Halloween aftermath

This is going to be a kind of response post to last night’s double posting by FCM and S4!

LOVED the post! Loved the collaboration!

As I’m feeling inspired, I want to delve deeper into the subject abandoned mental asylums because I’ve just finished reading “The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830- 1980) by Elaine Showalter. It is excellent.

Though Elaine Showalter does butter up the patriarchy to a certain extent by pretending to be interested in the life stories of some male psychiatrists,( which I thought was an excellent, cunning ploy and a good way of going about getting the real nitty gritty stuff about women published) this is most definitely a radical feminist book. An angry radical feminist book.

In one chapter, she hurls her rage at patriarchy and lists victim after female victim; then suddenly in the next chapter she is musing about the upbringing of some psychiatrist or other, which she must know is unimportant and irrelevant. But as I say, the whole thing is cleverly done. Rarely can you access female rage in writing because that type of work doesn’t get published. FCM brought this up in a blog post once: about how radfem writers tend to omit or obscure information and it’s up to us to put the jigsaw pieces together.

Life in the P is indeed a horror show. There are so many things to blog about every day, but I don’t, generally, blog anymore. What about the recent spate of girls killing other girls in Japan, in particular the 15 year old motherless teen who beheaded her best friend in the city of Sasebo (very close to me, btw). The girl’s mother had  died of cancer (apparently) a year earlier and she was living alone. Sasebo had already made headlines in 2004 when an elementary schoolgirl stabbed her classmate to death.

If you walked past the house where the girl had killed her friend, you would still get the same creepy feeling of dread and horror that you get when you look at images of abandoned mental asylums, wouldn’t you? The patriarchal tentacles had reached her.

But the evil in mental asylums is multiplied a thousandfold because the atrocities were/are strategic, planned and SOCIALLY AND LEGALLY LEGITIMIZED. And therein lies the difference, and the real horror, I think. I am NOT defending what she did (!), but who knows what kind of predators a fifteen year old living completely alone was having to deal with, and who knows what men had been doing to her. What she did was extraordinarily unnatural.

I want to touch on a point that WordWoman made in the comments at Radical Resolution because she mentioned that the internet itself is like an insane asylum. I concur. And life itself is like living in an insane asylum too.

S4 mentioned overwork and asylum inmates or patients being worked to death. Well, this is a pretty common way to die in Japan, and I’ve given up defending this place on cultural grounds by now. I had a nervous breakdown about 2 years ago and one of the contributing factors was that no matter how hard I worked, how tired I was, how much money I brought in, the people around me (husband, mother in law, father in law, in laws in general) redefined that work as… “nothing”. I kept getting told that I was doing “nothing”.

It’s one thing to be worked like a horse, and quite another to be told you’re doing nothing as you’re doing it.  I’ve learned that “Karoushi”, death by overwork, is indeed a thing. It’s pretty commonplace for people to just be worked to death. For example, when a person qualifies as a chef, it is common for them to be given 23 hour shifts. Those who don’t drop dead might be one of the 30,000 people per year who commit suicide. Suicides have exceeded 30, 000 a year in Japan, every year, for thirteen years. Which is more than creepy, when you think about it. I would be interested to know if it was mainly women who were ordered to do 23 hour shifts upon qualifying in their respective skill sets.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Telling someone they’re not working, when they’re dropping from exhaustion is a pretty creative form of torture, don’t you think? Looking back, it was totally deliberate gas-lighting.

So some countries don’t have creepy mental asylums because the whole place is one.  A siren in my city wakes everyone up at 7am, rings again at 5pm so that the housewives begin preparing dinner and the children go home from the parks,  then rings one more time at 9pm so that everyone knows its bedtime. This is some seriously insane shit that I am dealing with. Is this why the scariest and creepiest horror movies all originate in Japan?

More on the feeling that you’re living in a mental asylum. Have you ever been to a restaurant or cafe run by men (which I probably shouldn’t do, but sometimes I do if it’s cheap) only for them to be polite at first, then become gradually cold towards you the more you visit, until finally they show you contempt or hostility? Capitalism takes a backseat to patriarchy– capitalists know that patriarchy is the bedrock of capitalism so they would happily lose money in order to uphold the status quo. Anyway, what does this have to do with asylums? Well, it’s the sense of unreality I get when it dawns on me that I’m getting the cold-shoulder.  Here are the servers, the barristas, smiling.They pretend they’re there to serve food… but in fact that’s not what they’re doing, it seems. They’re there to watch and judge. And they REALLY don’t like serving a woman food on a regular basis because that goes against the order of things.

The idea that women can ease the impact of misogyny by spending money is one of The Biggest Lies out there. Men remind women of their place, constantly. I guess, my point is, men are insane, and they own and control places like cafes and pretend that they’re just offering the service of making your coffee for you. Of course, you could buy your way in to their cafe by turning on your sexuality, simpering and smiling at them, or wearing pink perhaps. Then you’d probably get a pass to drink and eat there for another six months. But be aware that your money alone is certainly not good enough. And sooner or later men let you know that THEY are not there to serve the likes of YOU.

I thought FCM’s point about those abandoned mental asylums being a sign of men’s lack of foresight and planning and also of their wastefulness in general was excellent. My thoughts on it are this:

Women think differently from men. Let me give an example. Men are against abortion because they envisage themselves as the foetus. As they fight to save the foetus, they feel they are saving themselves from annihilation.

Women don’t imagine themselves as foetuses, nor do they put themselves in the foetus’s shoes. Neither do they feel that they must prevent women from having abortions in order to prevent annihilation of their own kind. But this is what men think. They don’t like abortion, because women might abort a boy. That’s the entire sum of the pro-life movement…

Well… I don’t think the male stance on abortion is ENTIRELY arbitrary. I think it’s connected to the fact that men are accidents, flukes and mutants (LITERALLY mutants, as WhenWomenWereWarriors and TrustYourPerceptions eloquently point out on their blogs, using science to back this statement). Their existence is precarious in a way that women’s is not. Men’s testerical response to abortion runs deeper than the mere desire to control women. Men each feel they might be the second-to-last generation on earth.

Men are also just laughing in glee at the fact that for so long now they’ve been managing to convince women to keep reproducing the new generation, when they know their time is up, and has been for some time. I absolutely believe this is connected to the fact that men build things “for this generation only” without any long-term planning. And that they spend lots of resources on completely useless things. All of their behaviour shouts that they’re on their way out and they know it.

Well, in The Female Malady, you learn a lot about the procedures used on wayward women, and one of the most notorious ones, of course, was lobotomy. After reading that book, and being reminded of how much men hate us, it got me wondering why they don’t simply lobotomize all females and be done with it. But women have to be sentient beings for any of this to be any fun to men at all.

Although the act of lobotomizing a woman in itself is no doubt delicious fun for men, after that, she is somewhat immune to their torture.  Eva Peron, who devoted her life to women’s suffrage, was lobotomized to “cure cervical cancer” even though the brain is nowhere near the cervix, and the “cure” didn’t work anyway, because it wasn’t supposed to, and she died two months after the lobotomy. Taking out the brain of a strong female political leader is but one way of destroying her. Google Evita, one of the strongest feminist leaders there has even been and you actually find photographs of her, sitting in a hospital bed, post lobotomy with her long hair flowing down her back, and a silly smile on her face. If that’s not a blatant warning to all women then I don’t know what is. That’s men’s not-so-subtle reminder to us that they don’t just kill women who do not comply, they DESTROY them first.

Images from The Female Malady

And a couple of quotes:

“When they stopped torturing and killing witches, they locked people with special capacities into lunatic asylums and told them they were freaks, and forced them into conformity by varieties of torture which included electric shocks, solitary confinement, ice baths, and forcible feeding. They used every kind of degradation, moral and physical. As the methods of society for control and manipulation  became more refined, it was discovered that the extremities of physical violence were less effective than drugs, which deprived the victims of their moral stamina and ability to fight back; and more effective than the drugs were techniques of persuasion and brainwashing. By these means the members of the population with capacities above normal…were systematically destroyed, either by fear…or by classing them with the congenitally defective.”

[Bolds mine]

What [Florence] Nightingale had said about fasting girls could also be applied to anorexia. When only the body was regarded as important, anorexic girls paraded physical starvation as a way of drawing attention to the starvation of the mental and moral faculties. The portrait of the anorexic painted by Darwinian psychiatry is paradoxically that of the self-sacrificing Victorian heroine. Refusing to eat, she acted out the most extreme manifestation of the feminine role, flaunting her martyrdom, literally turning herself into a “little” woman….T. Clifford Allbutt described the typical anorexic as a young woman “of ardent and self-forgetful nature” and he noted that “happily there are many such.” Despite the fact that at the limits of self-starvation her clothes were hanging on her body, her pulse was slow, her menstrual periods had stopped, her hair was “like that of a corpse dry and lustreless, her face and limbs ashy and cold, [and] her hollow eyes the only vivid thing about her,” the ardent anorexic continued her hectic round of feminine duties, attending “mother’s meetings,” sewing dresses for her little sisters, and persisting in various activities that Allbut praised as “unselfish effort.”

All of it. All of this.. is Halloween. And yet..  Perhaps what you feel when you’re frightened of a place is not the evil of the men, most of whom are still alive, but the anger of the dead women. Japanese horror stories definitely reflect a fear of women coming back to haunt society.This theme even turns up in children’s cartoons. In a popular current animation, an old woman is walking alone in the forest, a man picks her up in his car because it’s raining.  It turns out  she is the ghost of a woman who was forsaken by the townspeople and was turned away when begging for food for her grandchild. The child dies in her arms (a bit heavy for a kids cartoon, I thought) and then she dies. She walks the earth seeking revenge on the town.

Men are spiritually dead, this we know. So the thought of being haunted by women doesn’t bother them whatsoever and yet… aren’t they trying to exorcize their deeds in some way when they make horror stories and haunted houses and movies and animation cartoons for children based on female revenge?

To conclude this post, how about this for a Halloween story.

Two nights ago I was woken in the night by a cry. I sleep quite deeply these days, so I was surprised to find myself waking up in the night. It was a child’s voice crying, “Mummy… Mummy” quite loudly and it was coming from outside. I assumed it was my son because (don’t ask me why), the voice felt instinctively male. A small five year old boy. I wondered what on earth my boy was doing outside at this time of night. Had he got lost? I sleep next door to him, so I stumbled into his bedroom, felt his fouton.. and yet he was there sleeping soundly.

The voice persisted. My husband sleeps in the same room as my son. He woke up. I said, “Can you hear that voice? It’s so strange” My husband replied with, “It’s (our son’s name) isn’t it? Why is he outside?”

I said, “He’s not.. look he’s here in bed..”

The voice persisted, clearly and loudly. I said, “Okay, I’m going down to see if he’s allright”

Then my HUSBAND said… “No, don’t! It’s scary, don’t you think?”

And I got what he meant straight away. I had already opened the window to try and see down on the street, but as soon as my husband uttered those words, “Don’t go. It’s scary”, I knew what he meant. The whole thing was just too strange and weird. Upon my husband’s words, the voice immediately stopped.

I went back to bed in the next room but I called to my husband, saying, “Why was he shouting “Mummy”, why not “Mamma”? Why didn’t we hear his mother come and get him just before he stopped crying.”

The next morning I said to my  husband, “It was strange that voice last night, wasn’t it?”

And he looked at me mockingly, sneeringly (in his usual way) and said something like, “Ha! Why? Did you think it was a ghost..?”

I found it quite revealing that my husband was the first out of the two of us to imagine that there was something supernatural there. It actually never crossed my mind until he said it, and I’ve got no idea what to think about this incident, only to say that… the thought of ghosts coming back for revenge does play on male minds.

I’m not a particularly spiritual person and I don’t believe in god, of course. But I do wonder about the spirit of women and children, and of nature. If something similar to a spiritual world does exist, and S4 touched upon this thought in her post, then men are surely in for a reckoning.

So I’ll leave you with that thought.

Eva Peron

P.S That wasn’t such a coherent post. It was drummed up in less than an hour. But I certainly enjoyed writing it! Hope you got something out of it.


19 thoughts on “Halloween aftermath

  1. hi cherry! it is really good to see you and read you again, i have missed you. i just wanted to comment about the “womens anger” part of your post for now which i thought was really interesting. i will always think about that now, every time i have to drive by one of these places. if men are at all cognizant of women as human beings, and i am not sure they are cognizant of this, they must be waiting for women to get back at them for what they have done to us this whole time mustnt they? i would love to say that i hope they are driven mad by it, and that i hope it haunts them, but mens madness and things “haunting” them only leads to more bad things happening to women at their hands. i do hope men get what is coming to them, i really do. i will leave it at that for now. 🙂

  2. Your idea about why men are so upset by abortion provided a whole new perspective. I, too, liked the thought that the anger of women is present in these places. Also appreciated your take on Showalter’s work and her strategy.

    I have been reading “Peony in Love” and it describes anorexia in a generation of Chinese women and their culture’s beliefs in ghost, also gruesome details of footbinding. Not done yet, so no recommendation but it contains those elements. An underlying theme is that women want to speak and be heard and it shows that culture (China in the 17th century?) and its supression of women’s voices.

    • I’d like to read that, Wordwoman. The thing about China is that it’s so ancient. Women there must know a thing or two. I am fascinated by the Chinese marriage-resisters that
      Jan Raymond talked about in her book, A Passion for Friends. I feel I want to learn as much as possible about the place. Also, the Japanese ( who are absolutely insane in my book– well mainly the men, obv) utterly HATE the Chinese, which makes me all the more curious about the place.

      • Anyone reading “Peony in Love” should read the author’s comments first. Very enlightening about women in China and how in the mid-17th century there was a whole community of women writers. According to the author there were more women in this community than any Western community, but the writings were suppressed and so we don’t know of them. Understanding the history/context makes the novel richer.

  3. Still thinking about your abortion comment. If I were in China, I would very likely be anti abortion since so many female fetuses are aborted compared to male. I’m sure the women are seriously pressured to do this.

    • Right. If women are anti- abortion it comes from a completely different mindset and world view, which reminds me of what Dworkin was getting at in RWW. That’s why we can never ever judge women’s political views with a male yardstick.

  4. hey! Amazing post, thanks for spinning off from S4’s and FCM’s post!

    you say:

    “I absolutely believe this is connected to the fact that men build things “for this generation only” without any long-term planning. And that they spend lots of resources on completely useless things. All of their behaviour shouts that they’re on their way out and they know it.”

    Yes! It’s so true that each generation of men live as if they were the last generation of men on earth. The imminence of their extinction seems to be hanging on them constantly. They certainly, as opposed to women, have no long-term vision whatsoever and no sense of responsibility for past, present and future generations. They’re incapable of envisioning life beyond themselves. This is what makes them inherently unfit to rule (or to have any decision making power).

    Another thing, and this is purely constructed by themselves, is that men always want to consider themselves above all natural laws. Their hatred of natural laws is what makes them so destructive I think, because they believe natural laws are in their disfavour, and obsessively rebel against it, try to revert things. But it’s not true that nature is unfavourable to them, there’s nothing inherently wrong or oppressive about their position in nature: other males from other species seem to cope fine with it – in no other species do you see males conspiring collectively against the females in this way, in such jealous rage. No other males seem to have rebelled against their condition as males, they just do what they’re supposed to do as males, and females regulate them the best they can. That’s the way it is and if they’d accepted it and simply accepted to obey to natural law, life would be so much better.

    There’s nothing inherently negative about being at the service of women and nature, at not being central to reproduction. I sometimes wonder where they got this anger from.

    • “rebelled against their condition as males”
      LOL!!! Exactly! I find this line hilarious, because this is what they are doing.
      While women are rebelling against, and suffering from relentless oppression by men (but would be JUST FINE if they weren’t around), men are rebelling against their condition as men. So funny!! They project their angst onto us.
      Women seriously don’t want to be men, and men know this too!! They know that DESPITE all the shit that is thrown in women’s direction, most women feel just fine as women.

    • They neatly overlook the fact that birth is extremely dangerous for women and that they, as men, do not have to risk it. They should regard that as a PLUS, a POSITIVE thing. But when I woman goes into labour, it must sound like she’s going into battle, and when she emerges with a new babe, it must have looked (years ago) to men like she had re-emerged from another world. WHAT did they have compared to that? Nothing. So they invented war so they could feel part of something.

  5. Asylums really are the continuation of the witch hunts, aren’t they. I find that first quote really interesting.

    it was discovered that the extremities of physical violence were less effective than drugs, which deprived the victims of their moral stamina and ability to fight back; and more effective than the drugs were techniques of persuasion and brainwashing. By these means the members of the population with capacities above normal…were systematically destroyed, either by fear…or by classing them with the congenitally defective.”

    Over time men just learned how to mask their torture and elimination of women as something else. They learned by trial and error that the more overt the violence is, the easier it is for the victims and persecuted to identify the violence and oppression as such, and the more they’ll try to escape and resist. The more they annihilate our capacity to identify the violence, the more they “deprive victims of our moral stamina and capacity to fight back”.

    And it’s also very interesting that she mentions drugs as a form of lobotomy. In many Western countries nowadays, something like 40% of women take chemical drugs, supposedly to ease their sleep, depression, anxiety… What it certainly does is pathologise consequences of men’s violence and block women’s capacity to think.

  6. And last thing, interesting that she talks about a population “with capacities above normal”: who represents the norm in this “normal”? Men of course, in contrast to women. Women as a population where in part persecuted by men for their greater capacities and creativity than men (on top of being able to create life). Men know that women are far better than men at everything. This is one reason why they “need” us so much, why each man wants to appropriate a woman for himself, to leach off from women’s creativity and magic.

    • That’s a really really good point about precisely WHO has capacities above normal. But then again, women are the norm of the human race, so we can say with all seriousness that men have capacities below normal. Trustyourperceptions points out that the difference in genes between men and women is the same as it is between human females and female chimps (or apes, can’t remember which, and it doesn’t matter), and between human males and male chimps. THAT’s how genetically backward men are compared to women. And with each generation the genetic gap between men and women just widens.
      Women tend not to look at men. We’ve been taught not to. But I DO make a point of looking at them sometimes. It’s like watching a zombie horror show. They really are decrepit and when they hit 50 you KNOW they’re there bc some woman has been keeping them alive. They’re OBSESSED with women’s looks and keeping women focused on looking at other women because if the day comes that women take a step back and SEE men, the show is up.

    • I think men SEE the differences between men and women. The differences are glaringly obvious to them. Women’s gait, their hair, their movement, their deft and agile movements, their memory, their talents. Men have turned women’s superiority into a NEGATIVE. Only men could have managed it!!
      But women don’t and can’t see because they keep their eyes down and focused on their own looks and behavior.

  7. Just dropping in to say I LOVE this post and the comments and the whole convo thats happening. Love to see FCM “speaking” too! 🙂
    Yes men are zombie-mutants and the older they get the more obvious it is. Even though increasingly I see young boys that already look like that. You can literally see the y-chromo falling apart before your own eyes. And yes, women are trained not to look at men too closely, hence the whole “his looks are not important, character is what matters”-crap. As if men had character. And in the case of men, looks actually ARE important, because they give you a clue about the state of his genes. You wouldn’t want to reproduce a zombie-y-chromo if you have to reproduce at all.
    It’s so good to know I’m not the only one who feels like she’s living in a mad house, a zombie horror show in which you can’t even consciously acknowledge that this is what it is. We truly live in dystopia.
    But I can almost feel the Background more and more often now. I wish I had more radfem women around me with whom to Realize this parallel reality. It’s hard to do alone.

  8. i’m so sorry to leave such a late reply, but i’ve been in awe of this post since you published it and it inspired me to create an account just so i could comment.
    your writing made my jaw drop. it absolutely confirmed the weird sensations i’d been feeling as a woman ordering food from men–they really did give me the cold shoulder if they weren’t giving me an evil look. however, i assumed this was just me or my imagination (of course). but looking back on it, of course they didn’t want to give me food. why would they? feeding a woman means nurturing and nourishing her, not to mention serving her. food is a woman’s job but she does not get to eat or enjoy any–it should be a punishment for her; a hassle and a bare necessity, not a good, celebratory, communal, relaxing time.
    thank you for your lovely posts. you are brutally real and honest but also amazingly tender and thoughtful–how female.

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