Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Over-identifying with systems of (our own) domination...

Today, I googled 9/11 and wasn't surprised that so many of the people blogging about it were men, who very often are the ones who populate, clog people's blogrolls with blogs about the news.

How many people grew up watching their male parents pay more attention to the news on tv, to the newspapers, than to their own psyches, to their own emotions, to their partners, to the children they had helped conceive?

I find it fascinating...NOT, that news blogs are so dominated by men who subtly let visitors and fellow bloggers know that only constructed bits of external world information aka news about the actions of high level civil servants are the only suitable kinds of blog posts they really want to engage with. Perhaps, they do it from an academic standpoint or maybe these men use more accessible language, maybe they try to put a feminist spin on it, but usually, what it all boils down to is a fascination with things external, safe, unemotional.

This is "amusing"...in that laughter of the damned sort of way, because all these news items, all these generals, presidents, senators, "terrorists", jihadists, protestors, hunger strikers, blah, blah, blah, are all human beings profoundly moved or more likely profoundly disconnected from their emotional interiors, which causes no end of harm and chaos in the world around us...that's the real news item.

So much of what happens could be avoided if there was less compartmentalizing of the impact of various actions, completely separated from the emotional origins, the scarcity, the insecurity, the fear, the pent up rage, the emotional frigidity, the need to be liked or seen as "nice" at any cost...

I was visiting with redspiral. She's writing about things I appreciate reading. Please go visit her, she's in the midst of a powerful good struggle with herself.

I think her struggle links back to my pet peeve/obsession - "NICE".

I've been seeing wimmin all over the blogosphere trying to reconcile what it means to be a polticized warrior with their patriarchal emotional, social, psychological indoctrination/training as the dominated. They were taught by their parents. They were taught by their mothers. There are ways a young woman is expected to behave. Even if she's angry. Even if she's hurt. Even if she's focussed on a feminist agenda. Even if she's engaged in hand to hand combat to save her own life. Even if her opponent is using every single dirty trick in the book. Even if her opponent is laying so many of her allies (other "nice" wimmin) low and burying them in mass graves, while they're still alive and they don't even realize it...It's still important that she find some way to still be nice...to not hurt anyone...

Admirable.

My little girl understands what the wimmin she's encountering in blogland are aspiring to do. But, sadly, my little girl is also a caregiver, a giver, a traumatized, silenced, disempowered, fearful "nice" girl who very rarely recognizes those who actually come with hurt and trauma to offer. She wants to be "nice", even to people who just need to get told to back tha fuck off. It's very hard for her to understand about resisting oppression because she, underneath all that I do and say and write, really just wants to be liked and to be considered a "nice" girl.

I'm so sure she would dearly love to find a way to be nice about resisting her own subjugation. She gets mortified when the rest of us inside here write about the nasty truth without glossing it over, gold leafing it, draping a decorative bit of cloth so as to make it flow and seem more palatable.

She gets worried and asks Papi: "Do you think radical group A, feminist group B, activist group C or lesbianly group D will hate me?" She's a worrier and a hand wringer par excellence. She doesn't really like the fact that I have no real time friends, allies, coffee dates, fuck mates. She thinks it's evidence of the fact that I'm not "nice".

Thankfully, her influence is for the most part blocked by the rest of us who are really fucking pissed about oppression, but also really frustrated and incredulous and laughing so much laughter of the damned when we see people who are dominated contributing to their own colonization through upholding beliefs that silence them and block their abilities to speak clear about their experiences, struggles and upset.

The "nice" girl would dearly love to divorce the rest of us who say and write such awful things. :) She knows it's the rest of us who got the "bad" rap that she, too, has to endure. She really hates it when we refuse to mince our words. She claps her hands over her ears when she sees us demanding accountability from a person, especially another woman, especially another woman of color, especially another black woman...right now she's got monster butterflies verging on ulcer-like pain because she's soooo worried about what we're going to type next.

She's got pain in the gut and the rest of us have a beatific smile on my face...sweet release approaches...

I want to talk about what it means to question diseased ways of being that are part of the collective consciousness, part of various dominating boots on each of our necks, when some cling to these very beliefs and strategies, holding them close, over identifying with them to the point where...if you question say...the monstrously high numbers of caesarean births brought on by the greed and incompetence of the hospital establishment, you're thought of as mean and undermining by wimmin who've had caesareans, who have chosen caesareans, who were forced to have caesareans and managed to survive.

What about if you question white domination as the source of so much that is wrong in the world, white skinned privilege that is not a thing of the past, but right here with us, today? Well, of course you could be expected to be defined as directly hurting white people. You'd be constructed as the aggressor. You might even be personally responsible for any pain a child with a white parent might have felt as they tried to come to grips with their identity in a white supremacist world. Your fault.

Or...
What if you point out that there are kinds of domination and privilege that function inside wimmin of color spaces, people of color spaces, families, communities that allow those who are light, those who speak more perfect english, those who use attestations of fear and hesitance to dominate passive aggressively, those who stifle their emotions, those who are not overtly sexual, those who are able bodied, those who have straighter hair, those who smile more, those who are christian, those who more closely fit with aesthetic norms as related to youth, size and shape, those who live in the war country aka amerkkka...that people who have various combinations of these privileges, get to have more say, more credibility, more ease being believed, more respect, more access, smoothed passage, access to leadership opportunities. Well, you're hurting whoever happens to have the kind of privilege you're speaking or writing about. You, not that person, is an aggressor, a dominator, a silencer. :)

But in truth, it is their over-identification with systems of domination, not anyone's critique of domination that causes some people to react by feeling hurt. Some, many feel a whole set of emotions when their blinders are ripped off their eyes. Most often, because we've been taught to be dishonest about our feelings to the point where we may not even know that something has come up for us that profoundly shakes and upsets us, we default to simply saying the person who brought the information, the person who was brave enough to speak clear, has hurt us, they're not nice.

Sadly, most are not able to understand the difference between someone harming them and someone actively offering useful information so as to perhaps contribute to change or to end their own suffering and subjugation. Frustratingly, many can't tell the difference.
Infuriatingly, terrifyingly, others hhave agendas that are directly related to a blurring of the two.

Do you understand who is telling you about a woman's "niceness" or lack thereof?
Have you asked yourself what possible motive any woman, a feminist, a radical feminist, a radical feminist of color, a social justice worker could have for defining another woman, another person in that way when we've all been defined as profoundly not "nice" when we collectively or individually resist systems of (our own) domination?

sigh...
We are encouraged to over-identify with
and to relate intimately to systems of domination that hold sway over our lives. That's how these systems are maintained.

If we feel a sense of closeness to them and a corresponding sense of threat when someone questions some aspect of them, we cry out with indignation, accusing the person of being a bitch, being mean, being low down and dirty. They are not "nice". We have been raised to take care of, to maintain and replicate systems of domination. We are encouraged to throw ourselves in the path of any insurrection, no matter how small, no matter how pitifully insignificant.


That's how oppression continues. That's how we (politicized bloggers) end up writing about it on our blogs day in and day out. Without our support, without our life's blood, without us being willing to draw the blood of those who expose links others fear to make, these systems would not exist.

As wimmin, we are first and foremost taught to play "nice", to be "nice". "Nice" to people who harm, "nice" to people who cross boundaries, "nice" to people who maim, "nice" to people who control our movements.

There's a reason why we need wimmin specific self defense courses that stress things like using the whole voice to stop attackers. Even among feminists, the unmodulated, unprocessed, unashamed, uncontrollable voice does not come naturally and is only to be validated in a very narrowly defined set of circumstances.

Yelling, cussing, forceful or confident speaking or writing is frowned upon.

These last acts when combined with emotions like frustration, anger...fury, impatience are dangerous...not for us in any cause and effect way, as many, including other wimmin would have us wrongly believe. Wimmin coupling voice to emotion to action even in our day to day is a threat to forces of domination that presently, right now as I'm typing this, wreaking so much havoc in our lives.

But, don't be concerned about wimmin's inability to willingly and directly express poignant, very real, very powerful feelings. Nah. Don't define this as a feminist issue already resisted, written, spoken and sung about in times not long gone, now unmade in these facist times. Don't bother to give this issue more importance than the repealing of Roe vs. Wade...don't worry about the one pesky fact that Roe vs. Wade would never have happened in the first place without a whole heap of wimmin deciding to not be fucking "nice" anymore...

Nah.

Be more worried about whether you'll be liked if you let those pesky emotions of yours and that loud, rude, mean voice of yours out of the bag.

That approach makes a lot of fucking sense. I can see how that's going to really push a lot of feminist agendas...right back into the stone age. :)

But, you're right, it's not safe for wimmin who aren't "nice".

Those around you, who have been taught to control not just themselves for the sake of the status quo, but who have also been taught to control you, will do whatever it takes, engage in all sorts of really unethical, hurtful, deceitful, silencing change back behaviours to get you to stop attacking the way things just are.

And so...
I realize, that most if not all the wimmin bloggers I encounter, are probably struggling with the profound gap between the sense i make here on this blog and the sound of my words so rudely resonating inside their heads egging them on to resist in all sorts of inappropriate ways, not rubber stamped by the "nice" feminists.

I know that at the end of the day, although those wimmin who feel threatened by a blogger with radical analysis and everyday application that fits her talk to her walk even if her walk looks a little wonky and her talk sounds manic, can't attack the links that I make, can't dispute my analysis...but they can always fiddle with and undermine my support base by saying those simple little words...or insinuating them, anyways: "darkdaughta's not nice."

sigh...

Stupid, pathetic, backward people.

Let me try writing this out another way. How's this?
The prohibition wimmin all know (on some level) and live under about avoiding speaking clearly, pointedly, emotionally, assertively, rudely, unashamedly, furiously, messily about our own lives as those dominated under a virulent, diseased, subjugating, horrific, silencing, disempowering patriarchal system of domination, thrives quite nicely precisely because "nice" is perpetually put on the table as a serious feminist issue...at least in private emails, in comments sections of blogs all over. Talking about and identifying whose "nice" is big ting.

Annoyingly obvious Newsflash:
There is no way to be "nice" in that way we were force fed and indoctrinated as girl children and still profoundly and effectively resist. Those two things are in direct contradiction. Trying to contort ourselves so as to find ways to effectively resist while we work at being "nice" is a mind fuck. It's about over-identification with that boot on our necks, about us trying to find ways to not rock the boat very much, not burning down the house, not taking a pick axe to the streets.

Just want a little change?
Just enough so you can stop taking valium or prozac or chewing the inside of your mouth, or picking at the skin on the palm of your hand, or biting your fingernails down to the quick or pulling out bits of hair...rather than speak?

Just want an eeensie bit of relief from the patriarchy?
Just an easing of tha pressure?

Yeah...that would be "nice". Wouldn't it?

To not have to tear this muthfuckin' world down bit by bit, take off the layers of rotted top soil eating away at our souls because you and I know none of the oppressed want to cause any trouble, now do we?

We want to be model citizens who vote and have our blogs featured on Larry King Live and Oprah. We wanna participate, not denigrate.

Yeah...let's try and see if we can find a way to be "nice" resisters, pleasant warriors, courteous insurrectionists, soft spoken protesters, gracious guerillas, subtle soldiers. Cuz you know...if we're courteous enough, "nice" enough, the powers that be will be forced to concede to our demands on every possible front. They'll have no choice but to shake hands, let us know we've won, clean out their offices and call it a day. We'll overwhelm them with amazement at our "niceness".

Yeah...right. Don't worry. I'll get the hang of this "nice" domination game sooner or later.

Thanks to universalplume for her new blog description that really makes clear that nice isn't at all what she's after. I really appreciate what she wrote here:
"This is a radical feminist blog. Written by a strident (and lonely-loner type) radical feminist. I don't mince words when I see, hear, or know of fucked sexist or cruel or ridiculous things. I am kind, but not nice. Nice is what I've been conditioned to be. Nice is accommodating, nice is submissive and close-mouthed. Nice is backstabbing and dishonest and cowardly and gutless. Nice is not what anyone should want to be.

I truly do not care if you find me likable, sexy, or relevant. I'm doing this, I am this, for me. My opinion, what I can live with, what I need and want and what makes my engine roar, is all that matters when I put my head on the pillow at night."
I really appreciate her attempting to address some of what is surely floating around in the blogosphere as the "nice" wimmin/feminists attempt to close ranks and define themselves and their struggles as very different from those who will not make "nice".

How boring. How porridge like. How self-destructive. How patriarchal. How putrid and controlled.

I'm a loving wolf woman. This means I have claws and fangs I'm learning to use in appropriate ways. I also have a brain. This means that I can recognize manipulation in that "nice" word. When people, especially wimmin, scream out in pain when I question their actions, I understand that overt resistance is frowned upon. Yes, there are certain acceptable whipping boys and girls. Some seem to favour focussing on white men...an easy target, because in this day and age, no one will defend them, not even them. :) Some like to do white feminists, which is always an amusing cage match because they have the understanding of having been oppressed under patriarchy that sometimes makes them sort of wrong and strong when they're asked to be accountable for their white supremacist ways. :)

Everybody has their sacred cows, those who cannot be invited into the ring.

I understand that I'm considered not "nice" by many/most precisely because I will invite all/any into the ring for a one on one intellectual, academic, dirty guerilla fighting in tha street, feminist, of color, blackie girl throw down.

Add to this the fact that I'm obviously insane, since I will, from time to time, invite my own self into the ring for a few rounds of critical analysis with a high powered flashlight...which I also share.

Of course the "nice" wimmin fail to get the point that I will do self critique as much as I will critique the actions of others. I'm suspecting that there are few known in political/feminist/radical of color/activist/academic circles for instigating cage matches, who are also known for excruciatingly exposing, claiming and speaking to their own political foibles with an equal amount of gusto to what they bring when they complain about the privilege or power of another. :)

From where I'm standing, I'd have to say that's not "nice".





if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

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