All through my sophomore year in high school, I was in love with a boy and we were sleeping together in the back seat of his car. He was the captain of the football team and I was only a sophomore. Sometimes when my folks weren’t home, we would make it on the couch, so one time toward the end of the summer after his senior year, he came by when nobody was home. I could smell beer on him, but I couldn’t not do what he wanted. He asked me to take off all my clothes and went to a kitchen cabinet and came back with the butter dish. “I’m gonna cover you with butter, Susan,” he said. He moved his hands real slow and soft, butter over every part of me. Then he said, “Bye-bye,” and went out the door, and I remember thinking, “What is this to do to the future Homecoming Queen?” and I found out the next day how he’d had his first date with a new girl that night. My father had a gun. So I waited in a little park across the street from this boy’s house, and when he showed I went over and said to him, “Look what I got.” “What?” he said. I waved it. “Wow,” he said. “That’s right,” I told him. And there was this Mickey Spillane book called ‘Vengeance is Mine’ I had just read, so I said, “Vengeance is mine.” “I got a full scholarship for football, Susan,” he said. “It’s a Big Ten school.” And I shot him. I didn’t know you could be shot and not die, so I didn’t shoot him anymore. I just walked away. He lived and went on to play Big Ten football after a year delay. It’s something, though, how once you shoot a man, they’re none of them the same anymore, and you know how easy, if you got a gun, they fall down. You wanna go out, get somethin’ to eat? I’m gonna go over to Bookbinder’s and get myself an elaborate meal.
David Rabe, Susan - In The Boom Boom Room
The feminist movement is generally periodized into the so-called first, second and third waves of feminism. In the United States, the first wave is characterized by the suffragette movement; the second wave is characterized by the formation of the National Organization for Women, abortion rights politics, and the fight for the Equal Rights Amendments. Suddenly, during the third wave of feminism, women of colour make an appearance to transform feminism into a multicultural movement.
This periodization situates white middle-class women as the central historical agents to which women of colour attach themselves. However, if we were to recognize the agency of indigenous women in an account of feminist history, we might begin with 1492 when Native women collectively resisted colonization. This would allow us to see that there are multiple feminist histories emerging from multiple communities of colour which intersect at points and diverge in others. This would not negate the contributions made by white feminists, but would de-center them from our historicizing and analysis.
Indigenous feminism thus centers anti-colonial practice within its organizing. This is critical today when you have mainstream feminist groups supporting, for example, the US bombing of Afghanistan with the claim that this bombing will free women from the Taliban (apparently bombing women somehow liberates them).
Andrea Smith, Indigenous Feminism Without Apology
The refusal, especially among liberals, to believe that pornography has any real relationship to sexual violence is astonishing. Liberals have always believed in the value and importance of education. But when it comes to pornography, we are asked to believe that nothing pornographic, whether written or visual, has an educative effect on anyone. A recognition that pornography must teach something does not imply any inevitable conclusion: it does not per se countenance censorship. It does, however, demand that we pay some attention to the quality of life, to the content of pornography. And it especially demands that when sexual violence against women is epidemic, serious questions be asked about the function and value of material that advocates such violence and makes it synonymous with pleasure.
Andrea Dworkin, “Pornography’s Part in Sexual Violence” in The New Terrorism
Miss,” however delicious its scent in the private house, has a certain odour attached to it in Whitehall which is disagreeable to the noses on the other side of the partition; and that it is likely that a name to which “Miss” is attached will, because of this odour, circle in the lower spheres where the salaries are small rather than mount to the higher spheres where the salaries are substantial. As for “Mrs.,” it is a contaminated word; an obscene word. The less said about that word the better. Such is the smell of it, so rank does it stink in the nostrils of Whitehall, that Whitehall excludes it entirely. In Whitehall, as in heaven, there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage.
Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
As girls come of age sexually, the culture gives them impossibly contradictory messages…. Somehow girls are supposed to be innocent and seductive, virginal and experienced, all at the same time. As they quickly learn, this is tricky. Females have long been divided into virgins and whores, of course. What is new is that girls are now supposed to embody both within themselves. This is symbolic of the central contradiction of the culture—we must work hard and produce and achieve success and yet, at the same time, we are encouraged to live impulsively, spend a lot of money, and be constantly and immediately gratified. This tension is reflected in our attitudes toward many things, including sex and eating. Girls are promised fulfillment both through being thin and through eating rich foods, just as they are promised fulfillment through being innocent and virginal and through wild and impulsive sex…. The emphasis for girls and women is always on being desirable, not on experiencing desire…. advertisers can’t conceive of a kind of power that isn’t manipulative and exploitive or a way that women can be actively sexual without being like traditional men…. A young woman seems to have only two choices: She can bury her sexual self, be a ‘good girl,’ give in to what Carol Gilligan terms ‘the tyranny of nice and kind’ (and numb the pain by overeating or starving or cutting herself or drinking heavily). Or she can become a rebel—flaunt her sexuality, seduce inappropriate partners, smoke, drink flamboyantly, use other drugs. Both of these responses are self-destructive, but they begin as an attempt to survive, not to self-destruct.
Jean Kilbourne, “The More You Subtract, the More You Add”: Cutting Girls Down to Size
Think of all the women you know who will not allow themselves to be seen without makeup. I often wonder how they feel about themselves at night when they are climbing into bed with intimate partners. Are they overwhelmed with secret shame that someone sees them as they really are? Or do they sleep with rage that who they really are can be celebrated or cared for only in secret?
bell hooks, Communion: The Female Search for Love
Some men do the dinner dishes every night. That doesn’t make their wives free. On the contrary, it’s just one more thing she has to feel grateful to him for. He, in the power and glory of his maleness, condescended to do something for her. It will never mean more than that until the basic power relations are changed. As long as men are the superior caste and hold the political power in the class relationship between men and women, it will be a favor your lover is doing you, however imperiously you demand it. And beyond that one thing, nothing else need have changed.
Dana Densmore, Independence from the Sexual Revolution
Men often react to women’s words - speaking and writing - as if they were acts of violence; sometimes men react to women’s words with violence. So we lower our voices. Women whisper, Women apologize. Women shut up. Women trivialize what we know. Women shrink. Women pull back. Most women have experienced enough dominance from men - control, violence, insult, contempt - that no threat seems empty
Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse
A woman’s beauty is supposed to be her grand project and constant insecurity. We’re meant to shellac our lips with five different glosses, but always think we’re fat. Beauty is Zeno’s paradox. We should endlessly strive for it, but it’s not socially acceptable to admit we’re there. We can’t perceive it in ourselves. It belongs to the guy screaming ‘nice tits’.
Molly Crabapple, “The World of a Professional Naked Girl”
How To Subjugate A Body © Sophia Wallace 2012