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1000 Years of This. 40 Years of That. April 25, 2013

Posted by FCM in books!, gender roles, international.
Tags: , , ,

i just finished reading gerda lerners “the creation of feminist consciousness” which is part 2 of her 2-part series.  part one, “the creation of patriarchy” was previously discussed here.  this series is an excellent history lesson and one i appreciated very much, although i admit skipping/skimming many of the details and getting straight to the conclusions/insights which is what i read feminist works for afterall.  the big picture.  when i see something that fascinates me, such as the material and social conditions that make slavery possible, i go back and try to grok the details the best i can.

in this case, i went back and tried to grok the details of 1000 years of feminist bible criticism, by which lerner demonstrates feminists tendency to reinvent the wheel when it comes to feminist reasoning and conclusions, and why this is.  she concludes that womens history is lost to us via silencing and erasing feminists and feminist work, which stunts and thwarts the development of a global feminist consciousness over time.  and that this erasure of history is one reason women have remained oppressed for so much longer than any other oppressed group on earth.  she notes that despite starting from scratch every time, women have long struggled to be free of male oppression and have resisted it, and have tried to think and reason their way out of it even when they thought they were the first and only ones to do it and at great cost to themselves in terms of mental labor and personal risk, up to and including death.  this is striking, yes.

but what particularly struck me was the substance of womens 1000-year history of criticizing the bible, where women specifically protested its prescriptions/proscriptions about womens natures, including womens roles in a patriarchal culture (thats redundant of course.  patriarchy *is* culture).  remember that institutionalized patriarchy, where legal and religious texts merely codified preexisting patriarchal relations that had already existed for a long time, is not the beginning-point of womens oppression by men.  institutionalized patriarchy appeared about 5000 years ago, but male dominance over women, including mens control of womens reproduction and mens self-granted right to define womens role has been around much, much longer.  (this is discussed in part one).  so in reality, women were protesting something that had been around for perhaps 10,000 years or longer: womens role as fuckholes and slaves for men.  and each woman who did this thought that she was the first to do it.  women rarely built on previous womens work because they didnt know about it.

now, i ask you.  where did this resistance and core-deep courage come from?  how could each woman, who believed that she was a cognitive minority of one (or some other very small number) gather the gumption and conviction to realize, believe and assert that womens nature was *not* to be fuckholes and slaves to men, but was something else entirely?

note that for 1000 years, while women were resisting what the bible patriarchy said about womens nature, these women were not saying that mens nature had been misrepresented at all.  although lerner concludes that early feminist thinkers articulated the difference between sex and gender, and that *both* mens and womens “gender roles” were arbitrary and socially-prescribed, i would note the complete absence of the assertion that men were not naturally violent, necrophilic and parasitic for example.  in my own estimation, these have nothing to do with the male gender, and everything to with the male sex.  i think early feminists knew that only too well, and that the ways this played out on womens bodies and lives (in the absence of relatively-reliable birth control for example) made the reality and unalterability of mens despicable natures more than obvious.

behold an early feminists articulation of gender.  in the context of arguing that women were fit for the ministry, she asserts:

…that intellect is not sexed; that strength of mind is not sexed; and that our views about the duties of men and the duties of women, the sphere of man and the sphere of woman, are mere arbitrary opinions, differing in different ages and countries, and dependent solely on the will and judgement of erring mortals.

this from a woman named sarah grimke who lived from 1792-1873.  she is talking about jobs, and roles.  she was notably not talking about mens demonstrated tendency to be violent necrophiles, sexual abusers and predators across time and place.  and frankly gerder presents *no* evidence in this history lesson that any early feminists disputed this at all, or conflated male behavior, specifically male violence, with culturally-determined gendered roles such as who can and should do what job.  get it?

in fact, grimke astutely notes that mens enslavement of women was deliberate, disgusting and dickish.  she notably does not suggest that men were acted upon by aliens, or were acting against mens own natures when they did this:

Men have not only degraded women, but have made them mere instruments for their own comfort.  They have enslaved women’s minds, deprived them of education, and finally robbed them of the knowledge of their equal humanity.

and “equal” here does not really seem to mean “equal” in any modern way.  for example, does grimke seem to suggest that women are attempting to gain political, social and interpersonal standing so that they can indulge “equally” in the enslavement, deprivation and robbery that all humans are prone to?  i dont see it.

hilariously, in the 1500s, a woman named jane anger (!) describes and documents mens parasitic, filthy natures when she asserts that men are “comforted by our means.  Without our care they lie in their beds as dogs in litter and go like lousy mackerel swimming in the heat of summer.”  without women, men would lie in their own shit and be completely uninterested or unable to perform self-care.  not because aliens, and not because “gender” either.

so whats my point?  i guess i have two.  feminist-thinking women have been asserting for over a millenia that womens nature is misrepresented by patriarchy (and via patriarchal institutions such as religion) and that this is a deliberate ploy on behalf of men who want to dominate and enslave us.  women know, somehow, that this is not our true nature and we resist this propaganda/terror campaign bravely, actively and passionately.  we can feel that this is true, and we know that men are lying about us.  and we notably have *never* as far as i can tell tried to convince anyone that mens true nature wasnt and isnt exactly what it appears to be, and what men demonstrate by their own behavior, institutions and dictates across time and place.

this rather significant addition to feminist thought appears to be new.  this is not our history, but a recent development that seems to have appeared with equality rhetoric, and certainly after the burning times, where women learned more and more (not less and less) what men were capable of, and what they did to women who said and did things men didnt like.  and following a global campaign to silence and erase feminist thought, including women who for 1000 years (or more) have been documenting what appears to be a universal model of male behavior that doesnt differ *at all* across time and place, including males *acting out* parasitism, necrophilia, violence and rape, regardless of what jobs they do, clothes they wear or anything else.  i think this needs to be discussed.  that is all.


1. FCM - April 25, 2013

waiting for someone to dig up a 900-year old quote where women *were* trying to convince everyone that men are naturally widdle angels just to make me look stupid. lol. the poor angelic dears, those *other* nasty feminist bible critics had you pegged all wrong!

2. WordWoman - April 26, 2013

History does provide a record of men making laws and such that rein in other men. Mostly these laws are to prevent men from killing each other or other kinds of serious harm.This is an acknowledgement on the part of men of the tendency toward violence that you are talking about.

Yes, I know these laws apply unequally based on class, race, etc. But if this violent tendency is at the heart of it.

These books look excellent. Thanks for calling our attention to them.

FCM - April 26, 2013

hi wordwoman 🙂 actually these books were a bit dry for my taste and i had to draw my own conclusions from the data. i think lerner herself fell on the reformist/soc constructionist side and her commentary reflected that. but an excellent history lesson to be sure. incidentally, lerner died just a few months ago. she was a prominent womens historian and academic and she worked on this series for over a decade.


3. Sargasso Sea - April 26, 2013

Yes. So how is it that some of us have always known that we are not what they say we are even in the face of thousands of years of conditioning and with NO other model? It’s just the truth that we are in an un-natural state and that some of us can’t NOT continue to believe/know, no matter the consequences.

BUT if we lived in a reality in which there was no *difference* in this very basic truth of being there would be no reason to risk our wellness, our lives really. IF men were not fundamentally *different* from us (violence/death drive) there would be no need for it. Why resist something that isn’t there?

We have a friend who is very much a ‘not my nigel’ sort (and it’s true that her nigel is a fairly decent guy) but she also understands the concept that men, even her nigel, are just DIFFERENT – that they turn to violent thoughts before anything despite her efforts to show them another way. I’ve found that almost all women feel/know this and that they have simply accepted it as reality.

This is why I have such a hard time understanding the resistence to the idea that male behavior is ONLY the result of socialization. It’s flat out moral cowardice to turn away from what’s staring all of us in the face.

(something that’s been bothering me lately is the use of the plural form “women” to refer to a an individual female. deliberate mainstream erasure of the individual woman. apparently we are the borg now?)

FCM - April 26, 2013

yes, why resist something that isnt there? a good example of this is men NOT resisting their “lot in life” and they dont — even the alleged “good guys” and yes even MTF trans. they might resist jobs, clothes etc but they notably do not resist the entitlement, violence, dominance, penetration, ownership, surveillance etc. instead, they EMBODY it, they PERSONIFY it. THEIR idea of social justice is getting MOAR access to these things and their idea of discrimination is not having this stuff AS MUCH AS the other men they covet. when they resist their alleged resistance is violent. “peace” activists still dominate and violate women. environmental activists and “zero population growth” types rape and impregnate women or place them at risk for unwanted pregnancy through PIV. etc etc. men could INDIVIDUALLY resist these things as women have resisted our “lot” OR they couldve very easily by now created a history of millenia of resistance. they have done neither. what we do see (besides the social justice warriors who want MOAR male privilege) is men resenting having ANY social controls on men at all (aka. obstacles to exercising MOAR male privilege) bc it interferes with their intention and urge to MORE violence, MORE rape, MORE abuse. this is all very obvious by now isnt it? if its not, why not?

4. WordWoman - April 26, 2013

I found the following article interesting.

The gist is that the following is a MYTH “boys are physically aggressive, girls are socially aggressive”. Instead, they are saying that boys are just as socially aggressive as girls. Plus, boys are physically aggressive while girls are not. And boys who are aggressive are usually both socially and physically aggressive.

So, the difference is that for boys, the social aggression is very likely to escalate to physical aggression. Plus, I’d wager that girls are more socially aggressive in response to living in a misogynistic culture.

On the same site I saw something about a difference in the brains of males and females appear to be in the areas relating to aggression. (uh-oh, warning, brain differences) I was looking for that but couldn’t find it. If I do, I’ll post the link.

FCM - April 26, 2013

im also no longer buying the argument that men dont resist their “lot” bc they benefit from it too much. i bought that for awhile, but honestly i think its just more obfuscating bullshit and excuse-making…setting up the “social construction” platform on wishful thinking, projection, misunderstanding and other things. i think its more true that if something doesnt suit you or isnt consistent with your “nature” in at least a basic way, you tend to lose interest after awhile no matter what the “benefits” from it. this is similar to social constructionists implicit belief that if women were “socialized” as men currently are that we could and indeed would HAVE TO be exactly like them, and sustain it for some 10,000 years, including rape, torture, murder, war, abduction, burglary, robbery, slavery, bigamy, pedophilia, necrophilia, drug dealing, gangster activity, confidence schemes (aka “cons”), whoremongering, pimping, political corruption, etc. for hundreds of generations. i just dont think there is any evidence that this is true about women, and in fact that its pretty unlikely no matter how much money, power or anything was in it for us. call it a hunch.

FCM - April 26, 2013

thanks for the link. the title of the article: Move Over Mean Girls — Boys Can Be Socially Aggressive, Too. the conclusion is based on an analysis of preexisting data. one might wonder why this analysis was never done before now. and even so, their conclusion is highly suspect: “children” who engage in social aggression are more likely to also engage in physical aggression, and that we see this in boys more often than girls. wut? talk about missing the fucking point! they leave *us* to read between the lines. they shouldve hired you to write this for them wordwoman since your summary was actually correct and multi-faceted while theirs was just dumb.

5. WordWoman - April 26, 2013

Yes, FCM, that point seems clearer all the time. Here’s that link talking about brain scans of men and women under stress. They function differently. Men show the “fight or flight” areas lighting up. Women show the social parts of the brain light up. Though there’s a disclaimer about socialization, etc. at the end, I don’t see any similar research trying to pick out the socialization. Someone should do that, too. Which is the stronger thing?

This also fits with the trauma bonding. Perhaps we can find ways to trauma-bond with women only. Like women helping women during traumatic events like the boston marathon. Of course the media always show men as “heroes.” When women do the same thing, we don’t see the same kind of coverage. Like all the school teachers at Newtown. We don’t see them hero-fied in photos writ large. It seems a more likely survival scenario. Like, I mean, bonding with people (women) who provide a social place to heal.

6. WordWoman - April 26, 2013

FCM, I actually didn’t have to look too hard to read between the lines on that. Perhaps because I have a different mindset it seemed clear as I read it. It would be interesting to see someone do a better analysis of the data, though. (not me, not my area of expertise). I loved finding this article. I think I should print out multiple copies and keep it with me all the time. Because I hear this “mean girls” meme all the time. (And I’m not even a school teacher like phonesthetica who wrote about it on her blog). And every time, I just want to spit. I could just zip out a copy and ask the person to read it and get back to me with their revised view.

FCM - April 26, 2013

yes, girls and women should never, ever trauma bond to boys and men. ever. this means no more male heroes (for women) no more male doctors (for women) no more fatherhood, brother/sister relationships or male caretaking of girl children where abuse, discipline, accidents or anything else might be likely to bond a girl child to any male. no way. this is important.

7. WordWoman - April 26, 2013

Women heroes. I just did this as a thought experiment. Every time I see a man portrayed as a hero, I will put a women in his place. Sort of cleansing the images that are there all the time. Perhaps this is related to finding clues about life without patriarchy. Just thinking about it makes me feel different.

FCM - April 26, 2013

ooh! i like it! more thought/sensory experiments. this is good, thanks.

8. whataboutthemen - April 27, 2013

Men have had so many different facets of culture to exploit to tell us all about who they are. Early second wave feminists looked at this in detail to show us who men are – the message from their PR machine. Lately it seems like some feminists are basically acting as PR consultants for the patriarchy issuing tellings off about misogyny in songs, video games, films etc when actually the misogyny is the message they intent to put across.
It”s a really good example of where radical thought is mis-used by reformists to fine-tune male domination.
Men tell us who they are all the time. Older women will acknowledge it quite happily. It seems like many women under about age 65 have bought the line about masculinity being oppressive etc and the poor men blabla. You know who profits from that politically? Not feminists (who are forced to allow poor oppressed men into our groups) but MRAs.
There was a radio show with a phone in when the uk mra party was launched. So many women called up to say they were worried for their sons. They might do badly at school, be unemployed etc. Boo hoo.
This is the result of reformism-it is not doing women any favours to soft-soap the message.

I absolutely agree about trauma-bonding too. In the UK it can be hard to ask for female surgeons etc but having just had surgery with only women in the room I can say it made a massive difference.

FCM - April 27, 2013

thanks for that WATM. melinda tankard reist does this a lot. i mention her specifically not to call her out, just to provide an example of this VERY COMMON reformist trope you describe so well, so others can see if they want. in one of her latest, a reformist campaign against reebok (or was it nike?) the company responded to the protest and agreed to change thus-and-so AND THEN reist requested that everyone who contributed to the original protest THEN participate in an additional action whereby we were all supposed to THANK THEM. because its important to acknowledge companies who do the right thing. wut? as if we have time for this shit? as if reebok did the right thing out of feminist consciousness, rather than looking at their bottom line and realizing that pissing off the reformists (aka making their intended message too clear, as you say) might make the laydees take their athletic-gear budget and spend it elsewhere? and YES — now reebok has learned a very important lesson about how to craft their intended message more finely as to not get caught in the reformists net. not a hard thing to do when there is so much extremely blatant woman hating everywhere you look. honestly i think i left my body for a second bc the energy-sucking quality of neverending reformist protesting (and THANKING the bastards afterwards) depleted my reserves. i havent looked at her blog since, and im not kidding about the effect it had on me. and that was just ONE example. thanks for articulating this one so clearly, AS WELL AS the result (intended or not) of reformist politicking and how it benefits MRAs to have “doing well in school” be a feminist issue, instead of undermining/eliminating misogyny and male power. duh.

9. whataboutthemen - April 27, 2013

I know it’s not the same but I’m seeing parallels with the kind of restorative justice project where women meet their rapists and listen to them apologise then accept it for ‘closure’.
I mean, I know it’s easy to get caught up in the rage of campaigning against misogynistic advertising and it can be a good opportunity to get rf analysis out there, so I can kind-of picture the first bit, but the thanking?
I can absolutely believe it would drain your energy.

FCM - April 27, 2013

makes me wonder whether there even was any radfem analysis in the reebok protest…i cant remember! maybe i will revisit it later when i can bear it. there usually isnt is my experience and as a result, these things are mostly indistinguishable from fun fem protests. calling out “misogyny” and framing it as accidental even, rather than calling out the intentionality of the woman-hatred and breaking it down further to a specific mechanism of patriarchal propaganda and how each one supports male power. honestly, the only time i remember seeing actual radfem analysis in a reformist protest was in the brennan/hungerford letter to the UN #1 where they addressed the issue of female-specific reproductive harm. i dont think even anti-porn protests frame the issue that way, and they usually use “misogyny” and dom/sub. the “root” is nowhere to be found. so what *is* the point in using our energy this way? this is a serious question.


10. tiamathydra - April 27, 2013

”I know it’s not the same but I’m seeing parallels with the kind of restorative justice project where women meet their rapists and listen to them apologise then accept it for ‘closure’.”

Yes, actually, it’s basically THE ONLY camp in which ”restorative criminal law” has been accepted, in making the women forgive their rapists and batterers, I’ve studied that and it fucking sucks, it’s a result of neoliberalism. Even my criminal law professor who is a fucking MRA says that it’s extremely unfair because even MONEY from the part of the rapist is accepted as ”compensation” for the ”closure” of the crime. Isn’t that prostitution in order to silence the woman? How fucked up. I didn’t know it was being done in the US, too, but the basics are that men enjoy paying money to a woman after having raped her in order to transform it into prostitution and silence the woman. Now it seems like the notion of rape is going to be erased from the law, too.

11. whataboutthemen - April 27, 2013

Being strategic with energy is a really good plan. It’s hard, though. It’s a new way of being, compared to what I’m used to.
Sussing out what’s sapping it with no benefits is a new thing for me.

12. whataboutthemen - April 27, 2013

And thank you for that link – I hadn’t seen it. That is a radical response to misogynistic media. ‘pointing and making patriarchy-face’ hehe.

13. WordWoman - April 28, 2013

I know it’s not the same but I’m seeing parallels with the kind of restorative justice project where women meet their rapists and listen to them apologise then accept it for ‘closure’.

it’s easy to underestimate the degree to which women learn to overlook what men do. One main problem is that we assume that men are like us, so the whole forgiveness meme is partly based on that. I think once we get that they are violent/rape etc and that’s not like us it makes it easier to understand and to see more clearly.

One thing that’s been said about forgiveness is that it lets the forgiver let go of the pain. But I think that seeing the 1000+ year history of violence and rape also allows us to let go of the pain. But more effectively. If we just assume that this is men’s nature, we see it for what it is. Without hope. But that’s good, because all that hope, as you point out, just saps our energy and keeps us in the “overlooking the violence/rape” mode. Which also saps energy. Mary Daly speaks about how energized women can become.

If women are raising boys, it does make sense to try to socialize them to overcome this (violence/rape/etc). Assume they will be that way or want to benefit from others being that way, and then train them to overcome that. Knowing the problem can lead to harm reduction for everyone. This would be a pretty big job and would involve keeping them away from others who are socialized in the traditional entitlement mode with violence and rape backing it up. It would also be exhausting. But at least to a good end. This is very unlike the current “boys will be boys” mode which is overlooking the bad behavior and passing it off as normal. It is the norm for them, but that really needs to change.

Also, if women understood this and had choice about who to breed with (real choice not the current funfem stuff) women would not choose violent rapists. There might be a better outcome over time. Like choose males with relatively more self-control, less narcissism, etc.

14. WordWoman - April 28, 2013

I don’t mean to choose them as partners, because I am not in favor of women living with men. (which is how most women are killed/maimed) But as choosing them as fathers of children and then raise the children in a women’s community. Over some generations we might see a different outcome.

15. whataboutthemen - April 28, 2013

One paradox I struggle with (maybe it isn’t a paradox) is how would we have women’s communities with boys living in them? I don’t really want to take mine to the women’s holiday centre because I value women-only space and assume other women will too.
Would we have buildings with women-only space at the centre and buildings further out where women with sons could live?
It really is hard to imagine. As things stand now, boys who are in women-only space can be butthurt (why are the women marching to end violence against just women – this from a 4-year-old) or cocky (look at me – men aren’t allowed here but I can come – from older boys). That’s maybe because it’s so unusual.
I think being honest about harm reduction being a realistic model is a good first step, definitely.
Being around mostly people who aren’t violent rapists – so, like, being in women’s communities – would probably benefit boys, but at what cost to those communities?

16. whataboutthemen - April 28, 2013

Have you read ‘The Gate to Women’s Country’ by Sheri Tepper? It’s weirdly anti-lesbian (cos for whatever reason – narrative? they bred the lesbians out) but they also bred out violent men, or at least the ones prone to violence would choose to live with the men.

FCM - April 28, 2013

omg — you heard that from a 4-year old? the little bastard.

for me, imagining women being free is very much a thought exercise and the details can feel thought terminating. often this goes into the disgusting and traumatic, like imagining “what to do” with boys and men that already exist. this gross or difficult imagery often ends the thought exercise, and this can be the intent of introducing them. im not saying anyone here is doing this, or doing this deliberately. but as for the details, if anyone wants to go there in a “different” way, women around the world actually are questioning the practice if not outright refusing to give birth to male children, and the 2 times ive seen it reported in the mainstream media it wasnt western women talking about this and doing it. this is an example of women using local and regional solutions to the problem of male violence — in this case they were very frustrated and in extreme, imminent and demonstrable danger from decades of brutal male violence, murder and rape. one was in the context of a decades-long war between tribes where the women were raped and murdered for generations by the very boys and men they raised and there was simply no ending it elsewise. i often hear that western feminists should take our cues from nonwestern women/feminists and support them bc they are the canaries in the coal mines, but certainly no one means we should take THIS cue, in particular, right? only the ones we like, i guess? meanwhile, western white women are populating the world with more western, white males. the most dangerous of the species, as robin morgan notes in “monster.”


17. whataboutthemen - April 28, 2013

Love that poem. It seemed to come from such a powerful place. Not a place that encouraged her to act on it, as far as I know, but it’s been encouraging to many other women, myself included.
Once you have the white American males it is, indeed, hard not to get bogged down in the details.

It’s interesting how differently people react to sex selection when it’s females being selected out (cultural, wonder if women will have their pick of the handsome men etc) and when it’s males being selected out. Given that for the most part the latter is more of a thought experiment than anything else.

18. farishcunning - April 28, 2013

FCM: “yes, girls and women should never, ever trauma bond to boys and men. ever. this means no more male heroes (for women) no more male doctors (for women) no more fatherhood, brother/sister relationships or male caretaking of girl children where abuse, discipline, accidents or anything else might be likely to bond a girl child to any male. no way. this is important.”

Thank you for saying this. My partner and I often express these sentiments to each other, with the wish that more women would wake up to this way of thinking. Does my old heart good to see it here.


19. WordWoman - April 28, 2013

Oh, no! I don’t mean there would not be any women’s-only communities. I guess I’m saying that the “family communities” would be only boys and women. No men. And they would have no older male “role models” to socialize them. Start from scratch with newborns. I make the assumption that humans would still need sperm. And yes, there would be more girls born, etc. But women’s-only communities would be the rule, with some accommodations for male children in separate “family communities”.

My point was that women are not doing this assuming that it would be harm reduction, since men’s natures are different than ours. In other words, there is no way to make men equal and it will take a lot of work to make them less harmful. Then very strict laws for violent crimes, like the death penalty for rape and for murder etc. Or just lock em all up together and let (violent) nature take its course like FCM proposed. It’s a different scenario than women somehow socializing men and assuming we can make them like us. I don’t believe we can.

I don’t want to think about with to do in the present situation. I hope this wasn’t a derail.

FCM - April 28, 2013

we have discussed before whether we are in a legitimate “survival scenario” or if it hasnt gotten that bad YET. its possible that the option these nonwestern women are implementing is their ONLY option left and that this is a matter of survival for them that we cannot yet comprehend. *because* these women are the canaries in the coalmine, or some other descriptive image that would more adequately describe their experience/reality with male violence and how it relates to ours. its also a very localized response, bc from what i can tell these are essentially “closed communities” where these women are literally birthing and raising each others rapists and murderers, and birthing and raising sons so the sons can kill each other. its very personal, and local, so this solution is very practical and pretty certain (100%) to work or at least have some effect, the degree depending on how many women participate. this might not work for everyone, meaning every locality, for example women in cities where men come from everywhere and make a “life” there and all that entails (for men). in these womens case, they might not be willing to make the sacrifice of not raising a son (another womans rapist) if some woman in chatanooga is going to birth HER rapist and theres nothing she can do about it. for her, perhaps changing the frame so that it doesnt feel like a “sacrifice” might be the key. here, thinking of mens parasitic nature might be good enough — can she really afford to have some parasitic male sucking the life out of her forever? or mens related need (demand) for mother-care from cradle to grave, does she really want to be worried about him getting into trouble for his entire life, or getting killed by other men? wasting all that gynergy on a vampiric male who will never give anything back to anyone? or, perhaps all these realities will become known/come together in a coherent way and all of it will be relevant, and lead us to a solution. its something to think about.

FCM - April 28, 2013

thanks for your comment farishcunning! good to see you here.

20. Greywing - April 29, 2013

On heroes, and who gets to be a hero and what counts are heroism. Preventive work, and the maintenance work that “just keeps things going” is harshly devalued in patriarchal society, even though that prevents human suffering and death just as much as heroic rescue emergency work after shit has already hit the fan. Maintenance type work is of course largely seen as women’s work, the caretaking professions etc, but even when men perform tasks that are individually undeniably masculine when they serve a larger maintenance purpose it’s still seen as denigrating, as in janitors. A male aquaintance who once helped me out in a crisis situation (he called the police in a jurisdiction I wasn’t familiar with) spelled this out to me quite plainly. A few days after the immediate emergency I asked him for advice on how to deal with the aftermath, and he replied that as far as he was concerned, he had done what he considered to be his work. When individual male firefighters set fires to get to play the hero, they are recognized as acting out a patological hero complex, but when the entire society devalues and drop the ball when it comes to regulation and maintenance to prevent “accidents” it’s not put into context with only valuing heroes who only come in after things have been allowed to fail catastrophically.

21. Greywing - April 29, 2013

Follow up: to see what society actually values, look at where the maintenance work is put in. Men as a group see themselves as entitled to/worthy of women performing constant maintenance work for them. Look at who has access to preventive health care, and who only have access to emergency care after things have been allowed to get catastrophic, as in deadly, the former more likely to be affluent white males, the latter anyone else.

FCM - April 29, 2013

well thats interesting isnt it? anyone that has ever had the terrible misfortune of living under a strained infrastructure (such as following a disaster either natural or manmade) KNOWS that mens infrastructure is a flimsy facade. its not real, but an intricate illusion meant to numb and dull us all out enough to be productive under this system, go to work every day etc. without actually realizing that if the tiniest thing goes wrong you wont be able to get home that night, or even have a home to go home to. women go to work in high heels figuring they wont have to walk anywhere that day, but that assumption is based on that lie. women are more vulnerable than even we know, and vulnerable to predatory males that come out of the woodwork during failures of infrastructure which benefits all men. as does the deliberate setting up of the need for (male) heros, like you say. as does the “comfort” the facade of infrastructure provides for women who feel luckier, more secure etc. than other women around the world who dont have this “infrastructure” and which therefore keeps us docile and refusing to resist male dominance passionately and effectively. we see this as a benefit and one we are willing to pay dearly for, but what is this worth really? and what are men giving up in order to provide us with this opiate? not much apparently. they dont even bother working on this one very hard, even though its so critical to maintaining womens subordination. one might ask why that is, meaning why do they invest so little in something so important to supporting and maintaining their own power, and i think youve answered it. because when these things fail, and they inevitably fail, women become even more trauma bonded to men and male heroes than we were before. that could easily be the entire point.

FCM - April 29, 2013

honestly, i think what we need to understand about trauma bonding is how this works when all men are basically interchangeable, and they are. all men, even the good ones, effect womens lives in the same way through mandatory PIV, dominance, surveillance etc. all men work as a group to support mens collective power. bros before hos etc. the effect on women is that when we become trauma bonded to one man, we also become trauma bonded to all men, men as a class. so even though men can be traumatized in a “human” way by failures of infrastructure, only women become traumatized in a specifically female way where we become emotionally and psychically bonded to our male oppressors.

this could also explain why there is extreme resistance (as opposed to mere resistance) by men to women entering the fire and police departments for example. its not because women lack the upper body strength to lift 500 lbs (men cant do that either, and there are lifting protocols including weight restrictions in place for everyone, which men always conveniently ignore when they make the argument about strength). its about who is allowed to be the heroes in times of trauma and mass trauma, and why that is. and sexually harassing/abusing women who try to enter these fields would also tend to traumatize the women and bond them to men as a class, when trauma bonded people display traits antithetical to heroism such as deference and fear. extreme sexual harassment of women (rather than “mere” sexual harassment) happens a lot in the fire and police departments in particular, from what i understand. im just saying. it would be interesting to know what the numbers look like for sexual harassment (including rape) and integration in the “hero” occupations as opposed to other “merely” male dominated ones.

22. Greywing - April 29, 2013

The way the media covers heroes is quite transparent actually. During and after the latest disaster they usually give credit to “the policemen of X city” or “firemen of X city,” giving collective credit to the class of faceless anonymous “good men.” Hammering in the point that what we desperately need when things inevitably go horribly wrong is “good men” as a class. Media also loves to hold up firefighters as a group of men women find sexually irresistible (talk about trauma bonding in plain sight?) That the heroes’ function is largely symbolic is made clear by the way the actual human beings performing the heroic acts are treated. If they end up needing maintenance type caretaking themselves because of being harmed in the line of duty, as in long term health care, disability aid, psychotherapy to deal with trauma etc, society drops the ball on that, see 9/11 rescue workers fighting for a decade for health care access. With the way men usually are afforded individuality in the media, it is striking how the purported hero class of men is treated as a faceless mass, while being held up as representing the ultimate ideal of all men.

Relatedly, that ultimate Western male hero, the surgeon with godlike powers over life and death with a knife in his hands, swooping in when things have already gone horribly wrong, vs traditional societies where the diets were painstakingly tweaked empirically over millenia, by women of course, to prevent disease and the need for the brutal and traumatic procedures Western medicine prides itself on.

23. karmarad - April 29, 2013

Sorry to arrive so late to this discussion. Just reading the comments fills me with such insights that I feel overwhelmed. I feel a strong need to get a grip on some meta-analysis of the situation. Seems like every thinker I read offers some crucial insight, then veers off into an illogical or culture-bound conclusion. I’m thinking of Greer and Beauvoir, both “heroes” of mine, not even thinking about the thousands of years of male philosophy and social reformist writing.

These radfem blogs do that, give us some breathing room to think and not veer off.

I’d just like to offer some little thoughts that step to the side of the discussion and I hope open it out slightly.

First, regarding what our culture considers heroic occupations. A house is on fire, with people within. What does this culture do? It has divided itself into tiny principalities of city and county, each with it own small resources of firefighters and machines.. It calls other principalities to arrange a quid pro quo assistance, wasting time. Arriving on scene, the hoses are just right for the men using them to wield effectively. Are the hoses the best way to fight a fire? No one knows – it is the best male way, however. The hatchets are the right weight for men, the jackets protect men effectively. Huge amounts of water must be found and deployed. Victims must be often carried from the fire by individuals, rather than a collective rescue using assistance so the victims’ full weight is not on the rescuer. In short, heroes gonna be men because the rescue paradigm is masculine.

The succeeding medical treatment is another such paradigm. So is the cause of the fire: smoking? alcohol? playing with matches? making fires in the wilderness that are not properly put out? aside from lightning strikes, the very cause of the problem is usually some predominantly masculine behavior. So when we talk about why women aren’t heroes, we have to go, as usual, impossibly deep. I won’t even attempt to talk about women’s heroism, the sacrifice of not eating in famines so their children can eat, the willingness to give up all pride to beg help for their families, the putting aside of their ambitions and needs for others, the vigils for weeks at the side of hospital beds, their endurance in grisly nursing situations..When one realizes that all definitions in language, all social customs, are so inextricably built upon male experience of existence, one is simply so shocked and aghast one is speechless. Where to begin? We are trying here, and thanks to all here for that.

Second, looking at women’s degree of resistance over the millennia: we have nothing to excuse in ourselves, of course. The slavery we have experienced is unprecedented in its ancientness and in the thoroughness of its reach into every fibre of our being. Not only have we been enslaved, but the system that has developed to naturalize our enslavement, with its deliberate disguise of our true status, is unprecedented. We have had our identities stripped from us and an artificial identity constructed, narrow and small, which limits us to our sexual and labor functions in strict conformity with the male paradigmatic society we are born into. There has been some relaxation, some porousness, tolerated in the past half-century. How tiny a time-slice this is is reflected in the fact that many of us were alive, or at least our mothers were, before any of this relaxation began to occur.

Third, in spite of everything — in spite of the most extraordinary and thorough enslavement in the history of mankind, we have always resisted. Why? Because it is a fundamental need of human beings, not just men, to be authentic to their true natures. We have struggled, sometimes blindly, for authenticity, and the enslavement has only been partially successful in this respect. This struggle has always in the beginning involved a feeling of deep alienation, followed by attempts to remove ourselves from the thought-system that does its job as well as the chains. We have tried calling ourselves nuns, living alone in poverty as healers, remaining mired in our roles but undercutting them at every turn. We have been lesbians and insisted on a separate identity and culture in spite of stigma, ostracising, and violence. We have run away from our family holes. What I would call this thing that is at the root of all our ongoing struggles is the search for authenticity, for our authentic beings.

When individual men have sought authenticity, it has been
a relatively simple matter of looking at conventional paradigms and rejecting them for their own internal imperatives. When women iseek authenticity, we are in chaos. The paradigm fights back very actively; we have never been permitted to develop any alternative paradigm; there is no “collective authenticity” of women to base our individual explorations on.

What I think today is that our struggle is deeper than for autonomy. Freedom/autonomy will only establish the conditions for the struggle for authenticity. To say we are not a specific biological class, or that identity politics should be eschewed, or that current conventions are adequate to permit such a search, is absurd and invidious. So there seems to be a two-step process here to me. Thinking about it like that, as first establishing freedom, and second, authenticity, I begin to see some ways of clarifying the current threads of feminist discourse. But I won’t go there yet. I’m just talking about firefighters, really. 🙂

FCM - April 29, 2013

re the “symbolism” of mens role as heroes and the existence of a male hero class, i would only say that the symbolism is partial, not total. the symbolism is very clear now that you mention it, and you describe that part of it and how and why that operates very well. but just as the oppressiveness of PIV is only partially symbolic, and mostly material, i would say that the trauma bonding function of the male hero class (like the trauma bonding of PIV and rape) is largely material too. meaning that it actually harms women and creates/reproduces our oppression rather than merely symbolizing it. for example the phallus being a “metaphor” for male power but meanwhile the female-specific harms of the penis are tangible, and intentional, and used by men to exploit womens reproductive capacity. trauma bonding is real, and used by men to further womens oppression by creating dependance, deference, and feelings of attraction, tenderness and love.

FCM - April 29, 2013

IOW while its important to “hammer home” the existence and necessity of the good-guy-male class for everyone and womens collective psychology, and this is the propaganda function of these media images, women who are directly involved and “being rescued” actually do get trauma-bonded to the individual men who are there doing the rescuing, and probably to all males as a class by extension due to mens interchangeability. its not just a propaganda message, although that is there too. its also possible that the media images themselves create trauma-bonding (i guess?) if the media images were sufficiently traumatic. distance from the event and no personal exposure to physical risk might preclude actual trauma, and thus trauma-bonding from media images, but stranger things have probably happened. definitions of trauma and PTSD criteria are notoriously male centric and have not included womens experience of trauma such as with PIV or even rape, and “vicarious trauma” via female-dominant helping professions like social working.

FCM - April 29, 2013

i was trying to think about whether the military counts as a hero-profession. i guess this answers my question. “a real american hero — GI Joe is there.” and we all know the enormous problem of military men raping military women (extreme sexual harassment) as well as what probably counts as extreme resistance to allowing women in the military or once in, doing anything besides pushing papers and wiping butts.

FCM - April 29, 2013

lol. a little 80s reference. male superheroes are also relevant, and a good example of the symbolism of the male hero-class discussed above.

24. WordWoman - April 30, 2013

karmarad, you said
“When individual men have sought authenticity, it has been
a relatively simple matter of looking at conventional paradigms and rejecting them for their own internal imperatives. When women iseek authenticity, we are in chaos. The paradigm fights back very actively; we have never been permitted to develop any alternative paradigm; there is no “collective authenticity” of women to base our individual explorations on.”

“So there seems to be a two-step process here to me. Thinking about it like that, as first establishing freedom, and second, authenticity, I begin to see some ways of clarifying the current threads of feminist discourse.”
Wow, karma. This two step idea is great. Also why individual women finding “fulfillment” never works out. I’ll look forward to hearing more sometime.

25. WordWoman - April 30, 2013

” trauma bonding is real, and used by men to further womens oppression by creating dependance, deference, and feelings of attraction, tenderness and love.” FCM, this gives women only two choices: Be hurt by the bad men or saved by the good. Not a real attractive “choice.”

FCM, the “good” ones fetishize/obsess about being heroes. This seriously interferes with so many of them being effective human beings. Effective in support, as you point out, Graywing. But I believe in being effective in other ways, too. Like taking out the trash, cooking, doing a decent job at work, etc. And these are the “good” ones. Why women who have a good nigel still complain. I spoke to a women recently who is married to a “good’un” The talk about equality but she still does all the housework. Maybe he’s plotting how to be a hero or cooking up heroic schemes with other men. Too busy for the “grunt work.”

Plus, as you point out they are always trying to have PIV. You know, so they can “have” more offspring to further destroy the planet. How heroic is that?!!! But they never die in childbirth. However, they will be the heroic dad and change one diaper a week. Probably blog about it, too.

FCM - April 30, 2013

once you realize PIV is oppressive and harmful, there are no more good guys. seriously. this is the last big lie and obfuscation. its the holy grail of feminist consciousness i think. *poof* male exceptionalism gone, replaced by female class consciousness and complete exposure of the root of womens oppression by men. its really striking when it happens.

FCM - April 30, 2013

the banality of evil.

26. WordWoman - April 30, 2013

Yes, and whole economic systems are predicated on PIV. Economic growth. Religious systems, too. Be “fruitful” and multiply. More and more systems. Interesting that the planet is being brought down by men as a class insisting on PIV. It harms each woman and it also harms the planet as a whole. The personal is political is ecological. (ecocidal). It’s not a mistake. All their interlocking systems are based on this.

27. WordWoman - April 30, 2013

Two different things here, as you have pointed out, fcm. women and the earth are real, the harms are not abstract “social constructions.” Men and their systems are constructions, constructed by them, benefiting them, causing these harms. The banality of evil.

farishcunning - April 30, 2013

FCM: “once you realize PIV is oppressive and harmful, there are no more good guys. seriously. this is the last big lie and obfuscation. its the holy grail of feminist consciousness i think. *poof* male exceptionalism gone, replaced by female class consciousness and complete exposure of the root of womens oppression by men. its really striking when it happens.”

THIS. So absolutely THIS.

28. karmarad - April 30, 2013

I agree. The sentences by fcm you quote, farishcunning, are very powerful writing. When I first saw the line about “complete exposure of the root of women’s oppression by men”, it felt like the bell tolling. Maybe this really is the bottom of it all, and we are there. Now that we are there, defining this bottom, all its aspects and impacts, is still needed, though fcm has done strong pioneering work on this concept. There is difficult work ahead.

29. Greywing - May 1, 2013

FCM: You are right of course, hero men have a very real impact on women. To put it another way that hopefully is clearer: the message that is being conveyed, that patriarchy via these hero men provide real safety and security for women, and considers this a vital and central function in society, is an illusion and a lie. On the impact of “hero” media on women, using male psychology terms, something like “learned helplessness” seems to apply in this context. And it’s difficult to convey, but I think the impact of media going over the same psychological “grooves” that women are socialized into since birth can go deep without arousing the feelings usually associated with trauma. Reactions like freezing, passivity, numbness, feelings of inevitability, unavoidability, and helplessness, or “deer in headlights” and a compulsive inability to look away can also be trauma reactions, many of which can be induced by media coverage of disastrous events. Actually, writing it out that way makes me think how much of ideal femininity is of that vein, passive, docile, if in harms way do nothing but wait for rescue from a good man. The two sides to it, the passivity induced in women, and the setting up of men to be the active heroes, interlock closely.

FCM - May 1, 2013

still thinking about karmas “autonomy versus authenticity” comment…

30. radikit - May 1, 2013

Me too, thinking about authenticity and freedom. Not sure the two can be separated into two distinct steps. Seems to me as if the search for authenticity is what makes (some freedom) possible, just like freedom makes more authenticity possible. But I don’t think we should/could wait for freedom first before we attempt authenticity (this is how I understood Karma). More like a spiral between authenticity and freedom…

31. karmarad - May 1, 2013

Hi again, and as always, thanks for the chance to work through some arguments and speculations inspired by the original thinking on this blog. I feel as though some collective crystalization is going on in here, and this wouldn’t be possible if this blog wasn’t a clean well-lighted space for women to talk. It can’t be easy having to moderate out the derailers and confusers and provocateurs. If it’s ok I’d like to try to show some ways this idea of authenticity relates to the issues we’re discussing.

The “hero” archetype or role is based on male biopsychology BUT the corresponding passive-damsel-in-distress female role (what you call “learned helplessness”, fcm) is not based on her biopsychology, because she doesn’t get to construct it. It’s based on male biopsychology, because men construct society. He is acting “authentically”, according to his instinctual drives; she is inauthentic. He has the witness he wants; she is it, willy-nilly.

Same with het pair-bonding and the institution of marriage. It’s based on male biopsychology, which I’m going to posit has the important component of a male preference/desire/instinctual drive for PIV sex. BUT the woman’s wife role is constructed for her and not based on her biopsychology, which I’m going to posit is, in crucial respects, including sexual expression, different from the male’s. To put it in my new favorite word-terms again, she is living an inauthentic life, but he is not. Therefore he has the stronger existence, position in life, you might say. He is legitimate and able to fulfill himself. She is living a fraudulent life and something in her knows it, destabilizing and weakening her while also leading to that ongoing underground resistance that goes on in women in spite of everything.

What I’d like to stress is this: her existential identity is weaker than his because it has to some major extent been artificially imposed on her. What you call trauma-bonding or the Stockholm Syndrome, fcm, is about the same thing. She is more subject to being subsumed in the other sex. (That word, “subsumed”, is even used in linguistics to describe how female pronouns and nouns are “subsumed” under male pronouns and nouns when both are used together. The female words disappear into the male words.)

The woman is subsumed to some extent in the marriage; her identity disappears to some extent; her weakness grows and so does her dependence on the male. Only a few decades ago this subsuming of the married woman’s identity was legally and economically enforced. But it is her existential shakiness, the fraud forced on her, that keeps the arrangement going.

Now the main enforcement mechanisms in the Eurocentric countries are social institutions (which include built-in enforcement mechanisms like wife-beating and economic disadvantage). The inauthentic position in which the woman under the control of a male, whether husband, brother, father, or son, has been placed, explains why she has not liberated herself long since. Lesbian women may not be under direct control by a single male they bond to, but all of us are also subject to the collective control of patriarchal institutions.

It could be said that each male is subject probably to some gender roles not precisely suited to him, BUT the women is subject to an entire gender persona not suited to her. She doesn’t know herself, her own instinctual drives, her desires, her natural sexual expression, her natural way of existing in this world. She’s not going to be fully human until she is living an authentic life. For that, separating from men and getting out of the gender persona is only Step One. Step Two is finding her natural mode of being. I don’t think that the moment we step out of our personas we will become those authentic beings. We will have a lot of desocialization and exploration and experimentation to accomplish.

I think this notion of forced inauthenticity is helpful in explaining women’s “complicity” in their subservience, including their acceptance of harmful sexual practices and remaining in violent marriages. Conversely it explains why there has always been women’s resistance, since the drive for an authentic life can never be fully eradicated in a conscious being.

Looking at the issue of “essentialism” versus “social construction”, I think light is shed here too. Many feminists disclaim any theory of biological bases of human behavior because of the concern that such theories naturalize women’s long-established subservience, and also male violence. Such a disclaimer, however, flies in the face of science, and eradicates women as a definable biological class that has been subjugated as such, with destructive consequences for feminist theory.

We are all biologically-based beings subject to social constructions, and, yes, it is hard to disentangle one from the other. None of us are saying that social constructions aren’t crucial in forming our existences. What I think commenters here are emphasizing is that one set of social constructions, women’s, is toxic because it is not in line with our biological natures. it is so out of line that we live our lives half-poisoned. We don’t even know who we would be if freed from the toxic personas imposed on us, BUT we strongly suspect we would not be men.

We feel our difference in spite of everything. “Equality” in legal and public terms means that we will be allowed to become men, and this would be as inauthentic as remaining in our strange gender personas of subjugated women. We want to be women with the freedom men enjoy to find their authenticity, not men. In short, I would argue that human do have “essences” in the sense of having biologically-based characters. In the case of women, our essences are not reflected in our gender personas as subjugated people; there is no reason to suspect naturalizing of such subjugation, and plenty of reason to suspect it is entirely a social construct.

In the case of men, our society reflects their “essences”; therefore, the endemic violence, domination, and hierarchical control of women and each other probably does reflect their “essence”. It’s a painful but logical conclusion to come to.

The question then revolves back to what to do about the conflict of women’s need for extrication and requirement for authenticity and self-sovereignty, and men’s opposing drive to keep women available and weakened for his needs, but at least we can speak on the basis of reality, and I hope more clarity, about it.

32. karmarad - May 1, 2013

As always, apologies for the typos…

33. SheilaG - May 1, 2013

Greywing said:
“a compulsive inability to look away can also be trauma reactions, many of which can be induced by media coverage of disastrous events. Actually, writing it out that way makes me think how much of ideal femininity is of that vein, passive, docile, if in harms way do nothing but wait for rescue from a good man. The two sides to it, the passivity induced in women, and the setting up of men to be the active heroes, interlock closely.”

I’ve been thinking about this compulsive aspect as the male media reports over and over again about the Boston bombing, necessitating all the hero worship of men, and the use of this to get more money for more men to be more heros.

The horror that is the manufacture of femininity at the expense and degredation of all women, all of which ignores the real war zones women live in. The idea that war is about men, and women and children get left behind, or that prostitution itself induces PTSD, and that men continue to create this in women. It’s a very clever profit based system that is seamless for men, male promoting, and male lie creating. It’s why I get a basic news report, and then choose not to watch the endless loop of it. I’m not buying into the propaganda or the constant threats of terror, when I know that men represent the very essense of terrorism to all women everywhere. The male is the terrorist, and they expect women to believe them to be heros.

34. WordWoman - May 2, 2013

Karma, I appreciate your perspective here. ” BUT the women is subject to an entire gender persona not suited to her. She doesn’t know herself, her own instinctual drives, her desires, her natural sexual expression, her natural way of existing in this world.”

It is often said that many women seem unsure of themselves, doubting their ability to understand the world around them, and this is attributed to things like poor self-worth, being put down, internalized misogyny etc.

This is correct, but only partly correct, I think. Another reason that women appear unsure is that the whole culture is *confusing as hell* to us. If we do not know our natural way personas we have no comparisons. Some very toxic gaslighting of existence. My strongest impression of learning my role is that of being confused by it. Overwhelming confusion! Wow!

Of course, sometimes we learn to act very sure of ourselves (even when unsure), which is the male model reaction. I once had a relatively new women doctor who did this, and it was clear that she had just been malesocialized into her profession. I am not unsympathetic to her, by any means. Just using this as an example.

35. WordWoman - May 2, 2013

“I feel as though some collective crystalization is going on in here, and this wouldn’t be possible if this blog wasn’t a clean well-lighted space for women to talk. It can’t be easy having to moderate out the derailers and confusers and provocateurs. ”

Karma said it and so will I, FCM, thank you for this space ❤ !!!!

I am loving this convo.

FCM - May 2, 2013

clean and well-lighted. 😛 thanks! and youre welcome.

36. SheilaG - May 2, 2013

Even watching women behave in ordinary male free zones is enlightening— small amounts of freedom, but still freedom. Women need the maximum amount of non-male policed areas to feel free, and to know oneself. It’s why men and trans do everything in their power to attempt to prevent this from happening on an international scale. One the male police state is kept at bay, even on this blog, where all the garbage of the male brain doesn’t get to dump here, we can have discussions to move foreward.

Could women even hold onto our own authentic sexuality, given the pornographic assault of men on us 24/7? We don’t even know who we are yet.

37. Greywing - May 2, 2013

Yes, thank you for this space FCM, and since I’m new here (well, I’ve been reading for about a year now) thanks for inviting me in too.

I stopped watching regular TV news years ago. At the time I couldn’t express why exactly, but I knew it didn’t feel like a healthy thing to do. Reading the news has its pitfalls too, but it’s less emotionally pressing, and leaves more space for reflection and resistance before the next horror rolls over you.

WordWoman: I think femininity is designed to be confusing and impossible, always leaving you open to criticism with no way to play it safe. I think of it as a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t knife’s edge balance. If you conform to femininity too well, you’re deemed too enticing and docile, and bringing whatever comes your way on yourself. And if you don’t conform well enough, if you’re deemed too aggressive, if you don’t make an enticing enough subject for “good guy” hero men to rescue, you’re on your own and deserve to take the full brunt of whatever you get. And whatever comes your way and whatever you get is of course men’s violence, from rape to denial of access to resources (including outright poverty which means greatly increased risk of more rape.) And of course it’s often the same individual man who a second ago presented himself as a “good” hero rescuer who now brings the violence, using your supposed failure of femininity as justification.

I don’t know how to even begin to look for autonomy or authenticity when we have to continually perform contradictory and deliberately impossible femininity for men to even have a chance at life and physical safety.

38. radikit - May 2, 2013

Greywing said:
“And if you don’t conform well enough, if you’re deemed too aggressive, if you don’t make an enticing enough subject for “good guy” hero men to rescue, you’re on your own and deserve to take the full brunt of whatever you get. And whatever comes your way and whatever you get is of course men’s violence, from rape to denial of access to resources (including outright poverty which means greatly increased risk of more rape.)”
THIS. My life in one sentence. And up until reading your words I never really understood WHY “good hero men” weren’t interested in me. I thought something was wrong with me, that I was a “slut” and “good men” could see it. So thank you, Greywing!

39. radikit - May 2, 2013

“I thought something was wrong with me, that I was a “slut” and “good men” could see it.”
Obviously, since my radfem awakening (last summer on this blog) I did figure out that I was not a slut. But exactly why good men never seemed to find me interesting enough to pursue…this just clicked just now.

FCM - May 2, 2013

what if its just as simple as “womens nature is to be free” and this is what authentic means for us? if our nature is to be free, one thing this could mean is that we are different and even very different from one another, and this would have to be ok and something we make room for. i think women are experts at making room for peoples “differences” anyway, we just dont do it for other women. i guess we are all supposed to be the same? an army of fembots? for example, one thing that women obviously mean (and men obviously dont) when we say “i love you” is that we are willing and able to make room for people in our lives, including their personalities, foibles and mess. children can be very different from one another and different from *us* and they bring people into the house etc. clearly our male partners are very different from us, and as has been mentioned upthread, we mostly accept this and make room for these obvious differences (until we no longer can, or until we no longer have to). i feel an enormous sense of relief to think that this might be the truth about us, because if it is, theres no need for “social anxiety” or any obstacles related to difference, judgement, personalities etc preventing us from getting together with each other and having fun. BE-ing. existing. a peaceful co-existence with each of our differences and even change occurring over time just being easily accepted and even expected, not like now. honestly, this has freed my thinking tremendously and its as if a weight has been lifted. this could easily be the truth couldnt it?

40. WordWoman - May 2, 2013

“no need for “social anxiety” or any obstacles related to difference, judgement, personalities etc preventing us from getting together with each other and having fun.”

Yes, FCM, I think men don’t like to see us having fun together, with other women. It used to be seen as “unladylike” to laugh to hard, for example. Fun is supposed to be only about sex. with men. Or doing stuff for them. Like cooking special foods. for them. Hanging out with them over football.

“BE-ing. existing. a peaceful co-existence with each of our differences and even change occurring over time just being easily accepted and even expected, not like now.”

Still, I can think of times when all-women gatherings have been quite a bit of fun. I don’t even mean feminist, just regular women in our families, neighbors, coworkers, etc. All different kinds of women, as you say. But if one man shows up, it casts a considerable pall.

has freed my thinking tremendously and its as if a weight has been lifted. this could easily be the truth couldnt it?”

Yes, it lifts a weight. Why does life have to be so damn hard. I don’t mean we shouldn’t have challenges. I like that. But just having to deal with danger every blinkin’ day. Every minute, the threat is there. Of men showing up.

But if we could just get together enough women (all women, really) and be free, it could be very different. I have the sense of this.

41. karmarad - May 2, 2013

Hi, Greywing, you said: “I think femininity is designed to be confusing and impossible, always leaving you open to criticism with no way to play it safe. I think of it as a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t knife’s edge balance.”

I agree, and maybe that’s another source of anxiety and despair for us. Maybe nobody can perform the gender persona perfectly because our authentic selves continue to put forth these resistences and undercut the fraud we are being forced to participate in. But of course it’s not just our resistences, it’s also that the gender persona is an ideal not related to reality. It doesn’t work with real bodies of women, for instance. It says that we must have enormous breasts and the hips of a boy. We must be tall and lean, but we must also be soft and voluptuous, We must be self-abnegating to the point of servileness, but exciting and fun and feisty. We must fill the infinite abyss of male need for admiration and emotional support and be kind and loving, but not have any unpleasant emotions ever. Etc. The male gender persona, I suggest, does not provoke this kind of anxiety because the ideal is closely related to male reality.

Hi, fcm, I see what you’re saying. I wonder if this authenticity I’m talking about would appear quite naturally and easily once we were free. So to say we want to be free, we just need to add on, free to develop as individuals and in line with whatever collective nature we will prove to have as women. I do think we will find a collective general nature, but I don’t think it will be a huge surprise. I think it will be rather peaceful, this real nature, for instance. I think it will be tolerant. But to go there, we must have sovereignty over our destinies, the power to direct our own lives. For that, we have to break free of this powerful system of male control and male psychology dominating all culture.

42. Sargasso Sea - May 3, 2013

Hello 🙂 I’ve been quite busy this week and have not been able to participate as much as I would have liked but I sure have enjoyed everyone’s input – plenty to think about. So thanks!

43. witchwind - May 4, 2013

What men do to women is N0T a persona (gender, femininity). It’s not a role or culture imposed (would we say that anti-jew propaganda and putting yellow stars on jews was a “culture” imposed on them by the nazis??) but is a reality of men’s VI0LENCE and our responses to it and nothing else. Femininity does not exist, it’s a male lie to cover up the fact that our behaviour is the result of being groomed to submission through men’s psychological, sexual and physical torture.

So the question of authencity is misleading to the extent that the only thing we can know for sure about female behaviour on a general level is that we are not meant to be subjected to men’s violence and PIV. In other words, that we are meant to be free from it.

on an individual level, the closest we can get to respecting our “selves” in this current male state is to pay attention to our physical and emotional responses in given situations, examine what it means and listen to them / never ignore them or try to suppress them. And try to deactivate traumatic memory so we cease to re-enact or internalise the violence that was inflicted upon us. And continue to seek the truth about our reality.

44. karmarad - May 4, 2013

Hi, WW, it seemed like “persona” was a good word to express my point that men’s conglomeration of gender roles is pretty consistent with their biology and doesn’t unduly interfere with their “authenticity”, while women have such a comprehensive, broad, consistent, rigid, arbitrary, male-serving complex of social behaviors imposed on them, you could say we have to wear a full mask (a “persona”). Your example of the yellow star does show that the “mask” is imposed from without. Anyway, if you don’t like the use of the word, that’s fine, no worries.

I agree that we can’t fully know what we are authentically right now and that we must free ourselves before addressing that question

I agree with your third paragraph. Even though I know we can’t see through our social conditioning to our authentic selves fully right now, I agree that examining my deep responses to events, trying to de-condition myself, and trying to join others in collectively seeking the truth does offer us some glimpses, and this is a hopeful thought.

45. WordWoman - May 6, 2013

This is so clarifying. I’ve been thinking about romantic love and how it is all just about trauma and hoping to find a rescuer. That rescuer will rescue from the trauma. I recently saw a quote online quoting Judith Herman who wrote about trauma. It was something to the effect that the underlying message of nearly all fairy tales is that a good man will come along and rescue you if you are a woman. But other women are dangerous, so you need to be wary of them. More succinct, though. I wish I had saved it but that’s the gist. What we learn with trauma bonding reinforcing it.

FCM - May 6, 2013

i would like to clarify that when i suggest that women could and probably would be very different from one another, if our nature was to be free, i dont think any of our variations would include anything man-like except as (perhaps) a manifestation of mental illness. this is in fact what we see now, where women are violent and its not in self defense, or acting as an agent of a male or males, or acting within a male model such as female gangs, there is very little “female violence” left and occurs so infrequently as to be a true abberation. who knows if it would exist at all if women werent traumatized by males, causing mental unwellness, or (for example) malnourished in childhood due to largely man-ufactured shortages and obstacles preventing cognitive and emotional development. these things appear to be comorbid with mental illness (but not always).

46. Sargasso Sea - May 7, 2013

But women are already very different from each other in the pre-postmodern sense – that we are indeed individual, sentient beings. 🙂

It’s too bad that we are only thought sentient/agents when it serves to make us look bad.

FCM - May 7, 2013

indeed s4. 🙂 i suppose im still thinking about what radikit said upthread (or was it on the previous thread?) about how “women” view justice, what “women” value etc. the thought of it gives me the creeps frankly. people are overeager IMO to ascribe various qualities to “women” as a class, and not eager at all to see how different we all might be not just from men but from each other, if we were free. would there even be a concept of “justice” without men victimizing us and each other? how would “women” view justice if we were free — well, what if “justice” was a nonissue? what if we never had to consider what “women” valued because there were ONLY female values and no male (and perhaps even no men?) theres something creepy and reactive about the whole idea IMO and it gets less creepy the more i think about our differences, and our natural state being not only difference but also constant change. this is completely forbidden now. except in a pomo special snowflake sense of course. its exactly as you say.

47. WordWoman - May 7, 2013

The “pre-postmodern sense” phrase gave me a chuckle. But so very true, women are not allowed to be individuals. Special snowflakes are narcissists, not individuals at all. Narcissism is a set of characteristics. Entitlement is also a rigid thing. Not individual.

And yes, the entitled and narcissists are very creepy. Also, of course, dangerous.

48. radikit - May 7, 2013

Yes, so women would have values that make room for difference, for interconnectedness, for dynamic change. This is exactly what I mean. Fcm, I don’t know how you imagined it when I talked about women’s values. Probably another variation of patriarchal culture? This is not what I meant though. I’m not sure myself right now what exactly I mean by that. As I said, its something I have been thinking about lately.

FCM - May 7, 2013

and im not even talking about difference as “variations on a theme” like if you had 100 roses, each would be slightly different kind of thing. i mean, what if one of us is a daisy, and the others arent even flowers at all? what if you are an apple tree and someone else is a fish? that kind of difference. we need to consider that this is what true freedom looks like for women, including everything that would entail if its true. all the things we would be able to do, and all the things we wouldnt. this is what nature looks like, doesnt it? so its not that far flung IMO. there are still rules, but they are natural rules, not man-ufactured ones.

49. radikit - May 7, 2013

I agree with you re:natural rules. And the way I see nature is that all is interconnected, because we are all part of this whole biosystem planet. So no matter if one is a daisy and others are fish or stones, we all share the planet’s DNA (even men). Its just that man-ufactured rules don’t allow for all daisies, fish and stones to be free and live as they’d want to, being free. I think it is possible to all live in this biosystem, and I think men have no clue how. But women do. When we remember (or invent).

50. radikit - May 7, 2013

And then of course is the problem with men and how they seemingly WANT to live. Even though some very few of them are starting to want to live differently, maybe even according to the planet’s rules. Maybe they are capable of evolving? Not to say we should bet on it. So since men’s preferred way of be-ing is the rapist state, we best see them as defunct. Not representing the planet and its rules (and therefore women’s), but in contradiction to it. Which is obvious because they are destroying their own living habitat with their economy, their military and their politics.

FCM - May 7, 2013

hi radikit. glad you are still reading. its probably partially a language problem and even a conceptual problem thats rubbing me the wrong way. “womens values” is like “womens issues” in that its othered and marginalized, where mens everything is the default. but theres no other way to discuss it is there? or is there? no one ever asks what men value, do they? and when you point to THE WORLD and suggest that everything in it represents and embodies male values they look at you like youre insane. feminists included. but its also a problem of rigidity, like wordwoman suggests. is women “valuing” constant change really a value? does nature value constant change, or does it embody it and do it? i think we are thinking about this wrong. even “values” is a male construct isnt it? something that comes from outside themselves. sonia johnson suggests that this is why men have religion and laws, because they are incapable of experiencing any of this internally and their rules have to come from outside sources. whereas women just naturally connect to the world and each other without the need for rituals and rules. men make us follow their bizarre rituals as if we have the same problem they do, but we dont. more projection by them, more defining the “human” experience from their own (sick, disconnected, immoral, inadequate) perspective. i agree its not the easiest thing to put into words.

51. witchwind - May 7, 2013

i also believe that change would be constant and rigidity in character or in behaviour pattern is male. it is men who repeat the same acts and thoughts over and over again, in sadistic rituals, like a broken disk. Men are a closed circle.
insofar as we would be constantly changing because free to go and think wherever we wanted (not limited by fear of men and their reprisals) we would constantly evolve. this in itself entails uniqueness because no-one evolves in the same way.

52. radikit - May 7, 2013

It’s very difficult to put into words, because we have mostly male-made words with the patriarchal meaning/concepts attached to it and its not obvious to each other how we might use the words differently or associate men’s meaning to them. I try to mostly not think about male forms of organization of life (religions etc), but about what those words might mean from a woman-centric, biophilic perspective. So I sometimes use the words men sue too but mean different things. And you can’t know that. The internet and not knowing each other personally is also a factor I think. I have a radfem sister with who I get into less misunderstandings because we both know what thought processes the other is currently working on… (language is so awkward, we should all learn to communicate in images and sensations).
But I think trying to construct new meaning is so important. Thanks you’re thinking about my thoughts. 🙂

53. radikit - May 7, 2013

Goddess my English is awful today. Sorry. 😀

FCM - May 7, 2013

yes good point that men are (OBVIOUSLY!) not following natural rules/laws. even women GLOBALLY and across time having an aversion to PIV is a natural law. and we can see what has become of the world when mens laws and values around PIV took precedence over ours. this is just one example, but its kind of THE example isnt it? women having control over reproduction seems to be a natural law, and one that “we” stray from to “our” detriment.

54. tiamathydra - May 7, 2013

I know a woman who is a little bit witchy in a special way, some people just consider her to be a freak but she is actually an educated career woman so she isn’t silly at all, and she often speaks of people making mythological analogies, like: this kid is an elf, this woman is a dragon, or this particular person is a wolf or whatever. I asked her about it and she just told me it was her intuition. At first it seemed like a joke but I kind of ended up understanding that it is necessary to be very open to nature’s essential differences present in all of its beings in order to really perceive their true qualities or what they are about. I am now more open to really seeing what each woman is about and where they’re coming from because individuality in a natural non-pomo way definitely exists, and it unites us as a class, does not separate us, like pomo individuality does.

That’s why I’m a separatist from my ”country” (state), because my culture has been colonized for 200 years and my language forbidden until recently, and this idea that abolishing nations and languages in order to make a collective world with just 1 language and 1 culture seems orwellian to me. If you find something wrong with being different and embracing each other’s individuality and culture, you are implying that you view differences in a hostile way and want to colonize everyone different to you to make the perceived ”danger” disappear, it’s a very violent, rapist, white male point of view. Post-modernism and its tainted concept of individuality sucks, I don’t feel at all like an individual when I analyze their notions.

55. witchwind - May 7, 2013

men’s laws are to destroy (life / femaleness), by definition everything they do is anti-natural, that is, at the exact opposite of what we should do and how we should be to be free, sane and healthy

56. Sargasso Sea - May 7, 2013

It IS difficult to say the things we mean given the (obvious) limitations the whole male-language paradigm has yoked us with. However, this is the one-and-only space where I *know* my thought process will be sensed/acknowledged. Thanks to all of you.

That said: “justice” is completely alien to me as a concept and always has been. There is no “justice” in nature – things simply are.

57. WordWoman - May 7, 2013

” is women “valuing” constant change really a value? does nature value constant change, or does it embody it and do it?”

Wow, FCM, I loved this distinction. It gets at something very basic. We learn to conform to male rules and language. But do we see through it? Is what is called “women’s intuition” often just seeing things as they are (embodied). Seeing through the male overlay. But then we have to translate it back to malesystem to be understood. How many males in our lives have acted like we just weren’t making sense?

“i think we are thinking about this wrong. even “values” is a male construct isnt it? something that comes from outside themselves. sonia johnson suggests that this is why men have religion and laws, because they are incapable of experiencing any of this internally and their rules have to come from outside sources. whereas women just naturally connect to the world and each other without the need for rituals and rules. men make us follow their bizarre rituals as if we have the same problem they do, but we dont.”

No, we don’t!

58. karmarad - May 7, 2013

Yep to all that! Values? Laws? Use of precedent? Myths? Language-structure? Sexual practices? Even, scientific method? All aligned with male psychology, the only kind we can know and study. Still, the intuitions come to us…WHY must we put radio collars on every fish in the ocean? WHY is more interference and information always better? WHY must the GNP keep growing? WHY can’t the US close Guantanamo? WHY is diplomacy always trumped by war? WHY must we build the Large Hadron Collider and search for the Higgs when all that money could save millions of lives? WHY are gadgets and robots and metal and electricity and burning so important? WHY can’t mental health be oriented toward clinical work rather than distribution of chemical concoctions? WHAT is money really about? HOW can anyone violently harm another person except from insanity or protection of other lives? WE have to act as though these whispering little constant questionings don’t exist or I doubt we could function at all. WHY this ravening insatiability?

59. radikit - May 7, 2013

Fuck, I just called the police on a guy in my apartment block. Went by their door and it sounded as if he was abusing his wife and daughter, then took the daughter to another room and forced something in her mouth (so that she couldn’t speak, except for “no…no..ouw” and crying). JFC, I feel sick to my stomach. Of course when the police came they said it was all a misunderstanding and that the girl just didn’t want to brush her teeth and had to be “helped” (she is about 8 years old, what girl at that age can’t brush her own teeth?!).

60. witchwind - May 7, 2013

the word value is quite thought terminating to me.

knowing that men are unnatural and external / impose things on us externally (laws, rituals, concrete, urbanisation, hierarchy, institutions) that always intoxicate, destroy and disturb our mental and physical functioning, it’s interesting to see what comes out when you start examining things internally and let your body (or physical / emotional responses) set the barometer for what’s good for you and what’s not, what you want and don’t want, and where you still need to work on certain aspects (ie patterns of abuse or harm repeating themselves or failing to go away). not that it’s easy to interpret or understand why your body reacts in this or that way, it takes work and time.

When things work well, I’ve noticed that things flow pretty easily, no need for control, rules or commandments. it’s probable that men have rules and commandments to curb down their destructiveness (although this may be a reversal and a way of justifying tyranny because their rules encourage destructiveness and are destructive by themselves). but men do like rules, hierarchy, orderliness and control

61. witchwind - May 7, 2013

oh shit radikit that is awful, and it certainly sounds like he was raping the girl. Is there any way you can get in contact the woman and daughter when you know he’s not there and they are in, and see what you can figure out to help them get safe and away from that crazy rapist?

Policemen are there to ensure the well-functioning of men’s violence against women and punish a few token men just to make their lie that they’re protecting us slightly credible.

62. WordWoman - May 8, 2013

Radikit, your post gave me chills.

I now just read that horrible story about the 3 Ohio women who just got free of the man/men who kidnapped them as teenagers, ten years or more ago. There was one report from the house of a woman screaming that the police passed off as a domestic quarrel a few years ago. yet there were no women supposedly living there at the time.

I listened to the phone calls to 911 and the male dispatcher appears to be not even listening to the woman on the other end. He says they will send a car when one is available. Made my blood boil. From the photos looks like a poor neighborhood, so the police are less than responsive there. Especially for a woman.

Being poor and a woman means no one will help you escape. I couldn’t help but contrast this to the police response to the marathon bombing. Supposed terrorists with foreign names in an upscale event. Political gain to be had. Police searching every home and shutting down a city. What about the male terrorists holding/beating all the kidnapped and beaten women? Women held in sexual slavery. If the stats don’t indicate this is terrorism, I don’t know what does. On a vast scale.

Also, people are saying it’s wonderful they were found and released. It is good, since they were believed dead. But wonderful is not a good descriptor. It is hard to begin to imagine what they will go through in trying to recover from this.

63. farishcunning - May 8, 2013

WordWoman: “Men and their systems are constructions, constructed by them, benefiting them, causing these harms.”

I spent too many years rationalizing males and their behavior in my head. I have finally gotten to the place where WordWoman’s observation is too obvious to ignore. Males and everything they do really are toxic.

64. In Which I Make a Fantastical Leap | femonade - May 8, 2013

[…] anyway for 1000 years by now.  both before and after the burning times.  although we do see a divergence from that history in newer feminist thought which protests “stereotypes” of male behavior too.  men […]

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