Bra-Busters : the feminist coup.

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Facebook is well-known for its most misogynist, women-hating pages,  promoting male violence against women through phallocratic insults, domestic abuse, prostitution, and pornography. Yet, none of those pages were taken down- far be it from the social network to prevent phallocrats from objectifying women ! But facebook’s male chauvinism has recently been exposed by the feminist takeover of a porn page called Bra-Busters. This contentious feminist ‘coup’ has triggered contrasted reactions on the part of the public : from enthusiasm to exacerbation, no one was left aloof. But what do the usupresses – Lili Fitna and Kassandra Firebird- have to say about all this ?

Here is an interview about an unexpected and one of a kind usurpation.

      WLWB: First, how did you take over the Bra-Busters page?  This is quite an unusual idea. I haven’t seen many feminist takeovers on Facebook, what led you to this point? And to you (both), what did encourage the other admins to join?

 L.F: I never had a plan to take over a page. It is such a strange story. I got a private message one day from a man asking me if I could help him add content to his page. This was his first message to me on April 29th: (Click on the images to enlarge)

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After this message and after seeing the page, I was floored. Did this guy really know anything about me? Where had he seen me? Does he know what I’d do if I had that page? I couldn’t tell if he was completely clueless or really actually trying to make a turn around. So I consulted some feminist women I know and asked them how I should handle it. They all said go for it.

I was too afraid this was a trap, so I didn’t want to give my email address. I responded:

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After that last message, he made me an admin. I had already posted a thread in a feminist group asking who would like to help me manage the page and essentially trash the joint once we were made admin. I said that any woman who raised her hand was in. So a few women volunteered, and the instant I was made admin, I promoted 3 other women within 10 minutes, and we went to work. At first, we were so disgusted with the content that we just started tearing it down in a fury. We were on pm with each other, telling each other to take screen shots, but we only got a few. I think we all had this sense that soon the hoax would be up and we’d find out we were somehow tricked, so we wanted to take down as much as possible immediately.

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K.F: Oh I was immediately in it for the fun. I love laughing at men, it’s so liberating! I think more women need to start doing it!

 

         WLWB: You have probably read Renee Davidson’s article ‘To smash sexism, don’t shame sexists’. There are many aspects in this article that struck me. To wit, the fact that she delineates the takeover as mere revenge, or just a mean and childish act of display. What is your take on this one?

 

K.F: What’s childish? If that’s childish, then we need to be childish. First of all, all these words have patriarchal meanings attached to them, so I don’t understand what she means by childish. We need to poke fun at them and laugh at them and shame them. Or has it ever helped when women have said to men, “Please, that’s hurting us, stop it.”? I don’t think so. We’re taking them seriously in all the wrong areas, and not taking them seriously when we should.

 

         WLWB: In that same article, she praises the appointed (liberal) feminist ideals of dialogue and inclusivity. She mentions the Slutwalk ‘movement’ as a way to discuss the public shaming that according to her, you are using. To me, this is exactly the reason why the usurpation of the page is completely misunderstood.  We live in a postmodern era where the only resistance one can opt for is the ‘recycling’ of the dominant practices, I like to use the term -initiated by Castoriadis- of ‘ sophisticated conformity’.

Therefore, calling yourself a ‘slut’ –what a surprise! – seems to be more acceptable than putting men in front of their own misogyny. You may demean yourself on the grounds of subversion and emancipation, but you may not threaten the consensual order, and certainly not male privileges. As far as I am concerned, this is the genius of the Bra-busters page. If you think about it, you are not even caricaturing the male-chauvinists who comment on the page.

You take their profile pictures that are public anyway, and add exactly what they wrote on them. Although Renee Davidson thinks this is bad subversion, this is not sub-version at all. It IS the version and you’re putting it out in the open for every woman to see the extent of misogyny. And you are saying to the phallocrats: ‘look at yourself in the mirror now’.

What would you answer to those who say you are behaving just like the men you try to shame? 

 

L.F : I agree with your analysis, and I think that in order for me to be like the men we try to shame—which is nearly all of them, and certainly them as a class—we would have to, as women, establish a worldwide, 5,000 year reign in which we subjugate men, dominate over them, systematically oppress them, rape, murder, sell, suppress, brutalize, torture, stone to death, objectify, stalk, harass, insult, dehumanize, violate, emotionally batter, ignore, silence, spit on, degrade, kidnap, and control through all government, financial and religious institutions; we cannot ever be just like the men we are shaming. This is the problem with modern feminism. The focus is still on men; we still measure ourselves by male or patriarchal standards and compare ourselves to the mainstream to see how correct our actions are. We need to get outside this thinking, take our eyes off the males, and focus on women. If men approve, good for them. If they disapprove, it should make no difference. Laughing at our oppressors is possibly our only weapon in a world of overwhelming male rule that dominates our existence in material, metaphysical, and emotional ways. I personally do not give a shit if they are offended. Good. I want them to be uncomfortable, because the exact problem is that they are far too comfortable with the established order—that being their supremacy over us—and therefore have no reason to change. Who is going to do the work of looking this culture square in the eyes? Men won’t do it. As women, this is where we come in, and it should matter to us, because this is about our lives, our sisters’ lives, our daughters, and our mothers. We are worth that much. Women are worth it, whether we can believe it or not. We are.

 

Don’t underestimate the power of laughing at them. We need to laugh at them all the time and turn these men into the laughing stock of society until it is considered a shame to hate women. It is despicable behavior and the culture needs to change until these men are too embarrassed to admit their sick views. That they feel confident doing this with impunity, on a global media site, using their real names and real photos, tells us how severe the problem is. This is the level of entitlement they understand themselves to possess. They know they live in a culture in which this is seen as perfectly normalized behavior.  They are in fact so entitled that when we combine their public photo with their public statement, they rally up to have us banned from using the social media site, often with some ironic references to free speech thrown in. We need to change this culture.

K.F: What would I answer those who think we are behaving just like the men we are shaming?I would answer that I don’t care what they think. Because they obviously haven’t thought it through very thoroughly.

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       WLWB: To me, this takeover is a political act.  And this political act (although on Facebook) creates what Hannah Arendt calls a ‘space of appearance’: you are politicizing the ever-depoliticized question of women’s liberation. And I think this is another aspect that bugs many liberal activists, who basically do not want to make waves and are afraid of being confrontational. Especially when it comes to feminists, we are told to be nice to The Man; we cannot possibly name the agents of oppression, nor the oppressive system itself. This is no coincidence that Renee Davidson talks about ‘voyeurism’ as far as the takeover goes ; while, as mentioned before, this is about engaging in feminist political resistance. What would you say to those who deem the takeover as ‘anti-porn propaganda’, bigotry or an act of victimization towards other women? 

 

L.F : I’m also the woman who kick-started the Radical Daughters: Young Women for Liberation page, and I find it alarming that in the 21st century, so many women can have this level of amnesia about where feminism came from. I wasn’t even alive yet in the 70s, yet I managed to figure out what happened before. Here we are, in the era of SlutWalk, Pussy Riot, and Femen, and somewhere the feminists of the 70s are lamenting: this is not the world they fought to hand down to us. We are the daughters of those revolutions, and we are marching forth now into a world that is the antithesis of what they had hoped to create for us. Remember, these women fasted on the doors of the White House to try and have the ERA passed. One of them ran for president. They chained themselves to trees, bombed porn shops, held public hearings for victims of pornography to tell their stories.

 

K.F: Yes, about “making an appearance” politically. We confront men with the political reality of patriarchy, where they expected to satisfy their basest urges. We are Boner-Busters alright! (smile) I’m also fed up with the air-headedness of liberal post-modern feminism, and I think we women need to start talking and meaning business. We need to start publicly talking back to men and laughing at them with our sisters. We’re setting an example, providing an impulse, creating a space for women to witness this and to then take strength from it which will fire up their resistance in other areas too. And we’re having fun while we’re at it!

© Women’s liberation without borders [2013]

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