for want of a scream to name it, asked me last week
“But how do you stop from going crazy?”
Monster by Robin Morgan
All of us start our feminist journey and awakening from a place of integrity. Some small spark of our true Selves has survived the violence, the hate, the belittling, the conditioning and the constant sexualisation that we are battered with from the moment we are born. The spark is a little bit of self respect. The spark is a little bit of self-worth. The spark enables us to see our Selves and our situation a little more clearly than we did at first. We start with a questioning. Why? It might be a simple why. Why is it always mum that does all the dishes and the cooking, while dad reads the paper? It might be a hard and painful why. Why did the man that I love just hit me and call me names?
And from this questioning comes a no, another sparking, a resistance to the treatment of us as chattel, as objects, as property, as sex. And slowly there are more questions and more nos and more sparking and more resistance and we are led to a point of anger. And as our integrity grows so does our anger until our rage swells to fury and our eyes are irrevocably opened. A feminist consciousness is not reversible and the anger will not abate. It is at this point of true rage and integrity that we take action. It might be a radical life change: we pack the kids in the car and leave. It might be a small individual resistance: we stop shaving. Whatever the action, our lives have altered course and there is no turning back.
We are set on a path, a journey, a search, a quest. We are seekers. We have some knowledge but we are hungry for more. We have a yearning but it is difficult to know what the yearning is for. And then suddenly, just as we are about to give up, we find it. We might stumble upon it in a second hand bookstore, picking up a tattered copy of Gyn/Ecology and having our minds ripped wide open. We might go online with a purpose, searching out our sisters, finding a whole new world and being overcome by the Background.
In forming these connections, our internal and external worlds are exploded, and we come quickly to new understandings. Some of us are afraid. Some of us a jubilant. Some of us are disenchanted. And sometimes we are all of these things at once but we are all committed to the idea and the reality of loving women. And *this* is feminism.
We find out quickly that it isn’t easy. We find our Selves under attack from many fronts. The most painful of these realisations is that fact there is no easy unity or sisterhood between, even like-minded, women. Our friendships and relationships with the women in our lives are challenged as we are less and less tolerant of the intrusion of men into our lives. We find our political spaces rife with women blaming each other for men’s behaviour, the horizontal hostility which rears its ugly head in even the safest of women-only spaces. But despite the difficulties, we are more aware than ever of the cost of failure. And we are never giving up.
We will have our revolution. We are living it every day. We live it when we confront our oppression in the myriad of different ways that we resist. Although the world around us can sometimes feel like a black hole, with the vampirism of men sucking all the life and beauty out of women and our planet, there is hope. We will never give up because giving up would mean that we accept a world in which our mothers, daughters, sisters, lovers, friends are not as human as our fathers, sons and brothers. A world where our lives and our loves are owned, controlled and disposable. We refuse to be property. We refuse to be men’s garbage. The end point of this refusal can only be liberation. We will keep fighting till we get there.
We will have our revolution. We will remember that “we are the women that the men have warned us about” (Robin Morgan). And we will be proud of our status as Positively Revolting Hags (Mary Daly). We follow the footsteps of the millions of women who have fought this battle before us and we blaze new trails for the millions women who follow in our footsteps. The journey spirals and evolves. The women who come behind us will go even further.
Men have painted their world in women’s blood and built their world on women’s backs. Since we are the colour and the foundation of all that is, I say lets shake their world to the ground. We are building our world in the name of our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our lovers. And we will do so without shame and with complete integrity.
How do we stop from going crazy? Sometimes there is no way. The enormity of the task that feminists undertake is so vast that the inertia can be crippling.
But most of the time there is no other way that I would want to be and the craziness is par for the course. As Robin Morgan also said, Sisterhood is Powerful, Global and FOREVER!