In yesterday’s brief essay I alluded to a news story about a women-only beach on the Adriatic. Almost as an afterthought I included the detail that the children as well as men are banned from this beach.
Because I just fell off the turnip truck yesterday, I had not expected this seemingly minor point to ignite a referendum on children. But naturally it did, because kids, whether by design or by unavoidable circumstance, are pretty much the exclusive purview of women, and patriarchy blamers, whatever else they may be, are women.
For the radical feminist, this discussion is lousy — if a facet can be said to daunt — with daunting facets. Such as:
Is it useful to demand a woman-only venue? Is it antifeminist to ban kids from a women-only venue? Is it antifeminist to expect that women have a duty to mind the young’uns at all times? Oughtn’t a woman to have considered the impending culturally- and legally- mandated dissolution of her human rights before she decided to reproduce? Is it antifeminist to argue that women-and-children are designed by nature as an indissoluble amalgam? Is there some kind of metaphysical fusion between women and their children creating a unit that is greater than the sum of its parts which, having so fused, thereafter supersedes any claim to individual sovereignty its previously (and biologically) discrete parties might subsequently make? Or is this fusion, if it exists, merely the unnatural result of relentless external patriarchal pressure? Is it an act of domination — and therefore antifeminist — to reduce kids to a class without rights or recourse upon which there operates social strictures and persecutions — such as their thralldom to one or two ‘guardians’ selected, cosmically speaking, more or less at random — that do not apply to other classes?
Or how about this: can apartheid — whether based on sex or juvenescence or skin color — adequately address, either as a temporary stopgap or as a permanent social policy, the myriad insults visited by a given oppressor upon the oppressed? This is the question that must be asked by those victims of oppression seeking immediate relief from intolerable conditions.
Or this: will the overthrow of patriarchy result in a world order that obviates the perceived need for apartheid? This is the question for intellectual spinster aunts whose obstreperal lobes are as sponges soaking in pungent vats of viscous utopian theory.
For my part, I have stated on numerous occasions (following the materialization in my personal sphere of a pair of nieces), children are an oppressed class. Their universal and legitimately reviled unruliness is not natural. It is a product of neurosis generated by patriarchy’s two main replicatory units: the nuclear family, which directly supports male dominance, and the single mother household, which indirectly supports male dominance a) by acting as an underclass dependent for its survival on paternalism and b) by incubating a ready supply of disadvantaged candidates for membership in the all-important working and military classes.
Of course kids are obstreperous hellions. They dislike oppression as much as the next guy.
It is my firm belief that although children are not born with an innate sense of propriety and obeisance to the bizarro social order currently imposed, neither is there inherent in the human species a biological imperative to behave neurotically, except when neurosis is imposed by crippling external forces. Which it is.
In other words, we may blame the patriarchy for obnoxious kids. Just as we blame it for rape, marriage, FGM, and God.
Look here. Male dominant culture so alienates women from the fully-realized default human experience that we end up arguing on honky American feminist blogs, not just the merits of some penny-ante old woman-only beach in Italy, but whether children, the only life form lower than we are, are human. Faugh.
Meanwhile, once again I am pressed for time; I would be obliged if the incorrigibly cerebral commentariat would condescend to enbiggen the discourse by addressing some of the above questions.