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Pre-2008 Posts

White Privilege, the Meritocracy Myth, and Perfect Feminists, Perfect Women

perfect_woman.jpg 

–by funnie

One thing that used to get me into trouble was a need to be separate from “imperfect” women, as though by just being good enough, perfect enough, we could convince the world of why we deserved to be treated better.

I know that’s a pretty basic thing a lot of women, and other oppressed groups, struggle with, but I applied it to feminism too, and I think I was interested in feminism in the first place as a WAY of separating myself from imperfect women. I rebelled against forced femininity for so many years before even learning anything about feminism, and there were so MANY women I wanted to disassociate myself from for so MANY reasons.

I don’t think it’s that those impulses are more common in younger women, as much as it just takes some time and awareness to figure out (and some people never do) that:

  • the cycle of trying to be “perfect” and “failing” isn’t really what you want your life to be about (thank you fundamentalism!);
  • that most “imperfections” in women – the kind that make you REALLY uncomfortable identifying with someone – are the direct result of sex-based persecution and all the more reason to cling TO that woman, not shy away from her;
  • even if there were such a thing as a perfect woman, her perfection would in no way be ‘respected’ by the misogyny machine.

I mean, the biggest distortion of misogyny is that there are, somewhere, some women who are above reproach in some way, meaning that the patriarchy even bothers making positive distinctions between women at all. It’s easy to fall for that lie, based on all of the negative distinctions the patriarchy draws — you can’t help but notice all of its turning women against each other based on ridiculously narrow typecasting (yes, you’re both white middle-class women with children who work full-time paying jobs outside your identical homes right next door to each other, but you’re so different!  One of you views your work as just a job, and one of you prioritizes it as a real career! Job Woman:  don’t you think your little girl would benefit from seeing her mom take her work seriously enough to break the glass ceiling? How’s she supposed to know to want a career of her own and actually accomplish something? Career Woman:  don’t you think your family should come first? Why do you think men’s corporate rat race is more important than actually being there when your daughter needs you?)

It’s like some evil magic suit; misogyny tailors itself so beautifully to the contours of each individual woman’s life, you totally forget it came with a one-size-fits-all tag.

So, you can go around finding whole swaths of women you’re not like.  I wasn’t like the fundie women with their ongoing battles re: “submission” to men, not like the women in my small town, with their suspicion of anything that hadn’t been done for 100 years or took place more than 30 miles away.  I wasn’t like the anti-intellectual women of either group – I was going to college, dammit.  And in college, I wasn’t like the man-hunting women, and I wasn’t like the high-maintenance women, and I wasn’t like the youth group-y women or the supernerds, but I wasn’t quite like the party girls either. I wasn’t like the apolitical lip-gloss women, but I wasn’t like those “cause girls,” eww.  I could be an individual and not join with any women, really, other than a few select friends, and still find it in me to sneer at the stoner/badass punk/grunge girls who thought they were too cool to be involved with anyone or anything.  And then I graduated and went to work, and found I was nothing like the middle-aged women I worked with. I was smarter and faster than a lot of them, but then again, there were the ones I could learn something from, and I’d take their knowledge, but I wasn’t really like them, either, stuck forever in a job well below my capabilities because I took time out for kids, or because I “let” somebody treat me unseriously because I was a woman.

And on and on, you certainly get the picture.

But what you don’t notice along the way is that not only are the women that you can manage to identify with on some level somehow getting tiny in number (not to mention homogeneous), while you’re becoming increasingly disassociated from the majority of real live women, but that despite all of your efforts, nobody in power ever – EVER – thinks you’re not “one of them” anyway! When it comes right down to it, the misogyny suit fits you just fine too. You can be the perfect woman, you can be the perfect feminist, and it just doesn’t matter, because women are crap – all women are crap. Including you, whatEVER you are.

It’s humbling, finally figuring out that life really and truly isn’t some free-market meritocracy and so therefore you really can’t win simply by competing more efficiently.

I think this is one interesting difference between a lot of white and minority feminists.  The latter struggle with urges to differentiate themselves from “undesirable” (which is to say, all) sex and race stereotypes, sure, but I do think the bullshit in the system is less invisible to women of color.

White men, after all, are at the top of the heap. And most white women have at least one white man in their families, while few women of color do.

If you grow up living with someone for whom things magically happen – not even magically, let’s say LOGICALLY — you watch him do what he’s supposed to and achieve the desired result without any special wrangling — you have seen that the machine CAN work, that input CAN equal output.

A lot of adult white middle- and upper-class women (of any age, but especially under 35 in my experience) were raised mostly by their mothers, were closer with their mothers as children, still have more contact with their mothers – and yet identify, in their self-conception, with their fathers. Meaning they identify more with the ability to “successfully” navigate a “working” system.

This is a lot harder to do for most women of color. Few grow up around someone who isn’t pretty noticeably discriminated against. Women of color in the US can still believe, and some do, in the “American Meritocracy”, but it’s more myth-based than experiential, which may make it easier to recognize AS myth.

I think a real obstacle to woman-centered feminism, at least for white women who don’t come from poverty, is that vestigial belief in a meritocracy. You can hand out (bigoted) “free passes” to certain women — poor women, foreign women, women of color — who make your liberal heart just bleed, while still believing that most women are just plain icky somehow. You can identify with success (meaning that you believe at least some tenets of the white heteropatriarchy) and still “forgive” some women for not being able to easily achieve it.

It’s hard to recognize how that’s woman-blaming, misognynist, racist, classist, etc. It’s hard to recognize that every time you’re irritated by being “lumped in” with another woman, every time you’re irritated by the *actions* or *choices* of another woman, there’s a misogynist assumption lurking somewhere.

It’s especially difficult if, like me, you’re easily irritated!

Discussion

32 thoughts on “White Privilege, the Meritocracy Myth, and Perfect Feminists, Perfect Women

  1. Awesome post, Heart. Love the illustration, too (ain’t it the truth… sigh~).

    It is hard to detach those who believe in meritocracy from their blankies. They need that comforting belief to keep [insert catastrophic event or feeling here] from happening. It’s one of the things I work hardest on when case managing or counseling. Unfortunately, it’s even harder to pull that blankie out of the hands of my co-workers and colleagues in the field — which leads to a direct response of “the poor deserve to be poor” sort of victim blaming.

    Posted by odanu | January 25, 2008, 9:11 pm
  2. Thanks, odanu! Just wanted to say that funnie wrote this one. 🙂 I did, however, find the illustration.

    Posted by womensspace | January 25, 2008, 9:33 pm
  3. Great post, Funnie!!!

    Posted by profacero | January 27, 2008, 6:18 pm
  4. Profound thoughts here. Thanks.

    Posted by apostate | January 28, 2008, 3:21 am
  5. This is an AMAZING post!!!!

    The writing is absolutely stunning, and it inspired a thought-trickling effect in my head!

    Definitely one to re-read!

    Posted by Laur | January 28, 2008, 8:57 am
  6. This was a long and thoughtful, almost meditative post Heart.
    I especially found the last line that I pasted here very funny somehow. A rather comic/tragic flourish.

    “It’s especially difficult if, like me, you’re easily irritated!”

    This line here I don’t believe in. I do not see myself as cr–, and never have. Self-hatred has never been my strong suit and I see no reason to put this on all women.
    “you can be the perfect feminist, and it just doesn’t matter, because women are crap – all women are crap. Including you, whatEVER you are.”

    As for meitorcracy, I have one for myself, things that I want to achieve and accomplish. Whatever the rest of the world thinks of this, I never care much. I think women look down on themselves way too much, and feminism often is short on celebration. It’s the weak point of feminism. I think the women in their 30s have a more optimistic outlook because we succeeded in making the world better for women who are excited about careers and challenges.

    And if you’re a lesbian like me, you tend to be exceedingly proud of achievements, because they were accomplished with little or no help from straight women at all. That’s right, straight women were largely absent from most of the political events, spiritual work and literary inspirations. We kind of went off on our own and did our own thing.

    Will women decide to work together and change this system? Well they can if they really want to. I decided to simply stop waiting for straight women to get anything, and moved on. They can come along if they want to, but my question is, do they really want to?

    I believe we can create our own powerful myths, and that this creative act changes our reality wherever we go. Radical feminism simply provided a framework of understanding what life looked like from women’s point of view. It was the tool for discovering the true nature of what women have done throughout history.

    Will racism and homophobia end? I doubt it. Will the oppressive social structures that make heterosexual life so distasteful to me end? I doubt it.

    All I know is that I can reframe it. I can value my own work and life, and if other people want to join me they can. I won’t bow down to other’s myths or lifestyles or whatever.

    What amazes me is that we don’t spend more time on what worked extraordinarily well. I think each generation of women simply is dealing with a different social structure.

    We will always be in a position of having privilege and being less privileged. I would agree that as you get older, there really are less women out there that I really feel connected to — in terms of things I’m intensely interested in.

    As I grew more and more interested in the arts — visual arts, galleries, the lives of comtemporary artists, and in opera as an art form, there were very few lesbians who cared about this at all. As I began to study history more intentely, I simply found a lot of people with glassed over eyes.

    The more you study, and the more connected you are to art and music, the more the majority of any population anywhere will diminish.

    As I learned to isolate and identify people acting homophobically, I was simply able to employ new tactics of protecting my own dignity. A typical situation of homophobia is when straight people chatter on and on about their lives, and never ask you one question about yours. They want to erase your life even as you sit in front of them at a dinner table. So I give them 15 minutes of yammering about children or travel or soccer for the kids, and then I look at my watch, and say “hetero-time is up? Now you get to ask me a question about my life.” This tactic almost always draws them up sharp. For they had no consciousness at all.

    Can all women come together? Yes, it is possible. But we don’t all come from the same place at all. I never consider myself less than and I don’t see myself as inferior in any way. I largely see myself as different from, and when I am the minority dealing with the mindless majority, I give them 15 minutes of fame. Hey, it worked for Andy Warhol!

    The doom and gloom of Heart’s post may reflect more her life experience, because she’s been a part of the extremes — from fundamentalist to feminist. I see more of a continuity of the ideas of lesbian feminism, from my first contact with feminist ideas at the age of 14 or so, to the present day, where they are fully tested and up and running.

    I thought feminist philosophy would aid me in my quest to go out in the world and lead a life of intellectual adventure. I saw feminism as they key to open the door of ideas on their own terms to any woman who wanted to explore these ideas.
    I noticed that each “oppressed group” thought itself the most maligned, and that this persisted the more people came to consciousness about their lives. In our great awakening about racism, and sexism and then homophobia, each group wanted its own life and territory.

    Justicewalks on her blog mentioned she didn’t want to work with white women anymore, and had the dream of a woman of color network. She felt that white women would never eliminate their “stuff’ from the group mix. I agree with her completely. White women will not cease with their stuff and will merely hold back women of color, as they zoom down the runway preparing to soar to Saturn (the greatest looking planet in my opinion).

    In my case, I felt the same way about straight women. They were holding me back, and I had a boat to row across the lake. I got tired of rowing with the anchor thrown overboard! I kept wondering why the rowing was so hard, and I wasn’t getting anywhere, until I discovered the tactics of homophobia, the tactics of straight erasure, the constant attempts to co-opt me into an agenda that had nothing to do with me.

    Feminism’s greatest challenge is to acknowledge what divides people, and to say, yes, white women are hopeless, straight people are hopeless, men are hopeless. It is hopeless, because the trick of patriarchy is to get everyone to do your work, so you can swing in the hammock. Men con women into working “for free” white people enslave black people, Martin Luther King thinks it is terrible because his wife wants to work outside the home, and he forbids her from doing this. That’s right, good old MLK wanted his wife in the home! She was originally an accomplished activist and Coretta Scott, actually knew far more about civil rights that Martin, when they first met. Most people don’t know this story. You’ll find it in a book called “We May Not Get There

    Posted by Satsuma | January 28, 2008, 9:05 pm
  7. … I got cut off on MLK. But anyway, you get the picture.

    It is up to each person and group to do their own work. White women need to do their work. Lesbians need to do their work.

    We will never have a completely unified feminism, and unity doesn’t really interest me anyway. It’s that pie in the sky people invoke when they want to draft you for “THEIR” issues.
    Anytime I hear the call for unity, I run the other way. It means the straight women’s express is leaving from the station! And I am not riding that train ever again.

    When we are completely honest about all this, then we’ll get somewhere.

    I know I will not listen to a feminism or a point of view that says that women are c—. That’s not my self-image. I see myself as a powerful lesbian intellectual, someone who is excited about life, someone who wants to really go places.

    Whether the rest of the world wants to come along is no longer my concern. In this way, I have become somewhat indifferent to woundology as a feminist tool.

    Feminists share wounds here, and that’s ok. It’s a stage of development. They need to be documented, but somehow I’m on a really different road right now.

    Radical feminism has been in my life for a very very long time, and so I know its characteristics. I like its uncompromising power and believe an ideology should be powerful enough to move the individual woman forward. It is a source of fuel to me, and engine of creativity and engagement.

    So while all of what Heart writes is true of women, it somehow is not how I feel about my own life. My life is better because of feminism. I loved the tools— and I loved the ideas, and then I wanted to do something positive for myself with all of this.

    I wanted to row across the lake without the anchor– it took me years to realize the anchor was even there in the first place. Now I know it’s there, and I have pulled it up! Sometimes the anchor of male supremacy or lesbian erasure slips back into the lake again, so I have to pull it out of the water yet again. But at least I now know it is there, even when patriarchy lies and tells me there is no such thing as an anchor!🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | January 28, 2008, 9:17 pm
  8. Satsuma, note that this post you’re responding to was written not by me, but by funnie. It actually began as comments to a different thread but I thought it was so good, I made it a post.

    I did pick out that great image up there, ha ha.

    I haven’t read your comments yet, just wanted to quickly point out that I am not the author of this great piece.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | January 28, 2008, 9:23 pm
  9. Tried to comment @ Kitty’s (thanks for linking to that!), but I’m too lazy to get a blogger account today…hope it’s OK to put this here:

    **********************

    In a way, when the child grows up [identifying with her father], she is inadvertently reinforcing the gender role of a mother…I wonder who she thought was going to be the mothers that she was still perpetuating a needed existence for.

    Ain’t that the kicker? I personally neatly elided this by planning to never get married or have kids; then I didn’t have to worry about it at all. Problem solved, then, right? :p

    Thanks for all your comments; I’m glad you thought it was interesting and thrilled it was at least a bit accurate as reinterpreted from your own perspective.

    I don’t think you sounded like you were creating more divisions, or separating yourself from “those” women…first of all, as you noted, not even having reason to believe in the meritocracy promoted by The Powered presents its own specific set of challenges. And also: I think recognizing and noting the ways in which our diverse perspectives are shaped is the way that we women CAN come together, meaningfully.

    Though the dividing line seems blurry close-up, there really is a world of difference between a third person denouncement (I am not like her) and a plurality-based statement of understanding (here’s an idea about how and why we approach this differently). It’s the difference between segregation, homogenization, and diversity, really; given that difference exists, should our response be segregation from, assimilation to, or unification as women? I think the latter approach not only allows for, but demands, the exploration of how we’re different and recognition of why that’s so…but the goal is key.

    And, yeah, I think it is like those young men you described, mixed with the embarrassment and fear (born of internalized misogyny) over what, if any, “personal reflection” one’s mother’s position, choices, and life might have on her own:

    Several of them complained about their mothers doing nothing. Now that they were in college and trying to make it in the world they complain about mom.

    At some point, hating women’s role means recognizing and rejecting what the patriarchy does to women…and another blurry-when-close (but very important and unmistakable…especially from the “wrong” end of it!) line emerges: repudiating the damage vs. the damaged – the restriction vs. the restricted.

    Well, anyway, thank you all for the compliments and additional thoughts.

    Posted by funnie | January 28, 2008, 11:26 pm
  10. Woops… sorry Funnie! I give you full credit for the incredibly thoughtful and meditative post! Good show!

    Posted by Satsuma | January 29, 2008, 12:23 am
  11. Satsuma: We will never have a completely unified feminism, and unity doesn’t really interest me anyway. It’s that pie in the sky people invoke when they want to draft you for “THEIR” issues.

    Yes.

    Satsuma: Justicewalks on her blog mentioned she didn’t want to work with white women anymore, and had the dream of a woman of color network. She felt that white women would never eliminate their “stuff’ from the group mix. I agree with her completely. White women will not cease with their stuff and will merely hold back women of color, as they zoom down the runway preparing to soar to Saturn (the greatest looking planet in my opinion).

    Yes.

    Back in the olden ancient days of yore :p when some of us were busy waging revolution like we had lost our minds, we kept certain things in the forefront of our minds. One was something Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) said to white people who wanted to be part of the civil rights movement. He told white people, “Go fight your own oppressors.” Beverly Jones said, “You don’t get radicalized fighting other people’s battles.”

    And that’s right. You do not. Worst case you will be a clueless, misguided do-gooder who does more harm than good, best case you will be just… ineffective. Because we all have to make revolution out of our own lived experiences of oppression– not someone else’s. You can’t beg, borrow or steal a raised consciousness. It has to be your own. And it will only come out of your own lived experience.

    I remember the heydey of Malcolm X’s Nation of Islam (black nationalists/separatists) before everything went all to hell and Malcolm was assassinated. I lived in Seattle, and everywhere — everywhere — there were black entrepreneurs, running shops, restaurants, businesses, making community, making cash. On every street corner in certain areas you’d see people selling the Black Muslim newspaper “Muhammed Speaks.” There was this constant image on the front page that depicted a white woman and a black woman, and under the picture of the white woman, it said something like, “The degradation,” (something like that), and under the picture of the black woman, who was dressing like/imitating the white woman (each woman holding the hand of a girl child), it said, “The shame.” The message being, get the hell away from white women, they mean you no good.[Edited this a.m. to add, I remember now what it said, under the picture of the white woman it said, “the shame,” and under the picture of the black woman imitating the white woman it said, “the disgrace.” But I was close!]

    I always thought it was wierd when members of the Nation of Islam tried to sell me, one of the “shame” (the Nation of Islam was completely opposed to interracial marriage, too), a copy of “Muhammed Speaks.” Then again, I always bought them!

    The thing is, I agreed. Of course, this movement was nothing to which I had anything to contribute. I understood why I was viewed as I was viewed, it made total sense to me.

    I don’t like it at *all* when men decide they are going to “work on their male privilege” and “be feminist allies,” and when they set about to run off at the lip about issues that aren’t theirs, have nothing to do with them.

    I mean, what the hell? They cannot have any real consciousness as to women’s issues. They’re men.

    What I want to see them doing is, working on men’s issues, hello!

    How badly badly badly do we need men, men, men, working with MEN on issues of rape, violence, prison issues, transgender issues, so many things.

    As we said in my old world, the field is ripe unto harvest! Send ye then laborers into the harvest!

    I want to say, you men, you cannot analyze/theorize/strategize my liberation. You can’t even teach one another about the things that matter most to me as a woman.

    What you can do is challenge men. Teach men. Engage men. Build a men’s revolution.

    And I KNOW it’s hard, I know men who are trying to do this, have spent years, decades trying, and are so frustrated, but I ALSO see the fruit of that. The fact is, men have changed, men are different, they are NOT the same as they were 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. So while it’s frustrating work, it’s such important work.

    And feminism is frustrating too.

    I don’t want men to fight my battles or “teach” other men about women’s issues or “work on” their male privilege (read: trash other men who they think are “less conscious” and call that “activism.” :/)

    I want them to make revolution with men, work with men, engage men.

    I want them to treat me with respect, to pay attention to me, to engage honestly with me. And that’s all.

    Just as women have to, men also have to fight *their own oppressors.* Men also have oppressors, always. As Jones said, men will never be radicalized fighting women’s battles. They have to fight their own.

    This is all to say I totally agree with you, Satsuma. I have a specific set of lived experiences, some of them horrifying, and I will spend the rest of my life making sense of those experiences for the sake of my own soul, my own healing, and for all women. This will be the way I participate in the healing of the world. Central to feminism is, we each fight for ourselves. We save our own lives– because we have come to believe our own lives are worth saving.

    Posted by womensspace | January 29, 2008, 5:11 am
  12. And if you’re a lesbian like me, you tend to be exceedingly proud of achievements, because they were accomplished with little or no help from straight women at all. That’s right, straight women were largely absent from most of the political events, spiritual work and literary inspirations.

    I’m going to start numbering each time straight women are put down to elevate lesbians.

    Can I insult a lesbain each time I want to elevate a straight woman?

    ONE

    Posted by ekittyglendower | January 29, 2008, 7:02 am
  13. Yeah, I’m definitely on board with less and less of women putting down women.

    Posted by womensspace | January 29, 2008, 1:11 pm
  14. “Central to feminism is, we each fight for ourselves. We save our own lives– because we have come to believe our own lives are worth saving.”

    This is right to the point Heart. When you fight for yourself, you increase in power and self-respect. When you are silent and do nothing, you are not free at all. What I love now is raw and determined lesbian courage right out there in the faces of the oppressors. These oppressive straight people are shocked that we aren’t afraid of them anymore. We will file law suits, we will not let them run feminism all to themselves. We will talk right back and get in anyone’s face who still designs to watch the oppression wheels go round.

    It’s not sometimes comfortable for heterosexual women, who are used to the world the way it is. It’s not comfortable at all to document what the world looks like from a lesbian point of view, because this viewpoint is very very rare. You’re not going to read it in the NYTimes, you’re not going to see it in the presidential debates… but it is there and it is real. You’ll just have to move on over and get used to it!

    As for putting down straight women, I am not putting them down. I am merely pointing out that the groups, institutions, books, poetry readings, music groups and international activism that meant the most to me did not include many straight women. They were absent from the groups lesbians created. I just didn’t see them doing the kind of work we were doing. Even now our herstory is being covered up by “women’s” studies departments. Mary Daly is not mentioned at liberal seminaries. Straight women out there are even uncomfortable bumbling around at a podium saying the word “lesbian” — it gets comic sometimes watching this.

    Now I could have waited around until maybe 2003 for straight women to get up and do things for me, but I’m sure glad I didn’t waste my youth floundering around in “women’s” groups. If the tables were turned and heterosexual women were in the minority, they would see what happens. You won’t being able to mention your partner, you will be ignored at public events, and people will make fun of “straight stereotypes” and then get angry at you when you defend yourself. You won’t get tax benefits from your partner when that person dies, you will pay taxes on the appreciation of your house unless you get a trust, and you won’t be automatically allowed into a hospital to see your partner or make medical decisions for that person without a signed document. You’ll get bad seats in restaurants all the time, and many people you work with will simply refuse to talk to you. Now that’s just for starters.

    Believe it or not, I am not insulting straight women. I am merely saying what it is they do a lot of the time out in the world. You all know this; it doesn’t need to be explained. Just be honest about what you will and won’t do. I am honest about what I will and won’t do and am very clear about what groups were instrumental in my liberation. You’ll have to find your own, but mine is definitely mine, and I’m exceedingly proud of these accomplishments, exceedingly, and since I’m not straight and don’t have to do that social pretend humility that so drives me nuts when women do this, I’m going to sing, brag and dance a gig! I know, it’s hard to take it when the oppressed celebrate their victories and milestones, but there you have it.

    And ekitty, you have the constitutional right to insult anyone you want to. I don’t mind. But I’m not going to pretend that straight women are little angels atop the christmas tree either, unless you want to be one🙂 then go ahead and be one!

    Heart said:
    “I mean, what the hell? They cannot have any real consciousness as to women’s issues. They’re men.”

    The same dynamic also applies. I don’t witness men doing this anymore than I personally witness straight women doing this. It just doesn’t happen in front of my face or within my hearing distance. That’s just day to day life. I am sure there are men working on this, and I see some change in men, but then again these changed men are not the same men. They are now 20 or 25 years old, they have far less education than I do, and they have less social power as well, so naturally they are better behaved around me. At times, these polite young men have worked for me, and they never insult bosses, because that insult would result in me firing them.

    I’m cynical about majorities changing I guess. I appreciate the little courtesies in life, but I also don’t see a whole lot of change out there.

    Heart says:
    “I have a specific set of lived experiences, some of them horrifying, and I will spend the rest of my life making sense of those experiences for the sake of my own soul, my own healing, and for all women. This will be the way I participate in the healing of the world.”

    It is how the healing of the world occurs. Oppression is kind of a time delay sort of thing. I think when you come to consciousness about the form homophobia takes in the world, you get an idea of what it is and how it works. Most heterosexual women are not accustomed to lesbians just nailing it on the head with no apology and with a relentless non-stop, no holds barred directness. Our species is a very direct and tough group. Those of us who have been in activism for a very long time are pretty damn not going to put up with one iota of insult anymore. We are very very tough, and we really do often see the public performance of straight women as … well a kind of performance. We dislike this, but perhaps a lot of straight women see a use for this.

    Since we derive absolutely no social advantage from that world, we find it hysterically funny a lot of the time, or maddening on a rainy day.

    The truth is, we have these incredible lived experiences as activists, and I believe we are all trying to figure this out. We know that the women’s movement is on the ropes with the rise in conservative neo con evil. We know that women’s rights are in danger now. We all know this. As lesbians, we have nothing much to lose — no statues in the park, no social celebration in America, no territory that we control completely– we have no land, and yet we have a freedom that is intoxicating.

    As we come to this very select consciousness out there — as Heart describes, we come to both exhilaration and incredible knock down drag out rage. To be lesbian and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage🙂 the old ones will get gold stars for identifying who I stole this quote from 🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | February 2, 2008, 9:29 am
  15. So true, the way it’s hard for most heterosexual women to say or hear the word “lesbian”. I am not talking about my trusted friends here, of course, but just in general, including on the internet. If you want to see women from my old world, or fundamentalist worlds of any kind, vanish, disappear, scatter, just whisper the word “lesbian.” It doesn’t really matter if you say it in a negative way or a positive way, now that I’m thinking about it, it’s as though, just please don’t say that word! Please, not that word. If you say that word, I’m outta here. If I think you might *be* that, then I’m off the map, bye, it’s been nice, see ya. I can tolerate many things, I’m a really tolerant, good-hearted person, but I just can’t go there.

    I am musing now, but it’s heartbreaking for me to see, and it is certainly heartbreaking knowing of the many women in that world who would probably have been lesbians and loved women if they had not been straitjacketed by fundamentalism and the men in their lives and the white haired male gods they fear so much.

    It’s heartbreaking on another level, fundamentalist women, I’m thinking about now, who can’t utter this word or think these thoughts about women who love women, because the ones I have known and engage at times have huge families, and I promise you one, or two, or three of their children will be gay or lesbian, or would be if somehow they could live free and create enough space around themselves to know what they want in life, to divide their own longings and beliefs from the ones that bombard them every day from every conceivable direction.

    This is why, of course, you have this continuing string of pastors and men on the Religious Right and Republicans involved in scandals because of their trysts with men.

    I am a good communicator, I know that I am, but I find I have to reach more and more and more deeply in the attempt to convey to people what happens to those who get caught up in patriarchal religion, or who are born into it. These are often split people, divided people. They must split for their own survival. They learn that who they really are and what they really want is dangerous– dangerous to them, dangerous to their families, dangerous in their communities– and so they hide it, they cover it up, they pretend. The tragic thing is, in this splitting, they can hide it and cover it up and pretend, even to themselves. So you have this dear man — and I think he is a dear man, Ted Haggard, and sometime I will write more about why I do think he is a dear man — who builds this gigantic megachurch beginning in his basement, who has everyone’s respect and shares podiums across the country with James Dobson and all the other megachurch superstars, and yet he is paying gay prostitutes to have sex with him.

    When these guys are outed, they always deny it, and then they are called liars and the hate machine spirals out of control, that hideous hatred which sickens me when I witness it amongst progressives, so-called, especially, because it reminds me that most progressives, when you get right down to it, are as much haters as most neocons. This is sure something I have learned in my sojourns amongst progressives so-called, especially male progressives. They might appear to take political positions similar to mine, but many times, they are haters nonetheless and the positions they have taken, they have taken for reasons as Machiavellian as neocons’ reasons are. The truth is, men like Ted Haggard have lied to themselves about themselves and their lives, their longings and dreams for so long, the divisions between what is true and what is not are blurred and fuzzy even to them, especially to them, and especially in situations as with these men who are very visible fundamentalists.

    We forget, or can forget, if we get to insulated and ingrown in our interactions within our own groups politically, that most of the world dares not say “gay” or think “gay” or say “lesbian” or think “lesbian” except when the words become useful as a weapon, to insult someone, put him or her down, or tarnish his or her reputation or credibility. Most of the world is homophobic and lesbophobic to an astounding degree.

    I forget this too at times. And then when I encounter persons from my old world, because they need my help or they want my insights or they are struggling and floundering and being crushed by the system they are part of, and I utter that word, and suddenly they go silent and now they are gone, I remember, it all comes flooding back, the silencings, the self-silencings, the way women in that world must do everything in their power to appear to be what they are not, the way they so deeply fear diverging too far from the only path they have been permitted to walk.

    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2008, 3:43 pm
  16. Yeah – I think that melting away into nothing is what it feels on the other end of the privilege-protecting behaviors (discomfort identifying with a particular woman). Not that lesbianism per se is a direct result of misogyny in the way that the femininity box is, but the social meaning of lesbianism – the baggage attached to it by the patriarchy and the wounding inflicted upon women because of that – has the same effect.

    And it produces the same feelings of discomfort, embarrassment, and fear of equivalencies as “successful” women have with respect to women whose compliance with women’s role has led to less personal or financial autonomy. Or those that gender non-conformant women can have with respect to women with very gender-performance-like grooming rituals (feminine or masculine). Or how it’s hard for women who are very focused on their own size to be around women who are thinner and/or fatter and/or the same size, depending on how they think they will be thought of for associating with that woman, or how they will be influenced by that woman.

    I think it’s just plain hard to consciously avoid being a certain “kind” of woman because you don’t think it’s in your best interests, and then turn around and sit next to her in the cafeteria.

    Which is all to say that yes, I absolutely agree with you, Heart, that feminism is about freeing your own self. But part of that freeing is about the coming-together despite our differences, because it’s really the only way to be free of one’s own attempts to define oneself negatively.

    IOW, maybe the only way to become your truest self as a woman is to stop trying to be different than other women.

    (As well as to stop trying to be different from yourself! Right on, re: the “splitting” … it’s so darn insidious, and a hell of a hard habit to break, tell you what.)

    Posted by funnie | February 2, 2008, 4:21 pm
  17. Such things to fear. Being lesbian or gay is about as terrible and destructive as eating vegetable soup. There is so much that is truly wrong and destructive in this world that it is obscene spending energy attacking different forms of love and those who practice them.

    Posted by Branjor | February 2, 2008, 4:40 pm
  18. As well as to stop trying to be different from yourself

    Yeah.

    I think that so long as women don’t know who they are or what they want, possibly because they are split in the way I’ve described, or because they see things in themselves that they find loathsome or inconsistent or hypocritical or just, they don’t like what they see, and so they try to fix those things and instead of fixing them, they end up internally divided against themselves, still despising themselves for wanting or needing certain things, feeling ashamed that they do, trying to will their needs and wants gone or declare them gone by fiat, exercising “self-discipline,” but underneath it all they know themselves to be masses of contradictions and contradictory impulses, all completely understandable, completely forgiveable, too. We treat ourselves, so often, with so little compassion. We cut ourselves no slack. We just add our self-loathing and dismissing of ourselves into the fomenting internal mass of contradictions we at times may feel ourselves to be.

    Fundamentalism’s answer to all of this is to look outward– to “save the world.” Stop thinking about yourself so much, think about all of those other people who have it so much worse than you have it, all those heathens in those other religions, going to hell.

    This is why you see fundamentalists who basically are Jekyll and Hyde personalities. They gleam and shine and glow when they are evangelizing or ministering to the “lost.” On a personal level they are mean, hateful and abusive, usually behind closed doors in their families where they can get away with it. All of that outward looking is an escape from facing up to their own inner conflicts, difficulties, troubles. The end result of this “solution,” of course, has often been imperialism, colonialism, with broken, destructive, sometimes demented persons, conquering whole nations and people groups, believing themselves to be “saviors,” completely deluded about their own lostness.

    First before they did anything, they needed to save themselves. But of course, first they would have had to face up to themselves, hard to do in fundamentalism, where the fix is to agree that you’re a sinner and have god save you and then pretend you’re all brand new and squeaky clean.

    We see this in feminism, too, this penchant women have to save other women, women not like them. It also leads to imperialism and colonialism and then you have the colonized rightly fired up and indignant and the colonizers resentful because they were just trying to help. Hence, Kwame Ture telling the white people to go fight their own oppressors. Some kinds of help are not very helpful.

    I am processing here, so don’t hold me to anything, because I am working things out for myself still. I just think one way we attempt to change ourselves at times, to do away with our self-loathing or conflicts or struggles or rage or whatever, is, we distance ourselves from other women (sometimes women who are most like us and who remind us of ourselves). Sometimes part of that distancing might involve attempting to connect with women very different from ourselves, another way, maybe, of escaping ourselves, demonstrating how not like ourselves we really are! Sometimes we decide to save the world, too, all those women who aren’t like us, then maybe we can escape the voices of self-loathing and self-criticism in our own heads.

    I wonder if connecting across great differences — really connecting, not these sadomasochistic dances we do at times, not bowing and scraping, or groveling in someone’s direction, not throwing someone a few bones, not becoming someone’s sycophant or seeking sycophants, but real, productive connections — might only be possible between women reconciled to ourselves, with enough compassion and acceptance of our own inner conflicts, struggles, difficulties, all the things about ourselves that we hate that we have these qualities in abundance to extend in the direction of other women, meaning acceptance, compassion, the impulse towards reconciliation. In our old world we said something like, “deep calls to deep,” or “face calls to face,” speaking to a certain recognition that I am thinking about here.

    Of course, I’m not talking here about creating alliances between political groups, that kind of thing. We can create alliances even if we can’t stand one another. HA. And we do sometimes create that kind of alliance. And we should.

    I’m talking more here about bonds between women, the (apparent) flip side of the coin of differentiating ourselves from other women.

    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2008, 5:22 pm
  19. ***On a personal level they are mean, hateful and abusive, usually behind closed doors in their families where they can get away with it.***

    You mean where men can get away with it, right? Since when can women get away with that?

    Posted by Branjor | February 2, 2008, 5:33 pm
  20. …real, productive connections — might only be possible between women reconciled to ourselves, with enough compassion and acceptance of our own inner conflicts, struggles, difficulties, all the things about ourselves that we hate that we have these qualities in abundance to extend in the direction of other women, meaning acceptance, compassion, the impulse towards reconciliation…

    I think that’s true (well, I’d say they’re possible between women *to the extent that* we’re reconciled to ourselves – I’m not sure anyone ever quite makes it all the way). I also think that the urge to draw such distinctions in the first place springs from a place of recognition of commonality; I don’t go around pointing out how dissimilar I am from a piece of granite, or even the Queen of England. I take it for granted and don’t consider it much at all. I feel the most internal pressure to do draw those lines when I have reason to think someone might reasonably mistake me for “the woman I don’t want to be” (in the abstract OR concrete), especially if deep down I think I kind of might already be her.

    Posted by funnie | February 2, 2008, 5:36 pm
  21. branjor, I think fundamentalist women are entirely capable of being glowing and wonderful in public while evangelizing the “lost”, and mean, hateful and abusive to other women and to children, their own, and children in their care. Andrea Yates treated her children differently from the way she treated her peers in Christianity, for one example that comes immediately to mind. Do I blame Andrea Yates for that? No, I do not. I believe she was driven to it.

    I don’t really know what’s up with you right now, branjor, but one too many of your comments is seeming hostile to me, in a way that seems unnecessary and unproductive.

    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2008, 5:58 pm
  22. I also think that the urge to draw such distinctions in the first place springs from a place of recognition of commonality;

    So true!

    I feel the most internal pressure to do draw those lines when I have reason to think someone might reasonably mistake me for “the woman I don’t want to be” (in the abstract OR concrete), especially if deep down I think I kind of might already be her.

    YES. Again, so true.

    There’s another way this phenomenon works too, I think, that I’ve seen. You will sometimes see a woman attempting to connect with another woman across differences. She may point to experiences she’s had that actually are very similar. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to connect, though, the other woman might react very intensely and negatively in various ways, and one of the most common of those ways I’ve seen in feminist circles is, the woman who has attempted to connect is accused of making things “all about her.” I’m not saying that sometimes doesn’t happen. Sometimes women DO make things all about them when it’s not appropriate to do so. But other times this is just a way of dismissing a woman’s attempt at connection, often, in my experience anyway, when what you describe above is operating. The rejecting woman doesn’t want connection, reconciliation, or to have commonalities pointed out to her, she wants distance herself, often, like you say, from someone who is a lot like her. When it’s really confusing is where the rejecting woman has said she is interested in connecting!

    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2008, 6:08 pm
  23. My sister K recently landed a job where (she was mighty surprised to find out on her first day of work that) her immediate supervisor is a woman we remember as our fundie school principal’s admin asst.

    K (now 26, who last had contact with the woman ~10yo) called me up just to rave to me about how absolutely bizarre it is to deal with her in a “real world” context, in a secular workplace, as a grownup. Apparently Mrs. L’s management paradigm is pretty closely related to the kind of power-over parenting one learns in many fundamentalist circles, and the other workers have been so very, very confused by it and by her. Heh. She issues lots of seemingly arbitrary rules and is quick to label the slightest infraction as “direct disobedience,” she thinks yelling and screaming and shaming is appropriate workplace behavior, etc. She gets very flustered when she doesn’t think she’s in absolute control of everything and everyone, and in such cases stresses out, flips out, etc. … and then when she feels secure again goes out of her way to seek people out and tell them how much she loves them.

    K said “you have no idea how weird it is to have your manager, a virtual stranger, tell you on your second day on the job, how much she really loves you…it’s even weirder than being screamed at your first day of work!”

    But, you know, we get it. And I (not having been personally incensed and flashbacked by this behavior being directed at me) think it’s pretty unbelievably sad, that the only model this woman has ever had for the exercise of authority is spank-and-cuddle correction.

    Posted by funnie | February 2, 2008, 6:53 pm
  24. Connection happens one person at a time. I see the obsession with groups as part of the problem.

    Thanks for mentioning Ted Haggard Heart. I hate those slimy nut case pastors with a passion, but I was horrified that (CNN I think) ambused him in his car with his family and asked very pointed questions right in front of his wife and children. In that moment, I thought that was way too UNFAIR.

    Soul Force’s website put out an appeal to write letters to Haggard to support him, and to say welcome to the gay community. They were meant to be personal letters of what we had all done in our lives, and I wrote in my letter that I was so sorry he had to endure this humiliation. This personal reaching out is a way to connect with fundamentalists.

    This splitting in fundamentalism and probably in other isms is worth noting. People can’t help where or when they are born, and most people never get out of tribal mindsets. So they stay in tribal mode, even though they may be very different inside.

    Women are stuck in this all the time. You see this in exceptionally intelligent women who have no peers to talk to, for example. This brilliance is suppressed and ignored, and to be brilliant and have to deal with dumming down anti-intellectuals all the time is horrifying. If you are a very smart fundamentalist woman, you are forced to “follow” dumb men. Dumb men flock to pastorates because of the low educational standards of a lot of these fundie churches. You don’t see as many nut cases preaching in Episcopal churches, for example. The professional standards weed out the losers. I met a lot of these fundamentalist guys, and wasn’t impressed.

    I notice this in women who are in their 70s now. They avoid conflict and retreat from all opinions. I think this type of woman actually invented that stupid rule that you are not supposed to talk about religion, politics or sex in public places. It was a rule created out of their own fear of strong opinions. Fundamentalist women are stuck in these molds too, and since sexuality itself is made so weird in christianity and fundamentalist religions in general, I think this weird disconnect from reality does a lot of damage.

    Since I came from a jewish and catholic background simultaneously, this was hard for me to get. There was no one way, even in my own home growing up. So when I heard people say mean things about jews as a child, I had no idea what they were so upset about. Since I never “looked” jewish, I’d get to hear all the insults, just like I get to hear all the insults because people don’t know I’m a lesbian. It’s why I have so little faith in majorities, and think most of majority feminism is a kind of lie.

    Funnie said:
    “I feel the most internal pressure to do draw those lines when I have reason to think someone might reasonably mistake me for “the woman I don’t want to be” (in the abstract OR concrete), especially if deep down I think I kind of might already be her.”

    This is an interesting idea, since maybe a lot of women fear being women they don’t want to be. I often detect this kind of ever present fear in women. They are silent way too often, and this seems like fear of being outspoken. Women live in fear often, they fear losing things. Losing social position, losing husbands, losing clubs or networks. Men do everything in their power to make women feel less than — just look at the make-up industry, the fashion industry, all these ridiculous industries. The weight loss industry… all of this stupid appearance based industry that is expensive, weird and makes women seem pathetic to me a lot of times. Except in the case of weight loss being for legitimate health reasons, of course.

    I’m often shocked to see this kind of behavior, and it completely baffles me. I find it odd, because being my self has never stopped me from getting the things I wanted in life. In fact, the more I am me, the better I do in the world. I believe self-confidence will always carry the day, and women can have far more freedom than they are currently settling for.

    Lesbians of my age group are completely indifferent to fashion and beauty standards, and most of us have never participated in those worlds ever. I never ever wore make-up, I never ever dated men or boys, I never ever refrained from verbal battles with men, or even from throwing punches if I got really mad. I never just sat and suffered or pretended in front of men. I never felt the need to act straight, and was always focused on knowledge and books. I never liked or trusted leftist men, and watched them in their idiocy through the 60s and 70s. All of that outside world seemed very weird to me, and I wondered what all the struggle was with women most of the time.

    In many ways, it was so much easier to be a lesbian because I never had to deal with oppressive personal relationships. Children bored me to death and I was upfront about not wanting to deal with them at all. People didn’t bug me about doing childcare or serving men coffee or settling for badly paid jobs. I hated low wages and focused on creating more wealth.
    I hated second class citizenship, and simply found the people who felt the same.

    I wasn’t particularly rebellious in a social sense. I like fine food and good surroundings. So you won’t find me in communes or rural settings. I simply wanted a certain life and that was that. If feminism hadn’t been there, I would have been a feminist anyway. No movement defined me, and I think that this longing for social approval is one of the biggest weaknesses women have. Why they think social approval matters is simply beyond me.

    You can be blunt, you can be polite… it simply doesn’t matter.

    My indifference to social norms comes more from just indifference. Maybe it was because I didn’t live in a western country during my early adulthood, so I definitely knew that other social structures operated. Whatever it was, it was a source of great power.

    I can’t tell if women’s reluctance to fight for freedom is some difference within them. It can be hard for me to identify with the majority of women out there, because I really am completely unlike them. This indifference and detachment grows with each passing year, or perhaps it is impatience.

    Since I detested the cultural norms of the straight world, I simply created a world more to my liking. Every now and then I will make friends with a straight woman, but this is increasingly rare. We have little in common. Straight men aren’t very conversationally literate. They don’t know anything about feminism, can’t discuss it, haven’t read anything, and have little to say. Straight men often seem culturally illiterate too. Music, art, poetry just doesn’t exist for them. They can stay transfixed watching repititve games on T.V. for hours on end, they talk about nothing but sports and business. Never once have I heard a straight man at work even mention a book he has read. I don’t even think they read, unless they are academics, and then only in their field.

    So it’s no wonder that women feel fragmented. Once a woman I met who’d been a drill sargeant in the military for 20 years said that she found a lot of the women recruits simply had no access to anger at all. Large percentages of the women seemed unaware that that emotion even existed. She asked me: “How do you access your anger?” No one had ever asked that question of me before. It is my brutal public anger that so freaks out straight women– they fear this kind of anger. Perhaps they think men will kill them if they show this brutal face publically. What I discovered is that men are cowards, and if you are determined in advance to kill them if they mess with you, this changes everything in social interactions with them.

    Perhaps a purpose of lesbian feminism is to demonstrate anger in an aggressive and no-nonsense fashion. Women need to see this. They may whine about it, but it is anger and it is real, and I find it very empowering.

    I don’t expect either men or straight women to change all that much. As Heart says, straight women are basically terrified to even say the word “lesbian.” Liberal straight women will use the word “gay” if they are daring. But “lesbian” doesn’t voluntarily come out of their mouths. It’s interesting. When you don’t fear anger, and you don’t fear men, and you don’t fear just throwing a punch at an oppressor, you live in a different social reality entirely.

    The good part is you gain more and more self-respect, the bad part is you simply become less and less compassionate as the years go by. You care less and less. It is almost as if my track was completely different from the straight woman’s path. There actually may be some connection again as I see straight women becoming themselves. Children are grown, so they actually have more time to be themselves in the world.

    Older women become less obsessed with personal appearance because men ignore old women. It’s kind of like how straight people completely ignore lesbians — we are always socially invisibile. Straight people almost NEVER, that’s right almost NEVER ask me any personal questions at all. They’ll talk about business with me, but never bother to show any interest at all in who I am. It is all a one way street.

    When Heart mentioned women connecting coming across as “being about them” — in my opinion, this really is true with straight women. It’s always about them, so I simply have to point out some rules of conversation. You can’t blab nonstop about your children, you have 15 minutes with this, and then I demand equal time. This blunt exchange is a striking tactic, because straight women don’t even know they are doing this.
    They are fearful and thus resort to the child talk screensaver.

    Will this ever change? It’s hard to say. Feminism has become awfully academic these days. It flourishes only when there is EXTREME oppression of women. Mexico City, I have a feeling, is a hot bed of radical feminism right now. When women demand separate buses, you know men have really gotten out of control. I find men offensive everywhere, and I always wished that we could kick them out of a lot of public space in America, but straight women aren’t angry enough to get rid of them. Patriarchy adjusts very well, it is clever at undermining everything women do.

    Just think of the men who “say” they are women, so that they can invade women’s space. I’m still flabbergasted that at a radical feminist hullaballo, the women didn’t just throw that man out– Heart mentioned this in an earlier post. They let him stay. Now why didn’t women throw him out? What’s with this? Can’t we put our foot down hard!

    I know I’m a wandering here and processing… I’m actually quite fascinated about all the details about radical feminist hullaballo, and was sorry I missed it. Maybe next time.

    Heart says:
    “Fundamentalism’s answer to all of this is to look outward– to “save the world.”

    This idea is a waste of time. You can’t save the world, but you can change how you interact with the world. It’s something I do every day. It is up to me to set the limits, and it is up to me to tell my truth. Whether anyone at all agrees with it is a waste of time. Agreement is a form of coercion in my opinion.
    You can connect or you can verify that something is true or not, but agreement is something women waste an awful lot of time with.

    Posted by Satsuma | February 2, 2008, 8:29 pm
  25. Satsuma, it’s really strange how things have shaken out, really, so far as radical feminists. At the Hullaballoo, there was one speaker, I won’t name her here, but she is white and older than both you and I and was a very well-known lesbian separatist/feminist back in the 70s, who in her presentation basically said (in so many words) that she was no longer a separatist, she tried to have “compassion” for men no matter what their politics (including, for example, neocons trashing the earth, even though she had years of pro-earth activism under her belt) and tried to view everything as a gift, even torture. (Yes, she said this. Would I make this up?) She also said she felt we had to be “open” to different ideas about gender, and she was moving along the path towards saying that we should leave behind our interest in female-only spaces. At that point, several of the women I was with walked out. One booed. (Lucky, matter of fact). When Lucky booed, other women around high fived her because what she was saying was definitely not what most of us have any need or desire to hear more of, given that the entire world says all of the above all of the time so far as men goes. I mean honestly, what women in the world need to be exhorted to show more compassion towards men and to see the gift in torture and ravaging of the earth! This is someone’s politics gone amock. There’s more to say but I am going to say it in Women’s Space Underground, not here, because I’m not interested in airing this particular laundry on the internet and I sure don’t want to offend the fine women who put on the Hullaballoo.

    Anyway, the Hullaballoo never specified that it was open only to female persons, there was no mention of it being woman-only. I think if there had been some mention, there may well have been someone who threw the males out! Like Lucky, for instance! It’s the kind of thing, too, that happens at Michfest. All of us were so THRILLED and EXCITED to be going to this, ohmygosh, it was the most wonderful thing ever to anticipate hearing all of those very fine women leaders speaking in one spot, in Santa Fe, such an amazing place anyway, a whole weekend. Just as with Michfest, we have waited all year, saved our money, taken the time off, made all the arrangements and there we are on womyn’s land at last. Everyone is in sort of a head space in which they really do not want anything to ruin the experience, including having to deal with males barging in, so there is this sort of denial, it feels like to me, that sets in, also something like all the women waiting for someone else to take care of the problem, or wondering if they’ll get in trouble if they try to take care of it.
    Especially at the Hullaballoo, where there was no stated WBW policy. I thought and hoped that the speakers featured and the fact that it was billed as a lesbian feminist/radical feminist event would likely ensure the presence of only female persons, but no.

    At Fest if we are concerned that a man is on the land, we’re supposed to contact security. I know there have been a couple of instances of persons escorted off the land, but I haven’t heard of this happening ever in the years I’ve been going, and this will be my fifth year, if I go. And there definitely were transwomen on the land, including transwomen leading workshops.

    I don’t know. I just think women are afraid to act. And any woman who isn’t afraid gets smacked down by her sisters really quick, gets shunned, mistreated in various ways.

    I agree that sometimes people in majority groups do make things about them. Men do this all the time! Which is why we have even an acronym, “PHMT,” Patriarchy Hurts Men Too, for all the men who make feminist discussions about them, and men in general.

    I was speaking of a more complicated phenomenon that takes place amongst feminist women at times.

    Posted by womensspace | February 2, 2008, 8:58 pm
  26. “(Yes, she said this. Would I make this up?) ” This comment for some reason just made me howl with laughter. No Heart, the things you say are so shocking to me ALL the time practically that they could never ever have been made up. Feminism is about absurdity and the weirdness of life. Lesbian community is filled with this all the time, and we appreciate true insanity I think. Women getting freedom? Insane right🙂

    You wouldn’t believe the number of strong lesbian feminist separatists out there who simply threw in the towel and left the scene. Geez, dozens of them converted to Buddhism! One lesbian Dianic priestess even said she went to a Dalai Lama event and felt honored to “be in his presense.” I would have felt honored to blow his damn sexist head off! But at any rate, I hate to point out the position of women in Tibet, and also point out that somehow women are never reincarnated as these damn patriarchal pests! Well you get the picture. “Free Tibet” is the buzz word in la la land — free the men only in Tibet should be in the fine print. Freedom — it’s all about men…

    So it must have been weird indeed to see lesbian separatists for heavens sake saying that “torture” and even “neocons” were a gift!

    I’m glad women in your group booed and walked out of the speech at Hullaballoo–wow Heart, I just can’t learn to spell that word!! Geez, what’s the world coming to. Separatists used to be the heroines of the movement — aggressive, mean, making men fear the very sight us coming down the street. How the mighty have fallen.

    But then again, we lesbians are partly to blame for this — we didn’t sustain our warrior cults, we didn’t build power out of all of this, and we didn’t create sufficient wealth to show that lesbian separatists rule their own castles and land. Granola ain’t a gonna feed an army! 🙂 Speaking as the aggressive meat eating traditional man hating lesbian that I am very proud to be! :-)ing my enemies, not turning the other cheek!
    Not cool, not nice, but at least I have complete self-respect for goddess sake!

    So this fear of being aggressive, and fear of other women always supporting god-damn men, it wears us down.
    You’d think there would be a good old speechifying event in a radical feminist context that would acknowledge the long and noble history of hating the oppressor’s living guts, celebrating the death of enemies, and doing a dance of victory now and then.

    We don’t do this as feminists, and we need to. The day Hugh Hefner dies, for example, we should celebrate and burn his Playboys and throw darts at his picture and have a big feast. Good idea I think— I might just have a party to celebrate the death of this enemy of women, for example. Stuff like this –get the anger out in the open! Acknowledge anger and really say it’s the stuff of true power. Women don’t celebrate anger enough in my opinion, but if we did this more often we wouldn’t be in-fighting as much! Just a theory.

    If I can find some straight feminists who won’t go all whimpy on me, I may invite them to the party! This is quite a challenge for them.🙂 I know, stop beating a dead horse Satsuma….🙂 Tiresome old me. But at least I have not stooped to rescueing bunnies and worshipping his pain in the ass Lama self!

    P.S. This is not as nutty as it may sound –K.D. Lang actually hosted a talk given by a real live Tibetan lama at the gay and lesbian center… I kid you not! On the topic of sexuality and spirituality… his English was terrible, and we would have had just as good a homophobic little speech if Ted Haggard had come on by! (This was before he got caught).

    This is the kind of stupid stuff lesbians are doing these days. Yikes, I used the word “stupid” and the word “lesbian” in one sentence — just to make you happy ekitty🙂

    Oh I’m on a roll this week.

    It is all very complex Heart. I’m a simple minded one track mind sort of person. I want my freedom, I want it now, and I will argue anyone who denies me this into the ground! Women should have ten times the freedom they have now, ten times the amount of it, and I blame this namby pamby weak willed nature that gets into feminists sometimes that holds all of us back.

    It’s ok to hate men. It’s ok to read them the riot act! It’s ok to make them fear women, and it’s ok to expose rapists, harassers and pedofiles to a lifetime of public humiliation and harassment. It’s ok to attack the attackers, and it’s ok to celebrate when women win victories now and then.

    Death of Hugh Hefner day coming right on up! Who has the match to light a bonfire of Playboy magazines ??🙂 And don’t someone be a spoil sport about book burning and NAZIS–puleezzz!🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | February 3, 2008, 2:55 am
  27. Eh, Satsuma 😀 Rock on!

    I particularly like:

    Women don’t celebrate anger [ against men ]enough in my opinion, but if we did this more often we wouldn’t be in-fighting as much! Just a theory.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | February 3, 2008, 3:24 pm
  28. I have nothing against being angry with men per se, but it depends on where it comes from. I dispute that anger is the stuff of real power. I think passion is the stuff of real power, and if anger comes from passion, it can be powerful. If anger comes from blind hatred, it may feel powerful, but it is hollow and will backfire. As Audre Lorde observed, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

    Posted by Aletha | February 6, 2008, 6:27 am
  29. What does blunt aggressive in your face anger have to do with “master’s tools.” Besides, Audre Lorde got conventional college degrees, married a man, and certainly used the “master’s tools” — heterosexual marriage, traditional professorships and more… she had no problems with the master’s tools at all, and yet we still use that stupid quote. Go figure!

    Posted by Satsuma | February 6, 2008, 6:44 am
  30. Perhaps you have never experienced “blunt aggressive in your face anger” directed your way by a man, Satsuma. Hard to believe, but perhaps you have escaped that, or perhaps you call it something else. Likewise, perhaps you cannot imagine that a woman might feel compelled to use the master’s tools, yet recognize that this is not a way his house could be dismantled. You go figure. How about this statement from Catharine MacKinnon, “what women need to do to survive in a patriarchal society is the exact opposite to what will overthrow that society.” Another stupid quote, eh?

    Posted by Aletha | February 6, 2008, 7:13 am

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