Robert Jensen on Millennial men, climate change, and the increasing need for radical politics

Zoë Goodall interviews Robert Jensen about his most-recent book, “The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men.”

This month, I had the fantastic opportunity to speak to Robert Jensen while he was in Australia to launch his new book, The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men (2017, Spinifex Press). As a feminist in my early 20s, I was interested to hear how he thought his book would connect with young men, his thoughts on watering down radical feminism to reach a wider range of people, and how his pro-feminist politics relate to his climate change activism.

~~~

Zoë Goodall: You’ve written extensively about various aspects of feminism and patriarchy. What made you decide to produce a more all-encompassing work that examined patriarchy as a whole?

Robert Jensen: I wrote a book on pornography that was published in 2007 (which has since gone out of print), and the publishers wanted me to do a new edition of it. I didn’t have the emotional energy to go back, specifically, and do new research on pornography, because it’s exhausting to have to look at the misogyny and the racism. I was thinking a lot about how radical feminism has been so marginalized and that there aren’t that many concise explanations of radical feminism in plain language. I also started thinking about how little is written specifically with a male audience in mind.

I’ve always thought that my role in the world is not to tell women what to think about sex/gender/power, but to speak to men, informed by feminism. It just simply seemed to make sense to write, after nearly 30 years of experience, the best plain language account I could of the feminism that helped me to understand the world.

ZG: Did you write The End of Patriarchy for any particular demographic of men, or do you think it’s broadly applicable to all age groups and classes of men?

RJ: I think that the distinctions between men that are important are not primarily among different demographic groups, but internal to them. So, white middle-class men of my age range — some of them are the most sexist human beings I’ve ever met and some of them are the most progressive. The same is true of black urban youth.

Because I teach in a university with a fairly diverse student body, and because I’m out in the world a fair amount, I do see a lot of different men. So I think it’s not that old men are worse than young men, it’s not that white people are worse than black people, that professional men are better than working-class men, you know? I’m sure that there are patterns, but I don’t know enough to know how to describe them. But I’m speaking to anybody within any demographic who wants to think about a radical critique of the sex/gender dynamic, that’s it.

ZG: Over the years, both liberal and radical feminists have expressed sentiments along the lines of “we shouldn’t care what men think — their views aren’t important to us.” Do you think it is important for women in feminism to care about what men think and their viewpoints?

RJ: On one level, the question answers itself. If you were a civil rights activist trying to create an anti-racist society, you should probably think about what white people think, because white people are the source of white supremacy and racism. So in some ways, all women who are feminist and concerned about creating gender justice are thinking about men.

The question is: What role do men have in feminist movements? That is a more difficult question. In the radical feminism that I was exposed to, going back to the late 1980s, rooted in the anti-pornography movement, the understanding was that men had a role in the anti-pornography movement — not to take leadership positions, but to contribute to feminist organizations that were speaking to women as well as to men, specifically about ending the use of pornography, but also about using men’s resources. In terms of contributions to the movement, those resources mean money, time, and energy. That always seemed pretty sensible to me. I was quickly clear that my role was to speak to men and use whatever resources I had, which at this point in my life are a university position which gives me status, some amount of money, and my writing skills.

What I’ve always understood about my own writing is that I’m not the smartest person in the room. I’ve been aware of that for a long, long time. What I also came to understand is that I don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to say something clearly that can be useful, especially to men. And the reason I emphasize that is, in academic life you’re conditioned to always be striving to be the smartest person in the room. In a way, I’m glad I started my academic career in feminism, where clearly my role was not to originate new theory — nobody needed me to start pontificating. My role was to take the existing research, theory, and activism of women — which was considerable — and speak about it in a way that men could understand. And to, where possible, add to research. So I’ve done a lot of interviewing of men, for instance, which is something I can do.

So, instead of, like many academics, trying to figure out how I can get out in front and be the big thinker, I’ve always been comfortable with being an interpreter of the really important ideas of other people, including of all these feminist women who’ve done so much amazing work, and especially Andrea Dworkin. You know, the first feminist work I read was by Andrea Dworkin [pause]. I get really emotional about her, because she had such a huge influence on my life that sometimes when I say her name, I stop and I think, “Oh my god, she’s dead,” you know? And she died so young. But I read Andrea’s work first, and am I going to improve on Andrea Dworkin’s understanding of men and pornography? Not likely. But I can take those insights of hers and ask how I can explore them and how I can talk to men about them. So that’s what I do.

ZG: What are your thoughts on the watering down of radical politics to make them more palatable to more people, versus retaining the ideological purity of the movement? Do you think radical politics are still useful even if they are somewhat defanged?

RJ: I would first of all distinguish between “watering down,” which is always dangerous, and “dejargoning,” if you’ll accept that term. Like any other intellectual, political movement, people can develop an insider language — jargon. And I think jargon is destructive, both to our ability to communicate with others, but also to our own understanding. The minute people start relying on jargon instead of argument, the quality of the intellectual and political position erodes. So I’ve always tried to write without jargon, but to write radically.

I don’t feel a need to water [radical ideas] down, for two reasons. One is I’m an intellectual in the big sense — that society gives me enough money that I don’t have to grow my own food. I get to sit around and think about things. It’s my job, in that sense, to do that. And two, at this point, liberal institutions — capitalism, traditional governance structures, the industrial model for how human beings should operate — aren’t working. At some level, a lot of people know they aren’t working. If you give people only a new version of the same old institutions that people know aren’t working, you’re not going to activate and inspire people. I think what people are looking for, increasingly, is something that is radical. And by that I don’t mean posturing radically — I mean a truly deep critique that goes to the root and speaks to people.

Now, you put a hundred people in a room, a radical analysis is not necessarily going to resonate with [all of them]. But I would rather speak to the percentage of them that are ready for that than to try to create some message that appeals to the broadest possible segment of that room, because that will inevitably lead to a message that doesn’t inspire and won’t be embraced by very many people. At this moment, I’m more convinced than ever that we need to be more radical. But to be radical in plain language.

ZG: Many feminists who are critical of the sex industry refute the accusation that their analysis is based on moralism, most likely because this has been used as a reason to discount their arguments. However, in The End of Patriarchy, you embrace a moral critique of pornography and prostitution, arguing that your position is based, in part, on moral judgments. Were you worried that this statement might create a backlash, not only from defenders of the sex industry, but also from feminists who have rejected claims that their criticisms are based on morals? Why was articulating a moral basis to your objections important to you? Do you think that other men should feel the same?

RJ: I think everybody should feel the same. What I would distinguish is between moral claims and moral principles versus a kind of a moralism used to signify people who assert — with moral certainty — the way you should behave or the way you should use your body, for instance. So I try to avoid being moralistic in that sense — that pejorative sense — but to recognize that we are always, constantly, inextricably moral beings.

Politics is always based on a moral theory of some sort, about what it means to be human. So I use the term “moral” in that larger sense, and I think because the right wing — especially the religious right — has captured the term “morality” and defined it in such narrow ways, many people in the liberal, left, and secular world are afraid of it. I think we need to reclaim it. And the reason is twofold:

1) Principles. Because I don’t think there is a way to develop a politics without basing something on foundationally moral claims.

2) Because everybody really wants moral answers. It’s part of being human.

When the left and the liberals cede that moral turf to the right, the right fills it. And they fill it with what I think are bad answers. So rather than give up that territory and say, “Well we’re not making moral judgments,” I say, “Yes, I’m making moral judgments, and I can articulate them and I can defend them.” Because I think, at some level, people understand there is no decent human community without moral principles. By moral principles I don’t mean, “You can’t use your penis in a certain way,” I mean, “What does it mean to be a human being in relation to other humans? What do we owe ourselves? What do we owe others? How do we understand ourselves in the larger living world?”

All those are profoundly moral questions. Because they have to do with what it means to be a human being. So I embrace that, on both practical and principled grounds.

ZG: Have you noticed men’s attitudes towards women and/or feminism change over the decades? Do you think it’s gotten better or worse?

RJ: I’m going to speak only in the U.S. context, because that’s what I know. In the nearly 30 years I’ve been paying attention to this, the general cultural climate for feminism has gotten better, it’s gotten worse, and it’s stayed the same. Depending on the kinds of issues we’re talking about, all of those things are true.

Let’s take the presence of women in existing institutions: education, government, business. That’s better. We just had an election in which, for the first time, a woman was a major contender for the top political office. That’s an improvement. It doesn’t mean I like Hillary Clinton’s politics, but it’s an improvement — that got better. On some things — take general household relationships, your average heterosexual married couple — I think that’s pretty much the same as it was 30 years ago. I don’t think there have been great improvements in the deepening of a real feminist presence in people’s everyday lives. On the sexual exploitation industries — pornography, prostitution, stripping — it’s far worse, we’ve lost ground. There’s more pornography, there’s more of an acceptance of prostitution than there’s ever been.

So, all of those things are true — that’s the complexity of modern society.

ZG: Do you think young men today have more or less hope of understanding the messages in The End of Patriarchy? Because on the one hand, we’re the generation that’s grown up in a porn culture. But on the other hand, we’re the generation where feminism of a certain kind has become relatively mainstream.

RJ: With experience, there’s the possibility of deeper insight. Yet age and experience can also make it difficult for us to see new ideas. Both things are true. I think my experience suggests that, again, there’s no predicting. Young men who will identify as feminists, but identify with a very kind of weak, liberal, tepid feminism are in some ways as much — maybe even more — of an impediment to making progress than older, lefty guys who may not know how to speak about this so much, but have a more intuitive notion of “justice has to include something around a critique of patriarchy.”

Younger men are growing up in a world that is both more corrosive and also more open to feminism. So how does that balance out? Here’s one way to say it: Are members of fraternities at U.S. universities any more feminist-friendly than they were 40 years ago? Well, they might have learned a certain language. But the fact is, fraternities are still rape factories, and there’s been no significant shift to change that. So, both things are true. Fraternity men know the language, but they don’t care.

ZG: In the concluding chapter of The End of Patriarchy, you talk about the ever-worsening damage to the planet enacted through human activity. Climate change is essentially the definitive crisis of our generation; we’ve been made aware that it’s a problem since we were born, and it’s our generation who needs to fix things before it’s too late. How do you see radical feminism as part of the solution to these ecological crises?

RJ: The connection is twofold: one is intellectual, and the other is more embodied. The two foundational hierarchies in human history, you could say, are the human claim to own the world and men’s claim to own women. After the invention of agriculture, human beings started routinely saying “we own the world”, eventually expanding to “we own every inch of the world and we can do what we want with it”. Patriarchy begins in men’s claims to own women’s bodies, especially reproduction and sexuality. There’s something about this that’s very important, that the two oldest oppressions, in a sense, of patriarchy and human domination of the world, both share this pathological belief that we can own things. And eventually that developed into slavery and believing you can own other humans for labour, and you know, that nation-states can own other territories.

For the last couple of years I’ve really been thinking about how pathological the concept of ownership really is. So if we’re going to deal with reversing the human destruction of our own ecosystem, it’s got to be with rethinking what it means to own. Which to me, among other things, means there is no human future in capitalism, which is premised on the market and the ownership of all.

That’s kind of an analytical answer. There’s always an analytical component to politics, but there’s also an embodied and emotional component, and for me, the feeling is the same. When I listen to women describing their experiences of being prostituted, it’s not just an intellectual response, it’s something deeply human and empathetic in my response in that. I’m from the state of North Dakota, in the U.S., and North Dakota is largely an agricultural state. But in western North Dakota, fracking has opened up an oil industry. I’m not from that part of the state, but it feels like home, in a sense, and when I see pictures of what fracking has done to the land in North Dakota, I cry. There’s a connection, and it’s not because it’s “my land,” it’s because that feels like my part of the world, and there is something being done to destroy that world. It’s a very similar embodied and emotional reaction.

I think there’s something to that. If we are going to deal with the ecological crises, it can’t simply be by analytically deciding we can’t burn fossil fuels anymore, or we need to get solar panels. There’s got to be some way that we transcend our isolation from the larger living world. Modern society keeps you isolated: stay in front of a screen, stay in an air-conditioned house.

We’ve got to deal with that. My first entry into feeling with my own body and understanding my own body was feminism, which told me that all that pornographic culture I had been seduced by was keeping me from myself. There was something profound about that. And I begin the book talking about the bodily experience of coming into feminism.

Zoë Goodall is a student and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She is currently completing her Honours at RMIT University, examining discussions relating to Indigenous women that occurred during the deliberations on Canada’s Bill C-36. She tweets infrequently at @zcgoodall.

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  • Hekate Jayne

    From the post:
    “The two foundational hierarchies in human history, you could say, are the human claim to own the world and men’s claim to own women.”

    That should be that MALES claim to own the world. It’s not correct to say “humans”, as if males and women claim to own the world.

    Please. Males still control large parts of our bodies and our lives. We can’t get them to stop raping, beating, threatening us, after literally centuries of trying. Women have never had the power to claim anything, much less the world.

    • oneclickboedicea

      Totally agree, but in general Robert is light years ahead in his thinking than other men.

    • Alienigena

      Agree. Not all humans are viewed as or treated as equally human, particularly not women wrt men. Until very recently women in most parts of the world, including the western world, could not own property or in fact lost rights to their property on marriage at some point in history (e.g. UK, Canada, USA, France, etc.). So saying that humans ‘claim to own the world’ is not accurate. I have never felt that I owned the world, I don’t believe that any human or human group can be seen as good stewards of the planet at this point in history. Are women given the behavioural latitude to be powerful or allowed to think of themselves as powerful beings? And if they do (show a willingness to take power or appear to be powerful), aren’t they punished for their temerity, look at Hillary Clinton, or any female born athlete that people don’t think of as conventionally feminine looking?

      Primogeniture has favoured oldest sons not daughters with very few exceptions, from farms to monarchies. I know that more women (daughters of farm owners) are interested in continuing their parent’s farming business than are generally credited with having an interest. I know that a woman who was a member of my mother’s generation basically had to hand control of her family’s ranch to her husband, despite her familiarity with the business, her personal investment in the business and her skill set.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_property_rights#Global_overview

      https://www.theguardian.com/money/us-money-blog/2014/aug/11/women-rights-money-timeline-history

      https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/women-take-over-the-family-farm/488072/

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2016-08-17/family-farming-inheritance/7756246

      • Hekate Jayne

        I think that the only women that are allowed power in the male system are women that are not a threat to the male hegemony. Either because they pander to males, or because males don’t see them as a threat.

        It is the males’ house, after all. They have ultimate control.

        In groups, women have always been the main growers of plants and herbs. For food and medicine. Males generally hunted. Because males like to kill things and women like to grow things.

        Women have always been interested in a variety of things, for a variety of reasons. Males interests seem to lie only in owning and controlling, which inevitably leads to them destroying whatever they are owning. I think that they actually do believe that they own the world and everything and everyone in it. That’s why we are all being destroyed, including the planet.

        I agree with everything that you wrote. I went onto a chatting tangent, it seems.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I don’t think he believes radical feminism needs to focus more on a male audience. I think his point, which he made several times, is that, as a man, he feels it is his job to speak to a male audience.

  • melissa

    Excellent discussion. God, i wish voices like this were more mainstream and common.Specially like that he leaves out jargon when furthering these ideas.Also, you’d think this whole thing with “morals” would be obvious to everyone. The fact that leftist can argue for what is the right or wrong answers to things, but scream “moralism” when they don’t like someone else’s arguments or conclusion to things is utterly ridiculous.They know they’re being dishonest. This is just an attempt to align anyone they don’t like with the Christian Right and make themselves seem right by default to every other leftist.That’s why i never used words like ‘moral’ at all, and had it substituted with ‘ethical’ instead.What a joke.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Hi Kit,

    None of your comments have been deleted. All comments are moderated, which means a human being has to manually approve each and every one. I had not gotten to yours yet, but based on this baseless, knee-jerk attack, I gotta tell you, I’m not all that interested.

    Bye.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I am the moderator. They were not deleted, just being held in moderation, like everyone else’s comments. Now that I’ve witnessed your behaviour, though, I be deleting them and also banning you from commenting. Congratulations!

  • Hekate Jayne

    Yep.

    I think that he said what he meant. And he was including someone other than males in world ownership, otherwise, he would have said men, like he said men think that they own women.

    I am sure that this guy is wonderful. I lack the ability to trust any male, though.

    I can appreciate that he is trying to educate males, I suppose. There’s just been too many instances of males that I thought to be safe, and they were not. Not worth the risk to me.

  • Hanakai

    How do you propose eliminating oppression without changing the minds and hearts of the oppressors? Unless you have some big idea to eliminate men entirely, they are going to be here and they are going to have to learn different ideas and behaviors.

    It is not a matter of what you think or do not think, or care or do not care, personally about men.

    The fact is that men are in the world, men are the problem, if you want to solve a problem, you need to think about the source of the problem. Seems obvious.

  • fxduffy

    Not much to disagree or agree with here.

    Interviews with writers, unless with someone like Andrea Dworkin or Adrienne Rich, always seem too tame and too correct. And this is especially so when a pro-feminist is on the dias. The first thing I bet on his mind is to be sure not to offend, and to be as correct as possible.

    In any case, I don’t know if it’s because Robert Jenson is a regular here, or because the above stated is very much in place, but it seems to me he just answers the queries pretty much as you would expect him to, with not much to excite positive (unless you’re a novice) or negative critique.

    That’s my comment, which probably will mostly be viewed as not correct. Praise be.

    • Tired feminist

      I think you’re right, but I don’t see how this is a problem.

  • Tired feminist

    I hear you, but we cannot count on having male allies. It’s great when there is one, but 99,999% of the time we’ll really only have each other.

  • Hekate Jayne

    I agree with you.

    I think that the only answer is separatism. And when we try that in small increments (like taxis for women, the WW woman only screenings, are the 2 most recent examples), males react hysterically, loudly, and they use their systems to put a stop to it.

    Their actions speak volumes.

    I think that it’s a waste of time to attempt to get even small concessions from males. In doing so, in explaining to them that we would like for the male violence to stop, in asking nicely for control of our own bodies, we are essentially letting them run over us.

    Never has an oppressed group stopped their oppression by asking nicely and explaining patiently. Things are exactly as males want them.

    I am with you. I deal with males only when I am forced to. If there are some that want to deal with each other, that’s up to them. But they don’t get cookies for telling their bros that women should be treated as human. Maybe some of them are genuine. Don’t know, don’t care. I try to ignore them, either way.

  • Tired feminist

    Dude you should learn what patriarchy is before commenting. Your comment has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  • Hanakai

    Well, it is possible to arrange one’s life to live amongst women and minimize dealings with males. There are lesbian land trusts and women’s spaces and one can control one’s social circle. And that is one way to handle life in Babylon, make a separate peace.

    But the reality is that men are here in the world, they do not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon and it illegal to kill them, so, what to do? A historical reality is that oppressed groups have made progress as a result of appealing to the conscience of the oppressor class and changing the prevailing consciousness. Slavery was outlawed when enough white folks came to detest it. Gandhi did it in India with the British. Civil rights legislation securing rights to black Americans passed in large part when the minds and consciences of white America came to oppose discrimination based on race. Gay marriage became a reality when enough general population became convinced it was a good thing.

    I do not know that men as a whole can be convinced of anything. But the masses of men, being by nature hierarchical and obedient, will go along with whatever their male role models champion. If Superbowl champions and action movie stars or media start to dictate that misogyny and rape and assault and domination are uncool, collective male consciousness will change. E.g., Since the institution of the Nordic model in Sweden, the view of men who try to buy sex has changed to where they are thought of as pathetic losers.

    If you are interested in overthrowing patriarchy, the male auxiliary will need to be deployed as well. I suspect unless the patriarchy is overthrown, and there is not a lot of organized movement in that direction, that humanity will be extinct in the next 100 years. The present systems are not sustainable.

    • Tired feminist

      I generally agree with your argument, but there’s something missing.

      Slavery was not outlawed because white people became interested in ending white supremacy. It was outlawed for economic reasons. The rise of industrialization and capitalism needed more markets. It needed people of color to have some money to buy things.

      Of course, some white people did become more interested in ending white supremacy in the process. But that was not their driving force.

      Our case is more complicated. Within capitalism, there’s no economic reason to support feminism – unless said “feminism” is limited to “empowering” women just enough to make us buy more shoes and make-up. So it’s even less likely to have men supporting feminist causes than it is to have white people supporting anti-racism ones.

      This is why it’s very dangerous to expect men to be our allies. I don’t mean that they shouldn’t, I mean that it’s unrealistic to expect it to happen before capitalism collapses.

    • Alienigena

      “I do not know that men as a whole can be convinced of anything. But the masses of men, being by nature hierarchical and obedient, will go along with whatever their male role models champion”

      The concern is so much more complex than convincing men of anything. The concern is how you deal with a group of people whose operating principle seems to be sadism. I have seen evidence of sadism in the behaviour of many little boys and adult men. Someone on this site in the last few weeks used the term sado-patriarchy. I completely agree with the use of that term. I think back to my childhood and adolescence and to my own brother’s behaviour and the behaviour of other boys (not all males but a disturbing number) who I attended school with and sadism was a behaviour that many seem to exhibit as well as utter and contempt for girls (with a willingness to enforce gender-based division with violence). Modern parents may claim that this is the ‘golden age of parenting’ and their children will turn out differently but I won’t believe it until I see it in the behaviour of those children as adolescents and adults. And I will need to see that decent behaviour demonstrated repeatedly.

  • Atheist

    Notice how Jensen made it all about himself and he was a victim of pornography rather than an active participant in an exploitative and abusive system of misogyny. He describes himself as a passive consumer rather than admitting he got off on women’s exploitation and sexual abuse.

    I don’t know if anyone has said it before but thanks for commenting here. You are one of the few men who actually gets it.

    • Hekate Jayne

      Also, when he says this:
      “My first entry into feeling with my own body and understanding my own body was feminism……”

      Something about this statement is very off-putting to me. He thinks that his male body is feminism? What does that even mean?

      And. He learned that from PORN. That his body is feminism.

      I have never heard a woman say anything like that. I am not sure that would make sense coming from a woman. But it sounds really ignorant coming from a male.

      • mail_turtle

        He means: my first entry into [feeling with my own body and understanding my own body] was feminism

        • Hekate Jayne

          And YOU mean:
          “When silly ladies criticize what males say, males must point out to the stupid ladies that their criticism is always wrong because males never say anything wrong ever. Must mansplain why silly lady don’t understand male speak.”

          I got it, bro. No need to mansplain.

          • mail_turtle

            To be honest, I find it really hard to stay away from this website because the articles (and the links they contain) are very interesting, and I like to look at things from a moral point of view (including the desire to radically change society and make it more fair for everyone). And reading this site basically every day, I feel the desire to comment as well from time to time (it would be hard not to). But of course it’s also clear that I’m not welcome, so I will try to not visit again for a year or so.

  • Atheist

    80% of legislative power is white, Christian and male. Gender parity in politics is worse in the US than it is in Afghanistan.

    Google before talking about things you know nothing about.

  • Atheist

    So let me get this straight. I can’t even talk my own female family members out of their internalized misogyny, but I’m supposed to care what men think because men are the oppressors and they’re going to do horrible things to me if I don’t fall on my knees and beg them to stop (as if that’s ever stopped men anyway).

    Excuse me. Sending the message to women – even the mere insinuation in a round about way – that women owe men yet more time and energy for the purposes of redeeming them and talking them out of being violent assholes is sexist bullshit. It’s exactly why so many women are walking examples of Stockholm Syndrome. Though it’s not said directly in this article, the implication is floating around like a noxious cloud of misogyny.

    If Mr. Jensen feels it’s his job to talk to other men, fine, but I reject any assumption that Mr. Jensen’s politics set the standard for anyone else but himself.

    His jabs at Hillary Clinton and black urban youth are unnecessary as well. Political power in America is 80% white, male, and Christian. Spare me the dog whistles of Hillary hate (including generic white woman hate) and the scapegoating of oppressed men which is what led up to Trump getting elected in the first place.

    Lastly Mr Jensen talks about morality as some nebulous “human” thing that has nothing to do with telling me what to do with their penises. If you aren’t willing to do the bare minimum and tell men to stop raping women (which is in fact instructing them on acceptable use of their own anatomy) then why even call yourself a feminist?

  • Liz

    OK, I have now read “The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men.” I question whether there is a man alive who would make it through the first 70 pages…there is no way to describe that as a concise introduction to radical feminism. Maybe I’m wrong — I plan to re-read it in a few days to see if it’s any better the second time.

    Jensen has an argument I think is brilliant. It’s under “Men’s Choices” starting on page 112. The argument is a response to men saying that women aren’t forced to do porn and so that lets them off the hook from criticism for their choice to watch porn. Jensen points out that nothing about women’s choices mean that men have to choose to consume porn or don’t need to self-reflect on their choice to consume porn. It seems to be his own argument (the entire book is carefully footnoted and I’m sure he would have cited a source if it were otherwise). It’s convincing, it cuts right to the point. I wonder if men are shocked when they read it. I wonder if this argument is the seed of getting men to care.

    I’m not sure whether most of the book would be very convincing to men. It’s scattered and stretches out into some areas that might not make sense without more explanation, like connecting patriarchy to capitalism. Some of the transgender part of the book is good, and I wonder if many heterosexual men would be surprised to learn it’s such a big issue because I don’t think they pay much attention to it at all.

    • Meghan Murphy

      That’s interesting. I found it super concise and a great radical feminism 101-type book. I can’t, of course, say how men might read it or whether or not it would interest them.

  • shy virago

    I agree completely!

  • fennec

    Oh my gosh, you remind me of when I first moved to my current abode and needed to find a new gynecologist. My insurance plan provided limited options, curtailed even more by the fact that only one of those choices was accepting new patients. He became my doctor for several years, and while he was clinically competent, he was a real bastard and, I suspect, something of a sadist. As soon as a female gyne was available on my plan in the area, I went with her. And SHE turned out to be a Born Again Fundamentalist who believed lady problems are women’s lot because…Eve?

    She was verrrrry old school in her attitudes (though she was younger than I am) and her staff–all female–were all very pious. When I was plunged overnight (by her, without preparation) into severe surgical menopause in my mid-40s, they were prepared to let me suffer. They treated me as if I were whining when I presented with extreme symptoms. I had to *beg* for medical intervention to alleviate the total disruption of my life. After being coyly told, “Menstruation and menopause are how we know God is a man”, I was begrudgingly put on HRT, but they would entertain not one word of inquiry about custom compounding or incorporating any holistic approaches.

    Such was her level of concern for women that her patients discovered by mail that she was no longer practicing in this state, effective two weeks prior to the date of the notice, because she’d moved to Colorado. My annual appointment was slated for the following week! (I was bounced around from doctor to doctor for the next three years, and live in perpetual fear that the passable gyne I see now will retire prematurely because he despises Obamacare….).

    I would dearly love to obtain all my care and do all my business with women, but I need them to be women-with-a-clue. Like you, I work almost solely with other women. The woke ones truly are lovely. The ones submerged in or, worse, *invested* in patriarchy can be quite dangerous, and some are nearly as awful as men.