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On Being a “Freedomist”

(This is an edited version of a post that came to me via one of my several feminist listservs. I asked JB if I could post it here on my blog because I think it’s great and worth sharing and she gave me her permission. Many thanks, JB! — Heart)

Freedomist:   Freedom from believing man-made lies; freedom from invasion by “popular” music piped into stores; freedom from putting men’s lives, issues and interests ahead of my own; freedom from the current economy to the best of my ability (recycling, budgeting, finding “free” items to use wherever possible); freedom to want a world nothing like the “man’s world” currently dominating; freedom to dream and envision a world of magic and creative evolution in which cruelty and submission has no place. 

I work at a women’s shelter, a healing place for moms who come here with their children, or women who arrive alone.

The funding trend is away from direct money for services (to raped and otherwise battered women) and toward “prevention” directed toward “families,” aka men, particularly “men of faith” in faith communities where the God is a Him.

Some of the women employed here have what I call non-profit privilege, in that they come from noblesse oblige family lines which sponsor whole tables at fundraisers designed to separate the guilty rich from a little bit of their money.  When the women of non-profit privilege are working nearby, I swim in a vat of incompetence.

Some of the women employed here believe in “well-meaning” men.  Men, men, men, always deferring to men.   These women practice the art of deference, and hope for men to be our protectors from, well, other men.

And so, I’m glad I have only a daughter, because all of the mothers of sons I know have had their sons turn on them, emotionally if not physically, in puberty or later.  I wish there were no predators, because I know the truth of numbers that do not lie.   Sheri Tepper writes novels more hopeful for the healing of boys than I would be from my experience; hopeful moms of sons might find her books useful, especially  The Gate to Women’s Country.

Reality, not fiction:  The daughters across every cultural divide are at risk of rape, maiming and death, emotional assault and religious guilt-tripping (“downfall of man”) from the predatory sons of men.  Even the Buddha’s Pali Canon analogized womankind to blight on rice, after Buddhist men with violence tore down the temples to the Goddess in Tibet. No “oneness” for me with that misogyny masquerading as spirituality. Instead:  Let Us Be.

Let men take care of the men and the boys, if they will.  Womankind has the work of the ages to do, if we are to repair men’s harm to us, and evolve forward in our conscious connections to the earth and the cosmos.

In any event, despite the challenges, at least for today, I’m willing to work at the shelter for the littlest girls, and their sisters.

And for every woman who comes in here without money (because he controlled it), without dignity (because he robbed her of it), without a sense of self (because identity has been pounded out of her by him), at least for today, I was here, another day.

It took me many decades to see clearly enough to put the cause of women first.  Now, on a daily basis, I appreciate that it is a war.  Every bruise, every broken bone, every torn orifice proves the battleground: womankind. 

Andrea Dworkin (much vilified online by those who also hate Mary Daly and Marija Gimbutas) said it best, if I may paraphrase her:  Choose.  Choose again.   You might just choose to read Dworkin’s Scapegoat.  Or Letters from a War Zone.  Sometimes the most powerful women get tagged as the most strident.  Sometimes the best women writers who have the most to say infuriate their (women) readers, because giving up fantasies about men is what millennia of breeding and conditioning has predisposed us never to do.
If you want to know about the war, find your local women’s shelter, call the volunteer coordinator, and tell her you’d like to be on their Sexual Assault Response Team as a supporter for the forensic examinations of “fresh” rape victims.  You won’t see many choir boys.   Not that anybody deserves to be raped.  Just that it is generally a man raping a girl under the age of 18.

Rant over. Do with it what you will.

Blessed be, to see, that you might be free,

Freedomist JB,

JB Sproull Copyright 2007; free use with author attribution granted to free blogs and/or free websites

Discussion

8 thoughts on “On Being a “Freedomist”

  1. And so, I’m glad I have only a daughter, because all of the mothers of sons I know have had their sons turn on them, emotionally if not physically, in puberty or later. I wish there were no predators, because I know the truth of numbers that do not lie.

    The whole post resonates, but this part is so painfully true to me, and so resisted by others. We have the power to decide where we will direct our efforts and who will benefit from our labors. It is not insanity to deny these things to our oppressors. Instead, it is deliberate self-sabotage, a pathology in its own right, to continue to give those things to known, numbers-proven predators.

    Posted by justicewalks | September 7, 2007, 12:49 pm
  2. Wonderful post . Half the battle is trying to free our minds. I
    think Second to violence, Romantic propaganda is the next most powerful block to women’s freedom, it ties women to men and makes them unavailable to each other.
    To reverse the saying “Porn tells the truth about men but lies about women” Romance tells the truth about women but lies about men.
    When I was young and going through the dream extraction process we were told, no you can’t sail the high sea’s, become an explorer, build a business empire. But you can get married and that will fulfil your whole life, we all glanced doubtfully at the spotty boy’s in our class .
    But its repeated and repeated till you are left with the one Patriarchally approved dream. The princess marriage, and the daft dress, and some of us will tear each other to pieces to compete for such scraps.
    Even our dreams are not our own.

    Posted by helzeph | September 7, 2007, 2:17 pm
  3. “Porn tells the truth about men but lies about women” Romance tells the truth about women but lies about men.

    Hey, justicewalks and helzeph, such great thoughts. I think you are so right that romance tells the truth about women but lies about men. I can’t recall where I was reading this, it was in an unlikely place to be finding such good feminist thought. 🙂 But the author was writing about what romantic feelings actually are and he or she cited to psychological studies, some of which were done long ago, most of which were done by men, where the conclusions were that romantic feelings consisted of this amalgamation of memories, fears, hopes and a fair number of the components were felt to be negative, and yet this is what people call “love” and “romance.” These feelings are understood by women, especially, to be pleasant and pleasurable and yet we all know what is on the other side of those feelings for far too many women.

    I was horrified reading an article in a local paper recently about a woman whose husband had thrown gasoline on her and set her on fire (something happening in the US with, the article said, increasing frequency). My horror was not so much over the burning — though it was horrific and the woman is permanently disabled; she doesn’t have the use of her left arm, she has had hundreds of surgeries, she is gravely disfigured, she is in constant pain years later and has to take 10 showers per day and then rub her skin with aloe to soothe the pain she still has — as it was over her response to what this man had done and the way the response was treated in the paper.

    The woman insisted that she had forgiven her husband (who is in jail) and that she still loves him, thinks of him as a good father to their child and a good person and that he just went off one day. She partially blames herself because she and her husband were crack users before this happened. Of course, what happened after she was so hideously burned was, she got religion; hence, all of this stuff about “having” to forgive. Which is another thread for another day.

    What struck me most was her insistence that she loves this man. I think *so so much* — SO much — of what passes for “love” is more like obsession, has to do with emotional dependencies which exist alongside of behaviors which are hateful and abusive. But these obsessive, dependency-like, intense emotions which include all of these negative feelings really often *are* what women understand as “love.”

    The other horror was how admiring the writer of the article was about this woman forgiving this guy.

    I’m all for forgiveness, and I think it’s very true that we can be eaten up inside by resentments, but forgiveness comes — if and when it does — in its own time. It doesn’t happen by fiat or by the magical incantations which sometimes pass for prayer, along the lines of determining by the act of the will to “forgive” someone. Meanwhile, it’s all good to forgive, but if someone poured gasoline on you, set you on fire, then let’s forgive from a very LONG and safe distance and move severely on. This woman is going to be living with this hell that was done to her for the rest of her life. Meanwhile she talks sympathetically about this guy crying and saying how sorry he is. Deeply disturbing.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 7, 2007, 5:12 pm
  4. And, of course, their little son, who is 7, learns that even when daddy throws gasoline on mommy and sets her on fire so that she is in pain and disabled for the rest of her life, mommy will still love daddy. 😦

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | September 7, 2007, 5:26 pm
  5. You know, I was talking to my mother the other day and she was lamenting the fact that my father was a very unambitious man when he was with her. Of course, when he left her for another woman, he became the ambitious, success-driven man she’d wanted him to be, and it made her bitter that another woman was enjoying the spoils of the ambition my mother thinks she cultivated over their 30-odd year relationship. But why should he have worked any harder to satisfy my mother when she’d love him anyway even if he didn’t?

    Men don’t sabotage themselves this way. They don’t invest energy where they don’t intend to stay. They don’t invest energy where their needs and requests (however sadistic) aren’t fulfilled. And they know that abandoning children is not the same thing as murder, so they don’t invest energy in even their own children when it doesn’t stand to benefit them in some way.

    So, yes, “let men take care of the men and the boys, if they will,” and let women finally, in our individual lives and as a class, take care of our own.

    Posted by justicewalks | September 7, 2007, 9:31 pm
  6. ***even when daddy throws gasoline on mommy and sets her on fire so that she is in pain and disabled for the rest of her life, mommy will still love daddy. ***

    God, how utterly pathetic. Being like “mommy” there is a fate worse than death.

    What justicewalks said.

    Posted by Branjor | September 7, 2007, 9:57 pm
  7. JW,

    Yes.

    Many people are happy enough if (individual) women choose to refuse their personal energies to adult males.

    But it is a very different matter where children are concerned.

    For a woman or women, individually or collectively, to refuse personal or nurturing energies to a male child or children is a hanging offense.

    Actually, males don’t really want personal relationships with women. They just want control of women. The thought of, and the reality of, lesbians just provides them with sexual titillation.

    What sets off the punishment alarm is the refusal to nurture and rear the next generation of males to adulthood.

    Otherwise, they don’t, as a self-absorbed male culture, really care what we females do, or what happens to us.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | September 7, 2007, 11:03 pm
  8. Thanks to all of you, wonderful thinkers, for putting your thoughts to word, and thanks also to the amazing Heart for this wonderful blog. I greatly appreciate Heart’s bringing to the fore the sound-bite difference between pornography and romance. (I’d heard the idea before, and she most excellently reminded me in her eloquent way.)

    Since writing the words about Freedomist, I’ve been having philosophical and political apoplexy about “A Call to Men,” under Tony Porter’s co-leadership.

    The women’s shelter (where I work, at least for today) is now planning to raise funds (from the community) to pay Tony Porter’s fees and expenses for presentation in a mega-auditorium filled with several counties’ high school girls and boys.

    You can do a websearch, and see for yourself, the Tony Porter lyrics as posted online. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote a shelter colleague (the head of clinical services), expressing my perceptions:

    ‘… Do you know if the Women’s Shelter is aware of the old-testament sexism (see, for example, Genesis 2 and Deuteronomy 21) suggested by Tony Porter’s online CD lyrics?

    The “ten things men can do” certainly reads well. But reading is almost a dying art among the young. Musical lyrics, on the other hand, have far greater impact when performed and listened to.

    Here’s a sample from Tony’s lyrics connected to “getting outside the man box”:

    “You can’t slap her cause she’s your baby’s momma…”
    “Women are our queens a God given gift [to men]…”
    “This individual [as opposed to couples?] sexism gotta shift…”
    “All my women where y’all at …”
    “Never treat their lady with no disrespect … because she’s bone of my bone flesh of my flesh.”

    Can we call it progress that the bodies of women would be relegated back to gifts to men and appendages of men in order to placate men not to beat and rape women?

    Denial about male-supremacist motives would be unwise at this time on the planet, both for women’s shelters and for all life.

    Credible social-science research indicates that violence against the gender class of women will never stop as long as violent pornography (everywhere on the internet as hateful pictures that say thousands of words) is allowed as free speech under men’s laws instead of regulated as hate speech against women (the usual targets).

    Those who accept this premise have said that pornography tells the truth about men and lies about women, while romance tells the truth about women and lies about men. (It’s a sound-bite generalization that hits home for many women who live past the age of 50.)

    Tony Porter’s lyrics trendily reinvent 19th century men’s notion of the woman as “the angel in the house,” there as queen to take her lead from the “king of the castle.” I’d hope the trendy romanticism of Tony Porter’s approach won’t dupe society to trade bruised female flesh for the shattered spirits of women who will (by his new/old/biblically inspired rhetoric) not believe themselves entitled to individual and collective empowerment as women outside the control of men.

    Is it really a step ahead if women are battered not in body but only in spirit, relegated (again, as in centuries past) to men’s desires for helpmates from “God” as defined by men?

    Is the bottom-line answer that women’s shelters can no longer get funding in this society without paying men like Tony Porter large sums to come and influence the community?’

    When I wrote to another of the for-profit, men-against- violence-to-women celebrities, here is how he responded:

    ‘From: JacksonKatz@aol.com
    Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2007 19:09:48 EDT
    Subject: Re: video for non-profit agency
    To: jansproull@yahoo.com

    Hi,Jan.

    I am not sure where you heard we had free video materials. You can go to http://www.mediaed.org to see my various videos and others. The Media Education Foundation makes great deals with people and organizations….way under market value,but they can’t distribute videos for free.

    You might want to let them know you’re calling from a DV/SA women’s program.

    good luck,

    Jackson Katz

    Jackson Katz
    Director, MVP Strategies
    3860 Brayton Ave.
    Long Beach, CA 90807
    Ph: 562-997-3953
    Fax: TBA
    http://www.jacksonkatz.com

    Jackson Katz’s book The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help, is available at major bookstores and at Amazon.com.’

    Posted by JB Sproull | September 9, 2007, 11:06 pm

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