all power to the imagination

i am a radical feminist, writer, and jewelry designer/maker who loves reading, collecting turquoise, and learning new languages.

Posts tagged violence against women

Mar 5

TW for graphic descriptions of extreme violence


No, being ‘kinky’ does not grant you minority status

You’ve likely heard about the ‘cannibal cop‘ by now. He was a New York police officer whose wife discovered a website open on his computer displaying a photograph of a dead girl. The officer, Gilberto Valle, had been visiting a ‘fetish sites’ (because murdering women is a ‘fetish’ donchaknow) which “show[ed] women in various stages of forced duress, including one that offered images of women who did not survive.“  There was a cannibalism element to his ‘fetish’ and “the FBI analysis of Valle’s laptop yielded a video of a naked woman hanging over an open flame and screaming in agony.”

The wife, Kathleen Mangan-Valle, said that when she later delved into her husband’s electronic chat history, she found he had been communicating with others about plans to torture and kill women, including herself.

“I was going to be tied up by my feet and my throat slit, and they would have fun watching the blood gush out of me,” she said, sobbing repeatedly through her afternoon on the witness stand.

He has now been charged with “plotting on the Internet to kidnap, rape, kill and cannibalize female victims.”

The Times article asks an interesting question, similar to one I asked back when photos were discovered of an RCMP officer who had been involved in the Pickton investigation that simulated violence against women: “When does a fantasized crime become an actual crime?”

Valle didn’t actually go through with his plans. While the prosecutor argued that the officer was plotting real crimes, Valle’s lawyer claimed it was all just a fantasy. The ‘fantasy’ argument didn’t provide much comfort to Mangan-Valle, who also found conversations about elaborate plots to have friends “raped in front of each other” or burned alive or about “putting women on a spit, and cooking them for 30-minute shifts, so they could be tortured longer.”

These were pretty specific plans for something that was just an innocent fantasy. There is documented negotiation of specific details and a payment upon delivery to a co-conspirator: “Valle insisted upon a price no less than $5,000 and assured CC-2 that Victim-2 would be bound, gagged, and alive when he delivered her.”

There is no doubt that violence against women is sexualized in our culture. But when Ginia Bellefonte published a piece called “Remember Misogyny” in the Times wondering why there was so little concern from feminists about this fetishization of violence against women, Jessica Wakeman responded, in The Frisky, with derision:

“Focusing on the craziness of a couple of mentally ill folks instead of larger systemic injustices seems like a poor use of time,” she argues. “Maybe….cannibals eating women isn’t really feminism’s most pressing problem?” Why so defensive? Visiting fetish sites that feature women being tortured, sometimes to the point of death, seems fairly misogynist to me.

Bellefonte quotes Jane Manning, a former sex-crimes prosecutor and currently the legislative vice president for the National Organization for Women’s New York City chapter, who notes:

“There’s an odd confusion in the feminist movement,” she added. “We’ve all accepted the idea that speech is protected when it’s speech. But that seems to have extended to the notion that there shouldn’t even be social condemnation attached to incredibly horrifying misogynist speech.”

Violence against women continues to be one of the most urgent and pressing issues for the feminist movement today. And I would say that sites that fetishize mudering, raping, and eating women are, in fact, a little more serious than simply “a couple of mentally ill folks” who like to surf the internet and whatever everybody just relaaaax OK? So, a man who fantasizes about hanging his wife from her feet while him and his friends “take turns sexually assaulting her before slitting her throat and cooking her” isn’t misogyny? OK. Got it.

We’re at a place in feminism where we are so desperate to either not be perceived as ‘prudish’ or to defend any and every activity as simply an individual ‘choice’ or behaviour that calling what is clearly misogyny (is there any more literal manifestation of the sexualization of violence against women than fetish sites dedicated to torturing and murdering women?) has become off-limits because it counts as ‘kink’. The desperation to individualize, legitimize, and depoliticize absolutely everything is frightening. Particularly because it seems we are most intent on doing this with relation to anything that could possibly be connected to sexuality.

I get the feeling that we’re not calling this kind of thing out because we don’t want to admit that, sometimes, misogynist ‘fetishes’ aren’t simply ‘fantasy’. They’re actually misogyny.

Now, before the ‘don’t kink-shame me’ folks start railing on me, I will reiterate that, I really don’t much care about whether or not you want to dress up in latex costumes and play silly games in the bedroom. It isn’t particularly interesting. The only people who really care about ‘kink’ are people who care about ‘kink’. So get over the idea that you’re so bad and the rest of the world is just too ‘vanilla’ to get you. You like role-playing, other people don’t. So what. Move on.

That said, there are a couple of issues surrounding ‘kink’ that do concern me. The first is the unwillingness of feminists to call out misogyny when they see it simply because we have to protect the sensitivities of the fetish folks. The second is the delusion that ‘kink’ is an identity that designates ‘kinky people’ as some kind of oppressed minority group. Kink and BDSM can certainly enter misogynist territory and it isn’t your right to force the world to pretend that it doesn’t in order to defend your sex life.

William Saletan pointed out, in an article for Slate, that :

Every article about BDSM now includes the obligatory professional woman who’s secure enough in her feminism to admit she likes to be flogged. It’s great that we’ve come that far, but the message is awkward. While reformers in India battle a culture of rape, Indian BDSM advocates extol the bliss of female masochism. While human rights activists denounce caning and waterboarding, BDSM lecturers teach the joys of caning and waterboarding. Abduction, slavery, humiliation, torture—everything we condemn outside the world of kink is celebrated within it.

Awkward, indeed. The real life rape and torture of real life people isn’t just a sexy game; but when presented as ‘kink’ it becomes innate part of our sexualities, completely divorced from larger culture.

The tricky part follows: “Political advocates for BDSM see themselves as successors to the gay rights movement. They cite Lawrence v. Texas. They call themselves “sexual minorities” and depict kink as a “sexual orientation,” Saletan writes. Get it? If being ‘kinky’ makes you part of some kind of minority group, anything that counts as fetish is off-limits in terms of critical discussion. It can’t be misogynist, I was born this way! It’s sex, not misogyny!

I mostly agree with Saletan’s assessment: “BDSM isn’t an orientation. It’s a lifestyle.” And, for the most part, whether or not you like to play out fantasies or wear leather or do fancy things with ropes or dress up as a sexy nun in order to rebel against your Catholic parents as part of your sex life isn’t something anyone else has a say over. But that really isn’t the point. There is misogyny and violence and abuse that happens as part of BDSM and we should be able to call it for what it is without being accused of attacking a person’s ‘sexual identity’.

The ludicrous notion that this lifestyle should qualify a person for protection under the law,on account of being a part of some kind of oppressed minority group defined by ‘kinkiness’ is an insult to actual minority groups.

This kind of hyperbolized, perverted use of identity politics as a means to stifle feminist discourse and critical thought is a serious detriment to the movement.

We are always asking ourselves “What happened to the momentum?” and “Where are all the young feminists?” Well, I think we’re finding the answer. In the final segment of the recently aired documentary, MAKERS: How Women Made America, a three-hour look at the history and evolution of the women’s movement in the United States, Letty Pogrebin said, of the “Why don’t young women care about feminism?” question: “If they lose their rights, then they will wake up.” And I don’t think she was talking about the right to be spanked.

I supposed once we’ve completely quelled our ability to discuss anything outside individual choice and identity and are forced to discuss all actions and behaviours as neutral and void of context, we’ll truly be free.

Feb 27

Feb 16


Enough is enough, the status quo must go!
Join W.O.R.D on International Women’s Day in a stand against violence!
Initial Calendar of Actions
New Paltz, NYThursday, March 7Public Meeting: Women Fight BackState University of NY (SUNY) at New PaltzLecture Center 100, 6:30 pmJoin the Facebook event
Sacramento, CAFriday, March 8March & Rally: No More Violence Against Women!Assemble at Southside Park (2115 6th St), 4 pmJoin the Facebook event
Syracuse, NYFriday, March 8Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!Location TBA, 4pmJoin the Facebook event
Washington, DCSaturday, March 9Rally & Speak-out to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!Tivoli Square (14th St NW between Park and Monroe), 12 noonDownload the flyer!Join the Facebook event
Los Angeles, CASaturday, March 9March & Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere! Assemble at Hollywood/Vine, 1pmDownload the flyer!Join the Facebook event
San Francisco, CASaturday, March 9March & Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere! Location TBA, 12 noonJoin the Facebook event
New York City, NY Saturday, March 9March & Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!Assemble at Washington Sq Park, 1 pmDownload the flyer!Join the Facebook event
New Haven, CTSaturday, March 9Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!Corner of College and Chapel St., 12 noonJoin the Facebook eventChicago, ILSaturday, March 9International Women’s Day Forum4802 N. Broadway #202, 6 pmJoin the Facebook event

made this little gem earlier



Enough is enough, the status quo must go!

Join W.O.R.D on International Women’s Day in a stand against violence!

Initial Calendar of Actions

New Paltz, NY
Thursday, March 7
Public Meeting: Women Fight Back
State University of NY (SUNY) at New Paltz
Lecture Center 100, 6:30 pm
Join the Facebook event

Sacramento, CA
Friday, March 8
March & Rally: No More Violence Against Women!
Assemble at Southside Park (2115 6th St), 4 pm
Join the Facebook event

Syracuse, NY
Friday, March 8
Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!
Location TBA, 4pm
Join the Facebook event

Washington, DC
Saturday, March 9
Rally & Speak-out to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!
Tivoli Square (14th St NW between Park and Monroe), 12 noon
Download the flyer!
Join the Facebook event

Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, March 9
March & Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere! 
Assemble at Hollywood/Vine, 1pm
Download the flyer!
Join the Facebook event

San Francisco, CA
Saturday, March 9
March & Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere! 
Location TBA, 12 noon
Join the Facebook event

New York City, NY 
Saturday, March 9
March & Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!
Assemble at Washington Sq Park, 1 pm
Download the flyer!
Join the Facebook event

New Haven, CT
Saturday, March 9
Rally to Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!
Corner of College and Chapel St., 12 noon
Join the Facebook event

Chicago, IL
Saturday, March 9
International Women’s Day Forum
4802 N. Broadway #202, 6 pm
Join the Facebook event

made this little gem earlier

(via vegetablearian)

Feb 7








Ex porn star Shelley Lubben catches dumb pornographers RED-HANDED at a porn convention. MUST WATCH VIDEO!

i think i love her

So, this is interesting.

The porn industry is fucked up and slimey and disgusting and gross, but at the same time, Shelley Lubben is completely anti-porn. That’s just as fucked up.

Just because an industry is in need of extreme reform does not mean an entire industry should be illegal. In fact, making these things taboo or outlawing them just creates an even more underground black market for these things. Things don’t go away just because you outlaw them or tell people they’re evil for using them.

So you’re going to completely disregard her reasons to be anti-porn? Which are that women are unsafe and exploited? And you say that being anti-porn for these reasons is just as fucked up as abusing women in the first place? 


if a former porn actress can’t have opinions about porn, who can?

aah, who’m I kidding, the answer is probably white dudes

“here’s a long detailed video about the porn industry’s epidemic trafficking of women, particularly very young women, and how within the industry men are advised and encouraged to manipulate and deceive young women to ‘recruit’ them into being ‘models’”


A solid, rational, and moral argument in favour of the porn industry does not exist and has never existed.

Bold mine. Everyone should watch this.

(via deathlyglitter)

Jan 27

Aug 1



In order to follow up from my question yesterday about how one can argue that “trans people are killed for being trans, but cis women aren’t killed for being cis,” I made a good-faith effort to ask kinseysixbitch to explain her stance on the matter. While I appreciate that she took the time to answer my questions to the best of her ability without rancor or vitriol, I remained unsatisfied by the evidence she provided.

I followed the link to this article which posits the idea that society in general does not see gender as a binary, but rather a “ternary” — that is, people fall into three categories: women, men, or “freaks.” Though I found this article to be very problematic (not least because it seriously touts the idea of “misogyny recipient privilege.”), I did agree that, for the average person not immersed in gender theory and trans thought, the categories of “cis” doesn’t exist at all and anyone who deviates from their assigned gender role is indeed simply viewed as a “freak.”

This article however did confirm for me what I’ve believed all along: it is impossible to say that trans women are subject to violence “for being women” at the same time they are subject to violence “for being trans.” If a person is genuinely unaware of the trans status of a person (i.e., that person is completely “passing” as their desired gender identity) then if they are subject to violence, it is because they are seen as a woman. If the person is subject to violence because of unsuccessful passing or discovery of their biological sex, then they are not being seen as a woman, they are being seen as a nonconforming “freak.” So it doesn’t stand to reason that those two “reasons” for violence can exist in the same situation — one is either subject to violence because they are perceived as a woman, or because they are perceived as a “freak.” It isnota “double whammy” of prejudice and motivation, because those two perceptions are rooted in the same thing — misogyny. The belief that women are inferior and subjugated to men, so either one is subject to violence because they are perceived as a woman, or one is subject to violence because they are seen as deviant for intentionally taking on the inferior and subjugated role. It is impossible for this to be “double prejudice” because the two mental states can’t exist at the same time, and, ultimately, because it is the same prejudice.

Which brings me back to my original supposition — there is no such thing as “cis privilege” when applied to “cis” women, because misogyny is the root of all violence against women, trans or not. Saying “a cis woman is attacked because she is a woman, not because she is cis” is nothing more than an attempt to obfuscate and mislabel the real root of (male) violence, misogyny. In the eyes of larger society, there is no difference between “cis woman” and simply “woman,” because deviation from “woman” or “man” is “freak.” And the way to correct this is not to pretend that it isn’t all caused by the same thing: misogyny generated by the patriarchy. Keeping our “eye on the prize” of targeting the patriarchy and male violence is the only way to help all women.

Great commentary.

fanfuckingtastic post.

(via ann-tagonist-deactivated2012110)

Jul 22

Jul 11


It’s not about you: Beyond ‘kink-shaming’

Let’s just start by saying this: I really don’t care about ‘kink’ or about ‘kinky people’. It just doesn’t interest me. I don’t give a shit about your leather fetish. Really.

But because I recently dared to suggest that RCMP officer Jim Brown’s sadomasochistic behaviour might, just might, be related to the fact that we live in a pornified world that sexualizes violence against women and male domination, it was decided by the internet (and the internet never lies, folks) that I hated ‘kinky sex’/’kinky people’, that I simply don’t know enough about BDSM to be qualified to judge images that are very clearly fetishizing male domination, and that I think all people who are into BDSM are terrible, terrible people.

Basically, the response I got was exactly the same response I get every time I critique porn and prostitution and, in fact, was the EXACT same response I got from the burlesque community when I dared to suggest that burlesque wasn’t feminist. What was that response? “BUT I LIKE IT.” “IT’S MY CHOICE”. “IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD.” “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.” “MEMEME.”

Well hey, here’s a wild idea! Maybe it isn’t all about you. Maybe the things that turn you on, make you feel hot, and give you orgasms aren’t *just* about your own personal, private, individual life. Maybe the things you do are shaped by outside forces like patriarchy. Maybe your actions have a larger impact. Maybe you didn’t spend your formative years deep asleep in a magical fairy cave only to awake from your slumber to suddenly and mysteriously have fantasies about hog-tying and raping women.

But hey, I get it.

People are defensive about their personal lives and private interests. Particularly when those interests are very much attached to their identities. If your entire conception of yourself is based on being a part of the BDSM community and you think that BDSM is just about the awesomest pass time ever then it might be hard to hear critique. It might be hard to digest the fact that, just because you really, really like something doesn’t mean that it is or should be free from deconstruction or critique.

I like makeup. I wear it almost every day. I think eyeliner is the best. I really like being able to cover up my zits and under eye circles. Does that make makeup an inherently ‘good’ thing? Does it mean that makeup is feminist and progressive because I am feminist and progressive? Does it mean that the only possible reason I could ‘enjoy’ wearing makeup is because I like it, point blank? No. Of course not. I wear makeup because I grew up in a culture that scrutinizes women’s looks and values their appearances above all else. I live in a consumer culture that invents flaws and insecurities in order to be able to sell us things that will ‘fix’ our flaws.

So makeup isn’t really the best. There are many aspects of the beauty industry that can and should be critiqued. But does that make me a terrible person because I wear makeup? No. Does it mean I’m not a real feminist because I wear makeup? Of course not. But it also doesn’t mean it’s perfectly fine and awesome and that I shouldn’t explore or acknowledge the fact that I wear makeup because I was taught and bought into the idea that, in one way or another, I was going to be judged based on my appearance and that I’ve been convinced and have convinced myself that I needed to wear makeup in order to avoid looking ugly and sick.

I’m not perfect. No one is. But every time someone criticizes the beauty industry, do I get all offended and up in arms and pretend like I’m being personally attacked? No. Because criticizing oppressive practices and an oppressive culture is not the same thing as saying that I, as an individual, am a terrible person….

(read full article at Feminist Current)

Jul 2

Jun 25

Curb sex trafficking by targeting demand, congresswomen told


After a while, it became routine.

Police would arrest Traci Flowers-Ned for prostitution, in city after city, and send her clients home, warning them not to come back.

Flowers-Ned, now a clinician at a San Francisco organization that helps victims of sex trafficking, shared her own history as a trafficking victim at a Capitol Hill briefing on Wednesday.

“If there’s a way to stop these men from wanting to purchase individuals, that’s what I want,” Flowers-Ned told about 70 people invited to the briefing by Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle of Onondaga and Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan. “I want you to see me as a human being, not as a product.”

Buerkle and Maloney held the briefing, called Eliminate the Demand for Purchased Sex, to educate the public on the need for better tactics to combat human trafficking. They co-chair the Human Trafficking Task Force on the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues.

“Really the emphasis need to be placed on buyers,” Buerkle said. “If you decrease the demand, there will be no reason for a supply.”

Flowers-Ned, 43, said her years as a trafficking victim taught her that police typically followed a double standard aimed at “getting the bad girls off the street” and helping the men who pay to have sex with them avoid trouble.

Flowers-Ned said she faced sexual exploitation starting when she was three years old in San Francisco, where she recalled it was common for women in her family to be used sexually. She said a close family member first exploited her for trafficking. The exploitation continued in the late 1980s and early 90s.

“Many times … it’s normal for abuse to be happening within families,” Flowers-Ned said. “Exploitation is a part of that.”

Two women in Rochester were charged in May with trafficking two teenage girls, one 14 and the other 17. Their trial is next month.

Sex trafficking is defined as coercing people, including children, into sex, usually to make money.

Many cases are hard to prosecute, Paul Almanza, national coordinator for child exploitation prevention and interdiction in the Justice Department, said during Thursday’s briefing. That’s because trafficking victims often are reluctant to testify against their pimps, who use a variety of means — including drugs and emotional and physical abuse — to control them.

Prosecuting child trafficking also is difficult because the law requires proof of knowledge and intent to have sex with a child.

Denver police Sgt. Dan Steele said in his city and other places, including Sweden, police focus on arresting prostitution clients rather than the prostitutes.

In Sweden, buying sex is illegal, but selling it is not, Steele said. Swedish officials also send notices of fines home to offenders, who risk having their families learn of their crime, he said.

A number of “John Schools” around the country let some qualifying offenders avoid criminal charges by taking a day-long class that brings them face to face with former prostitutes. Flowers-Ned said she speaks to offenders in San Francisco’s program.

Offenders are also required to pay for the program. That money pays for counseling and aid for sex trafficking victims, Flowers-Ned said.

King’s County offers Project Respect, a five-hour seminar in which offenders hear from a psychologist, police, health officials and others in the community, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s website.

“It’s often difficult for a survivor to get up and talk in front of 60 or 80 johns,” Flowers-Ned said. There are a lot of scars.”

(Source here.)

Jun 23
“One of the only studies of contemporary pornographic content found that the majority of scenes from fifty of the top-rented porn movies contained both physical and verbal abuse targeted against the female performers. Physical aggression – including spanking, open-hand slapping and gagging – occurred in over 88 per cent of scenes, while expressions of verbal aggression – calling the woman names such as ‘bitch’ or ‘slut’ – were found in 48 per cent. The researchers concluded that ‘if we combine both physical and verbal aggression, our findings indicate that nearly 90 per cent of scenes contained at least one aggressive act, with an average of nearly twelve acts of aggression per scene’.1” Gail Dines (via starlingswarm)

(via yoursocialconstructsareshowing)