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On Spinning and Spiraling August 27, 2012

Posted by FCM in feminisms, meta, radical concepts, thats random.
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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.

The Dishwasher Dilemma February 17, 2012

Posted by FCM in authors picks, gender roles, news you can use, pop culture, sorry!, thats random.
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i found this on you tube (obviously).  i was actually looking for an episode of “teen mom” where the happy couple was fighting in the car about “having the same conversation over and over.”  about cleaning the house.  i couldnt find what i was looking for, but its not like its difficult to find examples of that particular argument, which is, in fact, my entire point.  you know the one: it goes “you never help me clean the house” then “i do too help you clean the house, i do this, this and this all the time” and then “no you dont, i always do everything and you never do anything unless i nag you about it” and so on and so forth.  its as common as…PIV in het relationships, and fights about PIV in het relationships.  now, why might that be?

i would really like to write an english-to-radfem translation program for these things, but im not a programmer so…small obstacle there.  but i can write about it, so i will.

you see, the very repetitive “housework” fight is about patriarchy!  just like everything else.  its about women getting constantly shit on by individual men and by men collectively and by mens patriarchal institutions.  and if there are no words to express this, its not a coincidence.  its very deliberate, this language problem, so that women are literally unable to even frame the issue in a coherent way, and in this case (as in many others) are rendered completely unable to express their dissatisfaction in reasonable terms that “make sense” (to men and other male-identified persons) mute so that womens reality is never acknowledged, so they never get what they need.

or perhaps more to the point, this language problem functions to ensure that womens reality is never actually actively and obviously discarded, with extreme and obvious prejudice, with an obvious culpable agent making those decisions, where even the men who allegedly love us tell us we can go to hell, to our faces.  no, its never hardly ever that obvious.  theres a reason for that.  it ensures that we never quite get whats happening here, or gives men plausible deniability when its pretty obvious they are fucking us over, deliberately.  so we never give men what they really and actually deserve, which is less than nothing.  and so we never see them for what they really are: the enemy.  of women.

SO.  let me put words to this one, if i may.

the very repetitive “housework fight” is about mental labor, and project management.  this has parallels to the work that men do, and that men get paid very well to do, and when men do it, its an actual, real thing, and is a skill that is very difficult to teach, requires intuition and good judgement, and constant vigilance and around-the-clock mental and physical labor (or whatever passes for that in mens world, 9-5 i guess?  8 to 8?  that one time some dood couldnt sleep?  cry me a river asshats.)  project management is one of the highest paid and most prestigious positions men reserve for themselves, because its the hardest and most important, and not everyone can do it, or is willing to do it.  so, lets go with that.  running a household is project management.

and project management, no matter what the actual project is, refers to both mental and physical labor, and includes that awareness thats always going on in the back of the project managers mind, where she knows the entire layout of the entire project at all times, is attuned to the slightest change and reads the tea leaves constantly to assess whats needed, to avoid potential exacerbations and escalations that will require even more work (and possible catastrophic failures, and snowballing catostrophic failures) down the road, and has many, many schedules running in her head simultaneously.  and it necessarily involves delegation of certain duties, especially very menial tasks that even the most unskilled laborer could do.  because the project manager’s time is worth more.

dont shoot the messenger, i didnt make this shit up.  im just using mens words and mens concepts here, since nobody seems to get it when women use their own words.  in fact, it might even be true: certain projects might actually need project managers.  its possible i guess?  that one seems right to me, having actually worked on projects before, in life.  how men deal with this reality and create their hierarchies around it is on them, im just saying.

so anyway.  an example of this kind of mental labor is as follows: i watered the plants that need to be watered every month 2 weeks ago; i watered the plants that need to be watered every 2 weeks 2 weeks ago, so…i need to water those plants, but definitely not the other ones, or all the plants will die.  and then i will reset the schedule in my mind.  that kind of thing.

so the actual watering of the plants is only part of it.  its a large part of it, because if all the mental labor happens but the plants dont get watered, we will have a very obvious failure on our hands.  but as incredibly important as that is, theres even more to than that, running below the surface that causes those plants to stay alive.  so if i ask you to water a plant, and you do it, how much is that really worth?  im just asking.  you arent the reason that plant stayed alive, now are you?  you wouldnt even have known which one needed water, or known which one wouldve died if you watered it just then, without me telling you.

and if i have to fight with you for more than 10 seconds about watering the fucking plant, its a complete waste of my time and i couldve just done it myself.  but even if theres no fighting involved and its done immediately, and graciously, its still not like very much of *my* labor was rendered obsolete.  you have made my life easier, but only a very little bit.  note that the value of the physical labor, and how much of it there really is to do, varies, based on the size of the project.

so.  if we borrowed the hierarchies that men use when they are talking about their own projects, and applied them to the example of the household, the men would be the unskilled labor, who only make a dollar an hour (or whatever) because thats all their labor is really worth.  you know, according to themselves.  and yet, rather inexplicably, they act like they deserve their own personal superbowl-victoryesque parade dedicated to all the awesome that is THEM, for watering a plant, and performing other very unskilled labor, when, in applying their own hierarchies, the work they just performed is only worth a dollar.  and when you give them the dollar, they act like the dollar is a penny.

this is really about mens dishonesty, and using and framing womens labor in a way that they would never use and frame mens labor, because it supports male power and damages women to do that, and thats what men do, and they never stop.  and they take away womens ability to express their reality, through disingenuous issue-framing and controlling language, because it supports male power and damages women to do that, and thats what men do and they never stop.  and women dont like this reality.  and men do.  thats what this fight is really about.

men are so impossible!

YES, yes they are, if by “men” you mean “the het partnership in a patriarchy, from women’s perspective.”  its based on lies, and in the case of the housework dilemma, its literally impossible to reconcile this one.  it is literally impossible to explain or confront this in a way which is consistent with maintaining the relationship, or maintaining the heterosexual partnership in general, at all.  and *thats* where advice-columnists go off the rails.  even “dear momma” pulls her punches on this one big time: she tailors her advice so that its consistent with maintaining the relationship.  its advice with an agenda.  in reality, this one cannot be reconciled.

i hope this is helpful to someone.

PS.  heres “dear momma” on PIV.  its pretty good.  no fun for whom indeed.

Underpants Revolution December 24, 2011

Posted by FCM in health, self-identified feminist men, thats random.
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-click on images to view full-size-

some end-of-year thoughts.  female pain is bad.  all of it.  all things that cause female pain must be eliminated immediately, and at the top of the list (because these are the easiest) are the things we have the immediate power to change.  is there *anything* at the top of that list?  is there anything any of us can do?  i sincerely hope so.  and no, i dont want to talk about the pain of childbirth, and whether its *bad* but its not because its not completely relevant, and its not because pregnancy and all the stuff that comes with it is almost always unwanted or ambivalent, and that is so fucked up it makes me furious.  i just dont want to talk about it right this very second because it divides women.  and thats not where my head is at.  female pain is bad.

so regarding underpants.  thats a pretty small thing that could be easily changed, right?

obviously, from the smallest thing to the biggest, all things under patriarchy are designed to benefit men.  all things that are designed, built, perpetuated, supported and enforced under the patriarchy are absolutely and unequivocally designed to and do benefit men at womens expense.  as a thought exercise, or just an easy way to save precious time, just start with that premise, because its demonstrably true.  and today, im considering underpants.  if you *cant* change your underpants without something drastic happening to you in real life…and many of us cant, or it would be very difficult…feel the anxiety start to rise?  this is how controlled we are, and this is how centralized female pain is to the whole system.  im just saying.

for example, how many millions go into the coffers when women have chronic yeast infections because of tight-fitting underpants that dont let you breathe?  how do men benefit when women are constantly fussing with their reproductive tract due to completely preventable medical events and dont think anything about sticking things into it at all, and letting men we dont even know stick things into us too and its completely normalized and routine?  and so on and so forth.  how controlled are we, when none of our clothes would fit right anymore if we wore loose fitting underpants that were healthier and less painful, and it was impossible to remedy that?  think of how hard it would be to remedy that for many women.  they couldnt.  this is what we are dealing with.  and i really dont think this can be made better under the current system.  ie.  would changing jobs help?  why/why not?

im starting to think that if changing something in your life would make it easier to change your underpants, then it just might be worth doing, and is probably something pretty fundamental at that.  in general, our jobs, or changing jobs might not be where its at.  men arent where its at either obviously.  its actually funny to think of how disgusted shaken up they would be if women started wearing loose fitting underpants.  which in general is a signal that whatever we are doing, we should probably do it MOAR.  its base and reactionary, but its also easy and true, which works in a pinch.  its interesting how that particular intuition has been almost beaten out of us.  i said almost.  and it comes back.  🙂

and on that note, happy blogging everyone!  see you in 2012!

3 Women Show December 3, 2011

Posted by FCM in kids, PIV, rape, thats mean, thats random.
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the other day, i went to the movies with nigel.  we sat on the end of a row that was filled with 13-year old girls and three adult female chaperones that i saw, it was kind of dark and i actually think their group extended into the next row too.  so there were probably more adult women but i only saw three.  anyway, there were 2 empty seats on the end, and we were obviously about to take them: the three adult women looked at us as we were about to sit down.  nigel moved like he was going to go into the row and sit down first, next to the last girl, with me next to him on the end.  i could tell that the women did not like that, i could sense this easily, but even before i had consciously noted that, i had already decided that i would push past him and sat down next to the last girl, forcing him to sit on the end.  this was very fluid and nothing that wouldve been noticed by anyone observing, or even by nigel.  it really wasnt anything out of the ordinary at all, no more than breathing, really.  i had connected psychically with 3 women i didnt even know.

did i mention that im psychic?  cause i am.  i can also see the future, and alter the course of history: if nigel had sat down next to the girl on the end instead of me, i absolutely know that one of the women wouldve traded seats with the girl so no girl would be sitting next to an adult man in the dark for 2 hours in a crowded movie theater.

so anyway, the course of history having been altered, the women relaxed and stopped paying attention to us completely.  all women reading this anecdote know why.  the ones who dont want to believe it know why, the ones who love men know why, the ones who hate men know why.  the ones who hate me know why.  the readers who are men…well who knows what delusion they are privileged enough to live under.  women know the truth.  they can deny it at their peril, but thats not the same as not knowing it.

and as everyone who is being honest here knows, these 3 women did not want an adult man sitting next to one of the girls, because of what men are known to do to girls: men sexually abuse girls, and devastate girls and womens lives.  and men do this often.  this is obvious, its contextual, and its true.

the 3 women at the theater that day were not unusual women.  they were just women.  female-bodied persons.  with all the senses of human beings, and the memory of human beings too.  and the ability to cognate, synthesize, and make connections.  like all humans, and perhaps some other animals too although i dont know.  all women know this, all women have a shared, lived experience because they are female, they have these concerns and they maneuver and negotiate at all times so that they and the girls they are caring for can be as safe as possible from men because they know what men do.  this is womens reality.  all womens reality.

now, being your completely-usual woman, knowing what she knows and what all women know, i wouldnt be at all surprised if many or even most pregnant-women take a few moments to consider, once she realizes shes been impregnated and that the fetus is male, that this boy-fetus she is carrying is very likely to be the worst-possible thing to ever happen to another womans girl-fetus.  that this male child, even if he never abuses a person in his entire life, will end up ruining one woman or many womens lives by sticking his dick into them and wreaking havoc in their lives that will never compare to any other horror or any other trauma or any other tragedy: it will be greater, and more constant and worse, and it will never be remedied.  that this fetus will ruin womens lives, and thats a given, even if he doesnt do anything “wrong” because this is the paradigm under which we currently live, and thats the truth of it.

women know what we know.  women are watching and paying attention, and behaving in accordance with what they know, and altering the course of history one way or another, and this cannot be stopped.  like the women in the movie theater, they absolutely cannot be stopped.  they might nod and smile and pay lip service, but they will keep doing what they are doing and they will never stop doing it.  all women know what men do and what they are.  this gives me hope.

On Harm Reduction June 29, 2011

Posted by FCM in books!, health, PIV, pop culture, thats random.
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anyone of age in the 1980s probably remembers carole jacksons “color me beautiful” franchise that went viral before there was such a thing (and its still going!) where women were enlightened through personal color analysis how to best choose clothing, accessories and makeup color based on their own hair, skin and eye color.

arguably most useful for white women, the CMB color analysis reveals whether a woman is spring, summer, autumn or winter, and indeed once a woman figures out her proper colors she can actually “save money” by only buying things that will look good on her, and that she will want to wear until they fall apart (or until she changes size, or the item goes out of fashion, or whatever).  yes,  i did say saving-money-by-spending-it.  its consumerist okay?  and i say its “arguably” most useful for white women because apparently women of color can save-money-by-spending-it this way too, but are afforded somewhat more limited advice, frequently being the most flattered by a “winter” palette.  dont shoot the messenger ok?  we are talking harm reduction only.  this isnt rocket science, and its not radical.  its also not feminist, but thats obvious isnt it?  okay good.

now.  i am talking about “color me beautiful” because this shit actually works, to reduce harm.  it does.  (BTW i am a spring!)  when i go out into the patriarchal pornified rapefest i mean into the world, where i maintain a job and have to deal with pornsickened, objectifying assholes, rapists and handmaidens of the patriarchy all day, every day…i find that i can manipulate their perceptions of me, steer their emotional response to benefit myself, and make certain things (but not others) easier for myself, if i perform grooming and dressing rituals that are basically par for my sex.  (is it just me?  HA!  didnt think so).  but i refuse to pornify myself, and i have decided in the last year or so that i also dont want to spend either time or money doing this.  at least, i dont want to spend any more than a man would have to spend, to fulfill the requisite boo-hoo poor me i have to groom myself and wear work-clothes to work sex-appropriate rituals for men.  not because i think anything men do or dont do is the gold standard or anything…this is me, reducing the harm i incur daily, under the P, based on my sex.  saving money (or not spending it, and DEFINITELY not spending it on patriarchal beauty mandates) is harm reduction only.  and i want to reduce my harm, to whatever extent its within my own control to do so.

so, among other things, i cut my hair short…and i recently stopped wearing makeup.  yes, i said recently.  dont hate!  i have uneven skin tone mkay?  and i wasnt able to give it up until recently, with the help of “color me beautiful”.  YES!  if you wear the right colors, you dont need makeup!  especially if you phase out the face-paint over time, and didnt cake it on like a “femme transwoman” in the first place.  you see, a salmon, turquoise or teal shirt (“spring” good-colors) costs as much as an orange, a pale yellow or a white one (spring bad-colors!) and wearing good colors evens out your skin tone.  it does!  in my case, i usually wear neutrals, so i have realized that a cream, navy or dark-heather-gray (whatever-item) costs the same as a white, black, or brown of the same item…and its going to look better.  so good that i “look like” im wearing makeup, but im not!111!!!1 

yes thats right: im spending the same amount on clothing as i did previously (i personally enjoy thrift-stores and a good tailor if needed) and i am NOT spending ANYTHING on makeup.  (and i gave up accessories completely a year ago).  i hope to NOT-SPEND money on as many things as possible for as long as possible, and then stave-off rape and the sexual entitlement of men for as long as possible, in my old age.  and failing that, when the money and the security it buys runs out, i will probably kill myself.  (isnt that everyones retirement plan?)  but i digress.

so, back to harm reduction.  harm reduction isnt radical.  its just something we do, or dont do, to get ahead (or at least not to fall behind, or further behind) and to mitigate the damages we incur as female-bodied persons under patriarchy.  thats all.  generally, specific harm-reduction strategies work for some women, some of the time, and might be more or less available, more or less appealing, or more or less effective for different women, based on individual womens circumstances.  generally harm-reduction strategies also support the patriarchy in some way (rather than subverting it) which is why they arent radical.  kind of like…saving money.  this entails actually making some, and participating in capitalist (and abusive) hierarchies for example.

and also like…abortion.  okay?  abortion is not a radical solution to the harms women incur daily, as female-bodied persons under the P.  abortion is harm-reduction only, meaning that it can be less harmful than bringing a pregnancy to term for some women, some of the time.  and like all harm-reduction strategies, abortion will be more or less available, more or less appealing, and more or less effective for different women based on their unique situation.  what abortion will never do, because it cant, is save us from men, or from mens sexual entitlement, or from mens abuse (including rape) or from poverty or from anything, really.  only a radical solution could save us from any of that.  all abortion does is terminate an existing pregnancy.  thats all.

and thats important!  make no mistake.  it absolutely and significantly reduces harm, where women are subjected to PIV-centric sex when they do not wish to become pregnant; where they are raped and prostituted, and where men intentionally impregnate us to cause female-specific harm.  and where men have designed their legal, medical and religious machines to magnify the harms to women once they impregnate us, and once we have children too.  in this context, abortion is necessary, and there is no doubt about that.  we must have access to safe and legal abortion.  this will continue to be the case even after the revolution, because even wanted pregnancies are dangerous.  even wanted pregnancies can kill you.  and women will always need the option to say NO to a medical event that is specific only to us.

but, that said, abortion is not a radical solution to womens oppression, or an antidote to mens power over us.  and its not going to liberate us any more or any differently, really, than a flattering thriftstore wardrobe is going to liberate us from mens tyranny and oppression.  anyone can see that adhering to beauty mandates (even on the cheap) is just supporting the patriarchy and reifying male power in demonstrable ways; well, abortion is too.  thats what separates harm-reduction strategies from radical solutions.  in the case of abortion, it de-legitimizes womens legitimate complaints about unwanted and PIV-centric sexuality (because the only real harms of PIV are the ones men experience, aka. unwanted parenthood, and definitely NOT unwanted pregnancy, who cares about that?); and men and male institutions make TONS of money off of all medical procedures, including abortion.

harm-reduction strategies and radical solutions are not the same, and we need to keep them separate when thinking and writing about them, because there are meaningful differences there, and we cannot afford to forget what its going to take to get women liberated from men: the end of female-specific harms perpetrated on us, by men, and an antidote to male power.