It’s 10pm on NYE and I’m watching the movie “The Help”. I rarely watch TV or movies but this one was on cable and I remember reading the book on a Mumsnet Book Club and thinking that it was one of the best books I’ve ever read.
It covers the civil rights movement in America, except it is a story about women. Not only does it pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, but it is set deeply, and convincingly, in the background. One particular scene from the book had me writhing in laughter, which is something that happens all too infrequently.
However. It is also one of the rare novels/movies that demonstrates how powerless white women are in the face of patriarchy, while not excusing or hiding their racist behavior. A life full of charity balls, hairdressing appointments, women’s auxiliaries and (unpaid) community meetings does not a powerful person make. “What is he going to do with me now?” asks one “white trash” Mississipian who had “married up”, but was unable to carry her husband’s child and had miscarried for a third time. “Whatever he wants”, is the only truthful; answer to that question.
Before I have my NYE wine I’m going to sum up my two favourite radfem blog moments of 2014. The highlights.
The first has to be the musing done by radfems about whether we have to do anything at all, or whether that by doing nothing, by simply refusing to care for men or give them energy, would be enough to push them a little farther towards their inevitable doom, all of which culminated in in this absolute gem of a quote, by FCM at femonade:
“heres a thought. every woman who can afford it should get their adult male child or male partner an Xbox (or whatevers clever these days) for christmas, and then DO NOT nag him to stop playing. men have been known to die this way, they will not eat, they will not sleep, they will literally game until they drop dead of sleep deprivation (i think this is the cause of death in these cases?) let them get fired from their jobs, drop out of school, get sick and die. merry fucking christmas (and a happy new year for women!)”
I also very much enjoyed the point made about how women’s actions and thoughts are so controlled under patriarchy, that when there is no violent coercion involved, women will only do what they want, and it is very difficult to get them to do things they don’t. Women will also quite easily do things they actually want to do with flair and panache. It just tickled me, and it’s a POV that keeps coming bac, it is impossible to “get” women to do anything they do not want to do.
this goes to the naturalness of female autonomy, and that this is indeed our natural state/natural law — this is the way it is and cannot be changed or challenged. “herding cats” really is what it is like to try to organize with women, this was my experience (and hugos LOL) and i am sure old hugo was just gobsmacked that for the first time in his life, he was unable to control women. it was striking enough for him to publically comment on it (there are screenshots at the HUB). i suspect that his fear of losing his feminist credibility probably prevented him from exercising his normal amount of coercion and violence on those women, and it was not a paying gig for the women either, which is important, and the result — women saying NO to him and refusing to be controlled, meaning, refusing to do things they did not want to do — from his perspective was unexpected, frustrating and bizarre. k to me and one that I often think about.
Women are like cats.
Last, but not least, the post that most struck a chord with me this year was Witchwind’s post entitled “Men’s theft is more literal than we think”.
I loved this post because of the hope it inspired. If you have an awareness of how patriarchy is structured (politically, economically, militaristically) it can often be overwhelming and depressing to see the laws that are in place which are designed to steal women’s resources and keep us opressed. I still have Marilyn Warner’s “Counting for Nothing” on my shelf unread because I know I’ll get so angry reading it that I won’t be able to bear it.
What I have seen from being close to powerful men is how, for example, taxes are taken from all women who work and then are distributed among men for spurious reasons. For example “the council” or “the government” will decide that it will “invest in small businesses” and what it then does is offer (tax-collected) money to “young entrepreneurs” to “help improve the local economy”. If the recipients of this cash are women, I’ll eat my hat.
It was in the papers recently that a man in Wales had received a pay out of millions of pounds to start up a home-made ice cream business. Well… with millions of pounds at your disposal you’d have to be a complete fucking imbecile to fail at your “business venture”. Men are just wrapped in cotton wool and not allowed to fail–NOT because of any brightness or skills on their part, but because they’re fucking CONSTANTLY STEALING money from women. Legally.
Anyway, if you get too far into all of this it depresses you and you feel hopeless, which is where Witchwind’s post comes in. She is absolutely spot on and correct in pointing out that men also steal from women directly. This is good news, in a sense, because it means that if you manage to remove yourself from men, then you are going to be financially better off. NOW that this has been pointed out to me, I closely watch women who are coupled with men, and those who have been without men for a number of years and it is absolutely right what she is saying.
Men are known for robbing old women’s handbags and other similar valiant crimes, sure, but what she was trying to say is that husbands steal from wives, sons steal from mothers, brothers steal from sisters. I knew this on some level, because I’d read of tales of brothers putting sisters in mental asylums in order to claim their savings and inheritance for themselves and so on. But the theft can become even more.. insidious than that. “A cocklodger” is a well-used mumsnet term for a man who lives with a woman… but simply doesn’t contribute much. Men emphatically AREN’T the providers of the race; they’re the skivers and dodgers. And once this has been pointed out to you, everything makes even more sense than it did before you embarked on your radical feminist journey. A case in point: men EAT more; they can consume a family’s resources, just by eating. They are particular and picky about what they do eat (unless they are responsible for meal preparation, of course). They are the shoppers, in that they narcissistically take pleasure in buying shit for themselves, such as electronic devices, cars, special pension schemes and insurance plans and so on. Other than that, they might simply just ask the woman in their life for cash and if she doesn’t comply, they react with violence or passive aggression or punish her in some way. Or failing that, they actively prevent women from working by making life difficult for women to organize. Once you start thinking along these lines, you begin seeing how pathetic and crap men actually are.
Happy New Year!