My last post embryonically started to raise the question of #nodads in relation to feminism.
Fortunately it turns out Jane Hu was already on it with her post on 31st October, #nonodads:
I’ve voiced my hesitations about #nodads here a few times now, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to convince those who use (and maybe even abuse, if possible?) the phrase online, but Pateman has helped me feel more firm in my conviction that #nodads is generally unproductive, and often a red herring.
To emphasize society as problematically paternal makes us forget that we’re more urgently caught up in society-as-patriarchal—it takes focus away from the dominance men have foremost over women (before they are ever dads), and places the weight on fathers and husbands. The focus on families doesn’t just play up the importance and necessity of motherhood, but downplays the always present female submission implied in conjugal relations.
Others have written that #nodads can really be whatever you want it to be (of course this is a directive given to us from some one—a man, a straight white man—but beside the point), but that sort of looseness (of which, again, I am suspicious) is still contained within the emblem of “nodads.” Why not “nomen”? I understand that most people behind #nodads don’t see it as a way toward apocalypse or nihilism — that they want the possibility of reproduction without the burden of daddies, but #nomen still seems more appropriate to me. Isn’t it possible to have a no-male (or at least no-man) society too? Is it because most of the people shooting the #nodads tags aren’t (yet) dads? Is it a just-enough-distanced point from which to speak in the name of feminism, of anti-patriarchy? Is the hashtag, then, explicitly anti-paternal enough, especially with said looseness?
As it happens, I am reading a radfem book on this exact topic in another tab - Refusing To Be A Man (by John Stoltenberg; link’s to the PDF full version)
This is where I lose half my audience who aren’t familiar with radical feminism and assume it’s attacking men-as-people rather than man-as-cultural-category. You know, the ones who like to criticise Andrea Dworkin for saying “all sex is rape” without ever having read Dworkin, or made any effort to understand the point she’s actually seeking to make. Anyway, I’ve basically only mentioned Dworkin to in-advance reverse-troll them - now I’ll get on with the point I was trying to make.
Which is basically to say Jane is making a great point, and that this book by John Stoltenberg is attempting to answer that exact question:
Contrary to opponents’ dissembling, radical feminism did not hurl an accusation at a biologically determined class named “men” but rather at a value system—an ethic of injustice to which eroticism, both male and female, had been conditioned. This book urges a solution to that injustice: a radical self-examination among people born with a penis, a radical inquiry into the ethics of our social identity as men.
Stoltenberg wrote the revised introduction in the late 1990s, and makes a lot of parallels in the introduction with the then-current New Abolitionist movement seeking to overturn “whiteness” as the dominant identity structure. (Their journal: the brilliantly named Race Traitor). His argument is best summed up in 3 paragraphs where he takes an “abolitionist” passage and re-writes it in brackets as a radical male feminist one:
The rules of the white club [the men’s club] do not require that all members be strong advocates of white supremacy [male supremacy], merely that they defer to the prejudices of others. The need to maintain racial solidarity [sex-class solidarity] imposes a stifling conformity on whites [on males], on any subject touching even remotely on race [on sex].
The way to abolish the white race [to refuse to be a man, to end manhood] is to disrupt that conformity. If enough people who look white [who look male] violate the rules of whiteness [of manhood], their existence cannot be ignored. If it becomes impossible for the upholders of white rules [manhood rules] to speak in the name of all who look white [look male], the white race [the male sex class] will cease to exist….
How many will it take? No one can say for sure. It is a bit like the problem of currency: how much counterfeit money has to circulate in order to destroy the value of the official currency? The answer is, nowhere near a majority—just enough to undermine public confidence in the official stuff.
Which might be, for our purposes, a #nomen manifesto.
As somebody totally into #nodads (for it’s articulations into power-knowledge, dadliness, as haute-pop said earlier), I’m also into #nomen. Sounds good to me. Men (as a social category existing across a chasm beyond the biologically determined exo-relations that some cells enter into) suck!
I’m also #nobosses #zerowork #nowar #noprisons etc.
This guy for president