Detour into escapism

So a Summer of overwork and isolation, combined with one fucking outrage after another, one fucking betrayal after another—Amnesty sucking off pimps and exploiters, the right to abortion being blatantly carved away State by State (yep, I’m in the US) to the snores of liberal “allies”, a fucking government shutdown looming over funding for one of the few organizations in the US that provides health care to poor girls and women—has led to a crashing return of depression. This is not to mention police brutality against the vulnerable which is not punished even when there are eyewitnesses and videotapes.This is not to mention the poisonous fruits of American foreign policy in every region of the world—those drowned children can be laid at Cheney’s feet as well as Assad’s. This is not to mention trans-absurdity completely derailing discussions of sex-based oppression and how to combat it—to let us live, to get us free, god dammit.

After a pretty severe episode, complete with compulsive suicidal ideation, in 2011-2012, with the help of therapy and medication (yes, I know these are just fixing the symptoms and not the system, and that they do more harm than good for some women) I’ve been managing the depression pretty well, though it has never disappeared—not in my adult life. But it’s been growing and I find myself back in the place where I’m not functioning, not doing daily tasks that need to be done, not doing my work, barely keeping clean and dressed enough to go to the office, and not really caring. Just tired and can’t focus, other people seem unreal to me or actively annoying, the grey washed-out uselessness of it all, spiked by crimson horrors in the news and radfem blogs I read.

In the midst of this, my very annoying romanticism and heterosexuality have also asserted themselves. WTF!? Peri-menopause, maybe? A few months back on a loooooooong flight for work I watched a couple of Bollywood movies. I remembered that back in the 2000’s, when I lived in a developing country where folks regularly screened these in bars or other public areas, there was one guy I thought was sexy, as opposed to most of the guys who didn’t do anything for me in particular. So, I picked a couple of movies with him in them. And, boom, I’m crushing on this guy in a ridiculous way.

When I’m really depressed, I get obsessive about things or people—it’s a way of distracting myself from the sadness, rage, despair and fear, frustration at being unable to think clearly, to make and follow-through on small or big decisions. So, what in a less depressed phase would have been a fun little moment of—“Oh yeah, that guy is as hot as I remembered”- has expanded into my watching every movie, every video on youtube, looking at fan sites and Bollywood news sites—any moment when I’m not forced to do something else. I’ve made a playlist of some of the songs from the movies—so that I am thinking about this guy even when not able to watch him. Truly, this is weird behavior for me, possibly for any person over 15?

The reason I decided to write about this for this blog, is the sheer irony of it for a truly pissed off radfem. In my limited experience, Bollywood is incredibly, over the top romantic, and quite sexual despite the (now changing) “no kissing rule”. Men and women are endlessly beautiful, as are clothes and settings. Stories are simple and big whether sad or happy. And there’s music and dancing at every turn. I think part of my current attraction is that the “heroes” in these movies are silly, soft, and laugh at themselves in ways that Western movie stars never would—and they enthusiastically perform as many fun, sexy, or just odd dance moves as the women.

These movies are selling a different brand of hetero relationships, a different brand of masculinity, but just the same I know that all this romance and sex is nothing but propaganda for a cluster of the most heinous gender hierarchies in the world on that sub-continent. The movies I’m watching (there are definitely other flavors) either present couples (only ever hetero–though there can be nice same sex friendships) as equals (on the surface), or with the men as benevolent dictators—who happen to be in charge of everyone but really have their charges’ best interests at heart. Ugh. While I’m watching these, I have a feeling akin to when I used to watch porn occasionally—turned on, and ashamed at the same time—not because of the sex, but because of the hate and dehumanization being enacted onscreen. In Bollywood it’s much gentler and dressed up really prettily, but it’s there, no question. These movies have generous splashes of racism, ableism, and homophobia thrown in with the misogyny too.

Knowing all this will not in any way prevent me from watching the next movie or clip I can access. Dude has dozens of movies, appearances, interviews, blah blah blah. For the moment, I’m going with it. I’m going for a tune-up with the therapist who helped me right myself from the last crisis, and will focus on getting the depression under control. Based on past experience, the crush/obsession will fade as I can face real life a bit better again. And I’ll have learned a little Hindi along the way.

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Radfem Repost

For forty years, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival has welcomed all womyn home. The Festival has been a bedrock of lesbian culture, feminist vision, and womyn’s liberty. This is the Festival’s final year.

A sister event is taking place online to support MichFest and radical feminism everywhere. During the week of Festival, August 4-9, 2015, RadFem Repost will be publishing radical feminist essays and then signal boosting them across the internet.

We are looking for writers, bloggers, and tweeters who want to help make a small explosion of feminist revolution happen in August 2015.

We will never give up the fight! Email if you want to join!

Radfemrepost2015@gmail.com

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Missing MichFest

When I was a baby feminist in the late 80s, in Ohio, MichFest was talked about as a feminist institution in my circles, like Ms Magazine (Ms was better then and I was infinitely more naive) or Off Our Backs, Take Back the Night Marches and Croning Ceremonies. I was privileged to see Andrea Dworkin speak at my college at the height of her and Catharine MacKinnon’s work to hold pornographers legally accountable for the harms they contribute to.

Just in the last few years I’ve had enough self-confidence, longing, and resources to actually participate in MichFest. This is the first year I got serious about planning to go, and then, like many other women, I became determined to go after the announcement that this would be the last Fest in its current incarnation. But life intervened. I have to work that week and there isn’t an option to say no without damaging relationships at work.

So, with gratitude for being in a position to help, I donated some of the money it would have cost me to go to the Festival. In this way I can participate in spirit, which is no substitute for what I have read about the MichFest experience: the feel of Women’s Land, the sensory overload, and the connections happening in real time with a glorious variety of women. Still, it’s better than nothing, and I am grateful.

I’m especially sad about missing the blog meet-up, which antilla-dean.tumblr.com is (co?) organizing–info about it will be on the printed program you get at the gate, she says! All of her entries about MichFest and what will come after MichFest have been lovely, by the way. But I have a comforting sense of anticipation and look forward to reading about the amazing and inspiring, “spinning and sparking”, fortifying and nurturing, celebrating and mourning, happenings on the Land.

Radical Feminism is a framework that fits the data. Too bad I figured it out so late. Better late than never?

So, I started this blog mostly because I have been really encouraged by the small group of radfem bloggers on WordPress, and I wanted to archive the posts that resonated with me by reblogging them. I enjoy some radfem blogs onTumblr too, but I think WordPress is more my style.

As a white, 40 something, middle-class, het/married woman, I’m not sure my voice and perspective are really needed. I like to listen/read. But then I discovered there is kind of an etiquette involved with re-blogging. The idea seems to be that one should ask each author about her rules/preferences about re-blogging her posts. Because I’m a lazy so and so, I haven’t done this. So I’m kind of at a standstill with the blog. I’m also too lazy to learn about things like tagging and other WordPress knobs and whistles. Can anyone recommend a tutorial?

I notice that I have some followers, so I thought I should say hi. Hi! I’ll tell you a little about me and my journey to radical feminism, in case it is of any interest. I’ve been very close with my mom, Aunt, sister, and maternal Grandma my whole life, and I’m lucky to have had them. On the other hand, every single teenage or adult male I spent any amount of time with–dad, stepdad, babysitters (yes, my parents were that naive), “friends of the family” hurt me in many and varied ways–though none of them inflicted violent physical or sexual abuse. Like, I never had marks. My maternal grandfather tried very hard to be a dependable, decent man, and he succeeded–but even he sat by while my stepdad physically abused my mom for a decade.

My aunt was a seventies style feminist and a liberal in the Steinem, Jimmy Carter sort of style. She also worked hard to educate herself about race and ethnicity in America, reading African American, Hispanic, and Asian fiction and non-fiction authors voraciously. She was the only political person in my family and she shaped my world view quite a bit.

So, since high school/college I’ve had a feminist consciousness, and been aware of my various privileges. But until my mid-30’s I was operating with the liberal framework that sex-based oppression, as well as other oppressions, were sort of misunderstandings. That if women (adult human females) and other oppressed groups worked hard enough to explain that 1) we are fully human, 2) that we as humans are suffering hugely as a result of current structural power arrangements, and 3) that the human race is missing out big-time by not fixing these structural power arrangements; then those in power would change their ways by and large.

I got a graduate degree, started working in international community-based development, got married to a Nigel, and had a daughter. And when I was in my mid-30’s, I realized that someone had been pissing on me and telling me it was raining for a long time. Nothing was working–in my life and in the world–the way that a liberal feminist framework told me it should.

I found some libfem blogs, then moved quickly to I Blame the Patriarchy, RadFem Hub, and Femonade (compressing a couple of years here). It was like a fucking huge light switch came on. A radical feminist framework is the most effective framework for interpreting what actually happens in the world–not what people say, but what physically, psychologically, and spiritually happens. As many others have said, this was a double-edged sword. It was good, because it allowed me to start a journey toward honesty, toward seeing what I was seeing and saying it (if only to myself and people on blogs). It was bad, because I understood that girls and women are well and truly screwed, and only the with-holding of our productive and reproductive labor–protected by any means required–would likely change the situation.

So, for the last 7 years or so, I’ve been in a holding pattern. My daughter is growing up, and I can’t deny that she benefits from being raised in a conventional marriage, with two incomes. So I stay, reaping privilege for her and me, shoring up the patriarchy. What I can do at the moment, is discourage any women I know, including my daughter, from focusing any energy on men, from having relationships with them, from marriage, and especially from having children. Again, as many radfems have pointed out, children, no matter how amazing they are as humans, no matter how much we love them, are huge resource sucks, and hold us hostage to the patriarchy.

I’m trying to figure out the economics angle of all this. I like Twisty Faster’s “megatheocorporatocracy” as the characterization of the current powers that be. Capitalism sucks–I mean it is hard to imagine a worse economic arrangement, but if sex-based oppression is the root of all oppressions, is there a hope of saner, less nihilistic economic arrangements without obliterating the gender hierarchy? What is the balance of “harm mitigation”, self-care, and “spinning and sparking” that is effective for keeping women as safe and sane as possible, while eating away at the roots and branches of patriarchy? How does that change from person to person, depending on her circumstances? These are some of the questions I’m asking.

Thanks for reading, and thanks most of all for writing down and sharing your insights and journeys.

Open Letter to rabble re: Meghan Murphy

Last Wave Feminist

To: The Editors, Publishers, Founders and Editorial Board – rabble.ca

We, the undersigned, wish to express our deep dissatisfaction with rabble’s response to the recent attacks on Meghan Murphy.

In past weeks, Meghan Murphy has become the target of a vicious and focused attack that we believe is aimed not only at her—as the most visible voice of a set of feminist principles with which we broadly agree—but at women in general and feminists specifically.

This attack—sparked by an article at Playboy magazine and a petition inspired by the Men’s Rights Movement and women who are known for their promotion of the sex industry—focuses nominally on a brief piece written by Murphy in response to nude photos published of a trans woman named Laverne Cox. Her piece criticized the notion that the publication of highly sexualized, pornographic photographs of a woman or trans woman is “empowering.” We see no fair…

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The End Of An Era: Michfest’s 40th Anniversary will be the Last

I wanted to go last year but was too busy, too afraid. I’m going this year, “Lord willin and the creek don’t rise” as my Grandma would say. And I’m going to give as much as I can to the scholarship fund. I hope to meet some of the radfems who have inspired me in blogland.

GenderTrender

michfest

Lisa Vogel, the creator and visionary behind the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival announced today that the legendary multi-generational women’s encampment and music festival will end this year.

After four decades of overcoming every sort of challenge imaginable in order to create the miracle that is Michfest, Vogel posted the following announcement an hour ago on the festival’s Facebook page:

Dear Sisters, Amazon, Festival family,

It has been my honor and privilege to produce the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for 40 years. It has been my life’s work, my deepest commitment, my constant challenge and my most profound joy. Every single thing of value I have learned in the world I have learned in the process of being part of building this beloved community. Almost every friend and family member who I cherish I have met on that hallowed ground, and every single way I have learned to put my…

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