That Explains That. (Or, ‘Witchcraze’ Pt. 3) May 26, 2013Posted by FCM in books!, logic, meta, politics, pop culture.
Tags: andrea dworkin, anne llewellyn barstow, mary daly, publishing, witchcraze
ive been seriously wondering for years how certain radical feminist writers managed to get published. actual, real published in the sense of actual, real publishing houses, with editorial controls, factchecking (where the official “facts” are either baldfaced lies or spin, or where the real truth is unknowable) bank checks to be written and cashed and various patriarchal gatekeepers throughout the process. how did daly, dworkin or anyone manage to get their work out there despite all the obstacles specifically designed to quash and erase womens work in general and radical feminist work in particular? i wondered this from the first time i read dworkin and the question has lingered. lingered!
welp. reading and finishing anne llewellyn barstows ‘witchcraze’ has been eye-opening in more ways than one. i mentioned earlier that barstow concludes that women as a class — having been relentlessly hunted, raped, tortured and murdered in a stunning period of global gendercide against women — understandably “kept a lower profile for several centuries” following the official period of the burning times, meaning after the period of 1560-1760 (or after 1800 depending on the source). (p. 29) bawdy women, women who talked back to men, were “scolds” or prominent members of the community for any reason (perhaps especially midwives and healers) having been put in their place by 2 centuries of unbridled misogyny and woman-murder, carried out by men and male institutions, all women understandably laid low after that. for several centuries. several. centuries.
doing the math, and understanding that “several” generally means three or more, we see that the period of “laying low” wouldve ended by about 2060 or so. its still happening, in other words. but she doesnt say it. and she uses the past-tense — women kept a lower profile — which reverses what she actually means. she doesnt mean to say that this ever ended, but she does say it. or more accurately, she says both, but the effect is to communicate that it ended at some point when that cannot be concluded from her own research or her own words. a mindfuck effect. later, she concludes that, as a result of the burning times,
[w]omen began to protest less in general. From having, at the end of the Middle Ages, a reputation for being scolds and shrews, bawdy and aggressive, women began to change into the passive, submissive type that symbolized them by the mid-nineteenth century.
(p. 158). what she doesnt do is make any statement at all about the “feminizing” effect of the global witchhunt by men against women carrying over into modern times or address how and indeed whether it still affects us at all. it does, of course. how could it not? and why would anyone assume or believe otherwise — that women found their voice at some point — and if anyone did think that, when exactly did this happen and how?
the mystery of how barstow got published has been answered to my satisfaction, and the answer appears to be that she didnt make any useful political connections or draw any relevant feminist conclusions from her own work. instead, she makes the historical point, and the math takes us well into the future but she doesnt explain how or indeed whether the patriarchal purpose (intent and effect) of the witchcraze is relevant now, or how or whether it will continue to be relevant into the future or perhaps forever. she leaves the reader to do that, and in fact no thinking person who was both paying attention and interested in the subject matter could reasonably conclude otherwise, based on her work and the information she provides. hmmm.
as for daly and dworkin, it seems as if the same principle applies, and obviously so, so dont shoot the messenger mkay. specifically, dworkin criticized PIV — intercourse — to within in inch of its life (as a patriarchal institution that benefits men at womens expense) but what she never said was that PIV-as-sex or for pleasure alone was inherently oppressive to women. and when asked to clarify, she did — as everyone knows, she said that it was her belief that intercourse-as-sex could and would survive equality. what she didnt do was explain how or why she thought that, or indeed how that conclusion reasonably followed from her own work. it doesnt, by the way.
and daly, as i recall, (as many radical feminists do) used “5000 years” as the age of patriarchy, concluding that patriarchy is therefore a social (read: not biological) phenomenon with a beginning, and that therefore it will have an end. but in reality, it seems as if institutionalized patriarchy began about 5000 years ago, and merely codified and formalized the previously informal patriarchal controls and structures that already existed everywhere anyway. daly (and others!) using the 5000-years tidbit didnt lie exactly, but did the actual, real (whole) truth no favors and made it harder in some ways to draw reasonable conclusions based on the evidence.
now, im not calling daly or dworkin liars, or handmaidens or disparaging their work at all, i dont think, by calling attention to what was very likely a calculated trick or strategy used in order to get published in the patriarchal press. in fact i appreciate both of them very much, including whatever strategies they mightve employed to think, write and publish because their work changed my life and my brain etc etc. i feel about both of them the way you probably do — with love, admiration, gratitude and awe. and probably other things. amiright?
but what i am saying is this. because published radical feminists (obviously) have to make concessions in order to be published at all, in order to get to the real, actual (whole) truth, other radical feminists have to read very closely, and not just *some* radical work but as much radical work as possible by a lot of different authors and make the connections ourselves. *we* still have to figure out what the hell is going on, and take these radical thoughts to their logical ends. this makes truth-seeking very difficult as its made both time consuming and frustrating. and as is always the case, these half-truths and thought-termination/truncation make it decidedly *unobvious* that there is, in fact, any further truth to be revealed at all, or any obfuscating strategies being applied at all.
in the case of radical feminist publications in particular, its entirely possible that, since men cannot truly understand radical feminism, male editors and publishers didnt and in fact couldnt take these thoughts to their ends and understand the implications of any of it, including where and how it went off the rails, or was inconsistent, incomplete or unclear. and being that men conflate “pleasing” with male-pleasing, they cant even identify that — male-pleasing as a political strategy (used to get published, despite being irrational or not reasonably following from the material) or as a “politic” at all. even though it obviously is one.
of course, since i believe that the radical feminists that came before were some of the most intelligent, ingenious and creative humans who ever lived, i can only assume that this was deliberate on their part, and if it was, that they counted on us to realize what was happening and to do what they likely couldnt — to use their published work as a springboard and to take this material and these thoughts further, deeper and wider than anyone has ever done before. to read between the lines and to use it in any and all ways to get to the actual, real (whole) truth about womens lives, and what men do to us, in order to liberate us from male dominance. they are asking us to do this, i think, but in any event we are clearly invited to do it. thats the point really. not only the (historically gatekept, written) medium but the nature of radical feminist work itself absolutely invites our freedom of thought. it just does.
Don’t Feed the Parrots? Or, On Spinning and Spiraling, Part 2. Or, On Cargo Cults, Part 2. Trigger Warning: Monty Python October 16, 2012Posted by FCM in feminisms, logic, meta, thats mean, thats random.
Tags: mary daly, monty python
in light of recent discussions, it occurs to me to talk about merit-based systems (among other things). many of us are not used to a merit-based system, because that is fundamentally not how patriarchal systems work. many women get up every day and do their best impersonation of a worthy, competent human being — meaning they try to impersonate “good women” or men the best they can — and go to work, or out in the world generally and try to get things done, but most of us have realized by now that at the end of the day, life aint fair if you were born female under patriarchy.
its not about what you do, or even about who you know, or even about “who” you are, but what you are that will determine whether you win or lose (if you are female, you lose. end of. read more about women impersonating men and male rituals in the context of cargo-cultism and the post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc logical fallacy here — really, its fascinating.)
in short, male success and male reality are not based on either the merits of their work or the objective truth of their beliefs. generally speaking, men can shuffle papers around all day, looking busy but not doing much, and look at porn on their work computers in their spare time — porn, the perfect illustration of male truth-telling about men while lying about women — and somehow they manage to get paid, promoted, elected and respected anyway. somehow, (somehow!) they end up being put in charge of things including monitoring and judging others behavior, or charged with keeping us all safe…
its a boys club out there. a non-merit non-truth based system, or overlapping systems. we know this. this model does not generally work for women, but we keep trying vainly to make it work anyway…
enter…the girls club? or something? (srsly, what the hell is this? read the comments) completely without regard for the merits of anyones work, the objective truth of their statements, or the radicalness of their alleged radicalism, anyone spouting daly quotes or claiming to be a woman or a radical feminist gets in the door, no questions
asked allowed? really? we are creating a non-merit non-truth based system, why again? because it works so well for women generally? because we dont know what else to do? or…what?
the thing about radical feminism — unlike anything men try to do — is that it actually makes sense mkay. this sense-making operates on 2 levels — one is the mathematical level, in that our “proofs” actually work, and are logical and “true” in the mathematical sense. we do not “argue” we demonstrate. we do not “debate” as much as we debunk. this is how and why we are able to draw logical proofs and flow charts and are generally able to show our work. its because we are right, and obviously so. its a matter of naming the agent, and wiping away the patriarchal cobwebs, mindbindings, doublethink and reversals to reveal whats been there all along.
radical feminist sense-making also operates on an intuitive level, or something like it…our words resonate with women because of our shared experience as women. we believe that there is such a thing, and beyond that, we are right — there is. and because of this shared experience, on an intuitive level or partially intuitive level (read: the learned survival mechanisms all slaves have, and perhaps with something genetic thrown in, in case evolution itself has been affected by millenia of patriarchy or by our being subjected to the brutal realities of animal mating behaviors even longer) our words generally do not go “clunk” as they hit the dirt. far from it — our words cause sparking and spiraling inside other women. we know this is true. so believe it. believe your eyes.
now, i will grant you that the second (intuitive) “test” of radical feminist material might be more fallible than the first — by contrast, mathematical proofs are notoriously reliable, which is the entire point, and if your proof is debunked you must concede that you were wrong because its made obvious through another proof — but which one has probably saved more womens lives and asses across time and place? its not the math. when something sounds “off”, or doesnt resonate or whatever, it is evidence of something. evidence, not proof. and we are entitled, as thinking persons, to make reasoned conclusions based on credible evidence. like….that the person spewing it isnt really a radical feminist.
and beyond that, spewing male-centrism — including liberal feminism under any guise — is boring mkay. it just is. i might even go further and say its RUDE. its RUDE for writers to put their audiences to sleep like that…please dont do it…
anyway, we all know better than to feed trolls by now — but might i also suggest that we refrain from feeding parrots as well? in this context, a “parrot” is a person who has nothing original or interesting to say at all, and who simply offers decontextualized or misplaced quotes from classic radfem texts (or parrots blogs, or parrots other peoples comments from blogs) to show any number of things (or to cause thought-termination) and where such quotes are notably *not* offered as a teaching tool or jumping-off place from which we are all invited to spark and spiral. you know the type. do not feed these people with your attention — ignore them.
for what its worth, mary daly didnt appreciate parrots either, and upon learning that women were merely parroting her work, she cited it as evidence that unfortunately, then, those women didnt understand a damn thing she had said, or radical feminism at all for that matter. im paraphrasing from here. parrots can very easily be men, too. because all you have to do to be a parrot is buy a book. you dont even have to read or understand it — and men do neither.
instead, might i suggest that we adopt a merit- and truth-based approach in general: the proof of anyones radicalism is in the pudding. show, dont tell. write something radical, and lets talk about it. dont name drop, dont vouch for other womens radicalism — say something radical, and you will be seen to be a radical feminist. where (oh where?) have we gotten this bizarre notion that the merits of anyones work are irrelevant and the truth doesnt matter? (or alternatively, how has this become so reversed, where the merits are mistakenly believed to matter in some instances, and are also mistakenly believed *not* to matter in others?) why is it ok to have muddy thinking and reversals pollute or comprise our movement? this movement specifically i mean — radical feminism. this playing loosey-goosey with
the rules ideology doesnt happen everywhere. thats important.
TL;DR version: i like my feminism how i like my coffee — merit based. our safety and our movement depend on it. thank you.
PS. monty python clip to illustrate just HOW boring male-centrism and liberal feminism are. also, words have meaning. enjoy!
On Intentionality. Or, What Is It For = What Does It Do? September 25, 2012Posted by FCM in authors picks, books!, feminisms, gender roles, logic, radical concepts.
Tags: causation, essentialism, intent, mary daly, quintessence
there exists a tendency in various discourses to insist — and to theorize from this place — that patriarchy is just some grand mistake, or misunderstanding. the evidence on which this conclusion is based is never quite spelled out, and in fact does not appear to exist, as it flies in the face of the actual, real evidence. which leaves its adherents with essentially the status of cult-members, does it not? more on that below. so, the mistake-believers (or “cultists”) tend to advocate “educating” men and anti feminist women to induce feminist change, or they insist that, just as women arent naturally fuckholes and slaves for men, that men also are not naturally dick-sticker-inners or sexual, reproductive and domestic slaveowners. the poor male babies! they are just mistaken, you see. misguided. acted-upon. its not their fault. because reasons, which have nothing to do with intentionality (or design).
now, im not saying than men are or arent naturally anything, behaviorally speaking — who can prove that afterall? i am saying that its highly probable that womens twisted, victimized servitude (or “femininity” if you will) isnt our natural state. let us feminists concentrate on women for a moment, shall we — we feel this dissonance, this incongruousness strongly, and indeed the evidence would suggest that, because women as a sexual class hold neither the power nor the resources to build a local, regional or global culture that reflects ourselves back to us, that our culture does not, in fact, reflect ourselves back to us.
the fuckholeness, the servitude is not *us*. while currently impossible to prove, we speculate that this is true. but it is not baseless speculation — the evidence suggests we are right. the evidence of our lack of power and resources to create something reflective of or congruous with *us* being, well, our actual lack of those things.
the same cannot be said of men of course, and whether or not “culture” (lets just say patriarchy instead of culture, shall we, its the same damn thing) is reflective of mens values, tendencies, preferences and solutions. they created it, afterall. in fact, in the case of men, the evidence would tend to show the opposite of what it shows for women — that its in fact highly probable that mens violent, destructive and dominant “role” is their natural state, or reflective of men on whatever level. that patriarchy does reflect mens values, tendencies, preferences and solutions. that patriarchy — and the utter destruction, degradation and decimation of women and of pretty much everything for that matter — is congruent with mens Z. if you dont like the word “nature” then dont use it. call it Z, or green eggs and ham for all i care. or refer to it by its elements (values/tendencies/preferences/solutions). it doesnt change what it is.
now, i would like to propose a thought exercise to highlight the difference between intentionality and coincidence. “coincidence” connotes “unintentionality” or unrelated by cause or effect. mary daly talked about causation and intentionality (we discussed it here and here) where she noted that, once an outcome is known, any continuance to produce that outcome is intentional. “unintentional” pregnancy — within the PIV-as-sex paradigm — might be the most obvious (its also a reversal). daly chose to talk about men surgically lobotomizing women, knowing that the surgery removed all of womens creativity and made them good housekeepers. the “psychosurgeons” can, did (and do) wax poetic all day about lobotomizing women as a “cure” for this, that and the other, but it cannot be denied that they were intentionally creating brain damaged fembots to clean house and be compliant semen receptacles for men. if they didnt like or want that outcome, they wouldve stopped doing it.
so regarding intentionality versus coincidence…think “kitchen gadgets” for starters. does anyone think this is a coincidence? lots of people need to open cans, and coincidentally, a handheld device appears with two rotary cutting blades that neatly accomplishes that very thing?
or, was it intentional?
or…take a look at this. assuming you recognize it as a garment, (it could also be used for other things i suppose) through simple observation of this objects physical characteristics, you get a very good idea about some of the physical characteristics of its intended user:
please dont tell me this was a mistake mkay? im not hearing it.
now, objects might be a bit different from systems. so lets go there. some systems “just exist” like some objects “just exist” and they dont really do anything. like a rock exists of its own accord, without being a specifically functional object some systems just “exist”. sometimes you just make observations about what they do, like this:
its not really “for” anything, or anything that we know about, it just *is*. and no, i would not say that this is a life support system for humans, even though it functions as one. like a rock isnt a hammer exactly…
some systems just “exist” (naturally) and you make observations about what they do, and from that, you can also make conclusions about what they are for, like this:
what it does = oxygenates the bloodstream. whats its for = oxygenating the bloodstream. in the case of the human respiratory system, these things are the same. like the solar system, its a functional design — but one that works toward an ends, rather than merely staying out of its own way?
some systems are created by people (men, more specifically). like all systems, these systems do stuff. and like *some* systems created by nature, *all* systems created by humans were created for stuff. to solve a problem, or fulfill a need. like this:
it seems that systems that were created by humans do stuff “because reasons” that have everything, actually, to do with intentionality. what they do = what they are for. otherwise, why bother?
so if we agree that patriarchy is a system, (is it?) created by humans, (it was, if men are considered human) if we want to know what its for, and to consider issues of intentionality, functionality and design, the question we have to ask ourselves about patriarchy, i guess, is what does it do? acknowledge what it does, and you will know what it is for. and that its not a mistake (far from it) and that it *probably* adheres to certain physical realities as well. think: glove. or…skyscraper?
and note, for example, that the US highway system is built horizontally and adheres to physical principles, and isnt made of gallons and gallons of chocolate pudding. because reasons.
it also occurs to me that the solar system is essentialist. it just *is*. and that patriarchy — while still a system — is more like the US highway system than it is like the solar system.
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On Spinning and Spiraling August 27, 2012Posted by FCM in feminisms, meta, radical concepts, thats random.
Tags: mary daly, spinning, spiraling
mary daly talked about women getting together, spinning and spiraling and sparking off each other — a creative process by which we learn from each other and make leaps in our own individual and collective thinking. this is a real thing, as many women know — men know how this works too, and that its highly effectual and leads to breakthroughs. thats why they dont want women doing it, ever, and why women-only and especially radical feminist women-only space is taboo, and endangered.
the image of the spiral is also life-affirming and occurs repeatedly in nature, like this:
spirals move. flat, or two-dimensional spirals move out from the center, either a little or a lot in each turn:
while anti-spirals move in toward the center and disappear down the drain.
spirals can also be 3-dimensional, like this:
so anyway, what got me to thinking about spirals was this. there has been a lot of heat around the issue of radicalism vs. reformism in our movement, and from what i understand, this discussion has been going on a long time. it seems to be incredibly destructive too, where the question has become “what is a radical act?” and its not clear whether there even are any. or its not clear to some of us anyway. harm reduction is not radical, but it is necessary — it is the human(e) thing to do, so many women do harm-reduction/reformist work out of common decency, or feminist decency. it reduces suffering, served on and perpetuated against women, via men, and patriarchy.
examples of this kind of work abound, think “condoms” and excavate that vein forever. it will take that long to explore it fully because as long as men have been harming women, and for as long as this continues, women (and indeed even some men) have been and will be figuring out how to manage or mitigate that harm across time and place. men’s versus women’s reasons for doing so are going to be very different of course.
as many of you know by now, *i* actually think that radical writing is a radical act, and that the act of truth-telling, which is what radical feminist writers do, is a radical thing to do. writing is an act, you see — the words, sentences and paragraphs dont just magically appear on the page. apparently, because it keeps happening, it is tempting to want to skip this critical step, or minimize its importance, in favor of reformist “acts” but if the truth is not informing our acts, then what is? this is a serious question. its also very easy, isnt it, to get a handle on the truth or its basics, letting radical truths inform your actions, and then throwing the truth-tellers under the bus by saying that what the truth-tellers do isnt important.
or, pulling the ladder up behind yourself might be a better cliche than the bus one? i believe ive made my point. its not nice to do this, but beyond that, its not honest. truth-telling *is* a radical thing to do, where reality is built on lies, and a radical feminist thing to do, when it concerns the truths about womens lives and what men do to us. and writing it all down is an action, an activity and yes, it is very much an “act.”
at any rate, its clear that radicalism and reformism are different, and are happening at the same time. are radical feminists “spiraling” differently than, or without the reformists? when reformists denounce, ignore or are unaware of radicalism, is it because they are spinning/spiraling separately from us? could this be the case, and yet both are working together as one, and toward womens liberation from men? so then i imagined a double-spiral, like this:
double-spirals exist in nature too. interestingly, the helices (three-dimensional spirals) of the DNA strand are anti-parallels, meaning that each spiral (helix) runs in the opposite direction. does this mean they share different origins (beginnings) and may not share the same destination (ends)? i guess, but im not sure this has anything to do with time – srsly, it will take a bigger brain than mine to think and write extensively on double-helices and DNA. im just thinking out loud.
the thing about the DNA-imagery specifically that interests me currently is that theres a third component to it — it includes the double-helix as well as the “bonds” that run perpendicular to the helices. coincidentally, ive been thinking about a seemingly third-part to a (perhaps?) feminist whole that seems to go largely unnoticed, and thats feminist sci-fi. where the author can begin her story and her universe at any time, and where the ugly details — such as how do we get rid of all the men? — are not really the issue, nor the authors responsibility. indeed, in real-life feminist discourse it seems as if even radical women get stuck here, when we start to imagine and discuss a world post-patriarchy, and without misogynistic violence, because some of us are ready to admit what seems to be an obvious truth, which is that this is not likely to occur if there are any or many men around. and yes, this includes male children. doesnt it?
suddenly, it is a flaw in radical feminist theory (and in radical feminists ourselves) to state the obvious, or to come to this reasoned conclusion in the face of overwhelming evidence. this, we simply cannot have, or we cant if we intend to keep our numbers intact: women appear ready to leave over this, or to abandon each other, or to threaten to, so that the more-radical women are in effect coerced into taking it all back, or to not believe our lying eyes on this one issue, in order to maintain our solidarity with other women who arent ready or willing to go this far. this parting-of-ways is partly based on accusations of deficient “realism” as if the very idea of living without men, because it is “unrealistic” for many women, or logistically problematic, is somehow also not true, or is not a reasoned conclusion based on overwhelming evidence.
and indeed, radical feminists are realists in every way, it seems, especially when compared to fun-fems — we are not talking about how things “should be” when we talk about womens lives and what men do to us. we are telling it like it is. and yet, imagining a world without misogynistic violence — if we believe that men cannot or will not stop perpetrating it — does require an element of unrealism, or fantasy. because removing the world of men is not likely to happen, or at any rate, given womens political standing, we are not likely to be the ones who cause it.
enter feminist sci-fi? feminist sci-fi lets us imagine a world where this end is a given — we do not have to worry about the details, or about turning the world into a bloody horror show where men are the victims at womens hands. you know, the opposite of how it is now — no, thats too much! not feminist! etc. this gross imagery is thought-terminating and unfair, as if its up to *us* to summon the courage, numbers, strength, political power and technology — and the sanity/insanity it would also take — to make this happen, and to stop thousands of years of patriarchy (and patriarchal men) in its tracks. or as if any possible logistical issue(s) in getting there make our conclusions wrong. its not, and it doesnt.
interestingly, and helpfully even, a common end to the problem of maleness in feminist sci-fi is that either nature takes care of it with a virus or something, or male-created technology selectively destroys males as a class. i highly recommend reading james tiptree, jr/alice sheldon and joanna russ for more feminist sci-fi scenarios. or, you know, make up your own.
so does a three-part model describe our feminist reality — reformism, radicalism and feminist sci-fi? is one of the three the one that bonds the other two together? i dont know. really, im just thinking on this one. and the pictures are nice. i was also intrigued to see that a double-helix is a kind of spiral, or that it incorporates spirals. and DNA its the building-block of life, or something, innit? ah, spirals.
That’s So Totes 70s! June 29, 2012Posted by FCM in feminisms, politics, pop culture, trans, WTF?.
Tags: catharine mackinnon, declaration of independence, mary daly, sheila jeffreys
1770’s to be exact!
full text of the declaration of independence below. its still relevant! celebrated, even! because men’s work isnt expected to change and evolve constantly, to accept the trends of the day or put on a pretty face, whatever that means, in whatever time or place. men’s foundational documents (declarations and yes — manifestos) are not denied, shunned, wrongly paraphrased, endlessly parsed or not parsed at all — even when they should be — watered down and ground up and obliterated to the point that they are ethereal nothingness, losing the plot. men’s foundational documents dont even have to recognize that women exist, and they are still valid, you see. it was an accident of language, it wasnt deliberate — even when it was.
when men build patriarchal foundations, the foundations are allowed to stand, and if anything, its the house that gets tinkered with and not the foundation (you know, like recognizing the existence of women — at the insistence of women). indeed, womens responses to men’s patriarchal foundations — when we are even allowed a response — is the window dressing and the furniture and the dishes and the towels. we decorate men’s patriarchal houses, literally and more literally. we attempt to make ourselves comfortable there. they allow us to do this somewhat.
when women build feminist foundations, like the works of sheila jeffreys, mary daly, and catharine mackinnon, men drop bombs on them and reduce our foundations to bombed-out, smoking craters. at least, they try to do this. some of us are resisting, but when our work has been thoroughly debunked by the people who get to determine such things, what does that mean for us? our foundations are destroyed, reduced to holes and rubble. we sit along side of them and weep, but that is not all we do. we decide that architecture itself is patriarchal, it must be. holding that truth to be self-evident, we work from there.