Feminist reflections by Lydia Sargent on the state of play

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Mon Nov 17 08:07:18 MST 2003

(...) when it comes to popular consciousness, (...) women are now divided
into three basic categories:

(1) Hyper-sexed creatures who can kill and maim just like the guys, but it's
okay because they show "boobs" and crotches while doing it. This makes them
feminine-ists. Without the boobs flailing and the ass/crotch exposure, they
would be women trying to be men.
(2) Hyper-feminine powder puffs, with brains of steel whose liberation comes
from knowing how to disguise all of this in a joyous affectionate return
to/spoof of the Marilyn Monroe movies and the 1950s female. This makes them
feminine, which nails another coffin in the death of the women's movement
propaganda. Without the powdering and the puffing and the tottering, the
fact that they had brains would make them women trying to be men.
(3) CEO career types who "remain" feminine and sexy and, more often than
not, due the fact that they missed out on their children's ballet concerts
and piano recitals. If they didn't look sexy, they would be women trying to
be men, i.e. lesbians.
This gender rewrite has been going on ever since the women's movement began
sometime before or after 1969. By now, the litany (mainstream and not so
mainstream) is pretty much locked in. Without changing the basic
institutions that help keep women (and men) in a constant state of confusion
about what's what with gender oppression, the result, in popular
consciousness, is that some feel feminists have won their rights and should
shut up and move on. Others feel that feminists went too far and won too
much and it is now men who are oppressed. (...)

Popular psychology presents sexism as just a lack of communication that can
be solved by understanding each other better. There is no oppression of one
gender by another, no patriarchy in the "men are from Mars, women are from
Venus" thesis that has been popular for many years. (...) In this lifestyle
feminism, fashion magazines define liberation and women's images for them
and these images change from moment to moment. Feminist liberation is
anything that sells a product.  (...) until recently, there has been no
articulated vision or solidarity among leftists in the U.S. Instead, there
was a legacy of distrust, some as a result of experiences working together,
some from inequalities among us, some from personality clashes that become
insurmountable in movements where we are all supposed to love each other and
be equal. (...) Isn't it time to join with others who are beginning to
answer the question, "As activists, what do we want?" Isn't it crucial now
for revolutionary feminists to push aggressively, publicly, and globally for
a total social vision of what we want? We should not only be creating,
together with men, a vision of "life after capitalism," we should also be
creating a vision of "life after patriarchy," as well as a vision for a
"life after white supremacist capitalist patriarchy," that is, for a
wide-ranging, diverse participatory society.

Lydia Sargent is an activist and co-founder of South End Press and Z
Magazine. She writes a Hotel Satire column and is active in a local theater

Source: http://www.zmag.org/ZMagSite/Sept2003/sargent0903.html

When I´m watchin´ my TV and a man comes on and tell me
How white my shirts can be
But, he can´t be a man ´cause he doesn´t smoke
The same cigarettes as me
I can´t get no. Oh, no, no, no. Hey, hey, hey
That´s what I say
I can´t get no satisfaction, I can´t get no satisfaction
´Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can´t get no, I can´t get no

- "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", Rolling Stones

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