July 5, 2011 10 Comments
The more I dive into radical feminism, the angrier I become.
I find myself more suspicious of strange men at the vending machine, on the sidewalk, and in the stair wells. I cringe as my boss says he can help that student, “only if she’s cute” (I think it’s supposed to be a joke?).
I’m reading Marilyn French’s _Beyond Power_. I’m about 100 pages into her chapter “Women in the Patriarchy” which catalogs the ways in which women have been trampled by a X,000+ year old societal structure designed to stuff them and their lives into a bag and place it out on the curb of history for disposal. History, French states, has been a record of who has power, and what is done with that power. Since very few women have had power, history has forgotten women (citation- somewhere in chapter 3 of this awesome book we all should read).
This system of patriarchy continues. Women are paid less than men. Women are coerced into wearing makeup. Women/girls in India are married as young as 5 years old. Women are raped and justice is not served.
Do I want to marinate on these facts until I seethe, become depressed, and am unable to work? No. That does not help anyone.
What can I do? Make others aware of the problem though conversation? I’m trying that. I attempted speaking with my brother. He is a history major who, I am finding, is all about the status quo. I was surprised at his resistance to these new ideas I’ve been encountering because we are close siblings.
“Hey,” I said, “Men (still) oppress women, every day, all the time.”
“Hey,” he said, “things are better now than they ever were.” He goes on to cite examples of how far we’ve come. I suspect that the history he has learned in college is the history of power French describes, and not the history of women that I am seeking. I learn that he will not listen because what I am saying does not fit in the status-quo paradigm he is trying to uphold. I learn that just because you love someone who is your family, doesn’t mean that that person is an ally in this feminist fight.
I’ve joined a feminist book club/ group.
I said, “Women as a class are oppressed under the patriarchy, and “choosing” to wear slutty clothes is a choice made under that system. Thus, in what sense is that decision truly a choice?”
She (a member of the group) said, “We’ll never get rid of the patriarchy, so we might as well make our choices under the system we have.”
What can I say to that?
What can I say to that?
What can I say?!
After these conversations, I feel sad, angry, and defeated. I think that revolution is not possible.
I am reading thousands of pages of feminist books to catch up on all I’ve missed, and to educate myself. I’m getting inspired by conferences where this speech by Rebecca Whisnant is made. Maybe once I’ve acquired the tools to make cogent arguments, I’ll convince some folks. Maybe I need a plan of action, instead of just social sharing of ideas with folks who are not ready to hear it.
Joyful resistance is hard when I don’t feel joyful. But I am taking care of myself. I bring my kitties onto my lap as I read on the patio.
I cook mom’s delicious recipes.
I seek out feminist/female company, and so far am making some progress toward that end.
As Cherry Blossom Life points out, we need women’s culture to help us joyfully resist. We need resting places and women-only spaces. Personally, I’d like to get some radical feminist friends IRL. For now, the internet and this lovely stack of female-identified feminist writing on my kitchen table will have to suffice.