Me Too

From Sable Aradia

If you were on Twitter or Facebook in the past couple of weeks, you’ve seen it; the #MeToo hashtag. For anyone, especially women, who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment.

I had two stories to tell. There is at least as much story in the response as there is in the story.

The first one I posted was this:

Every boy in my class snapped my bra strap until I hit some w/my lunch kit. I went home w/welts. I got in trouble, not them. #MeToo

And the first response I got, which was deleted before I responded to it, was:

Every single boy?

Some of you are reading this and the iron tang of rage just rose into your throat, as it did in mine when I saw this. I’m not going to out the person who said it because he (of course, he) did delete it right away, and I must assume that this was because he rethought the wisdom of his post.  But I am going to respond. And this is my response.

Which Boys?

The truth is, I don’t remember specifically which boys did and did not take part in this “amusing little prank.” I was nine. I don’t remember some of their names, after all this time.

What I remember is the experience. Being afraid to walk by myself in the hallway. Being afraid to turn my back on anyone with a penis. The snickering. The catcalls. Wolf-whistles. I was nine. Why was I getting wolf-whistles?

I was a tomboy. I liked to climb trees and play fighter pilots. From the age of three to the age of twelve my knees were perpetually scabbed from all the rough play I did. I had more boy friends than girl friends because of that.

Then I developed early. I was a C cup by the age of ten. And all of a sudden, the way that absolutely everyone treated me changed.

My dad wouldn’t play rough with me anymore. “It’s not appropriate,” he said. But he would play rough with my brother.

I was a fierce little girl. I jumped from trees, slogged through mud, and fought with sticks. I had no fear. But now I had boobies, so my mom emphasized how important it was that I act “ladylike.” To this day that word fills me with a seething rage that makes me want to punch the person who said it in the teeth.

But more than that, all of a sudden when I stood up to debate an issue in class, like we did on Fridays, I was mocked. It was magic; just like that. Prior to boobies, I was recognized as one of the “smart kids.” When I stood up to debate, people listened. After boobies, I was insulted and humiliated, if not in class, than certainly after.

To this day, I hate my breasts. I don’t like them played with during sex. I don’t want people looking at them.

Often, I could never be entirely certain which of the three boys standing behind me had reached over to snap my bra strap.  I complained about what the boys were doing to me.  “Which boys?” I was asked. I couldn’t name a specific name.

What I do know is that whichever one it was, his friends never stopped him.

Girls Colluded

When the more sexually astute girls realized what was going on, things got worse. Because, I guess, the gods hate me, I was in a split class where the other half was older than I was. They were a year ahead in development, and I now know, they were jealous of the male attention I was receiving.

But I didn’t know that then. I was nine. I understood nothing about sex; I’d never kissed a boy or a girl, my mother never told me a thing, and I had yet to discover Judy Blume.

So when they started mocking me in the change room, I was mortified. “You’re getting fat,” one would say, poking my rounding hip.  “You don’t need a bra; you’re too young for a bra,” another would say. That might be, but my boobies, which I was already learning to hate, bounced when I ran, and it made it difficult to run because they hurt.

I started locking myself in the showers to change.

The damage was a wound that I never truly recovered from. As far as I knew, I was fat; certainly I had these bulbs of flesh that were constantly in my way, and now my hips were rounding and I was constantly bumping into things. I developed serious enough dysphoria and body-hatred that by the time I was fifteen I was a full-blown anorexic-bulimic. I weighed 86 pounds and my hair was starting to fall out.

Most Boys

I think that after a while, it became a bit of a game for the boys in my class. I have always been a fiery-tempered sort. Perhaps it was a bit like trying to leap from the highest tree; they wanted to find out which one of them I was going to murder first.

When I entered a new grade and it didn’t stop, I started striking back.  When I felt a tug on my bra strap, I would turn around and hit whoever was in my path with my plastic lunch kit.

It was I who was called into the office. “Why are you hitting other students with your lunch kit?”

I told them.

“Is that an appropriate response for such a little thing?” I was asked by my male teacher.

“I go home with blisters,” I sniffled.

“Boys will be boys,” said my male school principal. “They do it because they like you.”

“So?” I said. What I meant was, Why does that make it okay?

The implication was that they had a right to my body because they were interested.

So they made me stop taking a lunch kit to school. After that, I started hitting them with rulers. I got detention after detention, but I insisted on defending myself.  After the third time I struck someone, it finally stopped.

Learning to Fight

When I was recovering from my eating disorder, my father got me a membership at a gym. Because I was driven, I channeled my addiction into working out. Ultimately it was a bit like weaning myself off of heroin by taking methadone. It worked, once I’d fought the working-out addiction.

But during that time I put on weight again, even as my body toned and became muscled. And when a bully confronted me outside of the school grounds, she got one punch only before I turned around and pommeled her. It was a real-life Charles Atlas story.

But that didn’t change the fact that I had been bullied.

Fast forward to my staggette party. By this time, I’d been studying a smattering of martial arts; some basic judo, some ninpo taijutsu, a little bit of medieval armoured fighting through the Society for Creative Anachronism. And while I was waiting outside the bar for a cab, someone grabbed my ass.

Before I realized it, I had him in an arm bar. He was looking up at me with fear in his eyes.

“I guess that was a bad idea,” he said.

“I guess so,” I agreed.

“I’m sorry. I guess I’ll go now.”

“You do that,” said I with death in my eyes.

My friends cheered. To them I was Wonder Woman. I’d defeated the oppressor through contest of arms.

But that didn’t change the fact that he’d grabbed my ass. For all my strength, and for all my ability to fight, I was still a victim.

Boys Will Be Boys

Why had he done it? For the same reason the boys had snapped my bra strap; because they thought they could. Because being interested in me entitled them to my body. Because “boys will be boys” let them get away with it.

“Rape culture” is a term, like “feminism,” guaranteed to enrage the right wing. They think it means that the people who say it think that all men go around raping women like savage baboons. And of course, that’s not true.

But many of them do go around grabbing asses and snapping bra straps. And no one stops them.

And, I would point out to the person who asked, “Every single boy?”, neither did you. You reacted defensively and not, as you would have yourself believe in your self-image, protectively.

I believe that more evil is perpetrated by cowardice than any of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins. Sure, you didn’t pull the trigger. But you didn’t do a thing to stop the one who did. You sat around and let it happen. You were more interested in saying, “Not me!” than you were in saying, “I’m sorry this horrible thing happened to you.”

And every time someone says, “Every single boy?”, they’re doing it again. And again.

I don’t remember specifically which boys did and did not take part in this “amusing little prank.” I was nine. But I do remember that nobody stopped them. And that, more than the experience itself, is the problem.


Sable Aradia

I’m a Pagan and speculative fiction author, a professional blogger, and a musician. I’m proudly Canadian and proudly LGBTQ. My politics are decidedly left and if you ask for my opinion, expect an honest answer. I own a dog and am owned by a cat. I used to work part time at a bookstore and I love to read, especially about faith, philosophy, science, and sci-fi and fantasy.


All our works are 20% until 15 November.

Use code SAMHAIN at checkout.

Stepping in It: A Critical Response to The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men by Robert Jensen

Reviewed in this essay: The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men by Robert Jensen (Spinifex Press, 2017)


One of the strengths of the alt-right has been simply providing moral justification for men to embrace patriarchal oppression. Without a way out, without an identity of maleness and masculinity that is liberatory and egalitarian, men seem faced only with the identity of being the oppressor. Thus I was intrigued when I saw Robert Jensen’s The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men.

Robert Jensen writes from thirty years of study and teaching radical feminism, as well as a liberal Christian perspective, both of which deeply inform his perspective and contextualize some of my disagreements as a Pagan man. His book begins in a way recognizable to the witch: acknowledging the wisdom of his body which responded to radical feminism when his mind wanted to reject it.

In his first chapters, he outlines the problem of human inequality as beginning with agriculture, when patriarchal norms turned women into property and normalized male dominance and exploitation. Capitalist exploitation, then, is a consequence of patriarchy in his view, an outgrowth of the economic exploitation and objectification of the female body and the earth itself. Jensen applies this position to critique three contentious issues, listed here according to his chapter titles: “Rape and Rape Culture,” “Prostitution and Pornography,” and “Transgenderism.”

What I appreciate about this book is that his radical feminist perspective draws attention toward the larger socio-cultural factors that influence and constrain our choices. “Rape culture,” for example, provides a foundational argument that sexualized dominance reinforces patriarchal control: the threat of rape implicitly oppresses all women and frames sexual relations between women and men. He then teases apart the gray areas of sexual coercion that are not legally identified as sexual assault but nevertheless influence the choices of women.He accurately describes the normalization of sexual violence in culture.

While I do not believe he would be an advocate of the kind of sexual liberation I want, he argues well that we must be united in rejection of rape and sexual coercion to experience true sexual liberation, where all feel free to choose whom they share sex with.

The chapter, “Prostitution and Pornography,” starts from his core objection to sex work: that sexuality is expressed most fully in intimacy, and turning that intimate act into a site of commodified service degrades those who participate in it. This stance makes sense as both an outgrowth from his previous argument and an extension of his liberal Christian theology. It also speaks to the centralization of heterosexuality in his critique, for his formulation of patriarchy does not seem to extend to male sex workers and pornography made and exchanged between queer people. It is hard to make the same argument that I am engaging in patriarchal exploitation by watching gay porn, though exploitation may indeed be happening.

From my view of sex, it is a wonderful and sacred gift, and also one that is mine to wield as I see fit. My friends who are sex priestesses, erotic coaches, and sacred intimates engage in the exchange of money and sex in their own ways, bringing richness and healing to their clients. One key difference is their capacity to set the conditions of their labor, a capacity denied to sex workers who have been trafficked and enslaved, or who work for an exploitative pornography studio.

In the chapter on “Transgenderism,” his core question is whether “the transgender movement provides a politically productive route to challenging patriarchy.” In this, he raises questions about the ecological costs of transition, the medicalization of transgender identity, and the normalization of cosmetic surgery as trans care.

While reading this, some complicating questions came up for me. First of which is—who does Jensen imagine his audience to be? From the framing of the book, and knowing the historical relationship between radical feminists and transgender people, I assumed Jensen’s primary audience would be non-trans men. So discussing trans issues seems a strange direction, space that I wish had been used discussing how patriarchy contributes to ecocide or violence between men. The questions he raises about the ecological and social costs of gender-affirming surgery, including interventions that would be considered cosmetic for non-trans people, are questions that we must be confronting as a society about our medical practices as a whole.

The other complicating factor is that Jensen seems unconvinced that trans people should exist in a gender liberated world. If he does intend to engage trans people in good faith—when referencing trans people, he uses their pronouns and names with respect—then this makes his message unworkable. It is akin to anti-homosexual Christian activists who reach out to “lovingly” bring gay people back in the fold. No matter how much they couch their message in love and acceptance, the bedrock assumption is that you as a queer person should not exist, which makes them an adversary.

This adversarial stance arises from Jensen’s formulation of sex and gender. For him, the primary significance of sexual difference is reproductive capacity, with a recognition of intersex people. Other physiological differences between sexes, he argues, are largely overstated and unknowable given our current science. In his post-patriarchy world, we would be free to express our gender however we wish without the need to modify our sexual characteristics; thus, he sees genderqueer identity as unnecessary and the practice of transition as an alignment with patriarchy.

Dylan Ce/Curius Creature of The Alchemist’s Closet offers a contrary perspective from the lens of a genderqueer feminist in his article “Multiple Perspectives: Patriarchy and Genderqueer Identity”. He in some ways agrees that the expectation of sexual transition within the binary gender system collude with patriarchy:

“As a young genderqueer person, I believed that my only option was to identify as unequivocally male, especially in a public sense. Though I was femme in some ways, I focused on a core identity as a man and clung to it fiercely.”

Encountering and embracing genderqueer identity allowed Creature to move beyond the binary while still transitioning their embodiment.

The experience of being in a body that is “wrong” and needs change is itself a kind of bodily knowing, of the kind Jensen celebrates, but framing it as such troubles his theoretical minimization of sexual difference. People who engage in hormone therapy reveal the mutability of the body, how it is able to change its expression of secondary sex characteristics, and contribute to subtle but personally significant changes in personality, sexuality, sex drive, and emotional experience. Jensen talks of medical transition as a kind of violence to the body, but any surgical intervention is a form of violence. One does not gently coax cancer away, yet we do not pathologize people for their desire to have their cancer removed.

Overall, I disagreed with how Jensen framed his concerns as problems of “transgenderism” and not as problems arising from trans people attempting to survive under capitalist patriarchy. There is a problem of patriarchy imposing its beauty norms and binary gender expectations on trans people, compelling trans folk to engage in the pathologizing narratives and medicalization of their bodies and identities to be afforded the measure of dignity and autonomy that should be their birthright. Trans feminine people, furthermore, experience misogyny, sexual objectification, sexual violence, and constrained economic opportunities. Framing his argument in this way might have afforded a real opportunity to invite trans people into an alignment against patriarchy.

In the end, however, The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men helped me sharpen and clarify my values against those of radical feminism. Thanks to Jensen’s definition of patriarchy, I better understand the strengths and limitations of that framing in building self-determination and liberatory community. Self-determination in body, sexuality, and labor within community are values I support. This book reminds us that radical feminism has something to offer that liberatory project, while unfortunately highlighting the tendencies that still alienate many


Anthony Rella

09LowResAnthony Rella is a witch, writer, and psychotherapist living in Seattle, Washington. Anthony is a student and mentor of Morningstar Mystery School, and has studied and practiced witchcraft since starting in the Reclaiming tradition in 2005. More on his work is available at his website.