When is Feminism not Feminism?
Posted by charliegrrl on March 30, 2007
We get told that we shouldn’t object to the actions of other feminists, as this is being narrow-minded in our acceptance of what is feminism. We get told we don’t have the right to say what is and isn’t feminist to other feminists. But I think there has to be a line drawn somewhere in the definition of feminism.
I was browsing through the workshops of Ladyfest Leeds, to find a workshop entitled Feminism, Censorship and Pornography. Here we go I thought… So I did a bit of digging to find that the workshop is being held by two women who both have signed the petition against the criminalisation of the possession of extreme violent porn. The workshop is about criticising the recent legislation to criminalise the possession of extreme violent porn, and considering if this contributes towards women’s liberation or women’s repression..?
A few of us objected. Why do we need to discuss if criminalising the possession of rape and murder of women is a good or bad thing for women? Of course it’s a good thing. Oh but of course, criticising the workshop is censorship and that’s baaaaaad…
**The blurb to advertise the workshop was going to be this…
How many feminists fantasise about rape play? Is “pornography the theory, rape the practice”? How many of us are turned on by the idea of restraint and pain? Is SM just a space for abuse? What does pornography mean to feminists in contemporary society? How has porn affected OUR lives and sexual experiences?
In our 90 minute workshop, we will be hosting an open discussion exploring issues surrounding feminism, pornography and censorship. As the Home Office prepares to pass new laws over the ownership of extreme adult pornography, we question whether this form of censorship contributes to women’s liberation or repression. And we want to hear your views! We hope to host a lively and informative debate, and welcome ALL viewpoints and perspectives on this often controversial topic.
‘Rape Play’? What the fuck!!!
They have since seen sense after complaints and edited this blurb to omit ‘rape play’ and amended the line-up to include anti-porn discussion. I’m still not convinced.
One of the women hosting this workshop gave a speech at The Feminist Fightback conference, about how she fantasises about being raped and she enjoys being whipped, strangled etc… Many people went to this workshop expecting to hear postive speeches about women’s sexuality, not to be told that enjoying sex means pain and submission, and to hear people condone eroticising rape. As a woman left in tears comforted by her friends because all this talk of rape as fantasy was too upsetting, this left me thinking, is this feminist..? Is it feminist to hold a workshop at a general feminist event, eroticising violence against women, talking about ‘rape play’ like rape is a bit of foreplay..? I really don’t think so, but yet I get told I need to embrace all forms of feminism… This aint feminism to me.
I understand that women may eroticise rape after being attacked, and from suffering abuse, as a means of controlling what has/is happening to her. I’m not saying that if a woman ever has erotic thoughts of violence she isn’t feminist- women’s submission is so deeply ingrained, we are taught to eroticise our own submission. I do however object to women holding workshops at general feminist events, promoting the eroticisation of violence against women and not considering that this may upset women attending who may be survivors of violence and abuse. I also object to them using their enjoyment of violent porn and protecting the civil liberties of a minority sub-culture, as arguments to justify not taking action against violent porn for the greater good of women.
If inclusive in the definition of feminism, is promoting the eroticisation of rape and other forms of violence against women, doing ‘rape role play’ with men and enjoying porn in which women are being abused, how are we to ever envisage a world free from male violence against women..?
* I am only criticisng this workshop and the opinion of two organisers who I have had correspondence with; there are many other interesting feminist workshops and bands playing at Ladyfest Leeds.
** The blurb cited was a draft version found on the blog of one of the workshop speakers, and was not approved by Ladyfest.