Friday, February 24, 2012

Dianics, Discrimination, and the Dust of the Dying II: for Miss E and Andrea

My earlier post has inspired several comments: I wanted to discuss two of them at length here.  While the posters appeared to be disagreeing with me, I suspect we're a lot closer on these topics than any of us realized at first.

First, Miss E said:
I realize the majority of your post is not about the post from the Wild Hunt that you share here, but I can’t resist saying “WTF” to that first paragraph! Many representatives of “The Man” would be more than happy to cut safety net benefits to everyone possible. And an awful lot of people in the wider Pagan community may find themselves needing public assistance someday, if not now, and if they are disabled or elderly they’d do well to find their way to advocates that will assist them in being far from helpless. 
I acknowledge that I could have been more diplomatic about the way I put it.  On the other hand, let's call a spade a spade.  Many of Z Budapest's loudest supporters are in fact poor, elderly and dependent on their despised patriarchy for public benefits. They spent their lives working toward a supportive Womyn's Community which would take care of its own - going on 47, I'm old enough to remember vaguely some of the Utopianism in the air in the 1970s. Now, in their twilight years, they see absolutely none of that. Their visions of a separatist paradise appear as quaint as Nehru jackets and Be-ins: they have found that yesterday's womyn get little interest and less financial support from today's womyn.  And the patriarchy they hoped to smash, or at least to escape, is their sole lifeline.

Stop and think about what it's like to choose, at the end of the month, between feeding your cat and feeding yourself.  Now stop and think about what it's like to spend your life working toward a dream that never comes true. I thought at first this was about a bunch of middle-class white lesbians exercising their cisgender privilege over their trans sisters. I realize now it's largely about a bunch of scared, lonely old women fighting battles that (thanks in no small part to their efforts) most of us have long since forgotten. My words may have originally been stated in anger, but they were and are restated in pity.

Meanwhile, Andrea said:
While I really, really do agree with you, which you can see my full response to Z's bigotry at http://pagannews.tumblr.com/post/18189032321/trigger-warning-discussing-cissexism-ill-do-what-i 
I wish you weren't mocking feminists at the same time. What Z and her ilk are, is NOT feminism. It's a fucking joke, and it's bigotry, but just as she does not represent the majority of Pagans, she does not represent even close to the majority of feminists, and I should hope you realize that. 
If you don't want people to judge Paganism by Z. Budapest and people like her, I'd really appreciate if you didn't judge feminism by Z. Budapest and people like her. There are issues feminism has, yes, and there are just as many racist and cissexist issues in feminism as there are in Paganism.
Why Lesbian Separatism seemed
like a good idea at the time... 
Oh, I absolutely realize that Z Budapest's brand of "The Penis is EEEVILLL!!!" feminism is a joke today.  But I also realize that it became a joke because of their successes.  It's hard today to understand the world as it was when Z & Co. stepped up to the plate.  They came up in an era where "a woman's place is in the home," where sexual harassment was fodder for comedy rather than outrage, where a woman running for president was as laughable as the idea of a "Negro" in the Oval Office.  And a lot of the advances we take for granted today came about because women like Z Budapest and the Dianics took to the streets and fought hard to be taken seriously.

To me that is part of what makes this whole situation so unfortunate.  There's a real air of Greek tragedy here: thanks to their hard work, Z and Co. have been rewarded by becoming increasingly irrelevant.  Once marginalized by the patriarchy, they are now marginalized by the people whose lives they changed for the better.

That doesn't excuse Z's hateful words: neither does it change my opinion that Pantheacon is not the place for exclusionary rituals based on criteria that many attendees find offensive and hurtful.  But it helps me to temper my anger with a wee bit of empathy.  Contemporary feminism is certainly struggling with issues of its own, but they are nothing like the issues facing the feminists of the Mad Men era.  If Z and her followers are still fighting battles they won long ago,  how much of their behavior is due to shell shock?