I mean that sincerely, which some might not realize from last week’s post. I called myself a feminist before feminism was cool. Even before my training bra years I had a pink t-shirt that read: Anything boys can do girls can do better! I’ll never forget that t-shirt, because I got in a good number of arguments every time I wore it, mostly with other girls.
My first published piece was an op-ed for a Peace Corps Newsletter someone was printing up out of Prague. It was about one of my all-time favorite quotes, by André Breton, called the father of Surrealist literature. The article caused a raging and insulting backlash by several male readers.
extrait from Arcane 17 (1944)
“. . . the time has come to valorize the ideas of women at the expense of the ideas of men, whose failure is being tumultuously consummated today. It is up to the artist in particular to protest against the scandalous state of things, to make all that comes out of the feminine system of the world predominate in opposition to the masculine system, to base his work on exclusively female properties, to exalt, or better yet, to appropriate and make jealous his own all that distinguishes her from man as far as modes of appreciation and volition are concerned. . . Art must resolutely give its support to the so-called feminine “irrational,” and must hold in fierce enmity anything which has the presumption to present itself as sure, as solid, and thus bears the mark of that masculine intransigence which, on the level of human and on international relations, is demonstrating today what it is capable of. It is no longer the hour I say, to restrain ourselves on this point to vague impulses, to more or less embarrassed concessions; the time has come to pronounce that art is unequivocally against man and on the side of woman, to strip man of the power which he has sufficiently proven that he misuses, and to replace that power in the hands of woman, to strip man of all his authority until such time as woman has succeeded in regaining her fair share of this power, no longer in art, but in life.”
“Masculine intransigence” oh I just loved that phrase in particular! I, like I think all feminists, blamed “the patriarchy” for the greatest problems of the world and felt very justified in pointing that finger vehemently. That was then, this is now, when the quasi-intellectual New Age brand of feminism believes that more women in Washington will be able to “change the conversation” to reflect feminine values, to resolve the “mean-spiritedness” and the “narrowness of compassion,” according to Marianne Williamson. She calls for a shifting of resources toward the children and the poor and education, because in the feminine we “recognize the relational matrix” of the world and see the world as our family.
And in the next breath she says, “We’ve got to get the money out of politics!” That’s the issue underlying all other issues, she claims.
So, assuming we get the money out of politics, from where are we going to get all the resources to give to the poor? She points to the chemical corporations, Agri-business, the Military Industrial Complex and the system of legalized corruption as the culprits, and that could very well be the whole truth. But, these things are at the moment the hugest drivers of the economy. Coupled with the Black and Gray markets, which are how the lowest in society even survive, what on Earth would we have left to give the children?
Considering we are now giving many future generations debt they can never hope to pay barring some unforeseeable miracle, how can we talk of giving more resources to the poor right now, when we’ve already enslaved their progeny? How does this come anywhere close to a long-term solution? Or, even a short-term one.
The very notion that “conscious” women in Washington will be able to “change the conversation” itself is significant evidence that these women don’t know what the political conversation actually is. The conversation begins with: How do I increase my power? Not, as Marianne is falsely assuming, How can I give my power away? That conversation may sound lovely, but it’s just not what politics is about and never has been.
Trying to get the money out of politics is like trying to get the whores out of the Red Light Districts!
The so-called patriarchy is not the problem and never was. We conveniently forgot that we were full participants in this hierarchical system, reaping many benefits from our position of inferiority and subservience. Not being eligible for the draft topped my personal list.
It was women who were the caregivers and the teachers of children as well as the glue between the generations. I agree, the feminine does have a great capacity to “recognize the relational” matrix, and men and women alike have this capacity, but feminism is no longer serving us in the West, because it’s attempting to erase opposing viewpoints from the conversation and direct from the top-down. It’s become as dogmatic and judgmental as religion. Yuk!
So, with all due respect to my younger self, along with respect to all those great women and sympathetic men who fought and stood for equality between the genders despite the headaches and heartaches they suffered, good job.
Long Live Feminism! And, like kings and worshipers of hierarchy, let it pass along swiftly to the songs and fables of yesteryear.
I agree with Marianne, the time has come to change the conversation. But not just to move around the pieces on the board, to actually change the game. Here’s my start:
“. . . the time has come to valorize the ideas of love at the expense of the ideas of power, whose failure is being tumultuously consummated today. It is up to the individual in particular to protest against the scandalous state of things, to make all that comes out of the egalitarian system of the world predominate in opposition to the hierarchical system, to base our work on deconstructing power systems, not feeding them, to exalt, or better yet, to accept that politics is about power and nothing but, and the State is about claiming that power at the point of a gun. . . Art must resolutely give its support to the so-called free market and must hold in fierce enmity anything which has the presumption to present itself as sure, as solid, and thus bears the mark of intransigent statehood which, on the level of human and on international relations, is demonstrating today what it is capable of. It is no longer the hour I say, to restrain ourselves on this point to vague impulses, to more or less embarrassed concessions; the time has come to pronounce that art is unequivocally against the State and on the side of personal liberty, to strip false gods of the power which they have sufficiently proven to misuse, and to replace that power in the hands of each one of us, to strip the State of all its authority until such time as the individual has succeeded in regaining our fair share of this power, no longer in art and politics, but in life.”