Tuesday, September 23, 2008

expanded version of previous post

SWIP conference this past weekend. Good. Interesting. What/who do I want to be? There were women there – who do good work, I have little doubt of that – whom I do not want to become (laying aside all caveats about how I will only ever be me etc.). A woman was talking to/advising one of the younger women there (younger than she, older than me), telling her to stop writing to/for her critics (where the critics are men and/or heteronormative, and/or patriarchal, and/or confused about the idea), to (it seemed) write instead only to other feminists and/or people who already understand her, and/or people who already (at least fundamentally) agree with her. Screw those other ones.


  • I have deep reservations about the possibility for or the ethics of conversion

  • What is terribly interesting about only talking to people who already agree with you?

  • Where does love come in?

  • Where should judgment end?

On the one hand, it may be that we can only convince people of different opinions/views whose fundamental, deep assumptions are significantly aligned with ours: so perhaps I can convince you, a devoted strawberrry ice cream lover to try, and to learn to like, mint chocolate chip; but if you don't even like ice cream at all – if you actually hate it – then I may never be able to so convince you.

  • Difference between conversation and conversion?

  • Continuum/scale: conversion ----- conversation ----- silence ?

An orientation toward the world:

  • fuck everyone who doesn't already love/respect/adore/admire/agree with you?

  • love everyone you see better than you think you are able?

What makes someone a doormat?

  • loving people who hate you?

  • acknowledging that you may be wrong?

  • believing that even 'oppressors' can make good points?

  • looking inward to find harmful attitudes before locating them externally?

  • insisting upon transforming anger into action and then into love?

I don't want to be angry. I don't want to be crusty and crotchety and surly and defensive and terribly intimidating. Does this make me a 'stereotypical woman'? Does this belie my 'feminine orientation'? Have I been too well socialized by the 'system', the 'patriarchy', the 'man'?

I am happy. I feel so healthy and so happy being happy. Does this mean I am coopted? Does this mean I have so internalized my oppression that I am now doing the work of the patriarchy myself?

I have no doubt that the world is not well. I don't consider myself completely blind to the deep wrongs that continually occur all over this globe. Pain and suffering and evil and wickedness and injustice are everywhere. I agree. Is it a condition of being part of movements to change or heal that pain that one must see nothing else? Am I selfish to see beauty and love and generosity and kindness and growth and change as well? Should I refuse to see love 'until the patriarchy is over'? Is that reasonable? Does that work?

Who makes the more 'feminine' sacrifice – the one who loves or the the one who refuses love unless it can be 'perfect'?

Is the desire for and the pleasure in feeling healthy a privilege I have not earned and so do not have the right to enjoy? Ought I to shelve my pleasure until everyone else may also desire health and take pleasure in health? Am I taking an 'every woman for herself' attitude when I laugh while my 'sisters' weep? Must I always weep until weeping ceases?