Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dear Andrea,

Sometimes it seems so desperate. I'm surrounded by, drowning in a culture that sees me as nothing more then a hole to fuck, then a masturbatory aid for half the species. Some days I get overwhelmed. I can't help but thinking that there are so few of us out there. There are a handful of bloggers, but really, there are so many of them. So many who hate us. But there is us. You were one, you made me realise that I was not alone, that there were other people who felt the way I did-others who saw the gross misjustice for what it really is: hatred.

I can't help but think of you sometimes while I lie alone in my room thinking about how when someone walks up to me laying on the lawn they may be picturing me for sexual use, something that I can't wrap my head around. I see people. You did too. Many people (or should I say women) do. I can't understand why they hate us. Why any of this seems like a good idea.

Is it wrong of me to be more hurt by women who turn against us, and actively champion those who hate us? I can't figure it out. It pisses me off, and then I feel bad for hating a woman for her actions. *sigh* I don't know how to deal with that. I know all about the societal pressures, blah blah blah, but I just can't help it. I don't know what to do. I guess I can just write to you. To the person you were, to the person who let me know that I was not alone.

That's all for now. Rest well.
Burrow

43 comments:

Laurelin said...

Beautifully written, Burrow.

And yes, there is us. We love you.

alyx said...

What she said.

Hang in there, mate.

v said...

lc..

x

hexyhex said...

*nods*

antiprincess said...

"Is it wrong of me to be more hurt by women who turn against us, and actively champion those who hate us? I can't figure it out. It pisses me off, and then I feel bad for hating a woman for her actions."

you can be pissed off without straightup hating, yes? a passionate disagreement doesn't really require either party to indulge in hatred.

maybe the world of feminism would do well to abandon the old idea that disagreeing with (or critiquing the choices of) other women runs against the "pro-woman line", or blames the victim, or means you hate the person you're disagreeing with.

then we could just be angry with each other and not feel guilty.

I'd rather someone disagreed with me honestly (if vehemently) with her whole heart, and didn't feel like she had to follow it up with "but I don't hate you, I just hate what you're doing/saying/thinking/feeling."

belledame222 said...

This is my answer to that, roughly. And no, I wouldn't call it hate:

***

Finally: this is what’s at the heart of my deep gut reaction to radfem dismissals like the ones we’ve been hashing over here and elsewhere: sexual transitioning means this, BDSM means that, “the pursuit of orgasm is inane,” “gender trumps race,” yadda yadda. Because they are, in the course of solidifying a framework that helps to reassure them that

>Reality is when something is happening to you, and you know it, and can say it, and when you say it, other people understand what you mean and believe you.

…*yes*, my experience was real, *yes* this really happened, *yes,* I’m not alone, I’m not crazy, other people get it…

…they are turning around and denying that very thing, that SO IMPORTANT THING, to somebody else. No, your reality doesn’t matter. No, your experience isn’t valid. Yes, you are alone. No, I don’t get it, and I can’t get it, and I won’t get it; there must be something wrong with you.

THAT is the problem. Not the orgasms (or lack thereof); not the arguments; not the name-calling and thrashing about. “I know you better than you. This is reality; I define it. What’s going on inside you *doesn’t count.*” And all in the name of a movement that was designed to counter all that in the first place! “You’re not alone…oh, wait, you do/think/feel *that?* Okay, NOW you’re alone.”

and that’s why people get even angrier at the supposed allies than at the “enemy.” Because one doesn’t expect any better from the “enemy.” This feels like…betrayal. On top of everything else.

***

which, the last part of which, is roughly the same sentiment I'm hearing back from you, mirror image. Betrayal. as I was saying as a follow-up:

and in turn I suspect that it's (often) precisely that feeling of betrayal that causes (for example) the radfem lashing out against "sex positive" feminists, or people who sexually transition, or people who suggest that there might indeed be another way to frame the Big Picture besides "the Patriarchy" (white supremacy? capitalism?) Because it seems to threaten everything they've worked for: a sense of place, a place where everything makes sense.

Which, all well and good; except from *my* perspective, most of the time, such people/ideas in fact do no such thing; if anything, they/we strengthen the movement. "Hey, this experience is real and shared by others; and THAT experience is ALSO real and shared by others. And THAT OTHER experience, well, that one doesn't resonate personally so much, but, yep, I'm listening and I see how it maybe parallels what we've been talking about in certain ways. What does it all mean, dear? I don't know for sure, but, given the framework we already have as a starting point, here are some possbilities. Whoa. Cool."

But if one's sense of...identity is still fragile, then one isn't going to be open to hearing most of that. I've worked too hard to get to this place; and here's where I stop and draw the line, dammit. And from there, the line becomes a gate, and then a solid wall. and maybe a bunch of people left on the other side eventually regather their forces and go through the same process the original gatekeepers did, only smaller. Lather, rinse, repeat.

***

Personally? I have felt dismissed, belittled, and patronized in several radical feminist spaces, virtual and "meat," for my sexuality (among other things). I have not experienced them as "safe space" at all. I have felt like my experience, my voice, doesn't count, isn't heard. Make of it what you will; this is why I've reacted the way I've reacted. I was, and am, hurt and angry and frustrated. Barring an actual breakthrough of communication, for me, that gradually cools into mockery, and eventually, indifference. It is too bad, yes.

belledame222 said...

...oh, I see, wrt the hate thing, maybe. Well: mileage varies on who's the biggest enemy of all, I think, perhaps. Personally, I'm a lot more worried about Pat Robertson than I am Larry Flynt, if it comes down to it. If that's what this is about, the porn business. If not, then I apologize for leaping to conclusions.

belledame222 said...

>I'd rather someone disagreed with me honestly (if vehemently) with her whole heart, and didn't feel like she had to follow it up with "but I don't hate you, I just hate what you're doing/saying/thinking/feeling."

and yeh, I've never been big on the whole "love the sinner, hate the sin" business. As per the rest: I love women, I love feminists. but I have no illusion that they're/we're any less susceptible to all the human weaknesses that plague our little species than anybody else. I do get angry when I think that people who *ought* to "get it," don't. but ultimately that, too is my problem, I expect.

spotted elephant said...

Burrow,
(((big hugs)))
First of all, I love the idea of writing to Andrea-I found that very comforting.

I don't think it's wrong to hate/resent/be incredibly hurt by women who work against us. As you said, we have to think about societal pressure, etc., but at some point people are responsible for what they do. There's a difference between poor women doing whatever they have to in order to survive and women who have some security but still fight against us. We should feel the same about many men-who could be decent people but ignore our fight.

But we are here, we're spreading the message, and we're not going to give up. Things are going to get uncomfortable for all those disinterested folks. They can adapt now, or be forced to adapt later.

Lis Riba said...

The ironic thing is that many sex-positive feminists perceive that the radical feminists are the ones who sided with those who hate us, by allying with the Christian Right as far back as siding with the Meese Commission...

I think both groups of feminists are feeling betrayed and disappointed by the other's choice of partners, but that may just be different perceptions of what's necessary rather than either side hating the other.

lost clown said...

antiprincess:

But I know that it's not those women's faults per se. That's what makes it so aggravating. In a patriarchal world how much choice is real actual choice? How much is survival? How much is societal brainwashing that is socialisation? A whole fucking lot.

lis riba: yeah I never understood that so much. I fight porn b/c I'm pro-woman, not because I'm anti-sex. It's oversimplifying the problem. And I hate the sex-positive label. I feel that I am sex positive too, hence the reason I hate porn.

lost clown said...

Belledame: did yuou ever think that some of us (me included) use the 'patriarchy' to describe all dominance and oppressive systems? Rad fems more then ANY other group I've ever worked with believe that all oppressions are linked and that we need to get rid of the whole dominant/submissive paradigm in order to free ANYONE.

antiprincess said...

hey! stop touching my paradigm! ;)

@lc - I submit that my behavior, my thoughts, my actions, my beliefs, my wants, my needs, everything that makes me who I am, they are absolutely all my "fault", patriarchy or no. as Spotted Elephant said, at some point people are responsible for what they do. So hold me responsible for my actions. Don't excuse my behavior by blaming the patriarchy. that's pedestalism at its worst.

re ridding the world of the dominant/submissive paradigm - ok, sure, eliminate all power struggles, power plays, power surges, power balances - what then? what will replace it? how can I be absolutely sure that what you replace it with will be more beneficial to me, or to anyone besides you and people who agree with you?

Dubhe said...

Um... if it puts radfems above someone else in terms of privilege, that's still a dominant/submissive system. Radfem's'd be dominant, the other'd be submissive.

Is the idea of NO one group being "dominant" really that much of a paradigm shift? LC says "No dominance/submission power games!" and you say "Ok, sure, but how do I know you won't screw me when you get control of society that way?". Huh?

antiprincess said...

I hear you, Dubhe - I probably wasn't so clear.

I get the sense that part of the radfem agenda is to eliminate not just dominance/submission power games but all power struggles, power structures, power dynamics of all types wherein there is a leader and a follower. However, someone (or a group of someones) will have to lead society to this leaderless destination. why would they just abdicate their leadership (and its benefits)? and who's to say I (or people like me) would even survive the journey intact - as Spotted Elephant said upthread "adapt now or adapt later."

power corrupts. how do I know you won't screw me?

belledame222 said...

>we need to get rid of the whole dominant/submissive paradigm in order to free ANYONE.

What do you mean "we?" Who's we? And what makes you think it's up to you to free me? How do you know I'm not doing what's best for me for my own sense of freedom?

Let me make this as clear as I know how:

YOU DO NOT GET TO DEFINE ME. NOBODY does.

*that,* to me, is freedom. My body belongs to me; and so does my mind, and my soul, and my godDAM eroticism.

My desires are not your desires. My experiences are not your experiences. My book larnin' is quite possibly not the same as your book larnin', but I vow it's been quite valuable, nonetheless. And, I have come to different conclusions about what's best FOR ME because of them. Please, *try* and deal with this. If there is any genuine interest in "ally work," here, that is.

belledame222 said...

I mean, that's a *starting point.* I could talk for quite a while about my understanding of the nature of power(s) and of eroticism and What It All Means, dear; but I'm not gonna bother to do it here if you've already got it all figured out and that settles that.

belledame222 said...

>Belledame: did yuou ever think that some of us (me included) use the 'patriarchy' to describe all dominance and oppressive systems? Rad fems more then ANY other group I've ever worked with believe that all oppressions are linked

Yes, l.c., in fact, I'm quite aware of what the theory is. I happen to disagree with it as used in radical feminism. You may not have seen the various thrashes that have been going on throughout the bigger feminist blogosphere; one common complaint, quite apart from the "sex positive/BDSM/etc." business, is that a lot of feminists of color find it difficult to relate to the idea of "patriarchy" as THE overarching framework. Linked, yes.
"First we get rid of gender/sexual oppression, and everything else naturally follows" (as has been expressed in so many words on the blogosphere of late, and indeed in the books that inspired such speaker)--no. Don't agree. Personally. I can accept "patriarchy" as *a* framework, yes, and there are times when I find it more useful than others.

but if everything has to be viewed through that lens--well, no, I don't find it adequate. I don't. Sorry. I could explain why, but that's probably best saved for my own blog. but on the whole I found queer theory to fill in a lot of holes that radical feminism does not. and even still, I don't, like, use it to define my entire life; or even all of my sociopolitical theorizin'.

you know the saying, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?" I like a full toolbox, myself.

lost clown said...

Good god, is it that hard to imagine that there are some people who don't want power of any kind? power with, yes? Power over no. power with yes. It is possible.

*sheesh* That's a tiny world view.

And no one here has said gender first. My point was that all oppression is equally important and it all needs to go. Reading comprehension people. I've never played the my oppression is more important then yours crap. Please familiarize yourself with my ideas before critiquing them.

And no one is going to call anyone a ho or anything like that here. That's why your comment was deleted.

lost clown said...

Also belledame if you want to live in a powered system (which will always include oppression of someone) be my guest. But that goes against almost everything I believe in and care about. Power over is not freeing, there's always got to be someone on the bottom.

Again, that's a sad sad world view in my eyes.

Anonymous said...

"My body belongs to me"

What country are you living in?

Mandos said...

Also belledame if you want to live in a powered system (which will always include oppression of someone) be my guest. But that goes against almost everything I believe in and care about. Power over is not freeing, there's always got to be someone on the bottom.

Here's the problem. You have to get everyone, all at once, to give up the concept of power. Assuming you can even do that, what happens when someone makes the obvious leap, or looks at history and gets the idea...that they can manipulate and toy with other people.

That's why you'll always have power and power games.

hexyhex said...

Wow. This discussion got agitated.

lost clown said...

Says you. I prefer to believe that the society in Woman on the Edge of Time is very possible. People do evolve.

lost clown said...

No shit, hexy. I was just writing a letter, never thought that this would be the result.

antiprincess said...

"Good god, is it that hard to imagine that there are some people who don't want power of any kind? power with, yes? Power over no. power with yes. It is possible."

how do I know you will share power fairly with me or people like me?

Thanks for the book recommendation. I will be getting Woman on the Edge of Time this afternoon at lunch. It's been recommended to me many times before - guess I better get on it. Maybe then I will be better able to understand what you're getting at.

re - just writing a letter: well, one assumes that a post on a blog exists to be read and commented on, if the author of the post is lucky.

Laurelin said...

I think that all LC meant by that was that she didn't expect to get such a debate out of her letter.

antiprincess said...

@laurelin - surprise! :)

I am disappointed (though not surprised) when I blog to an empty hall. I'm hoping for comment and debate and all. Wishing for it. That's what a blog is for, to me.

But people blog for different reasons. I guess LC can weigh in for herself.

Biting Beaver said...

Wow LC, I had no clue that all this was going down on this little thread. Sorry, I'd have jumped in a bit sooner if I'd known.

In any case, I do not need to have power over anyone except for myself. And I'm with you on the post, I thought it was wonderful and it outlines how frustrating all of it can be.

I think the letter was wonderful and I sympathize with your feelings over it. Hell, just this morning I got a comment on the blog urging me to provide some jerk-off with masturbatory material in the form of rape.

Cute huh?

lost clown said...

how do I know you will share power fairly with me or people like me?

Because I don't want to have that kind of power. When I create a beautiful art piece I am powerful. It is not power over anyone, but it is a power. That's the kind of power with I'm talking about. No one to decide who has power and who doesn't. I can't believe it's so hard to wrap one's head around. I mean why be a feminist if you don't think about that?

And BB, that's horrible.

antiprincess said...

"Because I don't want to have that kind of power. When I create a beautiful art piece I am powerful. It is not power over anyone, but it is a power. That's the kind of power with I'm talking about. No one to decide who has power and who doesn't. I can't believe it's so hard to wrap one's head around. I mean why be a feminist if you don't think about that?"

LC - I do admire your optimism. maybe when I'm done with WOET I will share some of it.

I do appreciate your concept of power as not something to be distributed in little pieces for all of us to fight over, but rather as a positive urge which drives people to create. I think I get that.

more on power etc. later.

(do me a favor - let's not play is-you-is-or-is-you-ain't-a-feminist. I've read many of the same books you've read, agree with much of what you agree with, feel similarly to how you feel on many subjects - I just don't agree on a few points. I strongly assert that such disagreements do not make me less of a feminist than anyone else.)

hexyhex said...

In any case, I do not need to have power over anyone except for myself.

That pretty much sums it up, BB.

There are people who want power over other people, and people who just want freedom to control themselves. While we latter types recognise the existence of the former... we are, after all, living in a society of their creation... they seem completely incapable of registering that we exist. When presented with the suggestion that some people want to remove themselves from the control of the dominant group, they automatically presume (and panic!) that those people want to flip things around and control THEM.

We don't. We don't need to control anyone but ourselves. We just want to be able to do just that.

Unfortunately, that mode of thought is alien to those who are currently attempting to control us.

lost clown said...

let's not play is-you-is-or-is-you-ain't-a-feminist.

I wasn't. I was just wondering what's the point of feminism if you can't picture a society without the dominance/submission paradigm. Because to me, that is one of the key elements of feminism.

lost clown said...

Exactly hexy. Well said.

Lis Riba said...

...to me, that is one of the key elements of feminism.

Out of curiousity, how do you define feminism?

Given all the recent disputes in the blogosphere, I've decided to start collecting as many definitions as I can find, both for my own curiousity and in hopes of finding common ground.

If you could reply in my journal, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks.

Andrea said...

Blogger hasn't let me comment so far, but anyway I love you LC.

Edith said...

Burrow, sister, writing to Andrea on your blog? You almost made me cry. I say "almost" because I am a hardcore stalwart dyke that never ever cries or shows weakness in the face of those who would use such HYPOTHETICAL weakness against me and my sisterssss!!!!!!! (YOU HEAR THAT, UN-RADFEM-FRIENDLY FEMS?!?!)

And let's stop talking about the p-word, shall we? You know the one. It's the one pro-porn feminists like to talk about when we stop talking about shaved pussies. It's just another kind of porn, for them.

Okay, that aside, d'you like Joanna Russ too? Because I totally do.

lost clown said...

I haven't heard of her. But discovering Andrea made me realise that I'm not alone. I've been composing letters to her here and there. Trust me, there will be more...a series of letters, b/c it's so comforting to write to her, to the person whose words made me realise how not crazy I am.

le lyons said...

Burrow, where are you? And, did you get Kat's email? Glad to know she's okay, relatively speaking.

Anyhow, just wanted to say hi and that you are wonderful...!

Pony said...

Radical feminists did not "side" with the Christian right. I'll bet if you do some deep soul searching, you'd find you have a goal or two some group you disagree with also holds. You arrived there by different means. Sneering at each other all the way...

Another poster says she's not worried about Larry:
Scroll down
http://hustlingtheleft.com/

lost clown said...

Thank you pony, I know that I am definitely worried about Larry and all his women hating and rape and DV jokes. It's so obvious that he hates us, I just don't understand how people can't see that. Maybe they need the proof that can be seen on Hustling the left.

Txfeminist said...

I see a common theme amongst the division here which is, "I am the owner of me -- no one else".

I think in general, women are so often told we are NOT autonomous, we don't GET to decide, that any hint of that appearing anywhere really gets our hackles up.

Pony said...

I want to thank you for this essay, although I've not yet done reading it I can see we share a point of view.

What I try to remember is that we are not static in our thinking and learning. I too get angry at women who sell themselves and us out. *I know* they are not as comfortable with it as they would like us to believe. There will come a time when they won't be able to carry on the charade. Then, we should welcome them.

Long ago, the woman who wrote the pivotal essay "The Politics of Orgasm" was almost destroyed by a life of drug addiction and prostitution. She recovered, and part of her recover was knitting. Yes! I bet feminist knitters know of her Knitting Sutra book.

Have courage. We are here for each other.

http://books.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,5247440-110500,00.html

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