How Hugh Hefner represents neoliberalism’s win

It is no accident that, as we celebrate individuals rather than movements for radical change, Hugh Hefner has been hailed as the leader of the sexual revolution.

Based on the insane media frenzy after Hefner’s death, you would think some great man had died, rather than a vile pimp who got rich and famous by sexually exploiting women. When I woke up on Thursday morning, the day after Hefner died, I had emails from journalists all over the world asking for interviews. Given the way that Hefner normalized porn, I was expecting the kind of sexist questions that make you want to grab the nearest Andrea Dworkin book for a reality check that you are not going mad. Indeed, I was bombarded with questions like: Wasn’t Hefner a friend of feminists? Didn’t he start the sexual revolution that benefited women? Wasn’t he a champion of free speech? You get the idea.

After about my fifth interview, I noticed a pattern emerging: journalists would list well-known women who paid tribute to Hefner (such as Jenny McCarthy, Cindy Crawford, Nancy Sinatra, Kim Kardashian), and then ask if this wasn’t an example of the failure of the feminist movement to make a strong case against pornography.

The answer, of course, is a resounding “no.”

Second wave radical feminists provided a groundbreaking analysis of how porn reproduced — and amplified — an ideology that legitimized violence against women.  Their work uncovered how women in porn were sexually exploited, and how all women were hurt by being reduced to the class of “fuck objects.”

But this question did get me thinking. What became clear in this response was not that the adoration of Hefner was a sign of the failure of feminism, but rather a clear indicator of the patriarchy successfully co-opting the revolutionary potential of feminism. Second wave feminism scared the hell out of patriarchy, because it not only unmasked the politics behind the system, but it also offered a coherent, strategic, and organized program of resistance. Radical feminists wouldn’t play nice, and nothing is more scary than women who will do whatever it takes to change the conditions of their oppression.

During the 1970s and 80s, radical feminism was increasingly finding its way into the academy, the institution that had the potential to do serious damage to the patriarchy because it prepared the next generation’s thought leaders. Many young women cut their political teeth in women’s studies classes where Sisterhood is Powerful, The Second Sex, Sexual Politics, Woman Hating, and This Bridge Called my Back were required reading. No faux feminism here.

Radical feminism was increasingly becoming so entrenched in women’s studies that it couldn’t be ignored or annihilated — so it had to be co-opted. Over two decades, women’s studies departments were renamed “gender studies” departments,  structural analysis gave way to identity politics, sexual slavery became “sex work,” porn became an example of “personal choice,” and little by little, the gains radical feminism had made were eroded to the point that feminism was defined in terms of individual empowerment rather than collective liberation.

By way of an example, compare how Barbara Smith defines feminism in This Bridge called my Back, published in 1981, before any of us had heard the words “third wave,” to Jennifer Baumgardner’s definition in 2000 on Alternet. Smith defined feminism as “the political theory and practice to free all women: women of colour, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women, as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women.” Baumgardner, on the other hand, defined feminism as “something individual to each feminist.”

Sounding a lot like Margaret Thatcher, who claimed in 1987 that “There is no such thing as society — only individual men and women,” Baumgardner and the third wave bled dry the collective power of feminism, while the academy and the dominant cultural and political narrative was embracing neoliberal ideology as a way to justify rampant inequality. In neoliberal ideology, there are no collective class interests, just lots of individuals making rational decisions to maximize their own personal empowerment.

Feminism got caught in this net and was rebranded as a lifestyle choice to empower individual women, rather than as a revolutionary movement to overthrow patriarchy. By letting a few (mostly white) women into the club, patriarchy put a deniability clause in the second wave feminist argument that women are oppressed as a class. But systems of oppression are flexible enough to absorb some members of subordinated groups; indeed, they draw strength from the illusion of neutrality provided by these exceptions. Thus, a Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook or a Nancy Pelosi in government do not change the structural reality of patriarchy.

It is no accident that, as we celebrate individuals rather than movements for radical change, pimp Hefner the quintessential neoliberal is hailed as the leader of the sexual revolution. He often said that Playboy celebrated the beauty of women and allowed them to be sexual, but what he really did was hijack the radical feminist ideology that argued for sexual liberation by monetizing women’s bodies and calling it a revolution.

That anyone would think for a second that Hefner was a friend of feminists is evidence that, rather than transforming the misogyny of the 1950s, the decade when Playboy started to gain mass appeal, he harnessed and cemented the very ideology he claims to have changed.

Gail Dines
Gail Dines

Contributor

Gail Dines is a professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wheelock College and author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality. She is founder and President of Culture Reframed.

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  • Signme Uplease

    Thank you! It’s so hard to keep up with the claims of younger women who believe individual (sexual) empowerment = feminism. How sad that women’s liberation movement has lost its voice which once represented ALL women. Now it only really represents affluent white women, which of course, means we leave behind the vast majority suffering under patriarchal oppression. I really appreciate your work and find myself wanting to be more aggressive in warning mostly younger women of the dangers of the path we’re on as women. Being turned into yet another type of commodity for consumption by men isn’t my idea of freedom. Nor is watching my sisters of a different colour, race, religion or ethnic background have to fight their own battles with fewer resources than white women have.

    • Cassandra

      This is a great comment, but… the women’s liberation movement didn’t lose its voice; its voice was smothered and the volume turned completely off by those in power.

    • Kris

      I disagree that feminism now only represents affluent white women. What did you mean by that?
      This group of women are certainly granted a spotlight and objectified by the media, even as many of them promote the idea of objectification themselves, but I wouldn’t characterize that as feminism representing them (or they representing feminism).

  • mysticserpent007

    I was a kid during the seventies, when the “sexual revolution” was going on and there were lots of magazine articles about it. Although I was too young to understand let alone be involved in it, my impression was that it was never a serious social movement; just a lot of rich white people partying at clubs in the nude (some of them even ran in the nude, which I found hilarious). Even now I still find it impossible to take seriously.

    • Alienigena

      Yeah, it was a very Benny Hill era in some respects with shows like “Love American Style”. I was quite young and not a fan of sexual innuendo. Certain songs would sort of put me in a silent rage as a child. I am thinking specifically of a song about roller skates and a key sung by a cutesy-voiced woman (Melanie Safka wrote it according to Wikipedia), I always tried to sound like a blues singer (deeper voice, 2nd alto?) as a child, don’t ask me why, my child brain is a bit of mystery to me now. I really did not like or listen to pop or rock music growing up (I didn’t touch the radio or listen to it of my own free will for several years until I discovered CBC), I played classical piano, sung in choirs (where we did some some pop songs), attended live musicals, watched opera on television. So I have no idea what people are talking about re: music of the era unless it is a song or an artist to which my siblings routinely listened. My siblings would turn the radio on at high volume and then leave the room or the house so I was the one going around (not my parents) shutting off the radio. I found the sound so jarring, almost nauseating. I am less sensitive now but to me words are serious things and silly lyrics (I know that opera lyrics can be silly, at least the music is beautiful) still bother me.

      • catlogic

        I remember that song – I’m glad I didn’t get the innuendo then (I was born in the early 60s). Of course it helped that I could rarely make out the lyrics of songs correctly!

        • Alienigena

          Actually I think I was only seven when I started to be irritated by the lyrics of pop/rock music. I knew they were referring to something other than the literal meaning of words (keys for locks). I remember being five years old and sitting on the lap of a boarder in my family home in the living room as he flicked through a girlie mag and asking him why he didn’t have a girlfriend. Kids are sort of filterless. He was a much nicer person than my father (who was emotionally and occasionally physically abusive) but still a porn user. Thankfully he was not a perv so I just managed to embarrass him, as I remember him flushing and becoming silent when I questioned him.

  • therealcie

    The fear of truly liberated and empowered women does indeed terrorize those who are caught up in patriarchal beliefs. When I was bound for college in the early 1980’s, I was signing up for courses, and one of the courses I signed up for was women’s studies. My parents threw a huge fit and demanded that I withdraw from the course. They said that if people heard that I was taking “courses like that” they’d think I was “a dyke” and that I’d be ostracized and have no friends.
    I said that if someone thought that I was a lesbian simply because of a class I was taking, or that they would refuse to be friends with someone who was a lesbian, that was not someone I wanted to be friends with.
    They then stated that they would refuse to pay for college if I took this course.
    Because I didn’t have the financial means or the knowledge to pay for college myself, I backed down.
    I lasted one semester. I was sexually assaulted early on in the semester, and I knew that because I was drunk at the time my concerns would be dismissed, so I never reported it. When I tried to tell my father what had happened, he asked why I had put myself in a position where I would be vulnerable to such an assault.
    I had a nervous breakdown and ended up getting married too young to the one person who treated me with any compassion.
    There is some positive outcome to this tale. I am still friends with my ex-husband. We divorced in 1994 but were able to repair our friendship. We had a son together who is now 27, and we are a family. Sadly but understandably, my son cannot stand my mother. My father passed away near the end of 2010. In spite of his awful reaction to my assault, I hope that no-one will say it’s good that he’s dead or good that he suffered for many years before dying. He was a good man who had some stupid beliefs and I did love him in spite of these unfortunate ideas.

    • oneclickboedicea

      My father took the side of my ex who pushed me out of a first floor window to win a point in an argument that he was wrong over – stealing money from my account. My father asked what I had done to deserve being pushed out of a window. My answer of standing up to a thief was ignored. Good men dont blame the victim of a sexist attack, they blame the sexist doing the attacking. I understand that both our fathers’ believed in the patriarchy, but the venom with which they protected it doesn’t make them good to my mind, it makes them weak and self serving.

    • Karen Eisen

      It’s great that you have unconditional love for your father!

  • FierceMild

    He literally dressed women as animals. Animals that symbolize mindless copulation, no less, and they call him a feminist. I think few men have hated us more deeply then Hefner. I’m glad he’s dead.

    (I have nothing against actual bunnies; or any other animals (except otters)).

    • Karen Eisen

      it’s off-topic, but otters and other animals are often patriarchal because they have had to adapt to human-dominated patriarchal society. they have to exist in a world that is male-dominated AND human-dominated. So, many animals behave differently in captivity than they do in the wild.

      • FierceMild

        True, but I’m talking about sea otters in the wild.

    • Wren

      Wait, wait… what’s wrong with otters??
      On the other hand, maybe don’t tell me. It’ll just ruin them for me, lol.

      • catlogic

        Ditto. I don’t need to learn otters are as nasty as, say, dolphins. 🙁

        • FierceMild

          What’s wrong with dolphins? Do they rape and drown baby seals as well?

          • catlogic

            Male dolphins gang rape females (and possibly smaller males, I think).

      • FierceMild
        • Wren

          That’s just fucking great.

        • catlogic

          Holy shit.

  • Omzig Online

    I’ve found that whenever a young woman describes her position on any feminist issue by first stating “My feminism doesn’t exclude such and such,” or “My feminism is very blah blah blah…” it means they are about to follow that statement with a highly myopic and individualistic interpretation of feminism, one that probably just props up a sexist status quo. Third wave feminism is a toothless scam. I just want to scream when I hear the words “my feminism.” It is OUR feminism, and it’s not about wearing your favorite shade of lipgloss because it makes you feel empowered, it’s about lifting up females – all of us – as a class of people. It kind of reminds me of this article from The Onion.

    https://www.google.com/amp/www.theonion.com/amp/1398

  • fxduffy

    The whole concept of the “Sexual Revolution” was demolished by radical feminists in the 1970s and in the later continuum works by Sheila Jeffreys.

    Jeffreys has exposed the early and mid 20th century sexologists as being no more than front men for a broader and more uninhibited, male sexuality which in turn was to liberate women from both rote, limiting, disembodies sex. But, of course, even a very superficial glance into the works of any of these deSadean sexologists reveals their influential “revolution” to be a total sham.

    For men it meant potential access to all women. For women it meant freedom to sleep with more men, and freedom to gratify their pleasure by learning more sexual postures, most of them debasing and pornographic. At multiple levels, it was anything but liberating, and often outright victimizing and destructive.

    Heffner was just one of their wormy offspring who happened upon a little empire which he shakily offered up in tribute to his creepy sexist forefathers, never daring to cross them in any way.

    • susannunes

      The sexual revolution had nothing to do with feminism. It in fact is antithetical to feminism. Second-wave feminism, especially radical feminism, was born because of the lousy treatment women received by men in the antiwar and civil rights movements of the 1960s.

      Kinsey, Ellis, Ginsburg, Money, Hefner, and the rest of them were to a man–and almost all of them were men–perverts and degenerates. It wasn’t generally known at the time but years later what these guys were really all about. They were all about violating appropriate boundaries between the sexes and not just about overthrowing the 1950s “prudery.” Queer theory/transgenderism are much more in line with the “sexual revolution” and are the end result of it than feminism ever was.

      The best account of the sexual revolution of the 1960s is in Andrea Dworkin’s book, Right-Wing Women, in the chapter “Abortion.” She knew of what she spoke, and she was dead right.

    • catlogic

      Yes, the so-called sexual revolution was about making all women public instead of private property, the attitude still taken by leftist men. It wanted to remove any circumstances in which we could say No.

  • Just compare this comment (below) with today’s newsletter from Fuckboy (screen). https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d3d5b3f46de63afa2c1b174c66e66521b789abbc2d5974a2f714d40bbcde0123.png

    “This is Marilyn Monroe.
    Maybe you’ve heard of her or seen other pictures?
    She was a human being.
    She was born the same year as 91-year-old Hugh Hefner who died this week.
    She married at 16 years old to escape the foster care system. A few years later, while trying to break into modeling and acting, she posed for some nude calendar photos to earn some food money. She was paid $50 to take her clothes off and smile.
    She used a fake name to try and distance herself from the photos.
    “I don’t know why, except I may have wanted to protect myself. I was nervous, embarrassed, even ashamed of what I had done, and I didn’t want my name to appear on the model release.”
    A few years later she was given her big break and started playing eye candy in motion pictures. Hugh Hefner was building his brand. When he decided to start his “gentleman’s magazine,” Marilyn Monroe had become a household name. Hefner bought the rights to her earlier shots from the girlie calendar people for $500.
    Without asking the actress, Hugh Hefner put her on the cover of his first issue which read “First time in any magazine, FULL COLOR, the famous Marilyn Monroe NUDE.”
    When asked about it, Monroe had this to say:
    “I never even received a thank-you from all those who made millions off a nude Marilyn photograph. I even had to buy a copy of the magazine to see myself in it.”
    The system did its work on Marilyn Monroe, and she died at age 36 after being digested by the culture that consumed her. She died with money but not a lot. More money has been made by her brand since her death; even today you can see Monroe products being hawked.
    Then in 1992 the grave next to Marilyn came up for sale, and Hefner purchased it for himself, gloating in the status that he would be her eternal bedmate.
    Dead Marilyn made no comment.
    Fifty-five years dead, and now the Playboy is about to pull up the sheets of her tomb and crawl on in.
    Hugh and Marilyn never met.
    She never consented to anything, from nude photos in Playboy to eternal bedfellows, because he never asked; he never even said hello.
    The woman who looked her whole life for love . . . ends up with Hef. The man who spent his whole life ignoring the humanity of women and having his way ends up lauded a civil rights hero.
    I don’t know that any story defines this asshole more than this one.
    Rest in Power, Norma Jean.
    (By Sarah Vaughn Patzel)”

  • Rachael

    “He often said that Playboy celebrated the beauty of women and allowed them to be sexual.”

    Sure, because womens’ sexuality Is all about just standing around in the nude for other people to admire, right? That really gets us off.

    What is so disgraceful is how so many women have internalised this idea and in turn, many have embraced it: they feel something is wrong if they are not on display for the male gaze. Think Kardashian and her ilk. When will these women realise that their OWN sexuality has nothing to do with how men perceive them? A hard lesson, sure, when our society is entrenched in this idea, but acknowledging it is, I think, the only way we can start to find our way out of this maze and towards true female pleasure.

    • Cassandra

      “When will these women realise that their OWN sexuality has nothing to do with how men perceive them?”

      It’s so obvious yet when you say this, many people just can’t wrap their heads around it.

    • olivia keating

      “He often said that Playboy celebrated the beauty of women and allowed them to be sexual.”

      Right, because celebrating the beauty of primarily skinny white blonde women with blue eyes is progressive lol.

  • oneclickboedicea

    Gail Dines makes what liberals like to call complex, simple. Sexism is simple, as is racism, as is most discrimination. The only time it becomes complex is when people dont want to admit thats what it is. Heffner was the abuser in chief of an army of abusers.

  • Amy Luna Manderino

    Funny, but no Neoliberal Feminists ever seem eager to defend my “individual choice” to point out how Neoliberal Feminists’ individual choices normalize and enable the oppression of females as a class. Hmmmmmm…

  • Amy Luna Manderino

    On the subject of “Why would women themselves commit the Orwellian double think of defining sex slavery as sex freedom?” I think the answer lies in the high levels of sexual trauma in the female population, particularly committed by family members/partners whom those women love and trust. It has to do with how the brain copes with trauma in order to survive. The horror of facing the reality of how the world socializes your own dehumanization to the point of being a trauma target for those who are supposed to love and care for you causes many women to gaslight themselves and reframe that trauma as normal and even desired. “Female empowerment” as a concept created a monster, in a way, as in “I’M not a victim! I ENJOY this kind of sex! In fact, ALL sex positive women do! If you DON’T, you are a sex negative frigid prude!” In gaslighting themselves, they gaslight all women.

    • Wren

      This is very true. Wasn’t it Dworkin who said, “Incest is boot camp for prostitution”?

  • Karen Eisen

    three comments – if someone doesn’t believe we are desensitized to violence against women, why wasn’t there an uproar when Donald Trump recently posted a video of him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf club? And I would say the same thing if Trudeau, Bill Clinton, Obama did the same thing (which, of course, they wouldn’t). The reason why Donald Trump was able to build a campaign filled with sexism and racism was because we’ve become desensitized to violence against women – and that’s largely because of porn culture.
    Also – maybe the view is different in Canada, but I haven’t seen so much admiration of Hugh Hefner in the media. maybe it’s wishful thinking?
    lastly, I’d never bought the argument that’s it all economic; that it is all about capitalism. After all, porn and prostitution existed in the Soviet Union. And they don’t pay men to go to strip clubs!

    • Alienigena

      I don’t know about lack of admiration of Hugh Hefner in Canada. The day after his death I was at the counter of a chain drug store and the clerk and a customer were talking favourably about him, in a wink and nod fashion. The cashier was a woman.

  • Kelly

    I was at the University of Melbourne when the change occurred. One minute there was a unit called ‘Sexual Politics’ run by Sheila Jeffreys, and the next minute that was finished and we had “International Gender Relations’. I did both classes and the gender relations was completely different. Prostituted women became ‘sex workers’, and transgender women were ‘real women’. It was a sad thing to witness.

  • Hanakai

    Thank you for this concise and cogent history, and for all your work and writing.

    The changes in sexual mores and behaviors in the 1960s and 1970s had a great deal more to do with the invention and distribution of the contraceptive pill than with anything done by the pimp, pornographer and pervert known as Hefner.

  • rosearan

    This won’t make me very popular here, but few women under a certain age have any idea of what it was like for women before the sexual revolution. Contraception was in little supply and was restricted only to married women, which carried its own restrictions. Doctors could be de-registered for offering contraception and abortion advice, even to married women.

    Unmarried pregnancy was the ultimate life-ruining agent. Sex outside of marriage was taboo. Being single and pregnant was socially and morally unacceptable. Unwed mothers were labelled by their families and communities as ‘ruined’ and they carried the burden of having shamed their families. Pregnant girls were commonly disowned by their parents.

    Unmarried women lived in permanent fear of ‘getting into trouble’ and those who ‘got into trouble’, and were rejected by their ‘in trouble’ fathers (who just went on with their lives), were despatched to homes for unmarried mothers, usually run by judgemental religious institutions. They were abused – emotionally, physically and psychologically – as fallen women. When their tenure as fallen women came to giving birth, they had to relinquish all rights to their child.

    Condemn Hefner as much as you like – he deserves it. But no matter how much the patriarchy has co-opted the sexual revolution, never lose sight of the fact that women have gained a victorious achievement (by whatever means) in being able to finally pursue their sexual needs, without ruining their lives.

    Patriarchal bigots like Hefner matter little. Despite all the hurdles that the patriarchy has put in our way, we continue to win, because Mother Nature is on our side.

    • Hanakai

      It was the contraceptive pill that allowed heterosexual women to have sex without the fear or possibility of pregnancy, and thereby to explore their sexuality.

      Hefner had nothing to do with women being able “to pursue their sexual needs.” All Hefner did was to categorize women as fuck objects, to be used, abused, enjoyed and discarded by men.

      I am not so sure Nature is on the side of women. Women seem to have gotten the bad deal, being the half of the species that menstruates, gets pregnant, gives birth, suffers childbirth injuries and has the responsibility for the care, feeding and raising of humans. When you consider that before the era of modern medicine, women had a 1 in 5 chance of dying of childbirth complications, and that women in Afghanistan and other places still suffer such high death rates, it is had to imagine that “Mother Nature is on our side,”

    • Manu Schon

      I recommend Andrea Dworkin – Right Wing Women, chapter 3 on Abortion for exact that issue. Her analysis there is sharp and brilliant (as usual), when she points out that Abortion and birth control was THE main tool to unlimited sexual access to women.

  • Alienigena

    Yeah, I don’t see it that way. Some of us don’t have anything to do with men (outside of work) but we are still part of some warped male fantasy (apparently there is a fetish for every type of female body). Which translates to creepy real world encounters, one of which I had this summer when I was shopping in a grocery store (in jeans and a loose but clean flannel shirt) and some man in the company of another man followed me and talked not so quietly about my body and what he would like to do to it. So it is open season on all women, according to the sexual revolution.

    I was just reflecting on the term “muff diving” which refers to cunninglingus. Why wouldn’t a gender neutral slang term be used in this liberated world, given that men generally have more pubic hair than women? Something like ‘pube diving’. But when I looked for a description on the Internet I found that the term referred to women not to men at all. So women’s pubic hair is disgusting but men’s isn’t? Nor is men’s butt, back or shoulder hair? Because I have heard some women cringe at the thought of back, toe, and shoulder hair on men. So why isn’t male pubic hair on the list of cringe worthy body hair?

    There is still social stigma around acknowledging that some of us don’t see anything positive in male / female relationships and we really don’t feel like humoring people who do get something out of them. I feel like I am expected to be willfully blind around people in such relationships. Why are M/F relationships somehow sacrosanct and free from criticism or at least overt displays of astonishment? Every other aspect of life seems to subject to familial and other scrutiny – choice of profession, salary, personality type (introversion), choice of major in university, musical taste, etc.

    Note that the only woman who was involved in a mass shooting incident in the U.S. in recent memory (San Bernadino shootings https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/san-bernardino-shooting/wife-san-bernardino-shooting-joins-small-list-women-mass-killers-n473536) was in a relationship with a man. But so-called loners (we female loners are trying to avoid human interaction, not engage in violent human interaction) are the real issue? Hardly.

  • Topazthecat

    Hugh Hefner actually said in 2010 in an interview with Vanity Fair, ”The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous, because women are sex objects and it’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go round, that’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.”

    Of course he didn’t believe that men are naturally sex objects and this what makes the world go round!

    He’s quoted in this great recent article,Hugh Hefner Was The Ultimate Enemy Of Women

    http://www.cetusnews.com/life/Hugh-Hefner-was-the-ultimate-enemy-of-women-%E2%80%93-no-feminist-anywhere-will-shed-a-tear-at-his-death.HJU9OidcsW.html

  • Topazthecat

    I was sexually harassed by teen boys and men all through my teens and 20’s,and I was widely considered a beautiful girl from the time I was born,even strangers would come up to my parents and grandmother and say this about me,and I remember as a little girl people saying it all of the time too,and I was big busted for my age at 13 and when I was 13 and a half, two 14 year old boys repeatedly grabbed at my breasts and crotch,and one of them told me I’m really a beautiful girl,he also made two verbal references to the Playboy centerfolds,and the other boy showed me a pornographic picture,of as he said,here’s a girl fingering herself. And this was back in late 1978 to early 1979,before even more overtly hard core degrading,violent pornography was so unjustly,wrongly put all over the internet! And I’m sure these boys hadn’t seen it.

    I was sexually harassed by other teen boys and men as I said also,and recently I had two experiences that were a form of sexual harassment, in the summer of 2016 I was walking at 9:30 am to a restaurant for breakfast,and on the way I realized that my shirt was on backwards,which made it tighter and clingy, and a guy in his car in a parking lot to an apartment complex started saying Oh my God I couldn’t hear him,but I could see this is what he was saying,and he stared at me and said something to me I couldn’t hear,and I walked away as fast as I could.

    And just two weeks ago, I was walking in another direction from there, at 12;30pm, and I was wearing this same shirt, ( I’m not going to ever where it out again unless it’s cool enough outside to wear a jacket over it) which isn’t low cut or anything, it looks like a very nice T-shirt,it’s much nicer than a T-shirt,but I mean it covers all of my chest like one,and a middle aged guy in his car, I think he was Russian,put down his window,said I love you honey,and was trying to get me to come over to him,and I just walked away as fast as could again,and it’s very scary,because he could have followed me home and found out where I live.

    When I first spoke to Rhea at the sadly former Women’s Alliance Against Pornography Education Project in the Fall of 1990, I told her that when men came to fix or deliver things to my house many of them made overly flirting inappropriate remarks,and they looked at me like I was just a thing to f*ck,and she said yes,and that all comes from pornography and I told her that I never wear any sexy provocative clothes,and I had no or sometimes very little make up on.

    And when I told her about my experience of the teen boys molesting me and referring to the women in Playboy,and the other guy showing me the pornographic picture,she said what tons of research studies and many testimonies from women and children over the decades have said,she said it’s very common,and she knew women who had similar experiences like this too,and she said that the teen boys were just treating me the way Playboy and all pornography teaches them to,as nothing but sex objects to use for male pleasure,and I said it also teaches them that they are justified in treating us this way,because it says that’s all girls and women are for,and that we like and want to be sexually used as nothing but sex objects for boys and men and dominated by them,she said that’s right.

  • Topazthecat

    Women are taught by the very sexist,woman-hating pornography,and the whole sexist,gender stereotyped,woman-hating male dominated society,that to sexually please men and be used,abused and dominated by and for them is what sexuality is for women,and all that they are for and worth!

  • Tobysgirl

    I totally agree with Dines’s analysis. The only caveat I would add is not to allow oneself to be linked with right-wing politicians as she did in Canada. It is critical for women’s rights and survival that we all have access to decent housing, education, nutrition, and health care, and I have yet to meet a right-wing politician who supports any of those basic needs. How can women leave violent men in any context (husband, boyfriend, pimp, father) with no access to housing, etc? I could not believe that domestic violence projects in Maine allowed themselves to be filmed in an ad with our thug governor who wants to end all forms of social security.

  • will

    I’m aware of that song and Y&J’s politics. I also understand that John was abusive to her. Have you seen “Good Ol’ Freda” about the band secretary who worked her ass off to make them famous and took care of all of the shit work for them for years and who they treated like a second-class citizen?

    My point was that “Brand New Key” was never meant to be about sex and that utterly benign compared to many huge hits of the time by men (like the beloved Beatles) which were deeply and explicitly misogynist. That’s all.

  • Scifimaster92

    I know this is only tangentially related to the subject of the article, but I think it’s worth mentioning how people used to say the same things about Reconstruction in post-Civil War America that they now say about the second wave of feminism – namely that it was corrupt, harmful, and a failure, orchestrated by misguided idealists who were manipulated by an entity with a nefarious agenda. I can only hope that one day this viewpoint on feminism falls out of favour with the general public the same way it did with Reconstruction.