I don’t see what’s inherently irrational about positing lesbian separatism as being one possible survival strategy in this world.
Similarly, she admitted to cheering on the "radfem separatism" of a group of young American girls who, it was reported, had made a pact to become single mothers:
I agree that I felt a little radical cheer when I heard of their plans to support each other. And I think this is exactly what the mainstream finds threatening about it. Women supporting each other, raising families, deliberately and clearly saying “We can do it”? Nothing like a hint of something that might look a little like radfem separatism to get the Patriarchy frothing at the mouth.
Tigtog also approved of single motherhood for these girls, all of whom were under the age of 16:
This is a model that could actually work really well for these girls.
The Hoyden feminists noticed my posts and responded briefly as follows:
...it’s definitely an overweening matriarchal conspiracy and it’s got Ozcon Mark really worried!
Jun 25th, 2008 at 7:18 am
I saw reference to that, Helen. But after all, he’s worried about the family-destroying ideologies of two feminist bloggers who are actually happily and productively cohabiting with the fathers of their respective children, because we happen to believe that there are other equally valid family models for raising children. I suspect he spends much of his time worried about overweening shadows.
Jun 25th, 2008 at 11:04 am
I suspect he spends much of his time worried about overweening shadows.
“Hey! Who turned out the lights?”
This is a real switch of voice for the Hoyden feminists. One minute they're cheering on the cause of radical feminist separatism, the next they're taking a "Who us?" position and claiming that I am imagining hostility on the part of feminists toward the family.
Tigtog makes two points in support of her claim. The first is that both she and Lauredhel are happily living together with the fathers of their children. The two feminist women, in other words, are championing the cause of radfem separatism for other women, whilst living in a relatively traditional family arrangement themselves.
Isn't there some kind of warning in this for young women reading Hoyden about Town? Isn't there a message here that the feminists at Hoyden are preaching one thing, whilst choosing another for themselves?
The second point Tigtog makes is that I'm overreacting to the fact that she and Lauredhel "happen to believe that there are other equally valid family models for raising children."
The "other equally valid family model" she is talking about is single motherhood for young teens.
Now it's one thing to accept that teen pregnancies will happen and that the best has to be made of the situation. It's another to claim that it's an "equally valid family model".
How can single motherhood for young teens be equally valid when the mother is left without a husband and the child without a father? Or when the mother has to be supported by the taxpayer? Or when the father is left without the same motivation for work or social responsibility? Or when the child will later have a statistically higher risk of involvement in crime or drug use?
And if single motherhood for young teens is equally valid, then how do you ever draw the line in rejecting something as invalid? How do you, for instance, reject polygamy? I wasn't exactly surprised to find that Lauredhel supported the call by several Australian Islamic officials to legalise polygamy, on the basis that it would help protect the rights of women already living in polygamous relationships.
It's difficult to disentangle all the threads here. We have a case of two feminist women living happily with the fathers of their children who claim that they only want to recognise other relationships as equally valid, but who at their website are strident in their opposition to the traditional family, seeing it as a product of the patriarchy.
(Lauredhel in one recent post describes marriage as a "problem" and writes that "abolishing the concept of marriage or domestic partnership" sounds "superficially attractive" to her.)
So what's going on? One way to explain the feminist attitude is to see it as a consequence of the "neutrality strand" within liberalism. The basic idea of the neutrality strand is that the way to achieve peace, security and harmony is to take a neutral stance toward important goods. Therefore, adopting a neutral stance is thought to be a mark of high principle; from this comes an insistence on non-discrimination, tolerance and equality.
The way to prove your neutrality is to endorse and point to the virtues of "othered" ways of life, particularly those most dissimilar to your own. Perhaps this explains, in part, two happily partnered women describing the "advantages" of single motherhood for young teens.
It's possible, too, to explain the situation in terms of the "autonomy" strand within liberalism. If you want to be free to choose in any direction, then you will want reality to be open-ended - you will want to have a situation in which a whole range of models of family life are "equally valid".
At the same time you will be most hostile to the longstanding, socially sanctioned, mainstream model of family life, as this is the one you will feel is less a product of individual choice or negotiation, and more a result of tradition or custom or social expectation.
The situation is made worse if you accept the claim of patriarchy theory, namely that the institutions of society were established to buttress the dominance of men over an oppressed class of women. This casts a pall of suspicion on the traditional model of family life, as being formed to oppress women.
If somewhat different influences are at play, then the "switching" attitude of the Hoyden feminists is more easily comprehended. The neutrality strand means that they don't like to be labelled as being biased against the existing model of family life or to be thought of as harming the existing model; it also encourages them to prove their neutrality by identifying advantages in models of family life dissimilar to their own.
The autonomy strand explains the willingness to declare an unsustainable form of family to be "equally valid" - there is a need for reality to be open-ended in order for autonomy to be perfectible.
The hostility to marriage and the traditional family, even though it contradicts the claim to be unbiased, can be explained both in terms of autonomy theory (not wanting to be constrained by tradition or social expectation) and patriarchy theory (in which the traditional family is regarded as an institution designed to oppress women).