first, i am re-reading dworkin’s intercourse. this one was a game-changer for me the first time, but as i’ve gone on with my work i have started to think that she didnt go far enough. is this possible? the first time around, it was the first time i had ever encountered a critique of intercourse as an institution and a harmful cultural practice; what changed the game for me was dworkin calling attention to the fact that intercourse directed toward the vagina is historically fetishized, and procreative intercourse is historically fetishized. this made me realize that there was a biological component to this practice that hadnt occurred to me before. not that there is a biological drive to do it or any of that ev psych shit, but that there is a reason that women are fucked, and it has something to do with the fact that we are impregnable. hmm!
obviously this set me down the road i am currently on, but what did she mean when she said what she said? what did she actually even say? its hard to remember, which says nothing about the power of her words and her ability to write things that stick in your mind forever. there are forces out there set out to deliberately confuse. (all sex is rape, blah blah lie obfuscate negligence slander). after receiving more shit and hate and threats than many women or men experience in a lifetime no matter what they do or dont do, she later explained her belief that intercourse as a cultural and sexual practice would survive equality. how so? thats what im trying to figure out.
next, i am re-reading gavin de becker’s the gift of fear. i first read this one in high school, and am reading it again. for those who arent familiar, gavin de becker is a doodly expert on “security” and making predictions about future violence. the question that stays with me while reading it (obviously i had no such questions the first time) is “what would a man say if he were being paid handsomely to tell the truth about violence, men, and what men do?” seems that lotsa money brings out the honesty in some cases. for example, de becker leaves a note for us between the table of contents and the first chapter:
Note: Men of all ages and in all parts of the world are more violent than women. For this reason, the language in this book is mostly gender-specific to men. When it comes to violence, women can proudly relinquish recognition in the language, because here at least, politically correct would be statistically incorrect.
obviously he is still just a man, and i anticipate that he will show us his true colors at some point. but looky there, a man said it, so therefore and ergo its credible. men are more violent than women, everywhere. the number-one factor in determining whether a person is a risk to someone elses safety is whether the suspect is male. brought to you by a dood who knows what hes talking about and is paid to tell the truth, and stands to lose quite a bit if his predictions are ever wrong. as i recall, he also told his children when they were growing up that if they ever get lost at the mall, to find a woman (not a man) and ask her for help. because men are known to be extremely dangerous to children, and women arent. duh. and, timely.
and finally, the only book that i am *not* reading for the second time (but ive been working on it for many months) is cargo, cult & culture critique. this one piqued my interest because the anthropologic “discovery” and interpretation of south-pacific cargo cults describes a logical fallacy that all radical feminists are familiar with because we combat it daily, whether we know what its called or not: basically that if something happens first, it causes what comes after. the south pacific cargo-cultists, for example, seem to have believed that the rituals the military colonizers performed that preceded the dropping of supplies (“cargo”) on south pacific military bases during world war II were what caused the cargo to appear. so, after the military bases were closed, the indigenous peoples started replicating the rituals, including walking around with sticks meant to resemble guns, and building fake radio towers and shuffling blank papers around, believing that this is what caused the cargo to appear the first time, and that it would make it happen again. seemingly completely unaware of the multiple underlying and overlapping systems and structures that were responsible for the result the first time around. and unaware that the original rituals had actual function, and were directly tied to a complex and deep, invisible infrastructure, and werent necessarily meaningful or causative in themselves.
of course, this “interpretation” of what the indigenous people were actually doing, and the meaning it had for them (rather than what it looked like to the white men observing them) is going to be deeply flawed and the book gets into the ways this has historically been so. its a “critique” of cargo cult understanding, and its very interesting. but i believe that even the flawed “interpretation” is useful for our purposes, in that it illustrates in a very graphic way what this particular logical fallacy can look like when it centralizes cultural rituals, as if they are causative of other things.
kinda like…performing the rituals of femininity and expecting that *this* is what will make you a woman, instead of recognizing the male-supremacist, woman-hating infrastructure that drives the whole thing when actual women perform the female gender, but not when men perform femininity. that we may or may not wear “feminine” clothing or grow up surrounded by pink things, but this is not what makes us women, biologically or even in the gendered sense. its the decades of abuse and fear of future male violence that make us
coquettish fetishize our own submission and appear feminine in our mannerisms mkay? is not the clothing. jesus.
now, obviously wearing painful and restrictive clothing for decades is likely to physically hobble you and change your demeanor, yes. but even the most femininely-hobbled male will never be female: this would be akin to getting a sore shoulder after carrying your fake gun around all day, wouldnt it? its never going to cause any cargo to appear. and an indigenous person with a sore shoulder is not the same as a military man, and at any rate, a sore shoulder wasnt what caused the cargo to appear the first time around.
of course, an analogy between trans performance of gender and cargo-cult behavior falls apart when we realize that these were colonized people performing the cargo rituals, and men as a sexual class are not colonized people, no matter what they choose to wear, or how they feel about gender (or about anything). so…im not making an analogy, but rather an illustration of a logical fallacy in that case.
i would however make an analogy between the white mans interpretation of cargo-cult and women (who are a colonized people) dressing in business attire and entering the male workplace and actually working, believing (incorrectly) that its the rituals of work that are going to get you paid, and respected. that putting on a suit and showing up and talking on the phone and being productive is what men are doing when they are working, because thats what it looks like. without recognizing (or recognizing as significant) the complex, deep underlying structures of patriarchy that get men paid, and promoted, and connected and respected. its not the rituals of work, and its not the work itself.