Fragments Of Comprehension

(semi-internal) Our consciousness and humility must reflect, refine and redeem every scattered fragment of the material world

►Nothing is as sexy as the revolutionary struggle for the liberation of humanity [FoC.12.9.23]

Posted by The Deep Time Ranger on October 4, 2012

Do these photos exploit women?  They do.  Let’s admit it.  (The exploitation, however, tends to be for a good cause)

(Most photos here are from Femen which, according to wikipedia, is “a feminist Ukrainian protest group” which “became internationally known for organizing topless protests against sex tourists, religious institutions, international marriage agencies, sexism and other social, national and international topics.”)

Feman, as an organization, may have many of the problems associated
with their kinds of politics (ie: for political rights, against
various forms of oppression, and with support from a section of social
democracy).  Overall, their work is useful, but some of their positions
and tactics appear to have problems.

But, what is of greatest interest to me is not the weaknesses of
their politics, but what we can learn from their work concerning
how open sexuality will, in the period ahead, increasingly be
used to attract attention to political movements in a period in
which the media landscape is undergoing an extremely rapid
evolution and a large number of independent projects are fighting
within an “attention economy”.

The bourgeoisie, of course, uses sexuality in its culture in
innumerable ways.  And the culture of the bourgeoisie, which bombards
us 24×7, even in our dreams, is aimed at keeping us unconscious:
unable to think, unable to understand that the world we want and need
is not only possible–but inevitable, and that we must wake up and
grab it.  And the revolutionary movement, as the class movement of 
the proletariat, will also, inevitably, make skillful use of sexuality,
as part of its efforts to grab the attention of the working class and
oppressed.  And when the proletariat takes up this cause, it will do so
far more openly, and with far less hypocrisy, than the bourgeoisie.

Readers!  — Don’t delay! — Your thoughts on this question are needed today!

Status:

How much work does this article need to be good enough for the upper blog?  Probably a lot:

  • It needs a better description of Femen, what it is and its strengths and weaknesses
  • Similar examples (ie: the famous Joan Baez poster from the 1960’s, see below)
  • More comments, to provide context

According to David Frum:  “The poster sought to counter the fear that draft resistance was unmanly by promising draft resisters the traditional rewards of the warrior: the, um, attentions of beautiful and admiring females.”  Proceeds from the poster sales went towards draft resistance.  Link: http://askville.amazon.com/Joan-Baez-question-remembers-poster/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=8933518

Related Links:

Femen’s topless warriors start boot camp for global feminism
Ukrainian activists set up an international training centre
in Paris to teach women the art of naked protest
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/22/femen-topless-warriors-global-feminism

Getting Naked to Change the World
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/femen-activists-get-naked-to-raise-political-awareness-a-832028.html

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17 Responses to “►Nothing is as sexy as the revolutionary struggle for the liberation of humanity [FoC.12.9.23]”

  1. I like looking at pics of topless conventionally attractive women as much as most straight men do. With that said, there’s not a damned thing revolutionary or challenging to the system about FEMEN. It’s also ironic that a prostitution abolition group uses what amounts to an open air strip show as their primary political tactic. Basically, they are doing unpaid sex work – giving male spectators a free show, but not challenging the system.

  2. Hi Greg. Thanks for your comment. I think this article requires some work (and some additional perspective) before it will be ready for the “upper blog” that I intend to create soon. The distinction between “upper” and “lower” blogs will be important and will become clear, I hope, in the months ahead. Basically, the idea is that crap will be ok on the lower blog, while the upper blog will have high standards. The lower blog will, however, be an area where raw material can be assembled and digested and worked into high-quality posts–with help from commenters such as yourself. And it will be important (before something inspired by this Femen post is posted to the upper blog) to take into consideration views such as you express here.

    Briefly, as far as your opinion that there is nothing challenging to the system about the work of Femen–my opinion is that you are being hasty. It is true that their political work is less challenging in the western democracies than some might think. However, in Ukraine, where they are based, Femen activists have faced serious harassment (the security forces there kidnapped them, doused them with gasoline and threatened to burn them alive–then abandoned them, naked in the forest, in the middle of the night, in winter. Oksana’s mother refused to watch the TV news that night because she thought it would broadcast news that her daughter’s body had been found. The point here is simply that the ruling state must have felt that Femen did *something* that challenged their interests. It is not like the security forces do things like this simply because they are opposed to seeing women’s breasts.

    Joan Baez caught a lot of flak in the 1960’s for her (see above) “girls say yes to boys who say no” poster. I tend to think that the poster was useful (it was quite popular) but that there was also a need to criticize it–because this is part of the process of a social-political movement of millions of people learning to understand (in an all-sided way) and navigate these issues. But it is true that draft resisters were being characterized as cowardly and “unmanly” (as Frum puts it) and it was powerful to turn this idea upside down.

    One conclusion I have come to is that the blatant use of “unpaid sex work” (as you call it, I would like a better phrase to describe it but have not figured out what such a better phrase might be) in the class struggle appears bound to increase–because of the “bottom up” nature of competition for attention in the emerging internet-based media. The bourgeoisie has always used it. The proletariat will learn to use it, and will use it with greater skill (and openess and sincerity) than the bourgeoisie. That is the idea I was attempting to express with the “powerful, confident, assertive” (p-c-a) graphic I created showing Oksana (who is clearly my favorite).

    It will also be necessary to come up with a short and accurate description of the work and nature of Femen itself, since they have provided such a good example of this emerging attention-grabbing tactic. I think it is true (as you note) that Femen as an organization is not revolutionary. But two issues come up here: (1) What organizations (if any) are revolutionary? And (more to the point) how do we help to create the kind of revolutionary mass organization we need? (2) How do we describe Femen? They are a progressive organization. They are influenced by social democracy (as, unfortunately, are nearly all organizations) but are also getting “puffed” (ie: highly favorable coverage) by mainstream social-democratic large-circulation press (such as the british Guardian newspaper). A lot of their work is for democratic rights (for example abortion rights). Politics like those of Femen are sometimes called petty bourgeois politics and it can be quite irritating when petty bourgeois politics are promoted as “revolutionary” — which may have been what provoked you about my p-c-a graphic as well as the title of this post. For this reason, the p-c-a graphic (and the title of this post) may need to be modified–although I need to figure out how to do this.

    In any event, there are issues here which require thought. It may be several months before I have time to work this into a post good enough for my soon-to-be-created upper blog, and your comments can be helpful in this process. And I am glad, Greg, to have an opportunity to say hello to you again. It has been a long time. Incidently, if you read the letter from Red Fox to me (appended to part 1 of my response to Red Fox) you will see that Mike Ely’s defacto-ban of my posts from the Kasama community is discussed. I will be describing some of my experience with Kasama in part 3 of my reply to Red Fox. Red Fox is a good man, his heart is in the right place, clearly. But he may be a bit over his head and there may be an issue of helping him understand that he has the ability to calmly sort out complex issues for himself rather than rely on the views of activists who he may assume understand things better than he does. One issue is that I have so much experience with Kasama, that I will need to be selective in summing things up–because I do not want to bore readers to death. I am not worried about boring readers to death on the lower blog–but I will eventually be reposting my reply to Red Fox to the upper blog–and the posts on that blog will need to be good. Also, of course, I do not want to bore Red Fox to death. I have been encouraging Red Fox, for years, to make his opinions and criticisms public (whether right or wrong) because this can be the quickest way to learn. And now that he has done so, I want to do a little work so that the experience is not too frustrating for him

    All the best,
    Ben

    • It’s good to speak to you too, Ben! I’ve crossed swords with your comrade, and my brother union carpenter, Art Francisco, on Facebook on a number of issues. It got ugly and we unfriended each other, unfortunately (he thinks I’m a “social democrat” and a “labor aristocrat” – I think he’s a good hearted young man with a bit of an anger management problem who really needs to learn that you don’t talk to comrades, or union brothers and sisters, the way you’d talk to enemies, also he really needs to NOT talk about his gun collection on Facebook! That’s a damned good way to get arrested these days!).

      As for FEMEN, they are basically third wave feminists, wrapping up their reformist politics in the sexist package of boringly conventional media friendly “male gaze” oriented sexual display. They are about as challenging to the system as Maxim magazine.

      Yes, they have been repressed by the Ukraine Militia, but that doesn’t make them a radical threat to the system, that just means that Ukraine is a really repressive country and that’s how they respond to protests.

      As for your article, you REALLY need to run it without the pics. As a straight guy, when I look at the pics I see softcore porn images of slender conventionally attractive women and that’s what most straight guys are going to see. Gay guys and straight women will just see this as an attempt to get pageviews by showing slender conventionally attractive bare breasted women.

      I have nothing against porno – like 99% of American males I’m an avid consumer of it – but I have no illusions that it’s radical or challenges the system in any way whatsoever. Mixing porno with politics is not productive – unless you’re specifically talking about defending the free speech rights of porn producers.

      I suspect a LOT of FEMEN’s media coverage is because it’s a bunch of bare breasted women and some of the more avante-garde media outlets use their protests as an excuse to show pics of slender conventionally attractive women. Nobody straight and male looking at those pics gives a good God damn about what those women have to say – it’s all about ogling their bare breasts.

      It’s all the more ironic that FEMEN started out as an anti-prostitution group that wanted to stop sex tourism to Kyiv! It’s bad enough that they are sex industry abolitionists (I support sex worker activists and share their view that outlawing sex work hurts sex workers and helps nobody except for pimps, human traffickers, corrupt vice squad cops and NGOs that get government funding to “rescue” sex workers) but that they have such a porny way of expressing their sex work activism.

      We need to fight for a world where women are viewed as full human beings, not just breasts, butts, vaginas and uteruses intended for male use. FEMEN and their topless activism aren’t going to get us there.

      Honestly, I’d rather see them put their shirts back on so we could actually hear what they have to say.

  3. Hi Greg, Thanks for your follow-up. My first thought was: “If I were to post the article on the upper blog without the photos, that would defeat the purpose of the article”. But maybe it might encourage a more thoughtful response from readers. I will give this some thought. If the article is understood by readers as promoting the idea that taking your clothes off in public is inherently revolutionary–then it will not be good enough to be posted on the upper blog.

    > I suspect a LOT of FEMEN’s media coverage is because it’s a bunch
    > of bare breasted women and some of the more avante-garde media
    > outlets use their protests as an excuse to show pics of slender conventionally
    > attractive women.

    Yes. Without a doubt. If they had kept their shirts on–we would NEVER have heard of them. But the Guardian does it not simply to increase page views (that was probably one of their most popular articles that day) but because social democracy likes to promote a certain kind of faux revolutionism: it is trendy and appears radical, but at the same time (from a bourgeois perspective) it is also quite “safe”.

    There was an article I read in the Wall Street Journal on how the reactionary conservatives in Indonesia prevented Lady Gaga from performing there. The WSJ, interestingly, argued that the bourgeoisie in the West should support Lady Gaga’s right to perform in Indonesia because she will be acting as a weapon of Western influence. I think they compared her to an F-16. The irony is that Lady Gaga tends to be progressive and is popular because she supports the rights of sexual minorities. But we must recognize there is some truth in the analysis of the WSJ. If the masses are trained to accept photos of naked women in public as acceptable–this opens the door to Hollywood and the zillions of images that this dream machine can churn out. I should find that article (I saved it somewhere). BUt the other side of this is that Lady Gaga’s fans in Indonesia need to have the right to see her. And people being naked in public was normal in the past and will be normal in the future (ie: such as the occasional or partial nudity that is completely normal at burning man).

    I am convinced that these related issues are significant enough to be deserving of analysis and articles. At the same time, it is clear (and your comments have been helpful in this regard) that a lot of work would be required before I would have an article good enough for the upper blog.

    I can’t comment much on your contradiction with Art. A lot of these things are new to him so he may, on occasion, act in a way that is different than you or I might act. A year ago he did not know what social democracy was. Now he understands it is a hydra with a thousand heads. That is quite a lot to learn and digest in a year! So I tend to think we should give him some slack. Also, you and I need to keep in mind that he is of the younger generation and will be fighting when we are no longer on this planet–so we have no choice but to be patient with all of these kids and teach them what we can, so that, hopefully they will make fewer of the stupid mistakes that we made when we were their age. Their fight is our fight. I can say that Art has a deeper sense of class consciousness than many of the local activists I know. And he takes a lot of initiative. And he is learning that our most powerful weapon is our humility. I struggle with that principle myself. Also, if you think about it, it sometimes takes a lot of experience to sort out who is friend, who is foe and who is merely confused. And that is not simply a problem for individuals–that is a problems for the movement as a whole. We are dealing with that here in Seattle–working to get the activists on the red side of what I call the “red-blue faultline” to talk to one another on a more regular basis. That might sound simple, but we have our work cut out for us. All the best–Ben

    • Ben,

      About Art, I’m under no obligation to be patient with the guy, especially when he crosses the line into disrespect. I’ve been at this for 30 years and I’ve worked in Art’s trade for 20 and been a foreman, a shop steward, a union activist and a carpentry instructor. He could benefit from my experience in both areas if he would stop being a know-it-all and learn how to respectfully listen. I don’t tolerate disrespect, not even from my peers let alone from an apprentice, and when the conversation crosses that line I am OUT.

      Based on his postings on a dissident union carpenters facebook group he has a similarly disrespectful manner when speaking at his local union meetings. He succeeded in getting himself kicked out of a union meeting once. The subject of discussion was how to make sure that a new juvenile prison that’s going to be built in Seattle was going to be built union and he started in about how we shouldn’t have prisons in the first place and apparently he got very yelly and borderline verbally abusive about it (I’m basing that on his own description of his conduct at the union meeting).

      Naturally, he got thrown out of the meeting.

      He also seemed to miss the point that, as construction union activists in a capitalist country, we have no control over what the rulers choose to build. No construction workers in the 5,000 year history of our industry ever have (did Egyptian carpenters get to choose to build the pyramids or the pharoah’s tombs?). We ARE in a position to fight to guarantee that those structures get built by workers who are getting paid $ 40/hr instead of workers who are getting paid $ 7.

      That’s what we can control at this point and that’s where the struggle is.

      Forcing King County and the general contractors and subcontractors it hires to pay prevailing wages on their public works projects may seem “social democratic” or “not revolutionary” or “labor aristocratic” to some, but it would be seen, correctly, as a class struggle victory for the workers on that job and by the bosses who had to pay higher wages.

      Yelling at carpenters and calling us “jail builders” is NOT constructive and it just alienates people (ESPECIALLY when it’s an apprentice yelling at journeymen who are old enough to be his father – in construction that is very bad form and that kind of behavior just isn’t tolerated in our world, apprentices who act like that on the job can and do get fired on the spot and if they act like that in school they can be and often are kicked out of the program and the union on the spot).

      In general, the yelling, angry, know-it-all combative style that some young male activists feel the need to adopt, especially when they are on the internet, is counterproductive. It may make them feel like they fit into the gender binary as a Macho Man Tough Guy but it’s not very constructive and, socially speaking, is very reactionary because it buys into a sexist conception of what a “real man” is.

      I know young women activists Art’s age who are just as intelligent as he is but are far easier to talk to and to listen to because they aren’t constantly trying to pick fights with you to prove quien es mas macho. A lot of male activists Art’s age could learn from these sisters and conduct themselves the same way (even though I know it will be hard for them because they’d have to actually take leadership from a woman and they wouldn’t get to be a macho man anymore)

      Also, Art really need to quit talking about his gun collection, his gun club membership and how much he claims to know about firearms on his facebook page.

      That’s a massive security risk.

      Facebook is a private company, when you post on their site you play by their rules. They openly and freely cooperate with the police and they can and do share stuff that their members post with the police. Right wingers, particularly WHITE right wingers can get away with gun talk, leftists, particularly leftists OF COLOR, can’t.

      People go to jail for that and Art is 10,000 times more useful to the cause on the street than he is in prison.

      I’d hate to see all of his posts about his guns introduced as evidence against him in a grand jury proceeding but as you very well know from recent events in your area, that can happen.

      Best to be cautious and watch what you say in public – and what you say on facebook very much is in public.

      Art’s in a very strategic industry – he’s a construction carpenter working in scaffold building and concrete work and he has the opportunity to influence the carpenters who build scaffolds at the Bellingham Naval Base shipyard and at the big oil refineries and aluminum smelters in the area, as well as the carpenters who build the concrete forms at the big office buildings, hirise apartment houses, schools and, for that matter, jails, in the Seattle area.

      To my knowledge he’s the only leftist working in the trades in that vicinity and that would be a great opportunity for him to influence and possibly some day be a leader among those workers.

      To do that he has to complete his apprenticeship, make journeyman and spend a number of years earning the trust and confidence of those workers. This is a craft business and it takes a LONG time before you are experienced enough, craft wise and politically, that people will listen to you and take leadership from you.

      I did that in the New York trades and I am considered something of a leader and a person people listen to in my industry.

      Art has the potential to do the same.

      I’d hate to see him blow that chance, or build up a reputation as a crank that nobody listens to.

      On to FEMEN the thing is, despite their feminism they are buying into a very old sexist concept with their naked picketing tactic.

      The idea is, the only way that women can influence men is by using their sexuality as a weapon – the so-called “soft power” of getting men turned on and manipulating our sexual urges to get us to do what they want.

      It’s the kind of “soft power” that concubines, escorts, mistresses and wives have traditionally exercised and its’ not really “power” at all.

      It’s like a woman crying to “win” an argument with her boyfriend or a woman offering to have sex with a guy to get him to take her on an expensive vacation. It fits neatly into a view that the only thing women have to offer is the glands on their chests and the opening between their legs and that what’s between their ears doesn’t matter.

      I suspect these women have a lot to say but you’d never know that because all you see is them standing barebreasted in the cold streets of Kyiv. It’s not an accident that most of their media coverage is photographs – basically, women, like children, are to be “seen and not heard” and with this tactic, that’s exactly how they marginalize themselves.

      Also, I notice that all of these women are young, skinny and conventionally attractive. I’m sure there are fat women in Ukraine who agree with their politics, and middle aged women, and old women and other women who aren’t model pretty. However, they aren’t as photogenic as these women nor do their bodies conform to the body type that White men in Europe find “attractive” so they are not seen in public.

      As for Burning Man, I’ve read your articles on the subject (also illustrated with similar soft core porno pics) and I think you got that wrong too.

      Burning man is an arts festival that you have to pay money to go to. The tickets cost $ 300 from what I understand, and since they’re sold out quickly the scalpers often sell them for several times that price online. Add to that the cost of fueling up your car, provisioning yourself with gasoline, water, food, alcohol and drugs and it’s a pretty expensive weekend that most working class people could not afford. Basically it’s a party for the middle and upper class artists of the San Francisco area and I have no problem with that but I have no political illusions about it either.

      As for “gift economy”, if that’s how your defining it then you can see the same thing at the expensive nightclubs in New York – women of a certain class using their sexuality and the implied offer of intercourse to get themselves admitted to expensive nightclubs and treated to alcohol and narcotics without having to pay for them.

      Burning man is just an outdoor version of that with the women outright naked instead of just wearing sexy outfits.

      I could see how as a heterosexual male you would be very turned on by seeing young skinny conventionally attractive women walking around naked – any guy would feel the same way.

      that doesn’t make it revolutionary.

      Look, if seeing all those barebreasted women at Burning Man or looking at those topless FEMEN pics is a turnon to you, I totally get it.

      I’m a straight guy and I got turned on looking at those pics too.

      However, there’s nothing revolutionary about that.

      I’d have the same biological reaction to pics of topless women at the biker rally in Sturgis or a protest by topless Ukrainian skinhead women and I suspect you would too.

      As for the women artists at Burning Man and the feminists of FEMEN, I’d actually like to hear what these sisters have to say, rather than just stare at their boobs. The toplessness is a distraction and a concession to sexism and male chauvinism – COUNTERrevolutionary rather than revolutionary.

  4. Hi again Greg and thanks for your comment. You raise a lot of points and I do not have time to reply to all of them this month. But I will think about what you have said.

    I do not feel comfortable going into specifics about your contradiction with Art other than to note (as you are probably aware) that there was a local struggle against the jail. Your view, as I understand it, is that Art made two errors: (1) concerning the political-economic line he took at the union meeting and (2) his behavior in the process of doing so. It is possible you are correct on both points and it is also possible that you are not. However, if (for the sake of argument) you are correct on both points–then it would seem logical to me for you to take a long-term view in influencing Art so that his consciousness is raised on both issues. My experience is that it is usually unhelpful to attempt to pressure people into “doing the right thing”. The reason this is usually unhelpful is that, even if the pressure tactic is successful (in the short run) the person ends up doing the right thing because of pressure–instead of on the basis of their own internal self-motion. Similarly, I don’t know if Art treated you with disrespect. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. Is it really an important question? I have had many activists treat me with various forms of disrespect. Usually I take the attitude that I will work to earn their respect (without compromising my principles) even if it takes years. Sometimes it may take 20 years. I consider myself lucky if it is possible to maintain a line of communication. People change on the basis of their own experience and I want them to know that, if something is bothering them, I am always around to listen and (if I am asked) to offer my opinion.

    I attempt to keep in mind the long-term view: not the mistakes I may (or may not) make this week or this month–but rather what things are most deserving of my focus. I heard someone on the radio once describe heaven as “working on the things you love with the people you love”. That is how I view the struggle to build the revolutionary mass organization we need: the party of the working class. I have told Art that he is going to make a lot of mistakes and not to worry too much about them–but to focus instead on what he can learn and what he may be able to do with what he has learned 20 years from now. That is not to say that I am advising Art to be arrogant but rather to recognize that, in the current circumstance, the only way to avoid mistakes would be to be totally passive (ie: a far bigger mistake). Of course it is your responsibility, I would think, to make your views clear to Art at this time. And you have fulfilled this responsibility. I would say you have earned the right, at this time, to be relaxed about it, since your responsibility is completed. Art may think about these things over the next year or two. Wouldn’t that be good enough? As human beings, of course, we tend to want to see results NOW. But our actions are often immensely more powerful when we have the humility to recognize that what we can accomplish in the short run is quite limited. This is because when we do this, when we approach everything in life on the basis of its internal motion, on the basis of the development of its internal contradictions, our actions and emotions become aligned with (for lack of a better phrase) the life force of the universe. I will need to attempt to explain this better at some time in the future. It is related to what I call the quadrant 1 and quadrant 2 minds.

    Art has suggested that we develop a study group to go over WITBD. We are going to invite an activist, F, who has a fair amount of experience and perspective on the kinds of issues that you bring up. So maybe F may be able to shed some light on this.

    You don’t have to like Art at this time, but I believe that as the movement develops, both Art and you will develop respect for one another–because you are both on the same side of the class struggle. It is often going to be the case that activists will disagree on various issues. As a movement we are facing a shortage of examples of things being done right. Revolutionaries have no organization that can help create and broadcast news about good examples of tactics. This is what I believe must, and will, change.

    Also–I am not sure I am comfortable having any kind of detailed specifics about Art (or any activist) on the blog–because of considerations of security culture. I will need to think about this. We need both a security culture and also a culture of political transparency. This is not an urgent issue but rather represents an opportunity to sort out principles that could help us decide how to handle these kinds of things.

    I think, Greg, that we disagree on some of the issues related to burning man, the gift economy and the use of nudity (or open sexuality) by the revolutionary movement in the future. But I can’t go into that now because I am human and my time is limited and I work on the basis of a stack (see, for example, my reply to Red Fox which took me more than 6 months to get started on) that is focused on what is most important. But your comments (even if I disagree with some of them) are helpful.

    All the best–Ben

    • Ben,

      As a rule, I don’t tolerate disrespect from anybody, especially anybody who has any connection to the world of carpentry.

      I’m a Black man in a racist industry so I’ve had to work extra hard to gain respect, as a worker, as a supervisor, as a shop steward and as a labor activist.

      I tolerate abuse from nobody – not even foremen or business agents – so I’m not going to let anybody who just got in the trade the day before yesterday try and loudtalk me, in person or online.

      Period.

      Art was disrespectful to me, and to his brothers and sisters in local [removed local number–Ben] (I’m basing the latter on his own account of his conduct at the meeting) and he goes against the ‘security culture’ you speak of (BTW I HATE that phrase) by talking about his gun collection and his gun club membership on facebook.

      Also, he’s an apprentice, I’m a journeyman with 16 years in the business.

      In our world, that means that he’s supposed to defer to me as of right, not try to argue with me as if he was one of my peers because he is NOT. He is my subordinate and will be until the day he makes journeyman. That’s just how the craft world works.

      I can’t be so bothered to babysit Brother Francisco until he learns how to conduct himself like an adult and treat people with respect, especially folks like me who have EARNED it.

      On the FEMEN question, the idea that the only way women protesters can be heard is to parade around naked (with only skinny young conventionally attractive women allowed to attend the protest) is the rankest and most rancid type of sexism. Radical feminism emerged in reaction to that kind of movement sexism back in the 1960s.

      I think FEMEN’s protests would be far more productive if those women were dressed in a weather appropriate manner (that is, in shirts, scarves, heavy jackets and hats like the male police officers you see in the pics) and if they let their ideas rather than their breasts do the talking.

      They’d get less media coverage, but the coverage they got would address their IDEAS rather than be an excuse to run bare breasted pictures of conventionally attractive topless women.

      Women should participate in the revolutionary movement the same way us guys do – FULLY DRESSED in a weather appropriate manner.

      Protests for the human rights of women shouldn’t be a wankfest for horny men – if they want to see barebreasted women, they should go home to their girlfriends or wives (if they have them), go to a strip club and pay like all the other johns do or go home and hit up google or youporn for nudie pics.

      I feel sad that the young women in FEMEN think the only way that they can be heard is for them to parade around naked in the cold Ukrainian winter for men like you and I who are old enough to be their fathers to gawk at them.

      GREG

  5. Minor correction – I’ve been a journeyman for 16 years, I’ve been in carpentry for 20 years. My first 4 years were as an apprentice.

    I completed my 4 year apprenticeship in 4 years – based on Art’s account of his career, he’s been in the [removed specifics–Ben].

    That’s equivalent to still being [removed specifics–Ben].

    With a record like that, he really shouldn’t be loudtalking anybody who’s a journeyman, especially somebody who’s got 20 years in the game, 16 of those years as a journeyman and completed a four year apprenticeship in 4 years.

  6. Hi Greg, First: I need to make sure you understand that it is not acceptable to post on this public blog anything that could be considered “PII”. PII is the term used in the Information Technology world for “personally identifiable information”. It was necessary for me to remove Art’s local number and other details from two of your posts (above). Please respect my time. You are a good man, Greg. I need your help and your insight and I would like it if it would continue to be possible for you to comment on this blog.

    > In our world, that means that he’s supposed to defer to me as of right, not try to argue
    > with me as if he was one of my peers because he is NOT. He is my subordinate and will be
    > until the day he makes journeyman. That’s just how the craft world works.

    I do not know whether or not Art actually said that you were in the labor aristocracy, but your comments (above) would probably make it look, to most readers, as if this was your mindset.

    Art is not supposed to talk to you as a peer ?!!

    If Art is talking to you about how to build a staircase, I would say that it would seem appropriate for Art to recognize you may have more experience building staircases than he does.

    If, on the other hand, Art is discussing with you principles that relate to the revolutionary struggle of the working class–then I believe Art should defer to NO ONE. I have told Art that he must be a slave only to his revolutionary conscience. PERIOD.

    Whatever trade he is in, Art is also a revolutionary activist. I have been a revolutionary activist for 40 years. If I failed to make it clear to Art that I expect him to talk to me as a peer–then I would not be a revolutionary activist.

    If you read part 1 of my reply to Red Fox–this issue came up there. I said that, as revolutionary activists, we do not allow ANYONE to do our thinking for us–no matter WHO they are, no matter WHAT they have accomplished and no matter what PRESTIGE they may have. PERIOD.

    Red Fox complained that I had failed to defer to authority. I (somewhat diplomatically) made it clear to Red Fox that before I allow anyone to do my thinking for me–something else will happen first: my heart will stop beating.

  7. Ben,

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree on your friend Art Francisco, on your views on security culture and on your censoring information in my post that is a matter of public record.

    If this is the kind of discourse we’re going to have here, we really can’t have an honest conversation, about Francisco or anything else.

    GREG

  8. Hi Greg,

    > If this is the kind of discourse we’re going to have here,
    > we really can’t have an honest conversation, about Francisco
    > or anything else.

    I believe there is an issue of honesty here, Greg. But it is not what you think. It is clear to me that you are not being honest with yourself.

    Our movement will be built on honesty. Sometimes, brutal honesty.

    You are not treating Art with respect. I believe there is a lot he could learn from you, but he (most likely) has decided that he does not want to deal with your toxic energy. To tell you the truth–I cannot really blame him after reading your posts. You are behaving like a bully.

    You are acting like a man who bullies his wife and is then enraged when she leaves him. You can do better than that.

    In the long run, as I have noted, I believe that Art and you will develop respect for one another. But this does not look like it will happen today.

    The author, Stephen Covey, has written about what he calls the “emotional bank account” that plays an important role in our relationships with one another. We make withdrawals from this emotional bank account when we overreact to a situation. We make deposits to this account when we apologise. At this time, your emotional bank account with me is overdrawn.

    You do what you want Greg. You are a good man. I hope that, instead of berating Art and me, you give sober thought to taking responsibility for your own action.

    For the proletariat,
    Ben

    • Ben,

      As I said, we’re going to have to agree to disagree about Art. He’s your friend, I don’t like the guy and I’m sure that both those reactions are valid to our experiences of him and of what we bring to the table when we deal with him. We’re different people, we deal with others in different ways and apparently Art’s personality meshes with yours and violently clashes with mine. We’re also different men of different ages, politics, vocational backgrounds and races and we live on opposite ends of this vast continent so all of that affects how we relate to others. That’s all very valid and your reaction to Art is as valid as mine, based on who we are and what we bring to the situation. I’m not going to change my opinions of Art and I wouldn’t expect you to change yours either, so we can drop the matter here as closed and agree to disagree.

      In any case, how about we discuss the politics of your article – specifically FEMEN and the idea that young conventionally attractive women exposing their breasts for public view is a productive protest tactic?

      I think it’s sexism at it’s worst and it’s a counterproductive tactic – you seem to believe in it and seem to see naked young women at protests as somehow radical or revolutionary in some way.

      We should talk about that.

      I’m sure lots of feminists and women activists in general would disagree with your view of FEMEN – probably lots of pro feminist men like me as well.

      All I know is that their nudity is a distraction and it’s sad that these intelligent and socially-minded young women feel that the only way their voices will be heard is if they strip for what feminists call the “male gaze”.

      The fact that they are parading about half naked in the winter in a very cold country adds extra poignancy to their situation – the men in those pics get to be comfortable in coats and hats while the women have to freeze to be gawked at by random male onlookers.

      Even worse,the straight men who see this protest will ignore the slogans and just stare at these women’s bare breasts (fodder for masturbation fantasies when they get home – although I’m sure some of Kyev’s street harassers probably expose themselves and masturbate right there at the rallies).

      There’s nothing progressive or revolutionary about any of that.

      Like i said, I’d like to see these women make their points with their shirts on.

      They’d get less coverage, but the stories would have more text and less “hot nudie pix” and the reader would get to read these women’s ideas, rather than just stare at their breasts.

      The world will be a better place when women get judged on ideas and character (the way we men are) rather than bra size and looks.

      GREG

  9. Greg,

    I do not view you as someone who is committed to taking responsibility for his action.

    If you would like to form a political relationship with me in the long term, you can communicate that to me by respecting my wish that you not post on this blog again for at least six months.

    Beginning now.

    — Ben

  10. Ben,

    Remember when you complained (correctly) that Mike Ely was censoring you on Kasama?

    You are treating me the same way he treated you.

    Also, like Mike Ely, you are using nonpolitical reasons to avoid discussing a political question – in this case, your call for using naked young women’s bodies to get media coverage for protests and my calling you on the sexism of that position.

    You still didn’t answer my questions about your support of FEMEN’s topless picketlines.

    Are we going to have a conversation about that?

    GREG

  11. > Are we going to have a conversation about that?

    We are not going to have a conversation about anything. I am finished with you.

  12. Ben,

    That’s a very mature and adult response.

    There is nothing more constructive than refusing to debate with people who disagree with you.

    You and Art have a lot in common in that respect.

    Good luck.

    GREG

  13. Hi Ben,

    Short update regarding FEMEN that you may be interested in.

    Two things related, the first is the use of nudity in a slightly different form in China to protest censorship (still using nudity and body painted slogans):
    http://www.worldcrunch.com/culture-society/naked-courage-in-china/ai-weiwei-ye-haiyan-ai-xiaoming-femen-feminism/c3s12485/

    Mini doc (18 minutes) by Vice on Femen called Sextremism in Paris, in it the narrator notes the photogenic nature of the activists, it shows that the group is serious and has a lot of energy–but has some amateur failings as well:
    http://www.vice.com/vice-news/femen-sextremism-in-paris

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