“Repent, Motherfucker!”

However you feel about Dave Chappelle, he’s too big for the mainstream to ignore. His special The Closer has broken the cultural dam, unleashing the torrents of questions TRAs have worked so hard to keep us from asking.

About Time

It’s about time you got here!

The Flow Of Information

The staff walkout at Netflix made the news. NBC probably spun it the hardest, summarizing the day of protests as, “The media giant [was] forced to listen to its workers.” Because a longtime pillar of the establishment, now owned by Comcast, is just happy to see workers getting their own back, right? 

With friends like this, who needs aggressive protesters?

The local Fox affiliate gave us two interviews, one from each side of the fracas. The difference in tone could not be starker: “I’m out here because Dave Chappelle is harming our kids.” Amusingly, the auto-caption has spelled this out as, ‘they should bombing our kids.’ This woman does look terrified!

“He doesn’t realize that the speech that he’s putting out is harmful.” Points for giving him the benefit of the doubt, I guess? “It’s harmful to children.” Chappelle’s material is completely inappropriate for children! “It’s harmful to trans people everywhere, and their allies.”

How this is accomplished by a middle-aged comic using his own thoughts and experiences as grist for the cultural mill is not established. By anyone, anywhere that I could find.

Fox LA’s second interview is with the now-infamous Sign Guy, sign still in hand. “We’re out here to show our support for jokes, comedy, and everything that’s great about America – Free speech!” Holy shit, I think he’s serious! “And I love [that] all these people have free speech, as well, I’m glad we can have a discussion.”

The Jester Tells The Tale

I don’t think Sign Guy was prepared for what he actually encountered that day. His real name is Vito, and his own video regarding the incident is very illuminating.

Illuminated

I can see exactly what’s in front of me!

Billing himself as a Professional Idiot, Vito is more Court Jester than Steve-O. He mostly reviews movies and games, but said he and his friend felt moved to come out in support of Comedy.

“We believe this is an absurd protest. It’s absurd to tell Dave Chappelle not to make jokes about trans people. Transgender issues are huge right now, we’re all talking about it. The idea that a comedian is not gonna talk about it is ridiculous. 

“So, we are being equally ridiculous by chanting, ‘We like jokes.’ And the fact that everyone is mad at us just adds to the absurdity of the situation.” If only absurdity were a guarantee of something being funny.

Vito laughs at himself shouting silly slogans, but his buoyancy sputters as he watches the confrontation from a new angle. The full scope of what he experienced comes into view, and it spooks him a bit.

“Later in the day, when they had the trans speakers speaking, I tried to join in the fun. I was going, ‘Trans lives matter.’ But, again, I’m there to support Comedy – I want my sign to be seen, I want people to hear my message.”

This is when Vito came face-to-face with what he was actually dealing with – These people were there to stifle speech, and they don’t give a damn about your rights if you’re on the Wrong Side of History.

No Debate

He lets it roll a little, then stops to narrate a bit, “This dude in blue is real mad. [He] grabs my sign, rips it out of my hand, puts it on the ground, starts stepping on it.

“A couple people came to me and they say, ‘He’s a writer at Netflix.’ I’m not gonna identify him, I don’t wanna be a part of that. But it is a pretty bad look from Netflix.” To put it mildly. Some crude humor aside, Vito impresses me with his composure through all of this.

Oh Snap

Oh, snap! Did we find a real one??

He acknowledges that some people may see him as a jerk disrupting a protest, “I have every right to be in this public area as much as anybody else and have my voice heard. And my voice is you guys are nuts, and Dave did nothing wrong.” He suggests they should have protested inside the building if they wanted it private, “But if you’re out on the street, the fat guy’s allowed to be there yelling, ‘We like jokes!'” 

Refocusing, he carries on, “Anyway, this Netflix writer destroys my sign…” Vito trails off, momentarily absorbed. Now an observer of his own moment, what he sees begins to bother him. “This guy who broke my sign now goes, ‘He’s got a weapon!’ He knows he broke my sign.

Literally the only reason I can think of to yell that is that you want immediate harm to come to that person. Luckily, the crowd was not that stupid.” Nor Security quick to respond and, for once, I’m glad!

“When I thought someone random in the crowd yelled that I wasn’t as mad, but now that I know a Netflix writer tried to get me killed, I’m a little not happy. That’s really shitty … I’m having feelings all of a sudden, I am not happy about that.”

“I’ll try to move on, but now I really am like, ‘ Ooh, what the hell?'” 

The Fear Of God

As the clip rolls, the high-pitched voice of irony is heard approaching – “Excuse me! Excuse me! Excuse me!” As Thursday Vito launches into a final plea for Comedy, she enters the frame with a large tambourine. In her righteous zeal, Tambourine Lady says the quiet part very loud. Over and over, she shrieks the true mantra of the Trans Rights Movement – “Repent, motherfucker!”

Which leads into my favorite part of Vito’s commentary: “I could not even tell what this chick was yelling at me. I hear it now. What am I repenting for?” He rubs his eyes in exasperation. “This is becoming like a cult. ‘Repent!’ What religion is this??”

Repent

Oh, merciful Gender, Please just let me stay out of the kitchen! Athem!

The wording may be different, but we all know the feeling of someone trying to put the fear of God in us. The US has always been home to strange and unique religious interpretations, having already experienced four ‘Great Awakenings’ where we rediscovered Puritan fervor. This latest Woke wave is nothing but another authoritarian wolf in secular clothing.

“I don’t know what I did. I made a sign I thought was funny and I showed up to support comedians. I was kinda mad that more comedians weren’t out there, instead it’s me and Dick Masterson. I feel like every comedian in Hollywood shoulda showed up.” Sorry Vito, but if Chappelle is threatened by this, everyone else is probably terrified.

He comes to the end of the clip and fumbles halfway through his lighthearted recap, tripping on his words. “I’m all flustered cause I found out a Netflix employee tried to kill me!”

He’s being glib here, but his hyperbole falls flat between nervous chuckles. In an environment where a British transwoman calling himself Phoebe felt *safe* threatening to make The Spectator “the next Charlie Hebdo” for the Movement, we should all be nervous.

Fear Is Exhausting

Vito relates a couple more incidents – One where his friend was pushed down hard enough that his head hit the pavement, and then someone chased their car as they left. “The whole day was crazy. People were going a little too hard here!”

He thanks his audience for their support, since he’s probably not getting a mainstream media job any time soon. “The fact that I’m on the side of Dave Chappelle is gonna get me blacklisted. Think about how crazy that is – Because I’m on the side of one of the greatest comedians of all time, they’re now gonna say that I’m a crazy bigot. It’s madness! We live in madness.”

Cult Girls

Don’t worry, we’ll help you – We’ve been stuck here for a while!

Yep. What the average person does with this information will make all the difference. I hope more of them react like Vito does.

“They’re trying to cancel comedians! They don’t want us to make comedy.” Vito flinches at his own words, “They fucking hate us. They hate that I can go online and find an audience. They would love if they could control it all, like they always used to. But they don’t anymore. You have the fucking control, and that’s beautiful.

“Thank you so much, I need to lie down.”

I bet! Vito has stepped through the Looking Glass into Bizarro World, and there’s no going back.

I’m surprised to find someone like him in the thick of this, a lost lamb who seems to actually believe what he’s saying. But the wolves are in charge, and the mask is slipping in their greedy haste.

Blurring The Party Line

The popular spin on the walkout is outrage over the firing of the rabble-rouser. But not only was she leaking internal company stats, she also turns out to have an axe to grind against Asians, for whatever reason. The Poor Victim of racist execs is actually quite the prolific racist herself!

The universal weakness of the narrative is causing loyal adherents to question the movement’s leadership, if not the movement itself.

I wager that’s still too close to home for many. This whole scandal – The walkout, the outrage, the repetitive spin – looks like one giant exercise in distraction. We are told to be angry that Dave Chappelle poked fun at trans people, so angry we won’t listen to the point he’s making.

Alchemy

I call upon my dark powers to keep you off-balance!

Dave tells us in detail how the so-called Trans Community is destructive. It’s destructive to women, to culture, and to its own members.

Vito learned this the hard way, seeing first-hand that freedom is not their priority. The hypocrisy of people claiming to treasure safety physically attacking someone – For simply disagreeing with them in public – is shockingly bold.

But we have Reuters’ coverage giving us gems like, “We are here today, not because we don’t know how to take a joke, we’re here because we’re concerned that the jokes are taking lives.”

How’s that work, exactly? I’m still waiting for a good explanation, but I’ve heard a man’s greatest fear is being laughed at. I suppose it’s the old affirmation-or-suicide threat, and we’re expected to understand that hurting trans people’s feelings is a step away from murder.

Never mind the hundreds of women actually murdered every year. At least those privileged cis bitches got to have a period!

Heretics Get The Wall

This movement that claims the title Feminist for itself, screeching about supporting the marginalized, ignores the struggles of anyone who isn’t Trans. Never mind that they can’t agree on what exactly that means! Their comfort is vital – More important than the safety of women and girls, or even fat comedians.

Their comfort is more important than free speech, that precious principle those who lived through the last authoritarian flareup warned us to guard with our lives. It’s more important than comedy. More important than the truth.

The truth is, if we’ve reached a point where one person is favorably comparing Trans Rights to Islamic fundamentalism, you can bet he’s not the only one. They are on a righteous mission to convert the whole world, and you’d better be ready to Repent, Motherfucker!

Or prepare to have all your signs destroyed.

 

 

Capitalism Hates Moms

This week, Senator Joe Manchin insisted any extension of the Child Tax Credit payments should include a work requirement.

Bread

Wtf does it look like I’m doing??

“Before you start saying, ‘is it going to be permanent?’,  let’s see how we’re doing this. Let’s make sure that we’re getting it to the right people.

And who would that be, Joe?

“There’s no work requirements whatsoever. There’s no education requirements whatsoever for better skill sets – Don’t you think if we want to help the children, the people should make some effort?” 

Strong words from a fellow whose entire industry takes August off work like classical Versailles. But I guess budgeting has never been politicians’ strong suit.

According to Fortune, “The amount of the credit is based on a family’s modified adjusted gross income, with payments starting to phase out for single parents (filing as head of household) earning $112,500 a year or $150,000 among those who are married and filing jointly.”

Six figures! Those rich bastards don’t need government handouts!

…Except that $112,000 is almost double the 2020 median national income of $67,521. The majority of Americans will never see that kind of money, despite $150,000 being named as the minimum “to lead a good life” by Business Insider… in 2012. 

Joe Manchin is using a very old trick – He’s invoking class resentment to rein in government spending, you know, on the people that government represents!

Then we have Sherrod Brown naming the elephantCaregiving is work.

Because, lest we forget – This money is only being dished out to parents, assuming most of us will prioritize our children’s wellbeing. Joe Manchin’s implication that parents can’t be trusted to have our kid’s best interests at heart is horrific as well as insulting.

Kids

Some of us have a lot of practice!

But parenting is not equal, and its effects on income are well-known. Mothers earn less while fathers earn more, and we all know who does most of the shopping, housework and childrearing. It’s pretty clear who Joe Manchin is really threatening here.

Working Girls

The push to get women into the workforce has become increasingly transparent. I recently responded to an article titled American Motherhood Vs. The American Work Ethic – A bland confection of classic feminist workplace improvements that have never materialized, with a thick icing of pandemic sob stories to disguise the familiar taste.

The Market has spent decades nodding and smiling at our ideas, and then disregarding them. Instead of flexible schedules and on-site daycare, we have longer workdays and expensive institutions. Ironically, the cost of daycare keeps us working longer hours to make ends meet.

The average cost of childcare was $340 a week in 2020. Even taking the average hourly wage of $11.25 in August, 2021 (and forgetting all taxes), that’s 30 hours a week just to pay for daycare! That’s usually enough to qualify as Full Time, which requires your employer to offer you healthcare. So, most places won’t give you that many hours.

This leaves many mothers scrambling to coordinate two unrelated work schedules, along with her kids’ pick-up and drop-off times. Forget doctor’s appointments or family trips. Heaven forbid there’s ever an emergency.

And don’t ask Dear Old Dad to help with much of this – He’s stuck working even longer hours! Forty years of wage stagnation mean he’s scraping by while she’s paying for gas from what’s left after daycare.

And what help do we get? American Motherhood Vs. The American Work Ethic The same song-&-dance they have been doing since the 1970s, feel-good solutions with no plans for practical implementation. With a big helping of shame disguised as sympathy.

Say what you will about the Biden administration, but they are the first ones in this country to put any of this into practice on a large scale. Caregiving – mothering – is work. But this slogan is having trouble finding traction, because mothering is not efficiently productive enough to be much use to the Market.

It’s pretty clear they have been trying to milk moms for ages, as we are marketed to more than any other demographic. The revenue vectors are plentiful – We want to be good mothers, appealing partners, have clean homes, do what’s best for our children and make the world a better place.

And, along with our much-discussed conflicting insecurities, we tend to make a lot of household purchase decisions.

After decades of this – Of creating needs and filling them – someone seems to have noticed that more women in the workforce meant more women contributing directly to the economy. And this might actually be good for Capital.

Salesman

I’m telling ya, honey – I got a great opportunity for ya!

Women are much more productive as workers.

Revolution, Industrial-Style

…But let’s rewind for a minute. A common rebuttal to this line of thought is to point out that only middle class women had been able to stay at home, anyway. That a Friedanian, white suburban reading of class struggle leaves out the working class and most people who aren’t white.

We have the Industrial Revolution to thank for this. Before mass production, most people lived and worked in the same small area their entire lives. The home and the farm or business were the same place.

Men may have functioned as the public face of the family but, in private, they had all different types of arrangements with the women in their lives, just like today. The general recognition of this fact is only to the good, of course.

But other facets of daily life haven’t benefitted from the soulless libertine influence of Capital. As the wealth of the Industrial Revolution built more and more larger and larger companies, the rising tide did not lift all boats. Anyone who missed it was left floundering and scrambling to make a living, usually in factories. Men and women both left the home to bring back pennies, often taking their children with them.

Those with full pockets distinguished themselves from the unwashed masses by pursuing a lifestyle only they could afford.

The rampant corruption and abuse of this period shows us how rapid change can overwhelm society. The early decades of the 20th century were a direct response to these horrors – Labor laws, especially child labor laws, were put in place to keep business owners from creating systems of glorified indentured servitude.

This period gave us the concept of Full Time vs. Part Time work. Our beloved Weekend, so much a thing of myth these days, was part of a schedule theorized and designed to maximize individual health and happiness. We need eight hours or so of sleep, leaving 16 hours for other activities. This was split into half work and half leisure time, in an inspired, ahistorical recognition that people are human.

But Capital didn’t like any of this very much. Winded after The Great War, it took a different tack and tried monetizing leisure time. This is what the modern middle class was built on. The luxuries of the few were mass-produced and marketed. Advertised as necessary status symbols.

New Clothes

Clothes make the girl, you know!

This worked really well for a long time. Generations fed Capital their time and a small fee, in exchange for a glamourous thing or experience. But the tiger of Capital outgrows every cage, inevitably turning on whoever is silly enough to think they’ve tamed it.

Eventually, in order to keep growing and keep growing faster, monetization wasn’t enough. The shit really hit the fan in the 1980s, a market bubble we are still riding toward a sheer cliff face. The cultural pendulum swung hard in the direction of women’s independence and, in a capitalist system, that means earning our own money.

The influx of Boomer women in their 20s and 30s meant employers could offer less, both because of increased demand for jobs, and just because they could get away with paying women less. And nothing’s changed much since then.

In fact, it’s become assumed that a woman will have her own job, her own career, and this is the road to personal fulfillment. Even the pay gap has been swept away with a little fancy math! Mothering is seen as a one-size-fits-no-one affair, the job market being depicted as a wish-fulfillment generator.

They Said I Could Be Anything, So I Became A Disappointment

What do you want to do with your life? Teenagers hear this way too often, and it’s something we all ask ourselves. It’s worth taking the long view of our achievements, but that’s not really what this is, is it?

There’s an implied urgency – What do I want to do with my life right now? The present moment telescoped to encapsulate all of time, every action of great importance and meaning. Completely ignoring the way the years add up in practice.

The simple solution to most of this, and a pretty common one, is to just not pair off and reproduce at all. Go to school, get a job, get an apartment. Get together with friends, travel, read books and watch movies. There is plenty to do in life without engaging in any of these topics at all. 

But this doesn’t solve the issues on a larger scale, and they just keep on getting worse, don’t they? The escalating trends from 40 years ago find many of us back facing indentured servitude to make ends meet, only this time we can’t bring the kids with us.

Tuck In

Don’t worry – Mama already put in the request for time off on your birthday!

Most women will have children, the average age of first-time Millennial mothers in 2020 being 26. It’s funny to me how Forbes present this as, Millennial Women Delaying Having Kids – Isn’t that just waiting until you’re fully an adult yourself? My grandmother’s generation got married at 18, so I think the stats may a little skewed here.

But the slow drip condenses into a wave of negativity toward all things motherly. Even the word is unflattering, set against the icon of the perpetual teenager forever turning his back on Mom to seek his fortune. And we’ve allowed him to write the story, trying to follow along instead of using our newfound voice to tell our own.

Mass Reproduction

And the next frontier, they’re saying, is just around the corner! Artificial wombs (and surrogacy…) will free us from the bonds of maternal flesh altogether! And won’t that be grand?? We can pay someone to make our baby for us while we’re at work, then keep on working to pay someone else to raise them! Liberation!

Once again, I feel obliged to say that, if you don’t want kids, do that. I strongly feel that forcing such a massive life choice on anyone is extremely wrong. But, ‘write what you know,’ right? Stay in your lane? This isn’t the role I expected, but I’m playing it to the hilt!

And I can’t help but notice the silence from one of the largest groups in the world. We don’t see ourselves as mothers – We see ourselves as Americans, as Gamers, as Fans, as Consumers, as Organizers and Activists. As Liberals, Conservatives, Women, Transmen, Type-A or Submissive, Christian or Muslim or whathaveyou – with mothering pushed to the corner. Taken for granted. It’s an uncomfortable fact that we don’t let define us… Or inform anything about us, we promise!

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just give it up and be free, like men?

But what are we giving up?

Mama And Baby

I think someone said you’re the future, or something…

What does life look like without the messy, visceral, human parts? We may not be born to be mothers, but we’re definitely not born to be workers!

And I hate to say, ‘won’t somebody please think of the children?‘, but somebody should! Mothers should be unified and loud on basic concepts of parenting, like feeding and clothing them – People like Joe Manchin should get laughed out of the room for implying we don’t know what we’re doing!

We even already have a system in this country for ensuring parents are doing our job – It’s called Child Protective Services! If Joe Manchin is so worried about the deadbeat parents getting handouts, he might shore up that sorely underfunded, understaffed organization!

No, it’s sadly obvious that people like him are using the same old emotional appeals to invite us to undermine ourselves. He works for Capital, and Capital hates moms.

 

Witches: The Heroine’s Journey

“Magic is a female fantasy and a male nightmare.”

Witch 1

Did you know witches are human Rorschach tests??

The Witch has endured for millennia as a symbolic challenge to male supremacy. She represents our innate understanding of the power structure we live in, her different forms expressing our shifting feelings about Woman regaining her place on even footing with Man.

Magic was traditionally Woman’s purview – Our friends the Ancient Greeks, founders of Western civilization, worshipped a Goddess of Magic called Hecate. Hecate’s three faces are reminiscent of the traditional phases of a woman’s life – Maiden, Mother and Crone.

Kristen Leo rambles pleasantly for over 15 minutes before making the interesting observation that men and women tend to portray magic differently. She says of magical stories written by women, “magic is a medium through which characters can empower themselves and help others.”

Kristen points out that men’s depictions of magic focus on revenge and curses – “It’s really fascinating how often we see female empowerment, when it’s expressed symbolically through witchcraft, being perceived as a threat by the male psyche.” The evil witches of so many fairy tales show us men’s perception of women’s challenge to their authority. 

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Joseph Campbell famously distilled all of Myth and Legend into one storyline: The Hero’s Journey. In collating so many ancient tales, he managed to leave the female perspective out of his sweeping synopsis of symbolism entirely. 

He did eventually realize he’d forgotten half of humanity, describing Her importance, “If the male is on top, and the female subordinate all the way, you have a totally different system from that when the two are facing each other.” 

He wades into some pretty deep mystical waters, describing how we made sense of ourselves in the early days through symbolism: “Everything in the field of Time is dual – Past and future, dead and alive. They always come in pairs.

“Most of us put our minds on the side of the ‘good’ against what we think of as ‘evil.’ Put your mind in the middle. That’s to say, ‘I know the center, and I know that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are temporal apparitions.'”

Devil Girl

It’s all relative, darling!

That is to say, on a deep level, we understand that our perception is not reality. But our perception is all we have to go on, so we struggle to express concepts that lay beyond it. Larger patterns and systems are described in broad strokes, the meaning lost as cultural understandings shift.

This is the crack that allowed male supremacy to creep in. Traditional philosophy tainted the ancient symbol of Woman as Lifegiver by declaring all Life sinful. You make life? Who wants that?? If I weren’t alive I’d be with God right now!

Woman’s embodiment of natural forces, her evident closeness to the life-giving Earth, was defanged for the purpose of harnessing and taming it. 

“When A Woman Thinks Alone, She Thinks Evil.”

During the surge of development known as The Enlightenment, the infamous Witch Trials were a violent but symbolic reinforcement of Patriarchy. The power structure resorted to blood sacrifice to reestablish itself amid the chaos.

But that overcorrection was itself an admission of insecurity.

It took them quite a lot of effort to push us down, you see. Brutality is the classic method, but progressive civilization demands increasing decorum. Violent coercion is so barbaric! The assault became psychological – Every idea must be made consumable by Patriarchy or snuffed out.

Wit And Folly uses Star Wars as the standard modern telling of The Hero’s Journey. We’re reminded that Luke’s final act against his enemy is not revenge, but compassion for his dying father. 

Joseph Campbell tries, in his own way, to impart that the two Journeys need each other, because their balance is the resolution of the human story. 

But lately, most prominent women display a single-minded assertiveness traditionally used as shorthand for masculine greatness. We are told this is progress – The Witches are all good now, nothing to see here!

The Hero’s Journey wears a feminine mask, but the destination of the Hero’s Journey is compassion and deference – For Woman, this is a road to nowhere.

Finding Woman’s Road

Building on Campbell’s work, Maureen Murdock gave us The Heroine’s Journey –  “Today’s heroine must utilize the sword of discernment to cut away the ego bonds that hold her to the past, and to find out what services her soul’s purpose.

“She must realize resentment toward the mother, put aside blame and idolization of the father, and find courage to face her own darkness.

“Her shadow is hers to name and embrace”

Witchy Bath

I just gotta be me!

In rejecting the passive role of subordinate, she learns to be assertive. Suppression of the Witch is to deny Woman her own Journey. 

With And Folly also pulls from Navajo legend, where Woman (the Earth) speaks to the Sun, her lover: “Remember – as different as we are, you and I, we are of one spirit.

“As dissimilar as we are, you and I, we are of equal worth. As unlike as you and I are, there must always be solidarity between us. Unlike each other as you and I are, there can be no harmony in the universe as long as there is no harmony between us.

Our society is in a death spiral because, in his lust for power, Man villainized Woman and all she stands for – Even Life itself. 

Dr. Campbell tells the story, “Whenever one moves out of the Transcendent, one comes into a field of opposites.” Woman, giver of Life, brings us into this world of duality, where we experience isolation and suffering.

But Old Joe is optimistic, “I think it’s a really childish attitude to say ‘No’ to life, with all its pain. To say, ‘this is something that should not have been.'” 

Man remains a petulant child so long as he refuses to accept his own suffering. For most of history, he’s been determined to distract himself instead, through conquest or inebriation. Whatever he couldn’t forget, he blamed on Mommy.

Mommy

You’ll always be my little boy…

The Witch Within

I recently asserted that the female mind does, in fact, exist. We tend to be caring, but sad. To me, this looks like the legacy of civilization strapping us to the birthing bed. But life in a female body creates a different perspective that’s sorely missed. Universal rejection of that perspective makes civilization into a death cult.

We need to recognize that Woman is not lesser. Women are not weak, and feminine traits don’t indicate weakness. The Hero’s Journey demonstrates over and over and over that compassion demands strength.

But he will never reach his destination until he accepts that the Heroine waiting there can’t be his subordinate. She is the Witch in all her liberated glory, enduring her own adventure to face him. She is the giver of Life, the inspiration of all his striving. And no amount of sky scrapers or oil rigs will change that.

The Witch is just Woman, the real one outside of Man’s head. If we are brave enough to sharpen our sword of discernment – our critical thinking – we can begin adding the Heroine’s Journey back into the human story. If each of us embarks on her own adventure, we can begin to regain some collective balance.

Summon your inner Witch – The world is counting on it!

The Veil: Civilization Isn’t For Us

We are taught that Ancient Greece is the foundation of modern civilization.

Greek 1

All you other civilizations are just imitating!

Politics, Philosophy, Law – even Democracy itself was supposedly invented there, and we are still living in the paradigm created by the likes of Aristotle. We still discuss the Great Thinkers, offering reverential deference to the first glimmer of our present culture.

Enter: The Veil

Thing is, this seminal societal flowering was misogynist as all hell! These precious pillars developed during the first methodical clamping-down on the agency of women.

That’s right – Ancient Greece invented the Burqa.

They called it the Tegidion, meaning ‘little roof.’ In her BBC program The Ascent of Woman, Dr. Amanda Foreman describes how it served as a symbolic extension of a father’s or husband’s house, which gave women official protection.

From other men, presumably.

Veils were first popular in Assyria as ancient virtue-signaling among upper-class women. The Greeks adopted and adapted them in reaction to, as Dr. Foreman says, “a deep phobia of the female body.” 

This profound revulsion came from, “the idea that women’s inferiority wasn’t Man-made, but rooted in Nature.” As the lesser human, Woman had to be controlled. 

Aristotle, as the Father of Philosophy, saw women as just another topic for his intellect. Dr. Foreman has Dr. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones of Edinburgh University summarize Aristotle’s foundational sexism – “Basically, women are imperfect men, they haven’t quite reached perfection, because they haven’t had semen to create what is the essence of Man.”

Leave it to a man to figure his ejaculation as the source of rational thought!

The thinking goes that, since women only grow life with the addition of semen, semen is the source of life. Woman is just the vessel.

By about 500 BC, veiling was common practice for women in Athens – The cradle of modern civilization.

White Veil

Does this make you feel like a Big Man??

They were the ones who codified the idea that women are inferior, and wove it into the foundation of our society. And for them, the veil symbolized that Woman was never really allowed out of her husband’s house.

Reflecting on a collection of small votive statues draped in various styles, Dr. Llewellyn-Jones is moved to say, “Women’s lot in Ancient Athens was closer to a woman’s lot in Afghanistan under the height of Taliban rule than anything else.”

How Far Have We Really Come?

Broadcast in 2015, the title of Dr. Foreman’s miniseries is bittersweet. According to both Vogue and many recollections, 2015 was also The Year of Trans Visibility. It was the year Jenner became Caitlyn, Laverne Cox was People’s Most Beautiful Woman, and TLC introduced us to Jazz.

In the few years since, it’s been tempting to think Woman’s ascent has ended. But, contrary to her pithy television header, Dr. Foreman stresses the point, “The simple truth is, our story has never followed a straight line from darkness to light.

“The real history of women is full of swings and reversions, with liberties gained and lost from one era to the next. 

“You can judge a civilization by the way it treats its women.”

Add this to the list of tests our society is badly failing. But the misogyny we’re fighting is nothing new. Its littermates are important things we now see as neutral, such as Politics and Art. The same men who decided women were lesser beings also bequeathed to History stuff like Democracy and Theater. 

But it’s been demonstrated many times over that these things are not inherently misogynist. Men and women are not so different that a system created by one can’t be mastered by the other.

Cleo

And never forget, that goes both ways!

Compare Greece to Egypt, where a parallel framework developed emphasizing equality for the masses – Even the occasional female Pharaoh! Dr. Foreman cheerfully describes Egyptian art, “replete with couples lovingly holding hands, even wearing the same clothes. Ancient Egypt embraced both the masculine and the feminine. 

“A shared life, rather than reproduction, was the purpose of marriage.”

These two interpretations of relations between the sexes have existed in tandem forever. One reliable signal of how things are going is how free women are with their clothes.

Clothes Express The Woman

I wrote this Summer how clothing has long been a source of power, authority and even income for women. The Industrial Revolution took this out of our hands, imposing a sort of postmodern conformity and creating a paradox of choice – Too many options make deciding on one impossible, so we stop trying. We think about other things.

Like new social media, which is training young women to hunt down and eradicate whichever part of them doesn’t look like a Kardashian.

Then there’s the makeup all serious women are expected to wear, to the point we don’t even know what a natural woman’s face looks like. We laugh when men are clueless or surprised by our body hair, but we can’t lay all the blame on media. Too many of us are following these practices if these men don’t know better from their mothers, sisters, aunts and friends. 

Patriarchy has continued to evolve as its defenses have been torn down. These days we’re playing Chess, not Checkers. I don’t expect Western policy to insist on anything so obvious and easily-resisted as the Burqa any time soon.

Ankle

Y’all just love getting a peak so much!

But as we have gained hard autonomy, soft power has congealed to control us in other ways. Our apparent freedom disguises the box we still live in, our private lives shrinking more and more as we come to understand that we aren’t really allowed to leave Big Brother’s house.

We know in our gut that none of us is really safe. We see the Taliban reigning terror on the women of Afghanistan and feel it deeply, viscerally, perhaps in the quiver of the source of all this insanity.

Pandora’s Jar

Despite their obsession with male honor, Ancient Greek myth features many powerful goddesses. Pandora, famous for her box, was their First Woman. In her curiosity, she couldn’t help but open the box, unleashing all pain and suffering onto the world. 

Dr. Llewellyn-Jones, reading from Greek, tells us, “What she comes with is a ‘pithos’ – the Greek word for a jar. 

“The Greeks had a thought that a woman’s womb was shaped like a pithos. So, really, Pandora, being made the first woman, comes with the first womb.

“And when, inevitably, that womb gets opened, what flows out is all the evils of the world.”

These men always tell on themselves, don’t they? They created the Polis – the State – for themselves and put women in charge of the Oikos – the Homestead. The Greeks drew a hard line between women and the world, which they insisted was their domain.

So, Pandora unleashed all the evils of the world – The men of the Polis!

The heaping of blame for all the ills of the world – that men themselves were perpetrating – continues today. Don’t forget, Dear Reader, that four months ago we all had to sit through the ‘If-you-don’t-like-it-don’t-look’ defense of a sexual predator! If you didn’t want to be part of some man’s fetish, you should have just stayed home.

Pandora

Hey, this isn’t what I ordered!

We feel our sisters’ struggle because, on some level, we understand that civilization as we know it was explicitly not made for us! It was made by the flourish of Man ascendant, standing on Woman’s back even as he denigrated her.

And the old No Girls Allowed! sign is still on the wall!

We are all victims of this system, in one way or another. Vengeance is not the answer, or we risk becoming what we hate. But the urge many of us get to just walk away is probably based in something more than apathy.

We should be shouting our story through a bullhorn! Feminism must be the custodian of women’s history, and Dr. Foreman has done us all a great service.

I look forward to a time when all veils come down, and we can go back to sharing life instead of fighting over it.

 

Schroedinger’s Queer: Who’s Your Identity For?

*Women’s History has grown into a series! The first installment, featuring the oldest symbol of our oppression, will be up before next weekend. Meanwhile, we have a cautionary tale of validation mania…

Writer and Queer Theorist Kate Raphael struggled during lockdown.

Black Dog

OMG I wish we could go to the park!

“I felt flattened by so many weights: COVID-19, Zoom calls, the grind of winter running, depression. I was desperate for a change.” Her ennui is matched only by the drama as she sets the scene –

“I stepped into the bathtub in a sports bra and shorts and held the first ponytail perpendicular to my head. Wielding a pair of scissors, Cole sawed through my thick mane, tugging at my scalp as he hacked through the hair, and the first ponytail fell to the bathtub floor.” 

Grasping at straws in choppy seas is understandable, but Kate weaves herself a raft. As a personal affirmation, she explains how she sacrificed her hair on the altar of Queerness because she wasn’t getting her gender fix in quarantine.

“I felt that my queerness was drifting away. I found the pandemic invisibilizing.” …I think she means it made her feel invisible. “I sometimes feel one-dimensional in other people’s eyes.” Yes, it’s sad how little time everyone else has to pay you their undivided attention. Tragic.

But life for its own sake isn’t showy enough for Kate, “I imagine others see our relationship as straight and static. One of the many things this pandemic has robbed us of is the opportunity to present ourselves as complex, evolving individuals.”

Why are you imagining what other people think about your relationship? They don’t actually get a vote, you know.

Paparazzi

Private life is for losers!

Kate is too busy gushing about her queer hair to define what exactly ‘queer’ is. She doesn’t bother to explain what makes a “Princess Diana-textured pixie meets retro ’80s mom-with-a-middle-part” a symbol of ‘queerness.’ Those short layers sound pretty feminine-coded to me!

But to Kate, it’s The Bob Of Many Colors – “This haircut was rejuvenating, dimensionalizing.” The dictionary is online now, too, my dear.

“It made me feel multifaceted and animated, pulling me out of my planar state as a flat form glued to the floor and giving me depth and permission to take up space – a prismatic affirmation of my bisexuality.” I don’t know if she’s actually read any social theory, but she’s definitely using her thesaurus!

“It felt dramatic and bold … Liberating when I’d felt trapped. When I looked in the mirror of my tiny apartment bathroom, I saw the haircut I was always meant to have.” The joy of the short bob should not be underestimated. But this is heavy lifting for a haircut!

Kate wanted the most bang for her buck, you see. She wanted to take action, but it had to be something quick because she was jonesing pretty bad.

“It was empowering to reclaim agency when our lives are otherwise out of our control.”

I bet it was. Kate’s story illustrates one way narcissism works for people – Unhappy? Uncomfortable? Unfulfilled? No need to worry – Just ignore it! Spin that shit like an LP! Hunt down that silver lining like your life depends on it… because it feels that way, doesn’t it?

Pouty

But how am *I* supposed to know who I am??

Your appearance will elicit a variety of reactions, regardless of how you feel about it. How much influence the opinions of others have is up to you. And none of it has any effect whatsoever on your sexual orientation!

Kate knows this on some level. Deep into her confessional she remembers to tell us, “The decision to cut my hair was less about being visible to the world and more about being visible to myself,” which I don’t believe for a second.

The haircut is only ‘queer’ because her friends recognize it as such. “Within minutes, I received a text from an old friend, ‘I like your haircut, you definitely don’t look straight.’” Well, this 90s kid recognizes Princess Diana as a woman whose entire life was shaped by her marriage to one very famous man. But her coif was so empowering!

Mercifully, Kate is not entirely without reflection: “I was struggling with my mental health and feeling out of sync with my body.”  No kidding! A haircut is not a bad place to start, but it’s cosmetic. It doesn’t actually solve anything.

And Kate could use some real solutions – “In this tired solitude … I felt that my queerness was drifting away.” 

If your identity slips away without group reinforcement, it’s not your true core self.

But this doesn’t occur to Kate, even as old struggles reassert themselves, “I was constantly fighting against my mind as the pandemic resurfaced the eating disorder I’d struggled against for more than a decade.”

Scissors are not going to cut it here! But Kate is accustomed to the Hug Box, and she’s looking for other shiny distractions.

Luckily, her new bob gives her just the buzz she’s after: “I felt gay and gorgeous, sapphic and sultry. And I also felt profoundly in love with the man who had given me my haircut”

Wow, I think I got whiplash from that one! I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure sapphic spice and man meat don’t go together. You might have to pick a favorite.

Decisions

Gee babe, I’m not sure I can help you with this one!

But maybe she’s not comfortable with the way she’s leaning. Great pains are taken to tell us how she Gets Her Gay On with her boyfriend“Cole created space for my queerness to exist in our monogamous relationship, invited me to be all of myself with him. He sends me videos from Lesbian TikTok and tweets about Doc Martens.”

There’s more to life than stereotypes, hon!

“I had never before been in a straight relationship where my sexuality was not viewed as a threat.” This is so stupid, I’m suddenly wondering if Kate is just a massive troll.

I have never had a boyfriend give me any indication he saw my bisexuality as a threat. On the contrary, they assumed it was an invitation for a threesome!

Not Kate’s unicorn, though. Honestly, he sounds like a pretty nice guy: “He is gender bending and comfortable in his own masculinity, enough to paint his nails, pierce his ears and nose,” Are piercings a girly thing now?  “…Suggest we do face masks, spend an hour deep conditioning his long curly locks,” Does a Real Man practice personal care? “…or let me give him a cute-ass tat.”

Yep, definitely a guy. Not that any of this challenged that in any way.

But dating a boy with a personality really makes Kate feel special: “His less conventionally masculine presentation and openness to all that is not straight or gender conforming are what allow me to be all of myself.” 

This is what needs to be normalized! No one perfectly fits their stereotype, and we all need someone we can relax with. Kate is only 25, and I hope she will come to understand it’s less about being all of yourself, and more about not having to worry about it.

Maybe someday. When she wrote this, she was still fishing for approval, “For months before the haircut, I’d tried to elicit a reaction or endorsement of a dramatic style change: ‘Should I just chop it all off?’ I’d ask him, flourishing my hand in a swift cutting motion through the air. ‘That would look great,’ he’d respond.”

He’s trying to be supportive, but she wants something bigger. “The real … gift of the haircut was … re-creation of my identity.”

Tired Drinker

Who’s gonna tell her that hair grows back??

I’m happy Kate had an uplifting bonding experience with someone she feels close to. We all need more of that in our lives.

Many of us fight the ache for a connection to something bigger. We can see our newly-secularized world down to the smallest particle, but the larger scales of existence are invisible to us. So we ignore them and pretend we’re at the top.

Many hands make light work, but fighting reality by yourself takes a lot of energy. Kate is discovering the labor involved in artifice and, true to habit, she wants to avoid it.

She gets pretty creative with it, too: “We invited queerness into the bathroom.” Usually people talk about inviting something into the bedroom. Is the tub necessary for the Queering?

“…And into our relationship.”

Ok, time out!

That’s a cute turn of phrase, but – despite your boyfriend’s best efforts – your bisexuality is what brings ‘queerness’ into your relationship. How much it actually affects anything is on you, Kate.

How your bisexuality interfaces with the world around you depends on how you act on it. At the moment, it looks to be fueling your problems. You might do better to focus on something else for a while. I suggest an herb garden; Practical, eco-friendly and fun.

Of course, All this assumes ‘queer’ still applies to the people it was used to slander for decades. And Kate never fills us in on just how her new haircut makes her more bisexual.

I’m also confused how she missed that butch women have been cutting off their hair for ages. But the distinction between making a statement and putting on a costume is lost on someone just looking to dull the pain. Her chosen method – projecting all her agency onto her favorite people and things – is pretty popular. But she hasn’t quite tied all the loose ends together.

Why is Kate Schroedinger’s Queer? She never addresses how her community’s perception of her establishes her identity. There’s no mechanism given for why it was fading away without them, or how any of this affects her sexuality. The only woman her short hair makes her more attracted to is the one in the mirror.

Maybe she’ll take some time to get to know her.

Laurie Penny: Love & Hypocrisy in the Time of Covid

*This week’s post about Women’s History is taking longer than expected to research. I don’t want to give you something half-baked, this came across my desk and I just had to…

Laurie Penny’s squandering of talent and privilege comes from the same pain we all feel.

Exasperation In Paris

Ugh, material existence is such a pain in the ass!

Another 80s baby, Laurie used her degree in English to build a personal brand from the remains of 90s Girl Power. She’s somehow been composing feminist screeds for major publications since her mid-20s, possessing an enviable list of credits and media awards.

Her 2016 entry Is Marriage Worth It? is a serviceable example of Laurie’s writing and philosophy. The humblebrag is strong: “I had been struggling to find language for my growing anxiety over the fact that, at almost 30, I still have no desire to settle down and form a traditional family.

“I’ve been waiting, as open-mindedly as possible, for a sudden neo-Darwinian impulse to pair up and reproduce. And yet here I am, and it hasn’t happened.” Having presented herself as the exception, there was always the risk that falling for someone would seem to prove the rule.

Providing evidence that feminist agitation is cured by meeting Mr. Right would be quite the embarrassment!

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Laurie’s Wired article from last December – My Highly Unexpected Heterosexual Pandemic Zoom Weddingdelivers everything the title promises. Drawing upon all her propaganda experience, she weaves her words into a descriptive fabric she hopes is thick enough to obscure the corner she’s painted herself into. 

She tells us her adorkable love story to explain why she’s not a hypocrite – “Romance matters, and right now everyone I know seems to be understanding that in a new way. Everyone needs romance.”

I don’t disagree, but her only reasoning for abandoning her principles is to blame circumstances: “This year, though, the colliding catastrophes …  have made the entire question of normality somewhat moot.” 

“Nobody was more surprised than me when I suddenly caught the ball, in the shape of the heart of the kindest, most brilliant man I’ve ever met who somehow, inexplicably wants to hang out with me all the time, and there was nothing to do except run with it.”

Snarky Typist

Yes, it sure is cute how you keep failing up!

Laurie has a long way to run to feel comfortable in her good fortune. Stuck in the opposition, she’s preoccupied with framing this essential human experience as ‘deviant’ – “The most deviant commodity on the modern internet isn’t sex, it’s sincerity. It can’t be manufactured, and it’s difficult to replicate and resell, both of which make earnest enthusiasm suspect.”

But Laurie found her some! She’s just that edgy!

For someone so relentlessly defiant, she sure is worried about being judged: “I had begun to do things that confused those who know me well. Things like wearing bright colors and going outdoors to enjoy the sunshine.”

And just in case anyone mistakes her for Like The Other Girls, Laurie pathologizes pair bonding with everything she’s got – “While I have never had a manic episode, I feel obligated to inform the relevant medical professionals if I’m ever planning to do anything that sounds like someone in a manic state might conceivably do.”

…Like fall for a guy she barely knows. Has this woman somehow missed every single Romance film ever made??

Twitterpated

But this sweet, relatable story is very off-brand for Laurie.

I guess I’ve missed her because most of her work has been in the UK. Predictably, Laurie first caught my eye on Twitter.

Responding to someone identifying as, “former CEO of an LBG&T voluntary sector organization” asserting that there was an “overarching, coordinated ideological programme” after adding Trans representation to the their list of concerns, Laurie’s response was straightforward –

“I’d like to know more about this.”

Sly Smile

So you can figure the best way to bury it, amirite??

Good! I thought. Everyone needs to know more about this. Maybe someone’s journalistic curiosity has finally gotten the better of them.

Having looked into it, I think it’s pretty safe to say that’s not the case. The chorus of wry sarcasm flowing from that comment tells me I’m late to the party.

At first, I took her for about a decade younger – Black pleather and magenta hair combined with trendy defiance give the impression of a precocious newcomer to sexual politics. But Laurie is old enough to remember the Before Times. I’d even argue she’s used her status as a woman to build her reputation.

Getting in on the ground floor of blogging in 2007, her first wide exposure seems to have been the English arm of Occupy Wall Street. She gave several interviews in 2011, but my amazingly in-depth research yielded no obvious reason for Laurie as mouthpiece for Occupy.

Regardless, she went on to publish several heavily feminine-coded books. A 2012 collection of blog posts carries the title, Notes From the New Age of Dissent. Laurie has established herself as a dissident and rabble-rouser, that edgy bitch who’s a step ahead of the rest of us.

It must have been terribly embarrassing for her to fall in love! And with an opposite-sex partner from a similar background, no less! How mundane. How positively vanilla. How totally un-oppressed, how non-marginalized. How mainstream. How normal.

Identity Springs Eternal

The Wired article looks very much like Laurie trying to get in front of accusations of hypocrisy: “As I put it to him early on, and this is an exact quote: “I may be a wild and untamable trauma-twitchy anarcha-feminist fundamentally personally and politically opposed to het partnership as a social organizing principle,” but everyone wants romance! Feminism!

“…But I’m also not a fucking fool.” Bravery is laying out your principled perspective, then admitting you’d be foolish to follow it.

To be fair, she admits she never expected to face the predicament of Going Steady, “My whole life, the whole of heterosexuality has felt to me like a school sports game I’ve been reluctantly made to play, and nobody wants me on the team.” The reader is left to wonder how she managed to experience the whole of heterosexuality, especially if she never got picked!

Smokin

There are other ways to pass the time, you know…

These days she calls herself Genderqueer, but doesn’t claim to be anything other than straight. All I could find were repetitious iterations of Relationships are weird!

She’s even written a few things critiquing the sex industry, but that’s not on-trend anymore. Gender ideology has taken the place of any feminist ideas in Laurie’s relatively large, public body of work –  forming a nifty case study in the trajectory from Feminist Firebrand to Genderqueer Guerilla.

And, at the risk of riding my own biases, it’s what I’ve suspected for ages – Cognitive dissonance rots your brain!

Form Over Dysfunction

I read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the 5th grade. I’m not bragging, but I am a nerd. My grandparents had bought me a whole set of classic books in cheap paperback for Christmas, and that was the year I learned what ‘unabridged’ meant.

Most of them went unread, but I’ve always been attracted to Horror and the unexplained. Mr. Stephenson’s accessible writing was a pleasant surprise.

I sometimes wonder what kind of person I would be if I hadn’t read that book at that moment. In it, I saw a man consumed by his rejection of his less-flattering qualities. I saw an obvious metaphor for mental dysfunction, and to this day I’m not sure if Stephenson meant it that way.

I may have been seeing what I needed to see, and I’m fine with that. I’ve spent the years since learning to practice radical honesty, if only within my own head.

Elder Millennial

The demands of practicality are seldom pretty!

Jekyll & Hyde was horrifying on a level few stories are. Creeping terror inhabits not just the words on the page but the subtext as well, which I couldn’t really understand. Ignorance worked in my favor for once, adding to the otherworldly atmosphere of the novel. 

It shook me, and it taught me a lesson – Shine a light on your flaws, because they only grow in the shadows. And, eventually, they can overtake you. This idea stuck with me as I got older, and I began to recognize it in the world around me. Adult life even has a simple word for it: Denial.

All You Need Is Denial

Allowing cognitive dissonance promotes mental static. Many people appear to deal with encountering contradictory thoughts by championing one and ignoring the other. Things escalate quickly when the unpopular idea refuses to be ignored.

You have to repeat this choice over and over and over to make it stick, performing a type of self-hypnosis. As if changing your personal perception might actually change material reality.

Too much of this makes authenticity impossible, acting without thinking risks breaking the spell.

The most useful emphasis is on being a functional person, rather than vexing ourselves about something untestable like ‘Good.’ It’s pretty easy to tell whether your state of mind is functional or not.

Stumbling into a core human experience shouldn’t threaten to bring your paradigm crashing down. This is a good sign it wasn’t terribly functional to begin with, Laurie my dear.

Oppositional defiance doesn’t work if daily life becomes pleasant. Defining yourself by The Struggle carries the hidden cost of pathological fear of success. If you’re not a warrior for the downtrodden, what’s the point?

Purple Drinker

Without external validation, I’ll have to find meaning in life on my own!

All this points to some pretty dark beliefs – Making your life about The Struggle demonstrates a profound pessimism that it will ever actually end. Insisting you’re on a Holy Mission only hints at a lack of personal meaning. 

The Personal, The Political

Near the end of about 2,000 words explaining why it’s OK to fall in love, Laurie stumbles upon an excitingly relevant question, “What does partnership look like when gender roles and domestic norms are collapsing along with every socioeconomic certainty?”

Feminism has little to say here, and Laurie is no help: “For us it looked like watching the election results come in from Georgia on the television in an Airbnb, clinging like a barnacle to the rock face of central Los Angeles.”

When the rubber of theory meets the road of life, Identity Ideologues find they have no traction. Laurie’s 15 years in Journalism and feminist discussion left her completely unprepared for the rudimentary milestone of adulthood: “After a lot of Googling, it became clear that the only way for us to see each other before 2021 was for us to somehow become each other’s immediate family. He asked how I would feel about the two of us becoming kin.

“I panicked and went to bed with my phone for the rest of the day. “

In 2016, Laurie was prepared to spend her life alone: “Marriage and babies have always been way down my list of priorities, and they’re close to being nudged right off. There’s too much else I want to do. I’ve made the same choice that men my age have been able to make for centuries without being scolded by society, or even having to think about it too much.”

But women are not men! 

“I had in fact specifically designed my life so I would never be obliged to shape it around a man, and was open enough about that fact that the issue had so far failed to come up.”

But neglecting to consider you might have different needs turned out to be a mistake.  Been there!

Steak

How did he make this look so fun??

Like many of us left to figure things out for ourselves while our parents deconstructed society, Laurie wasn’t aware of the startlingly mechanical nature of authentic chemistry – “The distance helped. I could tell myself that I wasn’t really falling for him, and even if I was, there was no danger of that interrupting all of my carefully laid plans. 

“We started sending each other cakes and tiny treats, getting friends on the other side of the world to facilitate deliveries. By July, it was becoming horribly obvious that it wasn’t just the distance that made this different.”

“It was safe to be vulnerable, to be enthusiastically non-neurotypical.” Well, yeah, you gotta make sure your weird is compatible with their weird! “It was terrifyingly safe to start to care about him, and what to do next was unexpectedly obvious.”

Love Vs. Politics

Old folklore describes love as a sickness, a syndrome with recognizable symptoms. Considering our rosy modern estimation of it, you’d think our society would have something useful to teach us.

But 2016 Laurie reminds us, “The burden [of family life] has fallen on women to such an extent that it has been naturalised, made invisible by the assumption that women and girls are just built to take care of all this stuff, if not by God then by nature, with a great deal of pseudo-scientific handwaving over the specifics.”

Laurie reanimates this ungainly concept by reversing the polarity: “The idea that we might not be, and that we might furthermore be fed up of doing so thanklessly and for free, is profoundly threatening to the smooth running of society as we know it.” To be single is to be subversive.

This is why a proposal from her sweetheart sent her into a panic. Laurie has dedicated so much energy to her tapestry of dissent, she never bothered to really look into what she was rejecting.

Witch Flight

Ooh, I’m telling Dad you went out like that!

“I have no idea what’s going to happen next, any more than I can explain why every bizarre thing he does is brilliant.” Welcome to life! It’s unpredictable and unfathomable. No amount of philosophy will stop it from demonstrating that.

But the jagged pill at the core of all this posturing and denial is that Laurie Penny has been helping discredit feminism for 15 years. She is a loud voice in the chorus proclaiming gender critics right-wing conservatives, and not to be trusted.

Substituting virtue-signaling for ethics means she does what she can to keep other women from discovering alternatives to the philosophy that boxed her in. This sudden Romantic turn feels like a final blow struck as she exits the stage, damage done and profit in hand. 

But I don’t see it that way. Laurie has discovered the embedded trigger that is love. I don’t think this proves a feminist just needs a man, so much as it demonstrates how untrue the supposedly feminist approach to women’s lives really is.

Maybe that newlywed glow will carry her past the vista of her own cognitive dissonance. But I hope she gets a glimpse, I hope it haunts her until she has to figure it out. She’d probably write about it.

How romantic!

The Female Mind Exists, After All

Feminism is stuck in a rut. We seem to have settled for joining the world, rather than changing it.

Sore Back

I’m just exhausted from carrying it on my shoulders!

In seeking equal treatment, we have slowly conceded our identity, piece by piece. We’ve taken on masculine affectation to fit in. Our attempts to avoid being framed as needy and demanding have played into our critics’ hands, and we’ve abandoned most of our ideas for change. 

We don’t have equal pay, political parity, or even workplace day care. Neither do we have our own spheres of unique experience and expertise. In not sticking up for ourselves moment-to-moment, we affirm the general message that we are not important.

We love to crow that motherhood doesn’t make a woman, but it does make us different. We recite that biology isn’t destiny, ignoring that it is our origin. Biology is what makes us women, our hypothetical motherhood is the foundation of our oppression.

All this forms the basis of a life experience different from men, synthesizing an identifiably specific psychology. Whether we like to admit it, or not.

“Relatively small differences across multiple traits can add up to substantial differences when considered as a whole profile … Data suggest the probability a randomly picked individual will be correctly classified as male or female based on knowledge of their global personality profile is 85%.

Female Psychology Is Real

Men are the ones who taught us to categorize everything by Better or Worse. Being different from them means only that – We are different.

“There now exists four large-scale studies that … converge on the same basic finding: when looking at the overall gestalt of human personality, there is a truly striking difference between the typical male and female personality profiles.”

Told You So

Fuckin told you so!

Scott Barry Kaufman over at Scientific American takes parsing these differences more seriously than most women I know – “At the broad level, we have traits such as extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness.

“But when you look at the specific facets of each of these broad factors, you realize that there are some traits that males score higher on (on average), and some traits that females score higher on (on average), so the differences cancel each other out.

“This canceling out gives the appearance that sex differences in personality don’t exist when in reality they very much do exist.”

In my experience, this discussion is shut down hard by slinging accusations of internalized misogyny. But rejecting everything unique to women is to reject women! Evidence that femaleness leaves a mental mark is piling up, we just don’t want to see it.

I think this is because we have failed to deal with our collective trauma. Having been used and abused since before recorded history, we tried to escape by running toward modernity. Acknowledging that this legacy of abuse still afflicts us stirs up an avalanche of uncomfortable associations.

Our female brains have been used to justify stunting our education. But by pretending they don’t exist, we allow that owning one would be a handicap. Those who stubbornly insist on respect for their womanhood are cast as crazy. But maybe only a crazy woman would, since there’s a good chance she’d be making her stand alone.

The very idea of getting in touch with our primordial selves is a concept imported from male culture. Women’s primordial nature is tainted by terror, shame and betrayal. Ancient goddess myths hold few truths about who we are – They were probably written by men!

Diana

Don’t you like my hunting outfit??

We need to take inventory of who we are now. We need to acknowledge and unpack our historical trauma, and the terror it triggers in us. 

While each individual may not feel or embody each of these things, there’s about an 85% chance most of us relate to most of them. 85% is a huge number! Women exist, and it’s time we spoke up before we forget that we can.

Who Are Women?

Scott’s Scientific American article is very informative: “The existence of biological predispositions does not mean that sex differences are fixed and unchangeable after birth.” So, biology isn’t destiny. 

But practice makes perfect: “Some psychological sex differences are specially designed by evolution to arise developmentally and only after particular milestones. … Sex differences appear during puberty or other critical periods when genes become sensitive to activation by major maturational events.”

Many women say they have no maternal instinct. Here we have an explanation for this, and how it can be activated in certain circumstances. “Human psychology is highly sensitive to developmental and socioecological contexts.” This means mothering can be a choice, just like we always said.

However, feminine psychology is not the externally-imposed yoke some would have us believe. Scott shares some startling information gleaned from thousands of individuals around the world, “Surprisingly, several large cross-cultural studies have found … Whether scientists measure Big Five personality traits, such as neuroticism; Dark Triad traits, such as psychopathy; or self-esteem, subjective well-being, or depression, empirical evidence shows that most sex differences are conspicuously larger in cultures with more egalitarian gender roles – as in Scandinavia.” 

When given freedom of expression, we are more uniquely female, not less.

Woman

I hear my Mother calling!…

Interestingly, the psychological traits most prevalent in women are 

  • Empathy
  • Sexual disgust, and
  • Depression

We’re more likely to be disgusted by receiving a random dick pic, and then more likely to feel bad about it. Sexual disgust and depression look like echoes of our past as frustrated brood mares. 

Empathy is more interesting, first because it counterbalances the other two, less constructive tendencies. Awareness of others’ feelings will give you pause before lashing out in disgust or expressing your foul mood. 

It’s also the only way to communicate with an infant. Mothers who connect effectively give their children an early advantage. Generation after generation, they formed the aggregate that is our inheritance. 

So, we are loving, but isolated and sad. Sounds about right to me. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

We have taken our own identity for granted – Society could never just pretend we don’t exist! Except that’s exactly what’s happening, as we are legislated back to the Victorian era. 

We have leaned on the harsh material reality we claim to despise, neglecting to develop anything else of our own. Our material existence called into question, we find we have no other hard lines drawn.

But the border of womanhood turns out to be defended by something steadfastly sovereign. This invisible barrier prevents us from meeting male society’s expectations, though we spend our lives trying. Each of us can look inside ourselves and see dark, neglected corners of our psyche – Pieces of us that find no expression in our daily lives and languish, undeveloped.

Scared

Is that… vulnerability??

The time has come to invoke these hidden parts of ourselves, and to be uncompromising about it. Look to the parts of your psyche that make you squirm – Those are the parts you were taught to reject. Plunge through the barrier of unsettled feelings, and on the other side is unclaimed territory. 

For me, part of this has been attending to the sensory overload I’d been living with most of my life. What I thought were panic attacks faded away like fog in sunlight when I stopped trying to keep up and started listening to my body. 

Being uncompromising is really the hard part, and learning where to draw lines takes time. But the personal truly is political, each of us a point in the larger picture. Maybe being the change we want is a big ask, but we can begin it.

It begins with adopting the practice of listening to your intuition. Stereotypical, I know, but intuition is something all human beings possess. And it’s actually proven pretty reliable, even in a lab. 

A fun little piece called The Focused Leader has this to say: “Hearing your inner voice is a matter of paying careful attention to internal physiological signals. These subtle cues are monitored by the insula, which is tucked behind the frontal lobes of the brain. 

“Gut feelings are messages from the insula and the amygdala.”

According to Dr. Judith Orloff, who has made a career developing empathy“Intuition comes through as neutral, non-emotionally charged, and almost impersonal – just information. Fear, on the other hand, has a high emotional charge.” 

“Women’s intuition” has its roots in our empathic abilities, and important information is lost if we ignore it. I think a lot of women’s unhappiness comes from suppressing our own perspective, and no amount of success is going to fix it. We were miserable in the kitchen and now we’re miserable in the meeting, because we didn’t choose either of them. 

In order to choose our own path, we need to get to know ourselves.

Materially Speaking

Nothing threatens the power structure like women mobilizing. Which is probably why we can’t seem to get any real traction. 

Things in the US look pretty grim, Executive Orders from the Oval Office aren’t subject to a vote. Our Federal protections have been hollowed out with the stroke of a pen, and we’re still reeling from that as we try to take in what happened to women in Texas.

Mona Bird

Hey Leo, what about this pose??

We should be campaigning for equal participation in medical trials. 

We should be demanding recognition and compensation for the work of mothering and caretaking.

For now, we are looking at a fight for our basic legal status.  Collecting self-hating trauma victims isn’t easy but, if we can unite in our empathy, I think fighting these battles will begin us working through our trauma. We have to deal with it before it destroys us.

Next week, we will learn more about the history of women’s oppression, and see how it informs our current moment.

TERF Connect-The-Dots: Lose A Word, Gain A Movement

“I do like the decision to make Janice Raymond sound like an evil witch…”

I’ve spent some time tracing the line Wokists have drawn between feminists and the Right Wing, but this node in the TERF dot-to-dot has a few things that make it special.

Surprise

You’re going along, minding your own business, when suddenly…

Credit is due to YouTuber King Critical, whose encyclopedic knowledge of literature brought this misdirection to light. While reacting to Jessie Gender, he spotted a misquote that changes the whole meaning of the referenced passage. Jessie tweaks a sentence in a foundational text, and uses it to smear radical feminism.

Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire pulls no punches, and some of the more scathing lines are perennial favorites of those looking to paint feminists as judgmental bitches. Janice does a fine job crafting aggressive arguments without Jessie Gender’s help.

But, true to form, Jessie is keen to help anyway. He offers us a choice cut, “The problem of transsexualism would best be served by mandating it out of existence.”

Our guide King Critical is ready to roll right along, “I mean, that’s kind of true, right?” But a closer look at the line stops him in his tracks. “…Am I being weird? I feel like there’s a word missing here.”

KC is leaping quickly from one idea to the next,  because he has already done his homework – “I think that a word is missing. Let me just check this, I feel like this is just – That was a lie.”

Maybe I’m tired, but I was impressed with his ability to catch this poisoned arrow mid-flight: “I’m pretty sure that should say, ‘Best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.’ And, if so, this is really interesting to me.”

Never one to make hollow accusations or not bring receipts, KC pulls up the PDF already on his computer, “This is fun, because – Literally – This is a complete misrepresentation. And it’s really funny.”

That’s a word for it, I guess. 

He walks us through the actual quote from Raymond’s book again, scoffing at having stumbled upon something so blatant. “That’s a big difference, isn’t it? Because, if you say -” KC has to pause for a breath, hands flying to his forehead, “It’s so transparent! And this is so fascinating.” 

Thorough to a fault, he even double-checks Jessie isn’t quoting a different edition. “I’m just gonna make sure that I’m not being silly … Because I’m actually kind of shocked to think that this could be totally misrepresenting the quote.” 

Oh Come On

Oh, you sweet Summer child!

But, sure enough, every source he can find agrees with his version.

“And that is huge. Basically, what this is – It’s a misrepresentation and a tremendous lie. Genuinely, this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my time doing these videos.”

One word might not seem like such a big deal, but this word changes a core concept of a core text of radical feminism. “What must have happened here is that the exact quote was written out, and it was realized if you include ‘morally,’ that changes the meaning of the quote.”

He tells us about The 99 Rule, crediting David Wood with the idea that most people just aren’t paying attention. “The attitude of, if you say something, only like one percent of people will actually bother looking up what you said.”

“Therefor, a lot of the time, it’s to your advantage to just lie.” He calls Jessie’s transgression a literal example of this. KC seems so perturbed by Jessie’s clumsiness he feels compelled to find an explanation for it.

And just when we might be worried the tangent ran away with him, he brings it all together: “So, let’s just clarify this case – What is the actual distinction?”

“Mandating something out of existence implies using the law to make something illegal. Morally mandating something out of existence means changing the public perception of morality so this thing is no longer acceptable.”

The rush of discovery wearing off, KC begins to process the ripples of what Jessie is saying. “That phrase, ‘morally mandating out of existence,’ is a term that I use a lot.” For whatever reason, the first example he hits on is tipping, and what a shitty custom that is. “We should change our attitude toward tipping, in order to make it no longer exist.” He adds fascism as another good candidate for social extinction, alongside gender ideology.

And he can’t help but pinpoint the irony of it all, “And, by the way, I’ll point out that Jessie Gender wants gender critical beliefs mandated out of existence.” 

KC runs through the situation one more time, not quite believing what he’s heard, “To morally mandate something out of existence is to so firmly establish in the zeitgeist the idea that something is immoral that it ceases to even exist.

“That is radically different from mandating it out of existence. That implies government intervention, which is not what Janice Raymond is talking about.

“I think that’s absolutely fascinating, that such an obvious perversion of what Janice Raymond was saying… [She] was talking about changing people’s minds using logic and reason. I think that’s such a powerful idea to describe how we should approach all horrible, evil things in society.

The big thing that makes this stop on the TERF Express special is it explains much more than a simple word change should, at first glance. I think this gives us a motivation for the sweeping legal changes happening all over the world – It’s a preemptive strike.

Poison

Nobody gets the drop on me!

“The way that Jessie presents it … changes the entire basis for what this is saying.” KC explains that Janice is arguing for using limiting legislation to establish transition as something worth limiting. 

Jessie’s tweak makes Janice’s proposal into authoritarian eradication. Jessie dances with his straw man, telling us this sneak attack is not just an intellectual exercise. 

KC hits back, “It was! – Morally mandate it, change people’s minds – You’re arguing in a really disingenuous way.” 

He expresses disappointment with how bad Jessie’s tactic is, but lets him continue: “The intention of TERFs is … to have actual real-world ramifications for transgender people’s daily lives.” Effective legislation? The horror!

KC jumps on this, “Well, of course. We’re not just doing this for our health.”

We believe that gender identity extremism is harmful, and should be opposed. I like how it’s being presented as the Big Reveal.”

But, for Jessie’s audience, it probably is. He’s going to get away with the lie, but I bet he didn’t come up with it himself. This idea fits nicely into a gap in my personal understanding of what we’re up against – Wokists are very litigious zealots.

They have prioritized legislation in their favor in a way I don’t think any of us saw coming. Like any cult, they are heavily insulated and limit the flow of information. But anyone can watch a YouTube video, and we engage a lot more with their content than they do with ours.

Knowing our adversaries is the first step to beating them. Gender ideologs keep their defensive stance and shout ‘Bigot!’, refusing to actually engage with anything we say. 

This gives us some hope of outmaneuvering them, and I think I’m seeing a silver lining to their insistence on lumping us with the Right Wing. They have no idea what they’re talking about, but we’ve done our homework.

 

Only Women Can Be Feminine

In an act of pure desperation, I gave in and finally just Googled ‘femininity.’ Turns out, the definition and example are both very interesting:

Get A Load Of This

Girl, get a load of this!

Qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of women – ‘She alternated between embracing her femininity and concealing it.'”

Who among us doesn’t relate to that, right? I can only assume this definition remains so straightforward because it doesn’t offend Wokeness – So long as you assume a woman is anyone who identifies as one, of course.

But Wokeness is only concerned with women as commodities. As the movement dedicated to our needs, Feminism should have the final word in defining who and what women are!

The longstanding trend, however, is to harp on all the ways we are just like men. This afternoon in the check-out line, my gaze wandered across Strong Is The New Pretty – A Guided Journal for Girls. The dated, inappropriate pop culture reference of this Self-Help For Kids is bad enough, but strong and pretty are not simple shades like orange and black. And they are not mutually exclusive.

It feels very misogynist to insist that everything traditionally associated with women is shallow and fake. Society wants women to be men, and Feminism isn’t standing up for us.

This accusation is a long time coming. Femininity’s cumbersome impracticality never really sat right with me. Idgie Threadgoode was my idol growing up, but I could not pull off that look, either. Being short and rounded at the edges, androgyny was just another unattainable ideal.

Big And Strong

I can be big and strong, too!

And no amount of rumination stopped people telling me I was bossy. Abrasive. Brash. Opinionated (as if this is a bad thing!) Mouthy. Didn’t stop male acquaintances taking things out of my hands because, “girls don’t carry things.” Seriously.

Gradually, I became quieter. Softer. I reached for fewer things. In my 20s I even developed that girly habit of reflexively apologizing, in an effort to get out in front of my bad behavior. 

This didn’t stop the TA from putting me on the spot in Lab one day, then refusing to speak to me after I got it right. It didn’t keep the Sound Director from screaming at my very pregnant self over the phone for spacing a run-through, and firing me on the spot.

He had already tried to tell me harmony didn’t belong in Punk music, so, bullet dodged, I guess.

None of my efforts at butching up and quieting down prevented me getting pregnant, of course. This was when the bulk of it hit me all at once – Regardless of anything I did, certain things were just immutable.

But the cultural paradox around giving birth shows us the lie – The perversion of our words. ‘Femininity’ as all things dainty and delicate is totally disconnected from the primeval fortitude of this most uniquely female act.

I’m not saying giving birth makes you a woman, but no man will ever do it. And it’s extremely indelicate! Not a ruffle to be found, but I do remember seeing a lot of blood.

Dainty and delicate have their place, but they do not define us. They never have.

And outside of the birthing room, women can do, express and embody just about everything men can. This begs the question – What makes something ‘feminine,’ anyway?

Seems to me, any time someone has perceived a strong woman as ‘manly,’ that was their internalized misogyny flashing its ugly grin. Likewise, males can only be ‘feminine’ through imitation. The whole trick requires both parties to play along to some degree. The gender is in the eye of the beholder.

But a rose by any other name will still snag your clothes, whether or not you acknowledge its thorns.

Dandelion

And dandelions are cute, but tough as nails!

We often sense a difference between male and female behavior. Sex-segregated spaces don’t exist because men and women need different facilities to do their business. They exist because females tend to be much less predatory!

Exact numbers differ from study to study, but the overwhelming majority of violent and sexual crime is committed by males. Despite recent efforts to obscure the clear, long-accepted patterns, the stats have always been pretty shocking.

However we explain this, officially-sanctioned and enforced single-sex spaces enable women to take charge of our own safety. Initially instituted out of paternal protectiveness, they created an environment conducive to our personal independence.

Whoopsie!

But our massive failure to differentiate ourselves as equal to but different from men has allowed patriarchy to continue telling the story. The unexpected, visceral grief at the loss of these public-private spaces is hard for many to take in. So we rationalize it away, brush it under the rug and ignore it, as is our habit. 

Facing up to these failures is a jagged pill to swallow. But where does patriarchy end and women begin? Why doesn’t Feminism spend any time answering this question? I suspect it’s related to the soup of Woman Bad we all swim in.

Since I keep finding myself facing this wall, I’m gonna offer my opinion – If the only way to be a woman is to be female, then the only way to do as women do – ‘Femininity’ – is also to be female.

Changing The Tire

It’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts!

We tend to get flustered when we start seeing patterns, but female behavior patterns do exist! Just like our capacity to create life has been recast as a liability, these differences have been painted with a broad, negative brush. But they form the outline of a different perspective, one rooted in and informed by life in a female body. 

And they can also be our strength. We just have to accept the idea that female psychology is real. That female behavior is not just elaborate Stockholm Syndrome.

This week’s video is what finally pushed me to take all this on. Responding to a self-styled Femininity Expert whose working definition was nebulous at best, I had to throw my hands up in exasperation and throw down the gauntlet.

All those supposedly ‘feminine’ traits, mannerisms, behaviors, hobbies, items of clothing and personal presentation – Everything coded ‘feminine’ needs to be put under the microscope. Humans are actually pretty good at telling who is whom, we really don’t need a lot of showy displays.

So, what is female behavior? How much of it comes from patriarchal trauma? What are the things that define women as a social group? 

I will be diving into these questions next week. This has been a sort of introduction to why I think these question need answered. I’m hoping to fill in some gaps in our philosophical foundation.

Looking forward to hearing what you all think!

Not Like Other Feminists

The Internet can be a dangerous place, but the rabbit hole I fell down this week goes much deeper than I anticipated.

It all started with Abby Cox. She’s one of my favorite YouTubers, and she put the brakes on her whole video concept this week to address a glaring issue she found in her research.

You Won't Believe This

You won’t believe this – Women are being undermined in media!

Girlhood As Internalized Misogyny

Abby is an historical costumer with several years in a living history museum under her belt. In comparing recent remakes of classic historical fiction to older productions, she noticed an uncomfortable trend: “I’m frustrated,” she tells us, “by the reliance on ‘Girly-Bad, Boy-Good’ clothing defaults that our feminist characters are shoved into!”

Abby focuses on Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, showing clips illustrating the recent masculinization of Jo and Anne. “In the 2019 version, we have Jo looking like she slept in a barn! And [she] is wearing distinctly masculine clothing on top, with just a skirt on the bottom.”

At first glance, this looks like historical costumers in film have lost the thread. 2019 Jo wouldn’t look out of place on a modern college campus, which a real Victorian lady certainly would!

But Abby’s impassioned pleas rang in my ears for days after I watched her video, bringing me back to a fight I’ve had with myself as long as I can remember.

I think we do a disservice to ourselves and everyone else who grows up female if we write off the Othered Girl without taking a long, hard look at her, and why she has been with us for long.

I’m Not Like The Other Girls

There’s something thrilling about boldly doing things women were forbidden from for centuries. For too many during Jo’s time, being Not Like The Other Girls got you committed. In later decades, there was a good chance you’d be lobotomized, too. The infamous case of Rosemary Kennedy is a late entry in a long tradition of ruthlessly crushing women who were just a little too smart.

It all starts to add up when you learn that ‘schizophrenia’ was once a catch-all for difficult patients.

This history may not play a direct role, but I think most young women go through this to some degree – The urge to hide your ‘girly’ hobbies or inclinations in order to be taken seriously. And, later, just to avoid being seen as an object.

I don’t think that we have come out on the other side of this yet, collectively. That we are still using masculine as shorthand for intelligent after 200 years shows just how suppressed women truly still are. And it’s also kind of embarrassing.

Embarrassing

Can you still respect me, now that you know my shameful secret??

Other Girls Are Dumb

All things feminine are still routinely rejected and put down in our culture. Powerful female politicians cut their hair short and wear boxy pant suits – Like they’re admitting they don’t belong, and are trying to blend in! 

Visual media has been flirting with pornography for ages, only recently making some self-conscious adjustments. So, instead of the Damsel In Distress, we see her reciting the Hero’s lines. As if there are only two options.

Music and fashion are even worse, the role of sex icon is assumed for women there. To challenge this is to play Russian Roulette with your career.

The overall message is very clear: Girly = Bad, Boyish = Good. The term ‘girly’ often just means ‘frivolous.’ ‘Girly girls’ are seen as shallow and vain, sometimes even evil!

If this tainted messaging were limited to high heels and tight skirts, there’d be nothing to talk about. But the ‘girly’ label extends to lots of things, many of them skills with roots in women’s history. Certain personality traits, even entire categories of emotion, have all been tagged ‘feminine’ and shunted to the margins of our culture.

Basically, anything patriarchy can’t use to generate wealth for itself is classified as a potential threat and squashed.

Even the lovely Miss Abby Cox – Who devotes the first three minutes of this video to Woke disclaimers – can feel the cringe: “As much as I love and appreciate the resurgence of historic costume dramas, I just want to beg the writers and designers to stop playing into this ‘Not Like Other Girls’ trope for the progressive female protagonist. 

“It’s lazy! And harmful storytelling, with its implication that other girls are inherently not feminist.”

Here, Abby names the first problem with not being like other girls – It’s putting down others to lift yourself up.

Learned From The Best

What can I say? I learned from the best!

Women Are Men, And We’ve Always Been At War With Femininity

Little Women is about 40 years older than Anne of Green Gables, Louisa May Alcott publishing its first edition in 1868. In Alcott’s depiction of her era, Jo’s pursuit of an education and career made her Not Like Other Girls. We tend to see this as positive, because education is the great leveler.

Education enables you to see yourself as an authority in the world, and to question that of others. Male-oriented establishments of all stripes resist the education of girls to this day, sometimes with lethal force.

Abby tells us how the historical costume dramas she is upset about actually create many of our ideas about the past. Redressing the female heroines of the period as butches (Transmen??) projects our rejection of girly things backward onto them, creating the illusion of tradition. A false history.

And clothes are a really great example of how the subversion of women plays out. Fiber Arts Expert is a role women share across many times and places. We have often used this necessary, practical skill to our advantage. Our clothes are a means of self-expression, communication and advertisement. Even a lucrative career!

The advent of machine manufacturing in the 19th century enabled the male-oriented establishment to take this from us. More than that, we were enticed to give it up willingly with the promise of free time and effortless chic. The shift of mentality to the ‘modern’ lifestyle clinched the deal.

Sewing is frivolous now, too – Why spend time making something when you can just go to the store? Time is money, you know. Don’t you wanna get you some??

And another corner of women’s culture dies.

Just One Of The Guys

The second problem with Not Like Other Girls is that, yes, inevitably you are like other girls in some ways. Instead of just rejecting what we recognize as bullshit, we project these negative stereotypes onto other women.

It’s another indirect admission – Sure, women are shit. But I’m the exception!

Bararella 1

Do you love me yet, Daddy??

Competition for men’s attention gets a lot of ink, but we ignore that men have the Home Court Advantage! Kissing their collective ass gets us access to the status they hoard. Taking on masculine social signals is the tip of the hat that says, ‘No challenge here!’ 

Everyone behaves as if it’s assumed that Woman Bad. This consistent drip-drip-drip demonization of the feminine plants a feeling of alienation in us when we engage in anything inherently female-oriented, sending us crawling out of our skins to avoid guilt-by-association. We feel relief when our femaleness is less highlighted, and powerful in men’s clothes. 

But we can’t be men, and their methods don’t always work for us. And just as we began to ask, ‘What were our methods again?’, it became transphobic to talk about. 

The stress seems to be getting to us, every forum I frequent is rife with paranoia. Rigidity is setting in, and factions are forming. Which is a damn shame, because I know I’m still working on my own self-loathing and internalized misogyny. Dealing with this shit alone is getting really old.

Occasionally, someone – Usually someone on her way out – will proclaim exasperation with the whole situation. She will marvel at how women turn on each other, ‘It’s almost like they don’t want to be liberated!’

But not me, I’m not like the other feminists!

Woops! Internalized misogyny strikes again. It’s really a pity no one is keeping score, because we’re gunning for the all-time record.

Bitch Fight

Holy shit Karen, I just wanted to borrow them!

It’s the ultimate divide-&-conquer strategy – Implanted in our own worldview, Woman Bad keeps us in line from within by keeping us insecure in ourselves and isolated from one another.

Life Finds A Way

There’s some life left in us – Our survival instinct has drawn us to gather, chipping at the edges with things like Believe All Women! But it’s going to take time to undo centuries of self-loathing. Small, stable communities are forming here and there, but we need a rallying point.

To achieve the liberation of women, we have to know who we’re talking about. Some women excel in the kind of achievements men are so fond of, but many of our talents lie elsewhere. Progress for feminism will begin with an honest re-assessment of who and what we are.

We are different from men. Denial of this simple fact has cost us dearly – So much that the male-oriented organizations of the world have finally deemed us irrelevant. Outdated. Woman Classic is out of production, and Woman 2.0 is already rolling off the assembly line.

We have enabled all of this by refusing to take ownership of own definition. If none of us is like the other girls, then who are girls, anyway? Patriarchy has lots of ideas.

Only we can speak up for us. If we’re not sure what to say, approaching each other with forgiveness would be a good place to start.