The pitfalls of trying to get in with the male left

Continuing a longstanding tradition, Jacobin attempts to skewer radical feminism, but misses the point entirely.

Following in the tradition of Leftists Explaining Very Rationally That Women Are Doing It Wrong, Jacobin, America’s preeminent brocialist rag, published a piece by a graduate student named Erica West, detailing the failings of radical feminism. While no political movement (including radical feminism) is without flaws, in their desperation to take a watery dump on feminism, Jacobin chose to publish something ahistorical, manipulative, and mostly baseless, by a writer who appears to never have encountered an actual radical feminist in her life.

Namely, West blames feminists for the lack of solidarity between feminists and leftists, due to our being big meanies, our failure to prioritize their issues above those of females, in particular, our efforts to work with legislators to, uh, effect legislative change, and (the kicker) our confused class analysis. West writes:

“Plagued by a narrow understanding of gendered oppression and a misguided strategy for change, radical feminism ultimately fails to offer women a clear path to liberation.

These criticisms are odd to read in a publication that believes prostitution should be treated as a gender-neutral job (like any other) and applies the coded language of “moralism” to those who argue the sex trade itself is a product of a racist, capitalist, male supremacist world. Somehow, it’s only the political analysis of women that can be dismissed as a “moral uproar” or as some version of hysterical “pearl-clutching.” Similarly odd is the accusation that feminists don’t understand class, when it is leftists who refuse to apply their own analysis to the oppression of women, as a class of people. Our class analysis, which extends not only to capitalism (and white supremacy), but to patriarchy, is said to be “narrow,” while limiting that analysis to economics, one gathers, is “broad.” Half the world’s population is too marginal for leftists to consider, I suppose.

The first time I pitched an article to Jacobin, offering a feminist critique of prostitution, was in 2013. The editor expressed interest, but declined after consulting Peter Frase (who had written a piece helpfully explaining that “the issue with sex work is not the sex, [but] the work,” which I can only assume came as a great relief to every prostituted women living with PTSD, who could rest easy knowing their trauma was shared by baristas around the world) and Melissa Gira Grant (who argues that the greatest danger to women in prostitution is not the men who beat, rape, and kill them, but the laws that criminalize those men) who vetoed the thing.

No harm no foul. These aren’t our people, sisters. By then, my naivete at believing the American liberal-left would ever entertain feminist arguments against the sexual objectification of women with any integrity had pretty much come to an end. Indeed, this was one last test.

The left has abandoned women’s interests consistently since the dawn of feminism. Way back in 1830, working class women in France who were part of the Saint-Simonian socialist movement gave up on trying to work with their male comrades and organized a separatist movement. In the mid-1800s, male abolitionists consistently discouraged and even explicitly prevented women in the abolitionist movement from speaking out about women’s rights, claiming it was a diversion. The American radical feminist movement announced its departure from the New Left with a straightforward “fuck off,” having learned that no matter how much they supported male-led struggles, women were still going to be treated as sex objects, wives, and secretaries. This is not a new lesson. We try and continually fail in our efforts to ally with the left, because leftist men, for centuries, have shown us that our interests are unimportant — that we are unimportant.

In other words, radical feminists did not abandon the fight against capitalism, they abandoned the men who proved, time and time again, that their interest in revolution only extended as far as their dicks.

West argues that while radical feminists’ interest in fighting sexual violence is “admirable,” when women actually tried to do something to advance the fight, they went about it all wrong. Referencing Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon’s anti-pornography ordinance, which defined pornography as the “sexually explicit subordination of women,” West complains that the two feminists worked with some conservative politicians in an effort to pass the bill. But who, I wonder, are feminists to work with, if not politicians who have the power to pass bills? Should we consult with our “brothers” at Jacobin? Who would undoubtedly call us uptight cunts before going back to reviewing material for their Porn4Prisoners project?

In truth, Dworkin and MacKinnon worked with whomever they needed to — some of those people were Democrats, others were Republicans. And while West plucked what she hoped would be a damning quote from an op-ed by MacKinnon, published by the New York Times in 1990, she left out, quite literally, all the important bits. West writes:

“‘Among the many legislators with whom we have worked on the ordinance,’ MacKinnon enthused in a 1990 New York Times op-ed, ‘one is a political conservative. We were honored to work with her.’”

In fact, what MacKinnon wrote was:

“Among the many legislators with whom we have worked on the ordinance, one is a political conservative. She was selected by the Mayor of Indianapolis to get the bill passed. We were honored to work with her. The ordinance was originally sponsored in Minneapolis by a progressive white Republican woman and a black Democratic man. Wherever it is introduced, liberals and conservatives vote both for it and against it. If the right supported the ordinance, we would have a lot more resources, credibility, money and votes. We have found most conservatives far more uncomfortable with sex equality than with pornography.”

The ongoing myth, proliferated yet again by West, that radical feminists are “in bed” with the right only works if you are extremely lazy or dishonest to the core. Though MacKinnon said everything she could to dispel this particular slander, explaining, “Our ‘sin’ is in building a women’s politics that is as indifferent to left and right as pornography’s harm to women is,” West omits her words, adopting the narrative provided to her by her brethren.

What the left consistently ignores in their efforts to paint feminists as uptight, anti-sex, prudes, in cahoots with the right, is that their beloved pornography, their brothels, their cries to “Stay out of my bedroom, [mom]!” place them firmly in bed with the most committed capitalists and gun-toting, private property-loving libertarians, who promote privatization across the board and abhor state funded anything, whether it be health care, education, or day care.

West claims radical feminists got everything from class to the roots of women’s oppression wrong, chastising the movement for separating capitalism from patriarchy and for prioritizing the abolishment of gender. But feminists’ analysis of class as it pertains to women (that is to say, we believe women are oppressed as a class of people, by men, as a class of people) doesn’t mean we reject the notion of class oppression under capitalism. Indeed, radical feminists are continually baffled that, while so many leftists can comprehend the concept of class, in economic terms, they refuse to entertain the notion that other groups of people are also oppressed on a class basis. There can be more than one thing, and indeed, those things can be interconnected.

All that said, yes, feminists do prioritize the plight of women in their politics. Because if leftists can’t manage to address misogyny in their own movements, there is no reason to expect an end to capitalism will result in an end to rape and domestic abuse.

And speaking of misogyny, no leftist trashing of feminism is complete without a firm nod to the evil TERF — the woman who dares say “no” to dick, not only the “consensual” dick that has paid for the hour, fair and square, but to the dick in the women’s shelter, the girls’ locker room, or at the feminist organizing meeting.

West bravely argues against “banning” in all its forms. Whether it be Latina Abuse IV or the ever-harmless male who insists he is female, despite all balls. (We can only assume this anti-banning position extends to child pornography, and that the author supports the inclusion of white people in the political spaces of people of colour as well. How open-minded!)

West (and many others) may believe I am being very rude. Many will likely join in on calls to burn her. But the reason the left hates feminists as much as the right (though they may express their hatred in different terms) is because setting boundaries defies the rule of the father. Under patriarchy, women must be accessible: sexually and emotionally, as mothers, wives, and whores. To say “no” to men — no matter how those men feel about their male bodies or status as members of the oppressor class — to speak up at all, to fight back, or to tell the truth is to commit high treason.

West concludes with what a noob might read as a call to solidarity:

“While radical feminists posit separatism as a political strategy — and for some, the goal — socialist feminists understand that our power lies in our numbers. The division between working-class men and women, between cisgender people and transgender people — these fissures are detrimental to our overall aims. They only make us weaker and our fight against capitalism that much harder.”

But we’ve tried this already. For at least 150 years, women have put their energy, their time, their heart and souls into men’s movements. Women also believed that solidarity was possible and that if they worked with men towards an end to things like capitalism and racism, men would return the favour, and join arms with women to combat things like rape, domestic abuse, prostitution, incest, and sexual objectification. But they didn’t. They told us to sit down and shut up, and when we didn’t, they called us bitches, cunts, witches, and TERFs. Women were left with no choice to abandon the left — men are to blame for “these fissures,” not radical feminists.

So dear Erica, I suggest you take this up with your brothers. The left is more than welcome to put down their laptops, and take up the fight against sexual sadism in porn. We welcome their advocacy for and efforts to fund women’s transition houses. We will stand behind them when they start naming and shaming johns. We will support their decision to stop abusing their wives and girlfriends. We cannot wait for them stop hurling sexist names at those of us who don’t toe the line; denigrating the work of women who fought for our rights when we had none; smearing, blackballing, and no-platforming those of us who say “no.” Oh boy, won’t that be grand.

But we won’t be making the same mistake again.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

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

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  • Hekate Jayne

    At this point, asking males for anything is just a continuous, pointless exercise in futility. Sooner than later, we will begin to demand what’s ours.

    And if they call to burn you, Meghan. Well. That would include almost all of us here. You won’t be alone. We are with you.

  • fragglerock

    Yes! Amen, sister!

  • Minerva Conatus

    West writes, “Women’s oppression is not innate in humans but instead arose at a
    particular historical and political moment, alongside the development of
    class society and the nuclear family.” How do we know this? I daresay that this is most likely incorrect, and this point of view is reflective of the major difference between brocialists and radical feminists. Radical feminists acknowledge that women’s biology, and the reproductive capacity that accompanies it, is the root of our oppression. Does West not realize that there is a gendered division of labor in hunter-gatherer societies? Does she not realize that some hunter-gatherer societies practice child marriage? And female genital mutilation? Women’s oppression is far older than “the development of class society and the nuclear family”. If capitalism magically disappeared tomorrow, women would still be raped, women and girls would still be dying in childbirth, women would still be beaten black and blue by their husbands. That, I guarantee.

  • Lavender

    The modern left makes two critical mistakes in its analysis (or rather, lack thereof):
    1. Not only dismissing the fact that biological sex is the source of and method through which females are primarily oppressed under patriarchy, but smearing women who assert this fact as bigots, backward, hateful, and stupid. How much clearer can woman-hating get?
    2. Failing to understand the basic nature of feminism and patriarchy, as Meghan deftly explains here. Radical feminists don’t create division; patriarchy does. Patriarchy is quite simply male domination of females. Males are oppressors regardless of their feelings or assumed identities. Men are so used to thinking they have a birthright to rule and control that their only conception of “helping” women is telling us how we should think. Women are so used to being manipulated into caretaking that the only form of resistance most can imagine – in the face of this hostility – is making sure they don’t piss men off too much. Feminism is the answer to patriarchy. If that’s not clear to you as a progressive/liberal/leftist, then fuck all the way off. Feminism is nothing if it does not centre women, and in so doing, call out men and demand the liberation of females from them – without any obligation whatsoever to moderate this goal. The second that feminism ceases to centre females i.e. females EXCLUSIVELY, it is not feminism.

    The majority of the left today is composed of armchair socialists more interested in crafting a ‘woke’ image that’s inherently dependent on social posturing. It’s politics played out as though our lives are holographic projections of Tumblr and Facebook, where everyone’s having a great fucking time showing everyone how happy and cool we are. It’s about scoring points, not understanding what you’re talking about and getting to the root of these issues, where change really happens. The same capitalism they rail against has brought about this narcissistic, individualistic parody of class-based organizing and it has completely killed any hope of offering a platform for revolution and resistance. The left needs to look inward rather than blame progressives who can no longer stomach this egotistical grandstanding and instead seek other groups who might at least be more open to engaging in good faith, as opposed to flogging those they disagree with. There are a lot of areas where we can connect with people who don’t necessarily identify as leftist, and I think that’s what we need to do as progressives – on a broad scale – if we have any hope of bringing the ruling class to heel. If feminists need to do the same in order to defend their rights, then so be it.

    • Meghan Murphy

      So well put, sister.

  • Christine

    “Referencing Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon’s anti-pornography ordinance, which defined pornography as the “sexually explicit subordination of women,” West complains that the two feminists worked with some conservative politicians in an effort to pass the bill. But who, I wonder, are feminists to work with, if not politicians who have the power to pass bills?”

    I am so tired of this “argument” that it is wrong to take an anti-pornography stance because conservatives are anti-pornography. Two people can have a similar opinion for totally different reasons. Are progressives really this unsophisticated? And has anyone who has made this argument actually read Dworkin and MacKinnon? Do they not realize that the law is a conservative institution, but it’s what we have to work with? WHAT ARE *THEY* DOING TO EFFECT CHANGE ?

    “What the left consistently ignores in their efforts to paint feminists as uptight, anti-sex, prudes, in cahoots with the right, is that their beloved pornography, their brothels, their cries to “Stay out of my bedroom, [mom]!” place them firmly in bed with the most committed capitalists and gun-toting, private property-loving libertarians, who promote privatization across the board and abhor state funded anything, whether it be health care, education, or day care.”

    This is so well put. Thank you. I can’t wait til I hear the next left-wing dude proselytizing on “sex work”, so I can casually reply, “Oh! So you’re a *libertarian*!”… and walk away.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yeah, I don’t understand what these people expect? How can we possibly effect legislative change if we don’t work with politicians (many of whom we won’t agree with ideologically)? I mean, there are conservative politicians who are in power. That is a reality. We can’t simply refuse to speak to/lobby those who have the power to make change. It makes no sense.

    • Hekate Jayne

      I am in a very conservative area. There are a lot of conservatives that support universal health care.

      Over 80% of the USA is for universal health care. On the CBS evening news tonight, they had trump and McConnell supporters in KY who are worried about losing their government provided medicaid, which covers poor people, and is a liberal/progressive/socialist program. I read earlier about trump supporters that thought that when trump promised better health care for everyone, that he meant universal health care (which was surprising).

      Almost 90% of Americans are fine with gun regulation. Not all of those people are progressives.

      So, should I not support universal health care or gun control? Because conservatives support those things, too?

      This is why I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I’m not a progressive or a leftist. My political affiliation is as a radical feminist.

      The existing political parties are for males and women that center them. The ways are different but the result is always the same in that women always have to take a backseat to the wants and needs of males.

      Fuck that. Women first. Period.

      • Wren

        I identify as a Democrat (meaning that’s how I vote, but not much else), which isn’t necessarily associated with progressivism anymore, due to Sanders. I was with some friends last week and it seems that “progressive” currently means changing the system rather than using the existing political structure to advance causes and expand equality, which they, being registered and active Dems, thought was the wrong approach. People consider me a centrist because I supported Clinton, but if they asked me why I did, I would say because I am a radical feminist and believed she would make the best decisions regarding women’s reproductive health and economic equality. This is just my observation from discussions I’m having in the Northeast.

        However, I readily admit that if I had to choose a between a party that openly defended pornography, prostitution, and thereby rape culture, and was also denying basic biology, and a party that wanted to restrict the presence of these methods of abuse, even if it meant restricting other liberties and reproductive rights, I would have a tough time deciding. It’s not a choice between the lesser of two evils, as much as a choice between the lesser of two crazies.

    • Hanakai

      Yeah, like who gives a turd? I would make a deal with the devil himself if it would end pornography and patriarchal violence against women.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I agree that these kinds of analysis are leftist-bro cookie-seeking and feel sad that young women think they have to pander to this crap. I hope and her analysis matures as she does.

  • Meghan Murphy


  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks Rose!

  • radwonka

    “The witch hunts conducted by the Left are ruthless and relentless”

    Yes, they are literally abusive. Which is why I don’t think that they truly oppose capitalism, otherwise they wouldn’t rely on libertarian rhetoric (ie “consent is relative thus can’t be manipulated”, “anything that brings money is good”, “agency”, etc). They try to mix libertarianism, postmodernism and marxism together, and the result is awful: no more critical thinking, no more goals, nothing is left (except people who are too arrogant to understand that their personality is shaped by culture. That narcissism is a red flag and shows that they are against science).

    They will accuse others of being “moralists”, but they are highly moralistic themselves: faux outrage, victimization, forcing their definition of “freedom” onto others, forbbiding others to be critical/judgemental while shaming opinions they don’t like, etc.
    They are so arrogant that they don’t even realize that their stance relies on the good/bad dichotomy. They really think that their ideology is beyond the good/bad binary, thinking that only conservatives could think like that, yet constantly feel the need to demonize people they don’t like. lol.

    They are Totally brainless. It’s interesting that everything they claim to be always turns out to be a lie, especially the “culture didn’t influence me at all, my agency is beyond culture, so unique!” while behaving like a sheep who follows the SJW crowd just because it’s popular.

    They need to disappear and let radicals show them how politics are done.

  • radwonka

    There is also the fact that leftists never supported feminism.They always mocked and humiliated women who opposed the statu quo. And in the 60s/70s, they literally opposed us.

    Our politics have always been anti capitalist, on the other hand leftists have never been feminists. So…

    What really bothers them is the fact that we have more potential than them.

  • Meghan Murphy

    As a writer and journalist, I will talk to and engage with a variety of people, whether I agree with them or not. That is the role and obligation of a journalist. In general, I have chosen not to publish in right wing publications, avoided doing right wing media, and avoid linking to right wing sites. But never say never.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Solidarity, sister!

  • Thanks for this fantastic article Meghan. It has been disappointing over the last few years to see how little the left cares about women. Leftists have wholeheartedly embraced gender politics and prostitution and they refuse to listen to women when we explain how these systems harm us. We won’t have solidarity with the left until the left wants to respect us. We won’t achieve solidarity just by shutting up and agreeing to accept the crumbs they give us.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks purple sage! (And I agree with you, about accepting crumbs… )

  • Hanakai

    The difference has been expressed thusly:

    Conservative and rightist men want women controlled as private property, e.g., as wives.

    Leftist and liberal men want women to be public property, e.g., strippers, porn performers, prostituted.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I understand the concept of class, as it pertains to capitalism and our relationship to the means of production.

    Sex class, under patriarchy, refers to social status — females are born into a subordinate class of people.

    All class is about social status, whether that class is determined by sex, race, or (economic) class. Oppression functions on a systemic level, targeting certain classes of people.

  • FierceMild

    Thank you so much for writing this! If there were ever a comment proving the veracity of the author’s position, its yours. Your utter refusal to apply your own principles on class and oppression to women is nothing short of a declaration of intent to continue and preserve male supremacy. If any woman reading this article doubted its accuracy your comment will assuredly persuade them.

    “Ms. Murphy does not I think understand the Marxist conception of class. From the viewpoint of scientific socialism, one’s class position is determined not by whether one is oppressed (or not) but by an individual’s relation to the means of production.”
    Exactly so; therefore, in order to prove that women, as a class, are NOT oppressed by men, as a class, in a Marxist sense, you would have to show that women and men have THE SAME relation to the means of production. We do not. Further, you ignore the work of Marxist Feminists who have written on that precise difference of relationship just as if they never existed which is poor scholarship indeed You go on to say:

    “That is, you either own the company (capitalist) or you work for one (proletarian). “Class” is strictly an economic category.”
    Who owns the companies, Red? Because the percentage of the world’s lucrative businesses (by which I mean to discount businesses like making and selling lunches out of your home or washing clothes in your backyard etc.) owned by men hovers around 100%.

    “Workers are oppressed when their labor is exploited–whatever their nation, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or gender.” Willfully ignoring the fact that women’s labor, child rearing, housecleaning, cooking, laundry, etc is exploited even by proletariat men is a piece of revolting hypocrisy. Women are responsible for the bulk of the world’s unpaid daily labor of living and then we also hump off to the factory for some underpaid wage-slaving. Acting as if you cannot see that is deeply dishonest.

    “The motivation for all these particular super oppressions is the capitalist desire to divide the working class. And the only remedy for all these categories of oppression is a social revolution abolishing the capitalist system and all exploitation.”
    I strongly agree. And that exploitation starts in the home. One of the reasons Marxism always fails is because it contains the seed of its own destruction, and that seed is the tacit acceptance of the exploitation of women by men. This is the First Oppression from which springs the justification of all others. If we cannot even successfully persuade people to practice justice in their own homes any revolution will fail completely.

    • Hekate Jayne

      Either red is really, really stupid and just can’t see the obvious exploitation of women by males, or…….

      He is purposely and willfully ignoring it because he doesn’t want to give up his domestic, reproductive female servant.

      One hundred percent of males benefit from our free labor. All of them. We know it. And they know it, too.

      And we also know that they won’t give all of the free labor up. Not willingly. Which is why trying to gain their support is a waste of time.

  • FierceMild

    Men’s idea of a Brave New World most emphatically does include them doing any floor cleaning or vomit wiping. They don’t just view capitalist labor as exploitation, they view having to take care of their own bodies, elderly relatives, and children as exploitation. Doomed, that’s what their revolution is, doomed to fail until they grow up and recognize that hating chores doesn’t make them go away and forcing them onto women is a function of might-as-right exploitation that belies all their noise about an equal society.

    And thank you, Ms. Murphy, for such a clear and incisive piece. Your writing and thinking inspires and helps us all.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Well, and interestingly, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony have been slandered by the left and by third wave feminists as ‘racist,’ only because they broke from the abolitionist movement because the MEN in that movement refused to support suffrage. The story has become that Stanton and Antony wouldn’t support suffrage for black men, but that was not the case. They wanted BOTH and refused to compromise, whereas the men DID compromise, and abandoned women in the process.

    • Amy

      Thank you so much for saying this

  • Wren


  • pyrite00

    Yes, please, women need to walk away from male-led organizations. No time and no money of ours should be wasted on them. Take care of yourself personally first and then if you have extra time/energy/money, take care of other real women and girls.

  • FierceMild

    “As a Marxist feminist I
    find myself agreeing with radical feminists on pretty much everything,
    except that for me biology and economy have to be brought together to
    understand women’s oppression.”

    Is that substantively different than the opinions of most Radical Feminists in your experience? It isn’t in mine. Most of the Radical Feminists I speak with absolutely share the view.

  • FierceMild

    Waitwaitwait, let me guess…ummmmmm…why would it be okay to include all things having to do with men and no things having to do with women, gee that’s a tough one… I think I’m going to go with PATRIARCHY!

  • dandelionseed

    Engels was wrong; he posited a primitive matriarchal political economy not from an scientific basis but out of armchair theorizing from scant evidence. There was no matriarchal society. Patriarchy long precedes capitalism and in fact was a priori necessary to the development of all property-based political economy, because control of female fertility was the only way males could ensure inheritance and thereby engage in primitive accumulation. Yes, class is strictly an economic category. Man = primitive accumulator; feudal baron; capitalist; Woman = chattel property; peasant; worker whose labor is extracted and appropriated for the profit of Man. Economic class. Based on sex. Marx himself recognized the family as the smallest economic unit. The only remedy for this category of oppression is a social revolution to abolish the sex-based system of exploitation.

  • MermaidJayne

    This is it Meghan. This is it. We are the resistance. Both the left and right are messed up and too many of those who want genuine equality are confused as they see no “side” they can take, no “group” they can belong to. This is exactly where we as radical feminists come in. Thank you for doing what you do. Seriously, the lack of pandering that is radical feminism is so refreshing.

  • Amy

    A narrow understanding of our oppression is precisely what they have. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike lib fems at all, used to be one. But that was my naïveté. Now I understand that “women can have it all” is exactly what men want from us. Be well employed to bring in money while still being the one with most of the parental and home responsibilities…and be an on call sex slave for a man. And don’t forget to also look as young as possible. …shave off all adult hair, have no body fat (or muscle mass really either), cut open and tighten your skin to not allow natural aging, paint on a face, put on corsets amd other stuff not good for your body, etc etc.

    • Sabine

      From what I can see, women “having it all” merely means being and doing it all. For the benefit of men!

  • Retorter


  • Kathleen Lowrey

    I wouldn’t say “not any” — because that 1 in 100 is important. It shows that it isn’t actually impossible, just that most men refuse the effort.

  • kfwkfw

    I thought the same thing. Too busy up their own asses to look around.

  • Morag999

    I believe it’s from Dworkin’s Right-Wing Women.

    • cinderchild

      thank you! i thought it was Dworkin but it’s nice to have confirmation 🙂

  • Hanakai

    Even as a child I never took well to authority or taking orders and trusted rather the impulses and intelligence of my own body and mind. I decided quite young that bosses and supervisors were not something I wanted in my life and that I would have to find a way to be self-employed. So that’s what I did: got a good education and started my own firm. Mostly I hire bright women of cheerful temperament and things flow smoothly and we make the whole work & income-generating activity thing as much fun as possible.

    This is not to say that I have never had to deal with bosses or men. I have found that white men do not work as employees for me, they are too stubborn, too used to privilege and think they know better when they do not. Most of the men I have worked with who are my professional equals have been fine and behave pretty well, but then I get to pick them and choose good guys; and, of course, if a sexist peep comes out of any of them, I begin to lecture on the patriarchy and male privilege. This seems to keep them in line.

    In dealing with men as clients or customers, we just act professionally and with good humor and it seems to mostly work fine. But then my business is in one of the most progressive cities in the US, we tend to deal with educated non-religious eco people and many of the men around have been raised to respect women by their feminist mothers. I suspect things would be different in the Bible Belt or DC.

    • Sashimi73

      Thank you for your thoughtful and enlightening reply. I had bever considered working for myself as it did not seem possible – none of the women in my generation and older have been entrepreneurs. After reading your story, I feel inspired to get an education in entrepreneurship and to start projects that can pay me and be done independently. It’s inspiring. I’d love to hear more about how you built your firm in the early days

      • Hanakai

        Sashimi, first I would say that there are many ways for women to be self-employed and to start and run their own businesses: doctors, lawyers, therapists, engineers, writers, tutors, consultants, florists, hair stylists, researchers, inventors, event planners, seamstresses, whale-watch boat captain, pet sitters, cafe owners, caterers, etc. Basically, women can do anything.

        I would generally advise against going for an MBA or formal study of entrepreneurship. Seriously. Many big companies were founded by men of little education. Starting a business is not rocket science and you can learn what you need by reading books and learning from all you meet. Hire good people. Almost all job skills can be readily taught, so I always looked about all for people of good character and integrity to hire.

        Business is about producing/selling a product or a service. Whatever that product or service, do it well, do it with passion and a sense of purpose and service. Treat everyone you encounter well, fairly and professionally. Do a good job and success will come.

        Confidence is important, being confident that you can do it, that you can accomplish what you are setting out to do, this is important to succeeding.

  • Hekate Jayne

    I agree with you.

    I used to think that maybe they were just either intellectually lazy, or incapable of critical thought. And possibly just really ignorant.

    But I have known some libfems very well. And I have noticed that it’s usually one of 2 things.

    One is that they just like male approval and validation. They love being the “cool girl”, and the dudes love them for it. They aren’t like catty, silly, stupid women. They are more like dudes! And they love to announce it.

    And some of those women can simultaneously be in the second group, which is the women that just can’t face it. They just can’t face how much males hate us and how much they control us, how little they think of us. They get it. They understand that males barely tolerate us because they want the reproductive, sexual, domestic servant that they are entitled to own.

    But acknowledging the truth is very painful. Living with it every day can sometimes feel intolerable. So they ignore it the best that they can, and act like everything is great. And they try to convince themselves and everyone else that most males are good and things are getting better, but they know the truth. Denial is just easier.

    And some days, I can’t blame them. But most days, I do.

    • cinderchild

      it’s much much much easier to let misogyny slide than it is to call it out. the cost of calling it out can be devastating in terms of loss of friends/support – even FAMILY! it’s much easier to side with the misogynist than it is to see him for what he is. it’s much easier to throw your sisters under the bus in the hopes you can stay on it.

      some days i can’t blame them either but like you, most days i do. we need to be loyal to our sisters first. imagine how little time patriarchy would have left if we stuck together? patriarchy wouldn’t work if women weren’t complicit.

  • Liberation Spring

    “In other words, radical feminists did not abandon the fight against capitalism, they abandoned the men who proved, time and time again, that their interest in revolution only extended as far as their dicks.” Pure genius. Thanks Meghan. The second I saw that Jacobin article & my students started asking me about it, I began comprising a radfem critique. Thank you for publishing this throw down so that we can be ever more vigilant in naming the hetero-patriarchal, colonialist, Eurocentric poison known as most leftist thought.

  • Socialism would help liberate women by making them financially independent from men. This is hugely important, because the vast majority of women in bad relationships and marriages are there because they don’t have the resources to go it alone. A universal minimum income would be a huge game-changer.

  • I read some interview with a porn filmmaker who said he didn’t want his daughters involved in it. So they do know it’s wrong. It’s just that they don’t care about any woman they don’t personally own.

  • Achilles

    I also have another question why Does a response need to be approved by Feminist Current? Wouldn’t that limit responses on issues and lead to one minded thinking?

    If it’s for cursing and potential trolling then I understand

    • Meghan Murphy

      Do you have any idea how psychotic the comments section would be if the comments here weren’t moderated?? Have you met the internet?

  • Meghan Murphy

    None of your comments have been deleted (as of yet). They are all in moderation cue. I just haven’t gotten to them yet.

  • shy virago

    I’d love to hear more about what women have to deal with in the tech world. I have mostly worked for myself and live a very simple life, doing w/o many things, so I can travel. I have to put up w/ male bullsh*t all of the time, in my work and in daily life. I’ve worked in non-profits and small businesses in the past, and the nest bosses I’ve had have been women.

  • shy virago

    Many people don’t read Andrea Dworkin or Catharine Mackinnon, and just pick up a random quote.
    I have read almost all of Dworkin, some of it over and over, and MacKinnon’s ‘Towards a Feminist Theory of the State’. MacKinnon is hard to read – you have to use your brain – and I doubt most people would take the time.

    • Wren

      I’m laughing in gratitude for your comments about MacKinnon! I absolutely revere her, but I can read about two pages at a time before I had to take a break to digest it, or often reread it. Her intellect is so intimidating, but everything she says it TRUTH and her analysis continues to be spot on. Right now I’m reading Feminism Unmodified because I thought that her lectures would be a little easier on my average brain. I was wrong, lol.

  • shy virago

    Thanks for this post. I’ve read it from different writers in different forms over the years, but they’re all saying the same thing. Robin Morgan has two famous essays on this (‘Goodbye to all That part I and II) and Andrea Dworkin’s ‘My Last Leftist Meeting’ in her memoir ‘Heartbreak.

    I think Andrea Dworkin and Catherine Mackinnon are in a class by themselves – absolutely brilliant minds.
    Many women don’t take the time to read them – Mackinnon is not easy. ‘Towards a Feminist Theory of the State’ is one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

  • Hanakai

    You may be thinking of Stokely Carmichael, the head of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) of the black civil rights movement, who in 1964 said, “The only position for women in SNCC is prone.” Presumably he meant supine instead of prone.

  • Hekate Jayne

    “The only thing women never are in this world is men or free.”

    Exactly. And very eloquently stated.

    I wish that women would read dworkin, Stanton, Anthony, daly, etc.

    When I first read dworkin, I just fell in love with her. I’m astounded at the libfems that are so hateful towards the second wave, but have never read them. The same, maybe a little less, for the first wave.

    These were truly powerful women that spent their entire lives trying to improve things, knowing that our lives would be changed more than their own.

    And some of us can’t even read their words? Before calling them racist? Or prudes? Or other endless horrible names.

    It is funny, isn’t it? That libfems speak of current radical feminists just as they speak about the first and second waves. They yell feminism, yet know nothing about it except choosey-choice and prostitution is freedom. If the entire class of women depended on liberal feminism to improve our lot, we would be shit out of luck.

    I’m not all that educated. But I can read. The first wave articulated in ways that were just so beautifully profound but succinct. It’s a shame that so many women just don’t care to learn the truth for themselves and just parrot what males say.

  • Sashimi73

    Thank you for your considerate reply, and I’m sorry to hear about the harassment and verbal abuse. I think you’ve found a useful helping hand in your old manager.

  • cinderchild

    whenever someone tries to dismiss trafficking to me in that way – as if it’s a small minority of women/girls being trafficked – my responce is always “even if ONE woman or girl is being forced that is ONE TOO MANY. how you can just disregard the pain of trafficked women and girls to enforce your narrative of empowerfulling shows how anti-woman that stance really is.”

    usually they don’t respond to that.

  • cinderchild

    are you saying ‘pretty woman’ wasn’t a documentary???????


  • cinderchild

    right? it’s as if we’re the only ones who recognise that women aren’t property at all.

  • fluffywhitedog fluffy

    I’ve come to the sad conclusion that crazy male behaviour is innate in most male mammals (+ducks cause they have penises!), if not all. There’s a reason the domestic ones are castrated to keep them docile. The commenters saying that the patriarchy is a uniquely human construct need to look at how chimps and other primates behave. Chimp males are shockingly similar to human ones: they make war, raid other groups for females, make life hell for the females via regular rape and beatings, kill a large proportion of the infants, and organise the society in stratas with all of the males above all females. Male seals kill 10% of the females by holding their head under water while mating. They also rape baby seals to death…and after death. Remarkable empathetic behaviour by elephants is only observed in the female herds. Bonobo males are only peaceful cause the girls manage to control them.

    But it’s also a product of animal socialisation. There was a case of a pack of baboons encountering some radio-active food. What happened next is that the alpha males ate it all and subsequently carked it. This left the gentler males who learnt to socialise in bonobo-style: groooming instead of violence. When new baboons joined the group – they adopted the same behaviour.

    The reality is that human male nuttiness is fixable either way: If it’s biological – we can fix it medically. If it’s socialisation – we can adopt the baboon model by weeding out the alphas and putting women in charge. If it’s both – just combine the two. Or we can walk away from them like elephant females.It’s so painfully simple, but it’ll never happen because the men control society and most women are too colonised to think clearly and are too afraid to act.