There is a group I’d love to attend, on some levels, and so I went to the introductory session with the following thoughts in mind. The journaling group is based on the ideas of its creator, combined with the wisdoms to be found in Dr. Estes’s popular book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. My first comments are my hope of finding other women who want to help women become re-empowered locally, something I share with a dear friend who received the original email notice for the group. Later I refer to the introductory flyer.
We old women have the time, energy, and relative freedom to make effective, lasting change that young women, as well as the middle-aged among us, often do not. We may even have acquired wisdom – especially if we have been marginalized in some way AND have engaged in analyses of our oppressions via existing writings on the topics and in discussions with other women, or people who share those marginalizations.
I want to find the boat-rockers. I want to find women who already have some depth of analysis and who want to strike out against what is wrong based on that deeper understanding of HOW things are wrong. And then, together, I want to work on helping to empower other adult human females so that we can wreak havoc on wrongness, as an effective and caring coalition of women. A sisterhood would be awesome, but that needs to be earned; coalition is good enough for now, I think. You can be who you are, that’s fine. I’m a radical feminist. My political analysis is based on the hierarchies of the castes assigned to people under the existing system. Those are hierarchies by sex, race, class analysis beyond the 1 vs 99% view, and more. Radical means getting to the root of any issue, and one of my strongest motivations is the empowering of all human females so that we can create an effective, and level, counter to the inequities that rule our lives.
Maiden – Mother – Wisewoman (Crone) has issues beyond what the added ‘Prostitute’ brings in. This is age-related, so why not just use Crone? Ageism is inherent, though, if wisdom is solely seen as being gained with age. Even age doesn’t guarantee it! And the age-triad reinforces the errant concept of ‘linear progress,’ where young feminists, except for the especially brave and brilliant, have been coerced to believe that second-wave feminism was not in their best interests, and was actually anti-woman! It was, it is in women’s best interests, as it is female centered. That’s its flaw in the backlash: it refuses to center men.
The focus on motherhood, both a main basis of female oppression and of privileging within the sex-caste hierarchy, is an issue of unnecessary female divide. I say ‘oppression’ because motherhood is our bodily ‘resources, extracted’ by the other sex, and I say ‘privileging’ because any capitulation to patriarchy is rewarded so long as it benefits men. Women who choose not to be mothers at all in this era of global climate catastrophe and human overpopulation should be commended, not marginalized. It could be simply girl, woman, old woman — but why the emphasized division by age, anyway? If it’s focus, name the focus. It might be stated as: Building Self (a major portion of girlhood is drawing or weaving together the characteristics chosen as valuable, creating an honorable and worthwhile Self), Building Family (the gifts of adulthood that women bring include community, connection, and care, which are vital to the creation of one’s own chosen and supportive family), and extending the community outward, or Building Tribe (often older women build across divides).
And why is ‘Prostitute’ an included archetype??? Prostitution is, by definition, female sexual slavery (wherein pornography is the literal depiction of that enslavement). The number of women trafficked into prostitution, often as pre-teen girls, is astronomical. In the US alone the number of girls and women trafficked into this country’s sex trade is roughly 15,000 a year. Worldwide, sex traffickers ‘buy’ or steal almost 2 million children a year. The body-buyers and -abusers are men. It is the ultimate proof of patriarchy — men buy fuckability in human form; under patriarchy men own the right to use others’ (lessers’) bodies for their sexual indulgences. Some countries, legally or otherwise, have sex tourism as a major – if not economically THE major – industry. Thailand and Singapore are “vacation” or “business” destinations most often visited by men, solo or in groups. When businessmen brag about trips to Singapore or Thailand, this is probably what they’re telling you, and getting away with because you don’t know and aren’t encouraged to consider in the current cultural climate of “agency” and acceptance. Now you know.
Awakening the inner artist in every woman, also a time of self-building, makes sense. The warrior in many of us does come out in full force as our immediate obligations to sustaining others’ lives decrease. Women often cannot be frontline activists easily when others are completely dependent on them; women with children feel this deeply, and are released into fighting back overtly, once those children are grown. It may be dangerous to say in this day and age but having children really can limit what women can do communally; maybe that is a lot of the point. Women who settle into culture are also seen as sexual targets up until their early 30s; performance (of “beauty” and of “sexy”) for males is demanded. The freedom of greater age can be a time of community-building, both small and local, and large and bridging customary divides — including race and class and love interests (that which in the negative is Lesbophobia). The wild woman archetype CAN open women to building — fierce and fighting alliances, or coalitions of care, but it can also be co-opted, in this era of more-backlash-than-actual-feminism to mean highly-individualized and individualist goals: being seen as sexy in later years, developing a personal style or look, taking on causes without much analysis. Look at the tremendous boost to the anti-feminist “trans” cult, and the subsequent loss of women’s rights abetted by older women! Or look at the acceptance of pornography and prostitution now seen as “liberated” among so many older women!
During the meeting it became clear that Dr. Estes’s and the group leader’s essentialism, that men and women have very different, roles, goals, and innate personalities, was going to silence my dissenting view. No, I don’t believe that men are innate competitors perfectly fitted to war, football, and sexual aggression aimed at spineless, simpering women. I’m sure to women who are afraid of conflict this might be soothing, another version of ‘it’s not our fault.’ But that is infantilizing, nowhere near a true picture of womanhood, and certainly not covering the range of what many women already are: brave, centered, caring, fierce, loyal builders of connection and community. Some men have shown they are capable of that, but all men are taught to be destroyers, and all women are schooled in valuing men and maleness over other females. That last stuff is culture. I challenge that, always, and in a group where the basis for understanding place, as a woman, is in opposition to this ‘true nature of men,’ I can’t fit.
As I wrote to my friend: I’m just not interested in fawning praise for masculinity, or loyalty to gender. Gender is fake — the social roles each culture enforces upon the two very real sexes are not uniform across cultures, and usually only serve the power structure. I am not a woman who ever fantasized of rape, or who eroticized power differences, men over women. Possibly I’m fairly rare, I don’t really know. But it’s something I never had to confront in myself, or worse, try to unlearn. The whole thing of ‘Ooh, men are innately power-driven and isn’t that SOOO sexy …’ smacks to me of the kind of accepted female subjugation that gets masochism labeled ‘female,’ innately ours. Just no.
I’m glad I attended the introduction. It was comfortable walking in as simply another woman, one among others. I was one of the youngest, too, something I’m not used to, but not by much; we were probably early 60s to late 70s. Seated in the presence of aged women, with agile bodies and active minds, was also comforting. I love my sex; I deeply appreciate women. But the woman who wrote The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football wasn’t praising men, she was critiquing culture. Me, too.