenge sometimes…) It’s nice to have someone ‘on your side,’ as it were. I struggle with the living together thing. I don’t think I even want to live with anyone ever again — particularly not a man. The social and financial pressure (I rent in Vancouver, which is a complete nightmare) to move in with your partner can be intense. I always wonder how people manage this? I think living with a man would drive me insane. I suppose you have to have separate floors and rooms etc. It seems like maybe it’s only practical if you are raising a child together?

    • Wren

      I did live with one boyfriend for 6 years, and sometimes it was wonderful, but after we broke up I realized I had to remind myself of how I liked to live because I had let him have the tv on all the time, listen to horrible music, yada yada. If I ever lived with a man again it would have to be a huge house with separate wings, so there’s probably no point. I agree that it’s probably only essential if you have children or if it’s not affordable any way else.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Ha. That would be a nice feature, wouldn’t it?!

  • Wren

    I think that’s the smart way to do it. I can’t imagine ever mortgaging a house with someone. My little house is my security, my accomplishment, my HOME, and maybe a man can live here, but it will always be mine only.

  • Wren

    amen.

  • FierceMild

    Yes. I just stopped a friendship based on this. I’d had enough and actually told him you’re a misogynist, I’m a woman…I don’t see this ending well.

  • FierceMild

    I knew a married couple who lived in different countries and only saw each other for intervals of six weeks at a time a few times a year.

  • Meghan Murphy

    That would be ideal, if possible, for sure.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I have a divorced friend who does the same. Her ex-partner and her are very good friends, separated respectfully, and do equal work in terms of raising their daughter. They live on the same block now, which obviously is helpful for everyone. Having never had kids (thank god), I can’t say whether or not living in the same house with the kid is ideal — obviously it feels that way for some women? Personally, I think it would just be harder, as then you have a whole extra person in the house — a male, at that. I imagine if I had a child I’d prefer he live next door and co-parent that way. At least then you’d have time to yourself!!

  • FierceMild

    I’ve never had tv. I just can’t stand the constant demand for me to pay attention to/buy/watch/listen. Yuck. It’s just so damn dictatorial as well as being nasty.

  • Meghan Murphy

    What’s your point? Heterosexual women shouldn’t discuss heterosexual marriage critically?

    Feminist criticize marriage because, at its root, it is a patriarchal institution… One that aimed to reinforce male domination/female subordination, and the notion of women as things that can and should be owned by men. Heterosexuality and heteronormativity obviously is very much foundational to the institution of marriage. Again, a reason feminists are critical of that institution. Women here are not exactly celebrating heterosexuality, in this conversation…

    If you’d like to add something to the discussion here, please do. But complaining that the thread is ‘hetero’ doesn’t add anything or even make clear what it is you are disapproving of…

    • jm

      when you act like the only married women are straight women married to men, that’s obnoxious. because no one specified they were talking about heterosexual marriage; we’re supposed to assume that’s what is meant because what else would marriage mean? straight feminists can talk about it all they want; but they need to acknowledge what they are actually talking about rather than acting we should all know they’re talking about straight marriages.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Marriage is a heterosexual institution. That is, again, a big part of the reason feminists are critical of it. But beyond that, the women here are talking about their own experiences. Those experiences are with heterosexual marriage/women in heterosexual marriages.

    • jm

      to elaborate, what i mean is: every single post (as far as i saw) let it go unspoken that “marriage” obviously means “man” and “woman” but no one actually *addressed* that that’s what everyone is assuming. at least be like “okay yep we’re talking straight marriage here because i’m straight and that’s what i know.” it’s an awful habit of straight feminists to just entirely leave out how sexual orientation impacts these things. (i see it a whole lot in feminist academic studies too!)

  • genny

    But you know what? My fear of men is so deep – especially as a rape survivor – that I could never trust that a man is asexual simply because he says he is. I would always be suspicious that once we’d be behind closed doors, the truth would come out and I’d end up raped again or worse. I can’t help it, I have ZERO trust in penis owners.

  • genny

    I remember when Sandra Bullock married Jesse James. She said that she almost said no because she didn’t believe in marriage, but she said yes because she decided “it doesn’t have to be about patriarchy (I’m paraphrasing of course), it can be about anything you want it to be.” I’m sure what she meant is that she thought she could have an egalitarian marriage, but in the end she didn’t – she married an entitled macho man-baby who humilated her in front of the world. Marriage will always be about patriarchy.

  • genny

    She’s kind of an odd duck, but she’s a libfem so go figure. She has a career but she lives with her boyfriend, who bought a house that he plans to leave to her one day (if they last). The mortgage is over 2k a month but she only pays him $300 toward it. It’s not like she can’t afford to pay half. I vacillate between thinking she’s smart to leech off him or if she’s prostituting herself for a nice house and a lifestyle. Either way, I stopped respecting her long ago.