Friday, February 24, 2012

Dianics, Discrimination and the Dust of the Dying III: for Rose Weaver and Ocelot

In response to my earlier post, which was in response to my even earlier post, Rose Weaver took umbrage with my comment, "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."
Dude, this is harsh. Seriously. I've been watching and reading everything on this issue since it broke. What you fail to realize is that this is about discrimination, pure and simple, no more, no less.
The paragraph I quoted above? Yeah, you just described me and my life to the letter, but I in no way support Z in any form or fashion, and I am most certainly am not a Dianic Wiccan, or Wiccan of any trad at all.
While I support your right to your opinions, I honestly believe you are now stretching a bit too far to grab at straws to support your reasons for bashing Z and what she did at P-Con (even though I agree she needs a bit of bashing). You're starting to categorize a hell of a lot more women into this mess that simply DO NOT belong there and may want to throttle your anger back a couple notches while directing it, constructively and appropriately, towards those to whom it belongs.
If you go to the Wild Hunt you'll see people comparing the Dianics to the Westboro Baptist Church, the KKK and, yes, the followers of a certain failed Austrian painter who caused a bit of an uproar in the early part of the last century.   I was hoping to remind some people that the "enemy" in this battle consists largely of elderly, ailing and impoverished women.  This fight is to "privilege olympics" what Bumfights is to Golden Gloves boxing. It's not a war on masculine infiltrators or on cisgender privilege: it's a scrap between a bunch of people floating around the bottom of the barrel.

No, that doesn't excuse hurtful language used on either side. But let's try to understand that just about everybody in this argument is acting not out of hatred but out of fear. Nobody is a Nazi here. Nobody is a penis-swinging tool of the patriarchy trying to infiltrate Goddess spirituality.  And until we get past that kind of rhetoric this fight is just going to keep escalating until the last members of Z's generation are gone. Because that's part of the reason why they are fighting so hard: they realize that identity politics and gender essentialism are nowhere near so important today as they were to Second Wave feminists.

It was not my intent to demean disabled people, elderly people, lesbians or anyone else. I was hoping to inspire empathy, not scorn, in those who were reading this post.  But I also recognize that intent is not "fucking magic" and so I apologize for any pain I caused you or anyone else by my choice of words.

Meanwhile, Ocelot asked:
"thanks to their hard work, Z and Co. have been rewarded by becoming increasingly irrelevant"
To whom?
From the New York Times, January 30, 2009: "My Sister's Keeper: Lesbian Communities Struggle to Stay Vital to a New Generation" - an article which is well worth reading.
THEY called it a lesbian paradise, the pioneering women who made their way to St. Augustine, Fla., in the 1970s to live together in cottages on the beach. Finding one another in the fever of the gay rights and women’s liberation movements, they built a matriarchal community, where no men were allowed, where even a male infant brought by visitors was cause for debate. 
Emily Greene was one of those pioneers, and at 62 she still chooses to live in a separate lesbian world. She and 19 other women have built homes on 300 rural acres in northeast Alabama, where the founders of the Florida community, the Pagoda, relocated in 1997... “I came here because I wanted to be in nature, and I wanted to have lesbian neighbors,” said Ms. Greene, a retired nurse. She hopes the women, ages 50 to 75, will be able to raise enough money to build assisted-living facilities on the land and set up hospice care.
And from the New Yorker, a fabulous piece on the Van Dykes, which ends with this poignant paragraph from Lamar Van Dyke:
“Your generation wants to fit in,” she told me, for the second time. “Gays in the military and gay marriage? This is what you guys have come up with?” There was no contempt in her voice; it was something else—an almost incredulous maternal disappointment. “We didn’t sit around looking at our phone or looking at our computer or looking at the television—we didn’t sit around looking at screens,” she said. “We didn’t wait for a screen to give us a signal to do something. We were off doing whatever we wanted.”
How many new separatist communities do we see springing up? How many young lesbians and feminists see separatism as a viable option: how many see men as inherently oppressive and incorrigible? I stand by my earlier statement that the movement Z was part of is primarily of historical interest to the Queer community. And may I also add that we as a movement are poorer for that: we could stand to see a lot more questioning of the social order, not to mention outright rejecting it. 
"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"
Considering that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was trying to pass a law requiring women who wanted and abortion to submit to a vaginal ultrasound as a condition of receiving said abortion, I hardly think the "battle" has been "won" - the tactics and weapons have just changed.
Today a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion is under constant attack.  When Z started her quest that right didn't exist, period.  Please don't put words in my keyboard - and again, if I have been unclear in my writing I apologize.  Only a complete idiot would say that sexism is no longer a problem in our society.  But let's also acknowledge the many ways things have changed for the better.

I just finished writing a chapter on Sylvia Plath, who graduated from Smith College in 1955.  At that time Smith was one of the premier women's colleges in the country. Plath graduated summa cum laude with a Phi Beta Kappa key.  Adlai Stevenson spoke at her commencement: the theme of his speech was "Having a Creative Marriage." Because of course that was what ladies of that day did with their degree from a top school - married a smart, successful husband and raised smart, successful children.  Sexism is still a very real problem in American society - but let's not pretend that a woman in 2012 doesn't have options available to her that a woman in 1952 or 1972 could hardly even dream about.  The war isn't over by a long shot but this time the enemy is trying to claw back territory, not hold on to it.