Posts Tagged 'Mary daly'

Intersectionality, part IV: attractive vs. destructive forces, or what can we do

Our task as radical feminists is to undo, unlearn and un-peel the workings of men’s violence – including how men’s patterns are embedded in our psyche – and to reveal them to other women, so to spark our movement towards liberation. We are to revert the reversals, crack through the lies and myths, name the horrors, uncover the truths, dig out the treasures of our past and present being hidden beneath and between the depths of men’s dead grey layers.

As said in the second part, women’s class and status is defined by the class and status of our husband or father. If we leave our male lord, we’re nothing. However we might keep in appearance the traits and habits of those men. For instance white women bear the skin colour of their male oppressors and are assimilated to their male racist culture. As such, women reproduce and embody this male presence – as all women do with the male determinants they grew up with. Their cultural assimilation to white men is a forced-upon mask that men have fitted on women’s bodies and spirits, which does not belong to women. It covers who we really are and separates us from ourselves and from womenkind, deliberately so. Assimilated and tokenised in men’s clubs, non-feminist women afflicted by a sense of superiority towards other women are totaled and totally deluded. They have been whirred by the illusion of exceptionalism, blinded by male worship and frozen by the contempt directed against her sisters who supposedly haven’t ‘made it’.

We have to understand that cultural and social racism or insensitivity from part of women is integral to our colonisation by the men who occupy us. Racism, sexism, classism, any kind of condescension – all are one and tied to the same anti-woman package, they are inseparable. It’s male-identification.

‘Racist feminism’ or ‘classist feminism’ is an oxymoron, in other words. This means we cannot be feminist without wanting to exorcise all forms of male domination and subordination, without seeing them as interlinked and mutually supportive of women’s oppression. We discover empathy and searing rage for the plight of all our sisters and that in spite of differences, we are all subjected to variations of male rapism. We see patriarchy as universal. By identifying ourselves as women we identify to all women as women, embrace each other as our people and reject male blocking of our movement/convergence. When woman-identification fails us, it means we haven’t been fully touched by feminism, maybe we have reached some glimmers of truth such as perceiving some “unequal” treatment between men and women, but conserve our hope in men / ascension in male clubs and haven’t yet dissipated the fog obscuring the big picture.

When I look at intersectional articles, who are they directed against? Women, women, women, women, women, women and women. All of them. It is the primary distinguishing factor of intersectionality. But if women are so oppressive to us, what’s the point of being feminist, may I ask. Either we perceive men to be our oppressors and we’re feminist, or we hate these women who oppress us so much – and we’re misogynist. But we can’t have it both ways.

Women, girls and animals are the only beings we are given license to attack, because it reinforces men’s power. We are very easy targets and scapegoats, because we know deep down that women won’t have any means to fight back. We’d never dare to confront men in the same way since it would be too dangerous. By contrast it is possible to flatten or disintegrate our little self-esteem and sense of self in just a few words. It takes no effort to guilt-trip each other because we already feel guilty for merely taking up space. Woman-punishing is always credible and legitimate in patriarchal sado-society, in fact it’s the only thing men allow us to do.

Targeting women also gives a false sense of power and of activating against our perceived powerlessness. Sonia Johnson said that we get highs from it. Ultimately, doing so is the response of the colonised, we’re still colonised by men’s reversals and woman-hatred because we got the enemy completely wrong. Radical action is to stop blaming women.

I really understand the maddening anger of consistently going through an oppressive situation that some other women are (more) exempt from, and this problem being ignored by them. Even after being told, they refuse to understand or act upon it. It feels like being choked, slammed in the face, stabbed in the heart. Feeling pain and anger is normal because it’s disgustingly unfair. I wish we all had enough money, housing and access to certain resources and that everything would be justly distributed. But men don’t let that happen for a reason – which is why freeing ourselves from men should always be our utmost priority.

If some women have escaped some worst forms of drudgery or torture, well good for them. They’ve been lucky. But wounding or resenting these women won’t make our wounds feel any better. Whether the woman’s ‘fault’ is simply to have it less worse or to actively participate in anti-woman practices – shouting at, blaming and fighting against such women will not change anything to alleviate/eliminate the oppressive setting that causes our pain.

I like these insightful and humorous quotes from Flo Kennedy:

We don’t say a word when Madison Avenue makes millions off us, but we get all resentful and suspicious when somebody in the Movement gets attention or makes a dime. That’s Nigger Nobility. If you have to lose to prove you’re a good person, we won’t get anywhere.

Divide and conquer–that’s what they try to do to any group trying to make social change. I call it D&C. Black people are supposed to turn against Puerto Ricans. Women are supposed to turn against their mothers and mothers-in-law. We’re all supposed to compete with each other for the favors of the ruling class.

In the name of elitism, we do a crabs-in-a-barrel number, and pull down any of our number who get public attention or a small success. As long as we’re into piranha-ism and horizontal hostility, honey, we ain’t going to get nowhere.

Guilt-tripping is wrong because there’s no guilt to be had for being colonised by men or for the atrocities committed by men. As explained in previous parts, it is unfounded since we aren’t responsible for patriarchy. Guilt is corrosive and counter-liberation, and the climate of fear caused by guilt-tripping tactics paralyses women and increases barriers and misunderstanding instead of enhancing connectedness/ deepening insight. Whatever the reason, it is uselessly abusive to punish women for having been groomed into participating into her/our own demise and annihilation. Doing so is reinforcing the cycle of abuse against women instead of helping each other getting out of it. As Adriene Sere says in her article “In Remembrance of Mary Daly- Lessons for the Movement:

The accusation of racism needs to be treated carefully, rather than thrown at people like sticks of dynamite. … The dynamite-throwers, when they are tolerated, or even treated as “leaders” on the issue, manage to generate a climate of fear and disparagement that crushes female-identified empowerment – just as racism itself does. Such a climate also inhibits honest connections between women, allows a sexist disdain to be directed toward women who aren’t oppressed by class or race, and legitimizes a finger-pointing that might coercively yield results but is not necessary to making real and deep change.

In short, the mechanisms of intersectionality are strikingly similar to trans-phonery: setting up women as straw oppressors (especially feminists); putting women in harm’s way as outlets for other women’s (and men’s) anger; use of punishing, silencing and public shaming tactics; requirement to ritualistically confess your guilt before you speak (something pointed out by Janice Raymond in A Passion for Friends).

More fruitful than guilt or punishment in the face of male-identification is to see that we all have the forever-going responsibility to stop and disengage from harmful and necrophilic practices against women and the elements. Each woman has the duty to continually seek to exorcise the maleness and males from her life, whichever male religion, ethnicity, class, group or nation we’re bound to. We are to disrespect all the father-founders, no group is exempt from patriarchal rule.

And if a woman can’t change a destructive behaviour after being told, it’s because this disengagement from patriarchal influence isn’t psychically available to her at present time and the best option I think is to protect ourselves and withdraw from such women if we haven’t found a safe way to engage. Just leave them and do your own thing, craft with the women with whom you can craft and maybe get back in touch when time is rife.

I’ve learned that enforcing change on a woman who is destructive to the ‘movement’ and shows no willingness to change or isn’t ready, is a mistake. It will require using ourselves some amount of coercion or violence which not only is unethical but will fuel more destruction, as she will respond to it by fighting back more and increase her defences against what we’re trying to say. Instead of stopping the destruction it generates more of it – as a friend said to me, this is like reformism. Withdrawing doesn’t mean we’re ok with the harm but it’s simply a choice of focus. We can’t allow ourselves (and I certainly can’t allow myself) to be constantly distracted by and drawn into negativity or the men in women’s heads. Our focus should be on attraction and convergence of those currently willing to make the leap, not running after those who presently can’t – we can trust that they will find their own path at a different time or in a different life. There are three billion women on earth, it’s ridiculous to think that this one woman or small group of women are going to stop us from bonding with women all around, or that these women are our only hope or way of doing feminism. If we look around, there are always women to be met and with whom to spark new paths of liberation. Women are everywhere.

So this is what I mean in my title by attractive force vs. destructive force, which is a concept I drew from Mary Daly in Outercourse. As Mary Daly says, radical feminism should do good, it should be fun, ecstatic, spiraling, lead to new dimensions and deep change, undo the blocks and unleash our splintered selves. What inspires to move is to experience women’s courage to be/to sin. Radical feminism touches women by attraction, not by conflict with women. Conflicts mostly teach us that we need to get away from them, they are repellant. In Outercourse (p.159) she quotes the following passage of hers in Beyond God the Father:

The power of sisterhood is not war-power. There have been and will be conflicts, but the Final Cause causes not by conflict but by attraction. Not by the attraction of a Magnet that is All There, but by the creative drawing power of the Good Who is self-communicating Be-ing. Who is the Verb from whom, in whom, and with whom all true movements move.

Radical feminist movement is indeed self-communicating, I think this is a very important insight. Freeing ourselves will automatically spark women around us to awakening, it happens mechanically and naturally. Feminism can never be completely experienced and understood in conditions of enforcement, punishment or guilt, the effect will be reverse, of repelling and undermining. Enforcement is antinomic to radical feminism. To paraphrase again Mary Daly, the process itself of Seeing and Naming connections and of being present to ourselves and each other is what generates more awakening, kindles more female fire/gynergy, heat and light. This spinning makes possible new leaps, increases the momentum of our movement. (Outercourse, p.198).

This process is true for every form of male sadism. Since all forms of domination such as racism, classism, urban vs. rural domination, adult vs. child, human vs. animal, etc. stem from the same male-rapist root, our attitude to all of them should be the same – in short, only a radical feminist attitude towards male domination can be liberating. It is what we already do: raise awareness, name the workings, lies and reversals of patriarchy and reveal our reality as women in this or that form of patriarchal oppression. Explain how men benefit from this practice and how it’s at the expense of all women. How it deceives and traps women in its net. How it reinforces and is linked to male rapism. Seek to meet, make friends with and listen to as many women across male classes, borders and race, and talk about our respective experiences and lives.

Women will relate to that, it will expand our consciousness, deepen our understanding of how men oppress us. It will give each other the power to see which will spark our ethical rage and rage to be free.

 

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When we’re angry against women

I’ve finally figured something out. That we’re not supposed to be angry against women, as in, our anger against women is purely manufactured by men. And if we are angry, we’re angry against the male colonisation in her, not really her, though what happens is that we confuse it with the woman and hit on her instead.

This ’embedded maleness’ or ‘incarnate male presence’ as Mary Daly called it, are insidious male ideologies that men have hammered into our psyche, like an anti-personnel landmine fastened inside us which explodes in contact of other women, so that women turn against us, instead of turning against men and feeling sorry or compassion for the pitiable state that men have put us in. The things the colonised woman does out of male colonisation are effectively unbearable, or even violent because embedded maleness will always externally discharge as token torturing of other women, since it’s set up as an inside dagger pointed against all women, including the woman colonised by it, because she’s a woman too. Therefore what we must always remember is that the landmine explosion is hurting the woman infiltrated by the landmine as much as women in her surroundings. Or to put in another way, it can’t fuck with my mind without it having already fucked up hers.

I knew that on an intellectual level you see, but somehow I didn’t apply it to all cases. I would get frustrated or really angry with some women because she would want to hurt me, she would be too alienated for me to be able to communicate with her, or she would talk or write in such a male bespoken or mindfucking way that it would drive me crazy. But instead of being angry against the maleness in her, I would be angry against her, in person. What it does on an interpersonal level is that I am endlessly angry against this woman and this anger has no limit at all either in time or depth. This is because woman hatred has no bottom to it. You might as well do it forever, the reason for this is because being angry against a woman doesn’t change anything to the situation, doesn’t unblock the lock or repair the tension, it’s like running endlessly on a hamster wheel and you can feel that it’s destroying you, too. This is fundamentally because the anger is misdirected. It’s completely the wrong target. You’re targeting the victim and there’s nothing she can do for that anger. It’s not the woman’s fault she’s behaving that way, it really isn’t, but the fault of men who buried their phallocratic presence into her head, it’s the fault of that crept-in phallocratic presence. She’s behaving as an automaton for men, as a vehicle for MALE violence; it doesn’t belong to her as a woman, it belongs only to men.

Being angry against a woman for her male-embedded behaviour is destructive because it’s based on misogyny and reversal of blame, which may ultimately lead to death, because misogyny is genocide of women and necrophilia. I’m saying that because I really do feel the death and dead-endedness of anger against women.

The changing factor was to stop seeing the shit coming from her. I suddenly had this image of my friend as her whole body strangled and tangled with barbed wire and the needles sinking into her skin. The only way for her to stop the harm she was doing was by realising what harm she had been put into herself, because only then would she understand why it’s harmful to others. So I should consider it as our common interest to exorcise her from that entrapment. And it IS our common interest as women, because there’s no liberation if she doesn’t free herself from that black blob or the barbed wire. She’ll continue to harm other women and harm herself. She should better figure out how to break that evil spell on her, for instance by naming what that behaviour is, what it does, where it comes from, that it isn’t her self acting but a persona acting on behalf of men, and try to decolonise from it, break the mechanism down and get rid of it – or ‘exorcise’ it, which is a term Mary Daly used.

Before you’re all up in arms against me for saying that we should embrace token torturers and antifeminists as our best friends, that’s really not what I’m saying. What I’m suggesting is a way of understanding our own anger against any women and how we react to other women’s embedded maleness (in ANY form), what is our disposition to it so that we don’t let that blob fulfil its purpose of destroying ourselves and wreaking havoc between women, between me and her. It’s a way of cracking the blob’s soul-killing projectiles, of neutralising its deadliness. It can be with women we don’t know and whom we’ll never get to know, or with women we know and are close to, the workings are the same. It may not imply interacting with her if you don’t want to and if it’s unsafe or abusive for you to do so then it’s best to run away fast, but at least having that understanding preserves from self-destroying in pointless rage against her.

So what it means as well from an ethical standpoint is that it’s possible to consider a woman responsible for her actions in the sense that she’s the one doing it and she only has the responsibility and moral obligation to stop doing it – and at the same time see that it’s not her own agency and integrity acting because she’s been implanted with this horrible man-made self-destruction weapon inside her, telling her to go against her own interest, her own good and the good of her own kind: women.

See, this principle works with women only because women have a default humanity underneath the male layers of shit, and only women can be colonised by maleness / male violence. Women aren’t natural mindfuckers, we are born integral and healthy, or this is the way we are meant to be at least. We become more like men because we are forced to assimilate to them through violence and trauma which turns us into a sort of victim mirror image to them. But this isn’t how we would normally be. Men obviously can’t be colonised by maleness because men already *are* men, they *are* the male colonisers. It’s not only false but really dangerous to project our being and experience of oppression onto our oppressors, to apply the same kind of understanding with men because it keeps us exposed to their violence without the man or men ever changing for the good: it will only make them worse in fact, because men knowing exactly what you think of them and you intend to do increases their lethality.

more science and essentialism

My first essentialist thought on men’s violence was that only men could ever build an entire necrophilic society around the raping and controlling of women’s reproductive capacities because only men are biologically capable of doing it, using their own biology as weapons against women – penis and semen. So I saw that patriarchy fitted to men’s biology to the extent that it is only achievable through their biological capacity to rape and impregnate women. Also, I saw their hatred of women partly as an of envy women’s reproductive power and obsession with their own incapacity to reproduce life. But I still believed it was all a mistake somehow and that it wasn’t inherent in men, that they could change if we just pointed it out to them, and they were caught up in this sad masculinity thing enforced on them, TOO!

The next step to essentialism wasn’t really difficult, because men’s system is neither the consequence of some historical accident nor external to them. FCM cleared a lot of ground in essentialist argumentation by putting it this way:

1) Evidence such as the need for abortion and other pregnancy preventive methods going as far back as possible into our history point to the fact that men were rapey/violent across all times of known human history. IOW, men have always proven to be a rape threat for women.

2) Male sexual violence against women is universal, that is, covers the entire globe – there’s no exception, no my-nigel, no far-away land where men are all as sweet as lambs.

3) there is nobody outside men forcing men to be violent. Their patriarchal system is created and enforced by them alone. no invisible force is secretly pulling the strings behind the scenes. Since it comes from men and not from anyone else, this is the definition of inherent. It’s internal to them.

4) If patriarchy didn’t suit men in some basic, inherent way, they would rebel against this enforcement, but they don’t, ever. (see also here and here, arguments by FCM in comments). Not that they lack the power to do so, given that they monopolise all political power in patriarchy.

All this leads to the conclusion that their systematised violence is consistent with their natures. It’s simple, logical, solid. Inherent is the opposite of extraneous – it means “intrinsic” (Merriam Webster). And indeed, men’s violence is not externally imposed, but comes from them only, and universally so. Therefore, men’s violence is inherent to them. Easy!

Then bloggers and commenters moved on to defining maleness as parasitism (men being inherently parasitic to women), which Mary Daly, Valerie Solanas and Sonia Johnson had already talked about in their works (and surely many other women I do not yet know of), and which were taken on in various blogs recently.

I’ve also been very interested in scientific explanations for male violence and male parasitism, and have looked at mitochondrial DNA some time ago. Then someone commented on that post notifying me about the difference in corpus callosum between men and women: which propelled me into even more biological essentialism. FCM said a while ago (can’t remember where exactly and what the exact phrasing was) that male-essentialist view does not equate to saying that women are naturally subordinate to men, and in fact we have always resisted men’s violence since as long as we know, and one of the basic contentions of feminism is that subordination (femininity) is enforced on us, not natural. She went on to say that therefore, we shouldn’t make claims on female nature because we’re not able to figure it out or something (this is where my memory falters, I can’t remember what the words were, something like making claims on women’s nature is harmful, because, something… please notify if you find that passage as I haven’t found it).

Well, I actually do think it’s possible to make some claims about female nature without falling into the trap of essentialising female subordination (femininity), which I obviously reject. Especially, to make claims about our essential powers and gifts that men lack.

I base it on an intuition and experience: being around with women is substantially and physically different from being around with men. The physical and sensory experience is simply different, and I’m not talking about touching in just a physical way, but the physics of soul-touching and sparking. Men are incapable of spinning; in every possible sense of the term. Any energy sent to them never comes back, it’s a dead end, a black hole, it goes plop, or flop, it stops there and never moves, there is no real exchange, and at the very least we’re left with a feeling of unease. Whereas with women, especially with radical feminists, you can actually feel the spinning going on, the revitalisation, the constant movement of mind and senses, things just flow. It fills your blood with life. I can feel the exchange like tiny fireworks bursting around and moving up in circles, like a happy dance. It feels colourful, musical and blissful. It has a very real and physical effect on me. I think deep down women know this, that we don’t and can’t have the same connection with women as with men.

Second, it is common scientific knowledge that women and men have different brain attributes: women have on average 23% more corpus callosum* than men, and men’s brain is more one-sided, localised in one hemisphere of the brain (apparently the left). Women also have a deeper and larger limbic system, which is the memory system. *The corpus callosum is situated in the middle of the brain between the two hemispheres, it’s a very large arched tissue of nerve fibres that connect the two brain hemispheres together, as well as the different lobes and areas of the brain (memory / limbic system, pineal gland…).

These facts are well-known and you can find them easily by googling it but when you look up mainstream research, the significance of this information and its implications for men and women are always obscured: to quote Mary Daly, commenting on one such researcher:

Julian Jaynes sweeps over significant information as if it were barely worth nothing, when such information relates to the powers of women. He writes: “And a comment can be added here about sexual differences. It is now well known that women are biologically somewhat less lateralized in brain function than men. This means simply that psychological functions in women are not localized into one or the other hemisphere of the brain in the same degree as men. Mental abilities in women are more spread over both hemispheres… And it is common knowledge that elderly men with a stroke or hemorrhage in the left hemisphere are more speechless than elderly women with a similar diagnosis. Accordingly we might expect more residual language function in the right hemisphere of women, making it easier for women to learn to be oracles. And indeed the majority of oracles and Sibyls, at least in European cultures, were women” [all emphases mine]. … This fascinating point is mentioned in only one other place in the book, and there even more scantily (p. 350). Shrewd Shrews will notice that Jaynes’ language is deceptive and patronizing to women. For by his syntax he manages to belittle the oracular gifts of women and the Elemental integrity of female mental faculties, while at the same time obscuring the negative implications of overly localized psychological functions in males.

Bolds mine. In Mary Daly, Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy, 1984, p. 148, in the notes.

This is another typical example of how the crucial info and its implications is totally wiped out by male-vetted language:

A robust sex difference in the splenium of the corpus callosum, reflecting greater interhemispheric connectivity in women, was observed on magnetic resonance images from 114 individuals. In addition, bulbosity of the corpus callosum correlated with better cognitive performance in women but not in men. source

The way these differences in brain functions link to male violence and female powers is illuminating though.

If we look at men, their localised brain function and smaller corpus callosum links quite clearly to their necrophilia and disconnectedness from life, their sensory atrophy or incapacity to connect both on a sensory, emotional and conceptual level, their addiction to violence or use of violence as their only way to feel things. If their brain function is indeed localised on the left hemisphere, which is known to represent the rational side of the brain, and doesn’t connect easily to the right hemisphere (senses, emotion, intuition) because of less corpus callosum, then it makes sense that they can disconnect violent acts so easily from sensory experience and cognitive, emotional understanding of it, and from understanding the wider consequences of that violence which would normally prevent them from doing it or give them second thoughts about it. It may explain why men need external enforcement in order NOT to be violent or to refrain their violence because they wouldn’t otherwise stop it themselves, they wouldn’t see the need to themselves. It coincides with their extraordinary lack of empathy, their incapacity to relate to other living beings outside of violation and their ability to be so sadistic and cold about their violence. It also explains IMO how, because of their sensory atrophy, violence so easily becomes exclusively experienced as erection and how the want to feel this erection again or any form of arousal (even through more subliminal means) overrides all other considerations – how this is in fact the only thing they can feel, this addictive arousal-violence cycle.

There is undoubtedly a certain amount of conditioning wrt boys, but I believe that men capitalise on their inherent capacity or potential for violence to increase their lethality against women and hence their domination over us. They know exactly what to do to themselves and to girls to keep the system going. The only thing men will sometimes complain about wrt to their conditioning is what other men do to them, but never about what they do to women and living beings.

With regards to women, the implications are immense. Again, if we look at male-talk for information:

Dickipedia says:

Time published an article in 1992 that suggested that, because the corpus is “often wider in the brains of women than in those of men, it may allow for greater cross-talk between the hemispheres—possibly the basis for women’s intuition.”[13]

The greater corpus callosum allows for greater inter-hemisphere connection, which means that women’s brain functions are more evenly spread over both hemispheres – we have more brain functions, in short (contrary to what some men say, women are not right-brained but simply brained, with both hemispheres functioning properly). This accounts for women’s so-called greater “intuition”: which is an euphemism for greater creativity, inventiveness, insight, understanding, capacity to see, hear and feel sensory as well as extra-sensory events and surroundings, of connecting concepts together, of connecting emotions, feelings and concepts, of bonding, etc. It allows for better capacity to heal from trauma – if one area of the brain is shut off because of trauma, the brain can compensate and create new connections more easily. It means all areas of the body are equally connected to the brain and vice versa, not just one part (ie sexual part). Since each part of the brain is connected to and represents a part of the body, brain and body are one, and the body is the brain as much as the brain is the body, if you see what I mean. (as an example, trauma in the brain, having caused neuronal atrophy in that area can be healed by touching and stimulating the body part it is connected to, which will create new connections).

I’m pretty sure that we’d have loads more healing, psychic, telepathic and other transcendental superpowers were we not crippled from birth by men, and that men have reduced our powers generation after generation of genocide.

It also means that only women would have had the necessary brain power to create language, writing, art, science, houses, pottery, and invent all the beautiful things of humanity. There is also increasing evidence that women are responsible for it throughout the history of humanity. Digging a bit deeper into the background of male history also attests of the fact that women have systematically been the inventors and creators while men stole their knowledge and skills, erased women’s motherhood of it and turned the knowledge and skills into weapons against women and life. The only thing women haven’t invented is men’s sexual violence and male destruction in all its forms, and patriarchy.

on the importance of thinking, transformation and metaphysics of liberation.

Or where has thinking gone? Why are so few feminists interested in THINKING (and writing those thoughts down for other women to read)? It’s interesting to notice that while women are made to feel no longer qualified enough to listen to other women’s suffering, to relate it to our own, to support each other and see what we can do for ourselves, at the same time discussions about how men’s violence affects us has been mostly wiped out of feminism as a regular or central practice.

Feminism has indeed become much reduced to tedious, boring organisational meetings, institutional work or media campaigning, hierarchical and professionalised, father-state-controlled-and-paid women’s aid, conferences or lecturing, planning one action after the other up until exhaustion. All have in common that there is very little profound thinking, horizontal talking about our lives and furthering radical feminist thought, because it’s either focused on changing men in male-defined, energy-sucking ways, based on male top-down talk modes or patronizing “victim-helping” from a supposed “non-victim” or “non oppressed” position.

So we have this situation where talking about how men’s violence affects us has been confined to a secluded, professionalised, depoliticised and unequal ‘therapeutic” relationship, which leads to feminists dissociating their feminist-doing from their own lives, as if we didn’t need freeing any more, as if we no longer needed to decolonise from men’s mindbindings and had reached a certain point where our only task is to free other women through LOTS OF ACTIONS. Shouting, picketing, demonstrating, lobbying, campaigning, conferencing, etc. More, more, more, we just haven’t tried hard enough!

In a conversation I recently had with a friend, she noted that women new to feminism were typically action-focused. “What is the next action you’re doing”, “when is the next action?”. It’s action, action, action everywhere, and the punchier the action, the better. But only after several months of talking with women, when the absolute horror of patriarchy dawns on them, do they gradually grow out of their action frenzy, and learn to value the profundity of talking to women more. Still another friend made a similar observation about nowadays generation of younger feminists: “all they want is action, but they never stop to think about the meaning and consequences of what they are doing, of what they’re fighting against and whether it’s the best way to do it. They just don’t think any more.”

Today, if we want to talk to and think with women, we often only have the choice between seeing a psychotherapist, or if we’re lucky, there might be a “talking group” in the style of alcoholics anonymous, reserved for “victims of sexual violence” (implying that they’re a minority of unlucky women). They are group talking sessions coordinated by professional or institutionalised “non-victims” who aren’t there to share their own experiences with other women and grow from this exchange, but positioned as (sometimes but not always feminist) non-victims helping the victims, from above. The point of it is for the designated victims to get better and then carry on with their own lives, not to move each other towards freeing themselves from men’s control and men’s violence. And frankly, they sound dull and dreary. And it’s all deeply antifeminist.

I was told recently that yesterday’s feminists over-confidence in the power of CR was a massive mistake, that we should quit this abstract thought mode to focus more on concrete, to-the-ground REAL stuff such as providing women with shelters away from abusers, get women out of danger etc. But pitting reality against consciousness couldn’t be a bigger mistake IMO. Herstory demonstrates that once women stopped talking to each other to concentrate only on “more serious action” and male-style organising, women began to drift away from liberation to revert back into men’s traps. This is the reformist, male-changing trap. Much has been said on the evils of reformism, look at FCM’s place and read S. Johnson for more.

Women talking and thinking together, raising each other’s consciousness by seeking and discovering the truth about men and our condition in men’s world, is the ONLY thing that ever led thousands of women to break free from their cages all at once. Nothing else has ever transformed so dramatically and profoundly women’s lives. Men have never dreaded anything more than women talking together, realising our condition and acting upon each of our realisations. We need to remember that ALL of our radical feminist theory and writing, the theory that we read today and which continues to spark and move so many women, arose from women talking and thinking together. That the entire women’s movement arose from this. Because it IS movement – metamorphosis. It is the movement of constant intermingling, spinning thoughtstreams of women, bonding and deep exchange, of persistently growing consciousness and change/evolution.

It’s always good to take a look at the original sources again:

Consciousness-raising was seen as both a method for arriving at the truth and a means for action and organizing.  It was a means for the organizers themselves to make an analysis of the situation, and also a means to be used by the people they were organizing and who were in turn organizing more people.  Similarly, it wasn’t seen as merely a stage in feminist development which would then lead to another phase, an action phase, but as an essential part of the overall feminist strategy. [bolds mine]

See how different it is from today? Today collective and personal awakening, if it’s considered at all, is far more likely to be perceived as an initial stage to be gotten over. Once a certain shift in consciousness is experienced, the assumption is made that she now “knows it all or enough anyway” and thus settles at this point to go no further. There is a much male-fostered, rewarded and even harshly-imposed return into stasis, institutionalisation, refusal to go further, repetitive thoughtless action mode. The movement then fails to persist over time and it loses its essential transformative power.

We … saw [consciousness-raising] as an ongoing and continuing source of theory and ideas for action. [still the same source]

And this, which was also quoted in FCM’s article on the importance of thinking and writing:

MINDLESS ACTIVISM

The call for “action” can sometimes be a way of preventing understanding — and preventing radical action.  Action comes when our experience is finally verified and clarified.  There is tremendous energy in consciousness-raising, an enthusiasm generated for getting to the truth of things, finding out what’s really going on.  Learning the truth can lead to all kinds of action and this action will lead to further truths. […] In fact, part of why consciousness-raising is the radical approach is that women are not coming to take immediate action.

[…] In the end the group decided to raise its consciousness by studying women’s lives by topics like childhood, jobs, motherhood, etc.  We’d do any outside reading we wanted to and thought was important.  But our starting point for discussion, as well as our test of the accuracy of what any of the books said, would be the actual experience we had in these areas.  One of the questions…we would bring at all times to our studies would be — who and what has an interest in maintaining the oppression in our lives.

Consciousness and awakening is at the core of our liberation potential and power. Consciousness precedes all action, and by action I mean transformation in our reality. Consciousness becomes and is the action, but the action cannot supersede or precede it – it can only flow with or along thought transformation. Consciousness centredness also means that any action can be food for thought, insight or new ideas and thus continually generate new actions, too.

Awakening and consciousness is different from positive thinking, intellectualism or abstraction, because the latter is either wishful thinking / dissociation (in the case where women are required to deny the reality of violence and adapt to it) or a mind-on-reality enforcement pattern, based on male rapism and semen-tic emission. Men have a thought in mind, and for it to become reality they have to impress it on their living surroundings by violating them – because it inevitably entails treating surrounding life as a permanent shallow, dead canvas, battered to fit into their rigid mind schemes – schemes which are inherently unnatural and separated from life. A shift in consciousness does not require an internal-to-external emission, impression or enforcement, because it already IS an experience of transformation in which mind, body and spirit (the elements) are one. Our reality gradually transforms as we transform, it is a natural, inevitable and harmonious process. Harmonious, meaning that no unnatural authority, machinery or effort is required to experience the change of reality, as it is VISCERAL and NECESSARY. Necessary in the sense that it will necessarily happen over time, as doing integrates into being.

To talk of my experience, there is a very physical aspect to this shift, movement or sparking. The first and most overwhelming awakening I experienced actually felt like a bolt of lightening had struck through my head and uncluttered the calcified, buried and glued parts of my brain. Uncluttered is maybe too mild a word, rather it felt as if my soul had burst free, igniting and reuniting the dormant, isolated synapses in myself through a stream of light: everything suddenly made sense. It didn’t happen overnight but gradually, I wouldn’t be able to give a particular point in time – I know it lasted several months, maybe even a year. But I clearly remember this distinctive feeling. It wasn’t all joyful. I was first overcome by a shrieking, horrified rage at discovering and seeing for the first time with unfettered eyes the unlimited genocidal crimes of men committed against ourselves and our kind, and the whole world crumbled down. There was this constant scream. My first coming home to woman-identification and to the awareness of belonging to women as an oppressed group, was a howl of despair and anger at seeing the bleak, ravaged wasteland that men had left behind them. I suddenly felt the pang of pain of men’s violations in full blow, as my anaesthesia faltered away and I reincarnated in my body. So began my gradual return to life, the journey into radical feminism and bonding with women, which of course isn’t without many obstacles. And I can tell that this shift has led to many deep transformations and transforming decisions and actions in my life that would have been impossible had I not experienced it. And the movement never stops really.

As Mary Daly says in Pure Lust, apparent microshifts in consciousness have the power to bring macrochanges in our reality, in women’s world and possibly the universe. The power yielded by moving ourselves and other women along with us is incredible. This is what I understand by the physics, or metaphysics of liberation – meta because it isn’t just a physical process, it transcends the physical realm. It reunites our male-fragmented parts and reintegrates ourselves to natural life movement. (Finally I get what Sonia Johnson meant by metaphysics!! this is how I understand it at least, I don’t know if that’s what she meant.) Anyway please read pure lust by Mary Daly, especially the last chapters on friendship and happiness and movement, it’s amazingly refreshening and tells a lot about the meta-physics of liberation (ie the experience of transformation on all levels).


past musings

themes

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