Dispatch #20 March 18th 2017
Day 132 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
Day 57 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
Despite the constant declarations about America’s liberal-democratic foundation, the hollowness of these assertions is evidenced by the absolute unrestrainable power of the White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings to run roughshod over every “rule and norm of liberal democracy” – whatever those might be – without consequence or penalty.
Because the brutal behaviors of Early 21st Century Fascism in America multiply in number and grievousness on a daily basis, we are largely distracted from the ever-present toxicity of White Supremacy and Misogyny.
Hillary “Lock Her Up” Clinton has been dispatched along with the collective shock and dismay at the gleeful Misogyny espoused and cheered during the campaign. And what about the millions marching in protest on January 21st?!? Wasn’t that powerful?!
Yeah, well, like all structural/institutionalized oppressions, Misogyny, aka War on Women, will not be dismantled, or even slightly weakened, so easily. Paul Ryan’s American HealthCare Act intends to frame the healthcare system with 100% Misogyny.
So, what is the premise for the lamentations about how could women’s rights be in such jeopardy? That American women actually won some rights and achieved some progress? Because certain classes of women – primary white upper/middle class — have gained some rights/benefits as measured by capitalism and patriarchy?
The War on Women demands recognition that working class and poor women and women of color continue to experience the worst brutalities of Misogyny. These brutalities include women charged for murder in the aftermath of a miscarriage; jail for a mother who procures birth control for her daughter; young women forced to have children and then required to work with no access to childcare or education and then accused of child neglect for using unlicensed daycare.
If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism? Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill… www.azquotes.com/author/9041-Audre_Lorde
Sorry to rebut you Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche – as I do think you are Fabulous – but, NO, you cannot praise Misogyny out of girls, and NO, structural Misogyny cannot be taken down by women already crippled by Misogyny. Naturally of course the media do love the exceptional woman who insists that individuals can be strong enough to overcome any barrier. www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-stop-telling-me-feminism-hot ; www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/women-stop-worrying-about-being-liked–chimamanda-ngozi-adichies-advice-for-living-boldly/2017/03/08/ Chimamanda, I DO recognize that you are being used as evidence for a myth that you are not espousing.
For we have built into all of us, old blueprints of expectation and response, old structures of oppression and these must be altered at the same time that we alter the living condition which are the result of those structures. For the master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house. They will never allow us to bring about genuine change. www.azquotes.com/author/9041-Audre_Lorde
The titles of these recent articles are reasonably self-explanatory for their relevance.
I am haunted by a pictoral-story about how women in a province in Nepal must struggle to keep sane and survive while suffering the brutalities of Misogyny. http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/in-nepal-monthly-exile-for-women/
Once menstruation begins, these Nepalese women must live outside their villages every month for the duration of bleeding. Conditions are primitive — rough huts or lean-tos in the forest with little protection from harsh weather, wild animals, poisonous snakes, and marauding men. Deaths are not uncommon. Women giving birth are similarly sentenced to these conditions. Young girls become fearfully apprehensive of their impending puberty as they also learn that the monthly exile must be borne stoically. These Nepalese women must suffer and manage every day of their lives this grinding psychic burden. To their lives of hardship and hard work is added the additional cost/toll of misogyny, the knowledge that every month loneliness, deprivation, injury and perhaps death must be faced.
Although not as brutally obvious, the psychic burden/baggage imposed on American women is nonetheless as potently disabling. Young girls learn/imbibe early and often the requirements, rules and penalties. How do you look? Are you too fat? Don’t be too loud. Don’t be too smart. Don’t be too pushy. Be attractive to boys. Don’t be too serious. Don’t be too attractive to boys. How is your make-up? How is your hair? How much are you eating? Your clothes are too baggy or too tight. Be nervous around men. Be embarrassed when they harass you, but, never angry. Don’t be forceful and don’t give orders. Pull down your skirt when sitting because you are wearing something too tight. Don’t take up too much space. Women’s professional suits designed to emphasis the butt must be worn. Don’t act confident or smart. Besides what have you got to be confident about!? And so on endlessly like small drops of water on a stone almost unnoticeable but insidiously destructive eating away at the core of female life power.
Women battle all these misgivings about themselves and yet still manage to strive and sometimes thrive. But how much energy, creativeness, power, accomplishments get short-circuited by the constant drain of Misogyny?! Every day everywhere sexualized and objectified images of women or their body parts are displayed, usually to sell something. Misogyny is so pervasive that it is like the air we all breathe, and always wrapped tightly around the female body and mind. I call this the Invisible Burqa – the strangling impact of Misogyny, the structural framework of oppression designed to disable and deaden women and to estrange them from their potential for living freely. By the time women might consider revolting, Misogyny has already limited and hollowed out their capacity for imagining a life without constraints.
How are we going to make sure that all girls – all classes and all colors – grow up without imbibing Misogyny, without developing crippling misgivings about their appearance and about their intellectual and physical capacities, without viewing their power as dangerous?
We need to imagine a world in which every woman is the presiding genius of her own body. In such a world women will truly create new life, bringing forth not only children if and as we choose but the visions, and the thinking, necessary to sustain, console and alter human existence-a new relationship to the universe. Sexuality, politics, intelligence, power, motherhood, work, community, intimacy will develop new meanings; thinking itself will be transformed. This is where we have to begin. www.azquotes.com/author/12289-Adrienne_Rich/tag/children
Feminism involves so much more than gender equality and it involves so much more than gender. Feminism must involve consciousness of capitalism (I mean the feminism that I relate to, and there are multiple feminisms, right). So it has to involve a consciousness of capitalism and racism and colonialism and post-colonialities, and ability and more genders than we can even imagine and more sexualities than we ever thought we could name. www.azquotes.com/author/3699-Angela_Davis
I did not have any problem with speaking up because my mother, my family, my grandmother, my aunt – I grew up in a family dominated by women – always encouraged me to do so. And if a girl is unafraid, then the world is her oyster.
And ?!REALLY!? Katha Pollitt!? Did the white male editors at The Nation browbeat you into writing this quasi-apology to anti-choice women masquerading as pro-life feminists who have been rightly called out as shills for Misogynist Christian Supremacists? https://www.thenation.com/article/can-a-feminist-be-pro-life/ Do Nation readers really need a careful explanation about why denying women control of their bodies is the cornerstone of Misogyny aka War on Women and therefore must receive unequivocal and furious condemnation?! Women cannot rely on the Constitution and Supreme Court to dismantle Misogyny – indeed these institutions support the oppression.
Feminism, not surprisingly, has become a meaningless, almost insulting word when we recognize/acknowledge what is at stake. The War on Women threatens all women and the future of the planet. Misogyny works insidiously every day to deaden and disable women – women who can lead the revolution to dismantle all structural oppressions. [From PAWSM Dispatch #19 March 8th 2017]
Colleen Dermody wrote this powerful poem in early January 2017 and gave me permission to include the poem in a dispatch. Thank you Colleen for your out-rage and courage.
I’d never heard of a pinhole leak
until its hiss of a breath began melting drywall.
The plumber, hairy belly displayed over belt,
crudely tore at basement ceiling tile for access.
I often think of men as crude, all stubby fingers, cruel stubble,
Women are soft hands, lips and labia.
Maybe women’s hearts harden over time
or maybe they don’t as they use crazy or wild or pills or the dopamine of attention deficit
like an arm to shield them from blows, a hand to shield eyes from sun.
I don’t know how I heard sexism was at the root of oppression
or realized I was oppressed. I just did.
It felt like an answer to a question I never knew to ask.
Rage hissed in collectives over years – furies, shameless hussies and fierce pussies.
Oppression never stopped but I learned to dodge.
My Kung Fu moves letting negative energies pass.
I like how I weaved but it’s hard envisioning my ending.
Not the dead part but worrying over monthly bills, sighing in that tired kind of way, too cold, snow too heavy, the metal shovel so rude to green sprouts, scraping metal on cement offending my ears.
I didn’t hurry here. I have loved women with blow-dried hair, pink tights under flannel, doe-eyed drunks and pill poppers, street fighters, boot and Birkenstock wearing bitches who hiked mountains.
In my winter, thinking once again how sexism is sultry intertwining with racism, classism, capitalism, imperialism, forming a more imperfect union.
Making Amerika great again with poundages of greed, power gluttony, millennial dystopia and entitlement, media leaks – full circles for all.
Words of meaning, substance, loyalty and caring sieve through life’s stresses and strains.
Authenticity of past promises feed the beast of promises broken in this present.
Liars, fake news, and poser-caring take precedence over bombed, broken lives.
Few women step past the threshold as history creators or historians, invisible chains still intact.
We tolerate, endure, ache for a morphine drip until we can pry caring from the tentacles of evil,
until we can once again bare our furies to mend the thousand tiny pinholes in our hearts.
- Colleen Dermody January 2017