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Jun 29 2010

Art Week 2: The (artless) future lies ahead

People sure get nervous when I postulate an art-free future as a desirable outcome of feminist revolt. If this nervousness is because you work in the arts and are already anxious about job security, or because yours is a poetical nature and you are enamored of the Artist Mythos, fear not. You’ll be long dead before art takes a powder.

Regarding this mumbled off-hand remark I made on the last Art Week post:

Like everything else, all art proceeds from the auspices of patriarchy, and the vast majority of it replicates patriarchal mores. “Pure” art — that is, art that is unsullied by commerce, oppression, or patriarchal hegemony — may exist, but I doubt it. For that to happen, post-patriarchal conditions would have to obtain, at which point art itself would, paradoxically, be irrelevant and meaningless.

Everyone wants to know what I mean about art becoming meaningless in a post-patriarchal society. I regret that I didn’t bother stating it more crystal-clearly, because it’s a way cool but kind of weird idea. What I should have said is that in a post-revolutionary society, art as an expression of the ideal within patriarchal culture — which is what all art is since nothing lives outside of patriarchal culture — will vamoose of its own accord. And lo, everyone will be fine with that, because by then art won’t be needed (“bad” art and pornography, of course, will disappear along with it, because social conditions that permit both the artification of the mediocre and the fetishization of oppression will no longer exist).

Culture, oppression’s evil henchman, will vanish as well.

It’s an idea that I swiped (as I so often do) from Firestone on accounta it’s so goshdarned appealing. Firestone speculates that when humanity transitions from a state of revolution to the ultimate state of self-determination, culture disappears and art merges with reality. This “building of the ideal in the real world” will be, she says, accomplished through technology. The ideal won’t need to be imagined or expressed artificially by artifice through art anymore, because it will exist actually. In essence, science + aesthetics kills culture, masters nature (in a good way!), and saves humanity and the world! *

Read her book. It’s very uplifting hippie sci-fi shit. You’ll like it. Here’s the first chapter.

I Blame the Patriarchy is really, deep-down, a Shulamith Firestone fangirl site.

Fun fact: Firestone is Canadian!

Meanwhile, I don’t wanna put words in anyone’s mouth, but I suspect that a percentage of the seemingly anti-art blamers are not so much anti-art as they are anti-culture. More powah to’em. Down at Spinster HQ, when we’re sprawling around the break room with a pitcher of margs, not a chin-wag goes by but what some aunt doesn’t declaim “Culture’s gotta go. It’s guk growing in the hegemaniacal petrie dish, a set of behaviors upon the successful assimilation of which a given individual is ruthlessly judged by her prejudiced peers and parochial overlords. Fuck culture!” And everyone hoists her glass and says “amen to that, Lady Di!”

______________________
* See p. 162-174 of the 2003 paperback edition of The Dialectic of Sex

128 comments

  1. jaded

    So pornography AND oppressive art go kaput? Just what are people nervous about? Oppressive hegemonic state apparatuses not controlling us?

    Aye, dark times are ahead. Truly!

  2. headbang8

    Will the pitcher of margaritas disappear, too? Every one ‘o them damn things I ever tasted was a work of art. Well, the third one generally was.

  3. Lisa

    The distinction between Art and Culture is a good one. It’s “culture” that seems to perpetuate the classism of the arts. After all, one doesn’t need boucoup bucks to make a drawing, perform a dance, etc., but one does need significant cash to be acceptable to the “elites” that dominate galleries, performing art centers, and art auctions. Maybe, though, this justification for “art” over “culture” is coming from a deep desire to defend my passion and education to the end; to make the time I committed to art through the years worthwhile.

  4. Ashley

    An oil painting of the Blametariat whupping MRA tail during the Twistolution could be pure art.

  5. Christopher

    I think I see where you’re coming from here, but I’m not sure I really understand how this jibes with your previous post, where you said,

    “Art is merely the graphic representation of ideas, presented from a point of view.”

    Are ideas going to be obsolete post-revolution?

    I’m guessing the answer is related to this:

    “Thus would art take a powder! Hallelujah! At least, art as we know it — that ponderous, self-absorbed, interpretation, or anti-interpretation (whatever!), of reality, with an audience manipulated by a creator — would cease to be. Which brings me to my second thought.”

    I was talking with my dad about the theory that art is manipulative propaganda a while back, and he brought up the idea that art could also be a way for people to communicate how they see the world, or which aspects of it seem important to them. Things like impressionism aren’t necessarily about saying “here’s how the world is” but could just as well say “Here’s a way you could look at the world” or “here’s a part of the world you may not have noticed”.

    Which is to say, I don’t really understand why something like a Rothko painting is manipulative, or why it would be obsolete in Utopia.

  6. Summerspeaker

    You’ll be long dead before art takes a powder.

    Yes, unless Aubrey de Grey and company happen to succeed in creating rejuvenation therapy. (Aging strikes me as another example of the tyranny of biology.)

    As always, love the Firestone. It’s become my goal to spread her vision to the present misogyny-infused transhumanist scene. I need to find me another copy of The Dialectic of Sex; the last friend who borrowed it appears to be sitting on the book indefinitely. Reading the start of the first chapter reminded me of what I’ve been missing.

  7. Jill

    “A Rothko painting” (it’s always Rothko, the gentle abstract expressionist!) or any other painting, represents some ideal or other, right? Well, Firestone’s notion is that, the post-patriarchal world is the ideal. It is what art tries to be but ultimately doesn’t deliver. There will be no academy against which to rebel, no government against which to protest, no CULTURE AT ALL. The imaginary is made real by genius technology!

    This contingency is impossible to imagine unless you can also imagine the dissolution of the paradigm of dominance and submission. In my experience most people can’t do this. But the shit’s all knotted up together.

    If these ideas interest you, I recommend reading the book. I’m just a fan, and interpret them imperfectly.

  8. gwyllion

    OK – this is the most important blog post i have read in my lifetime. i am going to have to think think think about this long and hard. i have tried so to make art count in my life, and for something IN life (i have also felt is was a wonderful tool with which to gain some control of an out-of-control existence) but there was and is the nagging doubt – which i refer to as the ‘art-schmart’ conundrum. If anyone is interested go to http://www.northbankatistsgallery.com and look at kathi rick art on the members page.This is my art – i hoped it was powerful but again there is that HUGE doubt that has never been so profoundly put into high relief better than in this quote:that ponderous, self-absorbed, interpretation, or anti-interpretation (whatever!), of reality, with an audience manipulated by a creator . WOW – i think my life has been changed forever. WOW – just wow.i am ordering Firestone. i am at the moment artistically muted. /Users/kathirick/Desktop/memiiimail.mov

    [Trigger warning -- Twisty]

  9. Jill

    I caution you, gwyllion, against making any major life decisions based on a single blog post written by a complete stranger!

  10. Somnolescence

    As a related aside, I recently noticed that some public spirited citizen has stuck John Berger’s 1972 TV series “Ways of Seeing” up on youtube. Which is just as well, given that the BBC still hasn’t released it on DVD and shows no intention of ever doing so. Of course, it gives the full deluxe boxed-set treatment to conservative, connoisseurial, canon-glorifying, patriarchal drivel like “Civilization”.

    The presentation style (deeply authoritative, deep voiced dude, speaks in a deeply authoritative, deep voice to camera) is a bit jarring, but the content can still be startlingly radical. The second episode, on the female nude, is fantastically interesting, not least in the constant parallels it draws between “art”, pornography and advertising. It seems saddeningly unlikely that anyone would be allowed to make a four part prime-time documentary series trenchantly attacking academic and popular ideas of art from a Marxist/Feminist perspective today.

    Here is the whole thing as a playlist. For some annoying reason you have to hit the “two downward arrows” button on the upper right of the screen (beside the words Next in Ways of Seeing) to find the whole list of episodes. Episode 2 is the one on the female nude, although all 4 are well worth watching if you haven’t seen it before.

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=872405DBCBDFF922&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&v=LnfB-pUm3eI

  11. yttik

    In regards to Rothko, let me reveal my obvious lack of both art and culture. They are simply flippin colored rectangles on a piece of canvas!! I see no mystery, no hidden message, nothing of particular beauty beyond the fact that colors are nice to look at. I remember as a child standing before a similar piece of art and being asked what it meant to me, how it made me feel. It made me feel like the world was one screwed up place and that human beings were not functioning with a full deck. I am supposed to stare at the orange square and find some deeper meaning, some magical intent the artist is trying to communicate? Does viewing this painting change how you perceive the world? Yes, it made me think all the adults around me were consuming some kind of hallucinogenic I was not allowed to partake in. I find ink blots to be more fascinating.

    To those who are artists or craftspeople, please continue to create. We don’t live in this post patriarchal utopia yet and creating for the sake of creating is not something shameful by any means. Art really is a tool to gain some control over an out of control existence. Don’t deprive yourself of a tool! However, the fact that our existence is so out of control is the real problem, and in a post patriarchal society you wouldn’t need this tool at all, rendering it obsolete.

  12. Alex

    I’m going to have to read Firestone (thanks, by the way, for yet another book it’s gonna take me forever to get to) to understand this argument better, but isn’t it a little idealistic to assume that the post-revolutionary world will be ideal?

    So long as there’s daylight between the real world and the ideal, there’s both space for and a need for art to nudge us in that direction. I don’t doubt that art will become seriously de-emphasized the closer the world approaches the ideal, but the idea that it goes up in a puff of smoke altogether? I dunno.

  13. Alex

    Also, RE: Rothko, I do believe that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have mandated that no one may open a dentist’s office with fewer than three (3) Rothko prints and a print of “Water Lilies” and/or “Starry Night”.

  14. gwyllion

    Jill no – i won’t – but this is something i have been pondering for years – don’t you ever have those moments when something that has been frustratingly fuzzy instantly comes into clear heartbreakingly sharp focus? This is one of those moments. Thinking thinking
    thinking to be done.

  15. Jezebella

    Okay, I finally see where my bug with your argument (& Firestone’s) is:

    “Well, Firestone’s notion is that, the post-patriarchal world is the ideal. It is what art tries to be but ultimately doesn’t deliver.”

    I disagree that art tries to be “the ideal”. Few, very few, artists are seeking to produce “the ideal”. I mean, what happens if you succeed? You’ve arted yourself out of a job, for one thing. Finito. Sure, there have been dudes like Albrecht Du:rer and Ad Reinhardt* who were seeking “the ideal”, but they were dudes, and exceptionally arrogant even for artists, and very much the exception rather than the norm. I would also like to note that “art” doesn’t try to be anything, given it has no agency, so we’re left with trying to figure out what artists are trying to do. Outside the Renaissance and Classical Greece, you just don’t find a lot of artists or movements naming “representing the ideal” as their goal.

    So if the WORLD is ideal, post-revolution, that doesn’t mean that people stop having ideas. Which is what art is really about, eh? “The graphic representation of ideas”.

    *For an outstanding send-up of the arrogant artist in search of the pure/ideal, I highly recommend Elaine de Kooning’s 1957 article, “Pure Paints a Picture”, reprinted in her book of essays called The Spirit of Abstract Expressionism. Here’s a taste of the faux interview:

    “You can’t be an artist and a success. You’ve got to take your choice. As I’ve often said before, to be a Fine-artist, you’ve got to be a failure. Of course, I don’t mean a failure at being a success . . . I mean a success at being a failure.” This distinction, Pure notes sadly, is mainly lost on his students (he has six teaching jobs), some of whom get over-enthusiastic and try to become failures immediately. “It takes time—years—to fail,” says Pure. “What do these kids think . . . it’s easy?””

  16. Emily H.

    “People sure get nervous when I postulate an art-free future as a desirable outcome of feminist revolt.” Maybe they’re not nervous. Maybe they have legitimate points of disagreement with you, and now they’re having a vigorous intellectual discussion. Hey, just like blog commenters are supposed to do! Hooray!

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this post made people nervous, though. For some reason, women don’t like it when you tell them they’re only disagreeing with you because they’re anxious & hysterical.

  17. Jezebella

    Nope, Alex, in Mississippi state law, while similar in intent, mandates that health care professionals decorate with pictures of magnolias, lighthouses, and golf courses.

  18. gwyllion

    oh – and it wasn’t just the quote (though that was brilliant) it is this whole discussion that has thumped me on the head and pierced my heart – why do i feel alternately oppressed and liberated when i create art?(far more oppressed than liberated these days) i feel bound by rules which i long to discard but don’t know how to w/o alienating the praising ‘voices of authority (i call ‘em the art gods)’ that validate the creation (whether coming from outside sources or from my own inner critic) – this discussion is starting to create the seedlings of a whole new vocabulary/way of thinking, seeing and being as an ‘artist’.
    Thinking thinking thinking…..

  19. gwyllion

    Oh Jezebella! Priceless!!!:

    “You can’t be an artist and a success. You’ve got to take your choice. As I’ve often said before, to be a Fine-artist, you’ve got to be a failure. Of course, I don’t mean a failure at being a success . . . I mean a success at being a failure.” This distinction, Pure notes sadly, is mainly lost on his students (he has six teaching jobs), some of whom get over-enthusiastic and try to become failures immediately. “It takes time—years—to fail,” says Pure. “What do these kids think . . . it’s easy?””

    Juice came out my nose!

  20. octopod

    Art as an expression of the ideal will be obsolete. I see.

    Do you think all art is an expression of the ideal, then? I’m not sure I buy that. My art isn’t, for sure — it’s just kind of random cool ideas, nothing at all resembling the ideal.

  21. Comrade PhysioProf

    I caution you, gwyllion, against making any major life decisions based on a single blog post written by a complete stranger!

    That shit’s scary, innit?

  22. root

    From Firestone:
    “The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would born to both sexes equally, or independently of. either, however one chooses to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and *any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally.* ”

    So, a là Firestone, culture will still exist after the revolution. Any idea of compensation for difference negates transcending biological difference a priori, as the specific categorization of difference merely reinforces hierarchy.

  23. gwyllion

    Rest assured physioprof i shall do nothing of the kind – i am not that stupid or easily influenced my response was predicated on decades of thought and striving and work – this discussion has just opened up an entirely new avenue for contemplation.

  24. Azundris

    Yeah, as if, Jill. I’m totally holding out with my disintegrating 1970 copy of TDoS, because you’re going to publish The Essential IBTP before the former falls apart, and then Ima give *that* to all my friends. Because I can’t sneak Shulie in using ye olde “even if you don’t agree with all the ideas, read it for her prose” trick.

  25. MPMR

    My dentist’s office has posters of kittens in tree branches and mailboxes.

  26. Jill

    “Do you think all art is an expression of the ideal, then? I’m not sure I buy that. My art isn’t, for sure — it’s just kind of random cool ideas, nothing at all resembling the ideal.

    If you’re not idealizing anything, what do you do it for? I’m not trying to be an ass, either; I really would like to know.

  27. Ma'Whis'Ki

    What I am in need of is for places like Lascaux and Pech Merle to stop being ‘cultural properties’, so that I can go there and place my hands in the female hand-prints by the horse-pictures. I would also bring powdered ochers, charcoal and other mineral-based dry pigments, and I would add my hand-print and another Horse-Mother, some Owls and a Butterfly on a cave wall somewhere to thank Earth for sending Horse, Owl and Butterfly to guide me. I know that as I made my tribute-pictures on the cave wall, that the energies would come and speak to me: the image is an energy-bridge which I can cross towards other beings/states of being, and which other being(s) can cross towards me.

    Because I cannot ‘get to’ Lascaux (because I am not allowed autonomous function to communicate by image with Sentient Earth at a site sacred to my Fore-Mothers), I make images on paper/with fabric/with paint in my home to give whirling energy a physical place to touch down and enter the physical world near me. Patriarchy claims that for me to make modern ‘petroglyphs’ at power-places (where in-tune women have made them for millenia)is ‘defacing the natural environment’ and would fine and/or arrest me for exercising my priestess-right to commune via my innate creativity with my Planet-Mother.

    What Lascaux, Tassili and Pech Merle *are* (confluences of environmental energy-lines where active image-communication with Sentient Nature is possible) compared to what Art museums *are* (randomly-sited collections of narcissistic and overwhelmingly male-produced self-aggrandizement-pictures) clearly points up the difference between gynocentric and androcratic world-views.

  28. phio gistic

    Looking at Kathi Rick’s art, particularly the ‘pussy’ installation, I wouldn’t say it’s idealizing anything. It is powerful, to me. A mirror of a nightmare we’re embedded in. Truth but not beautiful, although beautifully constructed in that it gives me a jolt, a head-on collision with that visceral feeling of being on the receiving end of male –> female hatred.

    (http://www.northbankartistsgallery.com/rick.htm)

    [Trigger warning -- Twisty]

  29. Bonnie

    To continue the dental aside, when I was a kid my dentist’s office was adorned with abstract metal sculptures and wall pieces my uncle brazed from bronze rod and copper sheet, some of which I watched him create and fabricate.

  30. alan

    “If you’re not idealizing anything, what do you do it for? I’m not trying to be an ass, either; I really would like to know.”

    I don’t know if you’re asking just her or in general what the alternative to idealizing is, but if it’s the former then this’ll be suitably blotted out.
    What’s appealing is the visceral knock that communicates something/anything mysterious and inspiring. It’s instantaneous and synthesizes constellations of ideas and thoughts. It can’t be done without sloughing off the swamp of kyriarchy, but maybe it could be done without fabricating an ideal. It’s rewarding to experience and desirable to create that for others.
    Or-
    Although Art is forbidding and onerous, art only requires that someone wants to make something. if that’s true, then why not? art is an evergreen possibility, which Art regularly imposes itself on.

    Thanks for the book rec. We’re brought up to deride scenarios where technology (read: science) could create an ideal absent of philosophical offal, but it’s a lot more of a radical and cool idea to get into then another rehash of Machines Gone Wrong.

  31. Big Momma Les

    wow. just been reading the firestone link..blown away, can’t believe i haven’t read it before…always avoided the book and i have no idea why. as always, wearily disgusted by the fact that, despite it was written the year i was born, it is still 100% relevant now. i shall face my 40th with a pitcher of margs in my hand and the dialectic of sex in the other. enlighting this blamer as always, jill.

  32. yttik

    Ma’Whis’Ki mentions a gynocentric world view. That’s closer to the utopia I envision, rather the Firestone’s version, Jill.

    This is where I always hesitate when discussing utopias, it seems like when we are dismantling the patriarchy, we must always dismantle the feminine, too. After a few thousand years of attempting to bring the feminine back into the equation, it’s not appealing to consider a world without art, without motherhood, a technological world that “masters” the natural world. I see that as nearly what we have already, just another side of it.

  33. agasaya

    There will be no academy against which to rebel, no government against which to protest, no CULTURE AT ALL.

    Culture is merely a noun representing whatever the existing model of life is within a community or subgroup. It will apply no matter what succeeds the last set of group dynamics. Counter-culture is about rebellion and then becomes the culture when it succeeds in becoming the new norm.

    Art is a representation of how an artist represents their version of culture – or merely how they exploit it for profit and status.

    It isn’t about whether art and culture will continue to exist in some form. Post-revolutionary culture will just render patriarchal perversity extinct and no longer part of the equation.

    Ten to one though, some artists will have renderings of the patriarchal past, reminding us of what was. And there will always be those trying to recreate it just as Roman architecture (another art form which will always be with us) recapitulated Greek attainments. Art can be photographic, sending views of far off places everywhere to be savored by all. This will always exist.

    Perhaps another name for exploitative patriarchal forms of ‘art’ can be coined so the category of ‘art’ doesn’t need to be vanquished in the new era to come. Art doesn’t have to be evil although it will always remain largely classist. Yes, cave dwellers drew pictures and some very fine art can be seen on the bricks of NYC tenements. Access to free museums is still possible. However, the freedom from oppression needed to release creativity and offer time to produce/enjoy art is definitely unobtainable by many and restrictive in content if it is accessible.

    As for the first picture to hit me at Ricki’s link, I respect her talent and her intent, but can’t consider that liberating. It gives validity to the imagery (art) of the hated and feared female genitalia along with its ugly euphemism. It is also legitimate for Feminism to say it won’t justify such disgusting fears with that word and imagery, divorcing the body of a woman from her soul as so much meat on a platter.

    Patriarchal art – I divorce thee, I divorce thee, I divorce thee (throwing pebbles as I walk)

  34. Zef

    I know this has been said before on this blog, but I am nothing if not redundant (that’s my personal philosophy, actually).

    yttik, I think you are absolutely correct that dismantling the patriarchy would also mean dismantling the feminine, as you put it. I’m not sure I see the problem, though. Isn’t the codification of a distinction between masculine and feminine the root cause of this whole mess ‘a patriarchy? Respect for nature shouldn’t be considered feminine, in my opinion, because then people feel free to act like there is a valid alternative. I don’t see Jill as being on board with abolishing environmentalism so much as making it redundant (there’s that word again).

  35. Jezebella

    Bonnie, there is a seemingly strange but surprisingly common connection between dentistry and sculpture. Seriously. Several major 20th century sculptors trained and even worked as dentists as their day job. A sculptor I know, her dad makes custom plates for the very very famous when they lose teeth – if you’re a singer, and your mouth/teeth change, your voice might change, so such dental work requires delicate sculptural nuance.

  36. Jezebella

    Phio gistic, are you frickin kidding me? Could you put a trigger warning on that shit? Seriously. No.

  37. Zef

    Oh right, I forgot to say something about the actual blog post.

    My take is that even a patriarchy-free world won’t signal the end of art, because human beings will still have problems – such as cancer, for example – and different ways of looking at the world; I’m thinking of the autistic spectrum, here. People will turn to art as a relief and a way to connect with others in a similar or different state of mind.

    I don’t see ambition vanishing either, such as the ambition to explore other worlds, although I might argue that the science fiction which fetishizes discovering and “conquering” other planets through colonization is tied to patriarchy. Oh look, I just did. In any case, speculative art will still have a place.

    Let us not forget graphic novels, either! Storytelling isn’t just a way to picture the ideal, it’s *fun*.

  38. octopod

    Er…not sure actually. I mean, I don’t do it professionally or anything. Possibly just because it’s fun, or as an exercise in getting the things in my head out onto paper, or in saying exactly what I mean. A lot of what I end up drawing, apart from routine practice stuff, is sort of speculative-fiction type stuff like weirdly rearranged skeletal anatomy, or mashups of historical art styles, or just random dumb shit like a cave full of eyeballs.

    Note that I didn’t say it was good art, but by the definition we’re using in this discussion, I think it is both art and not about any ideal.

    Or am I not understanding what you mean by “ideal”?

  39. Vibrating_Liz

    What about architecture? What about music?

  40. Nolabelfits

    Jezebella, thats very interesting. I know an orthodontist who is also a sculptor in his spare time.

  41. Shelby

    Lord of Nature? See it’s this human arrogance that I can’t get my head around. To me it’s akin to religion. Some kind of false promise that humanity has any real control over nature. It’s just bullshit. We’re slaves to nature. Thank cod.

    In this post revolutionary world what the fuck are we going to be doing apart from mining for uranium to build more incubators for spawn that “others” will take care of for a shorter time?

    Why is there such a negative focus on the act of growing a child and birthing a child? These should not be considered human impediments. Carrying a child does not turn you into some prone character incapable of doing anything else. We’re not fucking bees. Its only problem at present is that it is not considered a valuable job (unlike the bee world). If we simply gave this job and actual child rearing the credence they deserve, there’d be no need for talk about bloody unnecessary incubators.

    And who are these “others” who will be caring for machine incubated children in this post revolutionary world? Who is to volunteer for that position?

    And as for the natural phasing out of art because there’s no requirement for it in our post revolutionary world, well fuck that. When I was 25 I might have agreed with that. The older I get, the more I find myself relying on the interesting and the aesthetically (in my eyes) beautiful. Life without art, books and music? What’s the fucking point?

  42. pheenobarbidoll

    I actually like my culture, but maybe that’s because honkies and others not of my culture can’t seem to stop trying to stomp it into oblivion, copy it or steal it and wear it as a Halloween costume. Yanno, when they haven’t forgotten entirely that we exist to begin with. And I just love our art being designated folksy, aboriginal or Made By Local Indians! Last I checked, we’re the only locals around. I guess some people just won’t be satisfied until our culture is eradicated for good. That’s alright though, we’ve weathered worse and we’re used to being collateral damage in someone elses cause.

  43. gwyllion

    jezebella. yes a trigger warning should have been included. the show had numerous repeat visits from women.There were lines waiting at the door – an unheardof occurance – they brought friends. they wept and raged. i had to black out the windows of the gallery with a disclaimer on the door. pussy. men came in in groups. giggling, they thought it was going to be porn. when confronted by the material they either ran for the door or stood open mouthed. some even were disturbed, and engaged in dialogue. a friend of a friend of mine came to the show, took one look blanched and grabbed a glass of wine. he was by my friend’s evaluation shaken – his comment was : “this is about me….this is about how i raised my sons” here is the statement to the show:
    ARTIST STATEMENT

    Robert Jensen in his book Getting Off – Pornography and the End of Masculinity writes: “I learned that men hate women, and I was trained to hate women in the locker room. Not just in actual gym locker rooms, but in all-male spaces, in those places where men are alone with each other and talk with the knowledge that no women will hear them… In those places, men talk about how they really feel, or think they are supposed to feel, about women. It is very often a language of contempt, of frank discussion about what woman are really good for.

    We can see how men hate women and children by a simple observation: No society would let happen what happens to women and children in this culture if at some level it did not have contempt for them.”

    He continues, “Men have a stake in believing that we are not really like that. Women have a stake in believing that men really don’t see them that way. For each party, facing the truth often feels as if it is too much to bear. So we turn away and pretend. “

    I refuse to turn away. I refuse to pretend. My last two installations were The Daughters of Saint Catherine, and Mementomori.

    Daughters dealt with issues of the overwhelming and often unchallenged voice of authority and the voiceless-ness of the adolescent girl. Set as an anthropology exhibit complete with the requisite Formica display cases, silk-screened text blocks, and artifacts under plexi-glass the exhibit (never presented under my own name – always introduced by Dr. Kate Binky, an 87 year old cultural anthropologist) documented the lives and deaths of a (fictitious) group of 16th century girls who starved themselves to death. I remember that starving, starving to save your life, starving as scream borne of the body – it felt like heaven, it hurt like hell.

    Mementomori was a memorial to murdered women and girls, inspired in part by Jack the Ripper’s last victim, Mary Jeanette Kelly, who was stripped of her humanity along with her skin in a post mortem photograph so horrifying it brought me to me knees. I started compiling names of hundreds of thousands of women and girls murdered by men through time and place and race and culture.

    I painted them on the walls, those names. I ran out of room, I wept; I have hundreds of pages more. Then I made bodies, I wanted to give Mary Kelly her skin back, I wanted to give lives and substance and names and faces to the hundreds and thousands of names. I wanted to put them all back together, like a benevolent Frankenstein’s mother. I hung the bodies on the walls, my girls, reverently, with the sound of women’s voices singing – like visiting a catacomb, a shrine. Then I made nichos to hang between them and filed them with pieces of lost lives, fetuses, trinkets, rings, buttons, relics, hair, body parts.

    My girls.

    And still I refuse to turn away – I want the dialog on the table – to grapple with to challenge, to change. I want to turn the tables. I have lamented, I have wept, I have championed and still I rage. This violence and hatred is not a woman issue – it is mans.

    This work is entitled “Pussy” and I am not turning away, or pretending. The hate is out of the locker room, and has disgorged itself into blogs, and websites, and even on the campaign trail. Why was it not OK to challenge an African-American candidate with “Hey – pick my cotton/shine my shoes!” But perfectly acceptable to shout, “Make me a sandwich!” at the rally of a female candidate?

    I have been writing down the hate from these sites for a year. It is vicious, and relentless and seeks to annihilate the ‘other’ the feminine always – ALWAYS through sexual humiliation and violence. And it is everywhere. I want the words out in the open in all their ugliness, stripped out of the shadows. This figure is a visual of those words – of what they strive to do with language, and wish to do in deed. There is a short jump from hate speech to action. This is the truth, corporeal, of what those words and thoughts seek to achieve. It is everywhere. It is shocking. It is like being ripped to pieces. It is like being beaten to a pulp. It is hate.

  44. gwyllion

    so is this art?

  45. agasaya

    so is this art?

    No, it is (a demand for) public repentance. Not the same thing.

  46. gwyllion

    can art not be that? what about goya’s works? or guernica?
    does it not matter? is art’s definition so narrow?
    or does any of it really matter? is it better to create in any capacity or keep silent?

  47. octopod

    gwyllion, your art is kicking my ass.

  48. gwyllion

    It was not a demand for public repentance (did you look at the work? this is exactly why i don’t include statements with my work – easy answers – don’t have to come to your own conclusions) your response agasaya reminds me of so many critiques i witnessed with male faculty nailing female students to the wall for their emotionally evocative work “is this art – or is it therapy?” they would ask with a smirk.- pussy was an artistic response and exploration of the feelings i had to (yes you!) Twisty’s posting of the video of the murder of Du’a Khalil Aswad. Shook me to my core. That is what art is to me – and why this thread is so potent – that art can be as i (and others)see and experience it – a new experience, a new vocabulary – just as valid, just as vital, just as potent as the canon. And then and yet i always come back to that dreadful question that i try to defang with the trite phrase ‘art/schmart’ (whistling past the graveyard)does any of this really matter? Really? Does 50+ years of my life count for anything in this endeavor? And in 50 + years will anyone remember? i hope so – but i think not – there is comfort and sorrow in that realization – hence the search for a new meaning and canon and peace (at least for me) in the making of ‘art’

  49. ivyleaves

    gwyllion, don’t stop.

  50. gwyllion

    and thank you again Jill for this thread – my head is exploding, so too my heart – – SO MUCH to ponder – so MUCH to gather into my soul – thank you!

  51. Ma'Whis'Ki

    Took a look at the Kathi Rick dead woman… My take on her is that she’s gone over to the enemy. She’s like Mary Daly’s ‘token-women torturers’, like the Chinese foot-bound women who maimed and tortured their own daughters, all so that men could comfortably say, ‘See? The women do it to each other…’

    When you look at Rick’s *installation* (a mechanistic/robotic give-away word if ever there was one), it simply repeats the abuse, so women viewers stay humiliated and male viewers are essentially vindicated, because ‘it’s just another dead woman lying there under a pile of profanity’. For guys expecting airbrushed porn, it’s shocking because it is ugly, but the ‘meat’ is dead/passive/on her back, so it is still basically patriarchal-male-acceptable.

    The message I see in it (regardless of artist’s stated intent) is that there is no hope, women are trapped, brutalized, dead, and that’s all they’ll ever be. Of course, I reject the sham entirely– it is a big-A-art confidence-trick, and if it feels like a kick in the labia, Sisters, that’s because it *IS*, whiny-ass male breast-b(l)eating notwithstanding.

    I cannot help but think, when I look at Kathi Rick’s *work*, that I am in a far healthier place when I try to figure out ways of smuggling some powdered lapis lazuli into Lascaux in order to paint a blue horse for Mother Earth, or wonder if I should start painting blue cave-horses and hand-prints all over bridge-abutments and freeway overpasses at night accompanied by the words ‘Lascaux Priestess’. Why would I want to identify with a female corpse on her back when I can actively mess with crappy elitist concrete-death-zone energies by painting pregnant Horse-Mothers all over sucky, banal architecture, I’m thinkin’…

  52. gwyllion

    ya know ma’whis’ki – we are all in a different place. i AM in a place of hopelessness, and my work reflects that – is that not valid?, is that not a valid life experience? am i not, is not any artist allowed to explore that? those doubts, those dark places that i call the abyss? has it no merit? can it open no discourse? and are you not just as destructive as any patriarchal construct by savaging that response/experience? is ‘health’ a prerequisite for creating art? Yikes, i hope not.

  53. gwyllion

    again – yikes – health a prerequisite? – if so i am done for!

  54. gwyllion

    and Ma’whis’ki don’t you think this might be exactly what i am struggling with? how the patriarchal art canon has subverted my voice? this is exactly why this thread has hit home so – don’t you think the harshness of your response inforces that? if the roles were reversed i would have responded to you with – “i see your passion and the strength of you convictions – but don’t you realize you are using their language to communicate? you have become their mouthpiece. Look here, read this, look at this work find a new way – a way that releases not represses and reinforces.” Your response in contrast and to quote you
    was for me “a kick in the labia”. i am searching, i don’t have all the answers, i work and work and work and hope i am gaining ground and enlightenment (like all artists) – and if you can’t support and help and suggest and guide may i suggest that you too have “gone over to the enemy” it is a familiar tactic – to create discourse, annihalate and dismiss.

  55. gwyllion

    i meant ‘discord’….. in any case i feel as if this is a bit derailed, and i am finding my skin is WAY too fragile (fucking abyss) – if anyone wants to talk to me personally email the gallery OK? Again Jill, thank you. SO MUCH to think about! REVELATION! This site is the BOMB – i am sending evrybody here – students and all!

  56. Ashley

    shit like the ultra-trigger link is exactly what pisses me off about the conceptualizations of art.

    I mean..if you sculpted a 1946 lynch scene, threw the accompanying epithet on the wall and displayed that as art, it wouldn’t be nearly so acceptable. Sorry to juxtapose American racial issues for the 7,839,281 time in feminist history, sorry African American women for taking it there, but sometimes juxtaposition is the only way to even try to bring the invisibility of women’s global oppression into visibility.

    Instead of sculpting a dead woman and putting the c-word next to it, tell off an asshole or leave your douchy husband. I don’t know… art just reminds me of doing jack shit about something that should be done something about.

    so fuck art.

  57. Ashley

    Sorry again for the ellipsis. I need punctuation rehab.

  58. AileenWuornos

    Firestone is genius, my mother gave me her book and it was the first proper piece of patriarchy blaming literature I’d ever read, and fell in love.

    Culture is just chaos that pretends it’s organised. When it disappears, the world will be an infinitely better place. Either that, or the sudden disappearance of homo sapiens wouldn’t be that bad.

  59. Ma'Whis'Ki

    Nice try, Gwyllion, but I’m not buying that I ‘savaged’ anything. I simply spoke my Heart (not my reasonable head or my detached mind) clearly. After some very severe pain in my own life, I discovered that ‘hopelessness’ pays off for women because it allows them to dodge their own strength and their own anger. While anger isn’t for acting out but rather for *acting upon*, it can be terrifying for the ‘passively trained’ to understand that there must sometimes be active confrontation in order to save the Self– I know this from personal experience. My own healing involved a very blunt look at myself, during which I decided that 1) I was in fact deserving of self-help and self-respect, and 2)I would never, ever allow anyone else’s agendas make me feel so bad about myself that slitting my own throat (literally) would ever be an option for me. The funny thing was, the moment I said, ‘Dammit, I’m gonna fight!’ that’s when my spiritual Water broke, and I spontaneously started connecting not only with people who were truly supportive, but also with Sentient Nature.

    A big part of my own healing involved *rejecting the idea that I was the ‘sacrificial Horse’ for my family, and that my main function in it was to carry other people’s pain and/or insanity for them*. It was a tremendously scary time for me when I realized that I had been actively trained to see myself as completely expendable by both my parents for the simple reason that they needed an emotional scapegoat to take major heat off their own hostile ‘relationship’. And, yes, I have been clinically depressed to the point of hospital admission, which was when I started taking the blunt look at myself, to see how the Holy Hel I had gotten to that point. I realized that there was stuff in me that I had internalized from others that was horribly toxic, and I made the conscious decision not to share the toxic stuff, but to *heal* it.

    I liken what I went through to having had an abscess, which with help, I lanced and drained. While I will talk about abscess-symptoms and healing techniques for getting rid of them, I am *never* going to share the actual pus that came out of my abscess with my friends and loved ones.

    So, yeah, I do keep focused on healing/health, and yeah, it’s an active choice that I have to keep making, given the levels of gynocidal illness around me.

  60. Pyrrha

    gwyllion, your art does contribute to the dismantling of the patriarchy. While some may not view it as being on the same level of action as calling out a sexist boss, your art helps women to realize that there is hatred against women. And to the men who came to your exhibit expecting some T and A, well, it did call them out and tell them off in its own way. Judging by the reactions of others to your art, you brought a light to a topic many people never think about, and you got them thinking about and processing the reality of the patriarchy.

    When I first started reading this blog, my patriarchy-blaming skills were not very advanced. I was especially taken aback by the tag “Men Hate You” and had a hard time believing that. For the people who regularly read IBTP, men hating women seems so blatant. But for many people in society, it’s not at all obvious. It certainly wasn’t to me at first. Your exhibit helps people to realize how men really do feel about women even in modern times, and for that, I raise a toast to you.

  61. allhellsloose

    Art is conformity, as is culture. Both permeate throughout the timelines of history and are embeded into the collective psyche. Juxtaposed, both perpetuate the patriarchial life forms we as humans have come to accept. To dispose of both would indeed be revolutionary and I for one would love to know the outcome. Pushing the boundaries of art/culture just won’t cut it I’m afraid.

    And what Ashley said.

  62. Katharina

    I have two questions I would like to ask in this context. They both seem to fit in with this discussion, since we are talking about art and culture and how both will be gone in a post-revolutionary society.

    1. I don’t know exactly what you mean by “culture”, as I can imagine it to mean several different things, so I’m going to go with something that for me falls under that category. I study history and I would like to know whether you and the other commenters think that the history of humankind (and also the philosophical and political theory or even the literature of the past centuries) should still “stay around”. As in should it still be made accessible and be examined.

    Because I have been thinking after reading your posts about art that most of it is very probably heavily influenced by the culture of patriarchy and oppression of women (and not just women, but also people of colour, for example) in which it was created. So by just teaching it as “canon” one could think that it’s just the indoctrination of people with those patriarchal and oppressive ideas. But maybe it can still be useful if it is examined under certain points of view. For example, I know there are people who examine history with feminist criteria and focus especially on the situation of women in different eras. Maybe it simply has to be made less exclusive and the institutions who are its keepers need to be changed?

    I’m not comfortable with the thought of just forgetting all about it. Maybe that’s because I’m conditioned to be uncomfortable with it, I don’t know. It just seems that even in a post-revolutionary utopia, there would still be the need to keep those products of the pre-revolutionary, oppressive society around as reminders of how there was oppression in the past and how it worked. The old “learn from history”-argument.

    2. About art. I really don’t know much about it, I tend to put it in the categories of “pretty” and “not pretty” without any academic thought associated to it. When I saw some of the pictures you linked to in your previous post, it reminded me of something I’ve read recently. Some of those linked pictures date from the 19th century and show naked or partly naked women and I’ve read that in the Victorian age, due to the morals repressing sexuality “in public”, pictures like these were meant to have a really strong sexual connotation. (Sorry, I’m not a native speaker, I don’t know how to put that better.) In that case they are an example of the sexual objectification of women, I think, and were painted to be just that.

    Now I was wondering whether any painting or other work of art that represented a nude woman represents this kind of objectification, not only because that’s what it’s supposed to be (like pornography in painting form) but also because most men would look at it like that. I’m asking this because to me some of those pictures are just aesthetically pleasing and I don’t associate anything like that with them, but I’m aware that I’m not the norm when it comes to that.

    This is my first post here and I hope I’ve managed to express myself well enough and that this actually fits within the context of this discussion.

  63. Uppity

    Unless the revolution will manage to change the seasons, there will still be the problem of a dark and cold winter among other non-patriarchy related challenges to the human condition. One needs a little reminder of sunshine and flowers when the snow is raging outside. Making stuff for the sole purpose of gazing upon it won’t stop being a popular past time, maybe there will be a different post-revolution name for it other than Art? Nacheaux?

  64. Triste

    I think I understand some of what you’re saying – you’re suggesting that art will be unnecessary in a post-patriarchal utopia because art is made to express ideals, and those ideals will be realities and therefore will not need expressing in such a world, correct?

    It’s something of a narrow view, in my opinion. I sort of understand what you are saying, but I think what you’re missing is that art can express things which are essentially beyond the scope of what is possible for human beings. I’m not even really referring to things which are impossible with our current level of technology – god knows it’s altogether possible that some day in the future, sans patriarchy, we will indeed be able to achieve immortality (or at least freedom from involuntary death) and other such things. But there are some artists who, within the boundaries of their art, defy basic laws of existence (i.e. laws of physics), who create alternate histories which never occurred in the first place, who create whole new universes which do not exist in any real sense.

    I think that as we evolve towards a post-patriarchy (if we do so at all), art will become less about the expression of cultural ideals and more about exploration of things which are alien to us. Rather than having art continually enforcing the status quo, art will instead exist as an exploration of new ideas, which satisfies our intellectual curiosity. Sucks about how I’m going to be dead before it happens, because I’m kind of excited.

  65. mike

    “If you’re not idealizing anything, what do you do it for? I’m not trying to be an ass, either; I really would like to know.”

    Of course, I can speak only for myself, but I make music because it’s the only part of my life that I enjoy. There is no ideal, just a ludicrously fun hobby.

    I don’t think a work of art represents “the ideal”, as much as it represents a single idea. Will ideas themselves become redundant when the patriarchy is in ruins?

  66. Jill

    After a few thousand years of attempting to bring the feminine back into the equation, it’s not appealing to consider a world without art, without motherhood, a technological world that “masters” the natural world.

    Yttik, I am unsure to what you refer when you say “a few thousand years of attempting to bring the feminine back into the equation,” but getting rid of “the feminine” is pretty much a major fucking goal in my book. “The feminine” is a product of a bogus patriarchal paradigm. And it in no wise needs to be brought back into any equation; as the primary instrument of women’s oppression, it’s ubiquitous already.

    You’ve observed that so far, bad shit still happens, and seem to be suggesting that a regression to the good old days will improve things. The evidence suggests otherwise.

    I get that you’re for a return to the naturaless of it all, but have you actually looked at the natural world lately? I live out in the country where it happens all around me 24/7, and I’m here to tell ya, nature is literally, absolutely, and without question nothing but a big honkin’ killing field. Starvation, disease, danger and death lurk everywhere, every living thing is imprisoned by its biology, and everything struggles by the skin of its teeth just to make it through the night without getting eaten. Invasive ash junipers steal the water from live oaks. My dogs regularly bring me chunks of dead week-old fawns. There’s a 3-legged katydid hobbling across my porch right now. And yikes, the other day I was watchin a super adorable little six-spotted lizard, when all of a sudden a patch-nosed snake came up out of a crack in the ground and fuckin swallowed it whole! There was a lizard-shaped bulge in the middle of that snake, and it was still squirming. And later on I saw a road-runner running (duh) the road with a snake in its beak. Etc.

    My point is that, while killing and oppression for personal gain appear to be all in a day’s work for the rest of nature, H. sapiens, with the giant brain, can rise above this hideous grisly fray. We can use technology to liberate ourselves from the oppression paradigm. We’re stupid if we don’t. If technology can eliminate suffering, bring about self-determination, and confer personhood on everyone, what’s the objection?

  67. Jill

    Most of the objections being raised to the End of Culture scenario — as in “there will always be a need for art,” and “humans will always create culture,” etc — are addressed in The Dialectic of Sex, the book from which I steal the whole idea. Because I can’t just reproduce Firestone’s whole book here, I’ve left out vast chunks of her argument, which is why I re-recommend, vigorously, that all blamers who have not read it stop right now, procure a copy, and absorb it toot sweet. At which point all will be revealed. Let me just say that, because Firestone’s vision of the post-revolutionary future concerns science having answered all questions about everything, a certain spirit of speculative openness is useful when approaching the later chapters.

    Reading Firestone, by the way, is my standard suggestion whenever anyone confronts me with silly questions about what post-patriarchal society will look like.

  68. Azundris

    Ashley, I see the installation as “reporting back”, much like I would an article on, say, the Kathy Sierra incident. While personally, paintings and installations usually strike me as low-bandwidth, ineffective in communicating any idea beyond the banal, they work for some people, and “Whatever it takes to break through people’s denial that misogyny exists, abounds,” right? As for your comparison, most people I know would deny that they’re racists, but wouldn’t deny that racism is a real problem, and we simply don’t have have that for misogyny yet. In a way, that seems the entire point of the installation to me?

    Ma’Whis’Ki, do you expect The Revolution to happen within your lifetime?

    Uppity, that’s one thing I never got about the (honky) ancestors — they trekked through Northern Europe, Scandinavia, certain parts of the US, knee-deep in frozen mud and thought to themselves, “Hey, this is nice! Why don’t we settle here?” I don’t know about you, but clearly, I am descended from idiots.

  69. yttik

    Uhg, this thread got heavy and triggering.

    Both Ma’Whis’Ki and gwyllion make valid points.

    On gwyllion’s side, there is a commercial for a crime drama that pisses me off. The narrator is talking about his new job, how he moved to a warmer climate, and the camera is roaming up a woman in a bikini. Then we finally reach her face and she is obviously dead. The narrator quips something about how the sunshine just makes the bodies smell worse. It enrages me. If you’re going to sexualize dead women, then let’s go all the way, let’s be truthful. I have the urge to put a rotting corpse in that lawn chair and shove that man’s face in it. I don’t want them to be able to dabble in necrophilia, I want to force them to confront the full horror of what they are advocating.

    But on Ma’Whis’Ki’s side, there is life affirming way to deal with things. I don’t want to waste my time being bound to patriarchy, entangled with these perps as if my job is to rehabilitate them. If they can’t understand why dead bodies are not sexy, why harming women is not romantic, then they are not worth the time.

    However, I think the dismissal of gwyllion’s art was too harsh. I want that post patriarchal world where her art wouldn’t even be an unexpressed idea. In the meantime, it does serve a purpose in showing people the horror of this reality we’re creating. I don’t blame gwyllion for anything her art says, I blame the patriarchy.

  70. Ashley

    “Whatever it takes to break through people’s denial that misogyny exists, abounds,”

    I get what you’re saying, but anyone who can’t see misogyny doesn’t want to. You don’t have to go to an art gallery to hear the c-word. Drive too slow for about 20 seconds in my town and you’ll be peppered with such artistic phrases.

  71. Ashley

    I would rather see a painting of some woman with her middle finger in some guy’s face. Personally, that’s my living art and they should make a genre out of it and pay me.

    It’s just, yeah. with that whole African American thing. Black people did use stuff like that, at a point in time, to raise awareness. And then they gradually stopped taking certain kinds of shit (they still have to take other certain kinds). It was a part of the process. What frustrates me about this kind of art regarding women is that we already know that men call women cunts and make us hurt and bleed and die. At this point, with the rise of porn culture, it’s not time for that kind of art anymore. It’s time to be working on more anti-porn legislation and letting this next generation of young women know what time it is. Talking back. We don’t need any more images of hurt women. Those images need to die.

  72. Azundris

    Ashley, anyone who can’t see misogyny doesn’t want to – I agree, none are as blind as those who will not see. I’m still hoping that art and articles can be part of letting this next generation of young women know what time it is, but I may well be clinging to a faint hope here, because what’s the alternative?

    As for “black”, Sarah Silverman has a “gag” where she relates how the manager of a venue asks her not to use the N-word, and she’s like, “Sure thing. I also use the C-word for Asian people in this other routine, you vant I should change that too?”, to which the answer is, “Why would you do that? No-one’s afraid of Asian men!”

    That bit’s sort of stuck with me, because “no-one’s afraid of” women either, and I wonder what action item we derive from that.

  73. sargassosea

    “It’s very uplifting hippie sci-fi shit.”

    Then:

    “Because I can’t just reproduce Firestone’s whole book here, I’ve left out vast chunks of her argument, which is why I re-recommend, vigorously, that all blamers who have not read it stop right now, procure a copy, and absorb it toot sweet.

    Well, consider this blamer procure-n’ and absorb-n’ with toot sweetness then, Lady Di!

  74. Ma'Whis'Ki

    Azundris–

    Revolution is part of the problem, not the solution. Mary Daly deconstructed it beautifully in her works, especially Gyn/Ecology. ‘Having a revolution’ means one is staying within the system and trying to overhaul it, and it’s a way that patriarchy traps people–women in particular– into chasing their tails.

    I take the position that patriarchy cannot be fixed/amended/retooled to make it ‘female-friendly’, because *it is founded on the premise* that women are inferior and need to be destroyed. Therefore, patriarchy must be kicked to the curb in its entirety, and ironically, that is exactly what happened to matrifocal lifestyle(s) when patriarchal interests seized control. They did not try to ‘modify’ gynocentrism by means of internal revolution, they annihilated it– and the powerful, autonomous women who held hard-won traditional knowledge– and then *substituted a system that was completely other*.

    There is an old native American saying to the effect that ‘the men cannot go to war until the women make their moccasins’– meaning that if women withdraw significant support from male machinations of various kinds, they *will* collapse of their own weight. This is why patriarchy fosters infighting amongst women– if women can be convinced as individuals that they are ‘the only ones who feel the way they do’ (and that they cannot rely on help from other women), they will be unable to join forces to undermine/threaten/stop patriarchal interests. The patriarchy *actively fears* groups of women coming together in mutual support, which is why it was 1)hard to get Women’s Studies courses into universities in the first place, and 2)why current Women’s Studies programs are being increasingly co-opted by ‘postfeminist’ (read ‘anti-feminist’) drivel.

    As to whether or not ‘significant improvement will happen in my lifetime’, I think that there will be a sea-change fairly soon, but for reasons that lie outside of the feminist-struggle aspect of things. As it so happens, the patriarchy is not only annoying women, it is also seriously annoying what Native American Elders refer to as the ‘Star Nations’, as in 1)there are higher-dimensional/other-dimensional aspects to nuclear weapons detonation that cannot be allowed, and 2)there is no way that the terraforming project as a whole is going to be allowed to go belly-up just because the monkey-dicks have gone psychotic in the ape-enclosure.

    I do not want to veer off-topic any more than I have at this point, so I will finish by saying that not only are we not alone as women within humanity, we are also not alone as a life-form, both on this planet and in the Cosmos as a whole. And, yes, I’ve had direct experience of the ‘not alone in the Cosmos as a whole’ part of things.

  75. yttik

    “The feminine is a product of a bogus patriarchal paradigm. And it in no wise needs to be brought back into any equation; as the primary instrument of women’s oppression, it’s ubiquitous already.”

    This is where the conflict lies, Twisty. Those qualities designated and labeled “feminine” are some of the best qualities human beings have to offer. Some people, including Firestone, seem to believe that the patriarchy exists because those qualities exist and if we just got rid of them, the patriarchy would cease. She says we are oppressed because we bear children, so we should not bear children. In my mind this is victim blaming. It’s like telling a victim that bullies would stop picking on her if she just acted and looked different. It’s as if to stop oppression all we have to do is cease to be. It’s not the feminine that’s in the wrong here, it’s the patriarchy. Why don’t they go kick some “masculine” qualities to the curb for a change?

    “We can use technology to liberate ourselves..”

    I don’t share your excitement. Like it or not, we are a part of nature. I’m not convinced it’s desirable to even attempt to transcend this. What do we wind up as in the end? The Borg? Something is being lost each time we move farther and farther away from who we are.

  76. MPMR

    I was inspired by this post, and went to check out a copy of The Dialectic of Sex from the public library.

    There’s not a single copy in the whole state public library system. IBTP.

  77. veganrampage

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

  78. Carpenter

    ‘In essence, science + aesthetics kills culture’

    This confuses me, I would say that both science and aesthetics, if they are to be large enough to actually do anything, require culture in order to exist. By that I mean there needs to be come way of organizing a whole hell of lot of people such that they can communicate about similar ideas. I am way confused about the working definition of culture here. By culture do you mean some arbitrary definition of ‘normal’ and the forced compliance to that norm?

    Anyway I am having some trouble digging up any Firestone near me, can someone quote me something?

  79. Carpenter

    BtW, according to Google Books The Dialectic of Sex is classed only under the subject ‘self help’. WTF?

  80. Ayla

    “Those qualities designated and labeled “feminine” are some of the best qualities human beings have to offer. Some people, including Firestone, seem to believe that the patriarchy exists because those qualities exist and if we just got rid of them, the patriarchy would cease.”

    What Firestone seems to be saying is not that qualities labeled as feminine by the patriarchy are the cause of patriarchy. Rather, she is saying that the patriarchy devalues those qualities and ascribes them to the oppressed sex class. Without patriarchy, these qualities would be human qualities, not feminine qualities, and would be valued.

    In my own words, the “feminine” that men hate would bloom within, and would in fact form the basis of, post-patriarchal human life.

  81. agasaya

    Gwyllion,

    I wasn’t dissing your protests (and was citing Rikki if that happens to be you). I merely don’t consider it art because it is a graphic representation of an issue and not transformed in any way from what it actually is – murder. We each fight in our own way. I’m giving my life to protesting but don’t consider what I do or write to be ‘art’. It doesn’t devalue it if you find it effective at meeting your goals. Not everyone will consider it meeting the criteria we all set ‘internally’ for the classification you assign to it.

    And Ma’Whis’ki, no one can be blamed from retiring from the lists but they come for us all eventually. Lapis won’t beautify the results and ugly things are discussed on these blogs. I wish you well in dealing with it all in any way you need to do so – and applaud you for posting since you obviously still believe in change.

    And I’m done with the thread – fascinating as it is.

  82. Jezebella

    “This is where the conflict lies, Twisty. Those qualities designated and labeled “feminine” are some of the best qualities human beings have to offer.”

    My understanding is not that things now designated “feminine” will be gone, but that the designation “feminine” will be gone. Certain aspects of “femininity”, those artificial behaviors we are trained to engage in to satisfy the oppressor (head-tilting, giggling, stiletto-wearing, etc.), yeah, THOSE? Those will be gone. But without a category labeled “femininity”, the stuff once put in that category (intuition, empathy, the ability to communicate with other human beings without being a giant douchebag, etc.) will continue to exist. It just won’t be “femininity”. It’ll be “humanity”.

  83. Ashley

    “I take the position that patriarchy cannot be fixed/amended/retooled to make it ‘female-friendly’, because *it is founded on the premise* that women are inferior and need to be destroyed. Therefore, patriarchy must be kicked to the curb in its entirety, and ironically, that is exactly what happened to matrifocal lifestyle(s) when patriarchal interests seized control. They did not try to ‘modify’ gynocentrism by means of internal revolution, they annihilated it– and the powerful, autonomous women who held hard-won traditional knowledge– and then *substituted a system that was completely other*.”

    wow. Amen. Global lysistrata, go!

  84. kristinc

    My take is that even a patriarchy-free world won’t signal the end of art, because human beings will still have problems – such as cancer, for example – and different ways of looking at the world; I’m thinking of the autistic spectrum, here. People will turn to art as a relief and a way to connect with others in a similar or different state of mind.

    This is what trips me up about the idea of a post-art world, too. I love to smell things and I collect perfume oil blends from a little perfumery in CA. To me those are art. A lot of those little bottles of scent evoke strong feelings when I smell them.

    And then, I’m a little synesthetic, so I see my favorite scents as colors and textures. What if I painted (I don’t paint but you know) the way I see scents, because I like to share that with other people who like scents or because I like to see my favorite scents on my wall? Not art? Really?

    It seems to me like there’s a lot of “Well, that’s not art, and THAT’S not art” going on here. I’ve always thought of art as creative acts that evoke emotional response. Not sure why that necessarily has to be patriarchal (although duh, it’s going to be, in a patriarchal culture) or why it’s necessarily an expression of the ideal (what ideal am I trying to portray if I paint the colors of peach skin, Arabian musk and neroli on a canvas) or why it won’t be relevant in the post-patriarchy.

    This is the kind of thing about radical feminism that honestly loses me: after the revolution no one will enjoy painting or dancing or singing or quilting or sculpting or building? Then what the hell kind of revolution is that? Seems to me the problem with art is that patriarchy stifles it, and if there were less patriarchy there would be more art.

  85. Andrea

    gwyllion,

    Not finding this anywhere in the commenter’s guidelines: Would you please consider emailing me? I would like to talk to you about this stuff, and don’t personally think you should quit. I’ve quit, for better or for worse. rust to rust at gmail dot com.

  86. awhirlinlondon

    I don’t get this. At all.

    I agree that what we call “art” we can equally call “artifact” (and in interesting ways, “artifice”) in that it is an expression of the prevailing culture. But there is no “post-culture.” Culture is what is– it is whatever arrangement exists around us, with its consequent structures and expressions, including art. Post-patriarchal culture will have a different kind of art – which will be artifact itself in that it will also / cannot fail to be a reflection of culture.

    Even if one grants that post-patriarchy = Utopia (& I’m not saying that you do– utopia with a small “u” yes, but not with a big one except comparatively)what you are arguing is that we will need no form of expression – unless you don’t grant the premise that art = expression? That we will take no joy in creation– unless you don’t think that there is need for “creation” post-P? That we will take no joy in reading the creation and expression of others?

    You’re also therefore arguing, I think, that we will not need beauty, however beauty is culturally defined. I don’t get this either.

    That I cannot imagine a world like this doesn’t mean that a world like this is impossible – I understand this, even as I understand that I cannot understand the extent to which I live in the paradigm in which I live. But “we won’t need art” makes as much sense as “we won’t need pleasure in form, colour, beauty, taste, smell, arrangement, grace (yes I know the 18th-C antecedents on this one & will maybe grant it you)food, friendship, conversation, argument or anything else that makes life worth living in the patriarchy.

    Are you saying that we won’t write, post-patriarchy? That we won’t sing? Dance? (Even the butt dance?!) Create places in which to live that please us? Cook wonderful food? Care about whether the food we eat makes us sit back in our chair and swoon with bliss? All of these things are art. Will we cease imagining as well? Because that’s the only way I can see the logic. Post-patriarchy = Utopia = we will need no form of artistic pleasure, creation, expression, beauty because we’ll all be bathing in so much bliss that no more bliss is possible.

    Your premise, as I understand it: post-patriarchy negates the need for art. Art = culturally-shaped modes of expression that reflect whatever the culture dictates/decides is Truth and Beauty – terms I use advisedly in order to grant your first premises because the subtext is the very accurate point that “Truth & Beauty” are patriarchally-inflicted values. (Whether they’re entirely or only mostly p-i values – am guessing I’d argue for the latter & you’d argue for the former.) Either way, however, as I understand it, you’re arguing that a world Post-P will negate the need for expression. For creation. For beauty, however defined.

    I’m seriously completely lost on this one.

  87. humanbein

    It’s a long thread of vigorous defending of hierarchy. The idea that art could be so ubiquitous as to be invisible is less important than the idea that art is one man-made object being better than another object.

    We are so locked into our culture of hierarchy that the idea of losing it is frightening when we apply to anything other than getting men off of our backs.

    There are even feminists out there -lots of them, as you can see from this thread – who think that the real feminist ideal is to elevate women to the place men currently hold, because, thanks to their special femininity, they would be better at commanding and mastering their precious hierarchy. This is how deeply rooted the patriarchal culture is within us – that we can even wish to continue it as long as we get to be the ones on top next time.

  88. yttik

    I don’t know if this book will be any good, but I’m always up for more discussion on Firestone:

    Further Adventures of The Dialectic of Sex

    http://us.macmillan.com/furtheradventuresofthedialecticofsex

  89. Level Best

    Ma’Whis’Ki, I am STILL with you. I would pay to hear you speak, gladly. I wish I knew women like you IRL. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in my section of Appalachia that thinks along these lines (fortunately,though, there’s at least one blogger out of Nashville who shares these thoughts).

    yttik, my internet crush on you just continues to snowball. I love reading you everywhere you write.

  90. Summerspeaker

    The new book on Firestone looks fascinating. Thanks for the information, yttik!

  91. sargassosea

    The idea of A(a)rt would become obsolete, but the idea of play would expand geometrically.

  92. grasshopper

    Quote from Adrienne Rich, rejecting the National Medal for the Arts in 1997:

    art — in my own case the art of poetry — means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage.

  93. Ma'Whis'Ki

    Yttik–

    Some back-up for what you were pointing out in re: female/human vs. male/inhuman qualities, and the ‘transcending’ of Nature, can be found in several places in Mary Daly’s writings. In ‘Gyn/Ecology’, she takes apart ‘male-mother-ism’ and the extremely female-unfriendly ‘reproductive technology’ that such a masculine mindset has given rise to, and she also details exactly *why* such technologies as they currently stand are *hugely* dangerous.

    She has another go at this subject in Chapter 5 of her book ‘Quintessence’, where she points out some very interesting facts about the Y-chromosome that women would do well to keep in mind, especially since we are constantly told ‘the genetic sex of your genitalia–and therefore, your brain– is your one and only destiny’ by the possessors of said Y-chromosomes. I pass this info along to you, because as a Library Assistant who does a lot of reference-work, I hate to see women have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ when they try to get certain points across when discussing their rights to self-determine their own destinies. Just know that Mary Daly has already done both the scholarly research and the ‘lay-out-the-data-competently’ work for you with regard to the issues that you raised.

    Level Best–

    Thank you! We are none of us alone, even if sometimes it feels like it. I am absolutely sure that for every woman who puts up a blog like this one and/or discusses stuff on blogs like this one, there are at least a hundred more who want to also, but who are in some way intimidated into staying silent. The more that all of us who are already Speaking continue to do so, the more energy we provide for the loosing of our silent Sisters’ tongues.

    To pull this back to the subject of art/Art, I think that one of the functions of big-A-art is to deny and silence the ubiquitous nature of Female Creativity, which is truly everywhere, and is constantly manifesting, whether patriarchal interests want it around or not. While all men are not ‘Artists (TM)’, all women *are* artists, and everything that we have invented– the bow and arrow; horse bridles, bits, and saddles; ovens/kilns; fishing nets; weaving and the loom– speaks of our ability to consider two ideas at the same time, giving equal weight to each, i.e., practicality *and* aesthetics, which the male mind keeps having to split off one from the other, in part due to a very major Y-chromosome programming-glitch.

    [Hint: There is a nuts-and-bolts hardware-reason that dyslexia/brain-hemisphere-dominance stuff is predominantly a *male* malady, and it lies in part with the 'differentness' of both halves of the male brain to each other, as compared to the 'sameness' of both halves of the female brain. This is a secret that patriarchy desperately does not want women privy to, hence women are discouraged from pursuing scientific careers unless they can be properly tokenized to spout the male party-line. Between this fact, and the fact that the male-dominated life-sciences have consistently, from the time of the discovery of hormones, disguised the fact that both male and female bodies run on chemically-identical estrogen (by naming so-called *male estrogen* 'androgen' to disguise its sameness), I laugh fit to pee my pants when male scientists talk about 'considering things dispassionately', or when they claim their 'great genetic/reproductive technology and expertise' is female-friendly.]

    So my best guess is that as long as there are women around, there will always be little-a-art around, because we are innately practically/aesthetically creative: little-a-art is what you get when you ask women to problem-solve. Men doing the same thing either come up with butt-ugly, crap-spewing technology that sorta works or useless pretty things in frames in museums *because their brains are split* in some key areas that womens’ head-space isn’t.

  94. Comrade Svilova

    Awhirlinlondon’s post articulates (so well!) what I’ve been thinking but have been unable to put into words. With that said, I do understand that I haven’t read the source material for this vision of the post-P world. However, at the moment all I can imagine is a world in which art would become a part of life — every creative and expressive activity would be embraced, enjoyed, and fostered without hierarchies, judgement, or “productivity” demanded of them.

    Not to say that the future is limited by our imaginations, but that is as far as mine takes me — and it’s a vision of the future that sounds pretty amazing to me. Now I’m curious to read Firestone, however, and perhaps I will change my mind.

  95. Christopher

    If you’re not idealizing anything, what do you do it for? I’m not trying to be an ass, either; I really would like to know.

    Jill (I feel weird calling people I don’t know by their first names, but somehow Ms. Faster doesn’t seem any better), I’m now really curious to know why you take photographs, given what we’re discussing here.

  96. Bushfire

    “There’s not a single copy in the whole state public library system. IBTP”

    MPMR, have you tried a university library?

  97. MPMR

    Bushfire: I actually got a copy there today. One of four!

  98. Bushfire

    I’m now really curious to know why you take photographs, given what we’re discussing here.

    Here’s my idea: To scientifically document the heartwarmingness of nature.

  99. utahgirl

    Bushfire– I’d checked my local libraries (in Provo and Orem, UT) and they didn’t have copies. Then I read your suggestion, and decided to check out the BYU library on a lark–turns out they have a few copies. Bizarre, no?

  100. utahgirl

    In case this needs clarification, BYU (Brigham Young University) is a school funded and run by the Mormon church.

  101. rootlesscosmo

    There’s a copy of Firestone around the house somewhere, probably unopened since about 1974; thanks for the reminder to revisit it. But one change between then and now is that ideas about how whole areas of human life up to now–art, the need for governance, class conflict–will be unnecessary after the revolution, and will therefore disappear, have taken on some new associations. For example: there’s an argument in “State and Revolution” that the Anarchists charge the Bolsheviks with not believing in democracy; Lenin answers triumphantly that democracy is also a type of state, and the state will “wither away” after the Rev, so the Bolsheviks are better Anarchists than the Anarchists are. Firestone wasn’t a Leninist (as I remember) but a Marxist; on the other hand Lenin said he was just a consistent Marxist, in which case so much the worse for Marxism. And some of those ideas–and some of that style, which Stalin used to call “Bolshevik irreconcilability”–were in the Left atmosphere back then; in the light of what we know now (and yeah, we probably shoulda known it then, but there you go) it’s disturbing. Living nearly 70 years has brought me to something like Gwyllion’s place of hopelessness, though probably along a different path. So why do I do art? (Music in my case.) Same reason I cook dinner: nourishment.

  102. JenniferRuth

    Jill

    If you’re not idealizing anything, what do you do it for? I’m not trying to be an ass, either; I really would like to know.

    I’m a graphic designer for an advertising agency. The specific area we advertise in is very, very white straight male (I know EVERYTHING in this world is, but this area is particularly so). I try to do my bit fighting sexism and racism within the industry but if the revolution came I would not weep for my job for one second. I would be more than happy to see the whole system come crumbling down. I am not concerned about my job. I just try to do the best in the world we live in.

    When I said I liked my job…well, what I like is drawing and creating stuff. The process of it. When I create “art” at home I do it because it’s FUN. I’m not creating an ideal any more than when I spent my childhood drawing monsters. I do it because it’s fun to imagine things and get them out of my head into the “real” world. I like looking at other people’s work because I like seeing what other people have in their heads. Y’know when people say that certain music makes them feel emotional? Well, I don’t particularly care for music but sometimes I feel like that when I’m looking at art. But yeah, mainly I do it because it’s fun for me.

    I know whether something is fun for me or not is pretty irrelevant in the scheme of things. But the idea that all art is striving towards an “ideal” is foreign to me. An ideal of what?

    So, here’s the thing. I understand that the revolution would dismantle “art” as we know it. I understand that “culture” would be an irrelevant and meaningless term. That all makes total sense to me. But I cannot understand how this would stop people from drawing, painting, writing, making music, sculpting etc. for entertainment. Why would people stop telling stories? Would drawing suddenly not be fun anymore? Surely art would just be different to how it is now, freed from imposed patriarchal hierarchies? Or does the dissolution of art just mean that while the aesthetics we know would disappear the mechanics of it (making marks on paper, playing drums, etc) still remain, just applied differently?

    I don’t mean to sound like an idiot! I just feel like I am missing some salient point in this.

    I will buy Firestone’s book. I’ve been meaning to for a long time. It’s out of print here but I am sure I can find a good second-hand copy!

  103. Mar Iguana

    Ma’Whis’Ki, I am in awe (and I seldom use that word) of your comments. Especially:

    “As to whether or not ’significant improvement will happen in my lifetime’, I think that there will be a sea-change fairly soon, but for reasons that lie outside of the feminist-struggle aspect of things. As it so happens, the patriarchy is not only annoying women, it is also seriously annoying what Native American Elders refer to as the ‘Star Nations’, as in 1)there are higher-dimensional/other-dimensional aspects to nuclear weapons detonation that cannot be allowed, and 2)there is no way that the terraforming project as a whole is going to be allowed to go belly-up just because the monkey-dicks have gone psychotic in the ape-enclosure.

    “I do not want to veer off-topic any more than I have at this point, so I will finish by saying that not only are we not alone as women within humanity, we are also not alone as a life-form, both on this planet and in the Cosmos as a whole. And, yes, I’ve had direct experience of the ‘not alone in the Cosmos as a whole’ part of things.”

    I too have had experiences supposedly not possible within the physics of Earthly time and space. There were witnesses to three of these incidents, but even so, I know they were not some kind of personal hallucinations.

    I am often frustrated in discussions about our present human predicament because it seems to often get to a point where I start talking in metaphysical terms and completely lose people because they think I’m getting all woo woo la la.

    We are not alone. I know it. I feel it. The boys have not one clue as to what they have stepped in by messing with nuclear weapons. I’m reminded of the line from the movie “Network:”

    “And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU… WILL… ATONE!”

  104. speedbudget

    I imagine us blamers are conflating art the product with art the process. I think in Firestone’s future, there will be no need for art the process (a way of dealing with inequities and pain and imperfections in the human condition and the world). Because we will be living post-P in a kind of utopia, art will quit being this “other,” this rarefied process, and instead become just a normal part of everyday life. If you create a profound painting, it will be hung in your house and your friends and neighbors can come look at it, but it will not go into a museum and become Art because museums are the patriarchy’s way of legitimizing certain works and othering the rest.

    I think. Need more coffee.

  105. JenniferRuth

    speedbudget –

    Yeah, that is what I was trying to get at. That art is about ideas not ideals and if the ideas change then that will change what art IS but I still assume that people will draw and write and make music. No museums or galleries or “good” art….just drawings and stories and sounds.

    At least, I think this is what is meant by an “artless future”

  106. iGuest

    “If you’re not idealizing anything, what do you do it for? I’m not trying to be an ass, either; I really would like to know.”

    I can’t answer for octopod, but I do it because it’s fun. I’m of the school of thought that art is everywhere and everyone is an artist. After the revolution there will be more art, not less, because it will be seen for what it is. In the meantime, it’s one of our very best weapons to subvert the gender oppressive narrative and overthrow the patriarchy. (Which of course, Jill, you and your blog sisters are doing brilliantly.)

  107. Jill

    Jill (I feel weird calling people I don’t know by their first names, but somehow Ms. Faster doesn’t seem any better), I’m now really curious to know why you take photographs, given what we’re discussing here.

    You mean “Jill, why do you behave as though you live in the same culture as the rest of humanity?”

    I do it to idealize things.

  108. HazelStone

    I feel I ought to not that Firestone’s book has an incredibly racist section on race. It is one of the worst things I’ve ever read by someone on the “left” about race. Genuinely awful.

    SF has some good ideas but she’s about as dead wrong as can possibly be on race. Also, he reliance on Frued makes some of the book practically a joke.

    In sum, some good ideas; plenty of freudian nonsense and some racist drivel.

  109. ivyleaves

    I’ll just say that her analysis of Eldridge Cleaver turned out to be right on the money.

  110. Jezebella

    Indeed, Hazelstone, I don’t think I even managed to get through that chapter. I wonder if her Number One Fangirl knows if Firestone ever backed away from it, or are we all supposed to pretend that it was an Unfortunate Incident Which Shall Not Be Named. I mean, what do we do with this book with its incendiary ideas, its techno-hippie-sci-fi ideas, and its wretched ass-backward racist ideas?

    Perhaps we can have Firestone Week next?

  111. HazelStone

    Also, I am sorry about my bad typing/spelling.

  112. HazelStone

    Speaking of “Unfortunate Incident Which Shall Not Be Named” I wonder if the New Age Mary Daly proponent on this site (won’t even try to spell here handle) is cool with MD’s racism and transphobia.

  113. Rachel

    Ma’Whis’Ki, please don’t take the red herring bait mentioned above.

  114. janna

    Rachel, what are you referring to?

  115. Jill

    If Firestone’s cringeworthy and embarrassing Freud-based remarks (e.g. “there is no family solidarity in the ghetto” or “why does just the sight of a Negro so often evoke strong sexual feelings in a white man?”) compel you to throw her out with the bathwater, I completely understand. But even though all that Oedipus/Elektra complex crap makes you puke, it can still be argued that there is a sexist component to racism.

  116. Hazel Stone

    You’ll notice I didn’t shy away from saying that SF has some great ideas, but papering over the racism isn’t OK. I just want to be sure that we don’t do that in the lovefest. Especially since WOC could (and have) been really offended by it.

    No one is debating that there’s a sexist component to racism. That’s sort of the point of radical feminism, right? I still think her take on it was objectionable.

  117. Summerspeaker

    Angela Davis included Firestone in the white feminists she took to task for facilitating the resurrection of the myth of the black rapist, right?

  118. Ma'Whis'Ki

    Oh, this is fun! I do love to talk with women, because the innate multi-task gyne-brain can actually follow the ins-and-outs of a multi-level discussion that is going on in a sort of nine-sided inter-nested hypercube sort of way. I hope everyone takes a moment to realize that most everyone on this thread *actually remembers* not only everything that everyone else has said here, but also *who said what*. It’s so-o-o refreshing…

    Rachel, fear not. Mary Daly can hold her own with no help from me, and I am on a bit of a different parallax anyway, but I will quickly make clear some things about myself and my point(s)-of-view–

    1) I do the shaman-thing, which is about as far away from New Age as it is possible to get. I wear dead-animal-stuff on my shaman’s belt: mostly horse-hair formed into a ‘horse-tail’– remaindered from slaughtered horses, unfortunately– along with cow and deer hide, an otter-tail (given to me by a Native American friend, now deceased), and a head-still-on silver fox skin. I eat meat (especially when running lots of otter and fox energy), but I try to be a ‘sparing omnivore’, because I know (from talking to them directly) that plants are just as sentient as we and other mammals are, so it is every bit as painful to them to eat them as it is to eat, say, rabbits. The reason why humans think plants are ‘stupid’, is that they have been trained to think of plants that way by the prevailing patriarchal mindset: it’s a case of humans– to reference J.K. Rowling/Molly Weasley– ‘not knowing where plants keep their brains’.

    2) Patriarchal philosophical systems and medical science are woefully ignorant about what the human body actually is, and how physical systems in bodies are organized:

    A) The idea that people ‘think with their head-Brains, and that the rest of the body is a sort of *meat-robot* is completely in error (see the neuropeptide work of Candace Pert for starters). All mammalian bodies have 3 bona fide Brains: the Heart/Vagus Nerve-Brain (which remembers food preferences for you, among other things), the Gut-Brain (which has as many brain-type neurons in it as your head-Brain does, and which also is the Brain that makes *all* your ‘Brain chemicals’, like serotonin), and the Head-Brain, which is a kind of router and a multi-USB-port plug-in zone for your sensory array. The Heart/Vagus Brain produces such a strong electrical signal that it can be detected with sensors up to 15 feet away from the skin-surface of the body. This electrical field directly influences the Heart/Vagus fields of other people within the 15-foot radius, and studies have shown that when people spend time with each other in close physical proximity, their heart-rates level and synchronize with each other (and now you know the system by which nervousness or calmness can often be ‘contagious’). The Head Brain in contrast produces electrical signals that are so weak, electrodes have to be taped to the skin to pick them up. Thanks to people who have undergone heart and other organ transplants experiencing all sorts of weird personality changes and strange food preferences ‘out of nowhere’, medical science is starting to understand that when they transplant a heart, they are also transplanting another person’s brain (and part of another person’s mood-structure and ‘edibles-data’) into the recipient, with a resultant *permanent* modification of the recipient’s personality– hence the sudden interest in t-cells and ‘grow-your-own’ replacement organs. Will MDs ever come clean and say, ‘Oops, we kinda goofed?’ Nope, that’s patriarchy in action– it can do no wrong, and must continue to hide the ’3-Brain-problem’ in the interests of keeping the old ‘Head-Brain is king of the body’ paradigm firmly in place, so as not to embarrass medical egos or disturb drug company profits.

    B) In helping people with some genetics sources for papers, etc., I have run across several (rather abstruse and jargon-laden) papers by Chinese genetic researchers, which when boiled down into plain English say that there is evidence in the human genome that it has been ‘previously spliced’, and *not by us*. Since we now know how to gene-splice, we know what to look for as far as evidence of it goes, and there *are* definite ‘splice-marks’ in the human genome. You will never hear about this on the nightly news, because the patriarchy does not want anyone to know that there are other ‘someones’ out there who can run scientific rings around Earth-Team Franken-Dick.

    C) All of our internal organs have mood-chemical sensor/generator-sites all over them (again, see the work of Candace Pert), meaning that we probably feel ‘happy with our livers, and sad with our kidneys’ (or something of a similar kind), and the Head-Brain just registers/decodes ‘liver-happy’ or ‘kidney-pissed’ states for us.

    D) Horses possess larger Heart/Vagus Brains and way larger Gut-Brains than humans do, *and they use them with a skill that surpasses human skills in the same areas*. Two books by Linda Kohanov ‘The Tao of Equus’ and ‘Riding Between The Worlds’ detail not only the emotional-mirroring genius of horses, but also shows how her own paradigms shifted under the weight of solid evidence that horses can actually ‘heart-and-gut synch’ traumatized people into permanent release and emotional balance.

    When I agreed to listen to not just (male) people, but also to female people, rocks, trees, Sentient Water, and the family dog, I stepped way, way out of patriarchy and their new-age-guru-sideshows. When Horse tells me that ‘what’s wrong with your rectum (an atypical anal fissure) is that your horse-tail was cut off, so go get horse-hair and fix it NOW!!!’ and then I do that, and the fissure spontaneously heals and stays shut, I think I’m onto something, and I also think I should pay attention to the advice. And yes, my Horse-Tail Belt is crafty-artistic, because so is Nature.

    The name Ma’Whis’Ki (Ma Whiskey) is meant in a-muse-ment: it is an acronym of the phrase ‘MAre-WHo-IS-(S)KIllful’, and is meant as a punning reversal of the Celtic ‘uisge beha’ (meaning the ‘Water of Life’), which what the Celts called grain alcohol, and it is also where the English word ‘whiskey’ comes from. I use the name to honor both Horse for the gift of the healing tail, and to ‘reverse the reversal’: clean, pure Water is the True Uisge Beha, and *mare* (‘mair’, a female horse) can also be pronounced ‘mar-ray’, meaning ‘Ocean’. Women are both deep and artful, and I am really proud to be one.

  119. Jill

    Angela Davis included Firestone in the white feminists she took to task for facilitating the resurrection of the myth of the black rapist, right?

    Right! Interestingly, Davis uses that exact turn of phrase in her chapter on that subject. What a coincidence! Read it here.

    Angela Davis. Women, Race, & Class Vintage, 1983.

    It is the white feminists’ badge of shame, that our pioneering white ideologues so often displayed an unsophisticated grasp of race. It bites everyone in the ass.

  120. Summerspeaker

    Interestingly, Davis uses that exact turn of phrase in her chapter on that subject. What a coincidence!

    It’s my memory actually functioning for once, most likely. I read the book a little while ago but should probably pick it up again. And read some more bell hooks. That never hurts.

    As far as Freud goes, I still think there’s a bit of psychological resonance in Firestone’s reinterpretation. Before reading The Dialectic of Sex, Freud never did anything for me. I didn’t understand the appeal. She uses his theory too uncritically and universally, of course, but there’s something interesting there. More interesting than other scholarship on Freud, anyway.

  121. Jezebella

    Jill, would you consider adding Angela Davis to your blog reading list as a visible counterpoint to the extreme whiteness of it in its current state? I realize you have two much longer lists linked, but there must be at least one feminist of color that belongs in the must-read category, eh?

  122. Jill

    An excellent suggestion, Jezebella. The dehonkification of the reading list is an idea that has once or twice alighted in my lobe, only to be put off until tomorrow along with the seventeen other blog infrastructure improvements I keep meaning to make.

  123. RogueSareth

    My gripe here is that you say with the end of patriachry and the end of culture. But thats impossible, Culture will always persist, Its subject to change but there will always be culture even if its just the human culture. Culture isn’t just dictated by what gender is more influential but by the region we live in and our history and technology. If culture died we’d be nothing but a bunch of sterile bland robots. All the same no individuality. Art is not the representative of the ideal but of what the artists sees in the world or in their own mind. Starry Night dosen’t represent an ideal but a different way of viewing.

    Also you can’t seriously believe that if patriarchal society came to an end there wouldn’t still be war and poverty and famine? women are just as cruel and decitful, just as power hungry as men. Those problems wouldn’t go away. Perhaps change in the way they come about but they wouldn’t come to an end.

  124. Jill

    RogueSareth, because I am not a very good writer, you have misinterpreted my description of the post-patriarchal scenario. The end of patriarchy would, in fact, mean the end of oppression, which in turn would obviate the necessity for cultural expression. I suggest you re-examine what “culture” really means.

  125. Alexa

    ‘women are just as cruel and decitful, just as power hungry as men.’

    Um, women are forced to be bitter, uncool and unlikeable because of a vicious culture that speaks a language of intense hatred of women. Men are by nature insecure, power hungry and competitive. Any culture that exists while men exist will be patriarchal. So one can only hope for the end of the world or for women to finally realise they’re entitled to a lot of anger and to turn the tables. I think both are more likely than the end of patriarchal culture while any man exists.

    The problem is when ‘things with dicks’ develop the brains to control environments so women end up eternally as meatsocks. The solution: put the ‘things with dicks’ in a well in the middle of the ocean, with no access to each other or anyone else.

    Also, ‘RogueSareth’ (shit name), learn to spell and use punctuation if you like it here. Personally I think this place and Jill’s eloquent style of writing is way over your head.

  126. nails

    You can’t prove to me that men are naturally that way, I have no reason to believe that their essence is cruelty (or that anyone has much of an essence, or that their essential nature is gendered). There is not any neutral culture to stick dudes into to prove it one way or another. Proof is a big deal when you are talking about killing half of the human race.

  127. Alexa

    Nails nails, you and your proof! ‘Prove’ to me I mentioned killing men anywhere in my post. The clowns kill each other anyway.

    But leme guess, Not your Nigel?

  128. ik

    Alexa… Are you trolling?

    Ok. Segregating half the human race in a “well in the middle of the ocean”. With no access to each other so they all go insane and miserable from social isolation. And probably commit suicide. Ooops, you actually DO have your killing right there. Would you say that about whiteness? Or is that just another part of patriarchy which seems to be about a lot more than the patria-part of the word.

    And what if it really IS not her Nigel? I’m worried that the patriarchy would probably do BETTER than you at not going to the most extreme possible idea, which is very worrysome and is definitely saying a lot.

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