Posts Tagged 'reformism'

In retrospect to the 85,000, reformism and other things

When men view our blogs in such large numbers, it’s a threat. They’re not just looking at it, they view it with the intent of harming radical feminists and women in general. They do it to collect information so they know what next to do to prevent women from going there. They batter radfem work in public for all women to see and show the result of their verbal and written battering as an example of what will await women if they do, think or say the same. They write nasty and threatening comments, that in order to trash, I have to read at least a few words of. Even though it doesn’t hurt my feelings, they are still harmful and inevitably affect my thoughts.

85,000, that’s the maximum number of views I had in one day a couple of weeks ago when the liberals and MRAs circulated my PIV blogpost for punishment. Unlike a normal blogger, attracting 85,000 hits isn’t something I want to celebrate. It’s threatening: you know they’re after you, it only means you’ve hit men’s radar and you have no idea what they plan to do. Will they attempt to hack into my blog? Will they try to find info about me? The kinds of thought this leads me to is 85,000 men going after me in real life. Probably a bit less if you discount the women. If that happened, how on earth could I hide from tens of thousands of men?

Receiving so many comments denying what I said one after the other reinforces my sense of isolation, of outlandishness, of being the only one who knows. It makes me doubt the reality of my perceptions, it makes me waver, it shakes my foundations for a bit. I start questioning what I said. If so many people assert this with such confidence and if it contrasts so starkly with my perceptions, how can my assumptions be real? The wavering doesn’t last for long thankfully, I regain my senses quite quickly, sometimes more so than others. Writing, talking about it to friends and receiving radfems comments helps a lot. It’s the only thing that ever helps actually.

All this is gaslighting and bullying, men’s lies are meant to sound convincing. They convince with the use of force, ordering me to comply to their view by using an authoritarian, terrorising tone. ‘How dare you see otherwise. You’re crazy. You’re a bully. Etc.’ Which is why it works so well to instil self-doubt because it’s a mindfuck, it’s thought-blocking, it’s also an assault and it creates fear and willingness to appease to avoid further assaults. Brainwashing works through a mix of mind assaults, terror and constant repetition of a same message until it’s hammered into our brain, which is psychological violence. 85,000 views and hundreds of trolling comments is in effect a blitzkrieg brainwashing attack by men and male-colonised women. Hundreds of men and their pawns attempting to reprogram the minds of deviant female bloggers, women who don’t comply and who break through men’s myths and lies.

It’s interesting that Cathy Brennan’s response to the whole thing led a commenter, Tracy, to comment about what it meant on reformism: I hadn’t framed it in that way (see discussion here, here and here). I’ve been thinking about it for a while but haven’t had the time to comment on it properly so I’ll continue my thoughts in this post. Tracy defined CB’s post as reformist to the extent that CB doesn’t name the agent, that is why men isolating us from one another is so dangerous, why it’s so important to huddle together in this circumstance [because men are waiting in line to rape and kill us]. CB asks us to take safety measures against a threat -men- that she won’t name, and at the same time treats men as an audience to appease, as if they would take note and change their behaviour accordingly. Tracy named that gaslighting because it’s acting as if two opposites (truth vs. omission/lie; threat vs. safety) were the same. Of course it’s not CB’s fault because she herself is victim of it.

So reformism defines as gaslighting because it acknowledges a threat -violence- and the need for it to stop, yet it never names the threat -men- and then requires us to RELY on that threat as a source of help. It requires us to resort to men as sensible beings who would stop being violent if told so, which causes the opposite of the aspired safety: renewed vulnerability to men’s violence. So it IS a mindfuck: we should see there’s a threat, but treat it as if it weren’t, then go back in harm’s way to try to plead with our rapists and murderers instead of getting AWAY from them. Resorting to men – policemen, lawmen, statesmen, whatevermen, to protect us from… men! It always leads to more abuse, not less. We are supposed to seek safety from abusers, and truth from lies. This is very deliberate, the very point is to prevent us from seeking safety where safety is, and from identifying men for what they are, so we never get away from men’s dominance.

Gaslighting is an abuse tactic of individual abusers against individual women. But all male abuse patterns work on the structural level, too. If we apply gaslighting to reformism – which men institute globally as a mode for liberation through state policies, daddy-funded NGOs, the UN, male-led activism etc – well that gives us, as Tracy mentioned, a campaign of gaslighting women at a global scale: therefore reformism is worldwide psychological abuse of women. The repetitive, circular nature of reformism, the erasure of the radfem alternative to reformism (liberation / separatism), the fact it’s always planned from within patriarchal institutions (or with their approval) and applied in ways that assault women, also defines it as brainwashing of women on a global scale: it’s the fabrication and implantation of a false reality into women’s minds on a mass scale – as with all other false feminisms.

This led me to the following insight: thinking about reformism as abuse by men on a collective level, it struck me that the cycles of abuse from relapse to outbursts of more explicit violence applied to the system too. Male abusers of women, especially husbands and boyfriends, never or rarely maintain a constant level of violence over time. There are ups and downs, there are phases, and these phases serve a purpose. After a certain time of ongoing overt violence, women inevitably begin to get a wake-up call. They reach a limit, I have to go now or I will die, I have nothing more to lose. This is a breaking point where the spell of fear or trauma-bonding is broken, where she has the potential to free herself. When men sense that this wake-up call is happening, that women are no longer responding with the usual terror and preparing to escape, they might increase with violent repression to put her back in line, OR they might shift tactic altogether and pretend to be nice for a while to revive her hopes that he will change, that he has finally stopped being violent. He may buy some flowers, say “romantic” things that he stopped saying a long time ago, say he’s sorry, allow her some leeway that he didn’t before, and keep a low profile for a little while.

The fact is that during this relapse phase he never really stops being violent, but the contrast is stark enough in comparison to the previous one to give the illusion to his victim that the violence has stopped, especially if she has been accustomed to much worse for a long time. This phase is crucial in that it enables the abuser to restructure his dominance over her, to reinstall her trauma-bonding and emotional dependence to him, her belief that he has changed for the better, to make sure she won’t escape again. He needs to regain his psychological hold over her. And once this control has been re-secured, he will then rise the bar of violence again progressively and insidiously enough that it won’t alarm her.

On a structural, global level, this is what reformism is about. It’s a phase of relapse between two phases of more overt violence and genocide of women. It’s men collectively pretending to have changed for the better by agreeing to superficial transformations of their system of domination – which contrast enough with the previous phase to give an illusion of a halt and freedom, even though the violence hasn’t stopped. It’s a crisis response to movements of liberation of women, to reinstall women’s collective trauma-bonding and emotional dependency to men. Indeed, it seems that women have never been so trauma-bonded to men collectively now than ever before we can remember.

If you look at the shifts more closely though, none of them pertain to an actual decrease of men’s violence against women – number of rapes, abuse by husbands, etc. The levels have probably never changed, and the power structures have remained completely unchanged too. What has changed is the number of token women in the patriarchal institution (Mary Daly calls this strategy “assimilationism”) and the number of women with token economic and civil rights (to have a bank account, to be salaried exploited, to vote, etc). Have these shifts freed women collectively from men? Nope, not in the slightest.

Historically, it fits, at least from a western-centric perspective, but as far as I can see, western treatment of women and genocide tactics in occupied territories mirrors and complements its own internal genocide of women. We have, from the 12th or 13th century up until the 19th century, a very long period of overt genocide of women by western men across the globe. It has never really stopped of course but at the time there was no illusion that male institutions and colonialists were and could be helpful to women. In Western countries, this wave of genocide was itself a reaction by the religious states to women fleeing men en masse and taking more and more importance in society to the extent that they threatened the monopoly of the states’ power. So what ensued was mass, organised slaughter of women to physically prevent them from gaining autonomy, and men’s global colonisation, resource pillage and genocide served to increase their institutional caste power over all women and reinforce the global rapeability of women with worldwide trafficking in women for prostitution.

What happened from the early 19th century onwards, is a vast and global movement of liberation and decolonisation of women from men in western and colonised countries alike, which continued in major ways until the end of the 20th century, and continues today too. But what has happened this time is that men caught women in the traps of assimilation to them and to their own anti-classist and anti-racist movements: into the trap of reforming men’s system. Men indeed shifted their institutions, their outside appearance and discourse to give the illusion of benevolence to women and shared interests in fighting ‘sexism’. Colonialists, capitalists, pornographers, pimps: they all sold their invasion, raping and killing of women as sexual liberation.

Time and again, woman liberationists in every place of the globe were lured back into male institutional control by being offered money and offices or positions by states and institutions such as the UN, European Union and their derivatives, in exchange of complying to male interventionism and control, and of focusing only on useless, exhausting legal change and tokenism, or ‘gender mainstreaming’ or whatever shit they invent. Women being sorely deprived of money and land, it wasn’t difficult to hurdle them back in with this carrot, or to use this as a way to divide and destroy the integrity of groups between those who refused to take the money and those who believed it would work despite the compromise to their autonomy. The irony today is that there are many woman-only so-called autonomous movements in western as well as non-western countries who’ve identified this male state / institutional takeover of feminism and refuse to have anything to do with them, but on the other hand are completely colonised by the male academic takeover of feminism with all this queer, postmodern, pro-trans and pro-prostitution bullshit. It really has been a takeover on all fronts.

Anyway, so what this presages, is that if we see reformism as an intermittent relapse phase, well that doesn’t look very good does it, it certainly means that there will be a progressive resurgence of overt violence soon. And I think it’s already happening really. It’s not my type to cast doom though, and the good news is that patriarchy fundamentally doesn’t change, so I really don’t think it’s cause for more alarm than usual. All times are good to free ourselves from men. We should do it now.

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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).


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