Friday, June 8, 2007

Twisty Faster's I Blame the Patriarchy

Twisty Faster's I Blame the Patriarchy has annoyed me for a while now, and I've kept it on my RSS aggregator largely because she has some nice pictures of bugs, and who doesn't like bugs? It will be going off my RSS aggregator and the reasons why are sufficiently interesting that I think they deserve a post.

The final straw was this article. It's a picture of something she ate at some restaurant, seared foie gras. And in that moment it struck me with brilliant clarity that Twisty Faster is part of what she despises. She is the patriarchy. And not part of the patriarchy in the sense that all of us are, to some extent, caught up in it because of various social reasons. She's at the apex of patriarchy. She's the sort of person who eats seared foie gras, which to the barley pop crowd tastes like filth.

Or, perhaps more accurately, she's the sort of person who can go out to the sort of restaurant that serves a dish like seared foie gras. If you read her journal, she records many of these culinary experiences. She also talks about how she's living in one house on her property while building another, on her property. She leaves, routinely, to go on week long vacations to visit relatives or whatever.

Allow me to translate, then: she's rich. She's a white, well-off woman.

One of the things that has always angered me about revolution is that that virtually no revolutionary leader actually objects to the system. What they do is object to their place in the system. So, Twisty Faster goes on at great length about the problems of patriarchy. As long-time readers of my journal undoubtedly know, I loathe the patriarchy, myself, as I loathe all systems of oppression (religion, capitalism, you name it, if it oppresses, I hate it's guts). Her problems end at sexist oppression. Or, to say it a different way, she is only interested in the form of oppression that can oppress a rich white woman in Texas.

Where she reveals herself as part of the patriarchy herself is how she handles people who want to fuck differently than she does.

She is superficially critical of the patriarchy's handling of sex. And with good reason! But the key tactic that the patriarchy uses to control women's sexuality is shame. A woman who is sexual in the wrong way is shamed. Even in the industrialized world, a sexually active woman has to live with labels like whore and slut and a greatly increased chance of being attacked or killed. But the key element of control is shame. Women should be ashamed of their lust.

Twisty is all about this. Where it is most common is when BDSM gets brought up. Twisty is against BDSM because it's somehow anti-feminist, as it is mock displays of domination which are rooted in the patriarchy. She deploys against them the worst language in her vocabulary: they are part of the patriarchy. Translation: when it comes to sex she doesn't like, she shames those who do it. She does everything in her power to make women who like BDSM feel like whores and sluts. Or, to quote Twisty in her own words:

Femininity is a set of practices and behaviors (boob jobs, FGM, ‘beauty’, the ‘veil’, the flirty head-tilt, pornaliciousness, BDSM, fashion, compulsory pregnancy, marriage, et al) that are dangerous, painful, pink, or otherwise destructive; that compel female subordination; that exist only to benefit Dude Nation; that are overwhelmingly represented by ‘girly’ feminists as a ‘choice’; and that are overwhelmingly represented by godbags and other irritating conservatives as ‘natural instincts’. In fact these practices and behaviors are nothing but inviolable cultural traditions in abject compliance with which comfort, contentment, and personal fulfillment are inextricably intertwined, and from which deviation is discouraged by the threat of ingenious punishments ranging from diminished social influence, to unemployability, to ridicule, to imprisonment, to rape, to murder, to the policing of feminist blogs.


That's right. If you're a woman who likes to be sexually appealing, for whatever reason, you're buying into female subordination to the Dude Nation. If you like that sort of thing, it's because you've given in to intimidation. Translation: you ought to be ashamed of yourself, you whore, for wanting to fuck a man! She is promoting, in her own way, the very diminished social influence and ridicule she knows the patriarchy uses to condemn sex practices it doesn't like.

The marks of her class - that of a wealthy white person - are all over her blog in other ways. Such as her word choice. It isn't exactly what we use down here amongst the masses. We tend to speak plain. It takes the education of a guy like George Bush to get the humor in stuff like this: "This stunningly unremarkable event in the pornulational continuum induced not the slightest blip on my obstreperometer." I mean . . . pornulational continuum? Obstreperometer? To even get the humor in her diction requires a prep school education. Her language betrays her class. Combined with her lifestyle of leisure, her obvious displays of wealth and her patriarchal attempts to shame and humiliate people who don't live up to her standards, I conclude thus: she has met the enemy and she is them. She's a revolutionary in the sense that it isn't the system she objects to, but who runs it. Right now, men run it for their own purposes. She just wants them replaced with people like her who will run it for their purposes. She is the patriarchy.

39 comments:

concerned citizen said...

Yeah, you're right. She's a snooty bitch with her head up her ass.

I like big words, too, but criminys! I'm not trying to write "Ulysses" everytime I post.

& people that try to control other peoples sex lives! Ugh! what is more annoying then that????
Them & their self congratulatory mutual masturbation clubs...let them go fuck themselves.

beepbeepitsme said...

Boob jobs, face lifts, wrinkle creams etc etc blah blah blah, are sold to women on the basis that they will be viewed as more successful in their lives and more sexually desirable.

We still haven't come very far from the notion that beauty (whether male or female beauty), should be a primary determining factor in our lives.

It's obvious that within all cultures that the more aesthetically pleasing amongst us are more likely to get that job, that pay increase, that promotion, that rise somewhere on the social/cultural ladder if we are attractive according to some sort of societal norm. (This applies if all other standards are more or less equal. That is, all the parties have similar IQs and qualifications.)

So, as a species we may be inclined towards prefering beauty or handsomeness over "ugliness".

One of these reasons may be as simple as equating beauty or handsomeness with health and then equating health with performance or ability to perform.

Women face an enhanced problem, (if this preference for beauty or desirability is an issue), as their look of beauty or their appearance of health has a more obvious use-by date.

I would suggest that both men and women are likely to consider that a man's handsomeness or appearance of health, does not impact as drastically upon people's concept of whether or not they are up to the task. This may be because men continue to be fertile much longer than women do.

Women, on the other hand seem to be coerced into believing that they must forever try to look as if there is a POSSIBILITY that they are still fertile which may be why women in their 60's at a time when all bar a tiny % of them will be fertile, feel compelled to "pretend" some sort of fertility through looking physically much younger than their chronological age.

Perhaps we have this inbuilt or culturally constructed concept that fertility equals value. Now, I wonder where we might have developed that idea from?

Religion perhaps? ;)

concerned citizen said...

I would think the idea of fertility & value would be more biological then religious.

Now, immortality...

beepbeepitsme said...

concerned

And I would suggest that religions, if you look at them carefully and from a historical perspective, are much ado about fertility and fertility having value.

concerned citizen said...

beepbeep,
yes, I know. but I see biological drives as being a more overriding factor when it comes to fertility, then religion. Maybe it's a chicken or egg thing.???

beepbeepitsme said...

concerned

I think that religions saw the value in fertility as a commodity. In the same way that ancient human beings saw the value in all sorts of production (grain, flocks); they also saw value in human production.

Religions just tranferred the way they would treat their grain and herds as commodities to human beings as commodities.

That is that all valuable commodities/resources have rules and regulations in order to maximize their production.

The sexual laws in the patriarchal texts were rules and regulations in order to maximize human production.

Power in numbers.

concerned citizen said...

beepbeep,

That's an interesting theory. & a fascinating subject. Religion certainly has always had it's hand down our pants. :)

In studying ancient Greek society, i.e. the Patriarchy, the misogynic attitudes & the role of women in the all important business of procreation. The myths involved in their pagan religion (esp. the female monsters & monsterous females) shows the anxiety in the society about womens power in the all important area of reproduction.
Of course that is just one part of it, but that's where I see a connection. :)

Where the heck is Chris, BTW?
Maybe he's being held hostage by some twisted Amazon?? ha ha(that should bring him out)

beepbeepitsme said...

lol

I dunno. Maybe he is busy posting to other blogs?

Chris Bradley said...

I'm sorry I'm not commenting or blogging. It's v. nice to feel wanted -- thanks! -- but I'm feeling sorta listless and tired. I can only write, now, when I'm feeling angry, which is a bad place to be writing from, so I've chosen to remain silent.

It'll pass. It always does. :)

concerned citizen said...

Well, hang in there. I hope your spirits lift soon.

I'm not visiting many blogs at the moment. Too busy. But, yours is one I particularly like.

Cortney said...

Do you mean to suggest that anyone who is privileged in any way has no business adding to discourses on oppression? Yes, Twisty might be wealthy and educated, but that does not mean that she is immune to oppressive systems. I read I Blame the Patriarchy regularly and I enjoyed reading this criticism because it mirrors many of my own. However, I think you should be cautious about undermining the work of anyone who has any sort of privilege. If you rule out anyone who benefits from oppressive systems who will be left?

Chris Bradley said...

I think she's a hypocrite, actually, elevating the narrow fashion in which she is oppressed and ignoring the others. Indeed, my post I think makes it clear that I think Twisty is using the particular form of her own oppression as justification for replacing those oppress her . . . so she can oppress others.

Cortney said...

I think that you are right. I do love her blog but it is easy to get caught up in her prose and forget her flaws (as is the case of most radical feminist literature i have read). I am just worried that my own position as a white, middle class feminist might be devalued precisely because I do benefit from certain privileges. That does not make the sexism of my everyday life any less real, however.

Chris Bradley said...

Cortney,

As a white American man raised as a Christian, I have benefited from race, nationality, sex and religion. If I'd been born rich, I'd have all the benefits our society can bestow on a person. I've asked myself many a time the grounds on which I can engage in any liberation struggles at all -- I've got so many benefits.

My answer is pretty simple. Do the right thing. Oppression is wrong, right? Even when I benefit from it, the oppression is wrong. So it's OK to fight it.

And I wasn't trying to suggest that women aren't the victims of sexism. Certainly, they are. I can list off a large number of ways that sexism effects my wife both personally and professionally.

I also loathe the patriarchy. My education is in history and it's painfully obvious that the people in charge are men, and they do horrible things to stay there. Even the women who succeed in that paradigm do so by aping men or submitting to them. It's disgusting. It is equally obvious to me that our modern political, social and economic systems are fundamentally sexist, and a group they're disgusting.

But when a person complains so much about their own brand of oppression while so openly reveling in, just reveling, in her wealth and status in so many other ways, I think it's fair to say that person doesn't really have a commitment to relieving oppression so much as jealousy that she doesn't have even more power. Particularly when, boiled down, what she's saying is that women should be the privileged group -- that, if she had her way, men would be functionally eliminated from decision making. Which is the reason I stopped reading her journal. The shoe is equally ugly when on the other foot.

Anonymous said...

Surely this website is tongue-in-cheek (or wherever else...)? I thought it was lightly humorous parody of feminism-gone-mad. Is this not so?

Chris Bradley said...

Anon,

The site is outrage with humorous (if pompous) diction. Twisty is serious as a heart attack.

Anonymous said...

She's not perfect. But there's nothing wrong with having a loud, idiosyncratic style- yeah, she uses sillly long words for humour- so what? Condemn her lifestyle, sure, but complaining about writing style is a leetle weird. The tone of her blog is what made me think of feminism as something interesting and vital and unapologetic, rather than a bunch of ineffectual women whimpering in a room, which is one of the mainstream perception of feminism. If she can fight that perception, and help people like me to find their way to feminism (and eventually realise that even Twisty has flaws- just like everyone else) , why shit all over her?

Chris Bradley said...

Why does Twisty shit over other people? What a vapid point!

Presumably you read what I wrote. I wrote that I took her off my RSS because she's a racist and classist, and I think she's a hypocrite as a feminist - a pouty juvenile pissed off that of all the incredibly advantages she's had in her life that she missed out on being a man.

Anonymous said...

cb, twisty ain't perfect, but she also is most definitely not saying that women should be the privileged group...

Anonymous said...

also--could you please elaborate on why she is supposedly a racist and classist? is it solely because she is white and well off or did i miss something?

Chris Bradley said...

I have no idea why I'm keeping following this up. I thought I made myself clear. A bunch of other people seem to have understood me, except the Twisty Faster fan club, who doesn't. That makes me suspect that the problem is that they don't want to see my point, not that I haven't made my point.

Yes, she's a rich white woman. She's a rich white woman who flaunts her prestige. She never talks about her prestige, or her wealth, except to flaunt it. She never talks about how fucking lucky she is to have that prestige and wealth. Instead, she whines and whines about the one way she *isn't* lucky and how terrible that is.

For my own part, I've met a lot of people like that. Very well-off people who complain that the system hates them and how it's held them back when it, clearly, really, hasn't. What they do is complain about how the system hates them between bouts of bragging about their multi-building compound, seared foie gras and elaborate travel plans - seemingly utterly unaware of how this tags them as being terribly, terribly lucky and how it transforms, at least in my mind, their stand against the patriarchy as hypocritical.

Because the patriarchy is about privilege and wealth. Anyone who is serious about hating the patriarchy hates that system of privilege and wealth - not just the sexist bits, but also the racist and classist bits. They try to minimize their participation in the patriarchy.

Twisty Faster doesn't. She revels in her money and the freedom it gives her. She revels in her Western style education that allows her to manipulate the language in a fashion to be impenetrable to people lacking such an education. She talks down to people, creating a hierarchy like the one she claims to despise.

So I concluded that what she didn't like is her place in the hierarchy. She's not at the absolute top of the pyramid and she doesn't like that. This is typical, but it is not some brave rebellion against the system. It's a rich child whining that she doesn't have all the toys, little else.

Now, obviously you disagree, and I will not go further on this subject. You can stop defending her. I get it. You like her. Good for you. I find her an tedious tool of the system - I find she obviously embraces the system.

Anonymous said...

"She is the patriarchy"

And to continue with your line of reasoning, I would counter that you, sir, are the Confederacy.

SNAP.

Chris Bradley said...

The different being I gave reasons. Y'know those? Probably not, hehe.

Oh, SNAP BACK!

Amy said...

1)Um, am I to understand that Twisty's opinion means nothing because she happens to be well off and doesn't waste her time apologizing for it? I mean really, what good would that do? Every time the system "works" for you and you have an extra couple bucks should you toss it away?
2) I come from a very poor, and uneducated family and luckily for me I'm in college and getting an education (in engineering so it doesn't really help my vocab), but I have no problem understanding Twisty's use of language. Most of it is simple context clues. It's rather condescending to say poor folks can't understand medium sized words.
3) I don't really see her judging or shaming anyone. Its just that certain "feminine" behaviors are a result of the massively pervasive social structure. I mean, imagine if a woman from an extremely oppresive culture said that it was ok for women to be stoned, or if she never did anything without a male's permission, and was happy with that. Would you not say that she is buying into the female subordination of dude nation? Its just so much harder for people to see this in our own culture so we cal it "empowering" and if you have a problem with it you're "shaming" women and are being judgemental because you don't like it. Twisty's gift is that she sees this stuff plain as day, her view of femininity in our culture isn't biased by her being in our culture

Chris Bradley said...

What I find bizarre is that I've say things that are WAY more acrimonious than how I think Twisty's a tool of the patriarchy but THIS is the post that, even a year after I make it, people still respond to! ;)

And I think being rich is a construct of the patriarchy. She only attacks those privileges she doesn't possess. That's not being radical. That's be a whiny brat.

Doesn't Everyone? said...

She owns a horsie!

It lives at her ranch in the country.

Axiomatic said...

I think it's because this blog entry comes up when you search for "I blame the patriarchy" on Google, pretty much directly under Twisty's own site. So that's why this entry keeps getting replies.

Like, uh, mine right now.

Anyway, I just popped in to say that I found you quite insightful and I had to reinterpret a bunch of stuff because of it. That's all.

Jack said...

Well, I think so-called "radical feminists" have a long history of using puritanical sexual shame to push their version of feminism, right? That's why Dworkin and MacKinnon were happy to form an anti-porn coalition with right-wingers. They probably thought the Bible was more misogynistic than porn, but it was easier to attack the stuff that most of society looked down on, anyway. Who's going to put up a bigger fight, Christians or some pathetic, lonely schmuck (like, say, me) who jerks off a lot?

I came across this site because I came across I Blame the Patriarchy and it got me almost physically upset. I'm sure that most of you will say that's because I'm a priviledged white male who's used to having his ass kissed and blah blah blah... Okay, maybe you're right, but I still hate that stuff. It makes me realize how right-wingers feel when they read Marxist literature.

Sorry to revive a thread that's been dead for years.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to find I'm not the only one who dislikes her and her blog.

Stella said...

I was educated in Texas public schools, and I understand and love her blog.

And, she's made the connection and stopped eating animals.

Anonymous said...

Someone can be privileged or oppressed based upon many aspects of their social location, including race, class, sex, sexual orientation, language, (dis)ability, nationality, age, religion/spirituality, color, ethnicity, educational attainment, looks, etc. Most schools of feminist thought take the intersection of all of those aspects of identity into account when theorizing how to bring about liberation for people of all sexes. Chris, your analysis and comments seem to veer on reducing patriarchy to socio-economic status. Whether or not this is intentional, it has been done all too frequently by socialists/Marxists/many others who don't seem to move beyond "all people should be equal" in their interpretation of feminist analyses.
I Blame the Patriarchy does focus predominantly upon sex, gender, and sexual orientation in subject matter, yet the scope is certainly intersectional. Perhaps if you read more, you would know that Jill (aka Twisty) calls her various areas of privilege out on the table often. Checking your privilege doesn't mean denial of who you are. That kind of guilt-induced behavior is usually quite counter-revolutionary. Just b/c one focuses upon a particular form of oppression in detail to do justice to a particular analysis certainly doesn't mean that they aren't down for the proverbial battle to be fought on all other fronts, too.
To second a comment posted earlier, it's incredibly classist to assume that poor, uneducated people are incapable of understanding the style or substance of her blog. It isn't jargony or abstract in the least. Might someone be a little intimidated by an immensely articulate radical feminist woman whose ideas may challenge how down for people's liberation a reader really is?

Jenn said...

Another comment for the entry that will not die!

I like most of I Blame the Patriarchy, but I absolutely agree with your assessment of her shortcomings, especially the sex-shaming stuff. I am into BDSM and I am sexually attracted to dudes, and apparently that means I'm just enacting Dude Nation's rape fantasies... or something.

Jill/Twisty is a pretty standard radical feminist, whereas I'm more of an eco/Marxist/sex-positive feminist, much more interested in thoughtful analysis and acceptance of diverse sexualities than in condemnation of them and very much interested in intersectional forms of oppression.

I also have a serious problem with radfems' tendency to pit feminists against men at large, since I see gender as a continuum and their model is very essentialist, which marginalizes transpeople.

Nevertheless, I do read her blog now and again. I just try to ignore her gender essentialism and disdain for BDSM and fellatio, lest my head explode with rage.

Josie said...

Hi. May I just say that I found your blog by Blackling an entry on hers, and that I think you're quite awesome, Chris?

I discovered Jill's (Twisty Faster, whatever you wish to call her) blog via an article on Change.com about Askmen.com's underqualified sex advice columnists, and at first, I must say, I was totally taken in with her radical feminism and her witty wordiness.

However, it didn't take long for me to realize Twisty Faster is the brand of feminist I have a great deal of disdain for. You see, I, too, am a radical feminist, but there is nothing I loathe more than the brand of radical feminism that gives off an almost-misandric vibe. After all, you can't liberate one sex by oppressing the other, now can you? I feel that she is very sex-negative, and honestly, I know there may well be some people that disagree with me here, but I feel that she often underestimates the intelligence of females in her valiant effort to liberate each and every one of us. Such as when she talks down to "girly feminists," for instance. Feminists come in many different varieties, there is no one exactly right way to think as a feminist, you know? Anyway, she makes it seem almost as though women are too dumb to understand the implications and societal pressures associated with "putting out" and wearing makeup, etc. Most women that I have talked to do, in fact, understand the implications. They analyze them, they ignore them, and they have sex or wear makeup because THEY WANT TO. They TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR LIVES. What's un-feminist about that, I ask you, Twisty?

One more thing that I cannot stand is that she acts as though no male feminists can exist, what with the way she is always belittling the opposite sex. It infuriates me.

I don't think having advantages, such as being rich or white, are necessarily things one needs to apologize for. However, I believe--like you said--that if one is going to bemoan the fact that they are oppressed, while ignoring the fact the fac that they are not the only group on the face of the Earth that is oppressed--that's hypocritcal. After all, all forms of oppression must be eliminated, because if even one exists, we give them all room to exist. She just seems to represent a very stereotypical "rich old (old? I've no idea how old she is...) white ladies" side of feminism.

@Jenn: I had not realized that she has an anti-fellatio stance. Does she have an anti-cunnilingus stance as well? If not: Double standards much, lady? >.<

Anonymous said...

I can never quite reconcile the hair-trigger spewings of rich white women like Twisty Faster and the very real issues of agency, control, abuse, neglect, sexual rights, shame, healthcare, inequalities in literacy and nutrition, poverty, violence, media and cultural biases, and human trafficking that plague women in the world.

m Andrea said...

A dood complaining about a feminist is like a white person complaining about an anti-racist activist. In other words, it just looks really really bad -- just another dude mansplaining how feminists should do feminism. It's not your call.

And I don't even like Twisty anymore, but that's beside the point.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris,

I think you reveal your own ethical blind spots when your main complaint with Twisty's eating of Foie Gras comes from an economics perspective, rather than an animal treatment perspective. Speciesism much?

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris,

I think you reveal your own ethical blind spots when your main complaint with Twisty's eating of Foie Gras comes from an economics perspective, rather than an animal treatment perspective. Speciesism much?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ April 5,

Google is your friend. Foie gras is duck or goose liver pate. It's flesh. It's also ridiculously expensive, especially when prepared out.

-dafyd

Anonymous said...

Twisty is so awful because she keeps spewing the truth about everything. No fair.