Dec 4, 2018


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On my favorite episode of AEWCH so far, I speak with feminist author and radical, Mona Eltahawy. Mona is the author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why The Middle East Needs A Sexual Revolution, a book which has shaken the Arab world, feminist discourse, and also, on a personal note, has changed my inner life. Mona articulates what patriarchy is -- and why it is our urgent task to resist it -- better than anyone I've ever read or spoken to. Even if you have some resistance to the term (*ahem* hello, bros), Mona will help you see why this framing is so important. .

Mona and I talk about:

  • our sexual assaults and how we recovered and transmuted them into action
  • what patriarchy is, exactly, and how it enables and protects power
  • why enthusiastic consent is a problem (and how our consent is violated every day)
  • the urgent and political task of pleasure
  • why masculinity is a desire and the Brett Kavanaugh meltdown, where white male rage comes from
  • the way white people (particularly white women) pathologize Muslims (particularly Muslim women) without confronting their own issues
  • what we can learn about consent from porn performers
  • why sex isn't and is special and why a sexual revolution is so important
  • the "trifecta of patriarchy and misogyny"
  • why we need to reject monogamy as a default relationship structure
  • why we don't have to say "everything is political" to fight bullshit
  • how patriarchy hurts men too

I am so excited and proud to share this episode with you.


• If you don't follow Mona on twitter, FOLLOW MONA ON TWITTER. She's amazing. Mona has also given a hugely popular TEDTalk about being a Muslim feminist

• The anthropologist I mention is Christine Helliwell, and the original essay is "It's Only A Penis." Since the essay is behind a paywall, you can read an article about it in Jezebel here (written by Dr. Lisa Wade), and decide if you'd like to pay the full version.

• A radical and challenging book about sex education (and the lack of it) in our culture is Judith Levine's Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex. Levine's book is such a profound exploration of how repression and suppression hurt sexual development in kids.

• The psychoanalyst Donald Moss investigates masculinity and does a better job defining than just about anyone else in his excellent book, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity. (photo of Donald Moss below)

• The organization I was the Vice President of for two years is the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee. We did great work back then, and they're doing great work now; all for sex workers' rights.

• Mona and I spend a lot of time discussing who should be invited or welcome in what conversations. For my part, I learned a lot about this from the late, great, Native American activist and author, Vine Deloria, Jr. and his book, We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf . (photo of Vine Deloria, Jr. below)

• Here's Mona's essay on swearing, "I swear to make the patriarchy uncomfortable. And I'm proud of it." I also talked to Mish Barber-Way, the frontperson of the band White Lung, about swearing, screaming, and why they matter, way back on AEWCH  13. 

• Judith Hermann's book, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror is a classic in trauma studies. 

• I love that Mona references Susie Bright (picture below), she's great, and so is her memoir! Also a key figure in Mona's sexual revolution: the sex positive writer, Betty Dodson!

• Mona name checks out dear friend, the Arab novelist, Rabih Alameddine, who was just on AEWCH 39!

I wrote in Buzzfeed about the importance of pornography for queer people years ago, when my talk at Corning Community College was cancelled by an anti-sex worker administration.

• For a crash course on the difficulties sex workers face, here are three resources from yours truly. First, a rundown of the terrible FOSTA/SESTA laws -- which pretend to fight human trafficking, but only hurt sex workers and dilute efforts to end actual human trafficking -- featuring me and a sex worker named Tai on the podcast, Chapo Trap House.  Second, my essay on the way anti-sex worker rhetoric utilizes the tactics of racists and homophobes, "If You're Against Sex Work, You're A Bigot."  For a more personal take on it, here's what is probably my most popular essay, about how an ex-boyfriend couldn't deal with me being a sex worker, and how that mirrored culture's problems with porn: "What I Want To Know Is Why You Hate Porn Stars."

• A powerful quote from Mona, related to how patriarchy does not necessarily = men, and liberation does not come from someone just because she is a woman: "I do not celebrate the appointment of women to high positions in regimes where cruelty is a favored tool of governance by a patriarchy; if they accept, they are nothing short of foot soldiers of that patriarchy and the violence it has instituted."

• My quote on why sex matters: "If you ever want to know how somebody feels about freedom, start talking about sex."

• I've written and spoken about the occultist, scientist, and philosopher, Rudolf Steiner extensively (and we just did an Against Everyone Salon on him!). Check him out. And someone very important to Mona (and me, too!) is the anarchist Emma Goldman (pictured below). Here's a great resource list of her work. I've also written about Wilhelm Reich (and have an episode of AEWCH about him coming soon!), Ida Craddock, and Charles Fourier.

• Urusula K. Le Guin delivered a "Left-Handed Commencement Address," and also wrote the science fiction classic, The Left Hand of Darkness.

Thank you for listening, friends. I hope this conversation has provoked you and brought you pleasure.


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