Professional pounder of the patriarchy.

Posts tagged ‘spirituality’

Happy International Women’s Day!

This time last year, I set myself a challenge. From that day onward, I would focus less on the negatives – on my own shortcomings as an activist and on the difficulties we face as a movement – and more on the positives. I challenged myself to spend more time uplifting my fellow women than trying to argue with naysayers.

And (hesitantly), I think I’ve achieved it. I’ve run Feminist Society since last September, which has been a hugely positive experience. My co-leader is wonderful and the members are all amazing, and the whole initiative has been an incredible opportunity to grow in confidence. I feel as though I’ve empowered myself and hopefully empowered others too. I’ve tried to do things that challenge social standards (and that damn patriarchy!) but also make me feel happy too, like making feminist and body-positive stickers, devoting more time to my spiritual wellbeing (something I’ve been tentatively dabbling in since I left school) and trying to be more open and honest about what I believe. Sometimes that’s difficult – people don’t always like it! – but it’s important.

I want to set myself a new task, though. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Be Bold For Change, so my plan is to do just that – to go forth boldly and to be the change I want to see in the world. Obviously I’m pretty open about my politics; I wouldn’t write this blog if I wasn’t! However, I don’t discuss all aspects of my beliefs, especially the relationship between my politics and my faith, due to fear of being ridiculed. So that  insecurity is something I want to well and truly bin.

On a broader level, this has been a pivotal year for women’s activism. After the election of Donald Trump, people have protested on an astonishing scale. The Women’s March on Washington in January – 100 years after the Women’s March on Petrograd and 228 years after the Women’s March on Versailles – demonstrates how integral women are to protest and to revolution. It was incredibly moving to see so many  women, literally in their thousands, on the streets, raising their voices. As Karl Marx once put it, in a letter to Ludwig Kugelmann: “Everyone who knows anything of history also knows that great social revolutions are impossible without the feminine ferment.” Women are the world’s greatest catalyst, and the future is female.

Have a fabulous Women’s Day and Women’s Month!

Love,

Dolly xx

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Dear Creep, A Year On

Dear Creep,

I never asked for an apology. After a year of silence, of growth, I would have been content to never, ever hear from you again. But you rolled in, like boys do, with an assumption and a guilt-trip.

I’m sorry. I miss you. We used to be so close.

We were not close; I was simply a self-shaped magnet. I was sixteen, I had never had a boyfriend and my self-esteem was 20,000 leagues under the sea. I was fragile. I just wanted someone to notice me.

In the space of that year, I learned to notice myself. Oh, I am glad to see her at last with my own two eyes. She is beautiful and worthy and self-sufficient and daring and spiritual and funny – all the things you wanted to give me because you did not think I had them within myself all along.

There were never any other girls, what are you talking about???

They were not other girls; they were my friends, my sisters, my comrades-in-arms. I let you pursue and intimidate them, because I would have had to let you go to push you away.

I am not angry because I am a woman scorned, for I was never your girl in the first place. I am angry because I let your toxic waste into the lakes of Artemis, where girls are my retinue and not my firing squad.

I tell you all this, in blue and white oblongs on a four-inch screen.

I was being nice, try it some time.

Why is it always a battle of the sexes with you?

An attitude like this is why guys don’t want to talk to you.

Grow up, yeah? People might take you seriously then.

I grew up. I am not a frightened girl anymore. There is no insecurity in my heart for your sake and the battle is the one you brought to my doorstep yourself. You forget that women are warriors and witches and wanderers, and I am all of these three and more besides.

Hate me from afar. But know this: no hatred is a match for the love I have for my own body and soul and identity, and for the bodies, souls and identities of the women I am proud to call my sisters.

Expect no apology for that.


Dolly

“To be bitter is to attribute intent and personality to the formless, infinite, unchanging and unchangeable void. We drift on a chartless, resistless sea. Let us sing when we can, and forget the rest…” – H.P. Lovecraft

The F Word 2: The Second One

“I understand feminism to be a social saviour because it liberates everyone without exclusion.” – Morrissey

After I published my FAQ page, my cousin reminded me that I hadn’t answered his question: why I call myself a feminist, rather than just saying I’m committed to gender equality. (That’s not to say my cousin isn’t in favour of gender equality; he’s a very smart, progressive dude and I admire him very much.) I suppose I roughly addressed this in my article The F Word, although I’ve re-read that particular post and found that it wasn’t as well-structured as I had once thought it was. It wasn’t a strong argument. I was annoyed at the time (I spent a good portion of 2015 being annoyed – last year was an awful year, for many reasons) and it was a very emotive piece. I always think my articles are better when they come from a place of emotion and a place of knowledge.

It came off as bitter, frankly, a child’s tirade at not having their opinion immediately accepted and held as gospel. And that’s the opposite of what I had wanted and planned.

I’m going to build on my original idea but, hopefully, this will turn out to be far superior to that first specimen. Like how Toy Story 2 is way better than Toy Story (harsh but true).

In that original post, I stated in response to the question “Why are you a feminist?”:

The simple answer is: I’m a woman. It would be foolish not to be on my own side. It would be foolish not to participate in a movement that directly seeks to put me on a level playing field with men.

All that is accurate insofar that it’s what I feel to be true. But it’s not what I know to be true.

know that, of the two main players in the Gender Games (although I’m aware that the gender spectrum stretches far beyond male and female), women have always been the worst off. That’s just historical fact. We were the first to eat the apple in the Garden of Eden; for the longest time, womankind has not only been the origin of the population (shoutout to all my uteri-having folks) but the origin of sin. For the last 2000 years (if we consider that the Book of Genesis probably arrived in its original form between 500 BCE and 70 ACE), women have been by turns depicted as morally corrupt, emotionally stunted and biologically flawed. We have been pseudo-men; we have been men lacking something. Born of Adam’s rib, we are lesser.

I’m getting philosophical here, but the implications of this characterisation of women are far-reaching. Christianity is the world’s biggest religion, with 2.2 billion followers, but I can’t lay the blame at the feet of Christians. That would be unfair and unfounded. Throughout history, women have been depicted in practically every culture as stupid and inherently servile, and if we’re not stupid and submissive, then we’re dangerous. I’ve discussed before how the ancient Athenians seemed to consider women childlike and in need of guidance. Without proper control, they would inevitably become liars, adulterers and murderers. It’s this pervasive virgin-whore complex that has invaded our whole ethos. Men get to decide who is pure and who isn’t, even today, and I think that’s vile. Spend ten minutes on social media and witness as women are condemned for being “sluts” and “hoes” by the same men who buy Playboy or watch porn. You can be sexual, is the message, but only on our terms. As my good friend once put it, “you jack off with your left hand and point with your right.” 2000 years on and we’re stillstill seen as morally bankrupt. Take your clothes off – boom, you’ve clearly no self-respect, young lady.

The main issue (after all that waffle) is: why feminist? Why pick something so polarising, something that opens you up to so many misinterpretations and misconceptions? Why not humanist or egalitarian or equalist?

I use feminist – take note of the fem– part – because I  believe, legitimately, that women still have it harder on a social and an economic level. The wage gap is something I lament a lot and I don’t particularly want to reiterate it here, but the sites/articles to which I like to refer people are here, here and here. Better paternity leave and equal caring responsibilities would clear that up nicely (yet another way feminism helps men that MRAs enjoy ignoring). A lot of men’s issues are rooted deeply in our bias against femininity. There’s a high suicide rate among young males and men don’t feel they can access domestic violence services; much of that originates in social pressures surrounding expression of emotion or vulnerability. In a society where being “like a girl” is still an insult – why oh why aren’t we past that yet?! – we keep on enforcing this idea of women being almost a different class of people altogether. And for many men, it’s not a class they want to be associated with.

To explain it briefly:

Feminists: Look, there’s this social theory called the patriarchy and it’s a huge problem which results in all these derivative problems, like the wage gap and FGM and loss of abortion rights! If we solved it, everybody would be better off!

Anti-fems: Ummmm… everybody else has problems too, y’know… look at this stack of problems that men have! Less paternity leave, high suicide rates, no support after intimate partner violence. You don’t care about those, do you?!

Feminists: But if you’d help us solve this problem, we could-

Anti-fems: No.

Feminists: But the patriarchy ultimately contributes to your issues-

Anti-fems: No.

Feminists: You’re benefiting from oppression now, but sooner or later-

Anti-fems: LALALA I’M NOT LISTENING YOU HATE MEN

Feminists:  

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And so forth.

I know that wasn’t very concise, but I hope it clarified the point at least a little bit. Honestly, I think saying you’re committed to gender equality is amazing, but it’s too generalised. That doesn’t say anything about what you’re planning to do. Feminism – of all the “social justice” movements out there – is the most dynamic; it’s the one that gets stuff done. It’s about women, but under that umbrella of womanhood is a whole range of experiences. Women are in every walk of life, which gives feminists room to explore the impact of racism, sexual discrimination (specifically lesbophobia, but also biphobia), transphobia and classism. There are people who might have DFAB/AFAB experiences who still deal with sexism, despite not being female – a double whammy of misgendering and misogyny. Not pleasant.

At the end of the day, I don’t really care if you identify yourself as a feminist or not. For me, it’s part of my life. I love being a feminist. I love the sense of community, I love the sisterhood, I love that I’m never, ever alone – there’s always a woman (or man, or non-binary person!) out there who feels the same way.

I also think there’s a little bit of my soul that really, really enjoys being contrary. Feminism is the internet’s favourite punching bag, so why wouldn’t I – underdog extraordinaire – align myself with that?

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This is the kind of girl I am.

Dolly xxx

 

“The Witch”

I went to see The Witch yesterday with my stepdad and, holy hell, it was spectacular. Like, seriously, go and see it if you can. You won’t regret it. As a horror film, it worked brilliantly – I’m never going near a goat ever again! – but it worked even better as an exploration into the paranoid psyche of Puritans in the New World and as an allegory for burgeoning womanhood. Really powerful, really beautiful. But also f*cking scary.

La Brujería: Las Implicaciones Feministas

Este es una traducción (¡aproximadamente!) de un mensaje de blog anterior.

Después del estreno de la película nueva La Bruja, una película de terror del director Robert Eggers, más y más gente está notando los matices feministas. Podría argumentar que sea una historia de hacerse maduro en vez de una película de terror.

Aunque durante la historia muchas de las víctimas inocentes que fueron acusados de la brujería han sido hombres, en las imágenes de cultura popular la mayoría de las brujas son mujeres.
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(Lisa: Cuando una mujer es segura de sí misma y poderosa, ¿por qué la llaman una bruja?)

La evolución de la bruja en mitología está conectado íntimamente con las percepciones sociales de las mujeres. Depende del tipo de cultura también. En el norte de España, en el País Vasco, la palabra para la bruja es sorgina (plural: sorginak). Sorginak son las sirvientas de la diosa principal, Mari, y las descripciones en la lectura y en el folclore normalmente fueron positivas – hasta el Cristianismo llegué. La religión vasca – y la primera sociedad – fue matriarcal, así que falta las figuras femeninas que son engañosas y manipuladoras. Encontramos estas figuras en la mitología cristiana y judía (mira a aquí, aquí y aquí). Las mujeres en las primeras comunidades vascas podían controlar sus propias propiedades y heredar la fortuna de la familia. Tenían más poder que las mujeres de otros países europeos.

En la mitología griega, había dos figuras muy famosas que eran brujas. La primera se llamaba Medea, la esposa de Jasón (Jasón y los Argonautas). En la obra Medea de Euripides, Medea mata a sus hijos después Jasón se casa con una otra mujer. En los mitos, Medea generalmente es una sacerdotisa de la diosa Hécate – una diosa que estaba asociada con temas oscuros tales como la muerte, las fantasmas, la necromancia y – ¡qué sorpresa! – la brujería. La segunda se llamaba Circe, una diosa y bruja que figuraba en La Odisea de Homero, la historia de la vuelta a casa del héroe griego Odiseo. En la epopeya, Circe transforma en animales a sus enemigos y intenta a seducir a Odiseo, aunque – con el ayudamiento del dios Hermes – la resiste. Aquí, tenemos una otra bruja mítica que controla a los hombres usando la manipulación y la sexualidad. Los griegos antiguos pensaban que las mujeres inteligentes fueron peligrosas. Las brujas en los mitos de Antigua Grecia representaban los temores que los hombres griegos tenían sobre sus esposas. Si piensas que aparece ridículo, hay un ejemplo interesante en un discurso del juzgado, que Antiphon escribío en 420a.C. En el discurso, un hombre acusó a su madrastra de matar a su padre. Se la llama “Clitemnestra”, que fue una reina mitologíca que mató a su esposo Agamenón. Hoy en día, no podría decirlo en un juzgado, pero en la sociedad patriarcal de Atenas, fue totalmente aceptable.

clytemnestra

Clitemnestra de John Collier

Es posible que la bruja es casi emblemática del feminismo. Las brujas de la mitología eran en contraste con los sistemas sociales patriarcales, subvirtiendo el concepto de la mujer ideal. No es un secreto que mujeres poderosas asustaron a las sociedades del mundo antiguo (y moderno) y los hombres trataron a la sexualidad femenina como un arma. Tal vez la brujería es una manera para manejar este arma.

¡Gracias para leer! Por favor, “like” y comparte si te gusta el artículo.

Debo decir:

No intentaría a sugerir que las brujas realmente existían en estas culturas. Habían indudablemente sacerdotisas paganas, pero no hay nada evidencia para una religión de brujas. Hay la tradición de Stregheria (strega es la palabra italiana para “bruja”), que está basado en el libro Aradia, o el Evangelio de Las Brujas. Quisiera a creer que había un culto matriarcal de brujas con una mesías femenina, sin embargo es improbable que el libro sea más que una ficción. La gente que sufría durante las cazas de brujas no realizó la brujería en realidad, y pienso que es insultante llamar a esa gente “brujas”.

Tenemos poca evidencia que las tradiciones de la religión moderna neopagana de Wicca tienen alguna conección con las curanderas del pasado. No es una crítica de Wicca. De hecho, creo que Wicca es tal vez la religión más emancipadora del mundo (¡una opinión polemica, lo sé!). Puede aprender más sobre Wicca aquí (el texto es en inglés).

Witchcraft: Its Feminist Implications

After the release of Robert Eggers’ new horror film The Witch (UK release: 11th March), more and more people are picking up on the subtle feminist undertones in the film. You could argue that it’s as much a coming-of-age story as it is a horror film.

Although many of the innocent victims tried for witchcraft throughout history have been male, the pervasive pop culture image of the witch is that of a woman.

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The evolution of the witch in mythology is intimately connected with societal perceptions of women. It also depends on the type of culture. In northern Spain, in the Basque Country, the word for “witch” is sorgina (plural: sorginak). The sorginak are the servants of the goddess Mari and were rarely portrayed negatively in literature and folklore – until Christianity arrived. The Basque religion – and, arguably, its early society – was matriarchal, so it lacks the deceptive, conniving female figures found in Judeo-Christian mythology (see here, here and here). The women in early Basque communities could control their own property and inherit the family fortune. They had much more power than women in neighbouring cultures.

In Greek mythology, there are two famous figures who are witches. The first is Medea, the wife of Jason (as in Jason and the Argonauts). In the play Medea by Euripides, Medea kills her children after Jason marries another woman. In the myths, Medea is generally a priestess of the goddess Hecate/Hekate – a goddess who is associated with dark themes such as death, ghosts, necromancy and – surprise, surprise! – witchcraft. The second is Circe, a goddess and sorceress who features in Homer’s Odyssey, the tale of the Greek hero Odysseus’ journey home after the Trojan War. In the epic, Circe transforms her enemies into animals and attempts to seduce Odysseus, although – with the help of Hermes – he resists her advances. Here, we find another mythic witch who controls men through manipulation and sexuality. The Greeks thought that intelligent women were dangerous women, and the women in the myths of Ancient Greece represented the fears men had about their wives. If you think that seems ridiculous, there’s an interesting example of mythical women being used tactically against a real woman in a law court speech by Antiphon, circa 420BC. In it, a man accuses his stepmother of poisoning his father, comparing her to Clytemnestra (the epitome of a Greek girl gone bad) who murdered her husband Agamemnon. You’d think a jury would laugh him out of the court, but not so in the patriarchal society that was Athens in the 5th century BC. All that mudslinging was totally acceptable.

clytemnestra

Clytemnestra by John Collier

Arguably, the witch is almost emblematic of feminism. The witches of mythology stood in stark contrast to harsh patriarchal social systems, subverting the very concept of the ideal woman. It’s no secret that powerful women terrified the societies of the ancient (and not so ancient) world and a woman’s sexuality was treated like a weapon. Maybe witchcraft – regardless of the form in which it exists or existed – is a way to wield that weapon.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the article, please like and share!

Disclaimer:

I’m not trying to suggest that witches of any sort actually existed in these cultures. While there were certainly pagan priestesses, there’s little to no evidence that any kind of witch religion ever existed. The closest we have is the Italian tradition of Stregheria (strega is the Italian word for “witch” or “hag”), which is based upon the book Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. As much as I’d like to believe that there was a matriarchal cult of witches worshipping a female messiah, it’s very, very unlikely that the book is anything more than elaborate wishful thinking. None of the people who were executed during the witch hunts of the early modern period actually performed witchcraft, and I think the suggestion that they were witches trivialises the futile and unnecessary suffering that occurred.

We have very little evidence that the traditions of the modern neopagan religion Wicca have anything to do with the healers and wise women of yesteryear. That’s not a criticism of Wicca at all. In fact, I think Wicca might just be the most empowering religion out there (controversial opinion, I know!). You can find out more about Wicca here.

Britain First: Islamic Studies Experts

Saw my most favourite people in all the world on my Facebook newsfeed today. This video is incredibly hilarious for many reasons, and incredibly horrific for many more:

For my readers outside the UK, you may not know who Britain First are. Well, you’re in for a treat, let me tell you. Britain First are a “political party” who split from the British National Party (another pack of delightful people) circa 2011. They were founded by an anti-abortion campaigner and they are so fascist that it hurts. They are mostly known for their Islamophobic and anti-immigration opinions. They are obsessed with preventing what they perceive to be the Islamisation of Britain – which is interesting, given that only 5% of the British population identify as Muslim (BSA survey, 2015). In fact, more than half of Britons are non-religious. If Britain First are so adamant that being Christian is a fundamental part of being British, you’d think they’d be out trying to convert atheists.

Are they?

No.

Funny, isn’t it?

In this video, you’ll see a smashing little troupe of campaigners harassing members of the congregation outside a mosque in Canterbury. There’s a charming – charming – lady by the name of Jada leading them. They proceed to ignore questions from the police, whilst condemning the Muslims who refuse to rise to their invasive interrogation. This is hypocritical in and of itself, but the best bit is at around 5:45. Jada reckons Muslims are “inciting hatred and violence against the likes of you and I”. So your wildly offensive Facebook page isn’t inciting hatred and Islamophobia, BF? Are you honestly suggesting that the fascist marches and English Defence League protests in my locality are loving and peaceful? What a joke.

BDR - head turn, smiles gone

Repeatedly, you’ll hear the unseen interviewer – another BF crony – question Muslim bystanders about the alleged 72 virgins they’ll get in the afterlife if they kill non-Muslims. This is brilliant. My favourite thing about Britain First and their ilk is their ability to turn into professors of Islamic Studies at the drop of a hat. They’ve all got fucking PhDs in a combined honours course of Comparative Islamophobia with Bigotry Studies.

He asks: “Can you tell us if you kill non-Muslims in the service of Jihad, you get 72 virgins in Paradise?” This is an annoyingly common myth about Islam. Just like the Bible, the Quran should be interpreted as an allegorical text. As with Heaven, Jannah is seen as a place of goodness and purity, a source of eternal reward for leading a good life. You get a bunch of things for having strong faith – Muslims don’t believe they will receive literally everything listed in the Quran. Furthermore, the Quran is such an old book and it has been translated so many times that it’s likely “virgins” was a mistranslation. It could be “angels” – standard for the afterlife, I suppose – or even just nice food and drink. Seriously. We don’t know. Nowhere are the eternal rewards in Jannah linked to terrorism. He also uses the term “jihad” without really knowing what it means. “Jihad” is the act of maintaining Islam and making sure the religion survives. It’s a terrible thing that it has been misinterpreted by some followers of Islam, but we can’t pretend that terrorism is a purely Islamic phenomenon.

The fact that he mentions Muhammad’s child bride Ayesha/Aisha without naming her indicates, again, that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. It’s just another superficial stereotype of Islam. She was only six or seven when she was betrothed, and she married Muhammad aged 10 (according to most accounts). This was horrible, but it was unfortunately very common at the time. The marrying of young girls to adult men was a pervasive custom of the ancient world, because there was a greater chance of producing an heir if the fertile window was open wide. There are numerous examples of similar behaviour in the Bible and in ancient Jewish scriptures (though not necessarily in the Torah) – notably Numbers 31:18 and several examples of legal child marriage in Jewish law. None of the three Abrahamic religions are innocent of this, but nobody attacks Christians outside their church, demanding to know their thoughts on the condoning of slavery in both the Old and New Testament.

I call flaming bullshit.

The worst thing is that this video popped up on my newsfeed because a close relative shared it. Four of my friends have liked the BF Facebook page. Despite the blatant racism perpetuated by BF, people I care about are still invested in what these bigots have got to say. I think the lad at the end laughing and saying: “Am I gonna be on the fucking page?” is a testament to the douchebaggery that goes down on Facebook.

BF appear to be successful for the same reasons UKIP and the BNP are – because they’re good at scaremongering. They’re good at – to quote my new friend Jada – inciting hatred and violence.

So, moral of the story, DON’T LISTEN TO BRITAIN FIRST. And, if there are any BF supporters reading, I’m one of those dreaded white liberals you were warned about.

laganja - okaaay