Finally, A Use For These Graphics! January 15, 2013Posted by FCM in books!, meta, radical concepts, rape, trans.
Tags: going out of our minds, sonia johnson, the sisterwitch conspiracy, wildfire
i recently read 3 books by sonia johnson completely out of order like i always do — last summer i read her most recent “sisterwitch conspiracy” and just now i read “going out of our minds: the metaphysics of liberation” and then “wildfire”. and i still havent read her first and most well-known “from housewife to heretic” — heres another bloggers post on that.
i have reported elsewhere that i found “sisterwitch” to be exceedingly silly *and* that it changed my thinking forever. specifically, her use of animal imagery and visions, and describing women talking to each other in the kitchen encouraging dialog by repeating “right on!” a lot — along with being self-published in a very large font made it seem too easy. or something? the silliness was evident immediately, and the drastic and yet *easy* changes came later. i dont know her, but i suspect she might think my rather, uh, conflicted response to her book was funny. and indeed it is.
the other two…well i would say they are both exceedingly silly as well, and also extremely timely. like cutting edge, up to the second timely — more on that below. which is also funny considering that they are old (1980s! dinosaurs!) and i read them out of order and she implicates literal time more than once — its part of the plot, you see. time.
in both “going out of our minds” and “wildfire”, she talks about her involvement in what americans were calling “feminism” in the 1980s — among other things, trying to get the equal rights amendment (ERA) passed. she notes that, despite a hearty response from many women, it was bizarrely difficult to get most or all women involved in much of this politicking — it was almost as if most women knew it was pointless. instead of assuming that womens overworkedness or paralysis or lack of gas money or whatever explained their flat refusal to drop whatever they were doing and get onboard, she trusted women, and wondered to herself if there was something wrong with the actions themselves. in the end, she decided there was something fundamentally wrong with the actions — male-centric politicking is worse than useless for women, and will never liberate women from male dominance.
oh, and P.S. roe v wade essentially shored up patriarchy in the US, and singlehandedly defeated the womens liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s. wha?! in “wildfire” she explains her take on it, which is that the deal to legalize abortion
was a sedative to womens righteous anger and (therefore) a poison that killed feminism. men are laughing at us to this day for taking this deal, in fact. we have shown them that we can be bought. and prostitution — and womens pain and unspeakable suffering — is terribly funny innit? this answers some recent questions i had about how women involved back then couldve “felt” that revolution was afoot, but in the end it turned out not to have been a revolution at all. (well it answers that for american feminists anyway — whats the rest of the worlds excuse?)
i also suspect that it was women hanging out in women-only safe space while discussing these reforms that made the possibility of a real revolution seem so real — it was real, so long as they were in the room, get it? as soon as they left, and went back to talk with the men or bargain with the men or negotiate, debate and literally plead (their case) to men, it was all over — as with all deals, when one is dealing with the devil, the “deal” of legalized abortion was a dead-end. it was the (dead) end of the women-only organizing that was taking place around it, and it was a political deadend too — men could take away this alleged “gain” at any time and they all knew it, and just thinking about it got the men even harder and even rapier than they were before.
to sedate womens rage and kill feminism — and to get men even harder and even rapier — was the plan, of course, and women were the only ones who didnt know it at the time. because men lie. and they will never do anything that undermines patriarchy or lessens male power, or that actually increases womens power, ever.
indeed, instead of taking this deal, american feminists wouldve been better off staying mad and staying focused on womens liberation, and telling men to go fuck themselves (or implying it) while we taught each other how to perform abortions on each other. wouldnt we? if we had done that, and conserved our energy and kept on in the direction in which we were headed we mightve been well on our way to being liberated by now. but we didnt. live and learn? or…lather, rinse, repeat endlessly? she suggests the former: that we thank the women who came before us for showing us that reformist politicking and deal-making are incompatible with womens liberation, and that we move on.
on the subject of this being very timely, besides the fact that all radical feminism is always timely because it addresses the ways that women are oppressed as women across time and place, it doesnt take much to see the ways that liberal politicking continues to not-work today, as least as much as it didnt-work back then. for all the alleged “gains” we have made over the last 200 years, today, like earlier this week (and every minute of every day since) women are being censored and silenced, and im not talking about the goddamned first amendment mkay — i am talking about patriarchy, and men as a sexual class silencing women as a sexual class, including women who say or do anything that legitimately challenges patriarchy and mens entitlement to abuse and penetrate and harass and lord-over women.
i think this “silencing” includes mens raping and murdering us too, including the recent gang-rapes — mens constant rape and death threats against women who do speak up (or, you know, go out) kind of give that one away. and i think that the medias treatment of these recent gang rapes is meant to silence us too. so i have to ask dont i, what progress? what the hell progress have we even made, and what evidence is there that things have even stayed the same, or have definitely *not* gotten worse? this is a serious question. i think things have gotten worse, and that this is obvious and demonstrable. if someone disagrees, prove it.
and furthermore, thanks to equality-activating, we cant organize in women-only space anymore either. or, we cannot legally do this in some places, and are unable to “ethically” do it anywhere else. because poor men. that we continue to do this anyway goes to womens spirit, womens soul, and our intuition, or something, and at any rate our seemingly unassailable desire and commitment to meeting with each other in women-only space. we *know* how important this is and we keep activating for this. *all* women around the world (except fun-fems apparently) know how important women-only space is, if women are to survive patriarchy. survive in it, and survive despite it, and survive it — we plan to outlive (Out/Live?) it. for this, we go to each other dont we?
call it “strategizing” or consciousness-raising or coordinating your upcoming congressional testimony, whatever. what if what *felt* so revolutionary about the feminism of the past — from the perspective of the women who were there, and who felt they were on the cusp of a real revolution (sonia johnson felt it too) — was that they were in women-only space or nearly women-only space, talking about and imagining being free? what if they had actually achieved what they were looking for…and the only mistake they made was that they left the room to resume talking and dealing with men — and stayed out?
for my part, i am starting to believe that damn near anything is possible.