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Archive for the ‘feminism’ Category

I talk about adoption a lot on this blog and will continue to do so. Its no secret than I am not an advocate of adoption and I think its really important that adoption is crtitiqued through a feminist and social justice lens but I find what often gets lost in anti adoption/adoption reform positions is the idea that we should also look at the reasons and the drive for people adopting through a feminist and social justice lens. The virulently misogynistic way in which women who want to adopt is talked about in some anti adoption circles disturbs and saddens me.(and it is almost always the women who are ripped apart, once again the men become invisible) Recently the improper adoptee left a comment on one of My previous posts that said

Unfortunatly, sisterhood was destroyed by another monster. The green eyed one. Infertiles hate fertile women, because they are so jealous, bitter and feel so put upon because they can’t conceive, that they throw all their morals out the window. The retreat into the state of mind of an enraged 10 year old child, who wants to do bad things because they can’t have what they want.

firstly I think calling women jealous bitter and childish for whatever reason is really misogynistic but this is is not just about this comment, I have seen the same things said elsewhere numerous times, I have seen infertile women bee blamed for their infertility because they are too fat, don’t look after themselves, are too old, have had eating disorders, or who have spent time on their career when they “should” have been having children.

and this all seems like a kind of victim blaming to me, No I don’t think infertile women have a right to adopt, but I also don’t think its their fault that they are infertile, this kind of rhetoric takes no account of the world we live in, that we live in a world full of chemicals that fuck up our reproductive system, that we live in a world where a woman cant, unless she is extremely wealthy, have a child and a career because good child care is way to expensive, and women in the workplace are still seen as expendable.We live in a world where women are incredibly disconnected from their bodies so we do do damaging things to them, we live in a world where women don’t have their own places to live until relatively late because house prices are so expensive.

We also live in a world that tells women that motherhood is everything, that sells the ideal of motherhood as what makes you a real woman, we live in a world that doesn’t tell women that their are other just as valuable ways of giving to the future and supporting the communities we live as having a child we can call our “own”. We live in a world that individualises child rearing rather than seeing it as a communal effort.

None of this is the fault of infertile women, these things are the fault of individualist capitalist patriarchy.
also something else that’s often missed here is that not all people who are infertile want to adopt and not all people who adopt are infertile

Being infertile hurts and for some women it hurts more than others and I think that should be acknowledged and there should be compassion for that. I’m infertile myself and if I wasn’t an adoptee i might well have thought about adoption because i wouldn’t have known otherwise.

I think people who adopt do by and large think they are doing a good thing for society, it isn’t their fault that they live in a society that tells them this, and there are ways of making clear this is not true without woman blaming.

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On being a “Feminist”

I was meandering around my head the other day and I realised I no longer thought of my self as a “Feminist” and thats not because I think feminism is a bad thing, and its not because I feel feminism is too exclusive. Some feminisms are exclusive but actualy they are not the feminisms that make the mose sense to me. but its because I’ve stopped thinking about feminism as an identity and started thinking about it as a set of tools to perceive and recreate the world with, its not about an Identity it’s not a thing that I am, it’s a thing that I do

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Love (work as activism)

In her post Not dead yet, feminism and mythology Winter writes

But if we conceptualize feminism as work rather than identity, it is apparent that thousands of women in this country are doing the grinding work of feminism every day of their lives. They’re certainly not being acknowledged for it, and they may well not identify with it as a result of that erasure, but they are and always have been doing the damn work.

and in her post Feminism is about ending more than oppression Zenobia writes

The problem we came up against, was that horrible things are happening, oppression is taking place, so naturally we need to DO SOMETHING. When people’s lives are often at stake, we need to do something fast. And, often, there’s nothing particularly effective we can do at this point, because we don’t have the power to. I’m often very critical of feminist and other actions around the country, because although a lot of work, energy, good intentions, and all-round good stuff has gone into them, and the participants have got a lot of good stuff out of them, it’s really unclear whether they’ve achieved what they set out to. In a way, what they set out to do is way too tall an order. Often, the most vocally-proclaimed direct actions are in fact the most indirect thing you could possibly think of

These things are something I’ve been thinking about a lot these last couple of days, this was triggered by a post on the livejournal feminist community that effectively said that midwives were unloving because they were paid for what they did and were part of the system.

This makes me angry. The “feminism” that winter and Zenobia are critiquing doesn’t take into account that there are thousands and thousands of women, who do feminism, all day every day, social workers, youth workers, doctors, teachers, nurses, midwives, counselors. these women are creating, building sustaining communities, these women are the ones who know what is needed.

I’ve been actively involved in feminism for about ten years now, and I have organised feminist events and groups and meetings but for me the effect this has had on society as a whole pales into insignificance next to the hard graft ground work i do and have done as a youth worker, to me that’s still activism, and its actually more important than all the faffing about at the edges.

Its really easy to denigrate people for working within the system if you don’t need to work and are making lots of noise and colour without actually doing anything. Also i think women who do do really important feminist work of the type I’m talking about then get denigrated by the people who organise the big feminist conferences and the DIY feminist events without any acknowledgement that maybe they don’t have the physical or emotional energy or the wish to “do” feminism in their spare time because they do it all day every day, and that kind of ground work is exhausting and people need kick back time from it

But also people do these jobs out of love, and I think that should be recognised, yes people choose jobs because they find it rewarding but they also choose them out of deep compassion, respect and love for the people and communities they are working for and these days this is too often missing from what we usually refer to as “feminism” which actually too often come off as a kind of narccissim. just because they are getting paid for it doesn’t mean there isn’t love involved, however committed someone is they still need to eat

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Aaaannnndd this post is going to piss of just about everybody

the recent reclaim the night march has bought the issues around the sex workers rights debate Front and centre in the feminist blogsphere, and the whole debate seems really off to me, makes me feel really uncomfortable.

Firstly I find the phrase “sex worker” problematic there is the issue of what is meant when talking about “sex work” Someone who is stripping to pay their tuition fees and someone who has been trafficked and held prisoner for the purposes of prostitution can both be said to be involved in “sex work” but they are in no way the same thing. and behaving as if they are is damaging and alienating to all the women involved I think

It seems the phrase “sex work” already locates you within a specific point that not all women are going to share. For those of us whose experiences in prostitution have been incredibly traumatic, the phrase and the concept “sex work” is not something necessarily
relatable too. I was never a sex worker, i was never ever a “sex worker” I was always prostituted.

This is why I use both the phrase “sex worker” and “prostituted woman” I don’t use them interchangeably. I try to call people what they want to be called but If I dont know then I use the phrase “sex worker” for women who choose to do it and “prostituted woman” for women who are obviously forced into it.

I personally am totaly anti porn and prostitution, partly because I do think sex is something exceptional and special and sacred and shouldn’t be exchanged for money, partly because I think that sex work is damaging to society and damaging to women, and I also think that women who are involved in sex work through choice, who do have other options but do it anyway arebetraying women, are helping create a society where women are seen as usable objects, are helping create a society where violence against women is seen as the norm. (but saying this we need to bear in mind that all of do things that disenfrachise other people, the clothes I wear are made in sweatshops, and the farmers who grow my food are not paid enough)

But just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean that that thing should be illeagle, especially if making that thing illegal is clearly going to do more harm than good. and I also think that just because I don’t like something that doesn’t mean that the people involved shouldn’t have rights. i don’t think people should join the army either but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be protected and have the same rights other workers have.

But one thing the whole sex worker rights debate doesn’t take into account is that for lots of women what the law says or doesn’t say wont make any difference. lots of men who use prostituted women know that they don’t want to be there know that they are underage, know that they don’t want the violence inflicted upon them,know that what they are doing to them will traumatise and they do it because they like the power, they like hurting people, they like knowing they have hurt someone. and for a lot of prostituted women there is nowhere to go. because what is happening is inflicted by their communities, because they are too young, or because they have been taken out of their communities and know no one, because they don’t speak the language, because they have shady immigration status, because even if they could tell someone what is happening this is the only way to feed themselves and their children.

I’m not overly interested in the wants and needs of middle class sex workers who have other options until every single woman who doesn’t want to be involved in the selling of sex isn’t involved in the selling of sex and that includes women who “choose” to sell sex because the global economy is fucked and that’s the best way of earning money

I’m also not interested in the rhetoric of anti porn/anti prostitution radfemms who appropriate my words and the words of women like me and filter them through an incredibly simplistic lens without doing anything practical to help those women or women like them.

However I would much much rather have discusions around this with someone like Renegade Evoloution who is pretty much diametricly opposed to me on this isuse, than with Maggie Hayes who is anti porn and prostitution because Ren has experince of the things the debate puts on the table and maggie hasn’t

and i really think that unless you are or have been involved in the selling of sex yourself or you are actively making things safer for women who are involved or you are actively helping women who want out to get out you should shut the fuck up about it really.

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I am part of a growing number of adult adoptees who view adoption as a feminist issue, part of a continuum of reproductive rights. This perspective extends to the right to raise one’s child the same importance as the right to choose whether or not to bear one.

In her book “Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States,” feminist historian Rickie Solinger examines adoption through this lens of reproductive rights. She states, “I believe it is crucial to consider the degree to which one woman’s possession of reproductive choice may actually depend on or deepen another woman’s reproductive vulnerability.” In other words, how might an individual woman’s right to choose adoption actually exploit another woman’s lack of rights?

In an interview with Mirah Riben, Solinger stated that “adoption, as a social practice, absolutely depends on the existence of groups of women rendered deeply vulnerable most essentially today because of their poverty.” Some critics of intercountry adoption have noted that historically the streams of children have run one way-from the so-called Third World to predominantly white adopters-and likened it to a form of modern colonialism.

Writer and educator Sun Yung Shin, who was adopted from Korea, framed it this way: “How do white women-whether adoptive mothers, social workers, psychologists, nurses or missionaries-serve the needs of the white patriarchy by mobilizing resources (birth mothers, social workers, the children to be adopted)? How does this hive of activity serve the controlling white masculinity?”

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this is fromhere

Does the woman who decides to resolve her infertility by adopting really manage to kid herself that the donor of an adoptable child has a ‘choice’?. Would any woman with a choice put herself through nine months of pregnancy and go into labor having made the decision to surrender her child, if in fact there was another way? With the rare exception of surrogacy, carried out for money, no woman would knowingly, willingly do this. Does the infertile woman have the moral right to complete her family with another woman’s child? I think not.

Whatever happened to sisterhood, that brave frontier of gender equality where women banded together to fight the monster, that oppressor enabled by a structural inequality that collectively used woman’s fertility to keep her oppressed, uneducated, downtrodden, poor. I put it to every woman, that any woman who expects to exercise a ‘choice’ to fulfill her maternal needs with another woman’s child, has herself become that oppressor.

Adoption is the last resort for fertile women too young, too poor, too oppressed to have fertility choices; women lacking in self-esteem, in societal support, and in a belief of themselves. They come from all ethnicities, all cultures, all countries. The woman without choices – surrendering her child for adoption in 2003 – is actually the woman every woman could have been, had the feminist revolution not happened.

Until every woman, everywhere, has the right to raise the child she carried and birthed, the patriarchy is alive and well, still using ‘good’ women to punish ‘bad’ women – through the role of adoptive applicant. The personal remains political; adoption is a feminist issue.

(This article is very US Centric and like a lot of US anti adoption positions comes uncomfortably close to blaming women for their infertility but the piece I quote here is spot on)

It really, really bothers me that adoption is hardly talked about in feminist spaces, and when it is talked about it is uncritically with the classism, misogyny and racism totally unexamined and it is all too often about middle class feminists right to a child, not about the fact the system is so broken that children need to be adopted, or that there could be better, much more healthy alternatives to adoption.

taking a child away from a woman because she is young, poor, un(der) educated, disabled, has mental health issues or is otherwise disadvantaged is the antithesis of feminism to me. The feminist response and the anti consumerist response would be to support her in bringing the child up. (and no this is not what “open” adoptions are or do) children are not commodities and disadvantaged women are not baby providing machines

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thinking about goddess

Earth Goddess

Earth Goddess

Cerridwen

Cerridwen

stoneag_willendorflg
goddesses-moon-goddess

mothergoddessearth

Over at Don’t Stray from the path Debi crow writes a post about Monica Sjoos God Giving Birth

I really love this picture. The woman who is mentoring/teaching me about paganism sent me a copy of it to meditate on.

Goddess images, of the sort that resonate with me are not easy to come by. If you type “Goddess” into google image search you get pages and pages of young skinny women and really that’s not how I envisage any goddesses at all

Growing up in a religion that is extremely patriarchal and not woman nurturing makes it difficult to hold the idea of goddesses in my head because the idea and concept that god is male is laid down at bone level so realigning myself to the possibility of a female god is not easy. And one of the ways of combating this is to use the images i have found that do resonate with me to meditate with

One of the things I find difficult in the way people talk about goddesses. there is much talk about the power of the menstrual cycle and the power of menstruation and childbirth and I understand that as a way of reclaiming that is okay to be a woman, of reclaiming the things patriarchy denigrates, and i think this is a really important thing to do but I am uncomfortable with the emphasis on it. Where does that leave those of us that don’t bleed? those of us whose bodies cannot bear children? we are sidelined and made to feel spiritually abnormal when we already feel physically abnormal.

I think there are lots more we can learn from goddesses either as metaphor or reality that are not about how being a powerful woman is about bleeding and giving birth. There are ways of thinking about fertility that don’t have to involve women’s bodies and there are ways of thinking about a cyclical world that doesn’t have to be about menstruation.

Also to often I think always thinking about goddesses in terms of blood power/body power/birth power just recreates patriarchal models of the way we think about women

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