In many ways, 1969 was a pretty cool year, but it was also during a wave of crazy radicalism that made today’s upsurge of rent-a-mobs seen like a croquet match. During that year, a group of New York feminists dropped a bomb on civilization. They called themselves the Redstockings; the color red was a reference to Communism.
They’re a bit obscure these days, but back then, they were big enough to have a few chapters around the USA. Ellen Willis and Shulamith Firestone co-founded it; the latter having been a co-founder of New York Radical Women a year and a half previously. Soon after, some lesser lights (or dimmer bulbs) of the Sisterhood joined them. Firestone was one of the co-authors of their Redstockings Manifesto, before abandoning ship later that year to co-found yet another outfit.
This document became quite influential. For example, it’s in a list of essential feminist manifestos, along with other items by Valerie Solanas (number one, bless her heart), Andrea Dworkin, and another by Firestone herself. Since the Terrible Trio wrote four items on that top ten list, consider them a fair sampling of what feminism is all about. Remember that if anyone tries to tell you that those types don’t represent at least a significant part of feminism.
Despite their influence, this is not to say the Redstockings started it all singlehandedly. Still, their manifesto gives a capsule summary of what radical feminism was at the time and would morph into later. Although it’s a Second Wave document, it contains kernels of the ideology by other varieties in recent times. This foundational text begins with a preamble about the “final liberation from male supremacy”. (Okie dokie…) Then:
Item 2 – Class consciousness
Women are an oppressed class. Our oppression is total, affecting every facet of our lives.
This whopper shows Firestone’s inclination—one shared with many others—for taking Communist rhetoric and adapting it to feminism. This makes it—big surprise—an instance of cultural Marxism. The considerations of economics and actual social class that orthodox Communists were concerned with get left behind. This was, in fact, one of the reasons for the schisms in New York’s feminist scene.
No argument supporting the notion that all women are oppressed is made. We’re just supposed to take it as a given that this article of faith is true, one of several extreme and unsupported assertions in the manifesto. By this peculiar form of logic, a female celebrity is oppressed, and a male Peace Corps volunteer is an oppressor because he has a dick. Are all of us really that bad?
Item 3 – All men are oppressors
Leftists talk a great game about treating others as individuals, yet make sweeping generalizations about groups of people they don’t like. Here we have the kernel of the “patriarchy” conspiracy theory, and today’s privilege rhetoric rationalizes this. It begins:
We identify the agents of our oppression as men.
After this is more Communist-flavored rhetoric, stating basically that men have always run the world. Likewise, all institutions are controlled by men. Oh really? “All institutions” includes countless ones run by and for females: NOW, the League of Women Voters, foundations for women-only scholarships, convents, the Girl Scouts, and so forth, even Redstockings itself. How are dudes running all those? Actually, most organizations include both sexes, and male-only institutions have fallen out of fashion.
As for men being in absolute control of the political system, that conveniently leaves out all of history’s ruling queens, beginning about 5000 years ago with Pharaoh Merneith. (The Redstockings were as bad at history as they were at logic.) Feminists still won’t let go of it, even now that there have been several female Prime Ministers worldwide.
As for the US Presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt was basically running the show while FDR was recovering from a stroke; normally the Vice President’s job. Pharaoh Hillary was a serious contender, but lost the election in good part because of considerable baggage. For that matter, she would’ve won the 2008 Democratic nomination if the media hadn’t anointed The Lightworker as our great savior.
In reality, the American political process is inclusive; the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. Did the Redstockings forget about that one? Thus, the assertion that women are deprived of political power was baloney. Those who still say that are handing us a 97 year old slice of baloney.
This item concludes with the following:
All men receive economic, sexual, and psychological benefits from male supremacy. All men have oppressed women.
This assertion is invalidated by the fact that I (part of the “all men” category) have never done stuff like that. I can’t think of any friends of mine who go around oppressing women either, or lord their alleged male privilege over anyone.
Again, none of this patriarchy stuff is explained or backed up by facts. If they’re putting forth a conspiracy theory, where’s the damn theory? I’ll give them one—the patriarchs must have a secret tree fort where they decide how they’re going to be a bunch of dicks.
Item 4 – Shifting the burden of guilt
Attempts have been made to shift the burden of responsibility from men to institutions or to women themselves. We condemn these arguments as evasions. Institutions alone do not oppress; they are merely tools of the oppressor.
This is invoked in today’s arguments that all men are responsible for X, even the vast majority never did X and strongly disapprove of X. Note well that “collective guilt” is a leftist narrative so worn out that it’s threadbare, but is still endlessly used to browbeat the opposition. It’s rhetorically dishonest, since it’s unjust to hold people responsible for things they didn’t do.
Evasions of responsibility and due diligence have become commonplace today; to name just one example, after hooking up drunk results in morning-after regret. (If you’re responsible for your actions if you drive drunk, you’re responsible for your actions if you have sex drunk.) The same goes for hooking up with random strangers.
The most slanderous evasion of all is that women can oppress men.
Tell that one to any guy who’s lost a job from office backstabbing by a spiteful female colleague. I’ve had that happen twice, from a manager and someone who thought she was my manager. I’d say that depriving someone of his livelihood without due cause is oppressive. Also, ask any guy who had a bad relationship with a BPD case or other Cluster B type. That’s happened to me twice too, before I knew the signs. I realize that all the above were nuts, and I do not project a few bad experiences onto the entire opposite sex.
Item 5 – Projecting bad experiences onto the entire opposite sex
We regard our personal experience, and our feelings about that experience, as the basis for an analysis of our common situation.
This is more fully developed by the slogan “the personal is political”. Carol Hanisch wrote the essay for that about the same time. The original document did mean something specific. In present usages, though, it approximately means that society is a toxic miasma and anything bad happening to an individual woman (dandruff too, I suppose) is the patriarchy’s fault.
Item 6 – Identifying with all women
This is an early precursor of the intersectionality idea. Basically that means that all oppression is bad and originates from the same “hegemony”. In practice, that reifies several more personal attributes into Marxist-type classes. This includes the “essential characteristics” often referenced in leftist academia—race, sex (see item 2), sexual preference, and socioeconomic status (what social class really means).
Lately, this privilege/oppression rhetoric has been expanded far beyond that. For just one example, if you weigh 400 pounds, it’s society’s fault you can’t get laid. Worse, this took the far-overblown claims of oppression at face value and weaponized them. So really, intersectionality amounts to an elaborate justification for more cultural Marxism, giving it rhetorical ammo and encouraging them to keep their rifles pointed the same direction (at people like me).
In the manifesto, that did sound a lot more well-meaning:
We identify with all women. We define our best interest as that of the poorest, most brutally exploited woman.
We repudiate all economic, racial, educational or status privileges that divide us from other women.
Unfortunately, this is one item where today’s feminists fall short. In certain cultures far abroad, some truly horrible things really are commonplace and really are tolerated, well beyond having to wear a burqa in extreme heat or not being allowed to drive. It makes me sick even thinking about these atrocities, but they seldom get any mention from most big-name feminists. They could use their media access to publicize these problems, which might actually do some good for women abroad who really are oppressed, but all that only gets a tiny fraction of attention by feminists.
What are they doing instead? Feminists find ever tinier things to get enraged about over here: “manspreading” (stop looking at our crotches), video games (play something else), and “zOMG someone tried to talk to me!” (it’s called free speech). Still, there’s another reason for this. If feminists campaigned against real outrages happening abroad, they’d look awfully silly complaining about their own First World problems. Also, telling the truth about their oddly-chosen allies would contradict their “Western culture is evil” meme. So they choke on a gnat but swallow a camel whole.
Item 7 – Call to struggle
We call on all our sisters to unite with us in struggle.
We call on all men to give up their male privilege and support women’s liberation in the interest of our humanity and their own.
In fighting for our liberation we will always take the side of women against their oppressors.
Sorry, but “The Patriarchy” forgot to send me my privilege card, so I can’t turn it in. Anyway, I’m not really down for this revolution. A male feminist is basically like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.
Logic time again. Regarding the quote’s last sentence, recall that the manifesto explicitly defines all men as oppressors. That’s bullshit, of course. Still, this means that all women should side with all other women against men—no matter what the issues or circumstances—because all of us are allegedly oppressors. So what’s this about feminism being against sexism?
I have to wonder what kind of people would come up with a rant like this, and why. Just the “all men are oppressors” line alone tells us everything we need to know about the Redstockings and the ideology they helped unleash. From this assertion lacking a scintilla of moderation, you’d think not a one of them had ever met a guy they considered at least okay. I pity anyone with a social life that pathetic. Even so, compared to some other feminist writings I’ve seen, this manifesto actually isn’t so bad.
Another explanation is that this hyperbole is exactly what you’d expect a group of Communist-influenced feminists to write. The purpose of cultural Marxism is to stir up as much division as possible within society. Turning women against men is a pretty efficient way of doing that. So they stabbed society in the heart in the name of their cultural revolution.
Finally, Shulamith Firestone’s own troubles might have played a role. In 1970, she wrote a book which expanded on the patriarchy conspiracy theory, advocated the abolition of the family, and endorsed Brave New World style artificial reproduction. Soon after, she dropped out of politics and took up painting. Several years later, she was institutionalized for paranoid schizophrenia and wrote her final book about the experience. If her attitudes reflected an early onset of the characteristic delusions, then the Redstockings Manifesto qualifies as tinfoil hat stuff. The early stages begin like this:
Before any acute symptoms are apparent, people with schizophrenia habitually become bad-tempered, anxious, and unfocussed.
Consider this speculative, but make of it what you will.
So the Redstockings Manifesto laid out the major foundations of radical feminism, the only variety getting much attention. Unfortunately for them, these talking points are largely illogical or just plain wrong. Since today’s feminism is intellectually bankrupt, its followers should just cut it out and find something constructive to do. Society would be far better if men and women could just get along again.