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Pre-2008 Posts

Come Together Blog Carnival, March 22, 2008 — “Given to Tears”

by Jennifer Wildflower
I wanted to write a word about the passing of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. I also wanted to write about the power of tears, and the power of  women who weep.

Growing up a conservative Christian kid in America, I used to view Tammy Faye on the tube regularly.  In my house come Sundays, TBN was the station of the hour, every hour. Tammy Faye always seemed ecstatic.  As a little girl, although I was bored out of my mind having to watch TBN, I liked Tammy Faye because she seemed incredibly loving and kind.

Of course, too, she often had her signature black rivers of happy-sad tears running down her face. I remember in my child’s mind thinking that smeared mascara, in general, looked cool and pretty. Be it Tammy Faye, my mom, or whomever, that look on any woman intrigued me. Smeared mascara was life-hit mascara — its presence meant you had just been through something, and I’ve always been a sucker for a story, big or small.

In one way or another, these women with black rivers running down their cheeks had just felt, released,  expressed — lived. And now the whole world would have to see.

Black mascara-turned-war paint regularly adorned the faces of the women I grew up with in the church of my early years (not to be confused with the church of my teen years where women did not wear makeup, and cried a lot less too).  At services, at potlucks, baby and wedding showers, Bible studies and prayer meetings, the tears would flow.  So many women, so many tears, so much smeared mascara.

People who cried freely and publicly were fascinating to me. My aunts, Debi and Heidi, cried close to every time I saw them, often just out of happiness to see their neices and nephews.  They were, and are, hard working and successful, intelligent and complex women. They were, and are, also women given to tears. 

They would, and still do, cry when a baby is born, someone dies, is hurt or damaged, or does something kind or thoughtful. Tears seem to always shine in the corners of their eyes.

There was another woman in my childhood whose tears made an impression on me. A friend of my mom’s, Mary, would burst into tears on the hour it seemed.

She was an insightful, passionate, brilliant woman who was interested in me and my brothers and what we thought about the world. She had seven Siamese cats, collected stones and feathers and studied natural medicines and the like.

She had survived a childhood of hatred and neglect, rape by a patient at an institution she worked in, a pregnancy and abortion as a result, abusive partners and the death of her 16- year-old beloved son — her only child, curly-headed, motorcycle riding, tender-hearted David – to Russian Roulette.

My little brother, Jesse David, was named in honor of Mary’s son, and her eyes would fill with tears as she would address him, always by both names, “Jesse David” followed with a longing, heartbroken laugh.  I loved Mary, and I loved the fact that she cried half the time.

In my immediate family, stoicism was the valued trait, and tears were little appreciated or tolerated; therefore, I saw tears as something raw and true, made even more so by my near-inability to produce them.

In a conservative religious household, emotion is a dangerous thing. Perhaps Tammy Faye’s watery heart, and proclivity to tears were what made her the first televangelist to promote compassion towards, and acceptance of, HIV and AIDS victims during the ’80s, when paranoia and harsh judgement of gay people were the rule, not exception. I am not a fan of televangelism. I do believe that religion is usually an opiate of the masses. However, as an outsider I can choose to judge Tammy Faye mercifully or harshly, and I choose to leave off the harshness and trust my instincts about her.

Her simplicity was her biggest strength and her biggest weakness, it seems to me.  But she had chutzpah, she was incredibly positive and incredibly grateful, and she didn’t let anybody, not anybody, get her down for long. All that takes heart, and a lot of it.

Women have for the most part been given the green light when it comes to weeping in public. For their tears women have been seen as both soft-hearted and soft-touches, and both these claims about us might be founded.

Like all marginalized classes, women have most often taken up the reins of whatever power they could wield with least resistance. Weeping women are not normally considered a force to be reckoned with, although maybe they should be. The activist group Women in Black is one feminist collective that has chosen to use the sorrow of women as the backbone of its demand for justice for people who are oppressed, persecuted and devalued worldwide.

Many women in patriarchal religions have perfected the power of an emotional, bleeding-heart love. Although we women have a long way to go in giving ourselves permission, and gaining social permission, to take power of other kinds, still and all, our loving tears are powerful.

Tammy Faye Bakker Messner was born March 7, 1942 and died July 20, 2007.  She was neither feminist nor radical, but she was was an influential and inspiring encourager to many, one who reminded her conservative Christian base that the gospel of Christ is steeped in acceptance and agape love, not hate-mongering or homophobia.

I’ve written these words with a respectful nod toward Tammy Faye Bakker Messner and to all women who are given to tears, who weep openly, and to the black war paint they wear to prove it.

Behind every tear exists a rage–behind every rage exists a tear.

Jennifer Wildflower is a feminist, child advocate, writer and musician and lives in Reseda California where she works at a no-kill cat sanctuary.  She is currently working on a music project centering around the story of Goldilocks which explores gender and racial identity, rites of passage, mother/daughter love and betrayal and various female archetypes.

Another feminist perspective on the passing of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner and feminist writer Letty Russell here.

Comments open.

Discussion

17 thoughts on “Come Together Blog Carnival, March 22, 2008 — “Given to Tears”

  1. Sniffle. I do it. I can do it at the drop of a memory. I’ve always wondered if we women are crying for the lost hope, dreams and innocence we had in believing those dreams were possible, for us, when we fell in love, married, held our new born babies, saw the love and admiration shining at us in our nieces and nephews little eyes.

    I think it’s the pain of the loss of our innocence, our expectations for ourselves our children and our nieces especially, disappointment in our sons and lovers, nephews and fathers; and what we know, we know, will come about for those still innocnent whom we love, that brings our tears.

    Posted by Sis | March 23, 2008, 8:04 pm
  2. The irony of this carnival entry: though no longer a Christian (I was raised in a conservative protestant faith), I’ve long looked to Tammy Faye as a source of inspiration, both as a feminist and a woman striving to make peace with life’s contradictions. I am so pleased by this entry and hope others take from it the solidarity I find here.

    I once took the documentary, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, to a feminist movie night, where I believed I was among allies and friends. After deliberation and consensus, the film was chosen as the one we would watch, and we did just that. When it ended, someone I’d never seen before, someone new to the group, started ranting about how women like Tammy Faye played into their own oppression by staying in the church. I spoke up that my entire family is part of the same kind of church, but that doesn’t make them oppressed or stupid. They are often some of the kindest people I know, doing their best in a difficult world. I was met with hostility – why didn’t I understand the nature of oppression?? I was a bad feminist. And so, I never went back to feminist movie night, and I no longer hang out with any of those people. Life is too short to split hairs about who is a proper feminist, whatever the hell that’s even supposed to mean.

    Thank you for writing this. I feel a deep resonance with these words and their sentiments, both as a feminist and a woman who often finds herself crying in public. Mascara rivers are indeed very beautiful and righteous.

    Posted by b | March 23, 2008, 9:25 pm
  3. My grandmother and aunts always teared up when we prayed before family meals (as we always did). My womenfolk on my father’s side were quite stoic and not at all religious in traditional ways. They were not given to displays of affection– at the very most, a peck on the cheek. I can see my grandmother Lil in my mind’s eye now, her chin trembling, her lip quivering as the simple grace was said, the tears shining in her eyes. There’s a lot to cry about, most times. I think at prayer times with family gathered silently together and people thinking about important things like love and life and connection, my grandmother couldn’t keep the tears from flowing the way she could at other times. For years I could not cry and that was really a sign that things had gone severely wrong with me (as they had). These days I cry at the drop of a hat, and I don’t try to stop the tears. I take them as evidence that I am okay, I am feeling, I am not pretending, I am not denying, I am connected in all the ways a living person needs to be connected.

    I notice the striking dearth of comments on this thread. 🙂

    Well, not too many feminists want to claim their sister, Tammy Faye Baker, huh. Not her. Never her. She belongs to Tribe “Godbag”, Tribe Mascara, Tribe Sniveling, and most especially, Tribe NOT LIKE ME I WOULD NEVER BE LIKE THAT.

    But you know, Tammy Faye Bakker was a woman, too, and she suffered just as every woman suffers because she is a woman, and more in some ways, than many women situated as she is suffer.

    Consider what it meant to lesbian and gay children growing up in Christian evangelical/fundamentalist/conservative households to hear words of acceptance from someone who otherwise believed as their lesbo/gay-phobic parents did. Kind of why, I guess, I always felt a connection with Jan Crouch, who was and is kind of like Tammy Faye Bakker, all the way to the mascara, etc. I heard her speak on television one day, to all the thousands and probably millions listening, about having become pregnant as a college student in a conservative Christian college, and being thrown out. She wept, and the mascara ran, and the war paint streamed down, and she insisted — demanded — that young women like her be loved and accepted by evangelicals and conservatives, not thrown out. Not shunned. From that moment on, I loved her.

    But, nobody would want to claim her either. What? With the mascara, the peroxide wig hat, the purples and mauves and cheesy jewelry? She’s not MY sister. My sisters are nothing like HER. I am nothing like her. DON’T EVER THINK I AM ANYTHING LIKE HER.

    Well, I have no problem calling her sister. And Tammy Faye Bakker, as well. Would that I might see even a fraction — a tiny, tiny fraction — of the compassion and empathy they continually evidenced among most feminists.

    Posted by womensspace | March 26, 2008, 9:18 pm
  4. I should amend to say to me, it seems as though most feminists evidence little compassion — for other women! Which is one reason my home is in radical feminism/cultural feminism for the most part, where women are very central.

    Posted by womensspace | March 26, 2008, 11:24 pm
  5. Thank you, Jennifer Wildflower, for that beautiful tribute about Tammy Faye. I knew Tammy Faye. I’ve met her, I’ve chatted with her, I respected her with every molecule in my body. Anyone… if you haven’t read Tammy Faye’s books, please do. Any of them. They’re all good… all honest… all heart-bearing. The books she wrote long before she divorced Jim are every bit as honest as the ones she wrote afterward. She shared our woman’s reality with us.

    Tammy Faye was pro-woman. Yeah, her ideas about how women should look and act and all that might be different from ours but hell, she was pro-woman all the way. She cared. Any woman could have crossed her path and she would have helped her.

    Tammy Faye helped other women, in a non-judgemental way, without compromising her own values in the process. That’s what was so incredibly awesome about her and such a hard trait to mimic or find in others. She was non-judgemental but never lost her way as to what she herself believed in.

    She was a totally good woman… a woman’s woman… and the world is less of a place without her in it. I think it’s befitting that she be mentioned here. Her name belongs connected to this site in some way. Thanks, Jennifer Wildflower, for making that happen.

    ~LearningOne

    Posted by LearningOne | April 2, 2008, 3:51 am
  6. Tammy Faye actually was way ahead of her time when she advocated for AIDS victims back in the mid or early 80s I think.
    She had Rev. Steve Pieters on her show, an out MCC gay minister, and miraculous survivor of AIDS to this day. Recently Troy Perry told me that he still calls Steve “our miracle boy” and it’s quite touching to hear him say this even to this day. Tammy Faye just seemed to get that someone had to talk about this in these crazy homophobic churches. Every other evangelical right wing person was condemning all of us for being sinners, and saying we all deserved to die, or that AIDS was god’s punishment back then. They picketed our funerals, it was a nightmare.

    Tammy Faye didn’t do any of that. She was on a different wave length. Her son is pretty cool too–forgot his name, but he has very creative and open minded approaches to the bible and christianity and lesbians and gays. They are much more complex people than the church gives them credit for, or the far left for that matter either.

    These people are truly odd to me, and the make-up and the costumes really is disturbing to look at. I find make-up just a horrifying thing on all women actually, but this style is common place everywhere in America.

    This fundamentalist subculture is actually as odd and extreme as gay and lesbian subcultures I’ve known. No wonder both groups seem to get on each other’s nerves. They actually seem made for each other in a weird karmic sort of way.

    Feminism was once a very welcoming and fun place to be, but I find that when it comes to real people and kindness, you’ll usually find this in conservative groups on a personal level. The conservatives are just awful on “issues” and feminists often are just awful on personal kindness. No don’t get feathers a-flying here, it’s a generalization that touches on a subtle truth that I’ve felt and observed over the years.

    All extreme political groups tend to get this way on the left — Marxists, communists, socialists, radical feminists etc. The right has its own style. Frank Schaeffer’s book “Crazy for God,” that just came out, is an excellent insight into fundamentalist christian culture from the inside. He’s a great and compeling writer, and he totally gets the big picture. I highly recommend this book to all feminists who want to get a better idea of how all of this right wing christianity came about.

    I often thought it odd that once women broke free of patriarchy, they simply didn’t work as hard being nice to other women as they once did being nice to men. It was as if women, once slaves, had nothing left but anger after they woke up one day to this situation.

    We need to ask ourselves why conservative christians do so well in the world, and what they are providing for their members. There’s a reason a mega-church got mega, for instance. I don’t see mega-radical feminist groups anywhere on the map, and I do believe we have a very hard time just being normal with each other.

    I think we can be horrified by the make-up and dyed hair and schlockey music, but a lot of this I think has to do with social class. I know I can’t stand a lot of musical styles, because I simply had a different sort of musical education. It just means people have different tastes in things.

    In my case, I think my Dad was just horrified with his relatives back on the farm, and thought he was protecting us kids from the place he had escaped. It was something I figured out on my own as a young adult, but had no knowledge of when I was a kid.

    Is feminism kind? Are feminists kind? I love feminism and the power of its ideas, but on a personal level, I actually have very few friends I would call feminists. They are artists, writers, musicians, doctors, contractors, university professors and rock and rollers. My friends are smart and lovely people, but they aren’t all that political. They seem to rely on me to share political analysis with them. It is a truth that is odd to me, and yet I feel this truth, and I think that was one thing that might have gone wrong with radical feminism. It somehow lost touch with the basics of life.

    I suppose everyone is going to disagree with me here, but it’s something I’ve considered for a long time — the loneliness I often feel among far left people and groups too busy to just hang out or too in your face with petitions, when really a nice dinner and a night out just to talk would have been nice.

    So I think the Tammy Faye type women understand this.

    Women rebelled against roles, and then perhaps they had to rebell against each other?? I know this is a bit weird to say, but really I don’t see the kindness, and it damages a movement that was really all about women becoming free and being so much better at everything in the world. And helping each other be better. Now if you want to be better, feminists attack, and it’s sad. So thanks for posting this.

    It really is all about the cultures we might want to learn from or at least think about a little bit more deeply.

    P.S. I would never call a conservative christian a “god-bag”– this term just horrifies me. I get really angry with these people as we all do, but somehow, that term is just too much.
    I cringe when gays call straight people “breeders” too. I hate the names really, and I hate the swear words. Oy vey me🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | April 2, 2008, 11:53 pm
  7. I sailed some spam across the rye toast sea….🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | April 2, 2008, 11:54 pm
  8. Mmmmm, rye toast! How about some Wasa Brot, even more mmmmm. Or maybe some delicious hard tack. 🙂

    Learning One and Satsuma, your comments made my day– thank you so much! I agree with every word both of you have written and it is so interesting, you, Learning One, the one-time quiverfull, Titus 2, devoutly Christian woman, and you, Satsuma, the triple L, life long lesbian. Who’d a thunk. A while ago I read the *funniest* post, posted in a place I will never name publicly because jerks would go there and ruin it, written by a married lesbian (this is not an oxymoron), who wrote so tenderly and comically about why “LLLs” should welcome, accept, and especially date formerly-married/married lesbians. Omg, I about died laughing and crying reading it. And I’m mentioning it because like you say, Satsuma, it seems as though kindness and tenderness of women towards women is kind of sparse amongst feminists/the Left/”progressives”, but it thrives amongst more apolitical women, among women who plain appreciate and care about the lives of women. The venue where I read this post is really for all intents and purposes apolitical. But the love of women for women, or maybe women’s tenderness towards women, was very palpable which is what drew me there.

    When I was newly exited from fundamentalism, I attended several ex-cult-member conferences, listened to the speakers, very helpful. One speaker, really a brilliant woman, was exited from a 70s Marxist commune she had been part of for a decade in the late 60s, early 70s. The commune was headed up by a woman. Although everybody was leftist, Marxist, theoretically revolutionary, and atheist, this group was every bit as cultish as any of the religious groups ex-members who attend these conferences had been part of, and it was really worse in a way, given that this particular leader *was* a woman and identified as a feminist.

    I do have feminist real life friends, but for the most part they would not identify as radical feminists. I know just what you’re saying, Satsuma, about the loneliness you feel at times. Many of my friends do not share my politics but kind of look to me *for* politics. I have close woman friends who identify as some brand of conservative, even, and yet in many ways, I see that they are woman-centered and not conservative at all, they just don’t want to be known as feminists, and I have leftist friends who are all about the politics but can’t be bothered to build community with me or with women just in general, and it makes me feel sad, and, like you say, Satsuma, lonely. I think mega-churches thrive because they offer (and have, so long as people tow the line) real human community. I think radical feminists aren’t mega because, for the most part, they aren’t willing to be in real community with women, for whatever reason. So all they have is politics. It isn’t enough. Too often, it’s dry bones. The life is in women’s community.

    Anyway, thanks again for those encouraging posts, Satsuma and Learning One, xxxooo.

    Posted by womensspace | April 3, 2008, 3:38 am
  9. Another thing– Satsuma, I agree that all the makeup, bizarre hairdos, is so often a class issue. We have all heard the ___ist jokes about those despicable people who live in shacks (or are homeless) but drive Cadillacs/wear gold jewelry/dress to the nines/dress their children to the nines/have every hair in place/are meticulous about grooming, etc. There are reasons for this and they have to do with poverty and the way the poor are treated in the world. Sometimes people continue to present in certain ways because they always believe that if they don’t, harm will come to them, it is the legacy of poverty.

    Posted by womensspace | April 3, 2008, 3:50 am
  10. One more thing, thanks, Satsuma, for agreeing that “godbags” is a horrible term. I wrote a post about it a long time ago when I first started blogging. Men might be appropriately called “godbags”, possibly, though the “douchebag”, hence misogynist, connotation remains, so I can’t really even agree with that usage. But calling a women a “godbag”? No.

    Posted by womensspace | April 3, 2008, 3:55 am
  11. Kindness and feminism…what a very interesting conversation this thread has turned into! I loved Tammy Faye, and I think she would be pleased to see how our fond remembrances of her have brought us together in this dialogue. I remember when my husband and I watched “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” in a movie house and both of us cried and felt spiritually touched. Tammy Faye LOVED and loved big.

    The radical feminists I love are ones I know through books and blogs. They enrich my life and self-knowledge and my capacity to act with purpose and integrity in the real world. In real life, I am blessed with many friends, not one of whom I am aware of being a radical feminist. But then they probably wouldn’t guess that I am one either, because of how I present physically and because my everyday “working religion” is kindness, not talk. I don’t think idealistic political talk means diddly if you can’t be respectful and kind and helpful to animals and other humans. I try to honor every being I come into contact with, as much as they allow me to do so. As the Eastern religions say, the God in me honors the God in you.

    So am I totally inconsistent as a radical feminist and a nurturer? I would hope not. I think a post-patriarchal world with all the dominances and repressions and hierarchies tumbled would look a lot like that: nurturance, respect, and KINDNESS.

    Posted by Level Best | April 3, 2008, 12:53 pm
  12. I’m glad people here understood my comments, odd as they sometimes are. Good old Tammy Faye.

    I’ve loved all the radical feminists who wrote books, but have often been surprised at how mean they’ve been when you meet them in person. Not all, but many. Some of the meanest people presenting have been these women, and it shocks me, compared to the incredibly nice elderly Swiss catholic priest I met years ago in Tokyo who taught a class for nuns. I’ll never forget what a wonderful talk we had after the class, and how accepting he was of my ideas. This is sharp contrast to the “mean” women, who would somehow disappoint and upset me.

    What makes things civilized I think is women coming together, but women coming together politically is always rather problematic. This is a complex subject, but the Tammy Faye stuff of Level Best, Heart, me and others here I think touches on this bigger picture.

    Why would radical feminists be so mean (as Carly Simon sings in the background🙂 ? It is a perplexing thing, but it has to do with the discovery of oppression, and feeling the fool. This brings out explosive anger, and since most women don’t go into the boxing ring and knock the stuffing out of some man, they take it out on other women. I know the non-violent types here will get mad, but we really do need to take out the anger on men and get them to feel it. They seem unaware of just how mad women are, unless men read this blog and get freaked out by it. I assume since men rarely if ever hear the anger of women, when they read it here they are probably surprised and so in denial about patriarchy that they right us off. Rarely if ever do men explore and take seriously the anger of women. They do this for Malcolm X, who is really Mary Daly in a black male body. Oopps, this is an odd comparison, but I think you’ll get what the point is here🙂

    Anyway, political ideology is not at all about community, and that’s why, as I wrote above, radical feminists don’t create mega-churches so to speak. We create tiny minorities within minorities.

    There is something in me that had long loved hospitality as a kind of spiritual path. Welcoming women to my home, or cooking a wonderful dinner for people is to me civilized. I go to women’s business meetings and am famous for reciting English poetry… I do this to create something new in a business setting, something kinder perhaps, or maybe I really will be the day dreamer of the business world.

    There are wonderful women in my life, and most women really have no interest in politics whatsoever. Just listen to the day to day conversations of women — nothing about feminism, politics or history, absolutely nothing. Only the women talking heads on CNN or the women academics or the women academics on TV talk about this stuff. No women in my office do! No neighbors, no women in the wine tasting bar… the silence of women political is quite interesting.

    It’s why radical feminists truly are rare rare rare species. Kind of reminds me of cardinals — you all run to the window once a year and point “Look a cardinal flew into the yard!” Notice how you would never say this about a pidgeon (sorry pidges). Thus radical feminism, the great literary power, the feminism that still scares the hell out of catholic priests on the catholic cable channel, but alas…. well you get my drift.

    People rely on me to “do the politics.” They call me all the time — what about Obama? What does that economic crisis mean? What’s the difference between Sunni and Shia? Women around me or even men see me as this unabashedly political person, because I don’t hide my politics. My boss knows I’m a radical lesbian feminist, it’s just who I am.

    But then some gay men come up to me and say, “You’re a lot nicer than most lesbians.” What nice!? My ideas are uncompromisingly expressed in civility as a conversation style. But on blogs we can all get mean, and maybe we just get frustrated at trying to come up with answers in a world that is so women hating. We all just get plain frustrated!

    Older women ask me: “What’s a blog?” “How do you write for one?” I tell them. Guys in my office thought I was brilliant for figuring out a certain investment ahead of the pack. I just smile and tell them I get this info from right wing and left wing wacko sources… They think I’m joking.

    Kindness… LLLs dating formerly heterosexually married women! Yikes…. Heart, now you are really going too far here🙂
    Don’t get me going on this subject… 🙂

    The thing is, people have all kinds of opinions, and they live according to these varied beliefs. My life went remarkably well because I lived with radical lesbian feminist principles, and I designed my life according to these ideals. I liked the ideas because lesbians are actually quite rare out in the world, so I wanted something that would benefit me. Heterosexual customs just annoyed me. So politics is personal and the personal is political, but we have a long way to go to get to women coming together, because women are inexperienced at the outside world. They have been confined for generations in these family units, they’ve been subsidized by men, and it’s only been recently that it’s been easy for lesbians to even buy a house together — having the independence necessary and the economic clout to do this.

    That’s how rare the radical lesbian feminist is in this world. So here we are, as rare as humming birds or goldfinch or the purple octopus… and all of this got started because Tammy Faye showed up here🙂

    Radical feminism is about individuality, but women are very rarely proud of their radical heritage. I just think bosses and neighbors should know about radical lesbian feminism. Even straight look upon me as the woman warrior, and I think at times they find this comforting. Getting them to put on some warrior armor is another thing, however.

    P.S. Dress and social class… dress as lesbian power armor… another topic for another time🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | April 4, 2008, 12:01 am
  13. Hard tack spam and a crowing hen, always sail to some good end🙂

    Posted by Satsuma | April 4, 2008, 12:02 am
  14. Wow, Satsuma, another “power post”. I love your mind, how it works, and how you express all of that.

    Hard tack: good stuff. We can live for it months on end, if we have to, through turbulent times on rough seas.

    Think I’ll go bake myself some.

    Lots of things bring tears to my eyes, including the the hearts, minds, and eloquence of women.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | April 7, 2008, 2:06 pm
  15. “There is something in me that had long loved hospitality as a kind of spiritual path. Welcoming women to my home, or cooking a wonderful dinner for people is to me civilized. I go to women’s business meetings and am famous for reciting English poetry… I do this to create something new in a business setting, something kinder perhaps, or maybe I really will be the day dreamer of the business world.”–Satsuma

    Satsuma, I firmly believe hospitality, which is one form of kindness, IS a spiritual path, and what you’ve described that you do is quite lovely. The entire world needs more kindness and giving, and women should extend this to each other. I commend you.

    And I’m with you with the issue of civility in cyberspace. I don’t “cuss” in blog comments, either, no matter how I may feel! A lot of the harsh language on blogs, even liberal feminist ones (note the phrasing I used) references back to sexual violence, after all, or insults to women as a class (the sex class, as Twisty says). Such phrases and words are part of how patriarchy has used language to keep us down, and I think the whole matter is worthy of examination instead of commenters automatically typing ” —- you, you —-!!” when they are displeased.

    Posted by Level Best | April 7, 2008, 3:53 pm
  16. Thanks Mary Sunshine and Level Best for your insights. I am highly complimented by the term “power post.”

    It took me a long time to really understand the concept of “hospitality” as a spiritual path. I think it would be helpful if we attempted to get at the incredible contradictions of life on the radical feminist trail, so to speak.

    Although I am very familiar with all the political things of the world, somehow, one feels lonely during all this presidential stuff. Calling strangers at home, never having much of a real conversation because of “issues.”

    Somehow, we could have so much more as women, but I feel something is still missing. I appreciated Level Best choosing not to “cuss” on blogs. I often cringe at the language I hear out there. There is something truly awful in the sexualization of women everywhere, and finding out who is behind all this.
    The sexualization and pornification of women is evil and degrading. Men think nothing of degrading women. The other day I saw a man wearing a sweatshirt with a picture of a striper pole dancing and the phrase “support the performing arts.” He thought this was hip and cool and so did all the other men around him. A clueless gay man age 36, with no consciousness at all. I see this all the time. Would that same man wear a t-shirt with a sterotypical black man eating watermellon on it? I asked him this, and he couldn’t answer and didn’t get the connection at all.

    There is an ugly quality about the world, that I think most women know about and feel, but somehow feel powerless to counter balance.

    I find the sin of men is their general lack of curiosity about the true minds of women, and there is the tendency for women to constantly lie to men. This is a complex subject, but you’ll find these odd truths in science — the invention of the DNA test even changed history. Men and their public lies are being exposed, the paper trails of money reveal what men in power actually do. Elliot Spitzer, Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton, to name just a few.

    Where am I going with all of this? I’d like to say again and again that we are so far ahead of things if we connect, and if we choose to be of service to each other. It’s why I believe in art and poetry, and some of the best most inspiring things on this blog are about this dream of a common language among women.

    We can be honest that not all is love and happiness. We can be honest that personal taste really is valid, and that one social class can genuinely irritate another social class. It is not always the evil rich vs. the noble poor, for example. It can be about people gaining a kind of cultural literacy across the board.

    If we can gain this radical feminist cultural literacy, we have some new world to aspire to. I think in talking about Tammy Faye, we can really understand something more in depth about the rise of religious fundamentalism worldwide, what its appeal is, and how radical women gradually lost ground.

    Someone once told me that feminism simply opened up more options for women, but there were also a whole bunch of women who simply were content with the old system. Women who wanted out of that system created new spaces — Michigan, lesbian feminist households and lives etc….

    Women who wanted freedom got it, other women who were content with the status quo stayed put. Patriachy, the worldwide system of oppression, is clever at adapting to the times. It actually causes women to falsely believe that men are the protectors of women, and that it’s ok to say anti-woman statements of “faith.” Be helpmeets, obey husbands, that sort of nonsense. If you not heterosexual, you tend to think of all of this as truly crazy. I must admit, the heterosexual woman is an odd type to me. I don’t see what they see in these creepy non-communicative husbands.

    We have these creepy crawly men all over the place, and yet women marry them. Then they get beated by them… etc. etc.

    Until we understand the community part of sisterhood, and actually get back to the idea of sisterhood itself, we’ll be stuck.

    This blog is an attempt to open things up, and add some complexity to radical feminism that really doesn’t exist in many places at all. But it really is possible here. Mary Sunshine, Level Best, Aletha and the host of other posters reveal this.

    Radical feminism is not out in the mainstream at all. Women have wasted way too much time trying to communicate with men, who don’t hear, don’t care and feel threatened by just about every act of independence women have come up with.

    I am convinced that men are the ignorant Y chromosome of a species — clueless, given false advantages because women are the slave labor force that gives them the ability to do evil at work each day — the pentagon men, the white house men, the wives of these homophobic pastors, the women who cooked dinner for the NAZI men in kitchens right on the concentration camp property. This is an aspect of the world that women really need to grasp.

    So if women created a radical world that was civil as well, it would be astonishing.

    I’m oversensitive. I get worn down by mean in public places or in political groups. But I am also sad in women’s groups where I have to see the real struggle of straight women getting older, plastering their faces with make-up, or struggling at the age of 67 with no assets at all! To have nothing at the age of 67 is to see something real in terms of long term oppression. It’s to get at the false economy of male subsidy that so many women live in, and when they get divorced we see what happens next.

    As a community of women, we could change all of this if we wanted to. The question is: do we really want to do this?

    Posted by Satsuma | April 8, 2008, 9:31 pm
  17. I really want things to change for the better. We’ve discussed this on a feminist blog that is well read, and the topic is now “out there” for all readers to consider. The idea is always prefatory to the fact, so let’s be hopeful!

    Posted by Level Best | April 10, 2008, 5:46 pm

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