Let’s rock with the tough girls

14 08 2013

I’m a feminist, and a theorist, but I’m not a feminist theorist.

Theorist: I do political theory, mucking about the edges of modern thought in both its pre- and post-forms, and much taken with ontology of late.

Feminist: While not the absolute beginning of my political consciousness—as a kid I held up the two-fingered peace sign against the Vietnam War—it was the way through which I entered politics in a determined way. And while I now prefer the term “liberationist” (yah, woman’s libber!), I don’t give up “feminist” because a) it has historical meaning, b) it means something in my own history, and c) because I’m a stubborn wench with little patience for those who cringe that “feminist” is too confrontational or mean or hairy or something.

Why, then, am I not a feminist theorist? Because my political self and my intellectual self, while in sympathy with one another, are not the same—which, by the way, suits my pluralist self (-ves).

The upshot of all of this is that I rarely peruse explicitly feminist websites. As I mentioned in the linked post, those joints are not meant for the likes of me (this is an observation more than a criticism) and, honestly, I don’t really need pointers from anyone on how to be a better or more authentic feminist, nor do I need reminders of how shitty this world is for women, and, for that matter, many human beings.

Still, two recent posts, one by bspencer at Lawyers, Guns & Money and another by Maria Farrell at Crooked Timber have set off a few of my feminist neurons.

Not in any particular direction, mind you: I’m almost as unfamiliar with the Hugo Schwyzer clusterfuck as is bspencer, and the Ferrell piece requires more thinking, or “unpacking” if you will.

(Do people still use unpacking? Useful term, tho’ dreadfully overused in the nineties. If it’s fallen out of favor, I’d be willing to pick it up again: I like me some gnarly anachronisms.)

Anyway, these pieces (and their attendant comments) set off a bit of a brain fizz. Now let’s see if I can manage to to pull more than a preface to a thought together before the carbonation runs out.





Say it loud!

16 07 2012

Don’t like the word “feminist”?

“What part of  ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”

—Caitlin Morgan

h/t Peggy Orenstein, Slate





He said, shut up

11 12 2011

Belle Waring brings it, again, at Crooked Timber:

10 Problems Women Need to Fix Before They Can Complain About Problems With Popular New Software, On a Blog

by Belle Waring on December 7, 2011

1. Female Genital Mutilation, Everywhere, Ever.
2. Women Getting Raped in Far-Away Lands, like Afghanistan. AND YOU DON’T EVEN CARE!
3. Growing Gender Imbalances in China and India (Also known as “Where’s Your Precious Right to an Abortion Now, Missy?”)
4. Sexist Islamic Law Codes (“Wait, why just—” “Shut up.”)
5. World Hunger (But not through those programs where they only give micro-payments/loans to women on the basis of research that it is more effective.)
6. Lack of Access to Clean Drinking Water For The World’s Poorest Citizens, Because, Hey, While You’re There.
7. Africa. Is Some Shit Just Fucked up There, or What? Get On That.
8. Access to The Most Basic Knowledge About Human Reproduction and Assistance of Midwives Can Lower Peri-Natal Deaths Tremendously, But Please Don’t Tell Anyone About Contraception or Abortions.
9. Forced Prostitution, Sex Slavery, Human Trafficking.
10. Are We Seriously Just Not Even Trying to Go to Mars Anymore? Really, Though? We Made it to The Moon in Like 5 Years With Some Slide Rules and Horn-rimmed Glasses and Shit, and Now All We’ve Got is These Weaksauce Telescopes Peering Back in Time. What the Fuck? Mars, Bitches!

Now you know, ladies. Sorry any sexism in developed nations up to and including your own personal experiences of sexual assault didn’t even make it on the list, but better luck next time!

I’ve disdained what I’ve called “hierarchies about suffering”, and the term “oppression Olympics” may also be applied (in reverse, or sideways, or something); either way, the point is clear: Shut. Up.

Tch.

What was that line from Serenity? I aim to misbehave.





‘a woman who gives birth to a child is a woman first and a mother second’

23 03 2010

“Today, we’re told we’re not allowed to smoke, to eat unpasteurised cheese or seafood or even to a drink a glass of wine when we are pregnant. It’s time to stop all that.”—Elisabeth Badinter

This French philosopher and old-school feminist has plenty to say between drags on her cigarette.

“We’ve always been mediocre mothers here,” Badinter said (pointing out that in the 18th century French women farmed their children out to nurses “so that they could continue to have social lives and sex with their husbands”). “But we’ve tended to have happier lives.”

This is what all those so-called ‘Bad Mommies’ miss: they chastise themselves for not being perfect and miss the fun of such imperfection.

And, frankly, it wasn’t all being the kid of a mom who had better things to do than chase after you every goddamned minute of every goddamned day.

Freedom all around.

(h/t Slate)





I am woman—hear me roar

12 01 2010

I am so fucking tired of having to generate outrage at yet another horrendously stupid or awful comment on or policy regarding women.

It’s not that I’m no longer capable of outrage—note the existence of the ‘Rant’ category (or see this post)—but JesusMary&Joseph can I not simply walk away from idiocy on occasion?

Look, I’m old—an old feminist, and shit that used to rile me is now far more likely to lead me to roll my eyes. Some dickwad thinks women can’t think and menstruate at the time and I’m supposed to engage in a point-by-point rebuttal of this so-called argument?

Can’t I just laugh in his face and move on?

C. and I were discussing our respective positions vis-a-vis feminism the other night; while her views generally might be described as feminist, she declines the term. I’ll leave it to her to explain why—she’s working on a post on the topic—but she was clearly weary of the ‘rules’ of feminism. Do I have to invoke ‘The Patriarchy‘ every time some guy acts like a douche? Can’t I just say, This guy is a douche?

I think patriarchy is a key concept in understanding the development of male-female roles and relationships across societies; I also think such understanding requires a sense of critical distance from the term itself, as well as an ability to distinguish between overarching/underlying structural dynamics and the idiosyncracies of individual behavior.

Translation: Yes, sometimes a douche is just a douche.

But even if I think that scripts for individual behavior are shaped (not determined) by those structural dynamics, it doesn’t necessarily mean I have to go nuclear every time someone tosses a dart my way. Sometimes I can just toss it back—bent, if I so choose. Sometimes I can just duck.

This is called judgment, and one of the benefits of aging is accumulating enough experience on which to base this discretion.

This does not make a bad feminist or a sell-out or blinded by privilege. (Grrrr, now there’s a word that sets me off. . . .) As a long-ago grad school colleague responded to a newly-out woman’s hectoring her on not being a good enough lesbian: I’ve been out since I was fifteen, so I don’t need any lectures from some baby dyke.

Was P. invoking privilege in her put-down? Yeah—an earned one. And P., an exceptional mild person, didn’t go any further in criticizing this woman’s zeal; rather, she made the practical observation that the way one relates one’s sexuality to the world changes over time. Such change, needless to say, can indicate development in as opposed to repudiation of an aspect of one’s identity.

So how I’m a feminist has changed over the last thirty years—which strikes me as a good thing. I was twelve or thirteen when I first identified as a feminist, and took to it with a teenaged zeal. I ain’t knocking adolescent views—they’re entirely appropriate for adolescents—but, really, how sad would it be for an old broad like me to ignore the fact that I am no longer thirteen?

It is true that in those intervening decades I have come to question feminism and to shift where I locate myself within the spectrum of feminisms. It’s not that I’ve abandoned my previous commitment to equality, but in recent years I have focused more intently on issues of liberation and domination.

These are big topics, but here I want simply to make the practical point that domination affects all kinds of people in all kinds of ways. Some people might focus on race or ethnicity or class or sexual orientation or gender identity or disability or any number of other boxes in which we find ourselves, but it seems to me that we can share the general goal of liberation, as pursued in our particular ways.

So while I might have to start calling myself a ‘libber’ to reflect that larger project, my entry into this project was as a feminist. It has formed my thinking and guided my development regarding liberation, and I see no reason to discard it, now.

(There’s also the little matter of rank oppression of women world-wide and the necessity of recognizing that however general the goal of liberation, it is in fact experienced in the particular. Women’s rights may be human rights, but you can’t neglect the former and hope to achieve the latter.)

Still, I share C.’s wariness to some versions of feminism, those which traffic in conversation-stopping jargon and which allow for no nuance in how we actually inhabit this world. We discussed a couple of websites and their contributors, and the constant jackhammering in their posts.

C. was pissed off, but I (uncharacteristically) took more of P.’s mellow line. Look, I said, those websites are geared toward a particular audience—a younger, academically-oriented one. They’re pounding away on stuff that we might already have learned to deal with. In and of itself that’s not a bad thing, but for those of us outside of that target audience, it’s bound to produce its share of irritation.

Then C. asked a very good question: Where the hell are those websites for women our age?

Beyond the mommy blogs, I couldn’t think of any. Katha Pollitt keeps on keeping on, but where is the Gen-X version of Feministing or Jezebel or Pandagon? (Could we call it BabyBust? Or would that just be too cute?)

We need a site which takes account of our nicks and scars, defeats and victories, and which doesn’t expect us to get riled up every damned time someone says something stupid about women, somewhere. Righteous Broads? Crone? Or, to call on an earlier post, how about Mormo, a.k.a. She-monster?

Something which encourages us to laugh and dance and not be perfect, but human, instead. Politics, liberation—yes, but life, too. Life, always.





Jane says

4 10 2009

Do you know Jane?

‘Jane’ was the name of the underground abortion service in Chicago in the late sixties and early seventies; it wound down after the Roe decision in 1973.

As told by Laura Kaplan (who was a part of Jane) in The Story of Jane, a number of women in the Chicago area put together a not-for-profit and completely illegal service, one which they eventually expanded to include pap smears and female health education. Although a few members were eventually busted (somewhat by mistake), they operated for years with the knowledge both of police and various ‘legit’ medical professionals.

That such an underground service existed is not a surprise. What is stunning, however, is how completely fucking radical these women were. They initially relied upon various sympathetic and/or mercenary doctors to perform the abortions, but eventually learned how to do them themselves.

You got that? These women received training from a guy who received training from a doctor—and went ahead and performed not only D&Cs, but also vacuum aspiration, and, eventually, second-trimester abortions.

I’m as pro-choice as they come, but even I blanched when I read that. Fucking hell, I thought, second-trimester abortions done in apartments and hotel rooms?!

But they were good. One woman did die—a death which led some members to drop out, and to a great deal of turmoil for those who remained—but her death was almost certainly the result of an infection caused by  abortion attempts performed elsewhere. Upon realizing the extent of her infection, Jane members told her to go immediately go to the hospital; she waited more than a day, then died at the hospital.

Kaplan describes the meeting following the woman’s death:

As details of the story were recounted, a numbness spread throughout the room. They had founded the service to save women from dying and now the very thing they were trying to prevent had happened.

That was the whole point of Jane, to save women; even more, to give them a way to save themselves.

It wasn’t simply about making safe, inexpensive abortions available to women, it was also about women—both Jane members and those who used their service—taking responsibility for their own lives. Jane set up training for their members, and provided counseling for the women who came to them. They didn’t have moral qualms about abortion itself, but they were careful to ask anyone who seemed uncertain if she really wanted to go through with it. The decision, and the responsibility, lay with the woman herself.

Kaplan is not a deft storyteller, but she is an honest one. She details the egos and tensions, the difficulties of involvement with an underground organization, the conflicts with other women’s liberation organizations, and all the varieties of risk taken by Jane and the women they helped. All of these women shared desperation: the women (‘participants’, not patients) who came to Jane for help, and the members of Jane themselves, to help all who asked for it.

It was, in fact, that desperation to save women from unsafe abortions that led Jane to take over the operation itself, and to end up inducing 2nd-trimester miscarriages. If we don’t do it, they worried, what will happen to all these women?

There’s so much more to The Story of Jane. I used it in my ‘Women and Politics’ course I taught this past summer as a way not only to foreground reproductive issues, but also the issue of underground, anarchist, or DIY politics. Does underground work affect politics above the ground, or does DIY simply let the above-grounders off the hook? Or is the effect on ‘normal’ politics less the issue than the creation of one’s own politics?

I’m still chewing over those larger political issues. But when it comes to abortion, I wonder if Jane didn’t have the right idea. I’m a big fan of Planned Parenthood (see my links list), but they are at the forefront of putting abortion and contraception firmly within the medical sphere, i.e., within the sphere of specialization and  licensure and, most importantly, women-as-patients.

Jane insisted that abortion was something that women participated in, not that it was something done on or to them. This is your body, they repeated over and over and over, this is your life. In this context, the notion that women should have some idea of their own genitalia—a kind of mirror-empowerment which, honestly, always kind of put me off—seems less woo than utterly practical. How can you take care of yourself if you don’t know what you look like?

I know, there are both hospital-based and free-standing women’s clinics, not a few of which are also interested in patient or client education. And, frankly, autoclaves and medical education seem to me very good things.

But what about responsibility and liberation and solidarity? What of a woman’s (or any) emancipatory movement premised upon the simple declaration that you can and must free yourself? Jane was not encouraging women to bust out into chaos, but to recognize themselves as full human beings, and to inculcate a sense of responsibility not only to themselves but to those around around them.

With liberty and justice for all. Pretty fucking radical, huh?





Sisters are doing it for themselves

3 06 2009

Nothing like teaching about women and politics to fire up the ol’ feminist engine.

I’ve been a feminist since junior high, when my college-age sister brought home a Ms. magazine she had received free on campus. Zing! I had a subscription all through high school.

(I also joined a local chapter of NOW. Meetings took place in a nearby town, so before I had my driver’s license, my mom or dad would have to drive me to the meetings.)

And I was a loudmouth in college, of course, and noticed how left-wing men could be incredibly piggish around women. I wore my buttons and shouted my slogans and. . . not much more.

In grad school I studied contemporary political theory, but not feminist theory. There was a fair amount of essentialist crap floating around at the time (women are more maternal, more peaceful, more cooperative, better. . .), as well as the psychoanalytically-influenced theory from Europe. Psychoanalysis: bleh.

So I fell out of it. Yes, still a feminist, but, after awhile, I just stopped paying attention to feminist movements, to actual feminist activities. Distracted, for all kinds of reasons.

Well. The past year or so I’ve been teaching a basic politics course which my department prefers to center on women. I’ve kind of resisted this, wondering about the students in my courses, worried that the men in particular would think this isn’t ‘real’ or ‘serious’ politics.

Stupid, I know, but I did have to remind myself, repeatedly, that I wouldn’t make apologies for teaching a course which centered on race or class, and that, last time I checked, women were, oh, about half the world’s population. We matter! Yeah, we do!

Right?

This summer, however, I’m teaching a course explicitly about women and politics, so I don’t have to worry that the students are going to feel suckered into learning about girl stuff: they know straight up what they’re getting into. And, boy, nothing like reading how women are screwed at every level of politics to rekindle my energies.

One student had asked for some form of analytical framework for the course, and I responded that the main approach would be to consider 3 levels of analysis: at the institutional or official/governmental level; at the level of civil society, in which movements may be directed either toward affecting official policy or toward other institutions and attitudes within civil society; and at the marginal or underground level, which may encompass everything from (peaceful) separatist movements to illegal acts (such as social support networks for illegal abortion) to activities in repressive states. One of the texts I used tracks roughly along these lines, although their third level is that of revolutionary movements.

Regardless, women are screwed at every level. Sure, there are the good and noble exceptions (institutionally: Scandinavia, Rwanda, South Africa), but, far more often, women’s concerns are shunted aside, women’s movements marginalized, and, in repeat of what I saw in college, even in revolutionary situations, women’s liberation takes a back seat to ‘national’ a.k.a. men’s liberation.

Tough economic times? Cut social welfare provisions. Uncertain security situation? Women must fall back and support the men. Taking over the state? Oh, women will be free ‘after the revolution’.

I know, I know: This is nothing new. Still, I have forgotten so much, have resigned myself to so much, even as I kept stating my fealty to the feminist cause. I stopped paying attention.

I’m hardly ready to go jump over any barricades—I am old and lazy, after all. But it wouldn’t kill me to do more than just bitch about this stuff.

And even if I’ve fallen behind on my feminist analysis, I’ve kept up with my political analysis. Thus, my anarchic streak meets up with a refreshed feminism: DIY feminism and anti-patriarchy. No more compromises on women’s liberation, no more standing back or apologizing for daring to think that the emancipation of half of the fucking world might maybe sorta possibly matter.

Half of the world? Did I say that? How about the whole fucking world? Yep, I’m newly comfortable with discussions of patriarchy (a word that I used to sidle away from, embarrassed), and how it traps men as well as women. Yeah, it sucks that women have to prove their ‘toughness’ , but it also sucks that a man can’t be gentle without having his masculinity questioned. And while women have been able to move into so-called masculine fields—because, of course, women would want to move into something better—men have a far more difficult time lowering themselves to enter so-called feminine fields. Chick lawyer? Check. Guy kindergarten teacher? Um. . . .

Enough. I’m too much the post-structuralist/modernist to think that we can ever be completely free of the nest of power relations, but that’s hardly an excuse for not getting rid of the ones we find odious now.

And that ‘we’ includes me—because, as history clearly demonstrates, ain’t nobody else gonna liberate me. DIY, indeed.

(Image from Red Buddha Designs)





Why, the little lady can think!

18 05 2009

Enough with the constant bitching about male pronunciamentos on abortion. Not that they can’t have their say, but, really, enough with their privilege.

So can I bitch about a woman’s pronunciamentos on abortion. . . ?

Let me rephrase that: I take issue with Amy Welborn’s take on abortion, specifically, with her quick dismissal of the question of the status of the [pregnant] woman. In her commentary on President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, she notes

And a subissue – if this is not even an issue for you, if you do not see the unborn as a group in need of legal protection, and if you resonate with Obama’s call for reduced numbers of abortion…why? If Obama goes too far with this, he will run up against what Hilary Clinton ran up against a couple of years ago when she attempted to allude to a moral dimension to abortion. Boy, she had to backtrack, and fast.  The fundamental issue, you see, is trusting women as moral agents.

Why yes, that is the fundamental issue: trusting women as moral agents. Are we able to make decisions about our lives, or not?

I noted in a previous post that I didn’t think that rights language was sufficient to address the moral difficulties and passions of abortion. I still don’t. As much as rights are necessary to procure legal protections, without a sufficient moral and political argument behind those rights the reason for those protections are obscured, and the protections themselves at risk of a hollowing out.

The moral argument may begin at its basic level: survival. If I am to exist as a full human being in this world, then I cannot allow anyone else literal control over my life—whether that anyone else is a member of Congress, a judge, a boyfriend, or the fetus itself.

This is not as simple as it sounds, not least because we do live interdependently, and, in so doing, cede some measure of control to others. Yet even in society we are allowed to defend ourselves—our lives—even at the cost of another’s life.

There is nothing easy or automatic about that allowance, that decision to, perhaps, kill, and some of us are unable or unwilling to choose our own lives over those who threaten us. It is a fraught circumstance, difficult to determine in advance how one would react. My life or yours? I can guess, but I can’t know what I would choose.

But is abortion self-defense? I think it is, albeit of a different sort than that against a ‘outside’ attacker. First, it is an assertion against authority who might seek to prevent me from defending myself—the assertion of a right. Second, it is a self-recognition of a woman’s own worth as a human being, as being morally capable of determining whether to continue or end a pregnancy. It is an assertion of her own life.

But what of the good question Welborn does ask: If I don’t think fetuses as a class are in need of protection, then why bother with reducing the number of abortions?

The immediate response is that, as in other cases of self-defense, it is a fraught circumstance.

To recognize this is to recognize that the fetus, especially as it develops, is itself developing into a being deserving of its own recognition. To end the pregnancy is to end its development, its potential. And while I tend to accord personhood rather late in the pregnancy, the accordance itself is rather ad hoc; I’m not at all certain about fetal status.

Which means that I support abortion even if it could be killing another person.

This is not a politically happy conclusion. But if I am to assert the primacy of a woman’s moral capacity to choose her life over another’s, then I also have to allow that she is, in fact, choosing her life over another’s. It is entirely possible that terminating a pregnancy means killing a person—and if I defend the right to terminate, then I ought at least recognize this possibility. To make a moral decision is not to shirk consequences.

Pro-life advocates often argue that the status of the fetus as a person trumps all other claims, a position which I, obviously, reject. But what of the subsidiary claim of the innocence of the fetus? The Catholic Church, for example, argues that however grievous sexual assault, aborting a pregnancy resulting from rape is nonetheless forbidden, insofar as the fetus is itself innocent of any crime.

True, the fetus may lack malevolent intent, or any intent, for that matter. Yet however innocent the fetus, it still threatens; it is not about intent, but the effect itself. That said, I can still recognize the fetus is simply doing what fetuses do, capturing resources from a woman’s body so that it may develop. Whether this is innocence or simply the fetal condition, there is nothing personal in the fetus’s slow takeover of its immediate environment.

The problem, of course, that its immediate environment is, in fact, a(nother) person’s body.

This, finally, is where one may locate the core of the response to Welborn: When a woman does not want to continue a pregnancy, she sees herself at odds with the fetus, views it as an intruder, even; she aborts it to save herself. She kills to save.

Thus, the fraught circumstance, the one I believe most of us would rather avoid. I would prefer to reduce the number of abortions because even the morally defensible position to abort allows for the possibility of killing a person, and I would prefer less rather than more killing.

This hardly comprises a comprehensive defense of abortion, reproductive rights, and sexual expression; indeed, there are any number of pro-life advocates who consider pregnancy a just punishment for sex. But the position of those who seek to defend the life of the fetus is a morally serious one in a way that misogynistic screeds against women’s sexual personality is not, and, as such, deserves a similarly serious response.

It is not a nice response, and, I imagine, it’s bluntness might offend even some on the pro-choice side. But it is necessary to admit to what one defends, however unpleasant that defense may be.

Nobody ever said moral agency was easy.





You don’t send me flowers

17 02 2009

But how about some underwear, or, as undies are referred to in India, ‘chaddi’? Pink, please.

In response to a recent attack by Sri Ram Sena (Army of Lord Ram) on women at a tavern in Mangalore, India, the Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women organized the ‘Pink Chaddi’ campaign. The idea was send as many pink chaddi to Pramod Mutalik, one of the leaders of (or main inspirations for, it’s not clear to me) of Sri Ram Sena, as a way of celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day, you see, is against Hindu values. As are malls, which are havens of handholding. And, um, dating.

Yes, yet another Defender of the Faith, seeking to impose its piety on the bodies of women—literally. If you haven’t already seen it, there’s a video of the Sri Ram Sena punching and kicking women who dared to bend their elbows at a Mangalore pub.

Various politicians—with the notable exception of  women and child development minister Renuka Chaudhury—murmured about the pub attack, but otherwise found it advisable to say not much of anything.

So the women themselves stepped up. Nisha Susan, spokeswoman for the Consortium, said “It’s a choice between ignoring a group like Ram Sena or responding to its activities. We have decided to give it attention, but it is attention which it will not like.”

Hence the pink chaddi.

In addition to the delivery of the chaddi to Muktali, the Forward Women urged women to do a Pub Bharo action, i.e., to hit a tavern and raise a toast to Indian women, record the event, and send that photo or vid to SRS as well. Finally, ‘After Valentine’s Day we should get some of our elected leaders to agree that beating up women is ummm… AGAINST INDIAN CULTURE.’

Now that’s a protest. Mockery, underwear, toasts, and mass action.

FFI: Pink Chaddi Campaign on Mutiny.in, and the Consortium on Blogspot.

Note: The BBC noted that members of another group, Shiv Sena, were arrested for numerous assaults on couples:

Six arrests took place in the northern Indian city of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal – the monument built by Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved wife.

The protesters used scissors to cut the hair of overtly romantic couples in a nearby park, superintendent of police VP Ashok said.

“The six belonging to Shiv Sena group were arrested for causing a breach of the peace,” he told The Associated Press news agency.

Meanwhile, the AFP news agency reported that five members of the same group were arrested in Delhi for threatening couples in a park.

Many couples had their faces blackened in western Aurangabad and northern Bijnaur, Reuters reports.

Such disruption of Valentine’s Day by hardliners is becoming an annual event, and police this year were on high alert.

Another group vandalised a shop selling Valentine’s cards and raided a restaurant in Indian Kashmir looking for romantic couples, the AP reports.

Protestors also burnt flowers and Valentine Day cards to mark their protest.

I prefer the chaddi. Hell, I prefer pub-going, loose and forward women every time. . . .





Targets and stray arrows

3 01 2009

The Dawn Chorus linked to this story in the (Australian) Courier-Mail, ‘Economic decline sees return of 1950s housewife.’ An (apparent) DIY sensibility toward food and clothing = housewifery!

That’s right, girls and boys, any turning away from corporate culture means a return to those mystical 1950s gender roles. After all, MEN certainly couldn’t be interested in gardening, cooking, or sewing, could they?

After all, the poll embedded in the story asks: Where should a woman’s place be?

Possible answers: In the home; in the workplace; both; wherever she wants.

Ha. Now, about man’s place. . . .

_____

C.’s blog is finally up and running. I’d been nagging and trying not to nag her into getting this sucker going, not least because I’m looking forward to our conversations and arguments.

SoundofRain.net

Check it out. I’m expecting brilliance. (But no pressure, C.)

_____

Reconnected with an old friend/colleague from my FelineCity days. Ct. works at a university in Ontario, and writes on nationalism (among other matters).

It is directly a result of her arguments in favor of some versions of nationalism that has caused me to rethink my absolutist stance against it. I’m still a skeptic, but Ct.’s observations that nationalism isn’t always exclusionary or aggressive (and that, sometimes, even when it is, it has its purposes) has intruded in and unsettled my thoughts over the years.

So I’m glad she’s back. A friend who can calmly unsettle you is a good thing!

_____

I never read blogs before I started writing my own. I have my regulars now (some of which—the political ones, natch—send me into a ditch screaming), but I still poke around, looking for something to catch me.

Admittedly, this is partly out of self-interest: I’d like it if others would be willing to be caught by me.

But it’s not all calculation, given that I find sites I truly enjoy. Mo at The DailySnark cracks me up, and I’ve just started reading bandnerdtx.

Should I overreach and say that this approach justifies my avidity for messiness? That a mix of motives can itself increase hybridity, leading one ever further into. . . .

Okay, okay, I’ll save me huffin’ an’ puffin’ fer another day.

_____

Struck by silence. Still in the midst of Tremlett’s Ghosts of Spain, and he makes much of both silence and forgetting. (They are not, of course, the same thing, and the holding of one’s tongue can, in some circumstances, lead to the preservation of memory. But I’ll save that for another time.)

I tend to think well of silence, seeing it (among other things) as a refuge from authority. I’m a terrible liar, but even I, of the endless words, knows how—and when—to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes silence is the only defense one has.

Of course, silence can also be self-defeating. Silence while in a therapist’s office, for example, tends to work against the purpose of therapy. Still, my determination to hold my tongue did lead me quickly to end one budding therapeutic relationship:

I was in college, self-destructive, and, uh, encouraged by the dean’s office at BigTenU to seek therapy. So I saw one person, N., who I quite liked but couldn’t afford. She recommended J., a resident. It was not a good match. J. had a very clear sense of how therapy should work, and that included the iron-clad rule that the client start every session. Not a word from her until I spoke. And when she did speak, she tended to repeat what I just said. So I became less and less willing to speak. I would sit silently five, ten, minutes, watching her shift in her seat, in full-concentration mode, waiting. By the last session (four or five, I think), I said nothing for almost thirty minutes. I looked at the plant.

Did I mention that she was recording the session to discuss later with her supervisor?

I returned to N. and worked with her. I was a terrible client, alternately trying to help and sabotaging my self, but I did talk.

Anyway. Silence can work as self-preservation, as I think it did with J., but I would also use it as, if not precisely a weapon, then a shield, in therapy with both N. and K. These were good therapists, and I did myself no favors in withholding information from them. Even so, N. and K. were smart enough not to get into a battle of wills with me about it: they knew the silence was for me to overcome.

Of course, authority figures often consider silence as a threat. Why not profess one’s allegiances—unless you have something to hide? Some dictators are more than happy with silence—keep the populace scared and alone—but others hear treason in the quiet. I’m about to start reading Orlando Figes’s The Whisperers, about life in the Stalinist USSR. I have a hunch Stalin feared everything.








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