1000 Years of This. 40 Years of That. April 25, 2013Posted by FCM in books!, gender roles, international.
Tags: essentialism, gerda lerner, male violence, the creation of feminist consciousness
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.
A Red Umbrella for Visual Impact September 10, 2012Posted by FCM in gender roles, logic, pop culture, porn, radical concepts, rape.
Tags: essentialism, male violence
i previously wrote about the intent and effect of “the obliterating false equivalence” here, where false equivalences are used as a linguistic and literary weapon against women to erase proof of mens misogyny and criminality as well as our response and resistance to them. this is a fairly complicated use of the device, which renders it unobvious — for example, when women respond to misogyny and
personal misogynist attacks with righteous anger, deserved ad hominems, or completely accurate class-based observations or policies regarding violent and predatory males, our response is said to be as bad the same as whatever the men did to deserve the response. thus, radical feminism is framed as a “hateful ideology” rather than a personal or political response to mens hateful ideology of misogyny.
in online spaces, a feminist response to misogyny may be violative of the terms of service so that both the woman and the man/men she was responding to are punished “equally” by suspension or termination from the online space. the effect is that the rape- and death-threats (and more!) are deleted, so the proof of what men are doing and saying is erased from history. and the feminist voices and resistance are erased — feminist material and context which often contains theory, quotes, citations, and new ideas, or fresh expressions of old ideas that name the agent and resonate with women and (therefore) have the potential to create feminist change. its as if none of it ever happened, which benefits men both coming and going.
interestingly, the false equivalence has many anti-feminist uses, and we see it again and again in “equality” discourse, where men are said to be the same as women and women the same as men. this is a very basic use of the false equivalence…interestingly, it is again rendered unobvious. here is a perfect expression of this, seriously, i couldnt have come up with a better example if i knitted it myself:
[I do not] believe that testosterone at normal male levels must needs result in brutes who rape, dominate and enslave women and children — no more than I believe that hormones at normal female levels results in women as a class being “naturally” passive, submissive little crumpets of femininity who like to be hemmed in, controlled and dictated to from cradle to grave by their fathers, husbands and adult sons.
in other words: i dont believe that females are naturally victims; therefore i also cannot believe that males are naturally victimizers. as comforting as warm oatmeal to “feminist” women who love men, unfortunately, this position fails to stand up to even basic scrutiny. to wit, i believe this proof would be expressed like this:
A = B; B = C; therefore A = C.
where A = “men” and B = “women” and C = “doesnt exist in their natural state”.
if men and women are the same, and women do not currently exist in our natural state, then men do not currently exist in their natural state either. the problem is that A = B (men = women) is, in fact, demonstrably false. radical feminists, at least, normally do not have trouble making this distinction.
the rest of it — B = C, or women do not exist in their natural state — is probably true. exploring how and why women are so damagingly twisted and removed from our natural state by patriarchy, along with a pinch of background about design and function generally, also tends to reveal an uncomfortable truth — that men very likely do, in fact, live in their natural state, under patriarchy. and that patriarchy was and is specifically designed to make men both comfortable and likely to succeed as they really are, which is — as demonstrated every second of every day, in every city and town in the world, by the men themselves — violent, destructive, and dominant.
i mean really. in general, given the choice and power to do it, who the hell would design and maintain something that wasnt functional to themselves? observe:
who would imagine, design, build, and implement this and think it was a good idea for keeping the rain off? no one, thats who. because this object is not functional for that purpose. it doesnt do what we want it to do. thats why umbrellas actually look like this:
this design is functional, and it does what its supposed to. that is, there was a problem or need identified (im getting wet); criteria developed (i have to be able to manage the water), and a solution was created (a handheld device that deflects rain). voila! a functional design.
or, consider the wheel:
same idea. the square wheel is a bad design. it will not function the way anyone probably wants it to function, so in reality, wheels are round. it just works better. interestingly, the square wheel can be made to work if the ground is changed in a specific way, and this solution has been calculated, designed, built and shown to be functional, although highly context-specific:
of course, if a round wheel was big enough, i think that would work perfectly well on this kind of surface too wouldnt it? but anyway, it works. men have made it work. because they can. even to the point of changing the ground — they can twist, bend and shape anything to meet their own needs. they have the time, energy, resources and motivation to do this.
it cannot be a controversial point to say that men generally imagine, design, build and implement objects and systems to be functional, to serve themselves. we all do this, to whatever extent we can. its not a stretch to imagine that men have twisted, bent and shaped women to meet their needs, and that this is what “femininity” is — like pornography, womens “role” has nothing to do with women being women, and everything to do with men being men.
and women propose and build solutions for ourselves to the best of our abilities too, but therein lies the rub: under patriarchy, women do not have the power or resources to imagine, design, build and implement real solutions to our problems. frequently our harm reduction strategies twist and harm us more or differently than the original threat — like being clever (or grossly “feminine”) to avoid negative outcomes, including male violence. but you know who does have the power and resources to make real solutions for themselves that really work and solve problems at a fundamental level? males, as a sexual class, around the world.
so being that this is the case, why the hell would anyone assume that patriarchy isnt the perfect solution for men? they were and are the designers, afterall — they have the power and resources to do whatever they want, and this is what they have chosen. its pretty likely, isnt it, that men have created the system we currently live in — patriarchy — and everything it entails, including all the interacting, overlapping systems that tolerate and perpetuate male violence for the same reasons that pants have 2 legholes instead of 4, and gloves have 5 finger-holes and arent generally made with inflexible materials, or with bees. because it works for them. because it fits. them. them, not us.
clearly, in reality, whether women under patriarchy exist in our natural state actually has nothing whatsoever to do with whether men are naturally violent, destructive and dominant. nothing at all.
of course, i have not proven that men *are* naturally anything, ive just presented evidence. so in that spirit, does anyone have an actual reason to believe that in the case of patriarchy, it is more likely than not that men imagined, designed, built and implemented a system that went against their natures, made them less comfortable, seriously damaged them, or did not serve their needs? like an actual evidence-based reason? if so, please note that in the comments. and while youre at it, kindly note at least three other examples of any designer/builder with the power and resources to do whatever he wanted, actually undermining his own interests or going against his own nature in other contexts. and please provide explanations as to why. as always, the comments will remain open for three days. thank you.