America's Feminists Are Misquoted & Discredited By Our Daughters

Taryn Andreatta in ‘The Offering’

Taryn Andreatta On Artistic Nudity, the Female Body, Feminism & Divinity AOC Sensual Rebel (formerly Anne’s Sensually Yours)

Taryn Andreatta Interview

In posting Taryn’s interview and editorial a couple weeks ago, I wrote of feeling ambivalence about the answers in her interview. Several threads of thought upset me intensely.

1) The first was what I believe is her very narrow definition of feminism, a vision of me — as I explained to her — that not only doesn’t fit me at all but was never the subject of any of the consciousness-raising sessions that I attended.

It is true that in those sessions, we discussed the implications for our own hearts, minds and livelihoods of being almost always the object and rarely the subject. Unlike Taryn, we rejected the idea that women really hold all the power; we just don’t know how to use it.

Without being dismissive in any way of Taryn’s pov, reality is that even women living in New York in the late ’60s couldn’t legally book a hotel room in their own name. They did, of course, with hotel keepers looking the other way, but the act was illegal. 

Natural Submission of Women

Sex in Nature AOC Apple Valley

2) It is true that I and most feminists uncategorically rejected the concept of the “natural submission of women”. Not only is this theory not true in much of the natural world where females dominate the decision of whether or not to reproduce, but embracing it asks too much of my rational mind.

In the same way that I reject the most binding of monotheism’s patriarchal, strict governance of female virtue, I reject Taryn’s theoretical embrace of the natural submission of women. (Note that Taryn clarified in private conversations that she does see women as leaders in business or as religious leaders. I am admittedly confused by how she reconciles submission to men with taming them at the same time, because the historical record on men’s treatment of women is so clear. We’ve submitted for thousands of years, so how we use our submission to make the world a better place is beyond me.)

Unfortunately, this philosophical rejection of female power and influence has been used against us not only by the religious authorities on every continent, and by the lies of social conservatives in America. Now American feminists find ourselves on the defensive against talented, artistic, articulate young women like Taryn.

I can fight Pope Benedict and Michele Bachmann, but fighting Taryn tears me to pieces. Her version of second wave feminism causes me much pain at a time when we are trying to mobilize women and men of every age against the personhood amendment which will not only end all abortion rights in America, but also birth control, stem cell research and the success of in vitro fertilization. The first vote in this dramatic turn of events for American women comes in Mississippi in about 10 days.

The ism that the truth will set us free has never applied to American feminism, due to the deeply religious nature of our culture, the primacy of testosterone-ridden traditionalism in our heritage, and the centuries-old psychological beast of generations on every continent feeling the need to discredit each other as part of their own liberation.

Molly Jong-Fast’s summer pronouncement that women worldwide have all the rights they need, and her humiliation of her mother writer Erica Jong’s feminist values as being the provenance of luxury-living, educated (white) women are the best current example of younger women needing to establish their own self identity by metaphorically slaying their mothers.

In the case of American feminism, daughters are slaying the ideals of the women who bore them at the expense — not only of themselves — but their own daughters and future generations of American women. It is our daughters who are handing the social conservatives all women on a silver platter, and I fail to see the power of those actions.

Feminism and the Question of Objectification

A bit overwhelmed by Taryn’s philosophy of the natural order between the sexes, I’ve returned to my own feminist texts and discussions about second wave feminist perspectives. A good place for young  women to learn what we really said is the Stanford (University) Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The section Feminist Perspectives on Objectification addresses Taryn’s assertions about feminism directly, providing an excellent review of the totality of feminist thought and not the much-quoted words and now sacrosanct truths about feminism uttered by Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon.

These two scholars do not constitute in any way the totality of feminism’s perspective on Objectification.

Michelle Ellsworth in ‘The Objectification of Things’

Objectification is a notion central to feminist theory. It can be roughly defined as the seeing and/or treating a person, usually a woman, as an object. In this entry, the focus is primarily on sexual objectification, objectification occurring in the sexual realm. Martha Nussbaum (1995, 257) has identified seven features that are involved in the idea of treating a person as an object:

  1. instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier’s purposes;
  2. denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;
  3. inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;
  4. fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;
  5. violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;
  6. ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);
  7. denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

Rae Langton (2009, 228–229) has added three more features to Nussbaum’s list:

  1. reduction to body: the treatment of a person as identified with their body, or body parts;
  2. reduction to appearance: the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look, or how they appear to the senses;
  3. silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.

The majority of the thinkers discussing objectification have taken it to be a morally problematic phenomenon. This is particularly the case in feminist discussions of pornography. Anti-pornography feminists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, influenced by Immanuel Kant’s conception of objectification, have famously argued that, due to men’s consumption of pornography, women as a group are reduced to the status of mere tools for men’s purposes. Moreover, feminists like Bartky and Bordo have argued that women are objectified through being excessively preoccupied with their appearance. Important recent work by feminists has also been devoted to exploring the connection between objectivity and objectification. Recently, some thinkers, such as Martha Nussbaum, have challenged the idea that objectification is a necessarily negative phenomenon, arguing for the possibility of positive objectification. While treating a person as an object (in one or more of the ways mentioned above) is often problematic, Nussbaum argues that objectification can in some contexts take benign or even positive forms, and can constitute a valuable and enjoyable part of our lives.

Millions of women, including me, have always sided with Nussbaum’s assertion that objectification isn’t always a bad state of affairs for either women or men.

Femism asked women to THINK about our intentions and the meaning of our actions as they impacted ourselves and those around us.

Feminism asked women to not behave like fashionista robots on cruise control with corporate America, with men generally, and with our patriarchal institutions. For those who condemn the use of the word ‘patriarchy’ by second-wave feminists, I believe the definition fits.

Mirriam-Webster defines patriarchy as a social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.

Just a few weeks ago, I shared with readers that Anne — of all women — tried to save a moment of inexplicable penis deflation and shattered male ego by submitting to a spanking. This distraction was my own clever idea, not his. Understanding how obsessed men are about an erect cock, I used myself to try to save his male ego — because I liked him.

In this case, the selfless act was for my good friend, and not for me. As a victim of serious physical, verbal and sexual abuse, I find nothing sensually thrilling about being spanked or humiliated. BDSM lite is fine and can be fun.

Trying to salvage the sexual situation, I knew we were doomed. Writing that I never saw this man again, I  neglected to mention that he called me last summer to apologize, saying I was the most incredible woman he had ever known.

Standing Against the Masters of the Universe

Copper & brass phallus sculpture at Vintage Modern Furniture GalleryWe are not meant to be lovers — this master of the Wall Street universe and I. Seven years younger than me, he has two young, totally-spoiled daughters and an obsession with money. Extreme materialism was never my source of pleasure and meaning in life, and this was all my friend talked about.

Simply stated, his Rembrandts bored me.

My point is that most feminists do not hate men. New research verifies that feminists not only are married but have much lower divorce rates. Men married to feminists say they are really happy with us, when social researchers actually bother to ask men about their views. It seems that feminists are actually ready to go the extra mile, understanding the reality that social conservatives of every skin color have much higher divorce rates. For all their amens, they watch more porn and get divorced more often.

Yes, we do tend to be better educated women than non feminists, and our education and thinking prowess is held against us as a sign of female arrogance.

3) I happen to agree with Taryn about the female’s natural alliance with nature. Like so many AOC readers and friends I asked to counsel me on how to respond to her editorial, we all agree about the need to once again honor nature and sensuality. 

This feminist writer has even linked the killing of dolphins in Taiji, Japan to male dominance and too much testosterone. Concurrent with the advent of monotheism and at the time of Aristotle, men assumed control and responsibility for women, animals and plants in formalized treatises including the Bible. In a period of about 300 years, men consulted directly with God, gaining complete control over all life on the planet. 

Prior to Aristotle, it was a capital crime punishable by death to kill dolphins in Greece. After monotheism — well, the dreadful dolphin and whale story belongs to Moby Dick.

In the past readers have pointed out the evolution from hunting to farming, and the subsequent rise of private property as the reasons for women’s downfall. Without a doubt, the decline for women began with these changes in how societies lived. But monotheism and Aristotle nailed our coffins shut, making the natural submission of women the law of the land — and virtuous, to boot.

Thereafter, a woman standing up for herself was going against the laws of nature and God himself. With the majority of American women (not men) believing that God is a man who notes our every move, no wonder the natural submission of women is the unstated law of the land from sea to shining sea.

To this day, men — not women because except for Europe, we do not have political or business-decision-making power — make a mess of the entire ecosystem, and I refuse to be apologetic or submissive about telling the truths of history.

To argue that men become so lost in their love for women that they must destroy the planet to get their sense of manhood back is a train of thought that escapes my eclectic and far-reaching, but not limitless, mental capacity.

Until a few days ago, I felt that I would end this belated essay with the line ‘I just don’t buy it, Taryn.’ And I don’t. (Oct. 31, 2011. I have now pubished the followup conversations between myself and Taryn, so that the record is public. I admittedly take issue with the reader below who suggests that my thoughts here represent a knee jerk reaction to Taryn’s infinite feminine wisdom about the failings of feminism. In fact our conversations went on for days, and then I thought for almost two weeks before writing.)

But a ray of light came from another young woman, someone from my past who is very precious to me — the daughter I never had, but a young woman I nurtured often for eight years. 

A Broader Frame of Reference on Women’s Natural Submission

Taryn Andreatta in ‘The Offering’

Jennifer Lewis wrote her response to the Taryn Andreatta images and editorial with no coaching from me and without knowing my specific concerns about compromising feminism and femininity with women worldwide. It’s not an exaggeration to say that countless women hang on my every statement these days.

Moving from bride burning in India to the natural submission of women is very tough for me. I have great respect for traditional values — but putting women in the oven or setting them on fire for the slightest infraction is not in my book of gospels. I fear the words natural submission, traditional,  God-given and countless other words associated with women’s ‘natural’ roles.

At the same time, I was never a woman who wanted to be ‘like a man’ or who struggled with concepts that men’s and women’s brains are different and other scientific distinctions — especially those validated by female scientists. It is women researchers who are turning over countless male-generated isms these days about the natural order of gender relations in the animal world.

Archaeological digs are also rewriting women’s history, an advancement endorsed by many of the top men in Biblical and theological studies.

While I adore men, I beieve that women are the superior gender and will never take my marching orders from men unless I am burned at the stake. I do not respect the patriarchy at all, based on global history, and prefer to have women very involved as leaders at every level of government and business.

Ms. Lewis’s words create a blended perspective that I can embrace whole-heartedly. Perhaps a year or two younger than Taryn — or the same age — Jennifer just began working on her masters/doctorate in social work at Ohio State University. Jennifer’s words carry none of the anti-feminism weight that has pained me for the past several weeks, leaving me liberated to once again appreciate the beauty, if not the total message of Taryn’s ‘The Offering’. 

You can read Jennifer Lewis’s thoughts on the topic of women, gender balance and submission. As for me, I must carry on and fight the personhood amendment that would take away Jennifer and Taryn’s right to birth control, if they are fortunate enough to live in the great state of Mississippi.

I also advise Jennifer and Taryn to stay out of Utah, where miscarriage almost became a felony in the fall of 2010, except for a thinking governor who promised to veto it. In fact, the personhood amendment will almost certainly subject any woman who experiences a miscarriage to legal scrutiny by the authorities.

Given the reality that about 600,000 women experience natural miscarriages (not counting abortions) every year — 1 in 10 pregnancies — this new scrutiny of women’s bodies will put the most incredible financial strains on America’s judicial system. 

As for women’s psyches, I suppose having the police authorities at women’s bedsides will put stress on them, too. If you’re a natural submissive, perhaps it’s not so bad. I read countless women saying that the judicial whip is a big sexual turn-on. These women are accustomed to being under the patriarchal microscope, so what’s a bit of jail time in America.

For the feminists amongst us, jail is not our favorite sexual fantasy, perhaps making us really dull-women brainiacs in bed after all. Wouldn’t that be a hoot!!! To be continued …  Anne