# I mentioned a while back that G/Son and I brought two kittens home to live with me. They’re now almost fully-grown cats and I have trouble imagining how I ever lived without them. Today was a spectacularly warm November day, here in the magical Mid-Atlantic. Merlin and Nimue are indoor cats, but, this being Virginia, I have a screened-in back porch that they love. Lately, it’s been too chilly to let them hang out there but, today, we had lovely, warm, Indian Summer weather and I let them play on the porch for a long time. AND THERE WERE LEAVES! FALLING DOWN! OUT OF THE SKY! BLOWING AROUND IN THE WIND! WE COULD SEE THEM BUT WE COULDN’T REACH THEM! If I didn’t understand that there are many reasons to keep cats indoors, I’d have been sorely tempted to let them out. Instead, I slipped out and brought a handful of leaves onto the porch where the wind could blow them around and the Bobbsey Twins could chase and pounce on them to their hearts’ content. They’re now both back indoors, fed and sound asleep in a patch of sunlight on the Arts & Crafts carpet. We should all be so lucky.
# Are there places that stand out like landmarks in your spiritual geography? Today, facing some good, but major, personal changes, I went back to a local public garden that has figured large in my spiritual life. It’s a lovely place to breathe healing scents from pine needles, herbs, and hot-house flowers, to do walking mediation, and to think through things that are going on. Sometimes, I just go there when I have a day off and sometimes I go there when I’m facing a challenge or have something to figure out. It’s perfectly arranged for gentle walks and for long sits that allow you to stare into the forest, or at a fountain, or into the heart of the stream where, for decades, I’ve seen more magic than almost anywhere else. In fact, I go back, in my memory, to that stream whenever life begins to seem too grim for me. As long as that light, filtered through those leaves, hits that stream bed in just that way, and as long as I can know that that magic, at least, is real, well then, I can be certain, even in dark times, that, in Mary Oliver’s words, the immeasurable will come, that the unknowable will touch the buckle of my spine, and that I will belong to belong to all of the mysteries. When I was a terrified young mother, depressed and full of angst over my life, I went to the garden and stood touching three standing stones that rose out of a shallow pool. The message that I got was a simple one: “It will be OK. You’re going to do fine. You have to do the work.” The stones were right. Since then, I’ve been doing the work. Today, old and winding things up, I went back. The stones are gone, but, as I watched Canada Geese swimming on the same pool, I suddenly saw, almost invisible near the edge of the water, a blue heron, which I’ve never seen there before. She was laughing at me, unsurprised that I can now see what I couldn’t see before. Some say that these graceful birds bring a message of self-reliance and the ability to progress and evolve. That was just what I needed.
Where do you go to compose your soul?
# I had lunch the other day with a male colleague who asked, “Why now? Why are are all these women coming forward now, with allegations of sexual harassment, when they didn’t come forward before?” Of course, the answer is likely different for each woman, but, as I told this earnest, but rather un-woke, Gen Xer, well, women are angry. We’re really angry. No, really. Women. Are. Angry. Somehow, I told him, y’all never worry that women will start rioting and burn down city center. You never worry that we’ll grab guns and go shoot up Hooters, or a football stadium, or the local Viagra clinic. Apparently we’ve once in human history decided to stop putting out (and the play about that is considered a comedy) and only once gone on strike, but, other than that, all y’all believe you can do whatever you want to women and we’ll keep (as Mrs. Whasit has noted) loving, sleeping with, cooking for, and raising the enemy. You could have thrown us one woman president every 200 years, but, no. First, the qualified woman lost to the young, cool, guy w/ no experience and, then, after she WORKED FOR HIM EVEN WHEN HE DIDN’T MAKE HER VP, the most qualified woman lost to the completely unqualified man who BRAGGED ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT, and, so, look, I am sorry to have to tell you this, over the crabcakes and chardonnay, but now we’re really, really mad. And, now, we’re going to do this the hard way. It was your choice.
And, yeah, we’re mad over stuff that happened decades ago and that has been simmering — all this time — under the surface for us (while you blithely forgot about it the next day) and we’re mad at that time yesterday when you interrupted us or stole our idea, and we’re mad at the way you shafted us for the commission on the case we brought in three years ago, and we’re mad at, we’re mad at, we’re furious at the whole damn patriarchal game you’ve rigged and made us play all our lives. Sorry, not sorry. Muriel Rukeyser is reputed to have said that if even one woman ever told the truth about her life, the world would split open. Women have now decided that they’re OK with that split. Figure it out, guys, figure it out. Wake the fuck up and figure it out now.
# One of the things that women have had to face over the past year or so is that EVEN the men we thought were our allies — men who earnestly professed their liberal bona fides — even those men are really assholes. I’m looking at every single one of you men — from Joe Biden, to Bernie Sanders, to Roy Moore, to Al Franken to, well, you know who you are — who shit on Anita Hill, who couldn’t just ONCE wholeheartedly embrace the idea of a woman in the White House, who called the most qualified woman unqualified (because, like every man before her, she gave paid speeches) and implied that her run for the WH must have been “rigged,” who imagined the local shopping mall was a place where you could shop for chinos, headphones, and, oh, yes, that other cheap commodity, young girls, who thought that it was funny to make women the butt of your jokes based on male dominance, who, well, you know who you are. Liberal, conservative, neutral, you’ve all used dominance one way or another. And, as I should have told my confused colleague, quit pretending that we haven’t told you this before. Robin fucking Morgan , a member of the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH) laid it all out more than half a fucking century ago in Goodbye to All That .
Robin said it and we shouldn’t have had to repeat it:
Run it all the way down.
Goodbye to the male-dominated peace movement, where sweet old Uncle Dave can say with impunity to a woman on the staff of Liberation magazine,
The trouble with you is you’re an aggressive woman.
Goodbye to the
straight male-dominated Left: to PL, who will allow that some workers are women, but won’t see all women (say, housewives) as workers (blind as the System itself); to all the old Left-over parties who offer their
Women’s Liberation caucuses to us as if that were not a contradiction in terms; to the individual anti-leadership leaders who hand-pick certain women to be leaders and then relate only to them, either in the male Left or in Women’s Liberation—bringing their hang-ups about power dominance and manipulation to everything they touch.
Goodbye to the Weather Vain, with the Stanley Kowalski image and theory of free sexuality but practice of sex on demand for males.
Left Out!—not Right On!—to the Weather Sisters who (and they know better—they know) reject their own radical feminism for that last desperate grab at male approval that we all know so well, for claiming that the machismo style and the gratuitous violence is their own style by
free choice, and for believing that this is the way for a woman to make her revolution…all the while, oh my sister, not meeting my eyes because Weathermen chose Charles Manson as their—and your—hero. (Honest, at least, since Manson is only the logical extreme of the normal American male’s fantasy, whether he is Dick Nixon or Mark Rudd: master of a harem, women to do all the shitwork, from raising babies and cooking and hustling to killing people on command.) Goodbye to all that shit that sets women apart from women; shit that covers the face of any Weatherwoman which is the face of any Manson Slave which is the face of Sharon Tate which is the face of Mary Jo Kopechne which is the face of Beulah Saunders, which is the face of me which is the face of Pat Nixon which is the face of Pat Swinton. In the dark we are all the same–and you better believe it: we’re in the dark, baby. (Remember the old joke: Know what they call a black man with a Ph.D.? A nigger. Variations: Know what they call a Weatherwoman? A heavy cunt. Know what they call a hip revolutionary woman? A groovy cunt. Know what they call a radical militant feminist? A crazy cunt. Amerika is a land of free choice–take your pick of titles.) Left Out, my sister—don’t you see? Goodbye to the illusion of strength when you run hand in hand with your oppressors; goodbye to the dream that being in the leadership collective will get you anything but gonorrhea.
Goodbye to RYM II, as well, and all the other RYMs—not that the sisters there didn’t pull a cool number by seizing control, but because they let the men back in after only a day or so of self-criticism on
male chauvinism. (And goodbye to the inaccurate blanket use of that phrase, for that matter: male chauvinism is an attitude—male supremacy is the objective reality, the fact.) Goodbye to the Conspiracy, who, when lunching with fellow sexist bastards Norman Mailer and Terry Southern in a Bunny-type club in Chicago found Judge Hoffman at the neighboring table—no surprise: in the light they are all the same.
Goodbye to Hip culture and the so-called Sexual Revolution, which has functioned toward women’s freedom as did the Reconstruction toward former slaves—reinstituting oppression by another name. Goodbye to the assumption that Hugh Romney is safe in his
cultural revolution, safe enough to refer to
our women, who make all our clothes without somebody not forgiving that. Goodbye to the arrogance of power indeed that lets Czar Stan Freeman of the Electric Circus sleep without fear at night, or permits Tomi Ungerer to walk unafraid in the street after executing the drawings for the Circus advertising campaign against women. Goodbye to the idea that Hugh Hefner is groovy ’cause he lets Conspirators come to parties at the Playboy Mansion—goodbye to Hefner’s dream of a ripe old age. Goodbye to Tuli and the Fugs and all the boys in the front room—who always knew they hated the women they loved. Goodbye to the notion that good ol’ Abbie is any different from any other up-and-coming movie star who ditches the first wife and kids, good enough for the old days but awkward once you’re Making It. Goodbye to his hypocritical double standard that reeks through the tattered charm. Goodbye to lovely
pro-Women’s Liberationist Paul Krassner, with all his astonished anger that women have lost their sense of humor
on this issue and don’t laugh any more at little funnies that degrade and hurt them: farewell to the memory of his
Instant Pussy aerosol-can poster, to his column for the woman-hating men’s magazine Cavalier, to his dream of a Rape-In against legislators’ wives, to his Scapegoats and Realist Nuns and cute anecdotes about the little daughter he sees as often as any properly divorced Scarsdale middle-aged father; goodbye forever to the notion that a man is my brother who, like Paul, buys a prostitute for the night as a birthday gift for a male friend, or who, like Paul, reels off the names in alphabetical order of people in the women’s movement he has fucked, reels off names in the best locker-room tradition–as proof that he’s no sexist oppressor.
Let it all hang out. Let it seem bitchy, catty, dykey, Solanisesque, frustrated, crazy, nutty, frigid, ridiculous, bitter, embarrassing, man-hating, libelous, pure, unfair, envious, intuitive, low-down, stupid, petty, liberating. We are the women that men have warned us about.
And let’s put one lie to rest for all time: the lie that men are oppressed, too, by sexism—the lie that there can be such a thing as
men’s liberation groups. Oppression is something that one group of people commits against another group specifically because of a
threatening characteristic shared by the latter group—skin color or sex or age, etc. The oppressors are indeed fucked up by being masters (racism hurts whites, sexual stereotypes are harmful to men) but those masters are not oppressed. Any master has the alternative of divesting himself of sexism or racism; the oppressed have no alternative—for they have no power—but to fight. In the long run, Women’s Liberation will of course free men—but in the short term it’s going to cost men a lot of privilege, which no one gives up willingly or easily. Sexism is not the fault of women—kill your fathers, not your mothers.
Run it down. Goodbye to a beautiful new ecology movement that could fight to save us all if it would stop tripping off women as earthmother types or frontier chicks, if it would right now cede leadership to those who have not polluted the planet because that action implies power and women haven’t had any power in about 5,000 years, cede leadership to those whose brains are as tough and clear as any man’s but whose bodies are also unavoidably aware of the locked-in relationship between humans and their biosphere—the earth, the tides, the atmosphere, the moon. Ecology is no big shtick if you’re a woman—it’s always been there.
Goodbye to the complicity inherent in the Berkeley Tribesmen being part publishers of Trashman Comics; goodbye, for that matter, to the reasoning that finds whoremaster Trashman a fitting model, however comic-strip far-out, for a revolutionary man—somehow related to the same Super-male reasoning that permits the first statement on Women’s Liberation and male chauvinism that came out of the Black Panther Party to be made by a man, talking a whole lot about how the sisters should speak up for themselves. Such ignorance and arrogance ill-befits a revolutionary.
We know how racism is worked deep into the unconscious by the System–the same way sexism is, as it appears in the very name of The Young Lords. What are you if you’re a
macho woman—a female Lord? Or, god forbid, a Young Lady? Change it, change it to the Young Gentry if you must, or never assume that the name itself is innocent of pain, of oppression.
Theory and practice—and the light-years between them.
Do it! says Jerry Rubin in Rat‘s last issue—but he doesn’t or every Rat reader would have known the pictured face next to his article as well as they know his own much-photographed face: it was Nancy Kurshan,
his woman, the power behind the clown.
Goodbye to the New Nation and Earth People’s Park for that matter, conceived by men, announced by men, led by men—doomed before birth by the rotting seeds of male supremacy transplanted into fresh soil. Was it my brother who listed human beings among the objects that would be easily available after the Revolution:
Free grass, free food, free women, free acid, free clothes, etc.? Was it my brother who wrote
Fuck your women till they can’t stand up and said that groupies were liberated chicks ’cause they dug a tit-shake instead of a handshake? The epitome of male exclusionism—
men will make the Revolution—and make their chicks. Not my brother. No. Not my revolution. Not one breath of my support for the new counterfeit Christ—John Sinclair. Just one less to worry about for ten years. I do not choose my enemy for my brother.
Goodbye, goodbye. To hell with the simplistic notion that automatic freedom for women–or nonwhite peoples–will come about zap! with the advent of a socialist revolution. Bullshit. Two evils pre-date capitalism and clearly have been able to survive and post-date socialism: sexism and racism. Women were the first property when the Primary Contradiction occurred: when one-half of the human species decided to subjugate the other half, because it was
different, alien, the Other. From there it was an easy enough step to extend the concept of Other to someone of different skin shade, different height or weight or language—or strength to resist. Goodbye to those simple-minded optimistic dreams of socialist equality all our good socialist brothers want us to believe. How merely liberal a politics that is! How much further we will have to go to create those profound changes that would give birth to a genderless society. Profound, Sister. Beyond what is male or female. Beyond standards we all adhere to now without daring to examine them as male-created, male-dominated, male-fucked-up, and in male self-interest. Beyond all known standards, especially those easily articulated revolutionary ones we all rhetorically invoke. Beyond—to a species with a new name, that would not dare define itself as Man.
I once said,
I’m a revolutionary, not just a woman, and knew my own lie even as I said the words. The pity of that statement’s eagerness to be acceptable to those whose revolutionary zeal no one would question, i.e., any male supremacist in the counterleft. But to become a true revolutionary one must first become one of the oppressed (not organize or educate or manipulate them, but become one of them)–or realize that you are one already. No woman wants that. Because that realization is humiliating, it hurts. It hurts to understand that at Woodstock or Altamont a woman could be declared uptight or a poor sport if she didn’t want to be raped. It hurts to learn that the sisters still in male-Left captivity are putting down
the crazy feminists to make themselves look unthreatening to our mutual oppressors. It hurts to be pawns in those games. It hurts to try and change each day of your life right now—not in talk, not
in your head, and not only conveniently
out there in the Third World (half of which are women) or the black or brown communities (half of which are women) but in your own home, kitchen, bed. No getting away, no matter how else you are oppressed, from the primary oppression of being female in a patriarchal world. It hurts to hear that the sisters in the Gay Liberation Front, too, have to struggle continuously against the male chauvinism of their gay brothers. It hurts that Jane Alpert was cheered when rapping about imperialism, racism, the Third World, and All Those Safe Topics but hissed and booed by a movement crowd of men who wanted none of it when she began to talk about Women’s Liberation. The backlash is upon us.
They tell us the alternative is to hang in there and
struggle, to confront male domination in the counterleft, to fight beside or behind or beneath our brothers–to show ’em we’re just as tough, just as revolushunerry, just as whatever‐image‐they‐now‐want‐of‐us‐as‐once‐they‐wanted‐us‐to‐be‐feminine‐and‐keep‐up‐the‐home‐fire‐burning. They will bestow titular leadership on our grateful shoulders, whether it’s being a token woman on the Movement Speakers Bureau Advisory Board, or being a Conspiracy groupie or one of the
respectable chain-swinging Motor City Nine. Sisters all, with only one real alternative: to seize our own power into our own hands, all women, separate and together, and make the Revolution the way it must be made—no priorities this time, no suffering group told to wait until after.
It is the job of revolutionary feminists to build an ever stronger independent Women’s Liberation Movement, so that the sisters in counterleft captivity will have somewhere to turn, to use their power and rage and beauty and coolness in their own behalf for once, on their own terms, on their own issues, in their own style—whatever that may be. Not for us in Women’s Liberation to hassle them and confront them the way their men do, nor to blame them—or ourselves—for what any of us are: an oppressed people, but a people raising our consciousness toward something that is the other side of anger, something bright and smooth and cool, like action unlike anything yet contemplated or carried out. It is for us to survive (something the white male radical has the luxury of never really worrying about, what with all his options), to talk, to plan, to be patient, to welcome new fugitives from the counterfeit Left with no arrogance but only humility and delight, to push—to strike.
There is something every woman wears around her neck on a thin chain of fear—an amulet of madness. For each of us, there exists somewhere a moment of insult so intense that she will reach up and rip the amulet off, even if the chain tears the flesh of her neck. And the last protection from seeing the truth will be gone. Do you think, tugging furtively every day at the chain and going nicely insane as I am, that I can be concerned with the peurile squabbles of a counterfeit Left that laughs at my pain? Do you think such a concern is noticeable when set alongside the suffering of more than half the human species for the past 5,000 years—due to a whim of the other half? No, no, no, goodbye to all that.
We said it. You knew it. You just chose to ignore it because, as noted above, we haven’t yet shot up a church, or the stock exchange, or your local Hooters. As the protagonist of the movie Suffragettes explained to the policeman, “Suffragettes break window and burn things because war’s the only language men listen to. We’re in every home; we’re half the human race; you can’t stop us all. We will win.” Expect us.
# I saw a different t-shirt the other day. It said, “We are the grandsons of the Witches you didn’t burn.” I know a young man who needs one of those.
Picture found here.