Thursday, January 18, 2007

A bedtime story for feminism.

After following the continuing feminist blogsplosion for a while (no, I'm not gonna link because that way lies madness), I've been thinking of a story...

Once upon a time there were several kick-ass women who knew that the way things were weren't right and who wanted to change things. They also knew that the only way to make a real change would be to start with themselves. So, they all moved into a house together and started writing some radical feminist theory and tried to create a true, egalitarian, feminist life.

One of them was a writer. And she was a good writer. But because she had a strong talent for writing, she was not allowed to write. She had to downplay this skill and allow others in the group to do the writing. So she gave up her writing.

Do you know what this means, to be a writer and to give up your writing in the pursuit of a greater good?

Do you know what it means for your sisters to *ask* this of you?

Some of the women in this house were caring for the young child of another woman, a woman who had left. And they loved this child dearly, and the child loved them. But others in the house insisted that these women were simply serving the patriarchy by taking care of a child, by being mothers, and so they, believing that this was what they needed to do for the greater good, gave up the child.

I'm sure you can imagine what this meant, for the child and the mothers.

There were many other instances in which these women, deep in their feminist theory, ended up hurting each other. Badly.

These women were The Furies. The writer who wasn't allowed to write became a well-known photographer: in the absence of words, she turned to images. Another woman became a well-known advocate of international women's rights. Yet another became a famous novelist.

And when I heard some of the members speak eleven years ago, they were still moved to tears when they remembered that child. They talked openly, and with deep sadness, about what they had done to each other and to themselves. Not all of the members of the group showed up - an illustration, the speakers said, of just how damaging that time was for them on a personal level.

The theory they wrote was brilliant.


At the end of the day, I'd like a movement whose members can co-exist somewhat peacefully. That's all. It doesn't even have to be happily ever after.


Anonymous said...

What a shame that they couldn't be true to themselves.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Well, this is the problem with politics, isn't it - sometimes it's hard to know what being true to oneself means when one is trying to break through the stereotypes and social construction.

It's a sad story.

Anonymous said...

I suppose only if breaking through stereotypes is more important to you than actually having fredom to live your own life.
I was thinking about these women last night. I can understand the situation with the child- I can totally see feminists forcing other women not to be mothers because they personally don't like it. However, I don't understand the thing with the woman wanting to be a writer. Didn't feminists want women to have skills and literacy? Didn't they want women to have careers? I would think that they would have liked that she was a writer...

Plain(s)feminist said...

I didn't explain that well.

What it was about was that some had had, due to class privilege, access to better education than others. This was an attempt to allow those who weren't writers to develop those skills. But it was also an attempt to not let any particular women turn into the leaders of the group, either in the group's eyes or in the media's eyes.