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Rebecca Reilly-Cooper continues her examination of sex and gender in part 2.  (Did you miss part 1?)



10. The oppression linked to sex begins at birth, operating through the social imposition of gender. Gender is the label that feminists use to describe the value system that prescribes and proscribes forms of behaviour and appearance for members of the different sex classes, and that assigns superior value to one sex class at the expense of the other. (That’s the same link as the one I said to bookmark in the previous post. I really, really want you to read it.)

11. Gendered socialisation is a lifelong process of inculcation into the gender role for your sex. It begins at birth, is imposed and enforced consciously and subconsciously by us all, in myriad ways, large and small, and operates to enforce certain forms of behaviour deemed desirable for members of the different sex classes and to prevent those deemed undesirable. This is what Simone de Beauvoir meant when she told us that “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”. To occupy the position of woman is to be socialised over the course of a lifetime into membership of the inferior sex class. Gender prescribes submissionweakness and passivity as desirable female traits, and dominancepower and aggression as desirable male traits. The way in which gender is expressed will vary according to culture and context, so different times and places will impose different norms of appearance, behaviour and comportment for males and females. But the underlying values are the same: females are supposed to perform gender in ways that signal their inferiority and submission; males are supposed to perform gender in ways that signal their superiority and dominance. The function of this system of oppression is to make female weakness and dependence on males seem natural and inevitable, and therefore to facilitate the exploitation by males of female emotional, sexual, domestic and reproductive labour.

12. It is perceived reproductive capacity, not actual reproductive capacity, that determines the sex class you will be assigned to, and therefore the form your gendered socialisation will take and the oppression you will experience. It doesn’t matter if you are actually infertile, and therefore incapable of performing the reproductive function of your sex. Nor does it matter whether or not you are inclined to perform that function. The fact of sexual dimorphism means that you will be socially read as belonging to one sex class or the other, and will henceforth be subject to the gendered socialisation, and sanction for non-compliance, deemed appropriate for your sex. Women in their twenties and thirties will experience workplace discrimination on account of their appearing to be potential mothers, even if as a matter of fact they could not conceive or have no desire to conceive.

13. Crucially, gendered socialisation and gender oppression happen regardless of how the individual happens to feel about herself or her identity. The injustices that are inflicted on girls do not occur because those individuals happen to know that they are girls and to think of themselves as girls. They occur because those girls inhabit female bodies, and so were placed into the inferior sex class at birth. To deny this fact is not only to fail to understand how gender operates; it is also to engage in a form of victim blaming, where girls and women who suffer gender-based violence and oppression are assumed to have identified with this subordinate social position, and to recognise and endorse their own inferiority and submissiveness.

14. Many individuals of both sexes are uncomfortable with the constraints that gender places upon them. All women who call themselves feminists are. The reason we come to feminism is because we feel that gender is an oppressive hierarchy that limits our potential, and we want to be liberated from the demands of femininity, which just is the expression of female submission. Similarly, many men feel uncomfortable with the norms of masculinity, which requires the expression of dominance, often in the form of aggression and violence. Males who find masculinity painful and intolerable, and who choose to rebel against its strictures, face prejudice and discrimination, and we should want to end this. But it’s worth remembering that gender punishes females whether they conform or not. Non-conformity is punished and socially sanctioned for both sexes, but for females, conformity is also a form of punishment, since compliance with femininity is in itself submission and subordination.

15. The degree of distress and discomfort individuals experience trying to conform to the appropriate gender norms will vary from person to person. There are very few, if any, persons who conform perfectly to the gender ideals prescribed for their sex. We all of us make compromises to survive, and to flourish as best we can, under the constraints that gender imposes upon us. We all of us actively endorse some bits, passively acquiesce with some bits, and positively rail against some bits, and the balance we eventually settle on will be an individual, personal matter. While we should be prepared to critically examine and reflect upon our choices, and to scrutinise our complicity in the perpetuation of gender, no individual is to be blamed for the choices she makes in order to survive living under an oppressive system.

16. Wanting to abolish the oppressive and limiting effects of gender does not mean that radical feminists want to stop anyone expressing their personality in the ways that they enjoy. Feminists do not wish to ban make-up or high heels, or to prevent girls from playing with dolls and dressing up like princesses. All feminists want is to liberate all of this stuff from perceived reproductive capacity, so that boys and girls, men and women, can dress however they like, play with whatever toys they like, perform whatever jobs they like. Men and women would be free to develop their capacities and reach their full potential, free from the constraints imposed on them by powerful social norms prescribing submission and passivity to females and dominance and aggression to males. The ideal world would be one in which one’s perceived reproductive capacity has as little bearing on one’s social treatment and expected achievements and outcomes as blood group or dominant handedness currently does.

17. The behavioural choices that any individual makes, their tastes and preferences about dress and appearance, and how they choose to express their personality, are independent of biological sex and – quite obviously – have no impact on it. People can dress however they choose, behave however they choose, modify their bodies however they choose, as long as these choices do not harm non-consenting others. This is to be encouraged, and indeed is an important part of the project of liberating humans from the oppressive constraints of gender. But none of this alters the underlying biological fact of their maleness or femaleness. No amount of challenging and modifying gender norms – or “queering” gender – will make a male person female, because to be female just means to be a member of the class of humans capable of gestating a child. Challenging and playing with gender norms in one’s behaviour and presentation, so that one appears androgynous, is a valid and useful tool in dismantling the structures of gender; but on its own it can never liberate females from the oppression that accompanies living in a female body. You cannot identify your way out of an oppression that is material in basis.

Greetings everyone, today, like everyday is a good day to learn or reinforce basic concepts.  Today’s lesson is in what a social construct is.  Many thanks to actual ex-radfem, for all of her hard work.


This is a one dollar bill. It is an excellent example of a social construct. This piece of paper represents a specific amount of spending power in the society that it exists in (the USA). An individual person could decide personally that it represents 1000$ worth of spending power, but it would not matter because like all social constructs, the collective agreement between individuals in society is what determines the meaning of the construct. There are laws on the books about currency but it doesn’t stop society from changing the meaning of a dollar; after all, in times of scarcity a dollar is a much more valuable asset than in times of plenty. The exact value of a dollar is something that fluctuates in tune with other factors, including things like consumer confidence- meaning, how consumers feel about the economy. Social constructs can change based on changes of opinion in the population.

One way to test if something is a social construct is to remove it from its native society and see if it retains the same functionality. The US dollar is accepted in some foreign countries, but in other places, it is just a piece of paper.

Another way to test if something is a social construct is to remove people from the picture entirely and see if it retains its functionality. Without people to give a dollar meaning it simply becomes paper. 

Contrast the attributes of a dollar with say, biological sex.


Male humans produce sperm and much higher levels of testosterone than females. Females produce ova and offspring if their eggs are fertilized and implanted. Individuals who are sterile still have either male or female anatomy which serves sexual functions for the individual. Virtually everyone on earth qualifies as one sex or the other, with or without malfunctioning or variations. Is this binary a social construct?

Does the collective agreement of society give male and female organs their functionality? Absolutely not. Humans did not always have an understanding of how pregnancy happened, and yet it happened anyway. Individuals who don’t know about or understand reproduction can and do get pregnant via sex. No matter how many people got together and decided that females inseminate males there would be no change in the function of testes or ovaries.

The functionality of human reproductive organs is also impervious to cultural or geographical differences. All over the world people get pregnant and have babies by mixing sperm from males with ova from females. There is no exception.

Removing humans from the equation also has no effect on the biological reality of mammalian reproduction. Male mammals are male, female mammals are female, and only one of the two can give birth.

Biological sex is not and never has been a social construct.

Another example is gender. Femininity is the easiest example to discuss. Lets look at different examples of femininity from around the world:


As you can see, what it means to be feminine or girly is very different depending upon the society. None of these is the “correct” femininity, just different versions from different cultures. There is no objective way to determine what makes someone feminine in any given culture- you have to ask people.

The nature of femininity is totally subjective and relies on the collective agreement of society. If you move one of these women into a different society their defining feminine characteristics instead become physical characteristics with no gender designation at all. In fact, what would make you gender conforming in one culture would make you gender non conforming in another. Gender also changes in individual societies over time, so the meaning of being feminine in America in the 1800s would differ markedly from what it means to be feminine in America right now. How people feel about the construct changes its meaning.Thus we can easily say that gender is a social construct.

Power is not a mistake in which the powerful can be educated, it’s not a misunderstanding, and it’s not a disagreement. Justice is not won by moral argument, or exertion, or individual transformation, and it’s not won by spiritual epiphany – It’s won by taking power away from the powerful and dismantling the institutions.”

– Lierre Keith

Canadian society, especially the justice system, just isn’t ready to hear women when they speak the truth…

This is an amazing post detailing all the conditioning, socialization, and patriarchal f*ckery that women have to fight through, just to be heard.

Our Rape Blog

There’s a question people keep asking about the Ghomeshi trial, and I was up most of last night trying to think of how to answer it. I finally shut my brain off by picturing, in as much detail as possible, a solid wall of packed dirt in the dark above me. I spent the rest of the night mentally attacking my invisible wall. When I finally went to sleep it was what I dreamed about.

Between pretend punches, the words crept in.

If they were telling the truth about the assaults, why did they lie about other things? Why didn’t they just tell the truth?


I’d like to try to answer that question for you because I’m in an oddly perfect position to do so.

As the verdict of the Ghomeshi case came out, I…

View original post 1,127 more words

All slides are from the presentation by Dr. Cathy Higgins.

Given that power works best from the shadows (insert creepy *mou-ah-ah-ah, here), it is always beneficial to bring the artifice of power into plain sight so can be properly evaluated and critiqued.  If one doesn’t know what Patriarchy is, then how can it ever be brought down?  Finding the root of the problem and working toward solving that problem – what radical feminism is – provides the means not only to criticize our patriarchal society, but to change it.

Lofty goals aside, for the critical work to get done, a common base of knowledge must be established, hence the reason for our 14 slide foray into the land of patriarchy.


Slide 1 – Patriarchal Gender Stereotypes


Slide 2 – The Patriarchy – How this system comes about.


Slide 3 – The qualities of Patriarchy.


Slide 4 – The role of the individual in the system of Patriarchy.


Slide 5 – Patriarchy – definitions and consequences.


Slide 6 – Patriarchal Stereotypes


Slide 7 – Patriarchy in ‘Western’ Society – What it looks like.


Slide 8 – The specifics of Patriarchy.


Slide 9 – Patriarchy’s effects on more global scale.


Slide 10 – Historical origins of Patriarchy.


Slide 11 – Patriarchy in society and within ourselves.


Slide 12 – Patriarchy in society and within ourselves, continued.


Slide 13 – Fighting the patriarchal paradigm.


Slide 14 – Conclusions and questions to ponder.



Not so much poking in the eye the religious types, but more their methodology when it come to proving how correct their fatuous bull-cookery is.  The target of this video is a self avowed flat-earther who believes that spherical objects don’t exist because Tycho Brahae was murdered by mercury poisoning… because he got too close to the “the truth”.

Cool Hard Logic comically unwinds this Gordian-knot of an assertion.  This is a long one so bring your dental floss and give your chompers a thorough clean while you enjoy the vid.  :)

Extra ‘bonus’ features of not being the default normal in society. So when you see women achieve you know that, most likely, they know their shit because they’ve had to work twice as hard as a dude to get similar results.

‘When women display the necessary confidence in their skills and comfort with power, they run the risk of being regarded as “competent but cold”: the bitch, the ice queen, the iron maiden, the ballbuster, the battle axe, the dragon lady… The sheer numbers of synonyms is telling. Put bluntly, we don’t like the look of self-promotion and power on a woman. In experimental studies, women who behave in an agentic fashion experience backlash: they are rated less socially skilled, and thus less hirable for jobs that require people skills as well as competence than are men who behave in an identical fashion. And yet if women don’t show confidence, ambition, and competitiveness then evaluators may use gender stereotypes to fill in the gaps, and assume that these are important qualities she lacks. Thus, the alternative to being competent but cold is to be regarded as “nice but incompetent.” This catch-22 positions women who seek leadership roles on a “tightrope of impression management.’

— Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference


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