Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"May we go mad together, my sisters." Mm, actually, how about not.


(from an American Rep production of "The Bacchae")

*********

So ravenm wrote this post critically comparing the full text of the Robin Morgan poem to Little Light's.

The gist of ravenm's critique, and I agree with her, is that the real difference between the two works isn't even so much in approaches to feminism or gender, or in the fact that they are talking about different experiences, but in fundamental philosophies of life. This is Morgan's conclusion:

You've already taken me away from myself
with my only road back to go forward
into more madness, monsters, cobwebs, nausea...

"May my hives bloom bravely until my flesh is aflame
and burns through the cobwebs.
May we go mad together, my sisters

May our labor agony in bringing forth this revolution
be the death of all pain.

May we comprehend that we cannot be stopped.

May I learn how to survive until my part is finished.
May I realize that I

am a
monster. I am

a
monster.

I am a monster.

And I am proud.


*****

and this is LL:

"There is too much to do, too much to love, too many who need one more of us to say hell no and help them say the same.

...It is time to look the monstrous in the eye. It is time. It is time to say that we are beautiful in our fierceness, and that we are our own. We are not the rejected of what we can never be. We are what we were meant to be. We are not pieces of wholes thrown together incorrectly. We are not mistakes.
We are not inferior knockoffs of someone else. If our monstrousness is frightening, then it is time we bare our teeth and draw that fear close to us and stop being so afraid of our fearsomeness that we fear everyone and everything else right back.

I am throwing my head back, here, and saying it: no more being afraid. Hell no. My monstrousness is not a place of shame. It is a strength. It is the power to say I am mine, and I will tell you what I mean. Not you. I am not any thing trapped in anyone's body. I am tougher than that, and I have plenty of blood to spare in this body of mine, and plenty more miles to go before any of you can bring me to my knees, and I dare you to try.

I am choosing to stay here, and it is mine to choose. And if that means changing shape, if that means putting together the unexpected, that is any monster's ancient right. It is damn well traditional.
The only ones setting traps are the ones in our way.
There. There's my teeth. There's my cause.

Boo.
Hiss.
Keep kicking: a thousand, thousand slimy things lived on. And so. Did. I."


*****

The former is coming from a place of despair and pain and defiance, yes, but not much more; the latter has a joyful fierceness and a sense of affirmation that is missing in the former. As Ravenm notes, LL's post is about the choice to embracelove and solidarity and to rejoice in our differences.

At raven's, and elsewhere, i think we've mostly been talking about the ways in which these approaches to -difference- well, differ; here i want to talk about the flip side of that, the different approaches to "love and solidarity."

May we go mad together, my sisters

May our labor agony in bringing forth this revolution
be the death of all pain.


versus

We are what we were meant to be...If our monstrousness is frightening, then it is time we bare our teeth and draw that fear close to us and stop being so afraid of our fearsomeness that we fear everyone and everything else right back.

The latter strikes me as an eminently democratic and positive approach to "solidarity:" "we are what we were meant to be." "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." There is room for tolerance, there; there is room for more than one possible outcome; there is the possibility of not just surviving but thriving.

The former--well, it's a bit nihilistic sounding, isn't it?

May our labor agony in bringing forth this revolution be the death of all pain.

So, the best "we" can hope for is one last round of sweet agony bringing forth a better world for -someone- (and they'd better be grateful, dammit, after all the work we've had, the sacrifices we've made, gestating and bringing it, them, to term); and the "death of all pain." which is, pretty much, just plain death, on account of life, she is painful. Not -only- painful, ideally, but then...well, perhaps that's the point, isn't it.

But besides even that, okay, what i wanted to talk about:

May we go mad together, my sisters

Here's my question. Why?

No, seriously. Why is this a good?

Based on the rest of the poem, my no doubt cynical and patriarchy-fucking first thought is this:

once again, this is "I want you to hurt like I hurt."

I mean, if you -already- hurt like the author hurts, then it makes a lot of sense. If not, though, there kind of isn't an entry point. And as LL's poem makes clear, even if you -do- hurt (for make no mistake, that piece is born of pain as much as the other), Morgan's solution is not the only solution. But, apparently, for her here, it is. And, to at least alleviate the isolation,

"May we go mad together, my sisters."

Sisters.

Because sisters, they/we love each other unconditionally; and, like birds in their/our little nests, agree.



Hokay.

Well, you know what this reminded me of, besides QD/BL's recent piece entitled Dark side of sisterhood,

is this (relatively) little-known indie horror flick. Ginger Snaps.



Capsule plot summary: two rather gothy-geek sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, are bonded over their mutual loathing of high school, people in general, and their love of gory horror films. One fine day Ginger, the older one, gets bitten by a werewolf, and it's up to the younger one, Brigitte, to try to find a cure and save her (and the rest of society) from herself before it's too late. (Unlike movies where the bitten morphs into a wolf at the full moon and is normal the rest of the time, in this world the werewolf changes slowly but inexorably from human to savage beast over a course of days or weeks, until the transformation is complete and permanent).

There is a thoughtful and fairly in-depth scholarly article on feminist readings of this movie, here, if such things interest you (talks about Kristeva and the "abject" and alla that).

And it is true that there is a -lot- to talk about in this movie in that regard, most obviously having to do with the in-your-face- metaphor of "werewolf" for "female coming of age." Not just the "curse" (oh ha, ha) and all the blood running from various sources, but: Ginger grows hair in unexpected places; has horrible pains--actually her menarche sets in at the same time as the other, more supernatural "curse" ("Just so you know, the words 'just' and 'cramps'--they don't go together"); develops strange and aggressive appetites having to do with boys (although pretty quickly, after not just basically ravaging but seriously biting a boy during a makeout sessions, Ginger realizes she's gone beyond lustiness:"I get this ache... And I, I thought it was for sex, but it's to tear everything to fucking pieces"). And so on.

But what really interests me here, and why I'm bringing it up, is the strange bond the sisters have. Even before the wolf enters: it's not shall we say the -healthiest- relationship in the whole world. Not in a pulp fiction, "strange sisters" sort of way; more in a "Harris and Klebold" sort of a way. Yeah, sure, the gothy melodrama is very high school; people can and do grow out of such stuff as

GINGER: Out by sixteen or dead in this scene but together forever. Together forever.

BRIGITTE: United against life as we know it.


...but, this movie is, among other things, a smart look into what happens when someone -doesn't- grow out of it, for whatever reason. Call it the wolf, or the beast, if you like; it's -something.- But, there is a rather malignant regression happening here,

(
[much later, after Ginger's been bitten, is half mad and blood soaked and bearing down on a terrified but still defiant Brigitte]

GINGER: You swore we'd go together, one way or another.

BRIGITTE: When we were eight.)


...when Ginger moves from her ordinary misanthropy to outright violence; and, even more to the point, when she insists ever more strongly on not just -protecting- her little sister, being -jealous- of her little sister's attempts to separate (which were already happening), but trying, needing to draw her down into that abject, -mad- place with her.
And once Ginger gets to the actual killin' and eatin', it starts to go to some very disturbing places indeed:




[as they're burying the popular girl who was one of their former tormentors, and whom Ginger's just killed, under the shed]:

GINGER: Think she's pretty?

BRIGITTE: If I wasn't here would you eat her?



...but, under all the blood and gore and guts and hormones gone haywire is something even more disturbing: there is a psychic transaction that's happened, one where Ginger swallowed Brigitte, or attempted to, long before she ever considered literally dining on human flesh. She treats Brigitte like an extension of herself, in other words. And while in the beginning Brigitte is content to be in her big sister's sometimes hurtful but always protective shadow, by the end of it she realizes just what a bad bargain they've made:


[after Brigitte cuts her palm]

Brigitte: You wrecked everything for me that isn't about you.

[Brigitte cuts Ginger's palm, exchanges blood with her]
...
Brigitte: Now I am you.

Ginger: I know you are. But what am I?


It's sealed in blood, but in a way it doesn't matter: the infection has already happened. Brigitte is too merged with her sister to give up on her, even when it's obvious that Ginger is too hopelessly far gone to save. And, it'd be spoiling not only this movie but the sequel to say more, but, just: it's a horror movie. The ending ain't happy. And this little exchange is why.

And, in the end, it's truly horrible, because, unlike Ginger, Brigitte sees through her own doom as well as her sister's with open eyes; she loves her, but she knows that in a way, while her sister "loves" her back, it's a selfish, self-absorbed love, where the only way to retain that love is to agree to merge with her. To get sucked into her pain and emptiness.


GINGER: I said I'd die for you!

BRIGITTE: No. You said you'd die with me. Cause you had nothing better to do.



Which brings me full circle back to why I prefer Little Light's work. Because, she does have something better to do. Because, her invitation is an honest one: to join her as an equal, to -connect,- not to get sucked in. Because she can stand on her own two feet, however "monstrous," and allows that her allies and comrades can do the same.

So, I'm with Little Light. However she ends up wanting to frame her approach to gender or anything else.

As long as that is the bargain. I and you may be "we," but we are also "I and you," and that is a good thing. And that makes me think maybe I'm okay with "we" with this person, and not the one who want "us" to "go mad together."

Because she has something better to do, and so do I.

And because maybe, after all, "monstrous body" or not, on another level, it's really true:

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

99 comments:

queer dewd formerly known as ( ) said...

"you mean all this time we could have been friends"

belledame222 said...

"But ya ARE, Blanche, ya ARE!"

it is a great little flick. not in "All About Eve" territory (o Bette! how hath the mighty!...well, no, she was a good sport), but wicked fun.

Roy said...

That's a fantastic analysis of both the poems and the movie.

I definitely see a major difference between:
"You've already taken me away from myself
with my only road back to go forward
into more madness... May I learn how to survive until my part is finished.
I realize that I am a monster"

and

"We are not the rejected of what we can never be. We are what we were meant to be. We are not pieces of wholes thrown together incorrectly. We are not mistakes... My monstrousness is not a place of shame. It is a strength. It is the power to say I am mine, and I will tell you what I mean. Not you. I am not any thing trapped in anyone's body."

(the following is just my own random interpretations and what I read into them, obviously)
Both of them seem to recognize outside forces acting upon them, but the former sounds... defeated. It's a defeated acceptance: Okay, fine. I'm a monster. You've made me a monster, and I realize that now. I hope I last long enough to do my part." The last line "I am proud." I don't know...

LL's, though- that's power and pride, there. It's not "I realize and accept that I'm a monster" it's "We're not broken or flawed or inferior. We're fierce and powerful, and if that means we're monsters, than monsters we be. And if you think you can stop us, you go ahead and try, and see what happens."

LL's is powerful. It sent tingles down my spine.

belledame222 said...

yep.

the more i look at them both, the more i realize how much sense it makes that Heart bristled so bad at -this particular piece,- as opposed to any other way or time a transgendered person or non-radical feminist has ever gathered any hosannas or positive attention. it -is- an (unwitting) strike at her very core philosophy; just not in the way she thinks it is. or, not only that.

queer dewd formerly known as ( ) said...

*nod* i think the general thrust of the comprison ravenmn and you make is right on. one is a very empowering piece, little light's, and the other can feel rather dreadful in its focus on such an agonistic process. LL's is filled with imagery that is positive, RM's is filled with imagery that feels negative to us and perhaps to anyone not enmeshed in feminist sruggle at the time. LL's can speak to more universal struggles; it does speak to more universal struggles.

LL makes no claim that only LL's stuggle and that of people like LL matter, but that there are lots of monsters out there, and not always monstrous for the exact same reasons, but the basic processes are about the same. For Morgan, of course, only one struggle really matters, in the end.

as for this passage:
"May we go mad together, my sisters"

i guess i'd place it in the context of its time. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Net, for instance. The critiques of ... oh what' shis name now? ... the psychologist who'd argued that so much of what ppl counted as madness wasn't that at all. Frick. Can't remember his hame, but he was very influential at the time and has since come under fire for his waaaaaaaaay too social constructionist arguments about madness. Basically, he thought that madness was a label society attached to people and it had little basis in reality. (With current neuroscience and studies of brain chemistry, this came under fire.)

Anyway, I think that, at that time, the notion that someone was mad was under heavy criticism. That in fact, the argument went, ppl so labeled or who felt they were crazy, we only so by virtue of a fucked up society. Their madness, IOW, was a signal that they were onto something about the fundamental screwed upness of the world, not of themselves.

To be mad and monstrous was a good thing because it meant that you weren't normal, socialized into normalcy, someone who had her finger on the "truth of society".

--

the pain of revolutionary struggle, of course, is a common trope. oh, the hard work that those of us who see the light must do.

and if influenced by the marxist currents of the day, it's a reference to the old society being midwife to the new, only her Morgan is figuring Woman as the one doing the labor -- where in Marx is was workers who pursued revolution.

there is something else, too. when I read LL i envision the way I cry happy tears. This sucks but I know I can move on to this other place. In fact, the other place is right here.

Morgan's vision is a little too ... resigned.

as you and ravenmn say, you feel a sense of solidarity around something powerful, not something painful.

belledame222 said...

...It's not just the defeat, but what's sometimes called "locus of control." You're right, it's "you've -made- me a monster." That realization is where it starts and stops.

that is a different proposition from,

"I claim my monstrosity; i may be a monster to -you-, but i still reserve the right to name -myself.- "

...you know, that dreaded word: *agency.*

*Responsibility,* even.

belledame222 said...

RM's is filled with imagery that feels negative to us and perhaps to anyone not enmeshed in feminist sruggle at the time.

Right, but so here's what gets me:

Heart posts this as a rebuttal to LL's...challenge? assertion? and prefaces it with the note that it is "as true today as it ever was."

chew on that for a bit.

1) it -is- universally "true," it IS

2) nothing has changed in the last 35 years or so. Dammit.

there's -something- about that.

R. Mildred said...

What was the original complaint again cuz I'm lost.

What's the problem with celebrating the feminine monsters, our mad bombers and similar heroic figures again?

Rootietoot said...

I thought what LL wrote was triumphant. I'd never read the other one before, so had nothing to compare to. Makes me want to go to Portland and take her to lunch.

cicely said...

I am throwing my head back, here, and saying it: no more being afraid. Hell no. My monstrousness is not a place of shame. It is a strength. It is the power to say I am mine, and I will tell you what I mean. Not you. I am not any thing trapped in anyone's body. I am tougher than that, and I have plenty of blood to spare in this body of mine, and plenty more miles to go before any of you can bring me to my knees, and I dare you to try.

I am choosing to stay here, and it is mine to choose. And if that means changing shape, if that means putting together the unexpected, that is any monster's ancient right. It is damn well traditional.
The only ones setting traps are the ones in our way.
There. There's my teeth. There's my cause.

Boo.
Hiss.
Keep kicking: a thousand, thousand slimy things lived on. And so. Did. I."


I am thinking of the Maori Haka. It just popped into my head. It's a fierce, eyes wide, tongue out, foot-stomping challenge. The NZ Rugby team, the All Blacks, perform it prior to every international match (aka 'Test match'). Opposition teams are famously intimidated by it and crowds have loved it for going on a hundred years.

If I were little light, regarding this reponse from Heart, I'd start asking - what happened? Is that the best you can do? Did someone throw a piece of paper?

belledame222 said...

that -is- what she asked. never did get a (direct) response. except for Heart finds the poem powerful and moving, very moving.

which, you know, you can take that and the piece of paper and $3.50 and go get a nice latte at Starfucks.

queer dewd formerly known as ( ) said...

"as true today as it ever was."

oh yeah. i saw that right away. i don't know if you remember, but when I was talking about Halley's analysis of the rhetoric, one of the things she asks you to do with one of the lists, like the one heart provides in comments, is to ask yourself, "does this feel good. or bad?"

when is saw that "as true today as it ever was." I immediately said: "no!"

I am old enough to know what it was like 20 years ago. 30 years ago even.

it is different. I was sexually harassed by a guy who did every yr to a select student, in a department that KNEW and even felt comfy noting that this what went on.

it was normal and there wasn't anything to be done about it. less than ten years after that happened to me, just same old same old, that guy was prosecuted and all of us who'd been harassed stepped forward.

totally different environment.

would the cops have let my potential rapist drive away with me, still drunk at the wheel do so today? in most cases, no.

would my partner have gone through regular anti-sexual harassment training in the NAvy? No.

i can remember being terrified to buy over the counter birth control. i know the young women in my life don't feel that way.

would i have gotten a fellowship where it was a given that a man and a woman were selected for the two positions. no.

would i have been able to be in a dept composed nearly entirely of women with a speciality in feminist thought/studies, etc? no.

would the client contacts in my old job be women in powerful positions in information seuciryt and IT? All but one a woman in Fortune 100s? no.

would it have been 'normal' to be single in your thirties, never married? no.

my mother and her friends stayed 29 one more time every birthday. This dosn't happen today that I'm aware of.

i could go on. and, of course, none these things happened *just* because of the women's movement. there are manifold reasons why, for example, cops are more likely to bust someone, if only for DUI. But I'm pretty sure, had my dad filed charges for same incident as he tried to 24 years ago, when I was almostraped, he wouldn't be discouraged as he was then.

IOW, to be fair, advances have been made, to my mind, because they have been convenient to those in power. It wasn't *just* that women had a movement and forced a society to accept our terms in spite of other interests. But these are advances to be celebrated. The constant harangue that nothing's changed, as I mentioned long ago on the Virginity of Death thread with Katha Pollit is disheartening. There's real research about how that message harm's students in courses on social inequality -- such as women's studies courses. it makes them either full of impotent rage or paralyzing despair.

belledame222 said...

well and of course, petty, but um: -Morgan- may have been there 20, 30 years ago, but i don't think -Heart- was; or at least, if she was, somewhere in between there she had a stint y'know being a "rising star" in the Christian homeschooling movement.

i am sure she was much more tolerant of say queer theory and transgendered folk than she is now

Tom Nolan said...

Cicely (with ref. to the Haka)

"Opposition teams are famously intimidated by it...for going on a hundred years"

with the exception of the Australian rugby team, whose players invariably make a point of kicking an insouciant ball or two back and forth while the terrifying, intimidating, devastating performance is proceeding at the other end of the pitch. I am always cheered by this, though I couldn't care less about who wins the match. It's confirmation that I am not the only one who thinks that the rugby Haka sounds like a lavatory full of constipated opera singers, and looks like a troupe of shaved gorillas performing aerobics.

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
R. Mildred said...

yah Heart, things are different now; thanks, yes, in some part to radical feminism

Interesting how she can inherit good deeds like that, like "My gang once did this this and this, therefore I am right!"

It makes the sophistry, the concern trolling, the general purpose all singing all dancing crapwankery look like sane logic.

Anonymous said...

I've confronted her on her contributions to the patriarchy. Her three marriages, her 11 children, her in-depth support of the Christian Right. She says that's all behind her, she's paid for her sins. Then she calls me a big meanie. And right now it looks like she's banned me from her blog. *shrug*

I think what Morgan was trying to do was to emulate a Dalyesque language/meme breakthrough, she just never stretched the skin thin enough though.

Q-Grrl

Anonymous said...

It's sealed in blood, but in a way it doesn't matter: the infection has already happened. Brigitte is too merged with her sister to give up on her, even when it's obvious that Ginger is too hopelessly far gone to save. And, it'd be spoiling not only this movie but the sequel to say more, but, just: it's a horror movie. The ending ain't happy. And this little exchange is why.

And, in the end, it's truly horrible, because, unlike Ginger, Brigitte sees through her own doom as well as her sister's with open eyes; she loves her, but she knows that in a way, while her sister "loves" her back, it's a selfish, self-absorbed love, where the only way to retain that love is to agree to merge with her. To get sucked into her pain and emptiness.


Wait, don't tell me - the screenplay was written by a lapsed Catholic who grew up watching Sesame Street Beautiful Princesses transformed into icky frog beasties with a mere kiss, while hearing Big People talk about the horror of HIV/AIDs.

Abject indeed. What a morale booster. In the end, after all is said and done, in the realm of human relationship (especially its more intimate connections and exchanges), the fire of bloodborn pathogens transfigures and subsumes the (sickly?) sweet red wine of sacrificial love.

You love? You die.

Hey, it's hip. But not too fun!

lilcollegegirl said...

Wow. I have seen Ginger Snaps, but though I was picking up on some major creepiness there, I hadn't looked at it quite that way, (possibly the roomful of people laughing at the cheesy bits was unhelpful). I never did figure out quite why I didn't like that movie so much, but it makes more sense now. Thanks. *goes to read feminist analyses*

Anonymous said...

The film's title "Ginger Snaps" is a curious one.

Makes me wonder if either or both the writer/director team had read Conway and Siegelman's Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change? If you've had a friend who got "bit by religion" the werewolf analogy would be especially apt.

But then again I missed the Spice Girls phenom.

Whatever. Curious choice for a title.

Joseph Kugelmass said...

Belledame, this was entertaining and brilliant and a remarkably good way of doing more with the literary claims Heart was making in her absurd tirade.

Of course, nobody is under an obligation to "think positive," but the emptiness of Morgan's poem reveals that its negativity stems from a lack of vision.

It's like LittleLight's post on the cruel experience of the "trust fall" -- to remove from the story that one pair of hands, or to deny that small act of courage its full significance, would finally be an act of erasure. It would be reducing reality to something too easily mournable, precisely at the moment when its contradictions give us reason to hope.

queer dewd formerly known as ( ) said...

don't know. i read somewhere recently that she's 56. she's older then I am from everything she's said at any rate. i don't know how long she was in the christian group. even so, uh, that would be even weirder

belledame222 said...

hey, welcome Q-grrl, and various nonny mice, assuming i don't already knows ya.

she banned you, eh? golly. well--

i dunno. but so i'm reading someone's saga of her earlier story, (quite sympathetic to her) written up here
k-RIST what a dwama.

but so like anyway, i am thinking: what was that about "paranoid structuralism?" because, it sounds like it wouldn't be new, to her. pity she doesn't seem to have taken much away from the experience of being on the other side except an aggravated, possibly chronic sense of martyrdom and "they're all out to git me."

On August 12, 1994, Pride created a folder to publicize and discuss "divorce and re-marriage." [Pride, 738] The topics were "Cheryl and Rick and their relationship, and whether it was legitimate or whether it wasn't. Whether or not they should be able to be divorced... the biblical basis of divorce and remarriage," Virginia Hunt said. Pride called for people to stop associating with Cheryl, and for her to discontinue publishing Gentle Spirit, and she made these posts "all over AOL." [Hunt, 775] She even sent out e-mails to individuals, telling them to "Please look at the message I just posted about Gentle Spirit." [Plaintiff Exhibit 36]
In her posts, Pride went as far as to compare "remarried persons" to child molesters and serial murderers, concluding that, if one could forgive divorce and re-marriage, "you should be willing to have a child molester run the nursery and a serial murderer stand there with a knife in his hand slicing the bread for the fellowship meal."...


...The inside cover of the foremost issue of the "new" Gentle Spirit presents a letter from Rick and Cheryl. In it they describe some of their beliefs: "all human beings are treasures... one size never fits all in matters of the heart, mind and spirit... we reject violence and coercion on all levels... we also reject the abuse of power... We have changed our minds many times about what it means to 'live Christianly'... other people should likewise be afforded plenty of room to grow and to change and seek the Lord in their own ways."
When that issue of Gentle Spirit reached subscribers, the Internet blaze was rekindled, and continues as of this writing. The participants discuss every snippet of information revealed, and debate whether the defendants' actions were justified by scripture - or if they simply broke the law and should publicly apologize.
The publisher of Gentle Spirit stays away from the Internet debates now. She wonders if she'll ever recover from the trauma she endured - which stole her trust and faith in human beings. Cheryl has to prepare herself for meeting people she doesn't know well, especially if they are Christians.
Throughout her difficulties Cheryl continued to enjoy the support of many of her former subscribers and a few faithful Christian friends. However, the most help came from unexpected quarters - "liberal Christians" and "worldly" people. Cheryl says, "It is ironic that those whom conservative Christians typically warn against - out of fear they might draw Christians away from the Lord - turned out to be instrumental in my healing. They were often more compassionate and faithful and loving by far than many of the Christians who had cautioned me against associating with such people."
Although still wary, Cheryl's life has broadened, allowing for "enjoyment of things I had forbidden myself for many years, thinking they were of their very nature off-limits for a Christian -- music, books, movies, theater, art, food, a glass of wine... whatever clothes I wanted to wear." The truth about Cheryl: she has turned a very difficult experience into an opportunity for growth.



elsewhere she sez she was a Christian for twenty years before entering the homeschooling movement. so, yeah, slightly different path there. which would be totally fine, except for the whole y'know policing everyone -else- all over again...

belledame222 said...

thanks, joseph

belledame222 said...

The critiques of ... oh what' shis name now? ... the psychologist who'd argued that so much of what ppl counted as madness wasn't that at all.

There were a couple. Szasz is one, but i don't think that's who you mean. oh, Laing, maybe. "Mary Barnes." alla that.

JackGoff said...

BTW, awesome post. But I couldn't resist:

"Euripides?"

"I didn't even know they were ripped!"

Ba doom cheesh!

cicely said...

Hey, Tom, I saw your comment just before you deleted it. There are inevitably different views about the Haka (challenge), but it's true that in interviews actual players have often mentioned its impact, which includes a feeling of honour, among others. It's kind of an aside though, maybe not exactly 'right' for this conversation and I almost didn't post it. I did in the end because it was truly what popped into my mind. To go on with it, maybe Heart was also not willing to look into the eyes of the monster, but wanted to provide a distraction and to undermine little light's authenticity. Further undermine, I should say, *any* transpersons authenticity. It was indirect and sly, and it didn't work, other than for her cheerleaders.

Tom Nolan said...

Cicely

Hey, I didn't delete my (totally anodyne) comment. It's still there. It was one of those "displacement" comments I write when any engagement with the actual topic would tempt me to outdo everyone else in vehemence.

a very public sociologist said...

Looking at the second from top pic I thought we were in for a meditation on zombies.

piny said...

The publisher of Gentle Spirit stays away from the Internet debates now. She wonders if she'll ever recover from the trauma she endured - which stole her trust and faith in human beings. Cheryl has to prepare herself for meeting people she doesn't know well, especially if they are Christians.

You know, this explains a lot of her behavior towards people who disagree with her outside of her own turf.

belledame222 said...

Well, it certainly can't have helped.

although i imagine that anyone who was drawn to the homeschooling and fundamentalist movements (respectively) in the first place was always at least somewhat attracted to "tune in...huddle close together...drop out."

the way the whole blow-up is described in that article does sound eerily familiar in many ways, though.

i am still not getting exactly where the deep-rooted problem with transfolk comes in, though. i mean, intellectually and ideologically and everything else, i get it; just, why is it THIS important? is my question. to her, i mean. because they must be tainted with male cooties? -is- it just that simple?

piny said...

i am still not getting exactly where the deep-rooted problem with transfolk comes in, though. i mean, intellectually and ideologically and everything else, i get it; just, why is it THIS important? is my question. to her, i mean. because they must be tainted with male cooties? -is- it just that simple?

I'm gonna go ahead and chalk some of it up to simple prejudice plus the way transwomen and transmen were constructed by feminists like Robin Morgan. But--and this is all extremely idle speculation--I think that subsequent dealings with a couple of actual transwomen, exacerbated in part by her pre-existing prejudices, might have caused some big problems. I have only the vaguest outsider perception, though, so I can't even gossip.

Then again, why _not_ transwomen? Why do you think Rich hates on them so much? It's because they are rather specially positioned as scapegoats for his purposes. I think it's the same with her.

Tom Nolan said...

because they must be tainted with male cooties? -is- it just that simple? BD

She has so many motives for disliking transexuals that it would be a wonder if she didn't hate them.

Male-to-females are odious because, firstly, they are men who think that they can evade the radfem contempt due to them by sneakily changing sex; and, secondly, they are a living refutation of a radfem axiom - that no one could make a free choice to be a woman in a society where women constitute the most repressed and humiliated class.

Transexuals of all kinds blur the dividing line between the oppressed and oppressing classes which she would like, sorry, *needs* to keep razor-sharp. To have been born woman, she believes, is to belong to a persecuted but chosen people; and to make womanhood a matter of behaviour and sensibility is to threaten her sense of election. Sheep here, goats there, and there is no third category. And transexuals annoy her because they have experienced life on both sides of the gender divide, in a way that she has not, and can challenge the authority of her dogmas.

Moreover, they are a reminder to her that, proud as she is to proclaim her own "radicalism", there are others who challenge sexual conventions, often at enormous personal risk, far more radically than she would ever dare or wish to.

Lastly, she hates them because her pals at Mitchfest hate them. She has a strong sense of identity with Char et al.

Mandos said...

I think that the best way to understand that form of radical feminism---the kind that Heart et al. espouse as opposed to, say, TF---is by comparison to nationalist movements. Look at it: a call for unity based on Special Trauma, a belief in the healing and protective power of land, a construction of an ancient common history that is true because it is Felt, and so on.

With this ideological form, it is almost inevitable that a group exists that serves to focus attention on the desired boundary while serving in the negative role of infiltrator. That is, the boundary only *truly* exists when someone attempts to cross it. That crossing represents the act of imperialism that forms the Special Trauma that reinforces group cohesion.

belledame222 said...

that makes a depressing amount of sense.

ick.

Why do you think Rich hates on them so much?

You know, I have been wanting to bring up that dude with someone, because frankly, I have -no- idea what's going on with him. self-loathing would seem to be a good chunk of it, however.

that whole dynamic is just severely fucked up imho. i...just, yeah, i got nothin'.

belledame222 said...

tom: i think you nailed it.

of course the -next- question is, "so y'know why not give up some of the egotistical investment in The Dogma and consider that maybe just maybe there might be another way of going about things, or at least modify just a tad?..." but, you know, if one had an answer to THAT, one could probably solve most of the world's problems.

Mandos said...

In mathematics we have the concept of the Total Order:

Let R be a binary relation over a set \Sigma (ie, R is a comparison operator of some kind). R is a Total Order if and only if for all members X and Y in \Sigma,

1. if X R Y (eg, X greater-than Y) and Y R X, then X and Y are the same thing. (ie, no two *different* objects can be at the same place in a Total Order.)

2. aside from a potential "top" and "bottom" element in the case of finite sites, either X R Y or Y R X is true.

3. If X R Y and Y R Z, then X R Z. (aka transitivity. 3 is greater than 2 and 2 is greater than 1; hence 3 is greater than 1.)

I've noticed that there are minds that, for some reason, can only think in terms of Total Orders, at least for some things. For instance, take the relation Privilege over the set of classes of people. (ie, P has privilege over Q.) There appear to be people for whom Privilege is a Total Order. That is to say, if P has privilege over Q, then Q can't have privilege over P *WITHOUT ALSO BEING P*.

Rich sounds to me like one of those people who suffer from Total Order Syndrome. He mentioned at the end of that thread that fathers have privilege over his nonfather self, and hence oppress him. It suggests to me that all classes have to be ordered into a strict hierarchy of oppression.

belledame222 said...

*blink*

-whimper-


i....like pudding.

no, wait. What?

no, but didn't he say something about he would've or could've been trans himself? but that's not on the menu for whatever reason? is that what it is? i thought maybe that was what it is, but maybe he's just (and i use the term advisedly) a dickhead.

Mandos said...

Sorry, I was thinking about other stuff while reading your blog :) And somehow they all got munged together.

I was trying to characterize the apparent desire to slot each class into its own special Oppression Level. But I was thinking about abstract algebra at the same time.

belledame222 said...

it's all falling into place. of course, that place is nowhere near this place...

well, you know, Math is Hard.

for me, anyways.

sounds like an interesting angle to work, philosophy-wise, potentially, though...

Tom Nolan said...

i....like pudding - BD

Oh, sorry, Belledame, I should have offered you some. Where are my manners?

(I push a serving spoon with some effort into the side of a stolid jam roly-poly and twist it in the wound. The gouged- out clot of stiff suet bleeds boiling jam on to your dish, but refuses to fall from the spoon until I dislogde it with a fork. Then comes a second spoonful, then a third, until the dish is nearly full. Now I pour condensed mild over it straight from the can - no standing on ceremony when I play host - and continue until it overflows the dish. I hand it to you and you eat it greedily as it drips onto your lap. You'll be round again soon, I hope?)

belledame222 said...

I like "condensed mild." i could use some "condensed mild." particularly after reading certain blogs.

JackGoff said...

Nice Mandos. That rocks! And number (1) is antisymmetry...just to say.

JackGoff said...

Hey, Belle, would some cocoa be okay? It's vanilla and hazelnut. It's too cold here for pudding.

Ravenmn said...

LL makes no claim that only LL's stuggle and that of people like LL matter, but that there are lots of monsters out there, and not always monstrous for the exact same reasons, but the basic processes are about the same.

You know, that's Little Light's huge flaw. She doesn't focus on her own oppression. She accepts that others may be oppressed as well. This is verbotten. //sarcasm//

BD, your links to the controversy in Heart's past is bummig me out.. It's the classic definition of border crossing .

But, you know, talk about radfems relying on the legal system to redeem them. It's weird and totally outside my experience.

Gonna have to check out that movie.

Tom Nolan said...

Hey, Belle, would some cocoa be okay? It's vanilla and hazelnut. It's too cold here for pudding. - Jackgoff

Pudding *is* served hot. Hot enough to burn the lining of your mouth away, unless, that is, its ferocity is mitigated by "Condensed Mild", my patented pudding-soother.

belledame222 said...

cocoa, pudding, as long as it's CHOCOLATE. MUST. HAVE. CHOCOLATE.

belledame222 said...

back on topic, more or less: thought of this just now:


The narcissistically injured on the other hand, cannot rest until he has blotted out a vaguely experienced offender who dared to oppose him, to disagree with him, or to outshine him. ..It can never find rest because it can never wipe out the evidence that has contradicted its conviction it is unique and perfect. This archaic rage goes on and on and on. Furthermore, the enemy who calls forth the archaic rage of the narcissistically vulnerable is seen by him not as an autonomous source of impulsions, but as a flaw in a narcissistically perceived reality. The enemy is experienced as a recalcitrant part of an expanded self over which the narcissistically vulnerable person had expected to exercise full control. The mere fact, in other words, that the other person is independent or different is experienced as offensive by those with intense narcissistic needs.

Thus, not being in full control over self and over a narcissistically experienced world gives the afflicted individual an experience of utter powerlessness. Such powerlessness and the sense of helplessness via-a-vis the world are unbearably traumatic experiences that must be ended by any means whatsoever. The offending other must be wiped out.

Narcissistic rage occurs in many forms. They all share, however, a specific psychological flavor which gives them a distinct position within the wide realm of human aggressions. The need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means, and a deeply anchored, unrelenting compulsion in the pursuit of all these aims, which gives no rest to those who have suffered a narcissistic injury -these are the characteristic features of narcissistic rage in all its forms and which set it apart from other kinds of aggression.

Although everybody tends to react to narcissistic injuries with embarrassment and anger, the most intense experiences of shame and the most violent forms of narcissistic rage arise in those individuals for whom a sense of absolute control over an archaic environment is indispensable because the maintenance of self-esteem - and indeed of the self - depends on the unconditional availability of the approving-mirroring selfobject or of the merger-permitting idealized one."

...The political arena allows many individuals to act out narcissistic rage as members of a group. We can understand this better when we remember that individuals who experience themselves as powerless often identify with groups by joining them. Groups that appear to have some power become seductively attractive to the narcissistic individual who is trying to escape the feeling of powerlessness. They experience the group power as their own power and any threat to the group power is experienced as an unbearable threat to their own self which then evokes unlimited rage in defense of self. Common are the hatreds that groups carry for other groups whom, rightly or wrongly, they perceive as threats to their very existence. They kill and destroy without mercy while at the same time enjoying a feeling of righteous triumph over a threatening enemy. Think of the racial assaults and the ethnic hatreds that have resulted in so much cruelty and bloodshed during the 20th century. The most minor infractions of the order established by one group could lead to an extremist massacre of even totally uninvolved and innocent outsiders. A lynching could be precipitated by as little as an assertive look or word that was equated with a threat to the established authority of the group or its leaders. The lynching mob was partially driven by an inner experience of rage in defense of a disorganized and therefore vulnerable self that felt itself challenged into potential fragmentation by the supposed offender.

What I have just described so dramatically often manifests as a less extreme form of narcissistic rage. The same dynamics, however, can be observed commonly almost every day in much more subtle and less dramatic forms...

...What can be done? Our psychological reasoning would lead us to believe that in order to reduce the rage one must try to reduce the experience of helplessness and substitute gradually an experience of having some power. The first step would seem to be an effort to really listen to each other and try to understand the other’s experience. To really feel one is being seen, being listened to most often leads to feeling understood. The experience of being understood is a self-empowering experience. We know that from working with individuals who, when they feel understood in treatment, they immediately grow stronger. But it seems that very few negotiators know this fundamental psychological truth. They usually go into negotiations with the agenda of showing how right they are and how wrong the other side is. They demand to be heard but don’t want to really listen and understand.

Politics is the arena in which skilful negotiation is the hallmark of success. Politics is concerned with the art and science of governing while the psychology of the self is concerned with recognizing and understanding one’s own sense of self and that of others. Governing, of course, has to do with the exercise of power by individuals and by groups. one’s experience of self (my shorthand for sense of self) may sometimes be enhanced via political action or circumstance, and, on the other hand, indeed, sometimes such political events may impair one’s sense of self. It is an interactive relationship of reciprocating influences such that human action to augment the self may on the surface appear merely to be directed toward changing a political situation. It seems obvious that the ability to govern depends on the availability and exercise of power. Less obvious is an individual self’s need to possess and exercise a certain amount of power to guarantee the maintenance of its cohesion and boundaries, even its continuation as a separate and distinct self. As already discussed, the loss of power which usually is associated with being subjected to some sort of feeling helpless is for most human beings an unbearable experience. It evokes an overwhelming desire to wipe out the offending source of the threatened helplessness.

belledame222 said...

(i am drinking hot cocoa now. Cadbury's, from a can. it will do, i suppose.

if someone wished to make a sticky toffee pudding for me, that would also be acceptable)

JackGoff said...

Pudding *is* served hot.

Yeah, now that you mention it, but I'm an uncultured American, raised on Jell-O instant pudding. Heh.

Tom Nolan said...

Yeah, now that you mention it, but I'm an uncultured American, raised on Jell-O instant pudding. Heh. - Jackgoff

Well, Freedom has its price, I suppose. Frankly, if I had to choose between independence and constitutional democracy on the one hand and a British expertise in puddings on the other, I would consider long and hard. Then I'd choose the puddings.

of course the -next- question is, "so y'know why not give up some of the egotistical investment in The Dogma and consider that maybe just maybe there might be another way of going about things, or at least modify just a tad?..." but, you know, if one had an answer to THAT, one could probably solve most of the world's problems. - BD

I think it's clear by now that Heart will never be able to reason her way out of the absurd predicament she has got herself into. There's no question of anyone talking her down, so to speak.

But, mark my words, she isn't at the end of her journey yet. She will undergo further conversions, and when she finds herself a Buddhist, or a Moslem, or a Branch Davidian or whatever, she will regard her present radfeminism as no more than an aberration into which she was tempted by unscrupulous opportunists, and for which she herself bears no responsibility.

Trin said...

"She will undergo further conversions, and when she finds herself a Buddhist, or a Moslem, or a Branch Davidian or whatever, she will regard her present radfeminism as no more than an aberration into which she was tempted by unscrupulous opportunists"

Wouldn't surprise me at all.

Mandos said...

Actually, come to think of it, the parallels with nationalist movements are pretty direct. Take, for instance, the more virulent strains of Hindu nationalism that periodically grip Indian politics:

1. an appeal to Special Trauma, in this case by spurious claims of majority underrepresentation. (Whereas, admittedly, there is a case for Special Trauma for women, but whether Heart is making that case is another matter.)

2. an appeal to the healing and protective power of land, in this case, that of Mother India, and the connection of The People to Mother India and Her geography.

3. a constructed common history based on creative reinterpretations of Hindu mythology that attempt to knit what where probably several ancient civilizations into a single unified whole.

4. a set of infiltrators/counterfeit pretender claimants to membership in the group. In this case, the membership is citizenship and participation in the Indian polity. The counterfeit members are Muslims. Despite having a long history in India, Muslims have a religious root in the West. Consequently, their experience as Indians is false, being imperfectly connected to Mother India.

5. The more recent imperialist (Britain) did not leave behind a large population of counterfeit Indians. Consequently, this turns the Muslims into the dividing line between Indianness (Hinduism) and full foreignness (the anglo West). It *may* be possible to work with the West---the true complement---but not with the infiltrator.

6. The existence of Pakistan---the infiltrator revealed!---demonstrates the risk to which the counterfeit citizens put India and Hinduism.

4 and 5 are analogous to the place of transfolk in Heart's discourse. 6 is the place of transfolk who behave badly---evidence!

Of course, the difference as I mention above is that there is very obvious grain (or maybe even boulder) of truth to the oppression of women that Heart complains of, whereas by and large the Hindutva lobby in India is lying. But the reasoning from that point supports a certain amount of analogy.

R. Mildred said...

Actually, come to think of it, the parallels with nationalist movements are pretty direct. Take, for instance, the more virulent strains of Hindu nationalism that periodically grip Indian politics:

SHUTUPSHUTUP! Dammit, you realise she'll fucking end up in the nation of islam or something, randomly declaring shakespeare a black woman or something equally fucking weird now!

Out out oh demons of stupidity!

Btw your analysis (aside from being a godwin's violation, heh) basically just describes any nationalist group, according to classic nationalist texts such as mein kampf no less?

2 and 3 could be readily merged on that count, because the national identity is basically the key to the whole ugly thing and links the ownership of land to that identity (this is the one count where radfems lack, becuase they have no true holy land afaik), and of course 5 and 6 describe of course the two stage monsterous Othering that befalls the demonic "other", who are of course the minority group who is A) most easy to kick in the head due to pre-existant oppression (that is erased entirely), B) secretly infiltrating everything and secretly amasses all this power because its oppression is just a ruse! A ruse I tells ya! and C) is, as we speak, working to destroy the UberKulture of Teutonic/Hindu/Feminist super-class identity.

Tom Nolan said...

Well, one obvious parallel between Heart's radfeminism and nationalism is it's appeal to vanity.

It is generally thought to be bad form to brag about your personal virtues and accomplishments, and people will quickly tire of your company if you constantly complain of having been uniquely persecuted and underappreciated. But, somehow, if you brag about the virtues and accomplishments of a group of which you happen to be a member, or complain about the unique persecution and neglect it has suffered, then you will be regarded with more lenience by disinterested interlocutors, while members of the group in question will feel their own self-regard fortified and love you for it. I think thwarted personal vanity is a huge factor in nationalism, racism, sexism and all sorts of other -isms besides. And it's an obvious draw for Heart's brand of radical feminism.

Paper Delivered at the 2007 "Heartwatch" Convention.

HEARTWATCH - "watching Heart like a Hawk since 2002"

Mandos said...

I disagree that Heart's (and her fellow travellers') variety of radical feminism has no Holy Land. Luckynkl has regularly and repeatedly asserted that we live on a "female earth". By implication, the whole world is a Holy Land for women, and men are but badly behaved guests upon it, living ultimately on women's sufferance. (Which she has already basically said more than once.)

The analogy with traditional nationalism *and* the implications for transwomen should be clear here.

Tom Nolan said...

Yes, but Heart-style radical feminism differs from most nationalisms in one important respect - it has no plan for the realization of its ambitions.

Its adherents will not engage in prolonged discussion with those who seriously disagree with its tenets because, before such a discussion can take place, common standards of evidence and argumentation must be established: in other words both interlocutors must agree on the rules to abide by, and thereafter to accept the adjudication those rules imply. But, naturally enough, irrational ideologies cannot last long under such conversational conditions, and as a result radfem interventions on non-radfem boards are bound to take the form of abusive interjections or bewildered exhortations to help find common ground, followed by a hurried exit when it becomes clear what a threat common assumptions must represent. So there is no argumentative strategy for changing the world's mind.

On the other hand, Heart's radical feminism is also completely non-violent, and seems reluctant to engage in direct action of any kind. One would think, given that she regards male rapists, woman-killers, sadists etc. as operating on behalf of the male population at large (hence "Male Terrorism") she would, following Andrea Dworkin's example, encourage women to take violent counter-terroristic measures against their oppressors (i.e. shoot them). But so far as I can she doesn't do so.

So this radical feminism seems to serve no purpose beyond the anti-feminist one of channelling energies that might have been put to a good use - to any use, indeed, good or not - into a stagnant pool of resentment and delusion.

R. Mildred said...

Yes, but Heart-style radical feminism differs from most nationalisms in one important respect - it has no plan for the realization of its ambitions.

You're forgetting the fundie/radfem alliance of the 80's though - an alliance designed to illegalise, stigmatize and criminalize porn and prostitutes, which would have ultimate lead to the murders, rapes and abuse of many sex industry workers who are currently somewhat protected by laws covering aspects of that industry and by the ways prostitutes aren't seen as the lowest form of scum on the face of the earth by some aspects of the law enforcement system.

Remember also that "transwoman" and "prostitute" are far from mutually exclusive identifying labels, and that as much abuse and violence is aimed at cisgender female prostitutes, far greater intensity of hatred is aimed at trans prostitutes, and that the assault, whether sexual or just plain violent, of trans prostitutes is much more socially acceptable, what with things like the infamous "straight panic" defense making the brutal rape and murder of transexuals practically legal in places.

In fact the similarities between the cultfem talk of toilet raping trannies is more than a little reminiscent of the straight panic defense.

KH said...

A couple of posts a month like this, & you might redeem a little corner of the blogosphere. First of all, Morgan’s poem calls for judgment in non-aesthetic terms; as a poem, it’s of no value at all. The theme of madness as a token of heightened sensibility, or protest against a mad world, or necessary path to a better one – & the particular form of the invitation to shared madness, a politicized version of l’amour fou – detritus of a worn-out political romanticism, long since reduced to a pop culture cliché in bad song after bad novel after bad movie after bad poem. Political projects based on it have always failed, at high cost. The invitation to madness is an invitation to death – fake, vain, self-dramatizing, but an invitation to death. What else could the end of struggle, the death of all pain, mean? Not a revolution that destroys death, but death itself. I’d ordinarily grant Morgan her conceit, her stigmata, her poetry, even her invitation to hold her hand as she makes the big jump, but, anyone who’s seen the effects of real madness, or been invited to hold a fucked-up loved one’s hand as she really jumped (or ODed, or whatever), is bound to read this poem with mixed feelings.

KH said...

You're forgetting the fundie/radfem alliance of the 80's though...

Absolutely right, & the alliance is alive today, &, through the fundamentalists, has influence within the US government. Also at the transnational level, where a lot of 'governance feminism' exercises its power (NGOs). Third World sex workers' unions seem more aware of this than we do, presumably because they're the ones being governed.

Mildred, I doubted you once, & now I'm sorry.

Tom Nolan said...

You're forgetting the fundie/radfem alliance of the 80's though - Mildred

No, I don't think I am. I wasn't suggesting that "real world" radical feminism is or has been quiescent. Rather, I was pointing out that Heart's particular strain of radfeminism, though it seems so extreme in its analysis and demands, is not genuinely interested in changing minds and things - because to change minds and things you need to make emotional and intellectual contact with them. She would find that insupportable. If Heart had more feasible ambitions for womankind than that there should be an antipatriarchal revolution, then she might feel obliged to actually help realize them. Instead, she asks for the moon, because the impossible makes no practical demands. And that *is* a recipe for quiescence.

I know that she encourages her readers to go to the Michigan Festival and to join the occasional women's march/parade, but has Heart ever advocated a clear line of action to achieve a realizable political end? If so, I can't remember it.

Like TF, she has been hiding in plain sight. What does her naming her site "The Margins" suggest about the strenght of her desire to actually change things? It's radical feminism as all-consuming hobby, not radical feminism as an intent or strategy to change things.

am i a bodyfascist? said...

erm, belledame, sorry for being off topic, but since i'm a bit a lyrics afficionado, this song that keeps reverberating in your mind, is it possible it's actually called 'i want you to hurt like i DO' & by randy newman? or if not, any other hints so i could go after the lyrics?

belledame222 said...

5. The more recent imperialist (Britain) did not leave behind a large population of counterfeit Indians. Consequently, this turns the Muslims into the dividing line between Indianness (Hinduism) and full foreignness (the anglo West). It *may* be possible to work with the West---the true complement---but not with the infiltrator.

Interesting parallel. I mean, the whole analogy, but that bit in particular...huh. Curious.

As for the whole world being womens'--well, yah. And y'know I suppose the closest analogy to actual land being fought over is the chunk of acreage upon which MichFest happens each year. (Borges "like two bald men fighting over a comb" analogy wrt the Falklands comes to mind here, but then i have never understood the appeal of Camping Out. that kinds, anyway).

but yeah, it is just a tad disorganized. well, and the whole world, and the entire male sex--that is also just a tad more ambitious than even the already totally intractable say Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Basque territory, etc. etc.

so there are a couple of reasons why there's no armed uprising: for one, it goes against at least the kind of cultural feminism Heart's embraced, nonviolent yadda--although frankly i am sure that if it came down to it she, certainly lucky and a bunch of those folks, would be eminently capable of coming up with some justification of how it isn't -really- violence -really.- hey, already they aren't capable of "oppressing" anyone with their words; how much more of a stretch would it be to suggest that any sort of physical violence was merely self-defense? a mother bear protects her cubs...

and then, there was the whole "Dead Men Don't Rape" business; so, you know, it's not like it's never crossed anyone's mind, the -idea-.

i expect it's a combination of reasons why women usually don't resort to just "let's get together and kill 'em all!"--ultimately, call me a cynic but i expect it boils down to pragmatics as much as anything else. that's a -lot- of killin'; and, well. yeah. a bunch of stuff.

but as for never being violent: i don't have cites at the moment, but i have been aware of incidents of women assaulting transfolk in bathrooms. There was also an attack on some lesbian S/M club in England some years ago, which, well, irony layered upon irony. but then, that's a lot easier to reach...

aiabf: you know, i honestly don't remember. i don't think it's that song, though. i'll ask the friend from whom i got the reference.

belledame222 said...

Like TF, she has been hiding in plain sight. What does her naming her site "The Margins" suggest about the strenght of her desire to actually change things? It's radical feminism as all-consuming hobby, not radical feminism as an intent or strategy to change things.

Oh, I agree with that also.

Although, the fantasy is really important, and it does end up spilling over into reality in certain ways, in cases like this.

well again i go back to Lifton: "Destroying the World to Save It." Not everyone gets to the point of actually building the pipe bomb or lacing the pudding with Nembutal--most people don't; but i do see hints of the -worldview- that has that as an end point, yah, in stuff like, o, witchy-woo saying she'd see her son dead if it meant women finally being safe from rape; or lucky saying whatever it was about how the world really ought to be reduced to .5% of its current population; or TF's often-nihilistic tone.

So but of course no one makes a move toward physical anything or actual organization on a grand scale, for a number of reasons; but instead, there are small annihilations, internal and external: purgings, purifications, shutting out and shutting down and exploding with rage...

belledame222 said...

...so, anyway, TN, it -is- a real desire for change; it's just, as you note, the all-or-nothing mentality. She asks for the moon not because (i don't think) she calculates that's the best way to keep 'em quiet; she asks for the moon because she simply can't feature a way to make the Earth suit her. "The moon or bust." But a third alternative is to dither away and play wendy-house and make noises about -someday,- the moon; it keeps one from going bust.

belledame222 said...

and of course 5 and 6 describe of course the two stage monsterous Othering that befalls the demonic "other", who are of course the minority group who is A) most easy to kick in the head due to pre-existant oppression (that is erased entirely), B) secretly infiltrating everything and secretly amasses all this power because its oppression is just a ruse! A ruse I tells ya! and C) is, as we speak, working to destroy the UberKulture of Teutonic/Hindu/Feminist super-class identity.

Yup.

Well, one obvious parallel between Heart's radfeminism and nationalism is it's appeal to vanity.

It is generally thought to be bad form to brag about your personal virtues and accomplishments, and people will quickly tire of your company if you constantly complain of having been uniquely persecuted and underappreciated. But, somehow, if you brag about the virtues and accomplishments of a group of which you happen to be a member, or complain about the unique persecution and neglect it has suffered, then you will be regarded with more lenience by disinterested interlocutors, while members of the group in question will feel their own self-regard fortified and love you for it.


ahahaha. yup.

The other -other- thing is, wrt no real plans or ambitions: well again Godwining it, but as you recall, young Adolf's early efforts were met with derision and a stint in the pokey. and had things not constellated in the unholy way they did--Depression, the various smarts (call it narcissistic wounds, if you like, along with the more obvious material ones) the Germans were still suffering from the last war and its punitive epilogue; the "poisonous pedagogy" Alice Miller talks about, that made much of the populace particularly ripe for an authoritarian leader; the various other geopolitical forces elsewhere gathering strength and speed; the rather spectacular failure of the oppposition to create an effective counter; and a particularly bad decision by a particularly feeble head of the failing Weimar republic; and for all we know Hitler's various dabblings in the occult, hell if nothing else he had one good sense of theatre, which is pretty fucking important for any really effective despot--

if any one of those factors had not also been in place: who knows, but history might have played out very differently.

a thousand thousand tinpot dictatorships rise and fall every day; most of them never even make it out the front door, let alone all the way to the seat of world power. it's like waves in the ocean; it takes a particular combination of factors to make any one hit so hard that -everyone- feels it. tidal wave.

still doesn't mean you can't be knocked off your feet by even a tiny little petulant wavelet if you're standing in the wrong place at the wrong time and caught off balance.

belledame222 said...

First of all, Morgan’s poem calls for judgment in non-aesthetic terms; as a poem, it’s of no value at all.

Well, and as noted elsewhere, "may my hives bloom bravely"? Possibly not the most effective image she could've reached for; trin is right, you just want to toss her a bottle of calamine lotion.

belledame222 said...

Also at the transnational level, where a lot of 'governance feminism' exercises its power (NGOs). Third World sex workers' unions seem more aware of this than we do, presumably because they're the ones being governed.

kh, or anyone: do you know anything about CATW?
Because i am pretty sure a lot of online anti-"pornstitution" get a lot of their stats and other info from here, as well as the pushing for the "Swedish model."

i bring this up with an interest in this topic in particular, because Janice Raymond, you know, the one who wrote "The Transexual Empire," is the co-chair of this organization; it is her and Dorchen Leidholdt's baby (they also co-authored a book called "The Sexual Liberals and the War on Feminism," or something close to it--i read it some months ago).

whatever else about their policies and philosophies (yes, they believe that there is no distinction that can or should be made between consensual sex work and human trafficking; and their focus wrt trafficking is pretty much exclusively sexual as far as i can tell), i now wonder where TS prostitutes fit into this; as you note, they are the targets of at least as much & probably more vicious violence than non-TS women. also a high percentage end up turning to prostitution because, hello, hard to find work when you're considered an "it," your papers don't match your physicality, the protections of "no discrimination based on sex" don't cover you, and so on and so forth. but, y'know, they are pretty specific about what their interest is...

presumably non-trangendered adult male prostitutes simply don't interest them at all

belledame222 said...

kh: and yeah, your reading of the Morgan thing is bang-on: yes, it's an invitation to death, in some way anyway (again, "Destroying the World to Save It," if it's not literal death it's a kind of psychic suicide pact that's being asked for); and fuck yes about the romanticization of going mad. one more reason to go "bleah," i thought.

Ravenmn said...

f Heart had more feasible ambitions for womankind than that there should be an antipatriarchal revolution, then she might feel obliged to actually help realize them. Instead, she asks for the moon, because the impossible makes no practical demands. And that *is* a recipe for quiescence.

Well, of course you can't do anything practical. That would be exercising power, something which Heart/Bartleby "prefers not to" do.

Thanks, Tom, that's an important point that I never really saw before. Sheesh, and me a hopeless activist, too.

R. Mildred said...

Mildred, I doubted you once, & now I'm sorry.

I was a complete asshole to you! Please don't apologise for reacting appropriately to that, cuz I won't accept it until you do something htat needs apologising.

presumably non-trangendered adult male prostitutes simply don't interest them at all

Heh, if I can reverse engineer my old anti-prostitution views properly, I htink they basically just consider gay prostitutes to be women, essentially, but tongueless, mute women you understand who had better fucking well sit at the back and keep quiet.

Nothing at all odd about that. Oh no.

but, anyone who’s seen the effects of real madness, or been invited to hold a fucked-up loved one’s hand as she really jumped (or ODed, or whatever), is bound to read this poem with mixed feelings.

Well she's refetishising the supposed madness of womanhood, that concept of hysteria being directly connected to the womb, that originated back in ancient greece, the madness of the dionysian mystery cult's epic drunken lesbian orgies, which would wnader the land and either tear apart or frenzidly have sex with any man they come across.

Connecting womanhood, the reclaiming of Our True Heritage, Our True Identity as Womynisian Women, to madness makes a certain weird sense if you're a bit classical like that.

However the greeks also tended to go around declaring that flys had only four legs and drinking each other's urine to cure headaches.

And of course the schizophrenics and other people who were actually mad went into the priest/ess hoods or were just plain murdered as soon as they became problematic, so listening to the greeks talk of "madness" is itself, somewhat insane.

The monstrous in the classical sense is much sounder, because those classical female monsters were generally defined by their outcast and asocial nature, and were sort of warnings to be careful of what would happen if you let the women get out of line (or what would happen if you got out of line).

Now they're something to admire, though the idea of connecting the Female Woman to that sort of shock art style rebellion is silly in the longterm because, well, you shock once, fine, you try to shock too often and you're boring.

Cartman's Law.

And how can you form a movement to normalise that monstrous female if you're spending your time trying to fight against what's normal?

if Heart had more feasible ambitions for womankind than that there should be an antipatriarchal revolution, then she might feel obliged to actually help realize them. Instead, she asks for the moon, because the impossible makes no practical demands. And that *is* a recipe for quiescence.

Except in my experience, the first step towards finding a solution to the problem is to figure out what it is.

And generally, once you've done that, a solution tends to just present itself.

Of course the anti-choicers do something similar, they never really present a clear "oh, please firebomb the clinics" eliminationist talk, they just say "murderer!" at everyone they don't like and ask for money from the non-violent flock.

Of course the anti-choicers are also walking a tight rope between actually achieving their goals and exploiting the existence of legalised abortion to their own ends, they don't want to acheive their goals so they do lots of make work in the mean time.

Of course the anti-choicers have that whole "army of god" organised christianity thing that pretty much requires that their followers should at all times torture and kill their designated enemies so it could be a bit of an apples/oranges comparison.

little light said...

KH:
What else could the end of struggle, the death of all pain, mean? Not a revolution that destroys death, but death itself. I’d ordinarily grant Morgan her conceit, her stigmata, her poetry, even her invitation to hold her hand as she makes the big jump, but, anyone who’s seen the effects of real madness, or been invited to hold a fucked-up loved one’s hand as she really jumped (or ODed, or whatever), is bound to read this poem with mixed feelings.

Oh, hell.
Oh, hell.
I hadn't even brought that into it. I hadn't even--
Goddamn it. I was prepared to like the Morgan poem, but you're right. You're right and The Bacchae had it right, and I'm actually tearing up about it, now.

I was even starting to concede that maybe my bit wasn't any kind of competitive addition to canon, but at least it doesn't have that invitation about it. I've been standing back being entertained at watching people do lit-crit on me like I'm a Real Writer, figuring out the motivations, but I didn't go there, at least. I wanted something about holding hands and grinning into the storm and when you're going through Hell, keep going, and yes, it's hard, but we can take it--but--

Yeah, you're right. I'm actually shaken.

belledame222 said...

you are a Real Writer (tm) LL. what else would you be? Memorex?

little light said...

Maybe it's Maybelline.

When I used to come home with an aced test, or a memorized mythology, or a mastered book of the occult, or a medal, my mother generally told me, first thing, "Well, don't get a big head about it." I think she was concerned that if I thought too hard about being "special," I'd turn into a conceited asshole.
My mother issues aside, it's still sort of a reflex, I guess.

belledame222 said...

the other lesson of "The Bacchae," of course (bunch of maddened women tearing the poor slob of a king, in drag, limb from limb), is that--well, Pentheus' lesson, but maybe not just his:

honor the Shadow, treat it respectfully, and it will serve you well.

try to eliminate it altogether and it'll come raging back up to eat you alive.

belledame222 said...

gah. Moms in the head. gahhh.

little light said...

The Bacchae is a work of genius, as far as I'm concerned, if nothing else for the moment of the mother realizing she's holding her son's severed head.

Don't try to put fences around the border-breakers. Don't try to stamp out divine things that don't fit in your plan. There's a lot of lessons in it, and I always sided with Dionysos, really, in that one.

But the Bacchae are not a model for a movement. "EVOI!" is a good start to get things rolling, sometimes, but it's not a plan. "Let us go then, you and I"--now that's an opening. "They can't hurt us so bad we can't get back up, and our beating hearts matter right now whether or not they're beating tomorrow"--that might be a start. "Let's make it okay here and now, with what we've got, and then we can make a run for The Future"--there's something.

KH said...

There are some mixed metaphors here. Mænads of the interlocked pinkies? If it’s Dionysus versus the Crucified, who do they identify with most? I say, stigmata & ressentiment.

Yes, LL is a writer.

Yes, CATW is led by 1980s anti-porn dead-enders, now successful beyond anyone's dreams in setting the transnational agenda on trafficking. Raymond is an "expert." An uncountable number of unheard-of women currently are being injured in practical ways by this blinkered fanaticism. So, yes, it's a good topic for discussion.

belledame222 said...

i'd be interested in hearing whatever you know, or anyone else, here. all i know so far is a rather cursory examination of that website and a few others on related themes. and, "trafficking is bad," which is kind of a "duh," but What Does It All Mean, Dear?

belledame222 said...

...i wonder if Emi had anything to say on the subject. certainly she talks about related themes (sex worker rights, transnational politics, including but not limited to such things as transnational adoptions, and of course transgender issues). will check later.

KH said...

Lemme pull together what I have, neh?

piny said...

you are a Real Writer (tm) LL. what else would you be? Memorex?

Well, a fake: person, woman, writer, thinker, activist. That's the subtext behind the whole attack.

But, yeah. Little Light is a real writer and a brilliant writer.

rabfish said...

holy shit.

amazing post.

cicely said...

Well, you possibly already knew this BD, but just in case - from Sheila Jeffreys' staff profile on the University of Melbourne website:

'I have been actively involved in feminist and lesbian politics, particularly around the issue of sexual violence, since 1973. I am involved through the international non-government organization Coalition Against Trafficking in Women in international organising.'

The Dream Team.

belledame222 said...

I did not already know that.

Veddy interesting.

KH said...

Jeffreys is is the leader ("Public Officer") of "CATW Australia"; it mostly consists of a changing set of her students & acolytes, incl., at various times, Mary L Sullivan, Carole Moschetti, Jennifer Oriel, etc. Just shows what a small but energetic & well-networked group can do.

http://mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/catwaust/files/aboutus.htm

KH said...

One more comment on the political relevance of marginal figures. They influence other, more moderate, ‘sensible liberal’ feminists. There’s a common view that feminism is measured on a unidimensional scale, that all differences are a matter of being ‘more’ feminist & ‘less’ feminist. The radfem fringe is deemed to be feminism turned up to 11, & purity is accorded authority & respect even by much more pragmatic people. This is one way the radfem anti-pornstitution agenda becomes the default position of bien pensant liberals who don’t themselves have a radical bone in their bodies.

So when conservative Republicans are in power, the CATW agenda is pushed, e.g., inside the State Department, by its religious fundamentalist allies, & when Democrats come to power, it will be promoted by sensible liberal feminists. Amanda Marcotte has been hired by John Edwards Presidential campaign; the Democrats are well positioned to win in 2008, & she'll be in line for a job. The official voice of governance feminism will be something like hers.

belledame222 said...

ah so. missed that particular bit o' news.

well, whatever else, given the new lineup, i b'leeve i'll probably be putting Pandagon back on my blogroll, then.

I wonder if Edwards has a shot? i think i'd prefer it, tell the truth, but Clinton's already rolled out the juggernaut.

anyway: well, yes, of course. you could even see that happening online: people picking up bits and pieces of that bunch's rhetoric and tossing it around in a disjointed sort of way. in itself, not much more than an annoyance; but when coupled with the charming habit of Red Guard-ism it got pretty noxious. which, well, this is where you came in, pretty much, online that is, or at least where i first met you. speaking of Pandagon.

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KH said...

... not much more than an annoyance...

Depends on one's policy preferences, which sort of get lost in the nastiness.

belledame222 said...

oh yah, sorry. i was referring to the whole "shaving: yea or nay? volume XXVII" business with that bit.

Freudian Slip said...

That was one twisted flick. My poor wife won't be able to sleep for weeks!
Matt

Tom Nolan said...

The radfem fringe is deemed to be feminism turned up to 11, & purity is accorded authority & respect even by much more pragmatic people. - KH

Yes, I've actually commented to this effect elsewhere: people who regard themselves as, for example, right of centre think that the justice of their position comes more from "right" than "centre", and consequently they have a bad conscience about not being able to go as far as some of their more intoxicated fellow travellers. But from what I've seen the net effect of this tendency on feminism is to weaken its efficacy. The middle-of-the-roaders make room and excuses on their blogs for the poisonous ramblings and vicious verbal attacks of the Heartians, who, in the absence of real-world plans, content themselves with publicly humiliating other commenters. The result is (I have no doubt) that many feminists become discouraged from identifying with the movement: partly by the want of magnanimity on the part of people who, as you say, claim to represent feminism in its purest form; partly by the evident lack of interest those puritans display in achieving victories over feminism's real enemies in the big bad world beyond the electronic gendersphere. Heartianism is far more of a danger to feminism than it is to its avowed enemies (though to be fair Heart has never made a secret of her contempt for "fun feminists").

belledame222 said...

Well, and the other thing that happens, I think, is even more simple:

"But but so and so is so -smart-/well-read/such a good writer/has so many "creds" to her name. Surely, if what she's saying doesn't make sense to me, it must be -my- problem. "I will work harder."

Tom Nolan said...

But but so and so is so -smart-/well-read/such a good writer/has so many "creds" to her name. Surely, if what she's saying doesn't make sense to me, it must be -my- problem. "I will work harder." - BD

Mmmm. I think I might have an inkling which scintillating proser you might have in mind. Yes, some poor body might be so impressed by that high style as to attribute the scantness of its intellectual content to his or own obtuseness.

But the Diva's one thing. Who, I mean WHO, is going to read Luckykncklhd or stupidC or whichever bit of Marginalia happens to be messing up the text today, and say: "Wow, be my guru!"

belledame222 said...

There were a few people i had in mind, ecktually.

but as for luckynkl and so forth: well, no, i don't know how many people want -them- to be their guru, although when the "she's so smart" people vouch for 'em it, cosset 'em and keep 'em around, it does tend to give them a certain, well, if not validity, more -presence- than they might've had otherwise.

what happens in other cases is

1) mobbing/quasi-Red Guard sessions where people just get battered down by the relentless drilling and come away with, if not actually -believing- what they're selling, at least a feeling of, "damn. maybe there IS something wrong with me." which is, you know, a start.

2) when the tide is turned, bullying zealot suddenly rolls over and acts pathetic. "how can you be so cruel when you see how I have suffered, how I am suffering." works like a charm. even when it is, as in many cases, "you are hurting my fist with your face. Ow! My poor hand! It's probably broken. Ow! OW!!!..."

belledame222 said...

SaltyC actually had a rare moment of grace at bfp's, wrt the trans thing. it was actually a rather special moment, no sarcasm intended.

Tom Nolan said...

There were a few people i had in mind, ecktually - BD

Do you ever listen to the Goons?

There was a sketch in which Major Bloodnok, the sinister colonial officer, was supposed to have just returned from India; and he was waxing Kiplingesque about the rigours of life East of Suez, and how, just like all the chaps, he used to dream about the home country: "Gad, I thought, I wonder what the folks back home are doing now?"

There followed an uncomfortable silence, broken by a shame-faced Harry Secombe, his voice squeaky with embarrassment:

"We weren't doing anything, ecktually."

R. Mildred said...

2) when the tide is turned, bullying zealot suddenly rolls over and acts pathetic. "how can you be so cruel when you see how I have suffered, how I am suffering." works like a charm. even when it is, as in many cases, "you are hurting my fist with your face. Ow! My poor hand! It's probably broken. Ow! OW!!!..."

I actually did break a guy's fist with my face like that once, I then of course did the lady-like thing and broke his nose and eyebrow.

The bruise on my cheek really stung too!

Yes, I've actually commented to this effect elsewhere: people who regard themselves as, for example, right of centre think that the justice of their position comes more from "right" than "centre", and consequently they have a bad conscience about not being able to go as far as some of their more intoxicated fellow travellers.

Well there's that, and self identified "radical"s are the ones who define what "left" and "right" actually mean, so when they place progressive politics as anathema to the freedoms and liberties of transpeople and seems to consist almost entirely of abstinent lesbianism for middle class white women, and in fact go on to construct wild fantasies about how Teh trans are secrectly teh minions of the right wing, and that their entire existence is solely due to the oppression of women by the patriarchy (How do people with such tight assholes not snap their neck? Ego much?).

They are in short, the thousand young of Ann Coulter the goat of the black woods.