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Sword of Power

by Biting Beaver

[Article posted in the discussion forums on 10/28/2005]

I think many of us have experienced That Moment. That moment we think we see the light, that moment of Power. The first moment may have been the moment in Middle School, maybe High School for 'late bloomers' that moment when we wore a shorter skirt than we normally did to school and suddenly, the boys who previously ignored us, flocked to us.

Perhaps we had The Moment when we were in our boyfriend's car necking on a Friday night when we were supposed to be at the movies. The Moment when he looked at you and you saw something on his face that was strange, alien.

Before The Moment girls were something to be avoided by boys, we were perhaps picked on, teased for having 'cooties'. We spent our days at school watching other girls being teased or getting their asses grabbed. Maybe we saw the young boys gather around a certain girl and cry out things like, "Itty Bitty Titty Committee!" or, maybe we saw them snapping the strap on her brand-new training bra. Maybe we had seen the boys, standing at the bottom of the stairwell, taking turns looking up the stairs at the girls who were wearing skirts. Perhaps we saw that the girl was, in effect, helpless. There was no recourse available to her. Maybe we even watched, horrified, when she went to a teacher and we saw the teacher pat her on the head and tell her, "Boys will be Boys. Just ignore them honey and they'll stop".

There was certainly A Moment that came before the moment in the car. The first Moment, the moment when we realized with shock and a little bit of horror, that boys could act in almost any way they wanted in regard to girls and come out of it unscathed, or with only a slight warning from a teacher.

We saw the boys acting with impunity, maybe we watched them circle around our girl-friends and take turns touching her ass while she circled and tried to play it off like she was laughing and joking with them rather than being the proverbial butt of the joke. Nevertheless most girls realized, rather early on, that we were helpless in the face of the boys.

If you were like me you may have beat the shit out of them back in Elementary School, while you were still physically able to do so. But all of that changed in Middle School. When we came back to school after a summer of climbing trees and romping with our friends we saw that the boys were much bigger than we were. They were also more aggressive than we remembered as well as louder and more brazen.

Soon, many of us knew which girls we should avoid, which ones brought the most amount of torment onto themselves by some mechanism which may still be elusive to us. We watched as they went to the teachers, telling them that so and so boy snapped their bra-strap, or so and so boy touched their butt or even dry-humped them on the playground.

We watched as the teachers wearily pulled the young offender to the side and reprimanded him half-heartedly and we watched as the same group of boys teased the 'tattle-tail' relentlessly on the schoolyard. We watched and we had A Moment.

We realized that we were powerless. There was probably fear, the fear of having them zone in on you, the fear of finding the group of boys as we rounded a corner in the hallway. I think that, to varying degrees, women have gone through this all over the world. Our times in school were a time when we realized that we were not, and never could be, Just Another Person.

We probably watched the boys calling each other 'Sissy', the very term that our Mothers and Fathers called us, but they were using it deragatorily, they were using our pet-name as an insult. We probably heard them laughing at one another, telling the weaker boy that he "Threw like a girl", but...but...We were girls! What was this? We probably heard them taunt another boy who was crying on the playground by saying something like, "Cry little girl! Cry!!" and we looked at ourselves and thought, "Is there something wrong with being a girl?"

But all that changed, didn't it? During our first years in school we had The Moment when we realized we were powerless from all but the most heinous of teasing. We learned that having our asses grabbed and being tormented about our breast size or having our bra-straps pulled were part and parcel of our lot as girls. It probably happened slowly, insidiously, until we realized, maybe many years later, that boys made us feel powerless, weak, afraid, and maybe even ashamed. Later we found another Moment, a Moment in which we saw Power.

That Moment may have been in the passenger side of the car, maybe it was at your parents house when they were out for the evening. You may have been kissing your boyfriend and you opened your eyes and saw....something. Something so alien that it failed to register in your consciousness, but your lizard brain got it, your lizard brain speaks that language and recognized what you saw.


For that brief moment you looked at him and knew, somehow, that he would do whatever you wanted if you would let him touch your breasts, or let him give you a hickey or let him do whatever it was that he may have wanted to do.

The Boy, the ever powerful boy was giving you Power. The same boy who tortured you in 3rd or 4th grade. The same boy who ruthlessly pulled bra-straps and led the gang of other boys to touch your friend's ass while she was walking down the hallway. The same boy who grabbed your purse and rooted through it, looking for the tampon or maxi-pad that they knew was in there. The boy who then pulled it out and stuck it to the floor or the wall or who just played "Keep away" with it until you were almost in tears from embarrassment but were too afraid to cry.

The girls didn't help, they just watched, terrified of bringing that wrath down onto themselves if they said anything. The teacher only mildly scolded them and you most likely went away feeling ashamed for being so upset. That very same boy was now looking at you with a look of Submission. A look of Desire. Desire so fierce that you knew that Power, the only Power you may have ever been allowed, resided in that gaze.

This is the Second Moment in our lives. The Moment we note that our boyfriend's bulging crotch and bulging eyes gave us Power. From there on out we tried our best to recapture that Power. We curled our hair, we slathered our faces with makeup, we wore short skirts and shirts that showed the beginnings of our cleavage. We jostled with the other girls, competing for The Power. This was a new thing to us, this Power. We thought that we finally had insight, that we finally understood. Our sex was powerful if we flaunted it.

From there on out we turned on our girlfriends, getting angry at the girl who wore the short skirt and who was surrounded by the troop of boys. We saw the looks in their eyes and knew that she had The Power. We called her whore and slut, because we thought that she had The Power.

And she did, didn't she? The boys didn't torment her in the same way, instead, they seemed to accept her, to want to be around her. She seemed to be safe as long as she kept them desiring her. When she was desired they treated her well, they didn't snap her bra, they didn't torment her ruthlessly, they seemed, for all intents and purposes, to be treating her kindly and with respect.

"So," we thought, "That is where Power lies". And we believed it. We jostled for position, trying to be the one that stood out above the others. We learned that Power lay in the hands of boys and men.

I did all of this and more. I sought that Power for most of my life. I turned myself into the proverbial sex-kitten, evoking and wielding That Power like a sword, brandishing my sex for all to see, watching the men go glassy-eyed and slack-jawed as I gyrated on the dance floor in some bar late at night. My Power, my sense of self, was utterly reliant on THEM. And it was in this that I found the paradox of my supposed Power.

It occurred to me at some point that the Power I wielded was only an illusion of Power. My Power was utterly and completely dependent on men. All those years I thought I held a large Sword of Power and suddenly, I realized that my sword was a gift, given to me by the men who wanted me to believe I had Power. The edges were dull and it could not cut, it could not wound in any real capacity and then it became clear. The Power in my sword was false and I saw the sword for what it really was, a cheap Made-in-Taiwan plastic imposter.

It slowly dawned on me that Power given from the Powerful to the weak based upon the weak's ability to entertain the Powerful was not Power at all. In other words, the Power I thought I had was only there because I chose to submit to the people who held the Real Power.

And those people were Men.

Men were the keepers of 'Real Power' and I had succumbed to the inherent bargain. That bargain was that I was allowed to feel powerful if I acted in the way that they wanted me to. I was allowed to feel powerful as long as I continued to make them feel more powerful than me. Make no mistake about it, all my capering and dancing and wooing served to make them feel MORE Powerful than me. They had the Power of the King and I had the Power of the Court Jester, Powerful only as long as I kept the King entertained.

I looked around and realized that I had been jostling for the position of Court Jester and you know what? I got that title, I got it and I wore it, but I thought it was a different title.

As the years flew by and the men got older I had to do more and more to keep my title intact. At first, way back in those early years, I had only to wear a short skirt. Then, I had to let a boy put his hand up my shirt, then down my pants. Finally, I had to let him inside of me and even that wasn't enough to keep The Power. Soon, I had to writhe and contort my body in an effort to keep The Power I had been given.

I began to live and breathe for the pleasure of men. Delighting in the scraps of Power I was allowed to have and telling myself it was real power. Later, I had to pretend that I liked anal sex, I had to pretend that the man I was with was pleasuring me greatly. I had to scream and gyrate, I had to succumb to being called names like 'Whore' and 'Slut' and pretend I enjoyed it. As the years dragged on I had to work harder to keep my plastic sword, I had to scream louder and act more sheepish, I had to dumb-myself down for I realized that few men liked it when I was more intelligent than they.

The day I looked down and realized my sword was plastic I realized I had also been duped. That I had sold myself to be the Court Jester. I had become the "Porn-star", I had become 'Every Man's Fantasy' I had managed to become the 'Object of Desire'. There was nothing you could do to me that was too degrading, nothing that was off-limits. I craved that look in their eyes like a Junkie jonesing for a fix. It was, afterall, the only 'real' Power I had ever known.

Every man who met me lusted after me, my boobs were presented in push-up bras like fruits to be picked. My hair was styled in the fashion of 'Just had hot-monkey-sex' look, my eyes were suitably sultry and my gaze was always poised to meet the gaze of a man from beneath my eyebrows. I had mastered the art of appearing submissive yet sultry and Men continued to put plastic swords in my hands. Every movement I made was for the sake of the men around me and I was skilled at the art of presenting my body in the best light possible. My back was arched my shoulders were back and my chin was slightly down. This was the existence I carved out for myself and you know what? It worked. It worked right up until I realized that I had been tricked.

I made a vow that day, I vowed that I would capture THEIR POWER. The Real Power. The Power of Independence, the Power of Intelligence, the Power of Success.

Since then I have been labeled many things. I have been called "Frigid", my beliefs have been touted as "Renaissance", I have been called and labeled a "Prude", I've been accused of being a "Man Hater" of being "Rabid" and "Extreme".

Many times it feels as though I've landed back in the days of Middle School and that I have become the girl that seemed to bring chaos with them, the girl who was tormented ruthlessly. But now, I think I know what those girls did to anger the boys so much. They were Taking Power. They had, somehow, seen that the sword was plastic and they refused to play the games that the boys wanted them to play for Power. Instead, those girls had shown that they wanted the Real Power, the plastic sword wasn't enough for them and gosh, how this angered the boys.

Now, when I see young girls and women displaying themselves for that Plastic Sword of Power, my heart goes out to them. When I see Porn stars on the screen I see in their hands, the Plastic Sword. When I see "Girls gone Wild" I see, held in one small hand, that almighty Plastic Sword. When young girls pass me on the street looking like Barbie dolls I look sadly at their hands and realize that they too are clutching that Sword.

I've found through the years, that women hold onto that sword as tightly as possible, it saddens me but I don't get angry, I can't get angry because they don't realize that the Sword is plastic, they don't realize that they've actually gotten the job of the Court Jester, they believe they're a bona-fide member of The Court.

They cloak themselves in 'Empowerment' but Empowerment based upon how well you can contort your body is not Empowerment. Empowerment based upon how practiced you are at screaming the scream of the fake orgasm is not Empowerment. Empowerment based upon molding your body and your mind to make Men Feel Power is not Empowerment. These are the trappings of Court Jester and the Power bestowed upon you is the Power given to you by the Truly Powerful.

I suspect that I will anger people with this post. And you know what? I allow for the possibility that I'm wrong, I allow for the possibility that a woman molding herself into a purely sexual being for the use of the men around her is true Empowerment. Perhaps there are paths of empowerment and sexuality is just one of those paths. If that be the case then I have chosen to turn my back on that path because it has made me feel empty and disempowered to follow it. Unfortunately, in so doing, I have managed to alienate most men and far too many women.

I believe that we, as women, will only find the true Sword of Power when we remove the trappings of achieving the Plastic Sword of Power. I believe that we, as Women, will only be Powerful when boys no longer tease in Middle School. I believe that we, as Women, will only be Powerful when we are no longer raped for profit. I believe that we, as Women, will only be Powerful when we refuse to allow our bodies and our sex to be bought and sold as commodities.

But, perhaps I am wrong.

[Author's note posted on Genderberg (10/28/2005): "
Ok, obviously this is not a 'true' article as it was not an interview and I'm certainly not a scholar, but in light of losing everything on the boards I thought I'd post it all the same... It's an entry from my own blog ( and it's more of a musing than anything else but I thought that it might interest someone just the same. Here it is, in all of its rough, uncut glory." -- B.B.] 

Biting Beaver is a writer and a radical feminist activist, and she is also one of the pioneer radical feminist bloggers. She fuses personal testimony with incisive radical feminist analysis in a way that comes off very relatable. She is the creator of the brilliant Anti-Patriarchy website "Den of the Biting Beaver" (Screen Shot below), at