WoLF, the Religious Right and stealth evangelism

I sometimes think how fortunate Australians are to have less of the extremist Christian Right influence, and then I read this: ‘[In 1991], in an interview with Norfolk, Virginia’s Virginian-Pilot, Reed talked about the organization’s stealth political strategy, a strategy aimed at having Religious Right candidates hide their social agenda, while talking about other issues more attractive to voters, such as lower taxes: “I want to be invisible. I paint my face and travel at night. You don’t know it’s over until you’re in a body bag. You don’t know until election night.”‘

Reminds me a lot of how former Prime Minister Tony Abbott got elected. He attracted a fair amount of ridicule before the Federal Election for his “lack of policies”, but his slash-and-burn agenda was quickly evident after the poll.

So we need to read about these rightwing stealth tactics.

Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) is, as its name suggests, a feminist group based in the USA, with a few chapters elsewhere.

WoLF, Women’s Liberation Front has solicited and received $15,000 from Alliance Defending Freedom. Members were notified of this in 5 Nov 2016 via email, I got it as I was a member of WoLF. The email said that “WoLF Board member Kara Dansky applied for and received a $15,000 grant from the Alliance Defending Freedom, […]

Since I linked to this piece, it has gone offline. I have been unable to find another version of it but while it mentioned WoLF, most of it was based on a Buzzflash piece on the reasons for the rise of the USA-centred Religious Right. This can be read at Stealth Evangelism 3.0: The Remarkable Resilience of the Religious Right.

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Stop Trans Chauvinism Statement Against Feminists Collaborating with the Right Wing

Sharing this statement from the Stop Trans Chauvinism admins.  It draws out a number of tactical and strategic points relevant to these alliances which have lately become controversial in gender-abolitionist networks.

“It has become popular amongst some feminists to assert their support for coalitions with the Christian right on a single issue, as though they automatically advance women’s rights.

We cannot afford a blind faith in these coalitions, but need to put in the work necessary to figure out whether they do in fact benefit the oppressed at the time they’re undertaken. It is too tempting to simply assert that the feminists in these coalitions are retaining their independence, rather than looking at what’s really happening. For instance, if feminists simply happened to agree with a conservative group on one piece of legislation, that would be one thing. It’s quite another when feminists enter coalitions with far more powerful and resourced extremists and are pushed into further and further public alignment with them, and into making little public critique of them. That’s not a sign of political independence. When gender abolitionist feminists do this, it creates the impression that we believe gender identity legislation is a bigger threat to women than the right-wing attacks. That’s a fast way to appear extremely out of touch.

Feminists who have aligned with right-wing Christians have made the tasks of opening up discussion, and acceptance of gender-critical thought amongst the oppressed – our far more ‘natural’ allies – so much more difficult.”

As this statement remarks, in the USA, rightwing Christians:

“pass laws that result in women being arrested for having a miscarriage. They are the people who have doxxed names and addresses of abortion doctors and scientists who work with fetal tissue to anti-abortion groups – and such tactics have led to people being murdered. They are for replacing public schools with vouchers so religious schools can be federally funded. These are the people working for religious exemptions laws that allow pharmacists to refuse Plan B to rape victims. We could go on and on.”

Is it a good idea for gender-critical feminists to make alliances with the Christian Right on issues we might agree on? Stop Trans Chauvinism collective maintains that this is a disastrous strategy.

We understand that feminists who have chosen to work with right-wing Christians are sincerely trying to accomplish something positive for women. But we believe this is a terrible mistake and urge them to reconsider their actions. We hope to engage in a principled discussion of the implications of these alliances, which does affect how the public views all feminists, and all gender-critical feminists in particular. This is an important discussion we must have.

[…]

Read full statement here: Stop Trans Chauvinism Statement Against Feminists Collaborating with the Right Wing

On individualist lifestylism and woman-blaming: musings on recent attacks

Many of you have seen one of the latest women writers to come under attack – the author of Why I won’t let any male babysit my children, Kasey Edwards.

Edwards takes a cold, hard look at the too-high likelihood that males with unsupervised access to children will sexually abuse them, compares it with the far lower prevalence of women committing child sexual assault, and concludes that the policy of her and her husband in only allowing women unsupervised access to their children was the most responsible choice they could make.

She acknowledges:

Still, as she notes:

Edwards did not argue that all parents should or would be able to adopt her family’s policy.

It is unsurprising that castigation ensued, for her daring to point out that the high prevalence of male-perpetrated child sexual abuse (CSA) has ramifications for parenting decisions. We know how the standard expectations in this society go: men will perpetrate most, women and girls will be most victimised, and women are not supposed to act on these conclusions. Oh, and feminists who point out these stats must be reminded that “not all men are like that” and “women do it too”, even though the statistics that we ourselves furnished acknowledged that. (These reminders are given so often that feminists have developed the acronyms NAMALT and WDIT in wry reference.) Men’s feelings are supposed to be prioritised most, even above children’s safety.

Edwards predicted:

Duly, men complained about the “sexism” of her ideas, and some white men even compared them to “racial profiling”. [1]

To be blunt, many men are so accustomed to having their feelings prioritised that they react with anger to this different arrival point. Some on the political left have responded with angry indignation at Edwards’ daring to indulge in individual rather structural (systemic change) solutions to the problem of male predation on children: as though her and others’ children should be the reasonable sacrifice that enabled this systemic change. Few deigned to explain how endangering children would help this political revolution occur, although there were some token references to men doing more domestic work and childcare and giving women respite from these responsibilities. Notably, these angry injunctions about the importance of a structural, political solution to CSA were made as a counter-thrust to Edwards’ sober explanation about her risk-management in the here and now, rather than as a sympathetic addition to it.

And herein lay the evident diversion of their response from that of the best socialist approaches. Bolsheviks, by which I mean those who are serious about making revolution, sympathise with the oppressed in their attempts to cope with life. They acknowledge the extent of their problems, rather than counterposing attempts to survive (and to help their children survive) with political solutions which won’t all take effect in the short-term. To the disclosure of these ‘individual’ solutions, we express solidarity and try contributing to collective political solutions in order to lessen the burden on individuals.

To jeer at individual women that they are “bourgeois” and “lifestylist” for protecting their children is (1) to assert that those who allow unsupervised male access to their children are not those things (sadly, CSA is common amongst all classes). And (2) to demonstrate that one has an interrupted political maturity and cannot (or does not want to) grasp the difference between collectively moving towards systemic solutions, and expecting those bearing the brunt of the oppressive phenomenon to have already advanced towards this systemic solution despite its lack of creation as yet.

Given that male sexual power over women and children is societally replicated at many points, a helpful response to the prevalence of CSA should include (but not be limited to) discussions on: how family courts aid CSA by prioritising men’s access to children over the children’s safety; the economic pressures keeping women within the capitalist family unit; porn culture (which eroticises the girl-like physical form); policing which trivialises male sexual assault and disbelieves victims; and other aspects of the social construction of heterosexual relations.

Simply hacking into women for getting real about the dangers of male predation achieves none of that.

These aggressive criticisms of women who have, as yet, no revolutionary solutions available to them are, ironically, a form of individualist lifestylism – and a form from which men are noticeably spared. Especially in Left political groups, where women voicing the expectation that men not treat women worse are often responded to with hurt reminders that we are not yet living in a socialist utopia.

In this case, Edwards was berated by both women and men because she had not specified that she’d disallow her husband unsupervised access to her daughters! How very dare she impose any boundaries at all on men, if she were not willing to impose them all!! The lack of absolute congruence in an abstract sense between all her statements and positions was considered a worthier topic to pick over than the daunting statistics of CSA which she’d revealed, or than how we could go about better supporting women and children.

When I posted Edwards’ article at Marxist Feminists, in order to encourage marxist acknowledgement of this predicament and prompt discussion about how to ease it, some commenters seemed to view critiquing the woman as more important than critiquing the system that’s caused the problems. Ire was expressed at this mother who failed to publicly acknowledge the potential risk posed by her husband and any hypothetical future sons:

jane smith marxist feminists 2.PNG

That was it, in terms of acknowledging the massive service done by Edwards in raising this matter for broad discussion. There seems no conception here that women are left to make the best decisions available to us in our own situations, and for many this means accepting the presence of one or two males while acting to rule out any others, thus at least decreasing the danger. She is far from being the only woman acting on these dire statistics in this way. (Her figures show that fathers and stepfathers do not constitute the majority of abusers, but may be the largest subgroup of them. I cannot tell whether Jane Smith disagrees with this or was using “most” in an unclear way.)

Smith’s two main criticisms, however, were so bogus as to indicate the peculiar hybrid of misogyny and bourgeois feminism whereby concepts are twisted away from their meanings in order to imply that feminism is ailing because of individual women’s failures to ensure their personal lives are contradiction-free:

  1. #notallmen requires that one derail a discussion on male-pattern behaviour (i.e., behaviour which is far more typical of males than females, and generally reinforces male supremacy) by protesting that “not all men” participate in said behaviour, even though no-one had claimed “every single man”. Clearly Kasey Edwards did not hijack her own discussion, and nor did she say “not all men” about her own family.
  2. “Virtue signalling” requires that one reasonably expects to receive a social reward for one’s actions; to be praised for doing the right thing. Where one is voicing opinions likely to be received with antagonism, and antagonism is already on display, the “virtue signalling” jeer seems unhealthily oblivious, as though one’s socio-political concepts were not firmly tethered to observed reality.

Jane Smith’s embrace of the bourgeois habit of dressing one’s woman-blaming in feminist attire has undoubtedly been encouraged by the postmodernist practice of verbal ‘deconstruction’, which has now morphed into critiquing women (rather than the circumstances in which society places us) in a way that suggests the criticism itself will alter societal dynamics.

Any feminism which fails to jettison this moralistic outrage at other women for being unable to live oppression-free, uncontradictory lives is destined to reinforce the current system. Feminists need to develop the skill of distinguishing between a woman’s participation in personal practices which might allow male power over her, and her politics. Publicly debating the latter may be appropriate; debating the former is best practised in a way that highlights the general dynamics/harm and not the individual, and concentrates on the social forces that placed her in that position.

And as for the criticism coming from male Leftists (one announced his interpretation of Edwards’ article as being that she thought everyone could afford to pay for sex-segregated private schools), that is rather more transparent and needs less explanation.

Still, one feminist’s response was so incisive that I’ll repeat it: ‘The real insult here is to the male ego, that a woman would presume to deny them anything, even access to hypothetical kids they will never meet. This is 100% about their feels and how those man feels are more important than the safety of children and the peace of mind of those children’s parents.’

[1] I cannot improve upon this response to the ‘racial profiling’ charge:

Fundamentals of Historical Materialism: The Marxist View of History and Politics

In one of my feminist groups we were just discussing works which present marxist ideas accessibly, and this occurred to me as one of the best examples. Doug died a few years ago, but made a major contribution to keeping marxist theory accessible and practised, ensuring that it was not “something over there” that existed apart from day-to-day political activity: not referenced occasionally as proof of how marxist we are, while otherwise ignoring it.

Click on the image to download the pdf.

Fundamentals of Historical Materialism

The Marxist View of History and Politics

Doug Lorimer
1999, 216 pp

fundamentals-of-hm-cover

Does she mean it?

boundaries-3

Can I just say how annoying it is that men self-servingly pick and choose which of women’s boundaries (stated explicitly or implied) they believe are real, based on what works out best for them.

To some extent all abusers do this, but it seems very much a gendered phenomenon, with women especially being treated as probably being “in a mood” if we say something is un-ok. And any subsequent failures on our part to repeat this declaration are treated as our real position.

In fact, women are reared since birth to be kind despite our issues with others, and to minimize the impact on third parties (and on political causes especially) of our problems with individuals. So on many occasions we won’t vocalise our own needs in order to let other matters and others’ needs take precedence, without this meaning that we have changed our position. In addition, the constant ‘testing’ that we face of our boundaries, by those socialised to believe that this is reasonable of them, is wearing to us. Of course, this is very much the point of testing our boundaries and ignoring what we say – to wear us down [1]. Else our stated position would be treated as our position until we explicitly rescind it, without weird conditions such as “she only means it if she reaffirms it on X schedule, which we won’t tell her about” being applied.

The general societal trend is to combine
(a) a constant pressure on women to drop our boundaries in order to be “nice”,
with
(b) treating us as though this ongoing external pressure is absent, and as though we periodically say unfair things we don’t mean because hormones and unstable women.

This testing of boundaries, and selectiveness about which of women’s actions will be considered ‘the real boundary’, are manifested along the spectrum of abuse, with even more progressive people often acting obliviously in response. Such as a former ‘comrade’ who ignored my stated wish to minimise my contact with him by taking opportunities to insert himself into very small groups of people I was with at informal gatherings, to gauge my reaction (and probably also hear what was being said). On one occasion he acted as though he had to repeatedly pass well within a metre of me on a quiet street with no crowds, rain or traffic, in order to get phone reception. No reaction from the others I was with, who mostly knew the situation. On the more serious end, we have women who are deemed by socialists or anarchists to be “not real rape victims”, because their twitter comments in the days following the event did not notify all and sundry of the rape and they really didn’t sound upset enough.

That is all.

[1] Sometimes boundary-testers are aiming more at finding out how much we will allow them to get away with, as this piece on a growing phenomenon of online sexual harassment draws out.