Despite deciding consciously that I would always avoid men and male things the best I could and only interact with women on a close basis, to protect myself as much as i could, i realised a few weeks ago how still my thoughts and my life revolved so much around men, because making a constant conscious effort to avoid men still meant men were occupying my mental space, the threat of their violence always looming in the back (or front) of my mind). Obviously men are never very far, and if they’re not physically there, they spook and infiltrate every aspect of our lives (to use a Mary Dalian word) with their death infrastructures. Reminders of men and their system are everywhere in nearly everything that surrounds us, especially if you live in a man-made flat our house in a man-made town.
It just struck me, that despite my efforts in being only with women, talking to women, reading women’s books and articles, listening to women, and focusing on feminism, in fact so much of feminism revolved around men – either understanding them, their violence or the effects of their violence on us. talking about them in some way or another. Being exposed to stories of their violence, gory details of their necrophilia, their raping of women and the earth and living beings. Which is perfectly normal given that we are the most colonised people, or THE colonised people in fact, and this is a consequence of colonisation, and we have to talk about them to untangle ourselves from the effects of their violence on us. But it struck me to think about what my world would look like without men, and what struck me even more was to realise how little I had actually thought about it, my mind being so occupied about getting away from men. I often have the thought “oh if only all men could disappear”, but actually imagining myself now in a world without men and without ever thinking about men, without having to think about them at all, I don’t do so often, let alone feeling what it would be like. I realised once again how i had structured my life around something (understanding men and patriarchy and protecting myself from it) which was of course necessary and I don’t think there’s any other starting point than beginning to identify to the source of violence/danger and protecting ourselves from it. But in the same time i realised how this heavy investment had me invested into not discovering my freedom in ways that made me let go of thinking about men at all. AT ALL. It felt forbidden.
All of a sudden a strong feeling of relief came to me, it completely brightened my mind. It contrasted so much to my constant survival strategy building. And this sudden contrast of feeling brought me to some realisations. I realised that I spend most of my day thinking about how best I could escape having to work, escape contact with men, escape the town while being able to survive, eat and have a place to live. Fearing one day that men will destroy the little I have managed to put up for survival. Looking for solutions. How will I get in touch with women around me and create networks given that we are so separated from one another. How will I find a male-free space so we can meet or gather or be together. How could I create a better world for myself and for women. Should I engage in this interaction, activity or organisation or not, is it safe, is it energy sucking or dangerous. But most of all, so much time, energy and anxiety wasted planning survival and protection. My life in this sense still revolves completely around men, maybe not in such obvious ways as it would if I worked for them or lived with a boyfriend or husband, or were in prostitution or owned directly by a man one way or another, but still.
I realised that so rarely did i or could i be with women or with myself and just imagine men never existed, and not think about them, fear that they would violate my integrity, or think about survival in their world at all. Not think about what I would have to do next and that I would have to do it soon and worry about not being able to do it, and about how I would survive if i wanted to keep doing it. Because in a world without men there is no need to accomplish anything in any deadline, we never have to worry about not doing something in time, if just eating and sleeping and eating preparation. And I love that.
No guilt of not “doing” something useful for feminism (or any kind of work) because we wouldn’t need to work to survive, nor would we need feminism as a means of survival because men wouldn’t exist, our world would be purely female and gynocentric and naturally female-bonding. We’d BE there, there is no getting to feminism because we’d be it. We would just do we what we enjoy and do it so long as it brings us joy. No activities save those related to eating and shelter would have to be finished because finishing isn’t the point. We can just let time flow and obey to our bodily needs without guilt, too. Sleep when we’re tired, eat when we’re hungry, walk or swim or play when we’re in need for moving. Communicate with the elements, the plants, animals, beings and the stars. We wouldn’t have to worry about our needs because everything around us would be in abundance, there would be no scarcity. We wouldn’t have to worry about being lonely or crave to see friends because there would be no violence, therefore no trauma-bonding, no worrying about our protection, no being on constant alert for toxicity, no nightmares at night, no anxiety or PTSD or dissociation. We wouldn’t have to worry about how best to avoid men. We wouldn’t have to spend all of our time untangling men’s violence. Interaction would always be invigorating and sustaining, never energy-sucking. We wouldn’t ever have to depend on technology to communicate, it wouldn’t even cross our minds to use such mean and drug-like communication forms. We would live in beautiful houses that we would have built ourselves in ways that fit our natural surroundings and ourselves. We would be in constant contact with the earth, the trees, the skies, wind and water or sea, there wouldn’t be this numbing sensory deprivation we experience every day.
Most importantly, a free world would be one where there is a complete absence of fear. Nor do we fear the night. The night brings its richness and softness and security to sleep.
The possibilities are so infinite. Suddenly my perspective of death changed too and the thoughts that came to me was that a free world is one where we aren’t afraid of death, and death is a natural part of life, and it doesn’t lead to annihilation of our soul as men want us to believe. Annihilation is denying our existence, through rape, torture, murder – destruction for destructions’ sake. But it is not death per se. Death of a beloved person wouldn’t be so traumatising because we would appreciate the time we spent together and accept that she has simply changed from one life form to another. Because we wouldn’t depend on any one person for our emotional or physical survival, because we would live in a state of abundance, where our needs would be met. I remembered that when I was younger I wasn’t afraid of death at all neither mine or the death of other people, and i knew that those who died around me (if they did) went somewhere safe. And I remembered too that when I was younger I was far more connected to my senses and to the elements around me. Hearing the noise of the leaves through the wind and smelling the grass could give me incredible and lasting joy. So many things that would have been unthinkable to me then, I have been groomed to tolerate now.
So far I’ve recognised a standard of free feeling, which is the sensation I have after swimming in the sea, especially if I do that regularly. And contact with women who are the freest women I know has a similar feeling too. It’s invigorating and not energy-sucking. It’s life sustaining, and calm, serene. It’s not intense but subtle. There is no feeling of emptiness afterwards, but of integrity and strength.
I’ve also recognised that between the moment I take the decision to free my self from something I’ve identified as harmful and the moment I actually feel this freedom from it, there is a time lapse. The body integrates it slowly but surely, like a chameleon that changes colour, it’s very slight and barely perceptible at first and then all of a sudden you’re all blue and it’s perfectly blended into you and it feels right. Things come naturally.
So at that point I realised also how I still felt guilty at the idea of not thinking about men at all, as if I’d betrayed radical feminists, because so much of radical feminism has been about men after all, even though it’s to say the truth about men and about what men do to women. And I’m not saying that’s bad, because this is what frees our consciousness from men’s imposed mindbinding. It will be necessary to say the truth about men and their violence so long as they exist I think. But perhaps one shortcut to radical feminism or freedom is just being with women and with the elements and enjoying our connection to each other, where men don’t exist in the past, present or future of this moment or even in the idea of the “after” this moment, absent in every form – especially in thought.
Obviously all these realisations and thoughts made me think about my readings of Sonia Johnson and the discussions at FCM’s about the importance of feeling free. So after maybe a few months of thinking and experimenting personally about it, these are the first colours that have appeared to me, the first rays of sensations I’ve blended to and written in anarchic form.