Thursday, August 31, 2006

 
OK, so now I know what they mean by "triggering".

Pandagonhas something to say to all of us coffee-cup feminists.

And so does Gayle, another commenter, on a more touchingly tender personal level:

"You rip up threads and purposely stymie legitimate discussions with all your mock outrage because you have a personal vendetta."

Well, dip me in marinara and call me Six-Fingered Tony - indeed I do. But I'll get to that later.

Look, I didn't want to have to do this. I didn't want to bring the good and productive discussion down to a pointless and self-indulgent personal level while grinding my own personal axe. I didn't want to indulge in the masturbation of grief and shame out here in public in front of God and everybody. And I sure as shit didn't want to have to think about the seven worst years of my life ALL DAMN DAY, re-living every detail like I was back there again, experiencing it all over again like some sadistic Groundhog Day of my own mind.

But I feel like I have to speak up, say something, ANYTHING, anything to make the discussion real and tangible and connected to the human experience, if for no other reason than to remind us all that it's not just the words that are thrashing it out on the blasted heath of the Interweb. It's not just a matter of our dueling participles and wrestling metaphors - we're all real flesh-and-blood-and-soul people out here behind our keyboards and in front of our screens. The only way I can think of to remind people of that is by sharing. Well, oversharing, probably.

Nonetheless, once more into the breach...

For about six and a half years, between 1996 and 2002, I was a coffee-cup feminist. And a good one. Everything I did, said, typed, read, cooked, ate, shit, flushed, purchased, sold, wore, stripped, sucked, fucked, choked on, accepted, rejected, inspected or selected was controlled utterly and totally by my husband at the time.

I've spoken about him before, Mr. AbEx. He's the reason why I know it sucks to have to clean up your own bloody vomit after oral sex. He's the reason why I know that it's sometimes just as dangerous to be a housewife as a prostitute. He's the reason why I lived, and why I almost died.

But that was my life. I was okay with it, for a while. Over time I became less okay with it. Over time I had to do ever more exotic mental gymnastics to bend around and through and over and under the crazy situation I put myself in.

The important thing to know here is that immediately prior to meeting him, I was one out-n-proud queer-ass radical-feminist womyn-with-a-y. Seriously - one day I was pasting up flyers for the Pope Protest (yes, I threw condoms at Pope John Paul II - gives you an idea of just how ancient I really am), the next day I was packing my heels and pearls and teetering off to go be Mrs. America.

But he's the reason I know, deep in my fractured bones and in my damaged brain and in what remains of my shattered heart, that your philosophy will not protect you.

What - you think you can hide under a book? a pamphlet? a manifesto? an idea? You think raising some magic umbrella of consciousness will protect you from a rain of humiliation or a hailstorm of fists?

Feminism did not shield me, because The Patriarchy wasn't beating me. A human being was beating me. He was, his fists were, both true and real. He was not a figment of the collective imagination. He was not a concept, a generalized sort of shorthand to symbolize centuries of suffering. He was a fellow human being.

Do you blame Communism for some mindboggling number of Ukrainians slaughtered in the thirties? No - you blame Stalin, the man himself.

Do you blame Agrarian Utopianism for the slaughter of millions of Cambodians? No - you blame Pol Pot, the man himself.

Nobody blames Nazism-the-ideology, Nazism-the-philosophy, Nazism-the-shorthand for inexpressible evil, Nazism-the-word for the horrors of the Third Reich. We blame Hitler, his lieutenants, his adherents, those willing to take his philosophy and make it real in human terms.

As for me, what's left of me, I blame the Patrick-archy. I hold him personally accountable for everything he's ever done to me. I don't care where he learned it or who he learned it from - other men live perfectly well without learning to be monsters, and women learn to be monsters equally adeptly. I don't care about his illusory privilege or his brother's privilege or his assumed life of plush entitlement that amounted to ring-around-the-collar wage slavery.

As much as I blame him, I have to blame myself. I know that. But I thought - I knew - that if only I tried harder I could be the sort of woman he could be proud of, admire, not hit.

The strange thing is, I felt the same way about my female partner. That's important in this discussion too.

Let me ask you something, all-a-y'all - did you feel it when he hit me? Did somehow his fist hit your face? wrap around your swanlike neck? break your fragile bones? Did his words assault your ears with the force of all the sticks and stones of all the schoolyards of your life? Did my behavior, my striving, my working to please him, PUT A SINGLE BRUISE ANYWHERE ON YOUR BODY?

I can't claim the title Radical Feminist anymore, if even I ever could. Ultimately feminism in all its flavors asks more questions than it answers, at least for me.

But now I'm a woman with a "why". I'm okay with that.

And that brings me to my personal vendetta.

As my husband, Antiprince The Gentle*, often says - "blog comments are often edited to give the appearance of hegemony." (or words to that effect - correct me if I'm wrong, darlin'.)

Often, editing is not even needed, if enough people (six or eight, that few) whomp up enough affirmations in the comments section, it looks like the whole world agrees with the blogger, and only a drooling halfwit or truly reckless vandal would disagree.

I got news.

I disagree. Strongly.

And I know there are others out there who disagree too. So what looks like a personal vendetta is not only a personal vendetta (brought about by allowing myself to get insulted about stupid shit - meh, I am as god made me) but an attempt to make sure all parties are represented. ALL parties.

Feminism, radical or otherwise, is not hegemonic. It just ain't. Too many different people have had too many different experiences to make it so.

OK - I've had enough. I have a headache. if you've made it this far, I, Six-Fingered Tony, salute you.

Basta!

* Antiprince the Gentle is also Antiprince the Decent, the Brave, the Musical, the Handsome, the Human - I did not mean to reduce him to a single quality in service of this essay (of rather dubious quality anyway). Forgive me, darlin' for using you as a rhetorical device, but I had to attribute the quote somehow.

Comments:
Argh... "personal vendetta!!!" One of my most loathed redundancies!!
 
note to self memo: cease and desist using and employing repetitive redundancies such as and for example "personal vendetta".

duly noted!
 
A point I forgot to make in this post -

if it could happen to me, it could happen to ANYONE.

ok, now I'm done. done done done.
 
I'm sorry I didn't mean to sound flip.

This is a really, truly amazing post. WHen I tossed off that comment it was all still sinking in.

You rock for taking the time to share this.
 
god help me -

AND ANOTHER THING:

Seriously, whatever harm I've done to individual women, or Feminism, or Class Woman, by allowing that rat bastard to use me for target practice - I've paid for it in my own blood. It doesn't make a difference anymore who blames me or doesn't. Blame away.
 
naw, amber - you're totally cool.

come on: "I blame the Patrick-archy?" how flip is that?
 
well said, Ap, well said.
 
Antiprincess, I've got health issues including mental confusion. When I'm feeling "foggy" I've banned myself from commenting as I may get it all wrong. I'm breaking my rule because I have to say something after reading your post.

You are absolutely right-the patriarchy matters only in theory, it's the specific abusers/rapist/soul destroyers we have to go after. I couldn't process all the Pandagon stuff, but this post was amazing (being clear for me in a foggy state is an achievement!)

"women learn to be monsters equally adeptly"

Holy planet, yes. I'm 37, and beginning to doubt I will ever recover from what my mother and sister did to me. The gender split as good-evil is utter bullshit. Working for women as an oppressed, class, you bet. But not that gender split.

"As much as I blame him, I have to blame myself. I know that."

I'm sorry, but this is utter bullshit. *You* were not to blame for him being a hateful abusive waste of human tissue. You were NOT at fault. It's human nature to do the coulda/woulda/shoulda thinking, but the blame rests entirely with him.

I've gone on too long, and I will be back later when I'm clear-headed to see if I need to apologize. This was a powerful post and your x is a complete slimy dreg.
 
SE - thanks for commenting. I am glad to see you, especially considering your brain cloud. thanks for fighting through that to comment. You're not inappropriate at all.

at the very least, I'm culpable for not getting out of the way.

see - here's where it pushes past my limit -

I had an abusive spouse. my abusive spouse hit me. If I am not responsible for him hitting me, how am I responsible for him hitting someone else?
 
Well, antip, I guess to that I'd just say: maybe let's take another look at how you're framing this. Your agency, your -responsibility- to -yourself-, took you -away- from the abuser. That's -huge.- You ARE responsible. In a GOOD way. You're being responsible to -you-; and, please, keep taking care of yourself, because (getting all Stuart Smalley) you deserve it, dammit.

as per the Pandagon battiness: I think I just threw myself out of the Kewl Kidz Klub forever, but Oh Well.

yes, by all means, fuck yes, keep on with your wanky little self-criticism sessions. just leave the rest of us the hell out of it, and yeah, i did feel protective of this other person who got all the flying monkeys relentlessly sent her way and still haven't fucking let up, so bite me.

luckily she seems to be taking care of herself just fine.

but godDAM some people just are so full of shit they squeak going into a turn.

yes indeedy: carry on, comrades! you're doing IMPORTANT WORK.

*poot*

someday maybe some of them will actually figure out the difference between group therapy, "debate," and an EST session.

and maybe some of them will figure out the difference between their ass and their structural void.

but i'm not holding my breath.
 
"I had an abusive spouse. my abusive spouse hit me. If I am not responsible for him hitting me, how am I responsible for him hitting someone else?"

Who said you were?
 
Jo - Floating around the blogosphere lately is the idea that women who tolerate abusive behavior do harm to Class Woman.

This tells me that I (a woman who tolerated abusive behavior) am responsible for bruises on other people's necks (harm to Class Woman).

again, if I'm not responsible for the abusive behavior in the first place, how can I be responsible for the harm done to Class Woman?
 
I'm just not going back again. I can't. Otherwise I -will- be responsible for bruises on someone's neck.
 
I'm at a loss for words.

Here is what I feel about you, anti-princess, pandagon, and others who dare to speak out:

http://dearada.typepad.
com/dear_ada/
images/b8a38d8f.jpg

Here is what I feel about the people who intellectualize the idea that women are Sugar and spice and everything nice while men are Snakes and snails and puppy-dog tails:

http://www.mokkas.de
/malerei/beruehmte
-maler-ae/aachen-hans-von/mwm00002.jpg

again, I'm at a loss for words.
 
the second link is bad (apologies).

here it is:

http://www.wga.hu
/art/a/aachen/
allegory.jpg
 
It happened to me, too. Great post.

Anti writes: "As much as I blame him, I have to blame myself. I know that."

I understand this exactly. When I began to own that our relationship had two parts, him and me, I began to own the role that I played in my own victimization, and yes, indeed, I did play one. When I owned my own role, it was much easier for me to both forgive him (for being a fucked up human being raised by equally fucked up humans who modeled the same behavior in front of him as a child), and to move on.

Of course, in my case, i moved on into another crappy marriage, and it took me years to believe that I deserved better, but I did.

Anti: You are brave. You are strong. You give me courage.
 
As much as I blame him, I have to blame myself. I know that. But I thought - I knew - that if only I tried harder I could be the sort of woman he could be proud of, admire, not hit.

Damn. As someone said to me once, 'The burden on feminists is so high and proabably few even realize it'. Thanks for realizing and articulating.

(petitpoussin in her blogger identity)
 
As much as I blame him, I have to blame myself. I know that. But I thought - I knew - that if only I tried harder I could be the sort of woman he could be proud of, admire, not hit.

Damn. As someone said to me once, 'The burden on feminists is so high and proabably few even realize it'. Thanks for realizing and articulating.

(petitpoussin in her blogger identity)
 
Wow. So much in this post, antiP. Don't know where to start! Maybe I'll just look at the bits as they leap out at me - is that ok?

This bit leapt first:

"Let me ask you something, all-a-y'all - did you feel it when he hit me? Did somehow his fist hit your face? wrap around your swanlike neck? break your fragile bones? Did his words assault your ears with the force of all the sticks and stones of all the schoolyards of your life? Did my behavior, my striving, my working to please him, PUT A SINGLE BRUISE ANYWHERE ON YOUR BODY?"

No. Obviously.

But that experience - yours - is one that's shared by so many women. Beaten, frightened and abused by the person they love - so many women can relate to that. And radfems are amongst them, make no mistake about that. Feminism - rad or otherwise - doesn't shield anyone from anything. Kinda makes you more aware, if anything...

And, yes, he is personally accountable for everything he did to you. Just as the nazi soldiers were personally responsible for the atrociticies they performed in WW2, just as the individuals who killed Ukranian people in the thirties are responsible for those deaths, just as the individuals who followed Pol Pot are personally responsible for the lives they ended.

They all had the choice to opt out. Disagree. Say "no". Not comply.

Granted, that might've made life difficult for them but, to my mind, just because someone somewhere says it's 'ok' that doesn't necessarily make it ok to do something, behave in a certain way.

On the other hand, if patriarchy, nazism, racism, whatever... says it's 'ok' to hurt, maim and/or kill a person/group of people and an individual either agrees with that or doesn't have the brains to think for themselves then, yes, they're still personally responsible for their actions but at the same time those actions are sanctioned by the ideology that promotes them. Approved of.

And belief in an ideology that counters the dominant ideology doesn't protect anyone - it just means that your story's heard, understood and amalgamated into the arsenal of oppression.

That 'hailstorm of fists' you experienced is the bedrock of oppression that radfems continue to fight.

I love the way you write, antiP. You do connect the discussion to human experience - and you do it with unforgettable imagery and honesty.

I appreciate your struggle and I'm glad of the Antiprince in your life.
 
wow...so glad you got out and found some gentle hands to hold.
 
antiprincess-Thanks for explaining that the idea of being responsible for other women being beaten was floating around on blogs.
 
SE - was that snark? I honestly can't tell. I hope it wasn't. From what I've seen of your writing before, I am guessing it wasn't. But... still. Sometimes hard to tell online.
 
I am glad you commented, Witchy, and glad you find some redeeming value amid all my whining. I don't know that I'm feminist or womanist enough for anyone these days.

it just means that your story's heard, understood and amalgamated into the arsenal of oppression.

well, yeah - but I get the sense that at the same time as the discussion of partner-abuse oppression un-blames the abused partner for her own abuse, it re-blames the abused partner for future abuses, because, theoretically, her toleration of abuse sets some sort of precedent. So it's amalgamated into the arsenal, but it's such a double-edged sword.
 
Amber-NO! Not snark. I got very upset when I thought antiprincess was blaming herself for being battered. She replied that this stuff was floating around the blogosphere, and I had no idea it was. I was thanking her for pointing that out. My assumption was she wasn't blaming herself, but alluding to that discussion.

Sigh. I'm dealing with some major mental confusion/brain fog right now. I'm trying not to comment much for that reason, but couldn't help myself here. All my comments should have a disclaimer: if the following comment seems to not make sense, that's because it doesn't!
 
And thus why I'm both glad to be back, and glad i took a vacation.

Amazing writing, again. The incarnation of these concepts

I get Amanda's dichotomy argument, that a person can be both victim and "something else" at the same time. But filling in enemy, perpetrator, and the other words used in the thread seems pretty clear evidence to me that something went off the tracks.

You know, right at the point where someone starts saying something about you being a paid anti-Twisty operative. Do these people actually read what they're saying? Gah...

Thank you again for this...
 
You know, right at the point where someone starts saying something about you being a paid anti-Twisty operative. Do these people actually read what they're saying? Gah...

"you being a paid operative" - like "you" in the sort of general, royal-you, "you" meaning "one", second-person-nonspecific way, or "you" meaning "me personally, AP"?

cuz if I'm a paid operative, clearly I gotta go to HR to see what's the holdup with my check.
 
SE - no worries! I figured it wasn't snark, but sometimes I just can't tell online!
 
antip, that was really, really powerful.
 
I agree with w-w, you know, in that I think it's both/and.

Just, well, different interpretations of where the System ends and the people begin, perhaps. or, well, something. plural systems.

and anyway i think the whole point of that last little Kabuki play in Pandagon (for instance) is that sometimes? the more you swear it's NOT about the individual? the more it ends up unconsciously ending up on the heads of indiviudals anyway, and, frankly, pretty much the wrong ones at that.

my working theory, at least.
 
wait, waitaminute. who was accused of being a paid anti-T operative? SERIOUSLY? ohboy boyboyoboy.

in that case i don't feel stupid anymore for my own little incursions down Crank Avenue. dude, whatever else, i certainly don't think anyone's gettin' paid for this gig; if they WERE, they wouldn't be acting like it was so Serious, you know. the grim intensity of lowball and all that.

also i had the excuse that i was Tripping. well, more or less.

no, seriously, don't make me go back in there, just tell me: WEALLY??? someone said that? was it about ME? o please say yes, that'd be EXCELLENT. hey, i've been looking for a paying gig: little did i know i've already got one! i've only to collect my paycheck! o bliss!

i did get the reposted one (thanks, Amber) about how's i'm perfect on accounta i said so in so many words, a MILLION TIMES, and i was all, dude, you know what? not so much, but good idea for an affirmation exercise? think of it! a million times! why, i bet i'd have self-esteem just bouncing all over the place; i bet by oh say the 400,000 mark or so i wouldn't even feel the compulsion to participate in this sort of miserable crap at all! maybe i could graduate to something more positive and productive and life-affirming!! you know! like slamming my fingers in car doors!! oh boy oh boy iii have the Annnssweerrr....

I'm perfect!

I'm perfect!

I'm perfect!

I'm perfect!

I'm perfect!

I'm perfect!

(only 999,994 to go)

I'm perfect!

I'm perfect!...
 
>And belief in an ideology that counters the dominant ideology doesn't protect anyone - it just means that your story's heard, understood and amalgamated into the arsenal of oppression.

That 'hailstorm of fists' you experienced is the bedrock of oppression that radfems continue to fight.>

You know: nicely said.
 
I wish more people could recognize the very real abuse that women inflict;on men,children,friends,co-workers,etc.Whether women believe in this patriarchal garbage or not,they all still seemingly only target men as the only ones who bring misery.Its just not so.Its time for women to cleanse their minds and remove all the dogmatic nonsense they`ve been told about men,society,abuse,rape,etc.
 
Simply amazing, moving, and profound.

You are by all accounts, from what I have read, an amazing female.
 
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