Prescriptive Feminism is Patriarchy Lite
Addendum: After more recent events with Melissa McEwan’s whiny apologism for feminism trying to morally mandate us out of existance and pathetic privilege mongering, as well as her entire site engaging in apologism for her, I finally came to the realization that feminism is fucked as a movement. The rot is in the core, there’s no hope for it ever being anything but a transphobic, racist, ableist, cissexist, anti sex worker, anti porn worker, anti unlimited self determination of women of all types movement. So, this post is now considered mild apologism, since it separates feminism from prescriptive feminism. In reality all of feminism is prescriptive and toxic, the question is “to what degree”. So I apologize for the apologism. Consider that retracted. PF is feminism. They are one in the same.
I’m sure you all remember femihaterade’s little spiel of stupidity (that ended in horrific cisfail, transphobia and all around disgusting privileged hate mongering) where she asserted all porn is rape (I won’t be linking to her, I don’t give business to types like that). Beyond being some blatant trolling (and not very good trolling either) its one very massive example of what folks in the bizness of marginalization activism like to call prescriptive feminism.
Feminism is, as mentioned in previous posts, a rights specialization of egalitarianism. It concentrates on the axes faced by women for the most part (usually failing with the intersections faced by trans women, women of color, women with disabilities, poor women, women from other cultures and especially anyone with several of those axes on her head). Feminism’s purpose is, put plainly, to free women to do what we want unfettered by bigotry and ownership by others. To help us escape control by a society that seeks to take away our rights to do what we will with our own bodies, to follow our own self determination and to prevent others from forcing on us things that impact us in ways we don’t want.
The patriarchy (the axis of marginalization for women, cis and trans, with a lot of blending with the axis of transphobia in the form of transmisogyny for women of the trans variety only) is largely a system that seeks to and often succeeds at stripping us of our self determination, our autonomy and our rights to do with our bodies what we will. This system seeks to control our bodies against our will, forcing us to do things its way (like say, not aborting, ever. Or being sexually available to any man who wants us). All of this is based on being forced, a lack of agency and will in the occurrence. There are women who would never personally abort and there are women who fuck every man they see. But they’re doing this out of their own agency and will, while the patriarchy attempts to force all women to fit certain zones, irregardless of our personal needs. This is what feminism fights.
Well, except for prescriptive feminism. And therein lies the problem. Prescriptive feminism is feminism wherein women try to tell other women what to do. Not only prescribing how to be a feminist but even attempting to deny other women our self determination, agency and will. Sound familiar? You might think I’m overreacting. So let’s give some examples. Prescriptive feminism (let’s call it PF for short) often carries certain memes and conserved claims in it. For one, PF often treats any self expression of one that matches traditional views of women as self oppression or oppression enabling. Stay at home mom? You’re a patriarchy enabler and oppressing yourself. Open to sex all willy nilly? Patriarchy enabler and oppressing yourself (some will even assert you’re being raped, when you’re actively seeking this sex out and enjoying it). Wear dresses and makeup? Enabler and self oppresser. They actively seek to prevent people from engaging in these actions, even if these actions are the ones people chose for themselves because they make them happy. More examples? Porn and sex work. Yes, there are women who work in porn and sex work because they have no other options, are trapped and fucked over. But PF assumes all women who work in porn and sex work are exploited and used and have no options. If you dare to differ regarding your own porn acting, sex work or say something like stripping, if you dare to say, “hey, actually I like doing this. It’s fun, interesting and it pays good money” you’re suddenly a patriarchy enabler and a self oppresser and they insist that you stop. Some will, like the example above, even claim you’re being raped no matter how much you state, “no, I’m not being raped, I enjoy this. Wtf is wrong with you?”
Extreme examples of PF will often go anti kink as well, attacking heterosexual BDSM relationships in which the guy is the dom/sadist and the girl is the sub/masochist. Note that they have nothing to say about homosexual BDSM relationships or het relationships where the girl is the dom. Even more extreme examples (which thankfully are entirely rare) will go so far as to assert that having heterosexual sex at all is an act of self oppression and enabling of the patriarchy. These PF types will often appropriate gay culture and call themselves “political lesbians”, while still basking in their straight privilege. Obviously prescriptive feminism is even worse to trans women then it is to cis women. Our expression is taken even worse and we’re often called infiltrators. But that’s more the general cissexism of feminism as an overall movement, and less something specific to PF. They’re simply worse to us because they see nothing wrong with denying cis women self determination, so the cissexism is given far more leeway to thrive in their worldviews by their willingness to deny agency, will and choice to women. This also plays out in ableism in the PF submovement (which often is aggravated by a willingness to ignore agency normally) and likely affects PF racism too (although being that I’m white, I can only speculate based on what I’m told)
So, PF denies women our right to self determination and tries to dictate how we should live our lives. It tells us we’re not allowed to make certain choice with our bodies and lifestyles, claiming that its doing so for our own good. Sound familiar? Of course it does. That’s what the patriarchy axis does. Prescriptive feminism is patriarchy lite. It limits less things than the patriarchy, but still nevertheless engages in truly misogynistic shit stirring and attacks on the self determination of women (sometimes to the point of engaging in rape apologism against sex positive folk) all in the name of bringing down the patriarchy. Which, amusingly (and depressingly), its actions do anything but. PF enforces things on women, forcing women to follow paths that we don’t want to follow, much like patriarchy does. It uses the same tools. Slut shaming, intimidation, misogynist attacks, rape apologism, expressions of ownership, trolling, condescending explanations, fallacies and dismissing personal experience as lesser than ideology. This is not just done to trans women, PF does this to all women.
PF is the usual modus operandi of Internet RadFems™ (a group of “radical” feminists that spend most of their time on the internet hating on trans women, ignoring trans men, claiming nonbinaries don’t exist, making up strawfeminist fallacies of sex positive women, treating sex workers like shit and practicing the same shit that the patriarchy does for their PF). It is commonly referred to as Feminist Fascism and tends towards misandry and misogyny in equal amounts (although in different ways for both). It is also the most common source of strawfeminists against the entirety of the movement itself, the strawfeminist used to make the word “Feminazi” by that bastard Rush Limbaugh and generally are used as an example of what all feminism is in an attempt to fuck up the efforts of feminists all over. So in this way, PF types actually damage the progress feminism is making by creating genuine examples of batshit, painfully wrong stupidity, that the Trapdoor Trolls of the “Anti Misandry” Movement (the guys that pretend to support guys’ gender expression being freed up but tend more towards trolling feminists and hating women), the right wing misogynist fuckheads and other patriarchy enforcers use to discredit feminists that aren’t ironic misogynistic fascists. So PF is especially ironic and awful, in that it enables the patriarchy even more by creating strawfeminists to attack feminists with by its nasty attempts to limit women. PF is also one of the myriad reasons why so many young women won’t identify as feminists, to avoid association with those types and to avoid being told what to do by other women.
In the end, all women, all of us, deserve autonomy, self determination, agency and our will to be honored and respected. If I or another wants to work in porn? Don’t tell us we’re being raped when we’re not. If you know a girl who wears dresses, shaves her legs and wears makeup, don’t harass her about it. It’s her own damn choice. A woman who chooses not to get an abortion is making just as valid of a choice as a woman who chooses to get one. A stay at home mom who wants to have her kids and loves deeply being a mother deserves just as much respect for her choices as a business world career woman who sharks her way through wall street. Having sex with men is not self oppression if you actually want to have sex with men. Consensual BDSM is not oppression. Sex workers who want to be sex workers, who enjoy their job and like their work are not victims who need to be “rescued” by you. The fact that I never shave my legs, wear pants and t-shirts (often baggy pants), the fact that I am not interested in or want men, the fact that I have no interest in sex work (although I would be interested in limited work in erotica, if it wouldn’t hurt my career chances in biotechnology), the fact that I don’t want children, don’t want to be married, hate dresses, almost never wear makeup, does not mean that every other woman is exactly like me. I would not dare to tell anyone who wants to do those things or enjoys them to stop. Doing so is denying women agency. Prescriptive Feminism denies Agency.
And so, PF is the lite beer version of patriarchy. They are enabling oppression. They are oppressing other women. And the whole way there, they’re giving the patriarchy every inch of the weapons it needs to strip all of feminism of its numbers. It’s about time they stopped.
It’s about time we were allowed to make our own damn choices.
Filed under: activism, rant | 34 Comments
Tags: ableism, bodily domain, bullshit, cissexism, feminism, infighting, kyriarchy, marginalization, patriarchy, privilege, transgender