An alternative title: “Shit, or Get Off the Pedestal.”
Child of privilege Lorraine Schein is used to having her way — and having it both ways. To criticize feminism is sexist and unchivalrous. To ignore it is to deny woman her voice, as usual. As for the women — most of them — who reject feminism, they’re just “displaying the short memory for history of most women” — the dumb cunts! They don’t appreciate what the feminists have done for them!
Which is what, exactly? Drive them into the workforce without freeing them of housework, depressing real wages for everybody and loading down most women with more work than, so far as I know, they have ever had to do before? I realize this is not a problem for the radical feminists. The last I heard, Lorraine Schein was still living with her parents. Perhaps she cleans her room — a room of one’s own — once in a while. Formerly, as she relates, her activism consisted of “attending some local anarchist events and meetings”; now she attends science fiction conventions. These are monumental achievements compared to what “most anarchists have” produced, namely, “endless theoretical rhetoric, and publishing zines.” Somehow she finds time, however, to do the same.
Displaying the short memory for history of most feminists, Schein repeatedly accuses me of hysteria. Hysteria is a mythical mental illness manufactured by misogynist male doctors, the malady that Father Freud rode to fame. A peculiarly female distemper, it takes its name from the Greek hystera, “womb.” Nowadays nobody believes it exists, except for Schein, apparently. In calling me hysterical she is, in effect, calling me a cunt.
After a decade of brooding over it, Lorraine Schein should at least know by now what “Feminism as Fascism” is about. It is not about women. It is not about lesbians. It is not about anarchism. It is about what it says it is about, radical feminism: “Radical feminism (no point disputing title to the phrase with its present owners), then, is a ludicrous, hate-filled, authoritarian, sexist, dogmatic construct which revolutionaries accord an unmerited legitimacy by taking it seriously at all.” It is not about liberal feminism, and so it is beside the point — my point — what Betty Freidan might be saying these days about the anti — porn craze or anything else.
The trouble with liberal feminists, besides the trouble with liberalism generally, and the trouble with anarcho-feminists, besides the trouble with anarchism generally, is just this: that they protect the fascists, the only ones it benefits, by maintaining a common feminist facade. I didn’t say that in “Feminism as Fascism”: it’s the only important point I’d add to it now. Perhaps the best definition of feminism, as of anarchism or New Ageism, is that a feminist (or whatever) is a self-described feminist (or whatever) who tacitly consents to the self-description of anybody else, no matter what s/he says or does, as a feminist (or whatever). Fundamental differences — freedom of speech vs. censorship, anarchism vs. statism, separatism vs. community, freethought vs. matriarchal mysticism — get subordinated to sisterizing bullying. The women who take after men at their worst rape the rest. But to say so means breaking ranks with the feminist army. No wonder most liberation-minded women go around saying, “I’m not a feminist, but...” If radical feminism did not exist, male chauvinism would have had to invent it.
Now another thing Schein is incapable of noticing or else capable of lying about — it is all the same to me — is my supposed “leftism.” Anybody reading anything I’ve written in the last 17 years who can call me a Ieftist is, at best, dumb, dumb, DUMB. Just ask any leftist. I know what she’s up to, though. She is a leftist, and by claiming me as a leftist, she aspires to the sort of guilt--tripping and intimidation which the rad-fems practice on their more scrupulous sisters. But leftist incantations have no more power over me than feminist ones. That she elsewhere and inconsistently accuses me of recycling rightwing rhetoric (about “man-haters” and such), even as she ascribes my sexism to leftist men (and their ditzy dupes), can only mean that left and right are much the same. No shit! That’s what I’ve been saying all along!
What Schein is quite incapable of even imagining is that these dreary dichotomous grids — left and right, matriarchists and patriarchists, fact and feeling — that these exhausted categories themselves exhaust our human possibilities. In fact they exhaust people, not their potential. Radical feminism does not transcend the left/right trap. Instead, like other nationalisms — and nationalism is a white male European invention, not a timeless constant — it opportunistically assembles incongruous elements for their emotive utility. In “F as F” I addressed some of radical feminism’s right-wing elements, but only because they were so much less remarked upon, ten years ago, than the obvious leftwing ones inherited by feminism’s immediate forbear, 60’s New Leftism.
Radical feminism is not the first ideology to pilfer Left and Right for ammunition for Us to use against Them. Fascism and Nazism are, probably not the first, but maybe the most dramatic examples. They are, for instance, anti-capitalist, anti-Communist and anti-anarchist at the same time, an extraordinarily senseless mishmash. In “F as F” I identified some still closer connections — beyond the method of mobilizing haters — most of which Schein wisely ignores. She might have done better to ignore them all, since I shall now deal with one she imprudently brought up.
Left-liberals, whenever criticized for what they are doing with their freedom, automatically whine that the critic is against their freedom, when what s/he is usually doing is saying s/he objects to some specific use of it. It will be totalitarianism beyond anything Hitler or Stalin achieved when criticism is redefined as coercion and coercion is redefined as protection from criticism. Radical feminism can hardly hope to come to power, or maintain it, under any other circumstances.
Thus Spake Schein: “But to Black, the Great Goddess is the evil mother, since radical lesbian feminists are at the heart of her worship.... Aren’t women as entitled to pagan and mystical beliefs as have the many male anarchists who hold similar beliefs [blah blah]??” Actually, from what I hear, heterosexuals and bisexuals dominate the Goddess cult. My scathing criticism of this kind of New Age pseudo-Paganism long precedes my critique of the rad-fems. Yes, women have the same right to be as stupid as men. And I have the same right to be critical of stupid women as I’d earlier been (and continue to be) of stupid men. This, indeed, leads to the climax of “F as F”: “How to thwart femino-fascism? That’s easy: just take feminists at face value and treat them as equals... then hear them howl!” Or, as in this case, whimper.