On a day where your opaquely censored vagina makes it onto Jezebel, Gawker and SBS News, it must have reassuring to be called a “fucking idiot”, a “privileged little fucker” and a “clumsy, self-interested harlot” by Helen Razer. On a piece published on her blog, she took aim at ‘pop-feminism’, face-cream, candles, Gillard, the internet and Honi Soit’s most recent cover.
Razer found an ally in a commenter, who wrote, ‘Agree with everything. Sick of wommyn “jernalists” who back up their supposed feminism with their “BUT I WAS ALSO RAPED!!” claims. Then go home to their middle class abusive husbands and face cream and bullshit.’ Although, if it seems unfair to attack a commentator for a comment on her article, here’s one of Razer’s better sentences: “Rape. Rape. Rapey rape.”
What we could discern from the few moments in her argument that weren’t interrupted by capitalised rage-outs or offensively glib references to sexual assault is that Razer believes that the patriarchy is exclusively economic in origins and power. For her, culture has limited impact, and cannot exist independently of economic class. It is only when we address class, she writes, ‘that conditions begin to change.’
We take issue with the idea that the whole edifice of our social lives is built upon money and industry; that who we talk to and what we read, how we understand ourselves and those around us, is of only incidental or derivative significance compared to the central importance of where we work.
If it was capitalism that created a pejorative idea of female sexuality, that doesn’t mean those ideas can’t be changed at a cultural level. Movements like Slutwalk challenge the language that sexists use, the misogynist standards that are unthinkingly accepted even now, and the ways in which women understand their own bodies and sexuality. There has been no shift in the classes, full communism has not been realised, but there has been a meaningful change in culture.
Which is why when Razer writes that, “it is not the patriarchy banning your vagina, it is the classification board”, she must have somehow she missed the bit where classification boards are made up of humans, who are necessarily the product of their culture – the exact culture that the women who Razer calls “fucking idiots” were brave enough to challenge.
Culture exists. Fuck off.
Written with Astha Rajvanshi
First published on honisoit.com, August 2013