pisaquari Who are you known as on the internets?
pisaquari Places you most frequent/comment (can be nonfeminist)
bonobobabe: they are the usual suspects.
I’m just as apt to read knitting/spinning blogs as I am feminist blogs.
pisaquari: How would you describe your background? Naming as many points for which you are privileged and oppressed as possible.
bonobobabe: Well, I’m white and female, so I get a point in each column, LOL. I grew up thinking I was middle class, but I know now that it’s a specific tactic of the government to make people think they are middle class when they aren’t. I think I was more likely working class. My dad worked in a mill, and my mother worked part-time as a grocery store checker. She was never a stay-at-home mom. I did go to college, but it wasn’t common in my family. In my parent’s generation, only my dad’s brother went to college. In my generation, I have lots of cousins on my mom’s side of the family who didn’t go to college. My own sister did not go, so it’s not as if I went to college because I was privileged. I am still paying back student loans, so anyone who wants to call me privileged in that respect can take over my loan payments, thank you very much. 🙂 Also, my paternal grandfather was a Free Methodist minister, and even though my immediate family wasn’t very religious, thanks to the buffering effect of my mom’s side of the family, I did get enough indoctrination that I can look back and clearly see was abusive in some respects. Telling children about hell is so wrong. What kind of thing is that to do to a child?
pisaquari What was the family dynamic like? Traditional? Nuclear patriarchy all the way? Subversion of any kind?
bonobobabe: We were pretty traditional.
Although, now that I look back on it, my mom did something that I’ve noticed a lot of women don’t do. She would not plan her day around my dad.
If she wanted to go to the store, she went. If we were going to another town for a shopping spree, we went…whether my dad was up, yet or whatever.
I have a friend at work who told me that her live-in boyfriend sleeps late, and she’s an early riser, so she waits around for him to get up, and then he ends up setting the agenda for the day.
pisaquari So would you say your mother was the closest you had to a “feminist” growing up?
bonobobabe: Well, during my formative years, yes. And I wouldn’t call her a feminist, really. But after I was already grown and in college, I got to know one of my aunts (my dad’s brother’s wife) a little better. They lived far away and I didn’t see them much. I found out she was a feminist. But my dad’s family is religious, so it was kinda weird.
pisaquari How did you find out?
bonobobabe: We were talking about my other aunt (dad’s sister) who was having marital problems, and I quite brazenly said something about her deferring to her husband and that I didn’t agree with it, no matter what the Bible said.
I thought she would defend my aunt’s actions, but she agreed with me, citing some scriptural references that could be taken to mean that men and women are equal.
pisaquari ooooh my. How did the rest of the family react?
bonobobabe: We were alone in a car going somewhere. After that conversation, she actually invited me out to their house (which was a day long drive). I stayed for a few days. It was fun.
pisaquari did you talk feminisms?
bonobobabe: A little bit. I’m a jane-of-all-trades, so we talked other things as well. My uncle has a Ph.D. in psychology, and my aunt has a
master’s degree in something that I can’t remember. English, maybe. They both have written books about the Amish (they lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania).
pisaquari So going back a bit–How and when did first really discover you were living in male supremacy?
bonobobabe: I don’t know. I think I just observed things going on around me. I was always asking my mom why dad was served dinner first, why didn’t he have to help clean house, etc. I’m an observer, a people-watcher. I think I remember asking my dad at one point, “Aren’t most people who commit crimes men? Then why are they in charge?” I think I realized that men were running everything, but I don’t think it touched me in an obvious way. It was more like I realized it. I can remember several small incidents of my mother (or other female relatives) telling me that I had to behave a certain way because I was female. I usually just argued with them.
pisaquari So it sort of just snuck up on/in you?
bonobobabe: Yeah. I think so. I’m very observant and interpersonal dynamics fascinate me. I put two and two together because I would see women and men relating in ways that were different than women to women and men to men. And it all seemed kinda fucked up.
pisaquari: So would you say your fascination with interpersonal dynamics was more or less at the core of your coming to feminism/radical feminism?
bonobobabe: You know, I never thought of it that way, but it’s possible. There were other things, though.
bonobobabe: Well, if we’re analyzing personality, I’d say first off, my intelligence. I think there is rampant stupidity in the general populace. Gullibility is sometimes equated with simple ignorance, but I think intelligence plays a factor, too. I think feminists are just less gullible that non-feminists. We don’t believe everything that people tell us about the way the world is.
Plus, I am stubborn, strong-willed, and as my mother and father can attest to, if you tell me to drop it, I’m going to continue talking about it. LOL. I have a friend who is the only female in her immediate family, and her mother died when she was a freshman in high school. I asked her what it was like going through adolescence without a mother. She said she often tried to talk about things with her dad, but he’d make it clear that he was uncomfortable, so she’d drop it. I told her, “Yeah, I got those messages, too, but it just spurred me on harder!”
Also, I tested as a Myers-Briggs INTP, and as I understand it, because I’m introverted, the N (for intuitive) is turned outwards, and the T (for thinking) is turned inwards. So, I’m apparently very intuitive about other people. And it’s true. I should’ve been in HR, because I can take one look at someone, talk to them for five minutes and know whether or not they should be hired for the job (and looking around at all the incompetent boobs I work with, apparently it’s not a skill that everyone has). I can peg people pretty fast. I’ve been accused of simply stereotyping them, but that’s not the case. I can peg people who run counter to the stereotype. And I can tell when someone is bullshitting me or if they have an agenda. Even as a young girl, I could do that. That probably is related to the interpersonal dynamics somewhat.
bonobobabe: But all that just led to feminism, I think. The radical stuff came later.
pisaquari: awesome explanation! So you didn’t come to radical feminism first?
bonobobabe: No. Regular ol’ feminism. I did try to read Dworkin and Daly in college, but I couldn’t get it. I did read somewhere that Daly would make up her own words, so I sort of decided that was why I couldn’t understand it. But I think part of it is that although I am quite smart, I do better with concrete things. I’m a tactile person, and I love examples. I hate when someone goes on and on about abstract principles but doesn’t give any examples of how that plays out in the real world.
pisaquari What do you mean by “regular ole feminism”?
bonobobabe: Well, I guess I mean liberal feminism, or feminism lite, or whatever it’s being called. I believed that men and women were entitled to equal treatment under the law, equal pay for equal work, etc., but I didn’t yet understand that the problem went deeper.
bonobobabe: But I found something that served as the stepping stone to radical feminism, although I don’t know if it’s a stepping stone, because I think it’s the same as radical feminism in some respects, but it’s not marketed to women as much as it is to men, and so the female aspect gets left out a lot, but I think it is the same.
pisaquari what was the stepping stone?
bonobobabe: Primitivism. My introduction to it was in the works of Daniel Quinn: “Ishmael,” “The Story of B,” and “My Ishmael.” It didn’t take much of a leap for me to accept primitivism, because I had always been questioning the way the world was ever since I was little. “Why do we live in a house, but all the other animals live outside?” “Why can’t we just eat food that’s growing in the ground, instead of buying it in the store?” Of course, my parents’ responses weren’t nearly satisfying enough. And also, I’m very sensitive (neurologically, not emotionally). I feel the effects of living in a civilized world, and my brain is very primitive, and I find that I process things differently than others. I’ve had to make changes to my lifestyle to accommodate that.
bonobobabe: I also feel a strong tie with the natural world, animals in particular. They are my kin just as much as my human family. So, becoming a primitivist wasn’t such a big leap, because I had already felt since I was a little girl that there was something wrong with the way humans were living. And once you realize everything is fucked, you’re basically a radical feminist. I believe that what primitivists call “civilization,” and what radfems call “patriarchy” are the same thing. Or at least facets of the same thing. So, my inquisitiveness at the world, humans’ place in it, and women’s place in it probably led me down this path.
pisaquari: Really interesting–esp. because men are constantly trying to justify their misogynist behavior with the “natural world”–often one considered *primitive*–but I’m getting from you the word has a more nuanced meaning?
bonobobabe: Well, the problem with studying primitive people is that there are tribes in existence currently, but they are living alongside civilization. They have been touched by civilization. I’m more interested in how humans behaved and interacted before the advent of agriculture, when humans were foragers. There’s ample evidence from what I’m able to gather that humans were basically egalitarian. Something went wrong, and no one is sure why or how, but some humans got it in their heads to be hierarchical, dominionist, etc. Quinn distinguishes the two groups with the terms “Leavers” and “Takers.” Leavers left answers about the big picture to “the gods,” and Takers took matters into their own hands. You can see that this did not work out.
bonobobabe: And I’m currently reading a book by Jim Mason called “An Unnatural Order,” and he’s mentioning that hunting was developed to give men some
sense of importance, because women were already important and powerful due to the childbearing thing.
pisaquari wow–I need to catch up on this Quinn
So, in all actuality, “primitivism” points to a period of egalitarian living?
bonobobabe: That’s my take on it. But although primitivism should be obviously radically feminist, most men who are interested in it don’t give two shits about women. They are into primitive living (going so far as to hunt their own meat), which just shows me they aren’t going back far enough, because humans were mainly foragers, and any meat they ate was scavenged from carcasses that were killed by true carnivores. Humans as we know them (homo sapiens) have been around for about 150,000 years (give or take), but organized hunting is only about 20,000 years old. And agriculture is only 10,000. So there you go. But read Quinn. He has a fascinating analysis of schooling in “My Ishmael.”
bonobobabe: I do want to add that I’m no expert on primitivism, by any stretch. But also, anthropologists aren’t experts, either. They often just assume that any sharp tool they find was used for hunting, when it may have been something used by women for foraging or preparing food.
pisaquari really fascinating stuff tho! How long ago was it that the culmination of interpersonal intelligence and studies in primitivism became your radical feminism?
bonobobabe: Hmm. Probably within the last few years, but I just started identifying as radical feminist recently when I became aware of a radfem presence on the internet. Although, I use the term radical feminist as my own label. When talking to others, I tell them that I’m a crazy, man-hating feminist. LOL
pisaquari really–so you never use the actual term “radical feminist” with others?
bonobobabe: I do, but I like the shock value of the other term.
pisaquari yeah. A beat-them-to-it kinda method
So in recent years how have you been integrating radical feminism into your personal relationships? Buying and eating habits?
bonobobabe: Hmm, well I see only female doctors, hairdressers, massage therapists, etc. I needed a referral to a specialist and I told my primary care doc that I wanted a woman. If I know that a certain business is woman owned, then I’d be more inclined to shop there, but I don’t make a huge effort to find out. With chain stores, there’s no point. My closest friends know that I’m a radical feminist. They aren’t, though. After I mentioned to a friend that her husband did not respect her, she said, “But you don’t like men.” And I said, “Just because I don’t like men, doesn’t mean I’m not right about your husband.”
As for love, I have decided to not ever have a relationship with a man again. They are just bad news, you know? I guess there is always the possibility of relationships with women, but I’m getting to the point where I’m questioning romantic love, period. I think it’s contrived. There’s something inherently flawed about it, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it’s inherently shallow and selfish. I’d like women to develop deep friendships where they care about each other as people.
bonobobabe: As for eating habits, I renewed my commitment to veganism recently (after a multi-year lapse). I know it stirs up some conflict among feminists, but
eating meat represents dominionism and a commodification of other life forms. And men commodify women. There just isn’t any other answer for me than to eschew the consumption of animals and their reproductive secretions.
bonobobabe: And now that I have evidence that early humans were foragers, it makes a lot of sense. We lived in harmony with nature for a long time. I don’t want to imply that primitive humans were noble savages, because they did some bad things, but their attitude towards their environment was not one of dominionism, conquering, raping and pillaging.
bonobobabe: I think that the hierarchy that we have established: men first, then fetuses, then women, then children, then animals, then the earth is bullshit. I hate being oppressed, but I’m not going to hold on to my place in the hierarchy and take it out on animals and the earth. Where do civilized humans think we’re going to live if the earth is polluted, decimated, and destroyed? I think those things are feminist issues.
pisaquari Yes–you seem to have ecofeminist leanings then as well…
bonobobabe: Yeah, I’m a radical, anarcho-eco-feminist
Oops, I mean radical, anarcho-eco-primitivist feminist.
Hard to keep the labels straight. LOL
pisaquari: and separatist I imagine?
bonobobabe: Oh yeah, I forgot that, too.
OK, here we go: radical separatist, anarcho-primitivist, eco-feminist.
bonobobabe: I like it!
pisaquari What has been the hardest part of radical feminism to integrate into your life?
bonobobabe: I’m not sure, because I don’t know every nuance about radical feminism.
pisaquari That what you do know?As in the changes you listed above?
bonobobabe: Well, not having a man in my life is probably the easiest. I never dated much in school, anyway.
bonobobabe: As for the hardest thing to integrate, it is hard to be a separatist. I mean, I have male coworkers, and when I go into businesses I
have to deal with men. I have been tempted from time to time, as when calling a customer service number, to request a woman if a man answers the phone, but I don’t know if that’s overkill or just being petty. Also, it’s hard to maintain integrity when talking to female friends and coworkers of whom I’m quite fond because I don’t want to alienate them, but I know I can only go so far with them, because they will always choose their boyfriends/husbands over women, and so I hold back a bit.
pisaquari: So you would say comfortably there is nothing you miss about men?
bonobobabe: Well, as much as I go on and on in feminist forums about the bad aspects of intercourse, I do miss sex to a degree, especially when I’m ovulating (damn Mother Nature and her sneaky ways to get me knocked up, LOL). I miss the physical closeness, and although I’ve elevated masturbation to an art form, it’s just a bit better when there’s someone else there. But as for the actual relating to men outside of the bedroom, I always felt like something was wrong. I found myself behaving the way I was “trained” to and hating it.
pisaquari Yes. So are you hoping to find that physical closeness with a female some day?
bonobobabe: I believe I touched on this in an earlier response. It is always a possibility, because I’m not revolted by the thought, which is good–LOL–but I’m not sure how I feel about romantic relationships. I guess I could have a pragmatic physical relationship with a woman, but that’s not quite my style.
bonobobabe: Also, every so often I sort of investigate the idea…and most lesbians are not radfems, and there is so much of that butch-femme thing, which I think is just silly.
pisaquari Yeah–I knew you had touched on it so I was wondering how/what you considered the missed physical closeness? Since you no longer are interested in the romantic stuff…but say just a “pragmatic” physicality wouldn’t please you either–is there a happy medium?
bonobobabe: I don’t know if there’s a happy medium.
pisaquari Yeah I was getting that
How do you survive/find happiness living in a patriarchy? What are some things you like to do?
bonobobabe: I survive by not aligning myself with a man, or having a man in my home or bed. I know most women feel the need to have a man for survival, but I know it would make me miserable, despite any gains in the area of finances or whatnot. Every time I do something I want to do, I think if I were married and/or had kids, my time would not be my own. Someone would always have a claim to me. And part of that has nothing to do with feminism and patriarchy. It’s just my introvertedness, my need for downtime, etc. But part of it IS due to feminism. Men like to colonize. They put women in situations where they are never alone with their thoughts, or heaven forbid, alone with another woman where they might plot to take over the world or something.
For enjoyment, I knit and I spin my own yarn. I have several hand spindles and two spinning wheels. I also play music. I recently took up the ukulele and the ocarina.
pisaquari What sort of activist activities are you involved with? if any?
bonobobabe: None. I’m not an activist, other than just being myself and maybe influencing people by example. It’s funny you asked this, because I recently just came to terms with it. I realized that everyone is wired differently. I’ve felt pangs of guilt every so often that I don’t “do enough,” but I don’t have the personality to be an activist.
I realized this recently when I renewed my commitment to veganism. I immersed myself in literature, videos, etc. and I found myself feeling very depressed, angry, and having uncomfortable physical symptoms. I realized that I cannot continue to take in that information. It hurts me terribly that animals are commodified and mistreated. It makes me physically ill. Several months ago, I learned about the feud between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Westinghouse was a proponent of AC current, and Edison was a proponent of DC current. In order to show that AC current was unsafe, Edison used to electrocute animals in public displays. His piece de resistance, as it were, was the electrocution of a circus elephant named Topsy, who had killed her trainer. There is footage of this on the internet. You see Topsy standing there, then smoke rises up from underneath her feet and she topples over. Well, I cried off and on for days over that, and it happened over a hundred years ago!
I also have problems reading feminist blogs, especially ones that constantly chronicle the
abuse of women. Talk about feeling enraged and helpless at the same time! Not a good combination for me. I’m tired of feeling physically sick. I’m too sensitive to injustice and I don’t have the personality or the constitution to be an activist. But I do have a job, so I’ve started donating money to people who DO have the personality and ability to go out and fight the good fight. We all have our part to play.
pisaquari: I think that counts.
pisaquari What’s one question you would like to ask all the other radical feminists you encounter online?
bonobobabe : I’d ask them if they’d like to collectively buy some land so we can have a radical feminist commune.
Of course, the government would probably lay siege on it.
pisaquari nice segue!…So there is a radical feminist island–you are there right now: what are you doing?
bonobobabe: Probably negotiating with the other women to get out of any childcare duties! And tending the vegetable garden.