Feminist Theory

by Allan Hunter
 REMINDER -- If you start to read a paper and find it interesting, but don't have time to finish it online (or find it difficult to read from a computer screen), there are downloadable copies available that can be opened (and printed) from your favorite word processor!  WHAT'S NEW: 10/1/03 -- I've added the Straight Dope Message Board posts, a set of short arguments posted to a public message board and presenting my views on psychiatric oppression and the mental health system.

Topic Menu

to read a short description of each piece beforehand, scroll down below the menu to see the "blurbs"

Feminism and/or Academia

* Radical Feminist Theory in (and/or on) the Field of Sociology (a metatheoretical excursion)

* Missing in Action: Radical Feminism and/or Poststructuralist Feminism in the Academy

* Beyond Subject and Object: The Problem With Sociology

Sexual Identity / Sexual Politics

* Same Door, Different Closet: A Heterosexual Sissy's Coming-out Party

* Sexual Objectification and Visual Aspects of Sexuality

Feminism-convergent / Feminism-inspired Radical Theology

* Beyond Subject and Object: The Problem With Sociology

* The Theoretical Heretical: God, Self, and Feminist Identity

* Prayer

* Witchpaper '86: Feminism, Orthodoxy, and Deviance

* Rhythms, Predictability and Order

Sociology of Deviance, Psychiatric Oppression, and the Psychiatric Inmates' Liberation Movement

* Witchpaper '86: Feminism, Orthodoxy, and Deviance

* Witchpaper '97: On the Existence of Mental Illness and/or Witches in Need of a Burning

* Radical Schizzy Lib: the Rights to Behavioral Self-Determination of the Allegedly "Differently Minded"

* Firestorm: History and Profile of the Psychiatric Inmates' Liberation Movement

* The Straight Dope Message Board Posts

Feminism-inspired Future Visions, New Social Order, Etc.

* Introduction to the Allarchy Experiment

Potpourri / Men in Feminism, Various Small Articles (mainly shooting my mouth off in online posting areas)

* Men in Feminism (two short pieces posted in newsgroups / moderated mailing lists)

* Abortion Rights, in the Age of the Partical-birth Abortion Bill (from an "Abortion, Pro/Con" posting area)

* Culprit Theories of Oppression are Stupid (from a "Progessive Sociology" posting area)

* The Complexities of Oppression, using Children's Oppression as Example (from a "Profeminist Men's mailing list)

Guest Book / Readers' Bulletin Board Posting Area

These are my contributions to
feminist identity and gender politics...

 Same Closet, Different Door:

A Heterosexual Sissy's Coming-out Party

When I was being called "sissy", I was also being called "faggot" and "queer" as I was being physically and verbally assaulted. To be a sissy is to be on the inside of Homophobia, surrounded by it, experiencing it constantly. You don't even have to be physically attracted to males to get in. CONTINUE

 Sexual Objectification and Visual Aspects of Sexuality

One important characteristic of the 1970's phase of the feminist movement was the willingness of the women to speak openly from personal experience. It takes a lot of courage to open up so publicly about such personal and potentially embarrassing material. I think that if guys are ever going to have anything useful to add to the understandings that comprise feminist theory, it is going to have to start with the same kind of honesty. CONTINUE

 Clea and Allan: A Kitchen Dialog (with flashbacks) <--Theory in the form of FICTION!

The editor of an online periodical liked the opening section of my Visual Sexuality paper and asked if I could write a short fiction piece in that style, about how men and women see things differently. I have not often thought of myself as much of a fiction writer but I decided to give it a shot. The results eventually became this unusual fiction-theory piece, which is about positive reinforcement for girls and negative reinforcement for boys (i.e., that girls are taught to be approval-junkies while boys are kept in line by fear of punitive consequences), and the psychosexual consequences for all of us, which I think is more centrally important than most other theorists seem to. CONTINUE

Two papers on the subject of Feminist Theory itself...

("Meta-theory" is a term that theory-heads coined to describe theory about theory itself)

 The Radical Feminist Perspective in (and/or on) the Field of Sociology

(a metatheoretical excursion)

My sociology teacher wrote:

"Not only does radical feminism ignore the fact that what we feel and how we interpret feelings in certain situations is socially constructed and certainly not objective, it also represents another form of the naturalistic fallacy of Rousseau in that it sees woman as nature and man as culture, labels all social problems 'culture', and then advocates overthrowing culture for the liberation of women. This is clearly presociological thinking. You should take a closer look at socialist feminist theory. I think you'll find it much less problematic.

"In other words", I thought to myself, "we'll pretend that we're acknowledging feminist theory in sociology as long as everyone agrees that we actually mean repackaged Marxism. We'll make no attempt to use feminism's own distinctive theory, which puts feminist analysis at the root of social understanding. On the other hand, at least the door is open now. Radical feminist theory was discussed in the class, and I can write my next paper as a reply to his charges and objections."

This is that paper.


Missing in Action:

Radical Feminism and/or Poststructuralist Feminism in the Academy

Poststructuralist feminist theory contains tools for attacking the academy's excuses for keeping feminist theory out--in fact, this is the real reason for the popularity of poststructuralist feminism in the academy. However, I discovered a set of theoretical tools derived from or articulated within radical feminist theory, which address the same problem. This should not be too surprising, since the two strands of feminist theory have certain commonalities. But in this paper I will explain why I think poststructuralist feminism is fatally, dangerously flawed, and why I think radical feminist theory is the better tool for the job.

This paper rustled some cows that were sacred to the Women's Studies program coordinator; writing it did not singlehandedly end my university career, but my participation in the seminar in which it was written pretty much killed any possibility of me getting the WS graduate certificate, and by that time the sociology PhD was on the skids, so this paper marks the beginning of the end.



The following articles bridge the theoretical territory between sociological subject matter and theological subject matter from within the context of feminist theory--

 Beyond Subject and Object: The Problem With Sociology

The problem with sociology is not that it is a poor science of prediction, nor is it immediately obvious that the problem with sociology is that it is a poor science of explanation. Instead, the problem with sociology is its failure to operate on its own terms as a neutral mechanism for the study of human behavior. Sociology operates around the premise that the most effective way to come to an understanding of people and how they behave is through scientific research, in which the researcher suspends biases and political agendas. This is not merely impossible; the attempt is itself actually immoral, and feminist practice, in abandoning this model of detachment, comes to resemble what we call religion as much as social science.


The Theoretical Heretical: God, Self, and Feminist Identity

Within the framework of cause and effect, intentionality disappears because of the divisionary cuts our minds make in the singularity, an illusion which only disappears when we trace matters back to the beginnings, when there are no prior events, and then and only then to we say that the Big Bang occured...because it could. With intentionality, as God.



Oh, were you perhaps expecting something like "Theory of Prayer"? I'll theorize a bit, eventually, but it is a tradition of radical feminism that theory derives its authority from felt experience, and it is an American tradition with regards to prayer, at least among its believers, that you testify from personal experience to its power, so who am I to defy two convergent traditions?


 Witchpaper '86: Feminism, Orthodoxy, and Deviance

The witch sees in Orthodoxy -- any Orthodoxy -- the only possible sacrilege. Orthodoxy is the religion of and blueprint for rigid social control, power of people over other people, and punishment for disobedience. The two social forms are no more able to coexist than are their respective religions. To the patriarchy, then, the practice of witchcraft is a threat to the established Holy Order of Things.


 Rhythms, Predictability, and Order

We need new values, morals for a new social order, definitely. But they will not come from an old book and they will not come from a new book either; to return to the rigidity of Orthodoxy would accomplish nothing but our own demise, regardless of whether the content of that Orthodoxy were new or the same set that we have been wriggling loose from for the last couple centuries.


This is the newest section -- A radical Sociology of Deviance (from the deviant's perspective), which will further tie together the strands of thought developed in the sociological and theological writings above, and introduce a new strand: the anti-psychiatric theory and political movement of the international psychiatric inmates' liberation movements.

 Witchpaper '97: On the Existence of Mental Illness and/or Witches in Need of a Burning

The ideology that says our problems and their emotional (and cognitive) manifestations are all due to wiring problems in our brains is used to shift the focus off of how we feel, because if our feelings are just symptoms, presumably compassion and empathy and a gently supportive and respectful environment wouldn't solve anything. I still fail to understand how they justify deciding that such things would not help (even if my brain is not in perfect working order and some of what I feel and think has nothing to do with my social and physical environment, surely some of it does). Many of us in the movement believe that's all it is--an ideology that justifies the miserable experience they subject us to on behalf of the society they are protecting from our disturbing presence. CONTINUE

 Radical Schizzy Lib: the Rights to Behavioral Self-Determination of the Allegedly "Differently Minded"

Just for the sake of argument, suppose there really is a biological difference in our brains setting us apart from other people. What are the implications for the psychiatric inmates' liberation movement and the things that we have said about psychiatric oppression if in fact those of us diagnosed with such labels as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, etc., really *do* have biochemical, bioelectrical, or neurostructural differences in our heads CONTINUE

 Firestorm: History and Profile of the Psychiatric Inmates' Liberation Movement

We spent the night sitting up on cushions and pillows, telling tales of our incarcerations and sharing information about psychiatry and psychiatric drugs and the legal rights and ramifications of being psychiatrically labeled or having a psychiatric history. Yes, we are organized, with group names and meetings and public rallies and speakouts, even political candidates and judicial activists and user-run alternatives to the psychiatric system. Yes, there really *is* a psychiatric inmates' liberation movement! CONTINUE

There is also a small separate news area for movement events, current politics, and discussion. Right now, what's posted concerns the Mental Hygiene courtroom in Brooklyn, an example of how civil rights and due process are ignored in psychiatric commitment. See NYTimes article Committed Against His Will and read the flier circulated by activists Bet Your Ass We're Paranoid, Would You Buy a Used Courtroom From this Judge?

I have a "potpourri" of other articles here, some of which are still under development --



Introduction to the Allarchy Experiment

If "anarchy" means "no one rules" and is associated with chaos, and all other "-archies" mean people have power over other people and, despite the rhetoric of our rulers, are also experienced by many of us as suffering from a lot of chaos, what is the right term for a system in which we all rule, where no one is in a position of having power over others, and where the result is adequately orderly? Allarchy. The rule of all.

(To quote Isaac Asimov, the science fiction and science tutorial writer who once proposed an award called the "Isaac", named after Isaac Newton--"What other reason could I possibly have for proposing such a name?")

 Men in Feminism / Men in Women's Studies

(2 newsgroup / email postings)


It's a subject I'm resistant to writing a long, thought-out expository paper on, and yet people keep asking me what I think of the idea. Come to think of it, that's probably why I'm so resistant to writing a long, thought-out expository paper on the subject!

 Abortion rights, in the age of the "partial-birth abortion" bill  Culprit Theories of Oppression are Stupid
 The Complexities of Oppression, using Children's Oppression as Example  (not in use yet)

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