10.18.2007

consciousness baiting

In the past couple of years I've become (increasingly) radically feminist. As I grow more aware of gender oppression--let's be clear here, women's oppression*--I catch it more often. Of course. There's just more Friedanesque "click" moments. I've gotten pretty brave and articulate, when it comes to naming this stuff, but it feels as if the wellsprings and tributaries of misogyny multiply even as I map them. Navigation gets rockier when you start noticing the rapids?

That doesn't make a lot of sense. Anyway, the problem is that my raised consciousness meshes poorly with my tendency to judge, and I'm losing the ability to ignore this stuff. I get mad and sometimes caustic. Cases in point:

1. Watched P. T. Anderson's 'Magnolia' recently. How can a modern giant "thoughtful" ensemble film (about love and family!) fail the Bechdel movie test? And feature only crazy women, who sometimes get violently fucked? But it does.

2. Met with a professional colleague for a beer, in the course of which conversation he told me all about wanting to sleep with his 19-year-old "girl" students, because they are self-defeating and smoke cloves, then said he preferred older (than himself) divorced women, because they are 'so together' and smoke real cigarettes. Ideally they would be divorced. Dude, this is not an appropriate setting for you to objectify women!

3. Attended a rally in support of the SCHIP children's healthcare bill, with a couple hundred other people, organized by med student groups and the local SEIU. One union guy sees me talking to a (woman) friend and cheerily thanks us for coming: "We need more lovely young ladies like yourselves in this fight! To make the men come on board!"

...come on, this stuff is just a pile of crap. Excuse my language. We deserve better.

I was at a workshop this weekend with a lot of counseling on gender and sexuality issues, and maybe I started feeling a little safer and less hated and objectified. Returning to the usual mangle just reminds me how much energy it takes to carry the armor around every day, to use a smile as a shield rather than telling the truth. It sucks. I'm angry.

*yes, men do suffer greatly under gender oppression, to say nothing of transpeople. But honestly, there's no pissing contest. In terms of a) large numbers, b) cultural background breadth, and c) blatant hatred and violence, the ladies have it.

1 comment:

Nachshon David said...

oy
I am with you in the struggle for raising awareness
You are right but do not make yourself misrable in the struggle. I think the only way is what lerner teaches that we must have a daily practice of relaxing into the everlasting arms-the truth- beyond the pain of this world.
OO