Reply to Kay on feminism

Jurriaan Bendien J.Bendien at wolmail.nl
Mon Nov 18 11:37:39 MST 2002


Hi Kay,

Glad to see there is much common ground, if we try to communicate well, then
usually socialists do find they have lots in common whatever their baggage.

You wrote:

And I don't have a naïve view that all men are "knights in shining armour".

Actually, that "knights in shining armour" bit does work for some men and
some women. The Rolling Stones did a re-release of their song "Emotional
Rescue" on the "Forty Licks" album. The lyric (in case you don't know it)
goes like this (falsetto):

Is there nothing I can say
Nothing I can do
To change your mind
I'm so in love with you
You're too deep in
You can't get out
You're just a poor girl in a rich man's house
Yeah, baby, I'm crying over you

Don't you know promises were never made to keep?
Just like the night, dissolve in sleep
I'll be your savior, steadfast and true
I'll come to your emotional rescue
I'll come to your emotional rescue

Yeah, the other night, crying
Crying baby, yeah I'm crying
Yeah I'm like a child baby
I'm like a child baby
Child yeah, I'm like a child, like a child
Like a child

You think you're one of a special breed
You think that you're his pet Pekinese
I'll be your savior, steadfast and true
I'll come to your emotional rescue
I'll come to your emotional rescue

I was dreaming last night
Last night I was dreaming
How you'd be mine, but I was crying
Like a child, yeah, I was crying
Crying like a child
You will be mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, all mine
You could be mine, could be mine
Be mine, all mine

I come to you, so silent in the night
So stealthy, so animal quiet
I'll be your savior, steadfast and true
I'll come to your emotional rescue
I'll come to your emotional rescue

Yeah, you should be mine, mine, whew
Yes, you could be mine
Tonight and every night
I will be your knight in shining armour
Coming to your emotional rescue
You will be mine, you will be mine, all mine
You will be mine, you will be mine, all mine
I will be your knight in shining armour
Riding across the desert with a fine Arab charger

I was thinking about that, because of a seminar I recently did. In recent
years, I felt a failure as a man, lots of emotional turmoil, injuries from
the past and insecurities to deal with and so on, got hounded, had to work
this stuff out, was mostly a dead loss at picking up a woman that I really
want, seducing them and so on, whatever popstar fantasies I might have (I
have tried most types of sex except SM, but I am basically hetero, although
sometimes people think otherwise).  So anyway me being me, I thought in the
end, must learn a few new "how to" skills, take a new look at the subject,
approach it analytically, get out of introspection and penis monologues, do
something to resolve the issue even at the risk of absurdity. So I went to a
men's day course on Flirtation, which was really interesting, because here
you had ordinary men, employers, selfemployed and employees (plus a guest
journalist from Penthouse writing a story) and they all wanted to learn how
to persuade women better, while retaining their manly dignity, how to come
across better to the lady of their fancy. I had to think of Foucault,
actually. With the course came a CD with one of those NLP hypnotic
suggestion sessions, and the female voice actually says (in Dutch) something
like "I want you to be my knight, my saviour" and so on, the idea being that
this is what women want from a real man, at an emotional level, this is what
you have to be. It did not feel quite appropriate to me for various reasons,
but as you can see the idea of it is still very actual, very current,
specialists believe this is the way to go.

You wrote:

"However I do try to determine why someone may act out in an abusive or
tyrannical [way].  Not always easy I know when you are the butt of it".

I have been abusive on this list once (a thoughtless, vile attack made after
a pub session, feeling confused) but I apologised for it and recognised the
mistake. There's no way I am in any position to be tyrannical. I never had
any woman telling me that, only that I had a mind of my own which was
sometimes impossible to change, causing frustration.

You wrote:

"That is exactly what that slogan [no womens liberation without socialist
revolution, no socialist revolution without women's liberation] means to me.

My only point was that the slogan, taken literally (as people might well do)
makes womens liberation conditional on socialist revolution. In this respect
I must be a "dirty reformist" because I think liberation processes cannot
wait until the day we hoist the red flag on parliament buildings.

"As for Marx, the man, you probably had to be there.  The argument often put
up here by men is that they are just products of the society they live in -
end of discussion.""

I am sympathetic to that view. Actually I have an interesting book by Saul
K. Padover, "Karl Marx; An Intimate Biography" which goes more into intimate
details about his life. In the past, I read many biographical works on Marx,
and it is surprising how onesided they often are. I don't think there is yet
a really good biography in English. I do not mean to depreciate Marx as a
man; he was a good bourgeois man, a fighter, and thinker, somebody with a
creed, an ethos and a pathos, somebody who changed from a romantic liberal
to a rigorous intellectual and responsible socialist politician, a
revolutionary in word and deed. For years I have toyed with the idea of
writing a new book about Marx called "Modelling Marx". Since there has been
so much aping of Marx in the tradition, I thought it would be useful to
write a clear, pragmatic "how to" book with the emphasis on showing HOW Marx
did what he did (pragmatically or praxiologically) and what things we might
today seek to model and what things we might not model. But I haven't got
round to it, perhaps somebody else can do it. As regards men generally, they
are of course, like women, grown in circumstances not of their own making,
yet they make their own history. Personally I have often been supercritical
of my own manliness, due to insults, humiliations and challenges I
experienced, and personal failures or lack of confidence, but also because I
am interested in the subject. Sex and power go together, as they say. The
main relationships I had were with feminists, but they also confused me
about manliness too, and recently I have been reviewing the whole way I
previously thought about men and women and relationships. Even so, I notice
little real change in my core feelings and beliefs, indeed my whole
inclination has been to resist change. But change does come to us all.

You write:

As you say it would have been easier and nicer to have
this conversation face to face but through the marvels
of modern technology we can talk.  As someone who has
found it difficult to find an organisation through
which to be actively involved, the Marxism list
provides me with some connection to the debates and
discussion.

Well you have Louis to thank for that - in the best Trotskyist tradition,
seeking to bring people together, to make links between people, with the
most grandiose motives thinkable.

You write:

It is great to see some names familiar to me from my past Trotskyist past
life.

I personally belonged briefly to the NZ Socialist Action League in
1983-1984, I was a provisional member, I met a lot of the members. The
feminist statistician colleague I mentioned was ex-SAL. But it was not my
scene really; I admired their personal dedication and effort, but I didn't
think much of their politics, so ended up later setting up my own groups
with my own friends.

Socialist greetings

Jurriaan




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