A friendly blog where feminists and their male allies can come together and discuss methods, tactics, and strategies for use in toppling White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.

8.25.2006

Another Rambling Post

I realize that like, a month ago or something I said I'd have a blog up in a few days to address this whole Pornstitution Wars mess that's been going on. What happened with that was that I started gathering up resources, started initial writing, and I haven't finished it yet. So it goes.

But I did want to put a few words out there, seeing as how every day I run through the radfem blogosphere and see more and more defensive reactions to these very important questions that are bursting towards the surface- more and more women splintered and split up over what it "is" to be feminist, what they percieve they can and cannot do if they identify as such. I have gone through my own twelve stations, and continue to run the gauntlet, to be at the place where I am, politically speaking; and so, I feel highly distressed when I hear women saying that they'll retrace their steps and refuse to identify with us, with radfems, due to what they are reading here.

This tells me that our movement has eroded far more than we might have realized. We have a blogring, a pretty good one here. But I know that I and other women constantly look for MORE. I see projects started against street harassment, I see places like women's shelters and rape crisis centers where women can go to get help or can volunteer or apply for employment. I see several ways that I or other women could plug into the "pro-choice" movement as activists and volunteers, as well. I see a lot of opportunities for activism that involve hard work and deal with socially salving some very, very deep wounds that come from living under patriarchy. I see women's activism as being constantly in a defensive context- how to keep the patriarchy from hurting us, to nutshell a bit, or how to undo the damage that the patriarchy is causing in our lives.

What I am not seeing is a program, an OFFENSIVE, and I think this speaks to the actual power that we are holding, as a class of human beings. The program, thus far, has not put us into a cultural sphere powerful enough to launch an offensive attack on the system that keeps us in the subhuman category.

While it's true that some women in specific geographic global regions have attained a measure of relative privilege that allows them more "freedom" than other women and other people as a whole, as WOMEN they still live under the auspices of male supremacy; their lives might be more comfortable, they might not have to worry about when they'll get their next meal. They might have killer health insurance and advanced degrees in all sorts of esoteric academic fields. But they still are women who can be and are raped and abused, they still, for the most part have to look right and act right in order to keep what they have. Acting right and looking right in Gringolandia means acting and looking, and also talking and believing, in what the Man defines as "right."

I'm of the opinion that an increase in physical comforts and socioeconomic stability for women who might have been super-duper radicals has dimmed the light of radical feminism. 'Cause once you get that security, you don't want it to go away, you don't want to have to worry ever again that you won't eat or that you'll not be able to afford to pay your rent. The privileged whites of the women's movement end up alienating and invisibilizing the non-white and the less privileged, and it's all in a mad fucking scramble for crumbs. For fucking CRUMBS, y'all.

The crumbs are the blips of power, the minute and epileptic shocks that we feel when we have respect, attention, male-proscribed love, material wealth or security, from MEN. We make these connections every day. We all, with very few exceptions, have to deal with men on a daily basis in a system that's designed to make the man in the room the homo sapien with more relative privilege and power than the woman or women in the room. To reinvigorate our program, I'm pretty sure that we'll have to make a concentrated effort to step back, at least mentally, from the rigors of all of our respective daily grinds, and try and examine that places in our lives where we get that misogynistic validation. We have to identify those areas and begin to examine our motivations in participating in them, and we have to be able to size up whether or not these little, every-day interactions are indeed as neutral as we think they are.

Identifying as a feminist activist means something more than just thinking that women should be equal to men. It means that the Woman who identifies as such is dedicated to the liberation of women, and will act towards that goal, deliberately. There are many philosophical and political roads that any individual woman can take if all she's concerned with is her own personal gratification, sexually or otherwise. Libertarianism, existentialism, post-modernism, solipcism, liberalism- these are all "isms" that allow for the "to each her own" attitude without real reproach or (gasp! omigod she's gonna say it) censorship. These areas will let you have all the "fun" of struggling your way to the "top" by acting like "one of the boys."

Feminism ain't so easy-going. It cares about you as an individual and it wants you to be free from oppression and hurt and pain. But that doesn't mean that Feminism is there to justify self-absorption. Not giving a shit whether or not you hurt your sisters via what you do to have fun just won't cut it. Given the consumerist, self-absorbed, male-centric, oppressive, dangerous, isolated, and increasingly techologized and pre-fab culture that we grow up in here in Gringolandia, it's easy to see where that statement can be construed as "elitist" or "prudish." We're taught from the time we are born, if we are born here, that this is what the "American Dream" is all about- doing well, whether or not others can do well, whether or not what you DO to do well or to feel OK keeps someone else from doing the same thing.

Feminism would do well to root this fictitious dream right out of it's ranks. IMHO. Equality, as most of us tend to think of it, is an abstraction. It doesn't really EXIST anywhere. We might have the capacity to think the thought that "I am no better or no more human than X person," but who of all of us has the actual POWER needed to put that thought into a tangible form in material reality?

If we cannot agree upon certain areas in which we must act in solidarity, how will we be able to formulate a program that will lead our activism out of the realm of the defensive?

And just how in the WORLD will our active and willful participation in the sex industry lead to our liberation? I have yet to see any clear proposal that supports this notion, while I've seen and LIVED THROUGH many situations that have shown me, definitively, that we must FIGHT the sex industry if we are ever to claim our rightful place as human beings in a world that doesn't just TELL us, but that SHOWS us through video and film and the written word that we are not at all as human as the man who jacks off to our collective dehumanization.
Class Woman, as so many folks out there have called it and attempted to do so in a derogatory way, does indeed come first, it HAS to come first when we talk about WOMEN'S liberation. We fight and we struggle and we hurt and we die for that specific liberation. Women are the people that give birth to both male and female children. We have no real institutional power as to the direction of those children's lives, inasmuch as the tools of the current system- media, press, government, capitalist imperialism- make us look like pissants with respect to real, material POWER. We currently have to try and raise them as well as we can and then turn them over to said system. We don't even have full power over whether or not we can have children, in this country. To accuse feminists of "putting women before everyone" and then saying that this is some sort of "reverse oppression" would be laughable if it didn't actually work in favor of the class that oppresses us. If men didn't already come first in the line for resources and power, we wouldn't have to shove them to the back, alright?

IF you deny that there is a system in place that oppresses women as women, and privileges men as men, then you have no need to call yourself a feminist, because in your bubble-world there IS no need for feminism. If you believe that your life's validation comes only from the sex acts that you perform, or that your qualitative value as a human derives from the stuff that you do with your sexual parts, then you have no need for feminism. I mean, part of the whole message is that women and children are not just reducible to their body parts and their sexuality. That has been a part of the message for years. If you think that your actions do not effect the lives of others then you have no need for feminism, and I'd go right out on a limb and say that you have no need for any sort of activism. Just stay in your room and think. That should change the world, right?

There are some pretty clear reasons that radical feminists put that word, "radical," into the name. Radical refers to the root of something. Radfems tend to think that oppression based upon sex and gender is one of the "big ones." We tend to think that at some point, in human evolution, a qualitative value was imposed upon human physiology that led to the oppression of people with bodies that identified them as being female, by people with bodies that identify said people as male. We think that deliberate actions put this dichotomy into place, and that the dichotomy cannot be destroyed or removed without ACTION. We oppose the sex industry because it is an outgrowth of this dichotomy that acts as an educational and coersive aid in retaining the structure of the dichotomy as well as a means of supply- of women in paper, on film, and in living flesh- to the males of our species who benefit from keeping the dichotomy firmly in place. This is why we get a little bit angry and testy when women who have enough privilege to choose to stay out and fight go in there and comply, with their own bodies and their own words, and then attempt to sieze the floor from women who are invisiblized every day and suffer and hurt because they DO NOT have a choice, because they can either turn tricks or they can starve. We get a little bit mad when a smattering of women who say that they are HAPPY maintaining the status quo push themselves forward, and allow men with power to push them forward, as examples that result in knocking the progress backwards a few months or years or decades.

Arrrrgggghhhhhhh. I have to go to bed now. I'm so fucking tired.

3 comments:

asdgasdfaserwe said...

I want to go on the offense and I hope that more and more of us will start feeling that way very soon.

v said...

The wait has been worth it. Thank you. :)

Y. Carrington said...

TnT...you are so on point...there needs to be an offensive to patriarchy. But the point of oppressing people is to entrap them in a position from where they can't resist domination, exactly what makes mounting an offensive an uphill battle. For most oppressed groups, that entrapment is both material and ideological: The boss man controls both what we can have and what we can think. Any offensive that feminists mount against the system has to attack from both these fronts.

Truer words were never spoken: The privileged whites of the women's movement end up alienating and invisibilizing the non-white and the less privileged, and it's all in a mad fucking scramble for crumbs. For fucking CRUMBS, y'all.

The past month I have felt this in a big way, from folks calling themselves radicals and feminists. Even within these circles---the circles where I'm supposed to be supported by like-minded folks---I am still The Other. There are no Black people, no Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin@, or Native people. Just me and a bunch of white folks who see my face but can't see me.

It sure makes fighting the good fight bloody hard.

Yolanda