How Do We Foment a Rebellion?

I’m not sure. I want to know. It’s been done before, by our Second-wave grandmothers, by our First-wave great and great grandmothers, by our moms, by ourselves. How do we start it up again? How do we put an end to the vile pornulation of an already sexist world? Does it really need to get worse before it gets better? Do women need to be shown in the worst way how much men hate us? From the obvious and extreme hate of murder and rape, to the subtle hate of invalidation and invisibility. There’s already so much misogyny in the world – how much more do we need, collectively, before we rise up?

During the sixties the Women’s Liberation movement forged full steam ahead, making great headway. I don’t think many younger women of today quite realize how bad things were, how marginalized and infantilized women were. We are objectified still, of course. But we can wear pants to the office without causing a stir. We can be doctors and lawyers and judges, without too much blinking. In movies and tv we kick ass on a fairly regular basis – however we are always sexualized when we do so. We still need rescuing most of the time, and still mostly serve as plot points and reflections of the main male characters. Two steps forward and one step back, as they say.

But thinking of the ¾ of a million women and girls trafficked into sexual slavery every year, the degree to which violent and degrading porn has become common place, the degree to which it can be difficult to watch a drama or romantic comedy (!) without a rape or a rape-joke, the degree to which blatant sexism is spouting from the mouths of so many tv hosts and journalists (so called), the degree to which women’s sexual debasement has become so commonplace, so regular in our heterosexual (and yes, lesbian) sex lives that we barely blink to think of it.

Our rights are whittled away, and we do nothing. We complain, some of us. Sometimes to the perps, sometimes just to each other. How do we march in the streets again, en mass? Oh wait, we did, not that long ago, didn’t we? Reports of a million women and men, marching around that lake in Washington DC. A million! How did the newspapers report it? Did they report it? Was it front page news and did they talk about it for days? Or was it a small blurb somewhere? From what I recall, that was a record-sized march, too. A million person march. Literally. But how many remember?

Maybe the better question is “how many care?”

I want a revolution. I want it so bad I can barely think of anything else. But I despair that it will happen in my lifetime. I barely have the energy and time to write, let along organize and/or participate in a revolution. But I must. I must do something. We must do something. Breathing is getting harder.

But how to begin?

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9 Responses to How Do We Foment a Rebellion?

  1. dirtyrose says:

    I also desperately want this revolution and it makes me angry – SO angry – when I see my fellow college students oblivious to the world around them.

    That said I do happen to have some traditionally unstandard views regarding pornography… in that I don’t believe it is, by its nature, always degrading to women. I’m also heavily in support of embracing female sexuality, even if that means the desire for something that a normative culture deems taboo (and boy is that a wide range).

    Still, I think it’s most important to recognize that we all have different ways of expressing our independence – the only way to really create this revolution is to learn from one another, and stand together, no matter how we differ.

  2. Jezebella says:

    Dirtyrose, that’s pretty much THE traditional standard view regarding porn: most men in the patriarchy, and LOTS of women, don’t think porn is degrading at all. They think it’s “sexy.”

    How do we foment a revolution? I hate to say it, but those of us privileged enough to have the internet and computers are going to have to get good and pissed off, and it’s maybe going to have to get worse before it gets better, because right now it’s too easy to be a raging internet feminist but occupy, semi-complacently, a place in the patriarchy that provides us with food, shelter, and relative safety. I speak for myself, here, but I suspect I am not alone in having a little bit of something to lose if I go chain myself to the doors of… of…. where? WHERE? The nearest titty bar? The nearest police station? The White House? The Hague? The Vatican? Where does one even begin?

    • Crowfoot says:

      Hey dirtyrose, when you said “traditionally unstandard views views regarding pornography” did you mean traditionally feminist views? I say that because it seems to me that the sort of third wave, “feminists for porn” view (if you’ll forgive the flippancy) is a rather recent trend, feminists having historically been opposed to pornography. Like Jezebella said – most of the culture think porn is “sexy” (except maybe the religious conservatives?). I think that’s because we are taught at every turn that that is what sex “is.” I hope you don’t feel piled on, I just wanted to clarify. 🙂

      Be that as it may, I think I understand what you mean about embracing female sexuality – I don’t think we can talk about sex and/or depictions of it without keeping one big ol’ hairy eyeball on the sexual puritanism of our culture. For so long women have been assumed to not like sex, because we were pure and virginal, and if we did then we were dirty sluts. This idea of sex as inherently dirty is deeply damaging to our psyches, so I can see how a woman embracing her sexuality can be/will feel empowering, liberating. Even if what’s she’s doing follows the patriarchal, heteronormative script. I think embracing female sexuality, in whichever form it takes, does work on that level, of working against the idea of sex as dirty, sinful. It reclaims it, for women. That’s powerful stuff, for sure. However, if that sexuality follows the patriarchal script then I think it also works against women’s ultimate equality and freedom. I think it can do both, and at the same time? I should try and write a post about it because really I think the subject is huge (and, lol, monster train wreck threads abound in the feminist blogosphere about it!)

      I also really agree with you re: standing together. While “sisterhood” may seem a hackneyed phrase for a lot people, I do think it’s really vital. In order to enact change we must stand in solidarity, even across differences. That can be a tricky thing to do at times, because sometimes those differences feel like the other side is selling us out 😦 But we must remember our shared sisterhood.

      Jezebella, I think you bring up a good point – those of us with privilege really do need to get good and pissed off, and it is really easy to be raging internet feminist but occupy our places! I also speak for myself here. I do think, though, that we need to be really careful about how we do that. Especially as wealthier white women – society at large will give us the biggest voice of them all, even if we don’t want it. If we have a giant march, I betcha the news people will end up talking to the white academic-like women before they talk to the latina butch dyke. If we have the opportunity, we should grab it, but we also need to step back and give that microphone over? I’m not sure if I’m being clear – yet another huge subject and I need to get to bed! But yeah, where the hell do we start? We can start small, for sure, but we also need to organize and go big.

      Anyways, I need to get myself off to bed. Thanks for getting me thinking even more! 🙂

      • Crowfoot says:

        I apologize for the monster comment but I’m trying to go carefully, trying to bring light to the discussion. I know this subject can be a really tense one so I’m trying to be respectful. Please let me know if you feel I haven’t been.

  3. twandx says:

    Thank you all for sharing your passion – it is so lacking in most women today.

    My view does not go down well with many of them, they feel threatened and reluctant to leave their comfort zones.

    The revolution I’m inciting is for women to see and internalize their contribution to misogyny, sexism, disrespect and our continuing second class citizenship.

    One way is through awareness. I’ve deliniated some of this in my latest blog entry – Sticks and stones. I invite you to check it out at
    http://gendergappers.blogspot.com

    Hope you will join my revolution by sharing your “awareness” moments here or there so we all can benefit.

    Thank you

    • Crowfoot says:

      Reluctant to leave their comfort zones

      Indeed. It can be scary – I think there’s a psychological component when we have little status or power as women and then are confronted with being asked to let go of the crumbs we do have. I think, too, many women just don’t want to believe it’s all that bad. They’re certainly told we have it good – “think of the [insert Third World misogyny]!” we’re constantly told. It takes work to learn to see the patterns, sometimes. And it is true, things are much better in many ways compared to how it used to be. But I think it’s also worse in many ways too.

      You’re right – awareness is key. We need to teach ourselves and each other how to see the social patterns around us, to learn to analyze what the subtext means, what it says about us and about men and about what is “normal.” Dworkin was right (shockingly, heh) when she said “remember: resist, do not comply.” We can resist overtly, and sometimes we need to resist quietly, or even bide our time if our circumstances require it. But I think we can set our minds and spirits free, even while doing the patriarchy tango, waiting for our chance.

  4. dirtyrose says:

    No piled on feelings here. 🙂 Thanks though, Crowfoot, I did mean the traditional feminist stance on pornography. And you stated much of my own feelings in some very beautiful words. I’m really enjoying reading this blog on a regular basis and I’d love to see what you have to say in a full post on the matter!

    • Crowfoot says:

      ah excellent! I’m glad you don’t feel piled on. My view/analysis is very much the Radical Feminist one (like Twisty, like Dworkin, and “Radical” meaning “to the root” as opposed to “super awesome different”). Like I said, I have seen these discussions go south very quickly, heh.

      And thank you for your kind words! I was definitely thinking of writing more about it. I think, linked to this discussion, is a feeling some people get that radfems (and just feminists in general) are dictating terms, or passing judgment, or just being bossy? Anyways, worth exploring I think.

  5. […] can also be a way of ignoring my life, instead of living it. I had said earlier that I wanted to foment a rebellion, but I can’t even get my shit together to get my Master’s! At the same time, I’ve […]

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