The Mystery of Classism, Part II,

          The Mystery of Classism

                                      Part II

                                       Bev Jo

(Part I:  https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2017/08/27/classism/)

Class is about survival – about whether we have a place to live or are homeless, have health care or don’t, have enough food to survive, have safety (as much is possible in patriarchy, but those with more money can be immeasurably safer than those who are class-oppressed), have peace of mind versus a lifetime of stress and worry, and, literally, about who will live and who will die. It’s about how much opportunity to be able to do what we want and not just what we need, and have access to what makes life worth living. Class is also about being treated as an equal or superior.

But for this article I’m focusing on how we treat each other individually and as a community of Lesbians and women, and particularly those who identify as Radical Feminists, who theoretically are my community.

I could not finish this article because so much else kept happening to add to it. I keep being shocked at the unembarrassed classism I see among women claiming to be longtime Radical Feminists who truly should know better. But I can’t give up, so will continue trying to explain about what many women already know. I want no more oppressed women to be driven out of our communities because they refuse to obey oppressors’ rules. What happened recently makes me realize that the choice is really about caring for other women and wanting equality among us, or wanting to keep as much privilege and power as possible with clique class-bonding.

First, learn what is poverty class, working class, middle class, upper-middle class, upper class, ruling class. It is about culture as well as about money. Living in poverty as an adult does not make someone who grew up with all the privileges of being class-privileged to now be working class or poverty class. Even less so if it’s chosen downward mobility.

Class should not be such a mystery. It’s quite simple really. For the privileged, just stop being classist. Stop feeling superior to poverty class and working class women.  Yet most class-privileged women refuse to honor that simple request. Why?

In terms of creating Radical Feminist or Lesbian Feminist community, or anything else really, mutual respect has to be the basis. Of course even thinking about class terrifies most of the class privileged who worry they will be asked to share money or resources. But even when our discussions are only about how we treat each other, the subject of class is still too threatening. Those class-privileged women who are called out on their bullying suddenly pretend to be fragile flowers. If you tentatively object to how they are treating you, it’s not unusual for them to start crying, even after they have been viciously insulting you. (I will never forget Marilyn Murphy at one of our Separatist gatherings, coming to me after witnessing my being bullied by a Lesbian Feminist academic and star, saying “Women like us don’t cry, do we?” She was such a kind working class Lesbian activist and writer, though her work not taken as seriously as others’.)

The refusal to treat class-oppressed women as equals extends to where women who use classism to feel superior are willing to look stupid in order to not give up their privilege. They say the most bizarre things. And some of these women are otherwise politically savvy.

One example is when a “Radical Feminist” who shared many of my politics wanted me to visit her so we could meet. I sent her some of my work and she said, “You say you’re working class, but you sound intelligent.” How do we deal with women like this?

First, deny them the right to our identity as Radical Feminists because real Radical Feminism is not classist or oppressive in any other way. (That saves a lot of time and energy. If someone truly cares, that’s different, but there has to be signs that they are trying.)

The refusal of most of the class-privileged to stop feeling superior is where I end up thinking they are simply not too bright. They don’t consider that they actually are not superior to us?  Other than their privilege, what do the Euro-descent class-privileged have? – A colder, more empty, distant, disconnected, boring, puritanical, and less intelligent (not inborn capability, but willingness to learn and think) culture and way of relating, as opposed to the more open and warm and thoughtful and caring cultures of the class-oppressed. (The people who most donate to charities are the poorest.) The class privileged often seemed scared of emotions unless they are the one who’s expressing them, and then they can be incredibly loud and dramatic.

The media censors mention of the working class, while calling us “middle class,” yet the real middle class sure can recognize us, by our expressions, faces, voices, thoughts, writing, how we walk and move, clothing, and treat us accordingly. I can recognize them too, often from just a photograph.

Besides the obvious, such as the nose-in-the-air arrogant look, there are many other clues, like when I bring new friends to parks and apologize for the fees charged – the privileged say they don’t mind paying because the state or other agencies don’t have enough money, which is their identifying with the government and those in power. (The reality is that keeping out the poor does not increase the parks’/states’ money, and if the state is part of the military that is killing people far away for US corporations, as well as spending a fortune on killing thousands of trees and poisoning the earth and water and air, torturing animals for “science,” etc., they certainly can keep the parks and museums free.)  I charge that this is deliberate legal segregation, because keeping out people most likely to be oppressed by classism also discriminates those who are also oppressed by racism, ageism, disability, etc. It’s a way for the privileged to be protected from having to see us. They also deliberately make it very hard for the class-oppressed to self-educate since once-free museums and botanical gardens are now outrageously expensive. Places many of us enjoyed going to with our friends for years are now unaffordable and denied to us.

                    Middle Class Culture Dominates and Polices Us

It’s no coincidence that ridicule is a favorite weapon of the class privileged. One snobbish woman in an email list for our trees coalition couldn’t disagree with me honestly so she said she was “smiling” at what I’d said. This tactic has been used by Leftists to put us down, but it cost them in terms of reaching the class-oppressed politically. If they treated people as equals, they could have more of an effect, but they just will not. They even ridicule accents of the US politicians who have done the most good, like LBJ who made it more possible for African-descent people to vote and who tried to eliminate poverty. Being a poverty class Texan who refused to give up his accent meant that decades after he died, class privileged snobs still imitate his accent simply to ridicule and feel superior. (Yet class-privileged Euro-descent singers, including from other countries, imitate Southern US accents to be “cool” and more popular.)

Responses to questions are revealing. Do you feel safer or more afraid when you see the police?  Unless someone has had an unusually bad experience, middle class Euro-descent women say the police make them feel safer. But not those of us who have been harassed by the police or whose families have been. How to feel safe with police when a cop has pulled a gun on your mother to beat and rape her?  (She beat him up and escaped.) A white poverty class Lesbian friend was eating lunch in her car in San Francisco when a cop yanked her out, slammed her up against a wall, kicked her feet apart, put a gun to her head, and frisked her. Many people don’t know that police departments were begun as a way to “control” freed slaves after the Civil War.

When I first found the Lesbian Feminist community, there was a much higher percentage of class-oppressed Lesbians, and the attempt at having an equal community reflected that. Many accepted mainstream ideas and rules were questioned. Since there, new ways of thinking and speaking and writing invaded our communities to where many Lesbians aren’t even aware that these are class-privileged standards. It’s interesting to look and listen to see what styles that are taken for granted among us are not from our culture and not even questioned. One example is when awkward, pretentious terms are used that would rarely be said or written when talking conversationally because of how stilted they are, such as ablest phrases like “falling on deaf ears” and “being blind to.”  So much is about signaling privilege and showing off about obeying the rules.

Most middle classes aren’t aware of how they are also expected to control and “police” the poverty class and working class on behalf of the ruling classes. They are usually quick to make moral judgements, including about how we choose to live. They assume their culture is the best and that we all should follow rules we never agreed to. They watch us, correct how we talk and walk, criticize the clothes we wear, and everything about us. Meanwhile, they proudly will wear jeans with holes in them since it’s trendy, but only if you’re privileged.

Notice which code words or terms are used to dominate since they are usually class-based. There are so many – the privileged prefer being called “wealthy” rather than the more vulgar “rich,” for example. Even the class-oppressed use “wealthy” sometimes to try to bask in the reflected light of their privileged friends. (One of the most ridiculous was when my mother told me she’d met a “very wealthy” woman who had just moved into her mobile home park. Seriously?)

There are many things that those wanting to join the upwardly mobile club must learn, besides betraying themselves and their friends and culture, such as ignoring their own common sense about what is beautiful or ugly. This includes teaching themselves to like art or music or books that are boring or pretentious. Note that this does not come naturally, like when seeing art or hearing music that is naturally beautiful. (And it doesn’t usually work since the privileged can still recognize those who are trying to be “above their station.”) I believe this training in unlearning common sense trains women to betray their common sense in other, more crucial ways.

When there are disagreements about something as basic as if males can be females, those working for men against women will try to use class status to win, such as saying that science “proves” there is no difference between women and men. What could be more ridiculous? Scientific proof and statistics go to the highest bidder. Science can be helpful, but we should carefully check the source and who is funding the “studies.” Never forget that science was once used to “prove” that Lesbians were mentally ill, that women were inferior to men, and that Nordic males were superior to everyone else. Science is on a continuum with Mengele, the Tuskegee “experiment,” making a fortune off Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells, “proving’ that carcinogenic pesticides and radioactive scans are safe, etc.

We can be so inundated with the codes and terms that we can forget it’s not our culture. A lot of this has invaded our communities from the therapy industry, which also promotes porn and sado-masochism: “Do whatever feels good and fuck everyone hurt by it.”  Except that door of “freedom” slams shut when class-oppressed women are getting out of line and out of our place. There are so many forms of control to stop us thinking or answering, whether we’re told to “breathe” when we are showing emotion that disturbs the privileged, or being told to calm down when answering injustice, even when we can barely stay awake.

Some terms that I’ve seen used against class-oppressed women for years is when we are reprimanded with “you’re just being defensive” or “you’re being judgemental.” I still do not understand what this is about other than trying to get women who have strong political opinions or who feel attacked to submit. Stop treating us unfairly and we’ll stop “being defensive.” If the intent is to say we are not reacting as we should, then be specific about what the problem is instead of using policing platitudes. I’ve been called “a hard case” after two women frantically asked me in whispers what to call a TiF (“Trans-identified Female) who joined our women only hike and I answered: “She’s a woman, so call her ‘she’ and ‘her.’”

If we want to survive, we’d better have “judgements” about truth and lies, fact and fantasy. Another mindfuck is being told we have “our truth” while someone else has “their truth.” But what if the “truths” conflict and their truth is not only not true but extremely hurtful to women — like being told a man is a Lesbian and his prick is a “lady peen” and we are “transphobic” to not want to be fucked by that aggressive man in drag?  Almost every aspect of the trans cult, which is all about fetish and fantasy, is not real, whether it’s “transgender,” “trans-racial,” “trans-disabled,” or “trans-species.” It’s very middle class and very fake “you create your own reality.”

And why on earth do so many middle class white women put their hands together and bow when that is not their culture, except as a way to show off and be trendy?  It’s annoying and embarrassing.

The class privileged often believe in “experts” with degrees, even when the “experts” don’t know their subject very well or we know more than the “expert.” An example is when a UC Berkeley “expert” gave terrible advice to Audubon about how to save the Burrowing Owls at a local park. The old and disabled poor people who daily fed the California Ground Squirrels in the park knew all about the owls and what needed to be done to help them (such as seriously enforce leash laws or even forbid dogs when the owls were there – almost every park in the Bay Area allows dogs already). But the people in charge wanted to drive those people away and have them ticketed them for feeding the squirrel community they had known and loved for decades. The California Ground Squirrels, who have language and warn their community and the owls of danger, loved their human friends back. The “experts” wanted the squirrels poisoned, and seemed to have no idea that the squirrels provided the burrows the owls needed and that they also helped divert off-leash dogs that attacked the owls. These people had no respect for the real experts because of classism, and the result was that they ended up destroying that tiny owl habitat, including allowing a $100,000 “art project” that consisted of inadequate fencing and ugly benches, one of which was placed right over the last owl burrow. The class-privileged are often more convoluted than direct and practical.

                                       Appreciation, not Appropriation

(My friend, Deb, coined that.)  Appreciation is kind and caring, while appropriation is theft. We know about how men are appropriating our female and Lesbian identities, but I’m still in shock from hearing that middle to upper class/rich women I know personally suddenly announce they are working class. These women have been openly classist for decades and have tried to prevent any discussions in our community about classism, but when it became a trendy topic, like a conference workshop, they appropriate the identity of the women they oppress. (I guess it’s not a surprise that some of these same women have been instrumental in helping men appropriate Lesbian identity to get into power positions to take over our last spaces and then tell us that discussions about the “trans-lesbians” are not allowed.)

A Leftist friend I know who identifies as a Radical Lesbian Feminist and theoretically has been in a Lesbian Feminist community since the Seventies, seemed to have no awareness of class at all. When I brought it up, she actually started spouting Marx at me. She is a well-meaning hard-working Lesbian Feminist activist, but why do socialists/Leftists seem to know so little about class? Then she tried to convince me that she was almost working class because many of her father’s clients were.

The last class workshop I went to at a Lesbian conference was run by a middle class woman claiming to be from a poverty class background (all the workshops on class I’ve seen have been run by the class-privileged. Some even charged money!) I was astounded at the classist women there who I knew well who were lying about their class backgrounds. (One ruling class woman even said there were no class differences in South Africa.)

What are they so afraid of?  Equality? The truth? Not being in control (of us)? Their arrogance is astounding. An upper-middle class Radical Lesbian Feminist in our online groups was used to  lecturing other members about feminist and Lesbian issues, so she kept going as the “expert” when it came to class, talking to us as if she were teaching us. I call it “class ‘splaining,” like how men “man-‘splain” to women. For all her decades among Radical Feminists, she was amazingly unaware of class. I suspect she used to try to avoid discussing class, but could not stop from trying to dominate when class kept being talked about in our group. She seemed to have no shame as she played out almost every classist stereotype.

I spent years trying to reach this friend in particular because I care for her and she is very strong about important issues few will talk about, and we share other oppressions and experiences that I have with few others. But she would not answer why she refused to stop feeling superior. I tried to be sympathetic about how it’s likely that that had been her survival mechanism for dealing with her other oppressions. But what about others of us who don’t have such class privileged protection? Why are the privileged considered more fragile, with more relevant feelings? (We certainly see this with male oppressors claiming oppression.) Do these women not care about losing our friendships?  I’m guessing that we just do not matter to them, and therefore they also don’t care about having an equal Lesbian or Radical Feminist community.

This friend actually wrote “Equality always seems like an odd goal to me. How does one measure it?”  Well, just try not feeling superior and think about how you oppress those you have power over. It’s not that complicated. Stop judging us as “other.”  And why not listen to what we say about it?  But another marker of privilege is making it all about herself.

I kept saying that all we were asking for was for her to treat as equals and not as inferior. She ignored me and continued lecturing us about class, telling us how her father taught her as a girl to put her allowance in the bank to get interest, as if my working class father hadn’t done the same with me and as if we could have as much money as her if we did what she had done, ignoring how much comes from family money and the expectation of privilege and power. (Ironically, I’m guessing that if she suddenly had my below poverty level income, she would not begin to know how to be frugal enough to survive – even though I’ve never been in debt or taken out a loan or paid interest.) Her extreme privilege and chosen obliviousness means she did not learn or even seem to remember how many times I had explained classism to her.

Because I valued her as a friend, I kept trying, although the classist stereotypes that she subjected us to were incredibly offensive. She said didn’t like working class Lesbians because they were mean to her. I asked how she knew they were working class, and she said because they had jobs like being security guards, etc. I told her that most of the women I knew who had gotten such higher paying male working class jobs were middle to upper-middle or even upper class, and I questioned if she even could tell the class of women she didn’t know. She couldn’t really say what would define them other than a list of classist stereotypes.

Considering that the working class is the majority of US people, how can the middle classes be so unaware of working class culture?  Instead of referring to the many class-oppressed Lesbian thinkers, writers, musicians, artists, poets, teachers, and other creators of our Lesbian Feminist culture, this friend only referred to bar culture.

For herself, she said her parents were “well-spoken,” leaving us to wonder what that meant. Did they never swear or did they sound class-privileged with pretentious language and grammar? She has an admiration for the British royal family and upper and ruling class English, both in history and in television dramas, in spite of these being the people who colonized so much of the world, committing genocide and stealing from the people they were enslaving and murdering. She fantasizes living in 19th Century  England, so I asked why she didn’t realize that if we were in that world, we would be  servants and perhaps even prisoners.

Her politics were all about her: “There is significant class conflict in America, so it will be the same in Lesbian communities. All I know, is I want this sense of security and care, so I am fussy about this in my life.” Aren’t we all “fussy,” when we have the choice? “I can only speak for myself, but without a doubt I have been treated the best by middle class or upper class lesbians, in terms of me actually feeling absolutely positively well cared for or listened to. In job situations, they simply treat me better as well. I’m not saying all working class lesbians or women are bad. They aren’t. But they have never been very good at making me feel completely at ease, and I don’t have as much energy to deal with being ill at ease in the world.”

Should our job be to make our oppressors feel at ease, when they have the power and certainly do not help us feel safe with them? Her contact with other privileged women is partly based on her work as a broker helping them with their investments. Of course they will listen to her and seem caring.  She doesn’t seem to consider how much her sense of being safe, at ease, and cared for by the rich is simply because of her privilege and that those of us who are class-oppressed won’t ever be treated like that, partly because of women like her. My experience with most class-privileged women is being treated like dirt.

I saw how much more respect my friend got at a large Lesbian conference we went to, with her thousand dollar suits and very privileged air. We were talking about the same politics of Radical Lesbian Feminism including refusing to believe that men can be Lesbians, but it was very different to do it with her than when I’ve been on my own where class-privileged Lesbians have yelled and pointed at me and ordered me to shut up because I quietly dared disagree with them.

 “I think if we look at lesbian communities over time, maybe it is impossible to have true mixed class structures.” Does that mean she wants a class segregated community? That would mean race segregated. Many do, now that the majority class-oppressed Lesbians helped create the Lesbian community and made it safer for all the privileged housewives and other het women to leave their men. They changed our communities with their money and arrogance, by making prices unaffordable for poverty and working class Lesbians and women, and starting elitist and exclusionary organizations and events. (We are decades away from the days when Lesbian Feminists cared about class and organized groups to talk about it.)  Now, the policing, enforcing, and even admiring middle class rules is standard and accepted, even though they will never be the majority.

Of course she also pulled the classic con of saying how easy we have it in the US, no matter how poor, compared to other parts of the world. That is designed to shame us into silence, in spite of the increasingly visible and growing homeless in the US. She just kept diverting. I know a woman who managed billions and was working class, but eventually she really had no place in the lesbian world at all, because she became too rich. Sad but true. Seriously? There are plenty of rich Lesbian sub-communities. Not to mention I have never seen a rich Lesbian excluded.

An African-descent middle class friend (who is very kind and caring and unclassist) paid for us to go to a Lesbian concert that was way more expensive than I can afford. The huge venue was full of old Euro-descent Lesbians who I had never seen before though I’ve been around Bay Area Lesbians since I was a teenager. There were only about four African-descent Lesbians present, which shocked us. I recognized perhaps six Lesbians, including two who are millionaires but got in free. This was a rare look into what privileged Lesbian enclaves exist where they have arranged it so they never have to see us. The rich also have the power the rest of us don’t to create Lesbian only spaces, which we desperately need. What is actually “sad” is being too poor to be able to afford to go to unaffordable Lesbian events.

Part of what was most upsetting was my privileged friend’s hypocrisy. The one time I spent a few hours with one of her lovers, that woman repeatedly insulted and taunted me, while my friend said absolutely nothing — even though she was ruthless in ranting at women in our Radical Feminist groups for saying much less offensive things. She did not hold her privileged lovers to the same standard, no matter how oppressive they were to other women. (“I’m from privilege so I like money spent on me. …I like dresses because I’m a woman.”) Finally, we realized, her class-privileged lovers/friends are above reproach, but the class-oppressed women in our groups don’t get the same consideration. Double standards based on classism do not make equality.

                                                            Assumptions

I wonder how many classist judgements, like the potential friend who thought working class women must be stupid, is in the back of the minds of most of the class-privileged.
When I wrote about my poverty class friend, Fran, killing herself because of chronic illness and pain, but also because of years of the lack of respect because of classism, a middle class Lesbian said, “But Fran was middle class, with a degree and a teacher and intelligent.” Yes, she was all those things, but not middle class, and it’s interesting that I never once saw her being treated as an equal by middle class teachers. Having a middle class job after growing up poverty class does not make someone middle class.  And neither does living poor as an adult stop someone who grew up middle to upper class from oozing privilege and being classist to women “beneath” her.

Middle class language dominates the media in the US. If working class language is used, it’s considered funny or inferior – unless someone middle class is playing at it, and then it’s trendy. Note who is famous who has fetishized class oppression.

Class divides cultures. How many class-oppressed people are being pressured by their upwardly-mobile educated children to give up their Indigenous healthy foods for trendy unhealthy middle class eating styles like veganism, low-fat “food,” rancid vegetable oil, toxic and carcinogenic soy, etc. I know a well-meaning woman who was pressuring her diabetic Mexican father to give up the healthy food of his culture, such as saturated fat in lard (one of the healthiest foods there is), meat, dairy, eggs, etc. to switch to vegan. (Notice how trendy white-owned “Mexican” restaurants proudly advertise they use toxic canola oil and “no lard.”) Fat, meat, dairy, and eggs help stabilize blood sugar, as well as give energy and good health.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell what is classism or female-hating or Butch-hating. (I identify as Butch because I refused to obey male-identified femininity from my earliest memories. https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/chapter-four-2015-update-25-years-later-supporting-butches-supports-all-lesbians/)
I have been policed by middle class Fems literally tugging on my clothes, telling me to wear something that “fits,” which is not easy to do when you live below the poverty line and are not skinny. Even if I had the money, I wouldn’t waste it on expensive clothes because I still hold to the Lesbian Feminist and Separatist politics of my old community which was against those with class privilege advertising it at the expense of other Lesbians. (And no, I will not buy used clothes since they are invariably contaminated from being washed with toxic detergents and fabric softeners that never come out and which then ruin whatever other clothes they are washed with.)

I have been told to get different glasses, shoes, and everything imaginable, I suppose to not offend the sensibilities of the privileged. I have actually heard that a local bully thinks I should not be in the community I helped create because I don’t dress expensively enough. (No amount of money is going to improve her likeability.) I figure that if someone doesn’t like the way I look, don’t look at me. Meanwhile, I care about sharing support with other Lesbians to not have to fit the mean standards of the privileged. And don’t get me started about how hideous so many women choose to look to fit in with male standards of “beauty” and femininity, from makeup to breast implants to plastic surgery to high heels.

I’m often the driver when going out because I’m so chemically injured I can’t use public transportation or be in most friends’ vehicles, but that creates another way for classism to appear. I have been driving since I’ve been 16 and rarely get lost. I had driven a class-privileged friend to a national seashore and was starting to make a turn when she yelled “STOP!  GO THE OTHER WAY!  I asked, “Why?”  She said, “Isn’t that the right way?”  No, and it’s quite simple to remember with just with one road in and out, not to mention that it’s not safe to yell at the person driving. It’s class arrogance. But when I tell this story, friends say she’s poor. Yes, now, but class is about how we grow up, with the confidence to feel superior and always right, no matter how wrong they are.

This same friend visited our yard and asked me to give her the Meyer lemons from our tree. Why?  “You’re not using them.” I use them every day, so why does she think she knows better?  We’re not considered to be using them unless we pick them off the tree and let them rot in the refrigerator. If they stay on the tree to ripen, they get bigger, sweeter, and last longer. But what would I know? Even if I’ve been a gardener for over forty years, I’m not a “Master Gardener.” (Where did that elitist term even come from?)

I lead nature hikes for women to see wildflowers and I’m suspiciously asked if I’m a botanist, and then dismissed when I say no. Yet, I’ve found that sometimes I know more about certain topics compared to what “experts” with PhDs know. When showing a downwardly-mobile upper-middle class friend the Botanical Gardens, I explained that one of my favorite plants, the Dragon Arum, Dracunulus vulgaris, was mis-labeled as being in the Compositae (now called Asteraceae) family when it’s Araceae. She actually laughed at me, and mimicked me: “They got the label wrong”?  Yes, and the kind working class head gardener there knew immediately when I told her. (This brings up another issue, which is when Lesbians need help with surviving, who tends to get money are the most privileged. Lesbians in the community organized a “Go Fund Me” page for her to help pay her rent, while poverty class and working class friends wouldn’t dream of doing that.)

When I asked a UC Berkeley arachnidologist at a spider event about Araneus diadematus (the large beautiful Eur-Asian orb weavers now in the Americas) changing their color dramatically to camouflage, the “expert” didn’t want to admit she had no idea, so said they had different “morphs” of color, which means they would be born that way, like with the dark morph of Red-tailed Hawks. No, I was talking about intentional elaborate camouflage that is astounding, considering what tiny eyes they have. I’ve seen them go from their usual rufous/reddish brown with elaborate white and black symmetrical patterns on their backs, to being charcoal black all over (with arms and legs drawn in to look like an oval protrusion on a black tree trunk) or matching an industrial green bridge, or matching a brick red painted house, complete with hiding all her markings except a thin white line to match the tiny white streaks on the wall. I’ve never seen that species of Araneus with different coloring when not trying to hide in the open.

I asked if the expert knew if Pholcus phalangioides (the cosmopolitan Long-bodied Cellar Spider) used pheromones that mimicked female pheromones of other species to lure males within reach to catch.  She had to admit she had no idea, but she didn’t want to learn either. I often find mistakes in nature books also, like the endlessly repeated myth that geckos are able to run on glass because they have miniscule bristles that fit into invisible spaces. None of these later writers seem to be aware of the book of electron microscope photographs from 1972 that shows the otherwise invisible tiny suction cups on those “bristles” that enable the geckos to run upside down on glass and most other surfaces. (The Unseen Universe by CP Gilmore, Schocken Books, p. 36.)

I’ve read and heard in nature documentaries how certain species are nocturnal, from rats to raccoons to skunks to pangolins, when in reality they prefer being in daylight but have had to adapt to hiding from dangerous humans and their predator pets. Common sense and observation can teach so much. But also it helps to not worship the class-privileged “experts.”

More than once, I’ve led groups in nature where the women began to be terrified we were lost, even though I had a map and knew exactly where we were. One time, one of the women ran to the nearest man to make sure we were going the right way, as if being male meant he must know more than me. Then the group began to run through the woods saying they were afraid of wild animals. (I’d already explained that the dangers in the park were the same as in the cities, but with less of them: males and off leash dogs.) I’d driven us up the mountain so they couldn’t go too far without me and also they couldn’t remember which way to get to the car. Then, one of them yelled “Parsley!” and grabbed a fistful of a newly sprouted green plant by parking lot. Parsley doesn’t grow wild in the Bay Area. She didn’t think to ask me what she was about to eat, but I kindly told her it was Poison Hemlock.

This could almost be funny except that these attitudes continue on every level. In online disagreements with people who clearly do not know what they are talking about, I am called “ignorant” and “uneducated” even though I could easily win a debate over the topic.

                                                      Cultural Confusion

I keep being confused about why there seems to be so little understanding among Radical Feminists across class lines. Generally, the class-oppressed have to be aware of class-privileged culture and ways of doing things since they obviously are in control and we learned about them in school, at work, and through the media. But how have they learned about us?

Media representations of the class oppressed are often caricatures, presented for the amusement of the class-privileged, but they often assume they know us as a result. Some grew up with us, but were they in a position to bully and reprimand us. Few who have been domineering even seem to be aware that that is the role they played and, for some, are still playing. It shows in their expectation that we will behave according to their rules, and when we refuse, there is outrage at our “misbehavior.”

When else have women felt justified to order others around, sometimes under threat of physical punishment? One example is having servants. (I include in this hiring women to do demeaning work that they could easily do, as opposed to hiring people to do work we can’t do ourselves. And even when there are physical reasons for needing help, such as with housecleaning, most people could still clean their own toilets and not expect the woman they hire to do such intimate work.)  Other examples are mothers who have had experience yelling at and even hitting their kids, and those who have become familiar with yelling at and beating animals they own.

Projection is also common. Recently, an upper middle class friend I rarely see told me her doctor had mistakenly cut her psychiatric drug prescription by half and she was doing much worse until she realized what had happened. (This is the second time I recently heard of doctors making drastic mistakes in medications, with the other one being an opioid. Don’t the patients check their dosage each time they get a new bottle or if they start to feel worse? Please be careful when dealing with doctors.) I was sympathetic to her and concerned that this doctor might be doing this to other women and asked how the doctor responded. She looked outraged and said, “Well, I didn’t yell at him.”  Who said anything about yelling?  Is this projection because she is someone who yells?  Or is she assuming that’s how I deal with doctors?

I hate yelling and rarely do it. (Exceptions are when a stranger yells “Dyke” or other insults at me.) I have had many terrible experiences with doctors, including being refused a strep test while having a high fever with white spots on my throat (this woman doctor actually asked if I had AIDS, though I am in the lowest risk group there is. It was clearly Lesbian-hatred). Another doctor asked if I’d “always been this way” after telling me I needed hormones. A surgeon asked if I was “gay” while I was in excruciating pain, terrified I would have to have yet another surgery for my shattered wrist. He used this as an opportunity to confess he used to hate “gay” people and then started crying and hugging me. (This didn’t lessen his $600 fee to get an x-ray and cast and recommendation for another surgery.)  I didn’t yell even when I had had ovarian surgery that quickly infected and the arrogant surgeon said, “I thought it would infect” as she repeatedly poked hard into my open suppurating wound while as she talked at me. I just told her quietly to stop.

                                               Classist Techniques

After Lesbians were attacked at the Dyke March by women supporting the trans cult, our local Lesbian email events list was full of Lesbian-hating comments supporting men who demand we accept them as Lesbians. Attempts to meet to talk were so class-privileged-dominated and unsafe that I would not consider going. Besides that one of the men posing as a Lesbian was organizing it, we were told the meeting would be run with NVC (“Non-Violent Communication”) rules, which sounds like the middle class opposite of what it purports to be. Another accepted middle class rule was that there would be a facilitator, but that this one would be “genderqueer,” which is a term that now can mean anyone, including het men, so how on earth would Lesbians who have already been threatened by men be safe? Even worse, this facilitator goes by the name of “Slam.” No one else seemed to think that this was funny in the worst way.

Assumptions that we all must know and of course revere and accept middle class rules of thinking, talking, writing, and behavior without even discussing the cultural values involved is an effective way of middle class culture dominating the majority of women and Lesbians. Whether conscious or not, the result is that the class-oppressed are bullied and shamed into obeying or leaving. We are not even asked if we agree or feel comfortable with the “accepted” ways of doing things. Therapy culture has had a lot of influence in our communities and this is not the way we once talked with each other, before leaders and “facilitators” controlled our communities.

The dominating is often in the guise of “advising,” with the assumption that the privileged know best. We are told we should not have egos, but where did this come from?  If directed at men, that’s a good idea, but not for class-oppressed women who need as much ego as possible to withstand classist onslaughts and pressure to submit.

There was an excruciating example of this recently on facebook, in the thread of a couple who I thought were new Radical Lesbian Feminist friends. I was actually accused of “pulling the class card” when I objected to one of their friends bullying me with glaring classism, as if bringing up class gets us anything but more insults and abuse. Would this woman have accused another woman of “pulling the race card,” which is exactly what right wing racists often say when racism is brought up?  Is she even aware of sounding like them?  Is she that desperate to dominate and shut down any mention of classism?  (Later I will quote the worst examples from that thread to explain why it was classist.)

Yes, occasionally women will use legitimate issues to try to dominate other women, but that’s rare compared to how often the actual oppression is enforced, and anyone with awareness about the issues can easily see the truth. Ironically, those I most see using classism against other women are class-privileged themselves, though some pretend  to be class-oppressed.                      

It’s true that I do expect more from women who identify as Radical Feminists or Radical Lesbian Feminists. I expect them to care and to try to treat us all as equals. I also expect them to have learned basic feminist politics, so it’s a shock when they not only don’t know our history and about how to not be classist, but adamantly do not want to learn.

Theoretically, it should not be too hard to disagree without laughing at, ridiculing, name-calling, lying, or implying intimacy with other feminists you don’t really know in order to get women to join in the abuse. These are all techniques the trans cult uses against us, so it’s a shock when “feminists” do it. Women disagree with respect all the time in our Radical Feminist Coffee House, because they care and also because we have clear rules. (If they start being cruel or bullying, we warn them more than once, and then remove them. That has been hard to do, but we’ve learned that the bully gets more aggressive otherwise.)

I wasn’t sure whether I should post excerpts from the thread below until I realized I could not come up with more outrageous, specific examples of classism, including how class-privileged women can seem well-meaning, but betray the majority of us by bonding in cliques to drive us out of the communities we helped create. This mess lasted for several days, and at the end, I was blocked by the two Lesbians I thought were new friends. No talking back to your “betters” allowed.

The thread by VG began as a good post about supporting women against the female-hating trans cult. When TiFs (Trans-identified Females) were brought up, I commented that women wanting to be men are betraying women and girls. This is common knowledge among the Radical Feminists I know and I never expected to be reprimanded. But instead of agreeing, three “friends” back-pedaled in order to support the woman who went after me — “Jai Kalidasi.” She is a white woman who has gotten care and respect from some feminists for years because they thought she was a Woman of Color. In the past a het friend had even aggressively questioned why “Kalidasi” was not in our groups, implying we were racist, though we would not have allowed in someone who many of us have seen be a taunting bully. I’ve never seen an explanation about why “Kalidasi” is using what appears to be an Indian name.

(I put in bold what are the most glaring terms they are using to patronize and ridicule me.)

I believe “Kalidasi” had been waiting for an opportunity to “get” me. First, she said, “Womyn wanting to be men are only naturally seeking respite from institutional misogyny. I don’t like this, but I can’t hate it and I certainly don’t generally believe those females are betraying us. I don’t think that’s a fair –or feminist–assessment at all.”

Of course they are betraying us!  They have also physically threatened and attacked us, including, I was told right after the SF Dyke March, when at least one TiF joined with other women who knocked down VG and SG at the SF Dyke March and tore up their signs. TiFs are also part of the group who put up an exhibit at the SF Library advocating beating and axing women to death. https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/san-francisco-public-library-hosts-transgender-art-exhibit-featuring-weapons-intended-to-kill-feminists/

Because of my previous experiences with “Kalidasi,” I tried to answer in detail what felt wrong. I said it looked like she was lecturing me on feminism and trying to enforce liberal middle class rules, such as “be quiet, don’t stir things up, don’t say the truth, don’t dare be angry at injustice, and definitely don’t hate those harming you or your community. Know your place.” I also said “No, betrayal of other females is not “natural.”

To make it more specific instead of theoretical, I then asked, “How many TiFs do you know? Are you not aware they are supporting the men on every level? Are you in a community where they have public power? Have you heard them say they want ‘better jobs and more chicks’? And some, like Pat Califia and Loren Cameron publicly promote wanting sexual access to gay men? Of course it’s betrayal, as are other things the liberal to right wing ‘feminists’ tell us not to speak about, like Lesbians choosing men again.” But I was ignored.

If they had been willing to truly discuss it, we could have talked about our experiences because they might feel differently if they had been treated the abusive ways some of us who had tried working with these women for years have. But “Kalidasi” went directly to ridicule and put-downs:

Lardy lardy, Bev Jo, I should have known better than to dare to disagree with you! But at least you’re predictable–same old boat load of vast assumptions about me along with your usual projections. Guess what BJ? I’ve been a feminist at least as long as you have been! Also guess what? You hardly have the Bible of Feminism in your sole possession….”

Calling me “BJ” implies she knows me well, but I am never called that. Implying I’m a religious fanatic is incredibly insulting. She also said she has been a feminist as long as me, but later says she is 61 and nothing else about her history (whereas mine is public). Even if she had come into a Lesbian Feminist community at 19, like I did, those six years were crucial in terms of learning our culture before it was so diluted and harmed by sado-masochism and porn and heterosexism. Since she has been so dishonest, I question when she did become a Lesbian Feminist, or is she a Lesbian at all, as she implies?

When I confronted her about the implied intimacy of calling me “BJ” being creepy, she diverted with: “It seems that some people don’t understand that on a platform like fb, it is a sign of *respect to call people by their screen-name, unless of course they have been invited personally to use a name the person prefers. Sheesh, *what else* is anyone going to call you? Unless of course they try to call you nasty names, which wouldn’t be respectful at all.”  How about using my screen name (Bev Jo) since BJ is not name I ever use?

When I confronted her about what felt like classism, she continued her assessment of my life: “Finally, if you are someone with a secure home and income (whether earned or State-supported), if you have even a small family/community who helps care for you and keep you comfortable, if you don’t have to worry about eating, or meeting all the other demands of survival on a daily basis, then you are among the LAST people who should be mentioning classism. Since I know you do have all those things, then YOU have it far better than I do, and better than the majority of womyn on Earth.”

So how does she know I “have all those things” when I don’t?  Why is she lying about me in this very public thread?  And who is she to arrogantly lecture me about how much better I have it than her, when I don’t know anything about her? I have said openly that I have no home of my own, I do have to worry since my income is not secure and does not cover my basic living expenses, even though I am incredibly frugal, and I take stressful risks (I have been chronically ill since 1981) to get what I need for survival. I have no family or very little actual community where I live. I have some good friends but they have their own limitations.

More importantly, why should I even have to try to counter her taunts and lies when basic feminist politics about classism is about how we treat each other? Who on earth is she to patronize that I have no right to object to her classism?  She proves my point. But what was a shock was that the other three “friends” in the thread joined right in to put me in my place. Their class bonding was so intense that I got no support at all. I think her goal was to end my friendship with SG and VG and the third Lesbian.

“Jai Kalidasi” continued: “Wishing to escape the oppression of being female in patriarchy is only natural. Sheesh, I would think *all feminists know this in their hearts, minds, bones, wombs. It simply turns out that in this era, what appears to be the ‘easiest’ way to escape oppression is to ID as male and try to live as a male. It’s a tragedy for those womyn that they felt forced to such extreme measures to escape oppression as females …As feminists who presumably love and have empathy for the female condition under patriarchy, I would think we all see that love and empathy for all females as a fundamental element of our consciousness….We don’t have to like what womyn do to try and save their own lives….”

While ignoring that we are oppressed by these women, she portrays them as tragic victims just trying to survive, which is also patronizing them. They have tremendous power as part of the trans cult and can even influence producers of new expensive films about what actors to hire. Some, like lawyer Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, have tremendous power over Lesbians and have betrayed us for years, including trying to destroy the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I refuse to think of collaborators as victims of any kind because those politics have diluted feminism and harms all females. (This is a common disagreement between Radical Feminism and liberal to right wing “feminism.”)

“…That doesn’t mean we have to cast them in the worst possible light and ESPECIALLY not to assume that a female’s reason for doing anything is just like a man’s. And P.S. Bev Jo– name calling, minimizing and dismissal of womyn’s voices are male tactics of abuse and control…” 

So first she chastised me for describing some women’s motives for wanting to be male, which I’ve seen in print, such as that they “wanted more chicks and better jobs,” but then she accused me of using “male tactics of abuse and control.”  Where did I do that? Not to mention that why should I have “love and empathy” for women who wish me dead?

I answered, “You are projecting wildly, as usual. Those ‘male tactics of abuse and control’ are yours. And your pretense of familiarity with me is disturbing. Undermining the women fighting the trans cult and supporting those deep in the cult is what got us to this place where those women attacked V and S. I am done feeling sorry for women who hate us so much that they don’t want to be us….To keep things clear, it’s good to think about what is the result of obeying what the bully suggests. In this case, we should obey middle class rules and not dare mention the women in the trans cult as betraying us or try to hold them accountable? How dare we think it’s unfeminist to talk about how much they are harming girls and women and even physically attacking Lesbians?”

Then “Kalidasi” goes on about how wonderful and popular she is and says I should realize that not for her sake, but for my own. Her condescension is astounding. I will not go against my hard-earned political awareness and own experience with seeing her gaslighting. After all, in spite of often being too trusting, I have learned to not discount what is glaringly oppressive.

I answered: “You are still projecting. You started with bullying me in this thread and I dared respond, knowing I would likely have to deal with your endless insults. Again, I base what I think of you on how I see you treat me and other women. If you call anyone a bully, you should back it up with examples and facts, as I did with you here. You patronize and lecture (do I really need to give examples of what everyone can see here of your techniques?)

“Kalidasi”: “I disagreed with you, politely….womyn who actually know me will find this all as laughable as I do. Those who actually know *you will recognize your projections as your own shit, your own way of trying to silence ME (and anyone who disagrees with you)…. Well, this grows tiresome. Do go on though, I can’t stop you nor will I try.”

She didn’t stop though.

“Kalidasi”: “No, sorry. I know countless radical feminists, too–and most of them trust me. I can’t help but think those of your friends who find me untrustworthy are not only your fans, but like you they don’t like to hear disagreements with their opinions or their often abusive ways of speaking those opinions. Birds of a feather do flock together, eh? You flock with one type, I with another. I flock with those who love womyn enough, and seek solidarity enough, to work at communicating with respect, despite disagreements…. Seems to me that the main reason you find me “classist” is that I speak with poise….”

I answered: You did not disagree politely or with respect, but perhaps you don’t know the difference between that and using class policing. My daring to talk back is what enraged you. Empathy for those who despise us is dangerous and is what has gutted feminism. I don’t have “fans,” but it’s interesting that you say that, considering your other projecting. I won’t play that game and I pay for refusing to play.

What you claim you do, with working through disagreements with respect, is what I do. But it’s not what I ever see you doing, like in this thread with your lectures on how we should think and feel, while ignoring what is harming women and girls. I don’t know anyone who trusts you, for obvious reasons.

“Kalidasi”: “Lol. Sure you know people who trust me…Meantime, I’m done here. Do carry on as you please, I’ve had enough to last me awhile.”

I do not cut off friends. A friend actually wanted to participate in answering you, but you’ve already blocked her. I’m assuming anyone still trusting you hasn’t been around you long. But by preaching empathy for those who literally attack us, you are revealing where your loyalties lie.

“Kalidasi”: “V and S — sorry to have gone there on your page. I trust that you know me well enough to know that apart from disagreeing about the root cause of womyn seeking to trans, in no way do I intend (or practice) all the rest of the vast extrapolations and assumptions laid on me here.”

I had become new friends with SG, who seemed down to earth and caring, so it was chilling to see her writing suddenly look like an attempt to mimic “Kalidasi’s” pompous and pretentious style. (Remember, this is all part of policing the class oppressed and making her loyalties clear.)

SG: “Jai, my *dear friend*, thank you for speaking your heart on this difficult subject of TiFs. 💖 My heart goes out to all of these lost womyn and I wish for their enlightenment and eventual self acceptance, whether or not they’ve partially or fully transitioned. I hope that at least the majority of them desist sooner rather than later, and that they know that the majority of us will indeed accept them back, with open arms. As radical feminists we are entitled to strive toward liberating ALL womyn from patriarchal oppression, even those who’ve gone down the wrong road in a misguided attempt to free themselves from said patriarchal constraints. As we know, it doesn’t work and they still ultimately face oppression, albeit at somewhat lesser degrees when they’re lucky enough to ‘pass’. Yet I digress…

Your statement, ‘Womyn wanting to be men are only naturally seeking respite from institutional misogyny. I don’t like this, but I can’t hate it and I certainly don’t generally believe those females are betraying us. I don’t think that’s a fair –or feminist–assessment at all.’ was a just and respectable enough reply. I agree wholeheartedly…It’s males and their female, often straight or bisexual, handmaidens, who are doing the vast majority of damage in the transgender movement. I witnessed no TiFs assaulting us at the march, either. (Again, that is not what V said in front of witnesses a couple of hours after the attack at the Dyke March, not to mention we saw a mob of Lesbians threatening us on behalf of the men and TiFs.)

Many of us who have known you for years, like myself, are quite aware of your politics and your stance on womyn bashing each other within our community, as well as knowing what a genuine and kind hearted, not to mention *extremely* intelligent, womon you are. I shouldn’t even have to mention that.

Bev Jo, your pulling the class card on my friend is unjustified and ludicrous, as those of us who actually know her are well aware of the financial struggles she herself has endured through her lifetime, within patriarchy. I’m deeply disappointed that instead of engaging in rational discourse about this, you instead chose to attack her very character, and somehow “out” her as being some kind of devious backstabbing womon, which she is clearly not. This attacking, demeaning and scandalous behavior is exactly what’s contributing most to the divisiveness within radical feminism. I will never tolerate this kind of treatment of another radical feminist, let alone a close friend of mine. I’m appalled by your lack of restraint and tact on this thread. We certainly don’t need this kind of controversy at a crucial moment when we’re actually fighting to make some sort of ground FOR womyn, ALL womyn, even the ones who’s politics we disagree with, or those we don’t like. I could say more, but I’m a little too disturbed at the moment and I think you get the gist of what I’m saying here.

I’m still in shock at the paternal, patronizing tone, from saying she’s “disappointed” (who but someone in a superior position talks to another Radical Feminist like this?) to calling what I said “scandalous” (seriously)? The gaslighting reversal by SG is what is “attacking and demeaning.” I am chastised for my “lack of restraint and tact” by defending myself from the beginning charge of being “unfeminist”? How on earth am I not being rational for daring to disagree – unless of course the assumption is the superiority of both “Kaladasi” and SG?  Not once throughout this thread do any of these women treat me as an equal or consider our massive cultural differences.

Also, it is not agreed among Radical Feminists at all that it’s our job to welcome back women who have identified as men, including those who have attacked us and other women. We have had too many bad experiences. Would former Klan members or Nazis be equally welcomed without question?  I would hope not.

Then “Kalidasi” continues the mutual in-group worshipping:

“Jai Kalidasi”: Aw, S G. You make me weep for the love you’ve shared here with me. Thanks, dear sister.

Meanwhile, I kept trying to reach SG:  SG, if you go back to the top of the thread, you will see that this began when she attempted to put me in my place by saying that my politics/comment was “unfeminist,” which is a deep insult. I don’t “pull” any cards. I object to being put down as inferior. I want us all to be treated as equals, which has never been my experience with her.

“Kalidasi” pretended to know me and continued with patronizing me and being insulting. I see classism throughout this, which does not have to be contradictory with her not having money now. It’s about attitudes learned and continued very young, which, unless dealt with, mean those with class privilege continue to feel superior. Why wouldn’t she disagree without all the putdowns? I don’t know her other than what I said above, and witnessing her bullying other women. What you are blaming me for is exactly what she is doing in this thread.

SG: “’I don’t know anyone who trusts you, for obvious reasons.’” You’ve just met two. Your words, not mine.

Yes, but I knew no one until now. How we talk to each other is crucial. And when I am lectured about how I should have empathy for women who betray us, I have to answer.

SG: By doxxing another womon?? I don’t have time for this as I need to attend to the petition, legal matters, etc and have a very narrow window of time. In the future please civilly agree to disagree. I’m done with this discussion.

How did I “dox” her? I said no. Maybe when things settle down you can see it.

Then I linked to my first article on classism at my blog and got this patronizing reprimand:

“Jai Kalidasi”: Goodness! Does it ever occur to you that solely quoting your own book (written an entire generation ago by now, as if other brilliant feminists haven’t said a word in the meantime) is well–kind of useless here? Doesn’t it occur to you that if you want to affirm your position, most people would be more impressed if you quoted *other respected feminists whose positions agree with yours? You really do seem to believe that only your own words, conceived and written so long ago, are the pinnacle and Last Word on radical feminism. That you wrote the Bible as if Received Wisdom and inarguable, and those of us who dare to disagree with you are not only “abusive”, we are heretics of the worst sort. Just the same as Christians feel about their Holy Book and non-believers, just the same as Muslims and their Holy Book and infidels!

Not to mention that a great number of OTHER brilliant radical feminists have done a great deal MORE brilliant writing over the past decades since you wrote your book. Seems to me you demonstrate a vast degree of disrespect for womyn, and for feminists as a collective, together creating theory and trying to build a movement. You seem to only revere your own work and opinions, and how is that the attitude of someone who hopes for liberation of womyn as a class?

First, the book I co-wrote in 1990 is not only my book, but what does it matter when it was written? Should we never refer to other earlier works of Radical Lesbian Feminists? I have never seen a class-privileged writer reprimanded for referring to her own work when it’s relevant in a discussion. And why the put down for one of the most important things I’ve done in my life as if I’m a religious fanatic?  (I do wonder about “Kalidasi’s” background with  her using religious terms to slander me.) I also am not trying to “impress” anyone but to get my friends to finally learn about classism.

Second, I didn’t link to our book. I linked to a recent article I wrote on classism. Clearly she didn’t want to read it, but to lie about it in order to dismiss me?  Why is it “useless?”  She gave not one specific or quote to explain that erasure of my work.

Third, how am I “demonstrating a vast degree of disrespect for womyn” by linking to my article that is exactly relevant to the classism in the thread?  The reason I wrote the article was to not have to painstakingly explain each time “feminists” are being classist and seem to not understand classism. Please name one other article on classism by a Radical Lesbian Feminist that she would prefer I link to. I don’t know of any or I would have. But again, if my work is not good enough, be specific about why.

There is a code she is using in all this that is common among a group of women who call themselves feminists who insist we cannot have racism or classism or any inequality among us as “womyn” because we are all somehow equal, and that code is to refer to “womyn as a class,” which a way to erase the issue of classism among us. I’m not sure if Kaladasi is part of that group that I consider right wing pretend feminists, but she hasn’t said anything to show she isn’t. Her entire argument is about erasing classism as a real issue, even though it’s one of the most destructive differences among women.

Meanwhile, Christina, the co-moderator of our RFCH group took SG out of our group for safety reasons until this could be sorted out. Christina couldn’t participate in the thread to explain since “Kalidasi” already had her blocked, so she wrote to SG in messages to try to reach her and I did also. I actually thought there was hope we were saving our friendship because SG and I were having daily multiple and very affectionate messages during this time, and SG admitted she didn’t know much about classism, but wanted to learn. I told her again how much she meant to me.

Then, SG’s lover, VG, joined in her thread:

VG: “Bev jo, after your late night private messages to SG regarding her defense of Jai and taking you to task for your bullying of her, now SG is unable to see this thread AT ALL. You are still fb friends though. Do you know why this is?

Taking me to task,” as if I’m a misbehaving inferior. And how on earth could I control whether SG could see the thread? But “Kalidasi” jumps right in to insinuate:

“Jai Kalidasi”: Well now that IS weird! But at least the question of why you couldn’t see it is no longer relevant. I guess…. Well, perhaps only relevant if it was something other than a fb glitch–if it was engineered by someone, somehow.

VG: “I can handle the trans cult, angry mobs, the degenderettes and their ilk, and even the apathetic ‘can’t we all just be tolerant and get along’ asshattery, but when it comes to members of our OWN radical feminist community showing lack of respect for the words of other women, that is what sends me over the edge. It cannot be tolerated. It must be called out, even if responsible parties don’t own their mistakes, so that it doesn’t go unchecked. This is exactly what we do when we see internalized racism, classism, misogyny, elitism and idolatry here. ESPECIALLY HERE.”

Why am I being reprimanded for what is being done to me?  “Elitism and idolatry”?  What “internalized classism” and where is the racism in the thread?

I answered: I have tried to support you through all this, in every way I know, spending hours each day. It never occurred to me that saying that women so deeply in the cult as to be identifying as our oppressors (men) are betraying us would be criticized, especially since I remember your saying an FiT was one of the attackers. This is personal to me also, with worrying about a dear friend who is trapped in a living situation with an abusive woman who keeps flipping from being a Hard Fem wearing corsets to taking testosterone and identifying as a man, and back again. Meanwhile, she has attacked my friend in the past and I worry for her safety. None of this is theoretical, but I’m unfeminist to say it’s a betrayal? I hope when things are less traumatic that you will look again at this thread and consider how you would feel if you made the comment I was reprimanded for and then the continuing insults, yelling in caps, and lies. I thought we were friends and have supported you every day online over the last few weeks, but the one time you have observed me being ridiculed and lied about, here, where I was again writing in all of our support, you joined in the pile on to get me, without ever considering why I was being treated the way I was or caring.

VG went on for a while, and this is part of it: “My point is that if it looks like attacking behavior then we must own it and reflect. I’ve had to do so. S has had to do so. We all are opinionated, vocal, educated, strong women and sometimes those characteristics will collide, but it can’t go without examination.

Ego has no place here. We are all guilty of it at one point or another, but we must check our shit at the door in order to diplomatically discuss real and important issues. I am not here to make friends and I think I speak for S as well. We are here for more than that. Solidarity. Change. Awareness. Protecting WOMEN. We have made true friends in the process, but as is said in AA, principles before personalities.

We are NEVER too old or too broken to learn from others. We will not learn from them, however, if we are too busy fighting them. We are NOT each other’s enemies. Peace.

This goes on so I edited and left out the yelling in caps since it was so repetitive, but I have the entire thread if anyone wants to see it.

What if we are not all “educated” women?  And if we think AA is another cult?  And how on earth do we learn from those oppressing us, who smirk at and taunt us?  How are they not “enemies”? And what is the lecture about “principles before personalities” when their friendship with “Kalidasi” was more important than our new friendships as well as the “principles” and justice involved?

All four of these “feminists” are class-privileged. One even posted a bragging “confession”: “I lived in a 3,500 sf home in a gated community in the suburbs, with the boat, the new cars, the motorcycle, the pool, the tennis courts, the fake nails, the $150 hair cut/color, married to a man, and denying my sexuality. I now live in the woods in a “tiny home” (hahahaha) 280 sf with my soulmate, and cutting my own hair with dollar tree scissors. I love my life. I love my kids. We all have our stories.” (emoji with a wink.)

Downward mobility can be reversed, depending on the family and other status (resources gained from het marriage), and it does not alter how those born into privilege are treated and feel superior. It also does not justify being classist.

So after all this effort and pain, which has affected my health, SG and VG both blocked me without explanation.

All I can hope is that this will help other women understand classism, and for those being victimized and ganged up on like this, to feel less alone. But after this, in terms of reaching the privileged, I don’t have much hope….

Again, why do most of the class-privileged refuse to treat us as equals?  What are they afraid of, that we will treat them as they treat us?  That if they will dissolve if they actually let themselves think that any way they feel superior is a result of what their enemy, patriarchy, has done? Is preventing a truly strong and powerful Radical Feminist community that could end patriarchy worth the price to pay for their wanting to continue to dominate us?

For Radical Feminists and other women who do care, if you want to stop being classist, think before you speak or write. Are you trying to communicate or establish dominance?  Are you working to build a real feminist egalitarian community, or are you doing clique privilege-bonding? If you feel superior to class-oppressed women, why?

About Bev Jo

I’ve been a Lesbian from my earliest memories and am proud to be a Lesbian. Lesbians are my people and my blood. My life’s work has defending Lesbians and our culture and existence against those who oppress us. Working-class, ex-catholic, mostly European-descent (with some First Nations, probably Shawnee, ancestry), from poverty class culture. I’m a Lifelong Lesbian, born near Cincinnati, Ohio in 1950. I became lovers with my first lover in 1968, became part of a Lesbian community in 1970, and became a Dyke Separatist in 1972. I helped create Radical Lesbian Feminist and Separatist community and worked on some of the earliest Lesbian Feminist projects, such as the Lesbian Feminist Conference in Berkeley in 1972, the newspaper “Dykes and Gorgons” in 1973, the women’s bookstore, Lesbian coffeehouse, and taught self defense to women and girls for ten years. I’ve been published in journals and anthologies, including “For Lesbians Only,” “Finding the Lesbians,” “Lesbian Friendships,” “Amazones d’Hier, Lesbiennes Aujourd’hui,” “Mehr als das Herz Gebrochen,” the Journal for Lesbian Studies, Lesbian Ethics, Sinister Wisdom, Trivia, and Rain and Thunder. With Linda Strega and Ruston, I co-wrote our book, “Dykes-Loving-Dykes: Dyke Separatist Politics for Lesbians Only” in 1990. Our book and my more recent articles have been updated at my blog https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/ I’ve been disabled since 1981 with ME/CFIDS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.) I love nature and plants and animals — and especially the animals who are feared and hated and killed by people who don’t even know them, just as Lesbians are. I’ve learned to love rats especially, who I do not consider inferior to humans. I’m a spiritual atheist, but I’ve found out that there is definitely life after death because a little rat returned from the dead for three days to comfort us. These hated little animals are so kind and loving, and willing to die for someone they love. I say, in our fight to protect the earth — distrust all “truths” we are taught by patriarchy. The true truth is often the opposite.
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