Joyful Resistance

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.

About smash
Women's liberationist.

10 Responses to Joyful Resistance

  1. KatieS says:

    I’m reading Mary Daly and love how playful her writing is, and joyful!

  2. smash says:

    Katie, thank you for the reminder. This is so true! I just ran across this interview with her and it made my day:

    I love how she turns the dichotomy of spirit and matter into spirit-matter. It’s such a simple turn around, and it works so very well.

  3. KatieS says:

    Terrific interview. Thanks for posting that! I love how clear she is and in reading a few simple sentences, it becomes apparent that spirit/matter dichotomy is a patriarchal split.

    I love her playing with words in it.

  4. KatieS says:

    Also, I’m commenting in some of the older posts, but notice you haven’t got “recent comments” so I thought I’d let you know it was there, just in case you don’t check them much. I hope that’s not rude. I do like your blog a lot.

  5. smash says:

    KatieS, thank you so much for reading. It’s good to hear that someone is out there :).

  6. smash says:

    Oooh AND I just figured out how to activate recent comments. I’m still learning.

  7. Pingback: Links: July 8, 2011 « Against All Evidence

  8. Sargasso Sea says:

    Hi Smash!

    Looks like your little bloggie is coming up to speed just like mine is! 😛

    Busy as heck right now but I’ve made it as far as finally bookmarking you. Yay! I’ll read the rest of it soon because that’s the way I roll, sister.

    And I’m going to be honest and say the first line of this post made me laugh out loud! It’s classic! The very same words have come out of all of our mouths at some point. But the anger does change; it becomes a more natural defiance the more you realize what a charade the whole thing is.

    You’ll start testing your boundries with men and you’ll see what they’re really made of. I’m here to tell ya’ that it’s mostly hot air. 😉

  9. Hi Smash, thanks for linking to my article 🙂
    LOve your blog.. very peaceful imagery here.

  10. Pingback: Introducing a New Series: Femininst-Friendly Culture « smashesthep

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