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Hi! We thought since we have a 'peak trans' thread on how you became gender critical and it's really popular and useful, it might make sense to have a kind of 'peak patriarchy' thread, where we can talk about experiences that brought us to feminism.

If you consider yourself to be a radical feminist, then it would also be interesting to find out if you became a radfem after moving on from some other form of feminism.

~

I volunteered to kick off this thread because I have a short but I hope impactful story. My father made me a radfem, and not in the good way.

I grew up in the UK, and not in a nice part. More post-industrial wasteland than grassy suburb. My father was an extremely violent alcoholic. He beat my mother to the point of breaking her bones and scarring her face. He was a manual worker; she worked in care. He was big; she was small. She became an alcoholic too. She died from a cancer related to her addiction before I was 20 years old. He beat my brothers. He beat his second wife too, a much younger woman he started seeing after my mother got her terminal diagnosis (classy!)

I didn't understand why nobody helped us. I didn't understand why my grandparents changed the subject and pursed their lips when I talked about it. I didn't understand how he justified his violence when I questioned him about it. Worst, I didn't understand how my mother internalised the blame for it. And I knew that there were many more situations like mine in the neighbourhood, children my age with similar - and even worse - stories to tell; boys and men whose chat-up attempts bristled with the same aggression. So many excuses were made for him: his hard life and difficult childhood, her 'neuroticism', our cheeky behaviour; some even - it was a generation ago, mind - mentioned the blow to the male pride of having a working wife. Even when - rarely - the abuse was so severe the law was involved they did nothing that helped.

In my early/mid teens, hiding out in the local library to avoid the drama at home, I found the feminism section. I read, first, Sexual Politics. Then Right Wing Women. Then Pornography, and then, and then, and then....until I'd exhausted every book in the section. I remember I was so eager to read on, my hands would be twitching to turn the page.

I realise how lucky I was that these were the books on the shelves in the mid-80s, and that the feminism available to me gave a framework to understand male violence. If these women can see it too, then I'm not mad. But more than that: it gave me courage, and hope. If these women can resist it, then, surely, I can too. If they can see other futures, then maybe there's one for me.

A few years later, violence in the household had escalated to a point I became fearful for my own safety. So, with all the hope and courage feminism had gifted me, I ran away from home with my few possessions in a binbag, moving through homeless shelters and squats and even sleeping rough, until I was 18. Legally an adult, I was able to find a permament address, and pick up the strands of my education. Don't think I could have done any of it without those women and their vision behind me.

Hi! We thought since we have a 'peak trans' thread on how you became gender critical and it's really popular and useful, it might make sense to have a kind of 'peak patriarchy' thread, where we can talk about experiences that brought us to feminism. If you consider yourself to be a radical feminist, then it would also be interesting to find out if you became a radfem after moving on from some other form of feminism. ~ I volunteered to kick off this thread because I have a short but I hope impactful story. My father made me a radfem, and not in the good way. I grew up in the UK, and not in a nice part. More post-industrial wasteland than grassy suburb. My father was an extremely violent alcoholic. He beat my mother to the point of breaking her bones and scarring her face. He was a manual worker; she worked in care. He was big; she was small. She became an alcoholic too. She died from a cancer related to her addiction before I was 20 years old. He beat my brothers. He beat his second wife too, a much younger woman he started seeing after my mother got her terminal diagnosis (classy!) I didn't understand why nobody helped us. I didn't understand why my grandparents changed the subject and pursed their lips when I talked about it. I didn't understand how he justified his violence when I questioned him about it. Worst, I didn't understand how my mother internalised the blame for it. And I knew that there were many more situations like mine in the neighbourhood, children my age with similar - and even worse - stories to tell; boys and men whose chat-up attempts bristled with the same aggression. So many excuses were made for him: his hard life and difficult childhood, her 'neuroticism', our cheeky behaviour; some even - it was a generation ago, mind - mentioned the blow to the male pride of having a working wife. Even when - rarely - the abuse was so severe the law was involved they did nothing that helped. In my early/mid teens, hiding out in the local library to avoid the drama at home, I found the feminism section. I read, first, *Sexual Politics*. Then *Right Wing Women*. Then *Pornography*, and then, and then, and then....until I'd exhausted every book in the section. I remember I was so eager to read on, my hands would be twitching to turn the page. I realise how lucky I was that these were the books on the shelves in the mid-80s, and that the feminism available to me gave a framework to understand male violence. *If these women can see it too, then I'm not mad.* But more than that: it gave me courage, and hope. *If these women can resist it, then, surely, I can too. If they can see other futures, then maybe there's one for me.* A few years later, violence in the household had escalated to a point I became fearful for my own safety. So, with all the hope and courage feminism had gifted me, I ran away from home with my few possessions in a binbag, moving through homeless shelters and squats and even sleeping rough, until I was 18. Legally an adult, I was able to find a permament address, and pick up the strands of my education. Don't think I could have done any of it without those women and their vision behind me.

45 comments

[–] [Deleted] 25 points (+25|-0) Edited

Holy crap what a story, womenopausal!

I became a feminist because of my mom. She had a long illness and died in her 40s. She would tell me that we were lucky that she was the sick one, because if it was our dad, we'd be fucked. My dad was good to her and looked after her but she was always like: do well in school, make your own money, don't be like me, depending on a man is risky, PS make your own money.

I went to all girls schools and saw girls and women in all the leadership roles, doing all the stuff. I never had the idea that men were better or more competent (until it was beaten into me in corporate America). Ironically my Catholic school experience was the most day to day feminist experience I've had in my life. RCism is a patriarchy but there are pockets in it that harbor/nurture many a radical feminist. My HS religion teacher told us about Daly and Dworkin and encouraged discussion. That would not happen today as the RCC is way more conservative than it was when I was a kid.

This period of the late 80s-mid 90s I was a vocal feminist until the Brazilian wax/blowout, makeup-loving bullshit Sex & the City variety of "feminism" started to encroach. I have always known the necessity and value of all women spaces, been anti porn, anti prostitution, think that sexposi whatnot is, was, and always will be a total scam that benefits men. My POV gets dismissed as prudery and at this point I don't care. If it gives men boners and women anal prolapse it ain't my kind of feminism, call me a prude all day long.

r/GC brought me back to my old timey roots and I'm glad to be here on ovarit with my people.

[–] [Deleted] 4 points (+4|-0)

love that. i saw an image that said something like if feminism gives men boners it isn't feminism and agreed 100%

feminism is the radical notion that women are human

[–] wagashi 22 points (+22|-0)

I grew up during peak 2000s-style sex-positive feminism. Something about that perspective always seemed off to me, but I didn't think about it much until I reached university. The week I arrived, a woman student was brutally raped on campus, but the administration did nothing about it. The perpetrator was known; I couldn't believe there was simply no will to expel or even punish him. Shortly thereafter, I decided to study computer science, but was told over and over by male professors and advisors that I had "no talent" and "no aptitude", that the subject was "too hard for a girl like you", even though I went on to place at the top of my class. I was surrounded in my classes by male peers who said violent and misogynistic things about women all the time, clearly not even caring that I was in earshot. One day I saw my male classmates huddled around someone's mobile phone, watching pornography during lecture.

The casual violence toward women and girls and men's blatant disregard for our humanity became clear all at once. The rest is a typical epilogue really. I went to the university library, talked to a delightfully radical librarian, and left with a stack of books. Firestone, Dworkin, Davis, Lorde, Lakoff. I never looked back.

[–] MadSea 21 points (+21|-0) Edited

I’m just on my phone so this won’t be nearly as comprehensive as it ought to be.

In college and in my social activism, I was very turned off to what was portrayed as feminism and did not consider myself a feminist. Seeing girls going naked to protest slut shaming, while I appreciated their courage and passion, didn’t seem very liberating to me. Working in social work and helping women escape DV and human trafficking, it’s very hard to tout “sex work is work!” Later, I went on to treating sex offenders and I saw firsthand what porn could do to some men and how dangerous it helped make them (other factors too of course but desensitization is what it is). I couldn’t ever support that industry. Feminism as I saw it around me seemed offensive and oppressive.

Then a series of events happened (family member coming out as trans and lots around that) which led me to peaking. I found a few subs on Reddit including /GC and soon I realized there was a type of feminism that aligned with my beliefs, I was just around the wrong types of feminists (libfems have it all wrong!).

The Reddit bans filled me with so much rage I powered up and went full Radfem.

[–] womenopausal [OP] 10 points (+10|-0)

The Reddit bans filled me with so much rage I powered up and went full Radfem.

Great to hear this! I hope this becomes a movement!

[–] [Deleted] 7 points (+7|-0)

Before I deleted my account there was a thread that said "what's the worst/most annoying thing about Reddit lately" and i said "deletion of the Gender Critical subreddit" and my karma went up to 1.1k overnight, and then I couldn't find the thread or comment :-p

[–] 7yearbitch 18 points (+18|-0)

i guess i've always been concerned with women's rights & considered myself a feminist..

but it was only after having a baby in my early 30s that I really became vocal in my feminism.

pregnancy cemented for me my pro-choice views. and motherhood opened my eyes to the gender norms that are still so entrenched in even "very liberal" corners of society etc. etc.

[–] [Deleted] 7 points (+7|-0) Edited

motherhood opened my eyes to the gender norms that are still so entrenched in even "very liberal" corners of society etc. etc.

Sing it, sister. I was feminist before, but motherhood cemented my feminsm. The casual dismissal of mothers, the dehumanizing way that people (men and women) think we're a monolith and brainless and refer to us as "mom" to our face and behind our backs, because we can't possibly be individuals with minds and interests and accomplishments aside from having children; being "welcomed" back from maternity leave with men taking naps in the lactation room (because you're the only woman who's used it) and asking how your "vacation" was as you lose the projects you worked on to great success up until the moment you went to L&D and now, suddenly after your ridiculously short maternity leave, you're not fit to that work anymore; the scanning of your face/body to see whether you're tried-looking or have to lose your baby weight....swift and brutal. So much more. The gulf between the real joys of motherhood and the fucking rage at how society treats mothers and the knowledge that there are layers to misogyny and motherhood is a one way ticket to experience yet another layer...oh yes. I am very very with you on this.

[–] AlbaWaterhouse 16 points (+16|-0)

I was raised by a radical feminist single mother. During my childhood she showed me what patriarchy was, how women have to stick together, how important for me it was to not be complacent and to be independent both economically and mentally. We read books about womanhood and she told me stories about her feminist protests with her friends, even took me to some when I was little.

But then, as I was entering my teens, my mum was working non stop, stressed and going thorugh some hard times so she stopped talking about feminism so much and stopped also reading feminist books and keeping up to date, it was the early 2000 and the liberal "feminist" shit hit me hard being a teen and not having my mum's feisty side there.

Also, you know what definetely didn't help? Reading King Kong Theory when it came out. This book was so damaging to me!

During my teens and early 20s I was all about "I get along with men better than with women", "fucking around is empowering", "porn is empowering" and so on.

Then, 8 years ago, suddenly all my mum's words and teachings from when I was a child came back to me, there was no triggering scenario, it just happened. And I began to read real feminist books again, and to surround myself with women, to pause and think, my critical thinking woke up and there wa sno way back.

Nowadays my mom is also back to her old feminist self and is now me that keeps her up to date. I live abroad, but talk very often on the phone and everytime I visit we have long long talks about feminism and the current state of things. It's wonderful.

In Spain we are currently fighting the government that wants to introduce a national selfID law and other gender identity focused laws and when I told my mum that if this happened I will travel to Spain and burn down Madrid she just said: I will burn it with you.

I hadn't heard of this King Kong Theory. What was that about? What bothers you about it?

[–] AlbaWaterhouse 13 points (+13|-0)

King Kong Theory is a book by Virginie Despentes, a french author. The book talks about her personal experiences and thoughts on pornography, prostitution, and rape. It was at the time (2006-2007?) a "revolution" in Europe because she was so "wild" and talked about rape openly and about being a prostitute for a time. The book was marketed as a feminist revolution, a rebel that refused to shut up and wrote pure truths. And it sounds very appealing to teens and young adults, however, it is NOT a feminist book.

The book is a pro prostitution and porn rant, she is shallow and self-centered. Calls women that oppose pornography "frustrated and frigid". Says she always wanted to live like a man, and that is what she did. In conclusion, to not keep this message longer, it is a well written personal rant but not at all a feminist analysis or theory. In reality the vast majority of readers and people that would recommend you this book are leftist MEN.

It pains me to see this book on feminist books lists and feminist sections in bookstores.

[–] [Deleted] 6 points (+6|-0)

That sounds truly dreadful! It's awful that people don't realize that it's not simply a choice between being a 'frigid prude' or being 'sex positive' (in the sense that women's sexuality availability only benefits men). So many see this as a black and white issue where those two things are the only options! Obviously, one can have a healthy relationship to sexuality and still not bow to the idea that you have to exist primarily for male gaze/pleasure. But sadly far too many have been brainwashed into thinking there is no in-between, or alternatives.

[–] DiamondFalls 1 points (+1|-0)

Interesting! Feminist-leaning ladies in my reading circle have just been discussing this book and their reviews were very positive, agreeing with how it's mostly a very honest personal rant. Now I want to read it even more :)

[–] DaughtersOfLilith 15 points (+15|-0) Edited

I came from a sexually and emotionally abusive and dysfunctional home (although I was in deep denial about that for a long time). I was very aligned with my abusive father even though he hated women, and so I learned to hate myself and everything that made me a woman. If I had been a young person today, I feel confident I would have wanted to transition.

In my early 20’s I was essentially homeless (not living on the streets, but bouncing from couch to couch with whoever would have me) and dirt broke. Counting dollars and figuring out if I could afford to eat that day. I met an older guy (early 40s), and the second I saw him my gut told me he was bad news. But then all my conditioning came in and I chastised myself for being ‘judgmental”. He offered to buy me lunch and my hunger said yes. By the end of the meal, he had offered me a job working for him in another county. Part of me knew it was a bad idea, but my desperation didn’t know how to say no.

As you can imagine, he forced me into a sexual relationship with him. It went on for several years. It was full of coercion and violence. When I would try to leave he would stalk me, drug me, rape me and then claim he was saving me from someone else who had done all the bad stuff. Constant gaslighting. Oh, and he was a prominent member of a certain community I was living in by then with a good deal of power. One day I saw an opportunity for escape. I left everything I had, all my friends, all my belongings I had accumulated and just left. Moved countries. He could not tolerate my rejecting him. He found me, kidnap me, brutalized me for three days, forced me to act out his childhood rape, and then tried to kill me the way he had killed his childhood abuser once he grew up. I actually don’t know how to explain the fact that I am still alive. I am loathe to use the word “miracle” but I have no other explanation.

I was pretty shellshocked. After that I started reading Andrea Dworkin. And then moved on to many of the other great 2nd wave writers. I started to realize that there wasn’t something wrong with ME that caused men to treat me this way, there was something wrong with THEM.

I became very jaded. I started having lots of abusive sex with random men (the way some women do when you assume that all sex is abusive, but as long as you’re using them as much as they are using you, all’s fair). I was friends with a few high-end prostitutes and very nearly went down that road.

But I went with a friend who was a porn videographer to a particularly intense porn shoot once, and something changed inside me. Despite all my ‘sex-positivity’, something inside me was screaming THIS IS NOT OK. I saw the hatred for women. I could no longer have sex the way I had been.

Sometime later I began a phase of deep healing for myself and my traumas that included a few very powerful psychedelic medicine sessions. Things happened in those sessions that I can’t explain, but a presence that felt distinctly female started to remove so much of the self hatred I had been holding for being in a woman’s body. I connected to the deep grief of woman-kind for what has been done to us for millennia. I cried (I was not one to ever cry). I got really interested what it means to be a woman, really. I felt like I had to go back in time. I became fascinated in ancient Goddess worshipping cultures and read The Chalice and the Blade, When God was a Woman, The Once and Future Goddess, The Great Cosmic Mother etc. This started to transform my relationship to myself as woman. I started connecting to the Earth and my own Body. And, importantly, to other women.

It turns out, I love being a woman, and I love other women.

My introduction to radical feminism was through a now-taken-over-by TRA’s feminist book club (before that happened, the previous organizer was quietly a rad fem) and the reddit GC site. I had had a number of moments where trans-related stuff didn’t sit well with me, but I didn’t think too much of it. It was my searching for things about what happened Vancouver Rape Crisis center that led me to Gender Critical and made me officially peak. Reading GC, I could feel my body relax as I let go of all the cognitive dissonance I had been holding trying to believe TWAW.

TL;DL: A lifetime of abuse at the hands of men + Andrea Dworkin + Psychedelics

[–] [Deleted] 2 points (+2|-0)

damn that abuse killing revenge story is intense! i bet deep down you have always known there was nothing wrong with you and something off with them, or society at least. i know my early childhood was like that. i always just knew that i was being treated differently and objectified even at such a young age.

[–] sensusquaeram 13 points (+13|-0)

What a great thread! Such awesome stories.

The older I get, the more I thank my mom for the way she raised me. In spirit she was a second wave feminist, though she never called herself one or read the texts (that I know of) -- it's just who she was. Because she grew up in poverty and was abused as a child, she always emphasized the importance of being strong and self-sufficient. She didn't believe in gender restrictions on career choices and humored my tomboy nature growing up, which was everything.

I started working right after secondary school and put myself through college piece by piece. I finished my undergrad/grad work just as postmodernism was becoming dominant (I barely missed it) and just before sexposi crept in with it. After college I was immersed in work in a male-dominated field so I didn't see many of the cultural changes sexposi was bringing in and didn't realize that trans was about to really take off. By the time I did realize it, a sib had suddenly embarked on transing (AGP) and cancel culture had begun. It felt like coming out of an underground bunker and everything had changed.

That's what circled me back to feminist discourse -- hard. I was scrambling to get a sense of what the hell had happened and why. When I discovered the term GC online, I recognized its core ideas as where I'd thought I'd left off in college. I've been putting together the narrative ever since, especially the clinical psychology bit.

[–] womenopausal [OP] 12 points (+12|-0)

In spirit she was a second wave feminist, though she never called herself one or read the texts (that I know of) -- it's just who she was.

I think there's a lot of women out there like that. And these days they're so likely to be put off by the 3rd Wave that they'll refuse to call themselves feminists. I hope that one benefit of this current debate will be getting more and more women to recognise the wisdom of the scound wave.

I got that bunker experience as well! I was working in another area of feminism and when I was done with a long project I looked around and started reading outside my formerly very narrow interests and was like, huh, what's going on?

Thanks for your story!

[–] [Deleted] 3 points (+3|-0) Edited

yes it's interesting how feminism is not really seen as a spectrum and how so many women who are obviously feminists deny being feminists (and the flip side, women who definitely aren't, who have never once stood up for something the equal rights they believed in, saying they are!)

[–] [Deleted] 2 points (+2|-0) Edited

i had to google sexposi. oh sex positivity? that old damaging thing? what a joke. we've been told from birth to not give ourselves away for free and now girls are being indoctrinated with this shit probably in pre-k

[–] sensusquaeram 5 points (+5|-0)

Yep, that old damaging thing. Repackaged and resold to the next generations. 🤦🏻‍♀️

[–] hiddenGO 12 points (+12|-0) Edited

When I was 11 years old one classmate called me lesbian (he was true after all) and I told my mother. I told her that I was really annoyed by this child, and that I didn't know why. I knew there was something very cruel about trying to bully me calling me a lesbian, but I couldn't understand. She just said: some men think women are inferior. For me was a weird response. I couldn't link misoginy with being called a lesbian, but I belived her 100%.

Today I perfectly understand what she was trying to say and I'm very grateful for having a feminist mother.

They rest of the story is me reading books from the Gilgamesh until Freud, realising that we are treated like sub-humans since the beggining of history.

PS: well, to be fair, she said something more. She told me: "you can tell him: if boys are like you I prefer to be a lesbian". Of course I've never told him.

Edit: I've corrected some mistakes.

[–] [Deleted] 10 points (+10|-0) Edited

great story. i also remember browsing the feminist section very young and being like oh cool some ism for me since i'm female and this society was designed to accommodate men

using the blue crayon in kindergarten (didn't go to pre-k) and being scolded/whispered/laughed at by female peers!

being sexually harassed as a child by grown men and boys

[–] womenopausal [OP] 12 points (+12|-0)

How shocking! Clutches necklace made of macaroni (in lieu of pearls)

[–] [Deleted] 6 points (+6|-0) Edited

basically. and they were wearing the uniform that TIMs wear, pink frilly outfits, no doubt they learned it from their mothers, our teachers wore colors other than pink and also wore pants

[–] Thrillcheesier 9 points (+9|-0)

When I was in 8th or 9th grade (mid-'70s), I learned that abortion had only recently become legal and I was floored -- I couldn't imagine a world in which a woman couldn't make that decision. It was years before I really learned about feminism or called myself a feminist, but that was the point at which I understood rights weren't equal at all.

So many good stories, and so different from each other!

It's been a long road so I'll just tell two of my early moments that made me begin to understand what I was up against as a girl and woman.

My instinctive reaction of disgust and rage to the song I Enjoy Being a Girl (and look who posted this video, ewwww) and my family's total incomprehension of why. I was 8 or 9 years old.

My sorrow and rage at the infamous remark by Stokely Carmichael that "the only position for women in SNCC is prone". I wanted so much to be old enough to be a Freedom Rider! (Also I noticed when checking the quote that people are still trying to pass off this remark as a harmless joke.)

[–] eris 3 points (+3|-0)

Well, if that (I Enjoy Being a Girl) isn't the dictionary definition of male gaze and men writing women, I don't know what is.

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