The Prudes’ Progress: Re-membering Feminist Desire, Part VII – Re-membering Feminist Desire

This is the seventh part in an eight-part series of articles, The Prudes’ Progress, about non-objectifying, woman-identified sexuality based on ideas of equality and whole-personhood, in the tradition of lesbian feminism. For the first article in the series, which includes a table of contents, please click here. The articles don’t have to be read in order and contain many backwards and forwards links so you can follow them in whatever way is most useful for you, although forward links won’t work until the relevant article is available.

The Seventh Progression: Creating Places of Safety

It’s painful to put this so late in the list, because I think places of safety are essential for all feminists taking on any feminist project. But because “feminist” is such a broad word, and because many self-describing feminists might not be interested in Progressing, I’ve chosen to talk about the process of creating our spaces at a point where Progressing Prudes are aware of and have made significant progress working on some of the challenges of feminist desire.

Few – if any – women will have made it to this point alone. Movement away from instrumental sexuality is movement against the flow of society, and without others around who see things in a similar way, who are supportive and who are moving with us, it can be difficult to sustain. Even those who don’t know anyone else on this Progress will almost certainly have come this far via the support of general feminist community, and perhaps via taking part in specific struggles alongside other women.

Those of us who’ve had time and energy to come this far are likely privileged, lucky, determined or all three. For many people, demands of work, health, oppression and even daily survival have to take priority over the kinds of work described here. Even though I’ve tried to emphasise at many points how so many of the struggles for feminist desire are collective struggles, not individual self-improvement, there’s no getting away from the fact that it takes significant personal energy to do the individual work that’s a part of this Progress.

So I consider it our responsibility to give something back, and one way of doing that is to spend some of our time and energy on creating, maintaining and improving spaces which have political values and practices compatible with feminist desire. These spaces can be political groups, social groups, personal friendships and even sometimes online spaces, although the latter can sometimes lack a personal, empathising quality that I think is important.

The process of consciousness-raising discussed in the first Progression can take part in these spaces, and by bringing together women at many different stages of the Progress it can create opportunities to support and learn from each other. It can maintain a community for people doing personal and political work such as this Progress which might make us feel alienated in other self-described feminist spaces.

Not all places of safety are explicitly feminist women’s communities. As a movement which in minority world Western nations is often dominated by white, middle-class women like me, groups controlled by such women may be racist and classist environments. Even if not overtly racist and classist, they may centre on white middle-class women’s needs and experiences and fail – if they’re even trying! – to create an environment in which working-class and/or Black women are able to be sufficiently off their guard to allow for the intense vulnerability which Progressing can demand.

And spaces with a poor general level of understanding of racial and class oppression are unlikely to be able to contain or meaningfully process the issues of racial and class oppression which may be entangled with working-class and/or Black women’s experiences of instrumental sexuality and hence their own Progress toward feminist desire. That doesn’t mean that women dealing with those forms of oppression won’t make Progress, but that for a space to be a a useful space of safety it has to address itself to all women.

A long-term issue in spaces for women who love women has been the exercise of “purity politics”, in which the “gold star lesbian” (an AFAB person who’s never had a sexual relationship with a cissexual man – transsexual men are often treated as not compromising “gold star” status, and are in fact sometimes eligible for it themselves or at least its rewards) is the purest figure, and bisexual, transsexual and sometimes BDSM-practicing women (among others) are pushed further out, treated as “contaminated”, as well as experiencing multiple concrete exclusions based on the ways in which spaces aren’t designed for our/their bodies/needs/experiences.

It would be easy to use feminist desire as a form of purity politics, as warned by writer C.E., who recalls a narrative of lesbian feminism which, no matter whether it’s true or not, is and was certainly commonly felt:

The central failure of lesbian separatism was how much it believed it could establish a pure, authentic woman-centered community. As the actions of individuals became indicative of an essential wholeness, a true Self, norms became invested with a deadly seriousness. Every gesture was classed according to its ability to be properly “woman-identified” and a feminist theology not dissimilar to Puritanism emerged. Just as Puritans felt God’s grace to be manifest through rigorous, rational adherence to the law, woman identification became a purity that expressed itself through proper speech, proper praxis, and proper sex. The shame and isolation that engendered lesbian community became disgusting again as it became a tool of asserting the purity of the elect, as it was turned towards a reaffirmation of this world.

C.E., Undoing Sex: Against Sexual Optimism (2012), p40, in Lies: A Journal of Materialist Feminism (vol. 1, 2012), pp. 15-43

At this point we should remember our commitment, as Progressing Prudes, to decentering privileged voices (in the langauge of the Prudes’ Progress, that was our subjectifying counter-Movement to the objectification process of silencing). In this particular context, “purity” does the work that charmed qualities such as whiteness and maleness do in wider spaces, by marking the “pure” with a power of reality control over other women’s accounts of their experience.

In fact “purity” neatly aligns with some of those mainstream charmed qualities through alchemies like biphobic association of bisexual people with inauthenticity, dishonesty and disease (although Eisner argues that bi people should be careful not to throw the subversive baby out with the biphobic bathwater) and the transmisogynistic sexual disgust and aesthetic brutality enforced against trans* women.

In other words, “purity”, as inevitably assigned to and by the relatively privileged, is more often a marker of privilege itself than of a woman’s personal work to liberate herself from instrumental forms of desire. I’ve been lucky to benefit from gentle challenge and encouragement from other women throughout my own ongoing Progress, but only ever when I had the time, space and energy to authenticate those women’s voices myself. Each of us must be the final authority on her own experience. This doesn’t mean we’re automatically right; it means a woman has the final word, even if she later changes her mind.

While monosexism, transphobia and other forms of oppression exist, it won’t ever be possible to completely decentralise privileged voices, and those with the easiest access to purity politics and the self-affirmation (never Self-affirmation) they provide will always have the power and the tendency to matronise and harm more marginalised women. As the woman noting down these Progressions I can’t immunise us from this; all I can is ask is for all of us to be aware of the times when we occupy that centre position with relation to other women and to work to decentre ourselves.

Not all women who are marginalised will even begin within “safer spaces”, to face this kind of risk. Even if there were women’s groups in every city, many women would be uninterested, unwilling or unable to join them because of internalised misogyny or because they are so busy with other struggles. Janice Raymond warns against abandoning these women when she writes that:

Gyn/affection [defined by Raymond as “a strong female friendship that has political consequences”] cannot be sustained where women have “the great privilege of being unburdened by care for the world” because Gyn/affection is a political virtue with a political effect. Female living, especially feminist existence, cannot take place outside the polis.

Any strong and critical reality of female friendship, any mode of friendship that aims to restore power to the word and reality, cannot be created within a dissociated enclave of women who have little knowledge of or interest in the wider world. Women’s friendships cannot be reconstituted in a vacuum of dissociation from the wider world. Any women’s community that dissociates itself from a wider world cannot take the place of a wider world.

Dissociation from the world produces dissociation from women. It restricts Gyn/affection to a separate community created by withdrawing from the world. Thus it deprives Gyn/affection of its political power and makes of it a personal matter only.

Janice Raymond, A Passion for Friends: towards a philosophy of female affection (The Women’s Press, 1991), p155

Part of not dissociating is to build and hold on to ties with women who are sometimes “thrown away”, even by feminist movements. Older friends and relatives, while sometimes a source of negative attitudes, can also be a source of safety and wisdom. There’s a clue here in how much the patriarchal culture despises women’s ageing, and how many stereotypes exist to silence and dismiss the words of older women:

As we move toward creating a society within which we can each flourish, ageism is another distortion of relationship which interferes without vision. By ignoring the past, we are encouraged to repeat its mistakes. The “generation gap” is an important social tool for any repressive society. If the younger members of a community view the older members as contemptible or suspect or excess, they will never be able to join hands and examine the living memories of the community, nor ask the all important question, “Why?” This gives rise to a historical amnesia that keeps us working to invent the wheel every time we have to go to the store for bread.

Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Age, Race, Class and Sex (Quality Paperback Book Club collected edition, 1993), p116-117

The last but not least meaning of creating places of safety is the acknowledgement that, while systems of oppression exist, the whole world is unsafe. While it’s true that white middle-class women’s way of living will always be to some extent ‘instrumental’ as long as we benefit from white and class privileges, our desire to move away from instrumental ways of living shouldn’t be the reason why we should care about dismantling those systems, because it falsely places us at the centre. Our Progress, however, may bring us into contact with those systems if we let it.

This is a principle on which Black women have long led the way. When the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs was formed in North America in 1896 the motto it selected was “Lifting As We Climb”, as described by Angela Y Davis almost a century later:

We must strive to “lift as we climb”. In other words, we must climb in such a way as to guarantee that all of our sisters, regardless of social class, and indeed all of our brothers, climb with us. This must be the essential dynamic of our quest for power – a principle that must not only determine our struggles as Afro-American women, but also govern all authentic struggles of dispossessed people. Indeed, the overall battle for equality can be profoundly enhanced by embracing this principle.

Angela Y Davis, Let Us All Rise Together: Radical Perspectives on Empowerment for Afro-American Women, in Women Culture and Politics (The Women’s Press, 1990), p5

This Progression is about keeping the struggle broad and not pulling up the ladder behind us. While I think that Progressing toward feminist desire is a moral, feminist course of action and encourage others to do it, in many cases the most important step required to make feminist desire accessible to others is broad-base activism against a wide range of structures which oppress women. This very much includes structures of race, class and others, because many women exist within and are oppressed by those structures compounded with sexist oppression.

Wanting to Progress toward feminist desire can point our way, because every Progression brings us into conflict with problematic attitudes (often our own), individuals and institutions. Our Progress illuminates the shape of the State of Domination which is thoroughly incompatible with feminist desire. As we Progress it becomes our natural enemy. Through the conflict it brings about, the Progress becomes a guide to our struggle, never an end in itself.

The Eighth Progression: Kindling Feminist Desire – sparking, stoking, shoring, sustaining and blazing

Before reading this section you may want to go back to Introducing Feminist Desire to remind yourself what it is we’re working to develop. By this point we’ve identified and worked through/past/around many of the barriers to our Progress, but we should keep in mind the spirit we’re Progressing in.

Now what? When will feminist desire start happening to us? Well, it won’t. As women, men are what “happen” to us. If we want feminist desire to “happen”, then we, as women who feel a feminist love for women, must bring about our (plural) own world of feminist desire. Writing about female friendship, Janice Raymond says that:

Often women wait for other women to initiate Gyn/affection, without taking the initiative themselves. They fear making the first move. Here women assimilate the hetero-relationship model in which women have waited for a phone call, a proposal, the expression of a preference, the offer of a contract, a job, a future. Waiting can be fatal, however, for it breeds a passivity and discourages risk-taking. Ultimately, it convinces women that they are not responsible for their own futures.

Women must overcome this major obstacle to Gyn/affection by initiating all sorts of activities with each other – affection, thinking, and the doing of deeds. The gift of female friendship is that it initiates Self-movement. The woman who befriends her Self and other women realises that she cannot “shed the burden of time” waiting for a future in which someone, this time a woman, will hand her back her Self.

Janice Raymond, A Passion for Friends: towards a philosophy of female affection (The Women’s Press, 1991), p179

It’s significant that Raymond uses the word “initiate” rather than ideas of pursuit or there being an “active” partner. Feminist desire isn’t analogous to instrumental sexuality, in which one partner goes out and gets what they want from the other. Initiation suggests the first step of a walk, or the first spark which lights a fire.

As a project, feminist desire is reciprocal, meaning that it’s something which lives as a back-and-forth exchange and sharing between women. If instrumental sexuality is a house built by patriarchy, given to a man, who expects a woman to move in, then feminist desire is a building put up collaboratively by the women who’ll live within it. It can feel like a battle sometimes to make instrumental sexuality what the participants want it to be; it certainly wasn’t designed for women, and it wasn’t really designed for individual men, either. Trying to change a given always involves conflict, and there’s always a sense of, “Is this bit worth changing? What about this bit? Can we live with that bit?” But as something which, from the ground up, only exists for politically-minded women, feminist desire is intentional, hence fitting.

A beauty of feminist desire is that, immediately after the moment of initiation there’s not an ‘initiator’ or ‘responder’ role. There aren’t subject/object roles to draw on and there’s no imperative to “make something happen” or, conversely, stop it from happening. Instrumental sexuality disguises itself as an mystical compulsion which “takes” us in order to hide the reality that it is a power grab which takes place down a power hierarchy, in which the power grab itself is the sex. Feminist desire has no need to resort to disguises and is simply what it is: a chosen, shared project between women to build a joyful emotional and/or sexual connection, which draws its meaning from equality, not from power.

The foundation of feminist desire is Gyn/affection, or politically minded female friendship. And a relationship of feminist desire is initiated the same way that a friendship is initiated, except that, unlike women’s friendships within a framework of hetero-relationism, the spark isn’t damped once it crosses an invisible line. In her chapter “Sparking: The Fire of Female Friendship”, Mary Daly writes:

Female-identified love is not dichotomised from radical female friendship, but rather is one important expression/manifestation of friendship. Women loving women do not seek to lose our identity, but to express it, dis-cover it, create it. A Spinster/Lesbian can be and often is a deeply loving friend to another woman without being her “lover”, but it is impossible to be female-identified lovers without being friends and sisters. The Presence of Enspiriting Female Selves to each other is a creative gynergetic flow that may assume different shapes and colors. The sparking of ideas and the flaming of physical passion emerges from the same source.

Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (The Women’s Press, 1979), p373

Sparking female friendship is the origin of feminist desire, a friendly meeting of mutual subjects without distance. By “friendly”, I want to emphasise that feminist desire comes from having warm feelings towards each other. There’s no such thing as a “feminist desire hatefuck” (sadly that word’s a real thing, and reveals a lot about the sexualities which make it possible; see Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse for more). And being “without distance” is the opposite of the way in which we might relate to fetishes. The people with whom we feel mutual feminist desire are people who we’re able feel close to in a way that gently resonates with our feminist desire.

When we spark a fire the most common reason for it not taking is because it’s dampened before the spark even has a chance to catch. And feminist desire is damped in this society by design, so it’s Progressing Prudes who need to keep the fire well-stoked.

At a basic level, women’s socialisation has been about not initiating, because that’s the man’s role. And it’s been about very precise control of our response to initiations, very carefully gauged to the situation: enough to be “polite”, not so much as to “lead someone on”, unless of course we mean to, in which case we must flirt enough to engage but not enough to be “easy”. Something so precisely controlled according to rules we don’t control is not really “ours” at all, so in many ways we can say we also aren’t experienced at being our Selves when another initiates – at being Self-ish.

Layered over this are the experiences and fears of sexual objectification and aggression which can work against women who love women. Because our experience of sexual desire is so often an experience of being made an object, and because everyday encounters are so often sexualised (how would they be otherwise towards a sex object?), our experience of being approached can feel very closely bound up with our experience of being sexually objectified and of others’ predatory behaviour, so that the two appear to be the same or bring up similar feelings.

Within the institution of heterosexuality, relations are sexualised down to the ground because one person within the relation is considered a sex object who must be consumed and the other a person who must consume sex objects. So even initiating friendship within that setting can be threatening, or can mask potentially threatening sexual overtures (see the section “Actually, What Was The Question Again?” from this article). Fearful feelings associated with initiation don’t necessarily go away just because it’s a woman making the approach, and many of us should be prepared to be seen (and be aware of how we perceive others) as the heterosexually-constructed-lesbian-predator, a bogiewoman figure who who treats women like men treat women.

But this is only the start of it. On top of this, there are all the usual ways we learn to hate women through internalised misogyny. These are very important but also widely discussed in feminism, so I’d like to look at some of the particular ways that women are encouraged to hate more marginalised women, and in hating them/us, dampen any possibility of kindling feminist desire. These hatreds aren’t free-floating; they’re done by particular parts of society to particular other parts; but they can also be experienced as internalised hatred and dampen feminist desire even between equally marginalised women.

So women who exclusively love women may fear that bisexual women will infect them with instrumental sexuality from the world of men, and that their woman-loving is inauthentic. Cissexual women may judge that transsexual women are both inauthentic and so irretrievably “male-socialised” (though lesbian women brought up as straight, of course, aren’t “straight-socialised”) that our skin itself is toxic. White women may learn the lies that Black women are aggressive, homophobic, dirty or only sexual. Currently non-disabled women may think that disabled women are not sexual at all. And women from all these groups may end up, on some level, also believing these things about themselves (internalised Self-hatred).

When we’re separated then feminist desire is hypocritical and insubstantial. It takes sisterhood to stoke a fire and it’s the responsibility of privileged women to not be divisive (an accusation we/they often reverse to level at marginalised women instead – but to be marginalised is to not have the power to control the centre of the movement, to not be able to divide – it’s privileged women who divide, and divide again, by not listening to the clear wisdom on how to stop dividing). To explore all of these (and many more forms of oppression) would take a hundred essays but it’s a subject I started working with in this article on attraction over privileged gradients.

Sometimes it’s not so much that we damp feminist desire before it can grow, and more that society actively tries to extinguish it, requiring our efforts to shore it up. The malestream doesn’t consciously know what feminist desire is but it knows to get aggressive when it thinks a woman might be working her way loose of the system. This is one of the reasons why antifeminists don’t always seem to know the difference between a feminist and a lesbian, as the Radicalesbians pointed out in 1970:

Lesbian is a word, the label, the condition that holds women in line. When a woman hears this word tossed her way, she knows she is stepping out of line. She knows that she has crossed the terrible boundary of her sex role. She recoils, she protests, she reshapes her actions to gain approval… To have the label applied to people active in women’s liberation is just the most recent instance of a long history; older women will recall that not so long ago, any woman who was successful, independent, not orienting her whole life about a man, would hear this word.

As long as patriarchy has power they’ll attack feminists, but feminists who aren’t Progressing Prudes can give us some cover, if they choose to, by refusing to allow this kind of attack to divide us. When they’re accused of being lesbians – in this case meaning “bad women who take other women too seriously” – they don’t need to say, “Oh, we’re not lesbians” or even “Sure, we’re lesbians, but not the bad kind.” This doesn’t just misunderstand the attack, it gives it more power. Progressing Prudes may not always be lesbians but whatever we are, we’re certainly the “bad kind” as far as patriarchy’s concerned, and we’re not (or try not to be) ashamed. If they want to support us they can say, “What’s it to you? The Prudes and us are on the same side.”

If we don’t damp feminist desire and it isn’t extinguished, another risk is that unless we keep in mind the earlier Progressions, we can centre our lives so much around relating to women that we fail to sustain feminist desire by forgetting our Self-love and becoming “professional relaters”, as Janice Raymond warns:

The relationship-centeredness of many women… makes others the center of a woman’s life. It displaces a necessary Self-centeredness and often negates a work-centeredness since, when a relationship fails, all else fails. Women become depressed… and unable to continue other commitments, especially their work lives. Relationism, or the relationship-centeredness of women, is thus an obstacle to female friendship because it draws a woman’s energy away from her Self, her original friend, always to others. No genuine Gyn/affection can be created which does not come from a strong Self. Relationism promotes a surrender of Self and of a positive and necessary Self-centeredness.

Janice Raymond, A Passion for Friends: towards a philosophy of female affection (The Women’s Press, 1991), p162

And Mary Daly puts it similarly in Gyn/Ecology:

The rituals of romantic love as well as those of religion draw women into the “ecstacy” of Self-loss, the madness which is literally standing outside our Selves, being beside our Selves. In contrast to this, radical feminist ecstasy is Self-centering moving beyond the boundaries of the Fathers’ foreground. This is finding the Self… Hags find and define our own boundaries, our own definitions. Radical feminist living “on the boundary” means this moving, Self-centering boundary definition. As we move we mark out our own territory.

Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (The Women’s Press, 1979), p67

When learning how to balance sparking feminist desire, stoking it against the damp, shoring it against society’s efforts to extinguish it and sustaining it, not allowing ourSelves to be consumed, it can help to have examples to learn from. And we can also try to be those examples, to blaze the trail. For Progressing Prudes one example/exemplar could be the prudefemme, the visible Ethical Prude. This is the way of living I jumped ahead to describing in the later part of my article of the same name:

In our reclamatory definition, then, the Ethical Prude – from prudefemme, a wise, proud and virtuous woman – is named as such by her peers for her fearless opposition to the conflation of sex, power and violence and to compulsory sexuality. Patriarchy attempts to divide her from her friends by using her as a figure to make them feel shame, but she undermines this tactic through her fierce love for fellow women and the solidarity they have formed. Understanding sex-negativity, her friends do not allow themselves to become separated from her but recognise patriarchy in the urge they feel to turn away, and defy it.

She supports survivors who have been hurt by patriarchal sex, and other women support her, not letting any one woman buckle under the trauma of looking rape culture head-on. Spinster, feminazi, sex-negative, lesbian, witch; she is called every name but answers to only one: sister.

Maybe I’m romanticising but for me this resonates deeply with the idea of the village witch and other related figures. Janice Raymond makes the explicit connection when she writes:

Within hetero-reality older women in general and older virgins, lesbians, and/or intimate female friends in particular are perceived as ruined for men. In addition, their feared and mysterious power… may also derive from the threat they pose of ruining young girls for men. Thus the stereotypes of the old hag, the elderly sorceress, and the ancient witch may have an entirely different Gyn/affective power than has been attributed to them thus far in feminist writings. Any woman-identified and autonomous woman, but especially one who has lived a long lifetime in the worlds of women is perceived as not only spoiled for men as spoiling other women for men. Gyn/affection is contagious.

Janice Raymond, A Passion for Friends: towards a philosophy of female affection (The Women’s Press, 1991), p63

Where Raymond says, “spoiling other women for men”, I could say, “making visible an alternative to hetero-reality”. There are many ways to do this. I’ve found doing radical feminist politics as a visible lesbian to be the best form of activism for me – that, and constantly linking my radical feminist politics to my choice to put women first. The erasure and marginalisation of political lesbianism means that many younger women have never met a woman whose woman-loving is also political, and just the knowledge that it’s conceivable or somehow “allowed” can transform something they may only have heard of in historical (or at best herstorical) terms into immediate reality/possibility.

This kind of visibility isn’t possible for everywoman. Colonialist projects have been somewhat successful in exporting structural homophobia to many colonised cultures as part of an effort to weaken and destroy those cultures. And, working sideways from my experience in trans* communities, I’d expect classist and racist oppression to squeeze a community so that it feels like there is less liberation to go around, and so that it can be more difficult for multiply marginalised people to claim their/our own liberation, as well as simply making life more exhausting to live under those oppressions.

But what I really want to say here is that white, middle-class people should bear in mind that racism, colonialism and other oppressions can reduce women’s ability to be visible, or cut it off altogether. In some parts of the world being visibly woman-loving – especially in a way which takes a stand against oppressive structures – may mark a woman for persecution, imprisonment or death. White, minority world middle-class women are complicit with and benefit from the systems which enforce this, and in fact we can benefit specifically from some women’s invisibility. Patricia Hill Collins on shifting the focus from supposedly exceptional “Black homophobia” to wider systems:

Black lesbian relationships [sic: all loving relationships between Black women] pose little threat to “self-defined” Black men and women secure in their sexualities. But loving relationships among Black women do pose a tremendous threat to systems of intersecting oppressions. How dare these women love one another in a context that deems Black women as a collectivity so unlovable and devalued? The treatment of Black lesbians reveals how the sexual expression of all Black women becomes regulated within intersecting systems of oppression. As a specific site of intersectionality, Black lesbian relationships constitute relationships among the ultimate Other. Visible Black lesbians challenge the mythical norm that the best people are White, male, rich, and heterosexual. In doing so lesbians generate anxiety, discomfort, and a challenge to the dominant group’s control of power and sexuality on the interpersonal level.

Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment: Black Women’s Love Relationships (Routledge, second edition, 2000), p167-168

In the end, whether you give a fire too little or too much fuel, it still goes out. The steady, sure flame of feminist desire needs to be actively tended at every stage. As we begin to acknowledge that there’s no “natural” sexuality for humans in the State of Domination (and even Progressing Prudes can never fully leave that state) then all sexuality becomes intentional, after a fashion. This isn’t the same as ‘cold’ or ‘artificial’, although it can feel like that when compared to the hot air talked about instrumental sexuality. Coldness would be holding a part of ourselves away in order to increase our power, not because we don’t choose to share that part of ourselves in a relationship. And ‘artificial’ is what a transparently artificial sexual system calls everything except for itself.

When we kindle feminist desire, then, we sincerely spark Gyn/affection, respond Self-ishly, allowing friendship and desire to resonate between us in a way we gently tend, keep it stoked and refuse to damp it out of fear, shore it up so it can’t be extinguished by the forces arrayed against feminists, and participate in a sustainable way. And our Fire, once burning, first acts as a beacon that blazes the trail for Progressing Prudes just finding their way, and then creates the final circlewise movement as our warm blaze becomes a sparking-point for our sisters’ own new Fires.

This has been the penultimate article in this series, covering the last two Progressions of the Prudes’ Progress. The next and final part in the series contains a brief conclusion and a bibliography of feminist desire, listing (and linking to, where appropriate) to all the books and articles referenced along the way.

3 thoughts on “The Prudes’ Progress: Re-membering Feminist Desire, Part VII – Re-membering Feminist Desire

  1. Posted this link (tumblr) to Reddit. Thank you for quoting my lines, seeing them on yr tumblr blog made me re-see them. Thank you also for discovering me so that I could discover you. Your perspectives make me feel I’m not doing enough, but then I’m so tired, and we have to allow ourselves to admit that…

  2. In Gyn/Ecology, Mary Daly names the “Ultimate Irony” as for a woman “to become a martyr/scapegoat for feminism, whose purpose is to release women from the role of martyr and scapegoat”. Self-care, admitting tiredness and honouring our Selves should very much be part of our feminist behaviour. :)

  3. @Grie:

    Also, just a note, but the place where you posted it – the “feminisms” subreddit – only allows voices in favour of radical feminism, and removes comments by trans* women who criticise radical feminists. So I feel a bit weird about being posted in there; I don’t want my voice as long as my trans* sisters are being silenced, even when they disagree with me. I think it misrepresents trans* politics since if it’s only allowing pro-radical-feminist material from trans* women, it makes it look like more of us support radical feminism than we really do! Would you mind reposting it somewhere else which allows more freedom for trans* women to be heard?

    (There are more problems with the “feminism” subreddit, by the way, which is run by at least one so-called “Men’s Rights Activist” – I suggest a forum like “srsfeminism” which generally does a better job…)

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