Thursday, December 13, 2012

A manifesto against misogyny

Sometimes I like to prevail on my seniority & take the pulpit. That would be today. This is a post for young women but I think others who are imposed on by racism, discrimination, class prejudice, & the whole raft of other stupidities might find it useful.

I’m posting it because I believe there will be no social transformation anywhere without the leadership of women & I want young women to develop as effective fighters for human justice without the impediment of self-doubt. Well it isn’t doubt that’s the problem; one should always question. It’s more a matter of self-contempt of the kind bred by misogyny.

I’ve often heard political men assert, “I’ve been in politics for 45 years!” True enough. He just hasn’t done much in 45 years--probably not more than a weeks worth (while women have been 'holding the fort'). But he’s remained a steadfast warrior to the ideals in his head. He’s read some Marx & Engels & thinks he’s a real smarty-pants so he struts about lashing out at the “revisionists” & liberals. Dostoevsky would have a field day with these guys!

Many of the behaviors are passive-aggressive, many are outright aggressive like  rudeness, insults, patronizing, & put-downs. And often from men waving the biggest women’s rights banners on International Women’s Day. I’ve put up with this stuff for nearly 47 years & it still smarts--& smarts enough I’d like to book a ticket to India to join the Gulabi gang & learn how to handle that bamboo stick.

This isn’t an anti-man diatribe at all. I worked in a primarily male factory for 25 years where I came to understand, respect, & love men as friends. I learned a large percentage of men were criminally misogynist & many non-criminally so; but I found a huge percentage of men of every generation who were kind to all, respectful to women, & not the least bit intimidated or outraged by my outspoken political views or the independence of any women. I became familiar with the admiration of men for speaking my mind against the company & I can damn well tell the difference between that respect & the weeny-brained disrespect that women often get in the political movements from men waving banners for women’s rights.

Young women, especially activists, will save themselves a lifetime of misery & second-guessing themselves if they always ‘consider the source’, if they understand that sometimes other women collude in this misogynist stuff to curry favor (& to make sure it doesn’t land on them), & if they always hold their heads high & speak their truth--even when some men in the front rows are rolling their eyes like you farted.

In the feminist movement of the 1960s-70s, we had consciousness raising groups where we learned that women are allies, not competitors. This was a revelation to us all since women are reared to see other women as stupid, but competitors for men & privilege. Young women today don’t have the great advantage of a social movement & this important insight must be recaptured. Women cannot play a leading role in social transformation without that solidarity because as individuals they will be picked off like sitting ducks by the misogynist weapons of slander & shunning. And of course, there will be no social transformation without the leadership of women. That’s why women need to steel themselves against this stuff.

I’m not giving up on the weeny-brained misogynists who call themselves revolutionists. I’m calling on them to stop hiding behind those women’s rights banners & start examining the nature of misogyny & how they wield it as a weapon against women who don’t cower or those who don’t stand in awe of their great genius. Pity is not solidarity & it certainly is not understanding. Respect for women has an unmistakeable feel. And so does misogyny. And if men want to be part of social transformation they damn well better learn to tell the difference. And act on it.


No comments:

Post a Comment