It’s true that spinsterdom has been keeping me pretty well preoccupied with matters unrelated, except in a general weltanschauung-y sense, to this patriarchy-blaming blog, but I did happen to notice that one blamer recently commented thusly:
Well, I keep reading about how not all women have breasts or uteri, and not all women have XX chromosomes, and how womanhood can be defined as “feeling like a woman”, which makes me think I have no idea what a woman is. And if I don’t know what a woman is, what do phrases like “women’s oppression” even mean? The oppression of who?
Then somebody responded with a comment about conflations and pipe dreams and Shania Twain. I didn’t know what that comment meant, but I appreciated that it was trippy. One is sometimes burdened with a sense of regret when considering that, uproarious good fun though patriarchy blaming is, it often lacks that certain psychedelic je ne sais quoi.Shania Twain, though. I don’t know jack about her, except that she was on the cover, dressed in tuxedo hotpants, of a dykeygirl magazine that was for some reason a fixture in my downstairs bathroom for several years in the 90′s. One is sometimes burdened with a sense of regret when considering that, of the precious few memories one has managed to retain from the colorful, impetuous, funfeminist era when one played in an indie rock band under the moniker Spitzie West, one of them is used up by this trivial Shania Twain magazine cover detail.
Spitzie West was my stripper name.
Which leads me to my larger point:
A woman is anyone perceived by anyone else (including herself) to be a member of the sex class.
That is, woman is a made-up figment. A pastiche, if you will, of dudely fantasy. An archetype in pscyhosocial folklore invented as a means to illuminate, support, or catalyze the action-man exploits of the dude protagonist. For example, the cover photo of Shania Twain in tuxedo hotpants wasn’t meant to represent the truth about a human being, it was meant to re-tell a myth for and about heterosexual men (that woman = sex).
Hey, this’ll be fun. Let’s say some right-thinking activists from my home planet Obstreperon finally showed up and neutralized all the dudes by shifting them en masse into another dimension (Don’t worry! They wouldn’t be dead — mostly only imprisoned, probed, and used in alien experiments). Would “woman” still exist in the absence of its defining characteristic? Hell no. We’d all just be people. Strolling around alone after dark, having a couple of cocktails, wearing clothes and shit, pretty much without incident. Getting PhDs in astrophysics, directing films, being firefighters, pretty much without incident. You grasp the gist.
Photo swiped from here.