But don’t hold me to them! I’m just a person cobbling together connections, impressions and stuff my mom says + other stuff. Also, I don’t want that responsibility. I just want to ideate. Voila!
Here’s my theory: This whole system of female subordination seems based on the defensive insecurity socialized in men (and to which many men do not subscribe, thank the figurative lord) who have been bred to be emotionally dependent on the enforced insecurity of other people, particularly those who threaten the easily-threatened myth of ideal masculinity, e.g. women, gays, other men. But this societally-wrought insecurity is also psychologically-based. Primal envy of a mother-daughter bond or anger that mother-son relationships are more sexually complicated that those between the mother and female offspring create rage and—
Wait a minute! Sociologically, this theory is totally heterosexist! Psychoanalytically, it is lacking! So, here’s my new theory: According to Adrienne Rich paraphrasing Nancy Chodorow, “The mother remains a primary internal object [sic] to the girl, so that heterosexual relationships are on the model of a nonexclusive, second relationship for her, whereas for the boy they recreate an exclusive, primary relationship”… women “have learned to deny the limitations of masculine lovers for both psychological and practical reasons” e.g. economic survival, not freaking out the conservative neighbors or feeling like a freak in a (rigged to be) rigid society.
But this still seems too subjective a view—which is fine and very interesting but shouldn’t be used as the universal explanation for male violence and self-violence. I’d say the thwarted and frustrated love of one’s PARENT (though usually, in our unequal division of labor, the woman) is what compels all people to oppress and exploit other people but because historically, economically and socially men have more power than women, they can do more damage on a grander scale.
In all respects, all this obsession with controlling women that’s been codified in restrictive legislation and cultural protocol and gender-based apartheid disguised as “eternal” or “natural” biology wouldn’t EVER be so great if the establishment of male power (and female collaborators) didn’t see women–or rather, what women represent–as a threat. Subjugating women is a way to defend against fear of the attributes we socially associate with women and envy of the psychological bond between mothers and daughters—or, envy of pleasant, playful, loving relationships between other parents and their children, blaming of the parent (usually the mother) for withholding love and scapegoating all women as a continuation of this early lack of love.
Hmm. Here’s my proposed solution! We teach by example that our children are valuable and loved and that love ISN’T CONDITIONAL and isn’t contingent on behavior or belief, gender, race, sexuality, etc. because with that assurance of constancy, children who grow into adults will have no cause for manifesting oppressive, corrupt patriarchal privilege. I think a good way to interrupt the sadism of sexism (and all the isms tantamount to it) is to elucidate the causes (better than I just did)–psychological, sociological and personalize it. Examine everything as an institution with political implications. Accept nothing at face value. Except absolutes. Rimshot.
But wait! One more important thing: I think a huge part of ending subjugation (of self and others, since you have to first loathe yourself to loathe others) is directly related to sexuality and expanding our understanding of desires, feelings, hopes, dreams! And, uh, the way we move through the world and assign value. I think if we re-orient our identities as PEOPLE first, not men, women, not any defined sexual orientation (even if you feel awfully straight), we’ll have a much easier time grappling with multilayered and contradictory emotions that are informed BY sexuality and inform sexuality which goes on to inform everything since we are sexual beings and a) that’s good and b) sexuality doesn’t mean sex exclusively (subcategory: what constitutes sex?). When I say ‘sex’ I think I mean about a million things, as do all people with our histories, associations and experiences of the IDEA and actuality of sex e.g. being alive. Basically, sexuality is a microcosm of our understanding of other people, who ultimately speak to our understanding of OURSELVES! As a wise man once said, “The acceptance of our erotic choices ultimately depends on the degree to which society is willing to affirm sexual expression as a form of play, positive and life-enhancing. Our movement may have begun as the struggle of a “minority,” but what we should now be trying to “liberate” is an aspect of the personal lives of all people…”
And I’m not done! As a final thought, I think it’s wise when philosophizing, as I am now doing, to always bring everything back to yourself, otherwise you end up glossing over the origins for philosophies that are extrapolated personal experiences. Also, that way there’s less chance you’ll be manipulated by accusations of hypocrisy if you’re aware of the naturalness of contradictions and your own in particular. Have I fulfilled that mandate? I don’t think so.
Say, what a nice archival picture!