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That Explains That. (Or, ‘Witchcraze’ Pt. 3) May 26, 2013

Posted by FCM in books!, logic, meta, politics, pop culture.
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ive been seriously wondering for years how certain radical feminist writers managed to get published.  actual, real published in the sense of actual, real publishing houses, with editorial controls, factchecking (where the official “facts” are either baldfaced lies or spin, or where the real truth is unknowable) bank checks to be written and cashed and various patriarchal gatekeepers throughout the process.  how did daly, dworkin or anyone manage to get their work out there despite all the obstacles specifically designed to quash and erase womens work in general and radical feminist work in particular?  i wondered this from the first time i read dworkin and the question has lingered.  lingered!

welp.  reading and finishing anne llewellyn barstows ‘witchcraze’ has been eye-opening in more ways than one.  i mentioned earlier that barstow concludes that women as a class — having been relentlessly hunted, raped, tortured and murdered in a stunning period of global gendercide against women — understandably “kept a lower profile for several centuries” following the official period of the burning times, meaning after the period of 1560-1760 (or after 1800 depending on the source).  (p. 29)  bawdy women, women who talked back to men, were “scolds” or prominent members of the community for any reason (perhaps especially midwives and healers) having been put in their place by 2 centuries of unbridled misogyny and woman-murder, carried out by men and male institutions, all women understandably laid low after that.  for several centuries.  several.  centuries.

doing the math, and understanding that “several” generally means three or more, we see that the period of “laying low” wouldve ended by about 2060 or so.  its still happening, in other words.  but she doesnt say it.  and she uses the past-tense — women kept a lower profile — which reverses what she actually means.  she doesnt mean to say that this ever ended, but she does say it.  or more accurately, she says both, but the effect is to communicate that it ended at some point when that cannot be concluded from her own research or her own words.  a mindfuck effect.  later, she concludes that, as a result of the burning times,

[w]omen began to protest less in general.  From having, at the end of the Middle Ages, a reputation for being scolds and shrews, bawdy and aggressive, women began to change into the passive, submissive type that symbolized them by the mid-nineteenth century.

(p. 158).  what she doesnt do is make any statement at all about the “feminizing” effect of the global witchhunt by men against women carrying over into modern times or address how and indeed whether it still affects us at all.  it does, of course.  how could it not? and why would anyone assume or believe otherwise — that women found their voice at some point — and if anyone did think that, when exactly did this happen and how?

the mystery of how barstow got published has been answered to my satisfaction, and the answer appears to be that she didnt make any useful political connections or draw any relevant feminist conclusions from her own work.  instead, she makes the historical point, and the math takes us well into the future but she doesnt explain how or indeed whether the patriarchal purpose (intent and effect) of the witchcraze is relevant now, or how or whether it will continue to be relevant into the future or perhaps forever.  she leaves the reader to do that, and in fact no thinking person who was both paying attention and interested in the subject matter could reasonably conclude otherwise, based on her work and the information she provides.  hmmm.

as for daly and dworkin, it seems as if the same principle applies, and obviously so, so dont shoot the messenger mkay.  specifically, dworkin criticized PIV — intercourse — to within in inch of its life (as a patriarchal institution that benefits men at womens expense) but what she never said was that PIV-as-sex or for pleasure alone was inherently oppressive to women.  and when asked to clarify, she did — as everyone knows, she said that it was her belief that intercourse-as-sex could and would survive equality.  what she didnt do was explain how or why she thought that, or indeed how that conclusion reasonably followed from her own work.  it doesnt, by the way.

and daly, as i recall, (as many radical feminists do) used “5000 years” as the age of patriarchy, concluding that patriarchy is therefore a social (read: not biological) phenomenon with a beginning, and that therefore it will have an end.  but in reality, it seems as if institutionalized patriarchy began about 5000 years ago, and merely codified and formalized the previously informal patriarchal controls and structures that already existed everywhere anyway.  daly (and others!) using the 5000-years tidbit didnt lie exactly, but did the actual, real (whole) truth no favors and made it harder in some ways to draw reasonable conclusions based on the evidence.

now, im not calling daly or dworkin liars, or handmaidens or disparaging their work at all, i dont think, by calling attention to what was very likely a calculated trick or strategy used in order to get published in the patriarchal press.  in fact i appreciate both of them very much, including whatever strategies they mightve employed to think, write and publish because their work changed my life and my brain etc etc.  i feel about both of them the way you probably do — with love, admiration, gratitude and awe.  and probably other things.  amiright?

but what i am saying is this.  because published radical feminists (obviously) have to make concessions in order to be published at all, in order to get to the real, actual (whole) truth, other radical feminists have to read very closely, and not just *some* radical work but as much radical work as possible by a lot of different authors and make the connections ourselves.  *we* still have to figure out what the hell is going on, and take these radical thoughts to their logical ends.  this makes truth-seeking very difficult as its made both time consuming and frustrating.  and as is always the case, these half-truths and thought-termination/truncation make it decidedly *unobvious* that there is, in fact, any further truth to be revealed at all, or any obfuscating strategies being applied at all.

in the case of radical feminist publications in particular, its entirely possible that, since men cannot truly understand radical feminism, male editors and publishers didnt and in fact couldnt take these thoughts to their ends and understand the implications of any of it, including where and how it went off the rails, or was inconsistent, incomplete or unclear.  and being that men conflate “pleasing” with male-pleasing, they cant even identify that — male-pleasing as a political strategy (used to get published, despite being irrational or not reasonably following from the material) or as a “politic” at all.  even though it obviously is one.

of course, since i believe that the radical feminists that came before were some of the most intelligent, ingenious and creative humans who ever lived, i can only assume that this was deliberate on their part, and if it was, that they counted on us to realize what was happening and to do what they likely couldnt — to use their published work as a springboard and to take this material and these thoughts further, deeper and wider than anyone has ever done before.  to read between the lines and to use it in any and all ways to get to the actual, real (whole) truth about womens lives, and what men do to us, in order to liberate us from male dominance.  they are asking us to do this, i think, but in any event we are clearly invited to do it.  thats the point really.  not only the (historically gatekept, written) medium but the nature of radical feminist work itself absolutely invites our freedom of thought.  it just does.

Moron Creativity May 19, 2013

Posted by FCM in books!, international.
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we have discussed creativity before here.  this post is more on that subject, and its also about men.  get it?  moron.  i always assume people get that, but maybe its just me.  sometimes i just make myself laugh and thats good enough, but as vonnegut once wrote, maybe people would like art more if the artist explained it a little?

i am currently reading about the witchcraze and one thing ive noticed, indeed its rather difficult not to, is that men were very creative in the ways they treated witches.  more to the point, they were creative torturers.  men came up with shit that would blow your mind if you only knew about it, and it *is* mindblowing to read about this stuff.  its mindblowing in the same way as reading the work and ideas of any creative genius is mindblowing as a matter of fact.  its shit you could never come up with yourself in a thousand years.  of course, the destructiveness of mens torture, when coupled with the creativity of it creates a mindfuck experience as well.  we have no words for this, as “create” and “destroy” are supposed to be opposites.  but they arent.  not for men anyway.

you see, i think its very obvious by now that men are creative torturers and creative destroyers.  in light of recent conversations about the innateness of mens destructiveness and violence, the idea of creativity hits the right note.  a good thing, too, because im getting sick of going around and around on this one.  because all of us, i think, are quite aware that some people are just naturally gifted in certain areas, and that this giftedness cannot be taught.  although we do not fully understand where natural giftedness comes from, we accept and admit that it is real.  we are perfectly comfortable saying people are naturally gifted in certain areas, music, sculpting, cooking, that kind of thing.  arent we?  naturally.  gifted.

welp.  men, as history and experience shows, are gifted at torture.  they really are.  and torture is violence taken to an artform, its violence imagined, designed and implemented with creativity.  isnt it?  if we are going to use other artforms or abilities as analogies, we could say that a naturally gifted person (like a painter or an athlete) can be coached or inspired, and that the gift can be developed and helped along.  but what we know we cant do is teach it.  okay?  creativity, and true creative talent, cannot be taught.  it is innate, and we fucking well know this.

and as men are creative in the area of violence, otherwise known as torture, we can see that men are in fact naturally violent.  i think this is indisputable, and again, that the proof of innateness is that they are able to be creative about it.  they are gifted.  and the existence and pervasiveness of torture, perpetrated by men, globally, across time is absolute proof of this natural propensity and that men share this innate tendency because they are men.

now.  this does open up areas for discussion, and even hope.  because just as we know that creativity can be nurtured, we also know it can be stunted.  we can take away opportunities instead of providing them.  leisure time, money, and an understanding of what is possible based on what other people have done in the field, for example, are used to increase and encourage creative pursuits, and withholding these things can be used to stunt them.  we have lost many geniuses and natural creative talents this way in fact, and i daresay most of these lost geniuses were women due to womens general lack of all conditions and materials known to foster and nurture creativity.  we do this to female talent all the time.  and we have evidence, dont we, that creative talent can be stifled, if not snuffed out completely.

and now that ive thought this through a bit, i can see mens propensity for creative torture, including their torture devices everywhere.  its not just the political torturers and witchhunters, although they might be extreme — that is, different in degree but not kind.  womens clothing and shoes for example — known torture devices.  “restraining orders” that are naught but a piece of flimsy paper, creating a mindfuck.  get it?  and humiliation.  tampons and “pads that feel like diapers.”  as mundane as this kind of torture is, it is still creative.

of course, i could go on and on.  we all could because we all know.  ex-husbands paying child support late every month, in order to make women squirm.  by “sexualizing” intercourse, the only thing *in life* that creates unwanted pregnancy.  that kind of thing.  and in general by turning womens bodies against them in the many ways men do.  indeed, the “body being turned against the agent whose body it is” is the whole point of torture and this is accomplished through both pain and fear (in male terms).  of course, male bodies cant be literally hijacked, but ours can — through unwanted or forced pregnancy.  if anyone needs examples of the creative ways men torture other men, just google. trigger warning for extreme and graphic (and creative!) male violence.

but what im also thinking is not whether but how and how soon we can stunt mens natural propensity for violence?  if we cant do this, or if we dont want to, at least we know that it is possible.  and understanding and accepting, knowing, that men choose to nurture their gift for creative torture and violence instead of stunting it, when we all know they could, is evidence of something too.  oh yes it is.  maybe, maybe just talking about this will help.