Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Will we really care about whether the little old lady sitting next to us at the home was some perverted patriarchy-worshipping pro-porn feminist back in ought-six - or will we just be grateful for the company?
What will they say at our funerals - "oh she was such a strong feminist, she kept her legs so hairy." "oh she was such a strong feminist, she really made the world safe for women everywhere with her scathing critique of On Our Backs." "oh she was such a strong feminist, she never did the dishes."
Lipstick , razorblades, dirty dishes, dirty pictures - these are all as flies swarming around shit. We can wave at the flies, swat the flies, poison the flies, run away from the flies, dream up new and inventive fly nets and fly shields and fly repellents, come out as strongly anti-fly, make the eradication of flies our life's one great purpose, but until we pick up the shit with our own hands and get rid of it, there will always be more flies.
So if all that stuff is the flies, what's the shit, exactly? What's the dirty, stinking filth that nobody wants to touch for fear of contamination, as though to touch it once would mean never again being clean?
It is us.
It's our own shit, and it stinks.
It is our unwillingness to examine the ways in which we oppress each other without the patriarchy's help. It is victimhood at the expense of personal responsibility, where personal responsibility is possible. It is our eagerness to blame a nebulous, amorphous concept in lieu of insisting on the accountability of individuals. It is the idea that what's between our legs is more important, more special, more unifying than what is between our ears, or deep in our hearts.
It is the residue of a steady diet of humiliation, of abuse, of degradation, to be sure, but also the knowledge that even without the patriarchy feeding us, we'd cannibalize each other.
I don't know about all that hero stuff.
I don't know as the whole wide world will agree with what I said or how I said it. I'm sure there are logic holes big enough to drive a tank through.
But I'd be proud to sit by you on the park bench of our dotage.
I started to get at this in the other topic, but it's probably more relevant here: the mom-daughter relationship. Mine, at least, is/was...complicated.
And while certainly there are ways in which I could chalk up much of my mother's behavior and mindset to the "patriarchy," beyond a certain point I...don't find that terribly useful, you know.
Meh. I don't think so, but even if it did, it would make it no different than 99.9999% of all human discourse, so...
(maybe the world would be a better place...)
I totally agree with you when you say the shit is "the residue of a steady diet of humiliation, of abuse, of degradation" but I think we only 'canabalise' each other for the sake of the individual. I think, for some, the individual is more important than the Class.
When I'm sitting there in the home in, oooh probably 15 years from now (if I last that long) my question to the woman sitting next to me won't be "did you shave your legs?" but will be "how did you make the lives of your sisters better?"
It's a tall order, I know, and some (many, maybe) sacrifices will have to be made. But until women themselves are able to cease to regard their genitalia (and what they do with it) with a similar import that men/patriarchy place on it then we (Class Woman) shall just continue to be fucked - one way or another.
I feel a post a-brewing ;)
And first of all it's important to figure out where you end and your sister begins (and vice versa). You can't "help" someone if you can't *see* her; if you've confused her with an extension of yourownself.
There is a difference between
"Here, share my fire."
"I'm cold; you put on a sweater."
Sisterhood is mythical?
No one has ever agreed with me, helped me out, raised me up or freed me from anything just because I happened to have ovaries.
That said, I agree - what one does to help women is more important than what one says about women.
Maybe the problem lies in what constitutes "help". I wonder if thinking that XYZ action will help ALL women EVERYWHERE is a little silly. maybe the best we can do is to try to help SOME women SOMEWHERE.
This morning on my way to work I was thinking about hijab. I'm not Muslim, so I don't know much about it, but I imagine that for every nine women who hate the veil and would feel gloriously liberated without it, there's at least one woman who deliberately and after careful consideration chose the veil not as a symbol of submission to men, but as a symbol of her submission to God. So, by pushing for an end to hijab, you're helping nine women but harming one. What do you do with that one odd girl?
Witchy - are you saying that some women think vulvas are as important as penises? or that some women place more emphasis on sexual behavior than you are comfortable with? are you saying that some women relate to their genitals in a somehow masculine manner? what would that mean?
and if you're saying that such is not the way for women to relate to their genitals, and you have a better way, how does that jibe with what you said on your blog today:
"I'm not about to diss another woman for wanting to do anything differently."
Do you take "anything" to mean "anything that isn't related to sexual behavior"?
In a "western" country...I mean, it's not like cultural pressures aren't real, lord knows, particularly if you're largely dependent on your family/community for survival.
But if someone is free enough to go about in society and still tell you, to your face, "look, I like wearing the veil, it's part of my cultural and religious identity, it's who I am"
(and then too there's a continuum from full-on burqa to a simple headscarf)
...best take her word for it, I feel.
I mean, I'm quite fond of my genitalia, and they're certainly important to me. They're not the *only* part of me, of course; but they're most definitely a part of me.
(I just finished Geraldine Brooks' Nine Parts of Desire. good read! inspires lots of questions!)
"sacrifices?" whose sacrifices? what sacrifices?
it sounds like gearing up for a war or something.
I mean at a certain point, if what one is truly after is a subjectivity of one's own, then one perhaps has to let go of worrying about what the patriarchy (or anyone else) wants or *doesn't* want you to be.
"I read the bit about the genitalia as viewing them not as a source of subjective pleasure but as objects for others' (men's) sale and consumption," said Shell.
(Hi Shell! thanks for stopping by and commenting!)
so, is Witchy saying that unless/until Class Woman views its collective vulvae in a homogenous fashion (every vulva regarded by its owner with the exact same...um...reverence? respect? neutrality? what?), we should refrain from...from what?
Is she saying that those of us who don't have the proper attitude towards our genitals are holding back the revolution?
I don't really know how Class Man (as made up of individual men) feel about my personal bitsnpieces. I can't be rock solid certain that every man feels the same way as Everyman.
I can only be sure of how I feel about them.
funnily enough, it's dealing *not* with erotic sexuality per se, but with (methods/aspects of) reproductive choice. apparently there is or has been some friction along those lines as well.
from the article:
>In Women as Wombs, Janice Raymond writes, "Feminists must go beyond choice and consent as a standard for women's freedom. Before consent, there must be self-determination so that consent does not simply amount to acquiescing to the available options." Here, radical feminists are trying to establish a conflict between choice and self-determination. They concede that some women appear to choose procedures such as in vitro fertilization. But they deny that these women are actually choosing, or even capable of doing so, because their options are all delimited by the twin male evils of technology and the free market. Only when women are freed from oppression, say the radical feminists, will true choice be possible for them.
Thus, the grounds of debate are shifted from choice to self-determination, from sexual or reproductive freedom to gender liberation. This shift must be ideologically uncomfortable for many radical feminists who once championed "choice" in unfettered terms, but it offers a distinct advantage. They can dismiss women who choose the new reproductive technologies as lacking self-determination. They can also cancel out the possibility of such embarrassing choices cropping up in the future by simply banning them. This ideological two-step allows them to gloss over the incredible tension inherent in their competing claims: 1) Women must control their reproductive functions and 2) Certain reproductive choices are unacceptable. The radical feminist position is not simply a rejection of bad choices. It amounts to a denial of women's ability to choose anything at all.
Just as the specific rejection of technology stems from a general anti-science argument, the denial of female choice is part of a larger case against patriarchy. Consider these two inescapable verities: First, every choice is made under the influence of a culture (or cultures). Second, the very notion of choice--of selecting one thing instead of another--implies limited options. This is true of women today and would be true of women in some future feminist utopia. To claim that such influences somehow negate a woman's free will--and the right to control her own body--is to deny that anyone, male or female, ever truly chooses anything. It strips women of the only defense they really have against destructive influences: the ability to act freely in their own self-interest.
To this, radical feminists reply that patriarchal technology and the free market are not mere influences; they are forms of violent coercion, like guns pressed against the temples of women. Indeed, technology and capitalism exert such compelling pressure that direct force is unnecessary to confuse obviously weak-minded, weak-willed women. Gena Corea illustrates how this works in "How the New Reproductive Technologies Will Affect Women." Weak-willed women will find themselves overwhelmed by the cultural pressures to use reproductive technologies. "No force will be required to get us to accept the donor eggs--that is, to prohibit us from reproducing ourselves," predicts Corea. "Control of consciousness will do quite well." This passage lays bare the inability of radical feminism to deal with dissent. Women who disagree with us, imply the radical feminists, are merely dupes of patriarchy.
The irony is staggering. For centuries, men have declared that women don't know their own minds, that they can't be trusted with important decisions. Now, radical feminists mouth the same old patriarchal line. Since they define women as an oppressed "class" that is denied choice, they must attack the very concept of individual choice because it threatens class solidarity.>