Image from our sisters at Friends of the Lolas
The world breaks open. Underneath the layers, transcending the past, making the present.
I have seen it written. In the hour of our forced surrender. The world will diminish as the time draws near.
Aching with the lost and ancient tidings, her beginning has come. Rekindling our magic. Lusty, wild and untamed. Recalling to us a time when freedom was a word that had meaning.
Do we have her power? This one that calls to us. Cries out long forgotten secrets. Screams our true names. Falling silent as the moon wanes. She is the one that tells us of the future.
She comes in before the dawn, when our power awakens from the stealthy sleep of those who can ill afford dreams. When half of our world is drowning beneath the man-made weather, whether, weather. When half our world is starving. Sacred ground as dry as dust.
Speak to me of your power. Speak to me in riddles, in a woman’s tongue. This day is coming into being and I need no translation. I can feel you breathing, sisters. The calm static before this long-awaited storm.
We have been without our rain and thunder for far too long…
I smell the tumult of our revolution, rising from the east…
Come to me then, in fury and in rage and with warmth. I will not let the cold decay of this bleaching rancour. I will not let this mindless, bloody, relentless torment hold me any longer. I am breaching the walls of this prison. My love, my heart, myself within my sisters. My sisters in me.
Even death cannot strip us of our elemental power. We sisters do not fear the earth.
Listen to the seasons. Listen to the earth beneath your feet. Breathe with the beauty of her. Sing it out. Sing our tempest into being. And as the storm of us gathers on the horizon, know this. We will not slumber until every woman wakes.
Let the rains come in with the tide. Beat out a rhythm in women’s time. And let us soar.
Allecto, whose beautiful writings I’ve published here before on Women’s Space, wrote the poem above to and for me. It meant so much to me, inspired, comforted and encouraged me. Thank you, Allecto! I offer it to you as the perfect beginning for:
The Fifth Carnival of Radical Feminists!
Women Deserve Better
Holly Ord has posted a rousing, passionate call to action entitled What We Deserve which may help us to begin to move beyond feelings of hopelessness or disgust, the consequences of our ongoing engagement with those vested in our subordination.
Women do deserve better, and what is better is within our reach. It’s to be expected that to the degree we threaten the “rule of the fathers,” to that degree threats, intimidation, and attempts to silence us will increase. It’s also to be expected that to the degree that we threaten the rule of the fathers, hope remains that we will in the end be able to save our own lives and all life on the planet.
Sexualized Violence as Silencing
In all of the sturm and drang over recent internet attacks on me, on Biting Beaver, on Laurelin, and on other radical feminist bloggers, Marcella Chester — way back on August 6 when the attacks were just beginning — wrote as intelligent and prophetic an analysis of the dynamics of ongoing attacks on radical feminist women online and in real life as I have seen so far. We aren’t “exclusive.” We do not “discriminate” against anyone. We are under attack and we have been under attack for a long, long time.
When people are being attacked from all sides … outsiders who declare “I come in peace, let me in” aren’t likely to be trusted or allowed in. This isn’t about discriminating against those outsiders, it’s about the natural consequences of non-stop attacks. When the attacks cease then inclusiveness will become a possibility. This is why those doing the attacking will try to repackage themselves as the group under assault — often while deriding others for playing the victim… The position that some people hold that they are only responsible for their own words online and therefore can blithely say and do nothing as those around them attack others, including on the blogs or forums they run, is a pro-attack position.
I guess the bottom line is this: Do you have a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of sexualized violence including the making of direct or backhanded threats of violence?
If you answer with something that begins with, “No, but …” then “No” is your final answer.
“Our Silence Is Our Dissent”
In a post entitled Dominator Tentacles posted at VeraCity, Vera notes that those involved in the recent attacks don’t target the sources of cultural and societal domination which affect and oppress all of us who are marginalized, oppressed or poor — big business, big government, Wal-Mart, the Pentagon. In fact, they are in league with these powers, with The Man; they do his bidding and dirty work, willingly and free of charge. In this, they are as conservative, or right-wing, or liberal, or left-wing — but above all as sexist — as the powers are.
As a result of the recent attack, there are fewer radical voices on the web. A few radical feminists have taken down their blogs; some will not be reopened. Others have made their Flickr photostreams private. At least one blog and one forum are now private; a muting of voices if not an outright silencing. Going private, having to hide: the parts of the radfem community that are still intact are no longer fully open, and no longer fully a part of the human conversation on the web. …
I don’t like it that radical voices, however unpopular, are being expelled from the human conversation by online thugs. I like it even less that it’s happening with hardly any notice, and without comment by more mainstream writers.
Vera’s statement above reminds me of something Andrea Dworkin wrote in an essay entitled “Against the Male Flood: Censorship, Pornography and Equality,” in Letters from a War Zone” (and this is especially for you, BB):
…writers are … people who by writing do something socially real and significant…writing is never peripheral or beside the point. It is serious and easily seditious. …Censorship is deeply misunderstood in the United States because the fairly spoiled, privileged, frivolous people who are the literate citizens of this country think that censorship is some foggy effort to suppress ideas…not something in itself– an act of police power with discernible consequences to hunted people…
Subordination can be so deep that those who are hurt by it are utterly silent. Subordination can create a silence quieter than death. …The Three Marias of Portugal went to jail for writing this: “Let no one tell me that silence gives consent, because whoever is silent dissents.”…The silence [of the women] is a silence over centuries: an exile into speechlessness. One is shut up by…abuse. One is shut up by the threat and the injury. …If what we want to say is not hurt me, we have the real social power only to use silence as eloquent dissent. Silence is what women have instead of speech. Silence is our dissent during rape … Silence is our moving, persuasive dissent during battery…Silence is a fine dissent during incest and for all the long years after.
Silence is not speech. We have silence, not speech. We fight rape, battery, incest, and prostitution with it.. But someday someone will notice: that people called women were buried in a long silence that meant dissent.
Women’s Art as Resistance
Postcards by Margaret of Margaret’s Wanderings
Close up of part of a quilt The Quilter created for a quilt exhibition she participates in to raise money for domestic violence victims.
Tears(top) and Bedouin(bottom) by Palestinian artist Salwa Arnous whose work, displayed in an art gallery in Texas, was recently condemned in the San Antonio Times as “anti-semitic.” She invites us to see for ourselves by watching the video below (allow a couple minutes for the video to load– it is well worth the wait).
Visions of Palestine by Salwa Arnous
Radical feminist poet and blogger Lynn Sweeting writes:
Shelter the young Saffron,
And save the garden,
Shelter the battered woman
And save the world.
For the young tree,
A circle of stones,
For the young woman,
A tribe of sisters
Staceyann Chin is the second to perform in the above video. She is one revolutionary woman; I have watched her perform the past two years on night stage at Michfest. This year she inspired all of us to new heights on opening night; she just gets better. It was an amazing thing to look across a sea of women’s raised fists as we all, across the boundaries of race, ethnicity, age, physical ability, heard our own stories, our own realities, in Chin’s words.
In Call for Action: Dua Khalil, Whedon, Nothing but Red, writing evolution discusses an upcoming anthology inspired by the recent stoning of Du’a Khalil and Joss Whedon’s blogging of his reaction to her death. (Whedon is the creator of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series.) The anthology seeks to promote awareness regarding women’s issues, and particularly violence against women. The stoning of Khalil has inspired regular readers of Whedonesque to create their own memorial and feminist blogs, one of which is entitled I am Dua Khalil.
The Crisis Facing Iraqi Women — Honor Killings, Suicides and Misogynist Passport Rules is the title of a post at Feminist Peace Network which says:
The Taipei Times reports on the mind-boggling number of honor killings and suicides in Kurdish Iraq. According to one of their sources, Aso Kamal, there have been 12,500 women murdered for reasons of honor or who have committed suicide in three Kurdish provinces since 1991. There were 350 such deaths so far this year.
The Women’s Union of Kurdistan in Sulaimaniyah has recorded 83 cases of women burning themselves in the first six months of last year and 95 in the first half of this year.
Feminist Peace Network blogs tirelessly about the effect of the war in Iraq on women. In recent posts she describes the huge rise in maternal and infant mortality deaths and in the large numbers of girls and women being driven into prostitution as a result of the war and the deaths of so many of the women’s husbands and sons. In this post she blogs about the stoning of 11-year-old Sarah Jaffar Nimat, a fifth grader, and reports that 40 women and girls have been stoned since the stoning of Du’a Khalil. In this post Feminist Peace Network describes an e-mail exchange with Yanar Mohammed about the disappearances of Iraqi women and laments:
Yanar closed her email with this line–”Thank you for still standing with us.” I wish I felt that we were doing that in some sort of adequate way. Every day our media is filled with reports of soldiers being killed, insurgents, terrorists doing this that or the other act of violence. Our politicians blather on about whether to continue the war while they keep on funding it and make pious assertions that the Iraqis have to take responsibility for fixing the mess we made and the truth is that we totally ignore the plight of these women who are experiencing what women always experience in the aftermath of war.
Afghan women in camp of displaced people, July 2007, posted at Frida’ Notebook
Frida of Frida’s Notebook is an attorney documenting civil rights abuses and trauma in Afghanistan. In Tell your story she describes her struggle to find ways to honor the women she interviews as they tell her their stories:
Where is the time to simply listen? To listen to the story as the teller wishes to tell it. To let it be, perhaps, for today, explaining that I would like to document this story as a human rights case but that in order to do that I will need to ask more detailed questions. To ask if I could return to do that another day, once the storyteller has had time to think about what he or she wants to get out of telling the story to me. Where is the time to do that?
Some people might tell me to concentrate on my work as a lawyer and human rights monitor and not to stray to far from what I know into the complex territory of psychological responses to trauma. But I can’t see that boundary very clearly. More accurately perhaps, I see the boundary but the reality of work doesn’t not respect it. Stories are not always about facts and events, they are often about feelings and responses to those events. The remedies people seek are not always about justice, they are also about the acknowledged need for reconciliation in order to build a peaceful tomorrow. In Afghanistan our human rights work is always going to cross into the territoriy of ‘transitional justice’ and all the questions that come with that.
Poverty and Other Obscenities of American Capitalism
Barbara Ehrenreich has a fantastic post up, Smashing Capitalism, about the effects of Bush’s and the Republicans’ economic policies on poor and working class people, casting the impending record-high numbers of home foreclosures and accompanying economic difficulties as poor people’s “plot” to smash capitalism:
First they stopped paying their mortgages, a move in which they were joined by many financially stretched middle class folks, though the poor definitely led the way. All right, these were trick mortgages, many of them designed to be unaffordable within two years of signing the contract. There were “NINJA” loans, for example, awarded to people with “no income, no job or assets.” Conservative columnist Niall Fergusen laments the low levels of “economic literacy” that allowed people to be exploited by sub-prime loans. Why didn’t these low-income folks get lawyers to go over the fine print? And don’t they have personal financial advisors anyway?
Then, in a diabolically clever move, the poor – a category which now roughly coincides with the working class – stopped shopping. Both Wal-Mart and Home Depot announced disappointing second quarter performances, plunging the market into another Arctic-style meltdown. H. Lee Scott, CEO of the low-wage Wal-Mart empire, admitted with admirable sensitivity, that “it’s no secret that many customers are running out of money at the end of the month. “
When, for example, the largest private employer in America, which is Wal-Mart, starts experiencing a shortage of customers, it needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. About a century ago, Henry Ford realized that his company would only prosper if his own workers earned enough to buy Fords. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, never seemed to figure out that its cruelly low wages would eventually curtail its own growth, even at the company’s famously discounted prices.
The sad truth is that people earning Wal-Mart-level wages tend to favor the fashions available at the Salvation Army. Nor do they have much use for Wal-Mart’s other departments, such as Electronics, Lawn and Garden, and Pharmacy.
In this post, Lo at Braless Living LA mocks — in satisfying fashion! — rich, white anti-war activists who think they are “conscious” with a heart felt letter from a downtown Los Angeles war activist (to a soldier in Iraq):
Thank you for being willing to die, so that I may continue to drive my car. I live in downtown LA. I recycle. I have a Porsche, but I only drive it on the weekends (it was a gift from my parents). I usually drive my Prius. I don’t own conflict diamonds. I am a good person. I hate Bush. I hate him so very, very much. I have a picture of him on a dart board. When I invite my friends over to have a pretend drive-in movie theatre on our roof top (most recently we had a screening of Inconvenient Truth, it was so educational) we play a drinking game before the movie and throw darts at Bush. I hope that doesn’t offend you, but you’re dying for nothing. I don’t even like driving. Traffic is so bad out here. The 405 was murder this afternoon.
All the poor people that I have every known, including my own family when I was young, do not routinely take vacations. Vacations are expensive even on the cheap. Most of the time poor people take vacations when it correlates with another task that involves something to do with their poor circumstances. For example, if someone has an extra clunker (or can no longer afford to maintain that clunker) and a family member needs it to survive, the errand becomes the vacation for the one driving the car to that person. Bus, train and plane tickets are expensive even when planned in advanced; however, most impromptu type vacations are not typically efficiently planned. In addition, having efficient means is a privilege in itself, having some money to save after the necessities are covered and having available credit for emergencies, etc.
“Large numbers of US local economies are predicated on a prison industry that pays rural whites to incarcerate urban blacks. But the bottom line is, the US makes policy choices that set the crime and incarceration rates — and makes them higher than any other industrialized country in the world.”
Woman Centered Birthing and Women’s Reproductive Rights
La Doctorita at unconventional beauty writes about the newly-released statistics about the alarming rise in US maternal mortality because of unnecessary c-sections in death from childbirth: it’s not just for “little house on the prairie” anymore.
Midwife: Sage Femme, Hebamme, Comadrona, Partera reviews Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, a book about women’s loss of agency and autonomy in hospital births, the large number of unnecessary c-sections performed which is causing rising maternal and infant mortality in the U.S. , and about the importance of women advocating for themselves and insisting that their birthing plans be respected. Some midwives accompany birthing moms during hospital births and act as doulas or advocates while doctors attend the births. Sage Femme disagrees with this practice, not only because of the double binds inherent in working both for patriarchal medical establishments and birthing mothers, but also because of the value she places on women advocating for themselves:
“a reader was surprised (negatively, is how I read it), that I just couldn’t do hospital births any longer as a doula. she says that this is [when] women need support the most. well, when you stand by and watch abuse happen, it feels like you are condoning it. again, it goes back to the idea that somehow a doula can protect a woman or prevent all this from happening. we cannot. they cannot. sometimes we can influence a woman’s choices and decisions – but even then we have to be careful not to create a bias, which is really, really hard. I think the more professional doulas weave themselves delicately through an almost impossible web of medicalized birth. for me, I was no good to anyone at a hospital birth if the things done stirred up feelings of disgust, victimization or even plain abuse and rape of women. believe me, it is much better that a doula move away when she feels like this.
…empowerment, like advocacy, MUST come from within. we cannot empower anyone. usually when women advocate for themselves and use their own voice, they are empowered. sometimes empowerment for women comes more from what we don’t do rather than what we do.”
The patriarchists never tire of finding ways to limit women’s reproductive rights, however. Feminist Law Professors writes that a Proposed Ohio Law Would Require Man’s Permission For Abortion. In response, in Support Law To Create Consensual Sex Registry at abyss2hope: A rape survivor’s zigzag journey into the open, Marcella Chester writes a tongue-in-cheek counter proposal.
In Abortion is the New Satanism. Activist Mommy writes about reproductive choices and the women she has known and comforted in their seeking and having of abortions, even though she herself is anti-abortion.
When I honour mothering in other women, it is not just an act of sisterhood. It is about honouring myself as a mother; and it is about honouring my own mother. It is about celebrating what mothers do. When I recognise and confront the darker, painful aspects of motherhood, it is not just an act of confession or truth-speaking. It is about sisterhood with all mothers, including my own, about acknowledging what it is like, how hard it is, and the sheer bloody strength of mind and will and body that it takes to keep soldiering on. And when someone obliterates the mother, erases her importance or her experience, silences her voice – it is as though it is myself that is obliterated, erased and silenced.
Making Feminist Knowledge
I see feminist diplomacy bringing an end to all that, an end to any desire to dominate, from the world to another being, human or otherwise. That is the road to more disaster, the sudden end of ability of this planet to sustain human life, perhaps all life. Men have to listen to reason, talk truce, or stand aside as women negotiate peace plans for wars around the world, end the war on terror, put forth ideas to stop the vicious cycle of retaliation. Men have gotten it wrong, more or less distorted or reversed, on just about everything, what they think they know notwithstanding. Most of that is based not on reality, but male theory, structured hierarchically on every level, which in practice glorifies violence, making it seem normal, casual, the expected way to solve an escalated conflict. Violence is only justifiable in self-defense or to aid self-defense, to stop or capture a violent criminal. Aggressive violence is never the only way or best way to resolve a conflict.
So, I went into the comments of the post and said something to the effect that, while I usually love all your pictures, I do not love this one. It’s racist. And his reaction was to change the picture immediately and then to comment on why he had used it, and what he was trying to accomplish, but that he definitely could make the same point with a different picture. Or something like that, this was a while ago. In making the decision to not just shake my head and move on, or to stay silent and probably seethe or to roll my eyes and think “oh well, par for the course” but deciding instead to bring this to his attention, come what may, and to believe (or at least hope) there would be no blowback from it… I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.
… one huge problem I have with current lesbian culture is that constant pressure to dichotomise, to decide whether you identify with “butch” or “femme” and to stick within the look and behaviours prescribed for that label.
Julie Bindel, in a post entitled My Trans Mission, begins an interesting post with the statement, “Sex-change surgery is the modern equivalent of aversion therapy for homosexuals.”
In the new radfem blog Sister Medusa’s Radical Lesbian Underground, Sister Medusa writes about the way words like “transphobe” are used to silence lesbian and radical feminists and the way this silencing prevents dialog and healing.
The recent controversy around Catherine Crouch’s film, The Gendercator, and the banning of Bitch from the Boston Dyke March are two prominent examples of a phenomenon that is taking place all over the country, and not just in August as a small group of people attempt to silence and take away the rights of Females to gather in private in the woods of Michigan. The word “transphobia” does not have any meaning to me because this far, no one who has thrown it out – to me, to Bitch, to MWMF, to Catherine, has been able to articulate what they mean by it, and why and how we, as Lesbians, have any power over transpeople.
Radical feminists acknowledge that for women (and men) to be who they truly are patriarchial capitalism has to cease to exist because it is oppressive in the extreme. One of the minor bastions of patriarchal capitalism is ‘feminine’ beauty standards.
Then move on to read There Is Nothing Rebellious Or Countercultural About Being “Pro-Porn” posted at Feminist Law Professors. So true! One question I have never heard answered persuasively or convincingly is this: Just what is alternative, progressive, countercultural, rebellious, and above all non-mainstream, let alone feminist, about being pro-pornography? There are men who identify as allies to feminists whose activism consists almost solely of advocating for the pornography industry. This is feminism precisely how?
Speaking of being pro-pornography, Packaging Girlhood has an interesting post up about the new Bratz movie (Bratz dolls, targeted for elementary-school-age girls, are pictured above, nod to Gingermiss):
No matter how they clean up the movie girlz to mimic every other perky wanna be a teen girl flick, it’s important for parents to see the sexualization that defines the overall Bratz package.
Gingermiss has a post up about the movie as well entitled Why Bratz Dolls Are Evil Incarnate and the questions she asks are right on:
Why can’t girls be assertive rather than ‘bratty’? Why can’t they have dolls that reflect something of what their lives are actually like? And, if they actually live lives like those of Bratz dolls, why would we encourage anyone to celebrate or idolize that mentality?
Ariadne by Monica Sjoo
I don’t often discuss or talk about my spiritual leanings on my blogs because for the most part, I think people make too much of it. I don’t care much for people who shove their spiritual or religious bent in my face and so I don’t do it to others. Even in passing. I am past the years where I need to wear my beliefs on my sleeve and past the time in my life where I feel the need to explain, justify or even label what my spirituality is. When I think of God or a Higher Power, I think of something feminine, distinctly womanly. Sometimes it is nature, sometimes it is life, sometimes it is a specific goddess, almost always referred to as the “Goddess”. It is, for me, what it is. And it is not static. It is fluid and evolves as I evolve. However, many years ago, when I was searching for a power greater than myself, I was not so sure. It was then when I found the Goddess. … At this time in my life, I explored women’s spirituality. I identified for years as a witch. I cast spells, maintained several altars in my home and studied all manner of pagan religion, trying each on, I suppose, to see how they fit. It was during this time that I discovered a new book called Ariadne’s Thread written by Shekhinah Mountainwater….I learned about the phases of a woman’s life and it was here that I first read about cronehood. Ariadne’s Thread helped to change my world and shape my spirituality.
Various and Sundry
I want to end this carnival in an inspiring and uplifting way. I believe we are living in a time of rapid change, standing in the center of a paradigm shift. It is a time of shaking and realignment, and we are feeling the strength and power in the changes.
I leave you with these images which remind us that as women, we are in the process of Re-Membering our Archaic Future, even though we may be aware of this only occasionally and dimly.
In Love and Sisterhood,
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of radical feminists using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.