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Long preamble thingy to the cuntspeak carnival

this is a response to an email conversation. i think i explained things well in it. (a couple not very relevant things were edited out)

I know I'm always talking 'bout her, but: Jane Caputi! (She is my second fave feminist, after Dworkin. fer serious.) is an online explication of cuntspeak. If you have (access to) Not for Sale, and haven't read Caputi's essay, I thoroughly encourage you to do so :) (I've also read Goddesses and Monsters and The Age of Sex Crime, as well as essays of hers in anthologies like "Femicide.")

from her online article:
..."The elitist and phallic trajectory turns inevitably upward: god in his heaven, your Highness, skyscrapers, and so on. But in cunctipotent traditions a winding descent ("down there") is also recognized as a necessary path to wisdom. ...the cunctipotent perspective invites us to restore balance by focusing also on what is below. Barbara Christian powerfully reminds us that Black feminist traditions advise us to look not only "high," but also to "look low, lest we devalue women in the world. . . [and] our voices no longer sound like women's voices to anyone" (1997, 56). Looking low, we can remember that mythically the cunt is understood as a mouth, a vocal and oracular mouth.
"...It is a tradition, which both women and men can engage in, of speaking from the heart, listening to the belly or gut, and attending to the messages issuing from the very bowels of the Earth. Cuntspeak as an integral part of cunctipotence is the infernal internal voice, a voice from what, from the patriarchal perspective, is Hell itself, but in fact is the headquarters of the "underground" resistance to phallocracy, the holy, not horrific, Heart of Darkness."

It is probably favoured by women in academy. I really doubt it's favoured by men in the academy--probably something like "vessel for my throbbing manhood is" :P. Even women are very preoccupied by theorising endlessly on "the phallus." Jane Caputi writes about this--how even feminist women (esp pomos) are so fearful of being labeled as essentialist, that they refuse to engage with a specifically female subjectivity/body--speaking of "the female phallus" or "the artificial phallus" rather than the clitoris, vulva, cunt...

Additionally, one very prominent example of a singer who uses it is Bif Naked. She'was born in India, from a Canadian teenager in a mental institution, and an Indian father. she was adopted by Americans, grew up in Canada, and went to college for theatre. She dropped out to tour with her band. (her bio: So she was privileged to some degree. One song, Alphabet Poem, goes like this: "Anxiety Breathless Cunt Damn Excitement Fucking Goodness Heaven Interesting Jitters Kitten Love Mine Never Open Pussy Quiet Restless State This Understanding Vitality Willing X-cuses yes...Zany"

The misuse--hell, the use of it at all--of vagina pisses me off. (grrr! :P) Imagine calling a man's "package" a vas deferens! ;) Or his mouth a sheath...well, I'll stop now : / "(No, sir, you did not likely brush against that unknown woman's vagina on the train! And if you did, you should be prosecuted for sexual assault.)" hahahaha :D

The ungendered body is in practice a MALE body--no discussion of menstruation, pregnancy, vulva, clitoris, etc is even permitted. As I mentioned above, the charge of essentialism is terrifying for many women and feminists. I've gotten to the point were I don't really give a shit, if someone calls me or radical feminists in general that, in the sense it won't change my politics. But this charge takes away our ability to speak AS WOMEN, as women of colour, as lesbians. I don't see men asking "do men really exist?" "is endlessly pontificating about the phallus essentialist?" no, it's women who are forbidden from speaking of themselves as a class, of speaking from and with their FEMALE bodies--from and with the cunt. Even I suffered from this last week, and right after was going WTH? I gave a presentation in Feminist theory on Laura Mulvey's "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" and I even, embarrassed, stopped myself from reading a sentence referencing the clitoris. I had talked about the phallus, penis envy, phallocentricism, even said womb envy makes more sense than penis envy, but I stopped myself from using the word clitoris...why, even for me, is saying that word verbotten? why did i censor that from my presentation? i've used it before in speech, but why, in a feminist theory class no less, did i have such a fear of saying clitoris? why is clitoris so much harder to speak of? ugh!

So, to finally address Dworkin, she believed we were all people, (Or, to use Stoltenberg's theory "there are as many sexes as there are people). But I do think that our bodies inform who we are and how we perceive the world, eg reproductive capabilities--fear of becoming pregnant, need for abortion, menstruation, how some people's genital fluids can impregnant someone else who has a vagina, etc. I don't think that can be wished away, even in a non-sex-class society. It's silly to categorise interests, power, etc based on it, but the body matters. I do believe there is a difference between this recognition and that horribly misused and overused slur (esp by pomos) of "essentialism."

Similarly, I think "the female principle" can be referred to nonessentially, if in reference to physicality, eg reproduction. While not all women can reproduce, and many will never, NO MAN CAN. (And hence, womb envy, and trying to control women's fertility and childbearing) Taking intersex into account, virtually all of them are infertile as well. And even wombed-people/menstruating-people who can't get pregnant for whatever reason don't find that out until after trying to have children most often, and the vast majority spend some part of their life before that protecting themselves against pregnancy, or at least, believing they can become pregnant. The "feminine principle" is rubbish. I'm anti-gender (but not anti-sex, as I think my argument is showing). Femininity is dependent on the opposite in order for it to exist. Like "tenderness" is noteworthy in women much because it's not only discouraged in men, but it's opposite is encouraged. I explain my feelings on gender here: So, I don't think you can separate people from their bodies, but you can eliminate both masculinity and femininity, as well as the terms man and woman. But I do think labels like "wombed-one" and "spermed-one" and "vulvaed-person" and "penised-person" are useful (I stole those ideas from Stoltenberg :))

Eve Ensler, interestingly, also has books about and by women in prison, women who have survived war in the former Yugoslavia, Japanese "comfort" women, child sexual abuse, etc. Here's an interview with her and Kimberle Crenshaw by Amy Goodman: And here are two reactions by women of colour to The VMs: And here's an article I found on a woman being inspired to create The Coochie Chronicles, based on women of colour's experiences, by the VMs:

Also, as I went on and on (!) about above, I think we do speak from our bodies, particularly our genitals. If anything, people cut off the mind from the crotch, shutting down this dialectical source of mutual knowledge. Even I sometimes do something sexually I shouldn't because I'm too busy dealing with the "patriarch in my head" and/or the "patriarch in my bed" rather than LISTENING to my cunt. Like engaging in finger penetration when my cunt doesn't want anyone in it, or letting someone else stimulate my clitoris too roughly. Men are also very shut off from the fleshy, soft, pettablely smooth, exquisitely sensitive penis, instead trying to turn their "mind-of-its-own," frankly "cuntlike" penis into the phallus--hard, insensate except for orgasm, focused on penetration, brain-controlled. Which is where insults re: "she thinks with her cunt" "he thinks with his dick" "what a cunt" "dumb cunt" come from. Using one's body as a source of knowledge is verbotten. Cunt's are especially dishonoured by this--in seeking to separate their penis from the cunt and turn it into the phallus, they locate all dishonour, dirtiness, sin, in the cunt, and the penis, and the man it is a part of, can become "guilty by association" to the extent the penis and/or the man, is "like a cunt"--soft, wet, sensitive, thoroughly responsive, swelling but not invasive, capable of granting entrance inside, of "being fucked."

I do think words that have an honourable past, like cunt, and words that never did, are fundamentally different. Something never "claimed" by the now oppressed cannot be "reclaimed"--which a lot of those who say they want to "reclaim" words don't get. Women calling each other bitch, or black women calling each other hos, or black men calling each other nigger, etc is a horrid triumph of patriarchy "over the will to liberation" (using Dworkin's words in a diff context; she was speaking of antifeminism in general), because these words were never ours in the first place. we aren't taking the power back, we are letting it be lorded over us. we are claiming the oppressor's language as our own. re: nigger, from the Online Etymology Dictionary: "From the earliest usage it was "the term that carries with it all the obloquy and contempt and rejection which whites have inflicted on blacks"" Racist fuckhead whites invented it to subordinate, hurt, and help create tolerance and perpetuation of racism. In respect to cunt, shy is being called a word that simply means vulva so oppressive? It lies not in the word itself, unlike fag, ho, nigger, wop, etc but in its oppressive appropriation as a result of patriarchy. Patriarchy did not invent the word cunt; it appropriated it for political purposes--to turn the vulva into something dirty, vile, hated, because to hate women you have to hate their genitals (similarly, to hate blacks, you have to hate what allows the labelling of them as blacks--their very skin)--and that base hatred creates other hatreds--genital and skin hatred create the hatred of black and/or female people's minds, opinions, the rest of their body, the role the oppressors have consigned them to, etc.

I do agree the word can put women off, esp women of colour, because of it's use by misogynists and/or racists. I do definitely see where you are coming from. Should I perhaps rename it, at least to a questionmark after cuntspeak, to also invite dialogue on the word? or call it the "heart/guts/etc" (other assorted words that are related to cunt linguistically and historically/culturally) carnival? maybe i should put all this in the "preamble" to the carnival?

Radfem does put off women of colour, in part because feminism in general is associated with teh white, middle-class ladies who want their piece of the white man's pie. Also in part because radfem is a specifically internet term, by mostly young, middle-class white women who are focused on issues that effect them as that demographic, eg porn, sexual expectations men place on them, music videos, the pornification of mainstream culture--they apply a partial radical feminist analysis (eg the antiporn aspect) to what they see happening to themselves. Not to mention, all the emphasis on "feminism" can exclude women who use the labels womanist, radical women of colour, etc. Even white women who in some ways get it really well, like heart in her inclusion of international politics, understanding of radical feminism as a whole, etc, misses some things, namely a refusal to reckon with her white and class and location (as in US) privileges, and her view that women are oppressed equally, whether in the States, or Thailand; after all she's "every woman."

btw, is a carnival on white women reckoning with their white privilege, it's white women trying to be accountable to women of colour. altho, i think it shouldn't be just white women writing on it, altho i do agree there is a paucity of writing by white women on racism, esp on white women as raced, as privileged.
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odds and ends

chocolate almond milk + Jagermeister  = yummy!

my post on andrea was made while sleep deprived. i'll fix the formatting so you know what i say (i only was at the intro and end--i didn't give any commentary during the comments)

ever since i switched from an ad account to a basic one, lj has been fucking shit up--like I've been getting fewer and fewer comments emailed to me when all are supposed to be. Now, like 10% of them are making it through. what's up with that? does anyone else have that?  I'm still screening non-lj friend comments, but I hope I don't miss any. If a couple days pass and it's not unscreened, and if you--honestly, now--think it should be posted by me, lemme know!

hey, RenEv isn't as bad as she often can come across. and we do need to deal with--and own up to--the blaming a violent ex-partner (not attached to porn) on saying she was injured by a costumer while stripping. bs like that doesn't help. (check her today/oct 10 posts) obviously, I think she is off base on a lot of things. Her calling us out on this lie about her isn't one of them.

also, I find myself being more filled with anger at Satsuma at Women's Space. I think heart should moderate her blog as she sees fit, but I think the mean old RenEv persona a lot of people put forth--without allowing her the contextualise herself (not that that can't wind up shooting herself in the foot)--can blind people to what is really going on. I mean, I've never heard RenEv come out as anti-welfare, anti-"handouts" for people in need, like Satsuma did. I do think RenEv and Satsuma have a lot in common, in odd ways--eg pro-capitalism, their focus on women's choosing their lot in life--and I think neither of them would admit to it. I read both, an am astonished at the similarity. But it is there.

While I'm at it, we need BOTH harm reduction and help out of prostitution--the first is the dealing with both crisis and day-to-day situations, and the latter empowers women to leave, eg job training, college. I don't think one can just have one--eg some women will fight ya kicking and screaming if you tell them "just stop! let me help you!" it's patronising. but they need the opportunity to really SEE the prostitution for what it is, through TREATING THEM LIKE HUMAN BEINGS WITH DIGNITY. Strangely, both sides often miss this. when your autonomy has been taken away from you (eg poverty, child abuse, asshole johns, misunderstandings between well-meaning, but missing the boat, antiporners and the women, kids, and men, in the situation), then prostitution can seem like a way of reclaiming autonomy. I agree that it's largely (not exclusively) false-consciousness and a survival mechanism, but it's real.

also, does anyone know of any agencies that combine the two? and/or are nonsecular (that also help women to leave prostitution)

i'm doing something huge this weekend, and talking with jacob made me realise what i was getting myself into. it hit me--and i ended up crying--when he was showing his concern, and actually giving me a chance to give my...informed consent to this. i have been mostly out of the knowledge loop, yet i'm at great risk here.

because of the last paragraph, I won't be able to get to comments until Tuesday.
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(no subject)

this is old news on the blogosphere, but wtf is this bullshit analysis of dworkin?   dworkin-and-sexual-submission.html

i'm about a quarter through the comments *just finished now*, and am fucking pissed as hell. (aside from joan kelly--she's decent)

like these gems:

See, I've never actually read any of her books. I've only heard about them in the form of buzzwords and the occasional snippets. Now, reading the Wiki and such I'm left with a kind of lingering 'there but for the grace of' feel. Everything from the scars-trauma-hate to the adrift in a foreign country to the death from weight.
Yep. Definitely very grateful for my life right now. Brr. Thank you for the thought provoker, trinity!

I'm sure I'll lose Feminist Points for this, if I'm not already in the red :) but: also, life is what you make of it.

There are people out there who have survived HORROR who come out the other side fiercely loving life and believing the world is good -- or at least that they can fix it.

There are people who have survived very little in the grand scheme of things who believe the world is hell and never stop shouting about how much life hurts.

There's so much misogyny in her work, especially that novel/memoir thing that I've forgot the name of. I think she's speaking on behalf of other women, her mother especially, who didn't fight against the abuse and oppression they felt; I think she's searching for an explanation as to why so many women endured such horrible treatment for so long when she was willing to give up everything to escape that treatment. Unfortunately, I think that her explanation tends to be that those kind of women are contemptible, that they have this image of themselves that invites abuse and contempt.
I know you said somewhere around here that you'd read a few pages of "The Sadeian Women" and couldn't get into it. You should really, really give it another go; it's one of my favorite books of feminist theory ever. Anyway, Angela Carter how Justine is this kind of proto-feminist charicature of the perfect women in patriarchy: a sweet, honest, bourgois virgin who will take any abuse with a smile hoping she can stop the abuse with the power of her own goodness. She's totally contemptible, even the readers want to beat her/rape her/torture her after a while. Men hate Justine because they secretly hate themselves for creating her. I think Dworkin (who is a strong woman who didn't just sit there are take abuse her whole life), does the opposite: in hating the men who rape and abuse women she ends up secretly hating the women who are abused.
I guess the two theories aren't totally incompatible; she could also be expressing self-loathing about that times when she didn't embrace that kind of attitude.

She hated all of us, Joan. Take whatever useful things you can from her theory -- I have as well -- but don't pretend she didn't despise you.

Totally. Dworkin never seemed to really care about women at all to me either. She's so overwhelmingly focused on the men in her life, on how MUCH she LOVED them and how could they OH OH BETRAY HER SO...

...honestly she strikes me as more "male-identified" than just about any other feminist.

The whole thing rankles so much and is just so disgusting. It's like bathing in slime.

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and "kink-hatred". i'm not sure to be angry or find it absolutely hilarious.

and all the opportunistic comparisions to gayness.

shaddup with the bs already!

I can't believe I read all that.

(ps outside of the italicised begging and end, it's all quoting from others)

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What stupid there is out there...

I think I allowed all three of daisydeadhead 's comments through just so people could see the extent of the stupid displayed. Because she so obviously feels she is right. Times eleventy!!!

PS I was quite snippy in response. So you get to see my mean side too : /
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So, what is this degradation then?    coming-soon-spoofing-of-sarah-palin.html

i split the link, just close the spaces to see.

it's just another reason to think ernest greene is icky. he thinks its ok to sexually satirise a woman because you don't like her beliefs. yes, that's right, he was advocating sexually mocking a woman -- nonconsensually -- just out of spite. hmmm... needless to say, it's with Hustler, and he's defending slimeball Flynt.

edited to add (oct 10). belenen expresses feminist objection to this brilliantly:

I myself am very against the use of the word rape as a metaphor, but that's not what I meant here... it's hard to explain. I meant that since an actual attack on Palin is punishable by law, they're creating a fake Palin to use sexually in a way that the REAL Palin would not want or enjoy. I'm not saying they are actually sexually using Palin, but that they are expressing a desire to do so.
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(no subject) -part 6 -part 7 - part 8 - part 9 -part 10

interesting videos! examines misogyny and racism within white society, black churches, hip hop, the sex industry, etc. watch the whole series :)

i really like some of the speakers here like cornel west..."becoming well adjusted to injustice" kim osorio too. mylissa ford is an ex-video model, and something she said really sticks out: "now it's about body parts, who's got the biggest booty." michael dyson is fantastic too. i love his rants...fantastic :D
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Actual Irony

So a certain someone (if you can guess who, you win a nice vegan chocolate cookie) is berating me for being ironic, hypocritical, mean, and antifeminist for simply calling some people's beliefs stupid. Yes I did refer to their beliefs as "the stupid"--but I was saying that to her and her supporters, of which at least 40% are MALE--so how is my use of a gender-neutral word in a gender neutral context misogynist? If anything, it's more misandrist, because I'm calling their beliefs stupid--and have in the past called people who have pissed me off in general as "being stupid" and whatnot--over half of those I've called stupid have been male, and those females I've called stupid have been defending a largely male preserve, built upon the massive wealth of a few mostly white men, at the expense of women and "lesser" men.

But that is not what makes this truly ironic. The last comment/comment nine that was left in that entry ends like this: "And now I'm all down that someone this stupid and stubborn and unwilling to hear debate is out there."

So, her supporters can call women stupid, but not me? Stunning logic yet again.

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Callout for the Cuntspeak Carnival!


This carnival takes it name from Jane Caputi's honourific theory of cuntspeak, in Not for Sale and here. This has also been started in part because of the past Carnival Against Pornography and Prostitution. However, this carnival will also discuss positive sexuality.

I would like this carnival to be about things such as:

-analysing the word "cunt", eg can it be reclaimed? does it offer a strong feminist analysis, eg in inventing new words, naming new ways of Be-ing, speaking, etc?

-developing a sexuality that is gynocentric, clitorocentric, biophilic, egalitarian and/or politically Lesbian

-can one be a political Lesbian and be sexually involved with a man/men?

-what is sex? to society? to you?

-building bridges between fab-women and trans women (politically, socially, etc)? what is transphobia? transmisogyny? how does one reconcile being trans with being a radical feminist--is it hard, or do they go hand in hand?

-women of colour and radical feminism

-white women, middle-class women, and so on writings on economic privilege, straight privilege, whites as raced, etc.

-disability and sexuality

-intersections between oppressions, within and "outside of" sex(uality)

-honourific representations (eg poems, drawings, sculptures, possibly movies) of female sexuality (both already existing and created by you) of female sexuality, vulvas, lesbianism, etc.

-what is "cuntspeak" to you? what does a cuntspeak sexuality look like? smell, taste, feel like? does the cunt think?

-what tries to kill off cuntspeak? destroy our connection with the cunt?

-can men be cuntspeakers? can a heterosexual woman? a trans woman?

-theory to action: acting on one's views, putting cuntspeak philosophies into practice, eg in organisations, communities, relationships, activism, etc

The above are just suggestions, and by no means an exhaustive list.
What do people think? Is this something you'd be interested in? Would participate in?
Any other ideas?

At this point, I'm gauging interest, and haven't decided on deadlines or anything :)

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