There are a few blogs I read regularly, but don’t put on my blogroll for one reason or another. One of these is the always thought-provoking (and frequently hunger-provoking) I Blame the Patriarchy. I don’t put it on my blogroll because, to be honest, Twisty often makes me uncomfortable. She’s the kind of feminist who turns people off feminism – she’s unforgiving, abrasive, and unapologetic.
In her recent post, entitled “Sex,” Twisty has this to say:
“Examine your lives!” is the Twisty refrain. Don’t forget that, as a member of an oppressed class, everything you do is political. So what say you reevaluate those phony, misogynist feminine constructs? Every tube of lipstick, every coy little head-tilt, every train-yourself-not-to-gag-while-deep-throating-a-flaccid-bratwurst session is a symbol of oppression. And not just your oppression, either, but the oppression of all women. And they’re not just symbols, either, but concrete evidence of your collaboration with the dominant culture. Every time you ‘choose’ to totter down the street in a pair of heels and a pencil skirt you’re a Yay Patriarchy billboard. It says “I willingly brand myself as different from and subordinate to men. Shall I bend over now?”
This makes me uncomfortable. But my gaze is firmly navel-oriented, and so I must ask myself why it makes me uncomfortable. Am I simply unhappy with being judged and found wanting? Religious people of every stripe judge me and find me wanting all the time. So do lots of other people. I thumb my nose at them; what should I care what they think?
No, my discomfort with Twisty’s words stems from the fact that I basically agree with them. Silence in the face of bigotry condones that bigotry. High heels and makeup in a patriarchal culture condone that patriarchy. They are symbols of agreement; nods in our cultural conversation. If this seems extreme, think of the public shaming of women who don’t conform. Women who shave their heads, don’t shave their legs, wear no makeup, gain weight but don’t wear muumuus. For all the trouble it may take to maintain a socially acceptable female appearance, it’s far more trouble not to.
So here I sit, agreeing with Twisty while wearing heels, eye makeup, lipstick, jewelry, and a low-cut silk tank top. It’s a good thing I’m wearing pants, or I might actually implode. Will I go home tonight, clean out my wardrobe and burn my naughty underwear? No, I won’t. And that makes me a hypocrite. And that makes me uncomfortable.
[U]ntil the psychotic global system of dominance and submission gives way to a sane one that doesn’t fetishize oppression, there is no solution to the buzzkiller political problems inherent in all heterosexual boinking. That’s right. No solution. No happy ending. No scenario wherein prancing in a pink sportcorset can be construed as a politically neutral act. No ‘egalitarian sex’.
Is Twisty saying that until we have equality, we shouldn’t fuck? I think not. Personally, I won’t condemn anyone for compromising in order to get by. I won’t think you’re a bad feminist for dressing the way you do, or enjoying giving blowjobs, or for working in the sex industry. Obviously, I’d be a complete hypocrite if I did.
The damage comes from our denial and dishonesty about our complicity. When we acknowledge the ways in which we contribute to our own oppression, then we can identify opportunities for positive change.
Thank god for Twisty, and for everyone who makes us uncomfortable. To hell with it. I’m putting her on the blogroll now.