pisaquari: Who are you known as on the internets?
Maggie: I am known as Maggie Hays on the Net.
pisaquari: Site(s) you blog? If any?
Maggie: I am the creator of the feminist anti-porn site AgainstPornography.org. I updated my blog last week. It is maggiehaysagainstporn.blogspot.com
Maggie: Places I most frequent/comment: Genderberg, RadFemSpeak.net, at
at the moment but I also comment on rad fem blogs when I can.
pisaquari: How would you describe your background? Naming as many points for which you are privileged and oppressed as possible.
Maggie: I was raised in a Catholic family, and I came to see patriarchal religion for what it really is: oppressive and misogynistic. I had a childhood in a working-class neighborhood. I feel I am unprivileged because I’m female in a sexist culture, though I still recognize that i have white privilege… Women of color are, unfortunately, twice as oppressed…
pisaquari: How long did it take you to understand the oppressiveness of religion?
Maggie: I did not understand it until I read Mary Daly and Andrea Dworkin, quoting parts of the Bible which are blatantly sexist… and they were also giving their insightful analysis of religion.
me: Would you describe your family as traditional and patriarchal?
Maggie: Well, They’re against abortion; they defend marriage (and are mad at me for not being married at 28); they are mad at me for not believing in their patriarchal god…from www.againstpornography.org/mystory.html: “I was raised in a poor, working-class, Catholic, and rather dysfunctional family, living in a suburban house. I was the only child in the house. My parents were going to the church every weekend, and were often screaming at each other during the rest of the week. My dad usually started the arguing — by shouting about money, bills, debts, etc… My mom continued the quarrel, in defense of herself. ”
My dad used porn.
My dad had once been a john.
pisaquari: How did you find these facts out?
Maggie: He was frequently renting porn from the same video store my mom and me were going to rent mainstream films. My mom knew he used porn and that he was often renting it; she told me. He also had Playboy & other porn mags, and porn books, plus a porn stash in the basement.
One day, my mom told me he had once paid for sex from a prostitute.
pisaquari: How did she feel about that?
Maggie: She didn’t seem to like it. I often wondered why she was often mad at him, maybe for being a john, maybe ’cause of the porn, or maybe because he was unstable, many, many reasons, I believe. Mom often shouted at him.
pisaquari: I can imagine–were you really young when you first discovered his porn use?
Maggie: I was 12 years old
No, I mean I was 11. I was 12 the first time I saw porn
I think, as far as I can recall…
me: Do you remember what that was like?
Maggie: What, first seeing pornography?
Maggie: Well, that day I was feeling bad. I discovered that there was a dimension of this world that i hadn’t known about. It seemed ‘mechanical’ and ‘inhuman’ to me; these are the 2 words i remember thinking. Plus, the video (that I had picked up from my dad’s collection and put into the VCR) was so racist. It was portraying an Asian woman as “naturally compliant”. Sick!
pisaquari: oh gosh. I bet that burned in the memory.
Maggie: Yeah, like a sort of an imprint in the brain, I’d say…
pisaquari: oppression is really impression isn’t it.
pisaquari: how do you think the discovery of this affected your sexuality? self esteem?
Maggie: Well, I think porn kinda made me feel really bad and at the same time I believe that it sorta prepared me (LOL, the magazines for teenage girls I was reading were porn) to be submissive and believe that I would enjoy it. But, When I finally had sex, my self-esteem dropped…
pisaquari: Do you think that was because you “had sex” the way it had been presented to you in the porn?
Maggie: I think I lost my virginity because of peer pressure. “All the girls were doing it so I had to” It was at a one-night-stand. This made me feel bad. But I had sex a second time when I met my first boyfriend (who was into porn) and the intercourse and a little more was imposed on me. I was 18. It was like I had gotten into that situation, I had shown myself willing and turned on by “super hetero-sex” but then when the moment cam eI wasn’t ready and it hurt awfully. It was imposed on me and i couldn’t go back, I couldn’t say no. But I was thinking No and crying; he still went on with it. And I still stayed two years with him, all the while he was using porn; he was a fan of pornography.
pisaquari: interesting use of the word “imposed” I’m noting… 😦
Maggie: Well, I didn’t want to sound like a “tease”, I could not say No. 😦
pisaquari: Yes I could see that at the time. I’m just mentioning that not having the ability to say “no” with penetration goes by another name not often enough
Maggie: Do you know what I meant about the kind of situation I described?
pisaquari: Yes, starts with an R…
Maggie: Yeah, but according to male-supremacist laws, it wouldn’t be, you know?
pisaquari: Yes. The problem is the males only count FORCE in terms of screaming and kicking–which is perfect because they don’t count psychological FORCE, the kind that hits you like a bomb between the ages of 0 and 13 (like your dad’s collection) then numbs you out of the ability to refuse years later.
Maggie: Okay. I was with him two years. I just stayed ’cause I was feeling lonely and thought I was being “loved” by somebody. “The problem is the males only think about FORCE and unless you are screaming and kicking you don’t count” True. And when you quietly cry, for some guys, it doesn’t count. Thanks for all your consideration. I agree with what you said about force (physical or, yes, psychological). My first boyfriend showed me pornography many times during the 2 years I was with him.
pisaquari: Were you a practicing Catholic during this time?
Maggie: No, I was always non-practicing. Though, i believed in “god”, I was always pro-abortion, ’cause I’d read about it, and I had a high school friend who had aborted. I believed it was her right and choice.
pisaquari: Were you always rebellious to your immediate and powerful surroundings?
Maggie: To my parents, yes. I had loads of arguments with my family. To my boyfriends, I was rather weak and submissive. I guess I just wanted to be “loved”.
pisaquari: Do you think your dysfunctional childhood made you more willing to fight and challenge? (even if that dynamic, in a family, is a destructive one?)
Maggie: To fight and challenge what?
pisaquari: Patriarchy, men (eventually).
Or, what attributes in your personality/upbringing do you think made you more open to radical feminism/fighting patriarchy?
Maggie: Well, I had a lot of feminism in the back of my mind, like some weird thoughts, I couldn’t quite put my finger on them. It was “there’s something that isn’t right here or there in that relationship”, but I did not have words to describe those thoughts (in later years, when I read rad fem books I found those words). But it is also worth mentioning that, before discovering radical feminism, a series of events happened in my life, like when the lesbian part of myself came out (which was a positive thing); or the fact that after I had been raped, had been into sub-dom relationships, I couldn’t stop going to clubs at some points, wearing tight outfits and trying to look “fuckable” to men, and trying to feel ’empowered’
pisaquari: How long were you trying to make relationships work with men before you starting feeling an interest in women?
or were you always interested in women?
Maggie: I have no sexual orientation as I believe that “sexual orientation” is a social construct. I think when I had been hurt by my second boyfriend (whom I loved -unlike the 1st one- and who broke my heart), I started kissing women. I felt I was disobeying social order when i first kissed a woman, which was great and subversive.
pisaquari: But I imagine you did it for more reasons than subversion…
Maggie: Yes, I realized I loved women too!!!
pisaquari: So were books sort of the biggest radical feminist revelation for you?
Maggie: I already had felt the patriarchal system’s pressure upon me, but I had no words to describe my thoughts. The books gave me words that had never been given to me by this culture. The books and theory, and also the stories of women gave me a goal.
pisaquari: So about when in your life did you discover these books? And how?
Maggie: I was surfing the Net and reading women’s sex life stories on chat boards. I notice that these women were complaining about kinds of sex they didn’t like being imposed on them. So then I wanted to find out what was happening. Why were their partners like that. And I typed something on Google which led me to a pro-feminist article against pornography. I then wanted to find out more so I ordered books, went to anti-porn conferences, etc.
pisaquari: Were you out of the 2nd awful relationship by then?
Maggie: Oh, yeah, it was in May 2006. I was 26. My 2nd relationship ended in 2002,. Though, he still used me afterward a couple of times.
pisaquari: So you began to discover anti porn literature and how long till you were able to find radical feminist anti porn views?
Maggie: I first read Pornified, which wasn’t really radical feminist. But then later on I read Dworkin, MacKinnon, Gail Dines, Diana Russell, etc And I also found a whole range of radical feminist literature…
me: Do you remember how you found it? What was the link?
Maggie: There was a booklist on One Angry Girl’s website. That was a start.
pisaquari: So for two years you’ve been coming into a radical feminist understanding
pisaquari: And how have you begun to integrate radical feminism into your life?
Your personal relationships? buying habits? eating?
Maggie: Well, I’m currently being more and more women-centered and moving away from my partner (he’s not very communicative)… and I feel the relationship is breaking. Apart from that, I’ve been in touch and met many feminist women and organizations, and though I don’t see them all the time, I help out when i can, and they brought a lot to my life. Regarding eating, I’m not a vegetarian, but I’d love to be. Buying habits: I stopped buying (and wearing) make-up, high heels, tight clothing and felt a lot more free.
pisaquari: and how has your general emotional state changed since these changes?
Maggie: Yeah, I feel like I am feeling both very sad and very angry that that I found out the truth about women’s conditions under patriarchy… and the fact that almost nobody out there sees it is what hurts me the most… I found out that I had been raped a few years back and I had never called it rape when it happened. When I was 23-24, I’d suffered domestic violence from a 4th relationship, and I hadn’t called it domestic violence… I had a coping mechanism which I call the “mind-split”. It happens when I mentally shut down and deny what’s happening or numb the pain.
pisaquari: Do you feel there are benefits as well, to having a better understanding of women’s condition?
Maggie: Everyday I speak to my classmates (I’m a student) or workmates (I’m a part-time worker) and i realize that the male ones probably use porn, it makes me sick, they’re hurting women by creating the demand and they’re gonna also probably or already have coerce(d) their partners into sex. It makes me sick just thinking about it, so I shut down when it’s too painful. “Do you feel there are benefits as well, to having a better understanding of women’s condition?” Yes, because I can explain to other women what i know (whenever I can).
pisaquari: How do people generally respond?
Maggie: When I get the opportunity to speak to women about what i know, I notice that some women are very interested and others just distance themselves from what i say, coz it is too painful this kind of reality for them…
What has been the hardest principle of radical feminism to integrate into your life?
Maggie: I guess it may have been giving up on heteronormativity. it wasn’t easy as I had been so socialized into “liking the boyz”, but every day I’m getting more and more happy just getting away from it…
pisaquari: How has blogging changed you?
Maggie: Maggie: It helped me speak out and get feedback on how I do, though i blog very intermittently, mostly due to lack of time and real life problems… I’m planning on posting again within 2 weeks… It also gave me power, the power of words. But, unfortunately, within this system, my words often get twisted around out of context…
pisaquari: What’s one question you would like to know about all the radical feminists you encounter online?
Maggie: ahem… I bet they’ve got so many stories similar to mine, I’d like to find out how similar? What do we have so much in common?
hopefully we will find out!
Okay, so there is a radical feminist island–you are there right now: what are you doing?
Maggie: Re-building a society where there would be no rape, no prostitution , no gender roles, no sexual terrorism…
pisaquari: So that’s what the island looks like…and I assume right now you would be defending that with all your might?