Ovaries Before Brovaries

by Cathy Brennan

– From the Archives –

The last thing Females want to be called is “Feminist” – because that might mean “Man Hating.” That’s bad for Straight Ladies, because then someone might think them Lesbian.  Even though Lesbians don’t want to couple with Males, Lesbians are “supposed” to be socially available to them and not “Man Haters.” (I know I‘ve been called “Man Hater” before!) So heaven forfend if you’re Feminist!

Patriarchy socializes Females to distrust other Females. And we do. Females fall into other Identity Communities – away from – and often at odds with – each other. Goddess forbid Females actually used Feminism to advance rights for Females. What about the Males?

Because of our socialization, Females resist coming together, or even identifying, as a class.  Accordingly, Females are the most dissolved, invisible ingredient in the Great American Melting Pot. We hear of White, Gay, Black, or Poor People.  When discussing Poor People, nobody asks whether they are Male or Females (even though – as a class – the Poor are Female and the Rich are Male). Only when discussing Females do concern trolls come calling to ensure you discuss Poor Females, Brown Females, Vegan Females, Gay Females, (Fill In The Blank) Females. That’s no coincidence. Patriarchy places these filters in front of Females to prevent us from perceiving each other as members of the same oppressed class.  These obstacles destroy the need for further derails by Patriarchy because Females don’t talk to each other as members of the same class.  It divides Females.

Baltimore has no “Women’s Community.” We have the Choice Community, Domestic Violence Community, White Lesbian Community, Black Lesbian Community, and Peace Community, to name a few – but Females inhabiting these worlds don’t generally mix.  What would happen if Females talked to each other about what connects us – our Female-ness.

As a Lesbian, here’s a truth anathema to the Gay Community and one that does not reflect “the law.” Sexual orientation discrimination doesn’t exist. That’s right. Sexual orientation doesn’t exist anymore than “gender identity” discrimination exists. When I am treated badly because I “look Butch,” that’s sex discrimination. Heterosexual women lose promotions to less-qualified men because of sex discrimination.

Sex discrimination impacts Females.  All Females.  We might suffer in degrees, but the root is the same.  The root is our sex, and how society used and grooms Females.

Call it sexism or misogyny – sex discrimination is the air we breathe and the water we drink. It is so pervasive that Females (and Males) don’t see it. When we do see it, when all the filters are lifted, you might feel crazy. Your 20/20 vision will earn you contempt from the majority of Females (and Males) who ignore how much “being  Female” hurts.

Think about EVERY way in which “society” disadvantages Females. Laws dictate what we can do with our bodies.  We are sold a bill of goods on Femininity that makes us hate ourselves.  We must be Porn Sexy and Slutty. “Traditionally” Female occupations are low wage.

Once you’ve taken inventory, know, Females, that I love you. I don’t like to get mushy with you, but I feel like you need to know. Focus on Females. Yes, other forms of oppression exist. No doubt.

But what would happen if Females started to organize based on our Female-ness?  What if we organized around those agenda items that benefit Females?

We’d need to identify our agenda. Before we did that, we’d have to let go of whatever Identity to which we cling, as these Identities are obstacles to organizing as Females.  After that work, ask “what do Females need”?  Females have concerns related to pregnancy, childbirth and abortion because of biology.  Controlling our bodies is a key element of Female Liberation.  Females that have control over fertility have greater education, employment and political participation than Females who lack that control. Females must dictate our sexuality because sexuality has dire consequences for us. Remember the Cotton Ceiling? Yeah, the Cotton Ceiling is about Female autonomy – it is that fucking important.

I understand why Females do Identity Politics. It’s “easier” to localize the “problem” in a smaller Identity Group (wherein I might become a White Butch Dyke). But it does nothing for Females. Your little Identity Group might be safe for you, but it’s not enough.

Females need each other. Females should prioritize the good of Females. Feminism provides a new lens through which to analyze What Females Need.  What would happen if all Females were Feminist?

Maybe we could end rape and sexual abuse, or maybe we could at least get the New York Times to say “males rape females.”  Maybe we’d have an Equal Rights Amendment – “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t been adopted. The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly protect and extend rights equally without regard to sex (except the Right to Vote).  Really.

Females, we could do this.  What if we got together in 2012 and realized how much Power we have?

Females – we’re worth it.

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A version of this post was previously published on bugbrennan’s blog.

17 Responses to “Ovaries Before Brovaries”

  1. You articulated exactly what I think! Good job.

  2. 100% right. Femaleness is what every patriarchal institution and ideology hates and enslaves: the conservative right, the liberal left… what everyone under patriarchy exploits and subjugates are not women as individuals, what they enslave and hate and what they steal from us is our reproductive autonomy. If you wanted to achieve a world order based on slavery and hierarchy systems, the first thing you’d have to create is a patriarchy in order to rob females of their reproductive power because it’s too much. Having a womb places you at the centre of any species, it’s too much power, in the eyes of those thirsty for dominion and colonization. That’s why they can never stop despising and humiliating us, our mere existence is humiliating and offensive to them. Being centred on femaleness and reproductive rights is so painful because you get to see how enslaved and colonized women are, but it must also be very rewarding in many ways.

    My mind keeps going on about this… sometimes I focus on other overlapped institutionalized oppression like media portrayals of women or pornography/prostitution or the lower wages of women or femininity mandates… but reproductive rights, all the harm reduction that we are told is the ”solution” for ”our” problems (caused by men’s penises), all the failure rates of contraceptives, all the unwanted pregnancies, all the health harms of female-specific contraception, all the severe costs of mandatory PIV and all those millennia where it’s been institutionalized without contraception and men still think there’s no problem with such paradigm and still brag about ”getting laid” in our faces after all we’ve suffered and still suffer… it’s always a calling in the back of my mind.

  3. Brilliant post! It makes me want to cry because I want what you speak of sooooo much. Thank you for getting it.

  4. This is brilliant! @ tiamathydra — fantastic!

  5. Thanksxx so much for this xxcellent post/essay beautifully & may i say again, brilliantly written!
    couldnt agree with you MORE…. and love the photo!
    what if wimmin started not only bonding together, but forming wimmins communitiies on wimmins Lands,
    meta (beyond) patriarchal wimmin livin in Peace & Harmony , like it used to be
    have had just a lil taste of that @ Michigan (WMF) an havin the feeling like i never wanted to leave,
    like i could live that way forever and NEVER miss mensworld.
    what if wimmin had not only whole cities, but states, countries, a CONTINENT! Imagine THAT!!
    (ref to Quintessence . m.d.)

  6. Thank you so much for this.

  7. Would you be ready to accept women who aren’t rad-fems in the movement? Women who have husbands and kids? Not sure. But if you want to get mainstream women thinking about issues in a way that hits them, I’d suggest making a parody of a website like Parents.com. This is a top maternity and baby website that is selling lies, from the pictures to the falsehoods in the articles, and if you made a rad-fem version of it, with similar design and code, but with all the articles re-written to reflect the realities of pregnancy and motherhood, you might just get women thinking. Billions each year are poured into the propaganda machine that tricks women into thinking that motherhood is their natural role and the only path to fulfillment, but all the realities, including the fact that mothers, when polled, rank it near the bottom of things that make them happy, are covered up. Re-write the articles and mention all the realities of pregnancy and motherhood…minus mention of the word feminism…and see where it goes. Then, take the next step of introducing feminism into the site.

    That would be my suggestion. If we know mainstream women are put off by the word “feminism,” and we know that the brovaries derail feminist discussions outside of feminist hubs, then why not infiltrate the mainstream consciousness on a site that a typical trolling brovarie would not think to click on?

    By the way, I put the search results in the link to prove a point about the lies. I tried searching “I hate being pregnant” on that site, and I got a laundry list of articles reciting all the banal things to love about it…like how you can nap all the time! And Nigel may do a few chores! And you can skip your diet of radishes and seltzer and have a few spoonfuls of “sinful” things like ice cream! The article convincing women who have mental health issues like depression, bipolar, and PTSD that pregnancy is, like, no problem!, which I pulled up in that search results link, is totally depressing. And not just for the lies, either, but also, for the comments underneath. They’re all from women who do hate being pregnant, are miserably depressed, and in most cases are broke because the Nigel ran off with a shinier, younger model. Convey that reality in articles, and bust the myths sites like these perpetuate, and you’ll get eyeballs on the pages and gears turning in women’s heads. (Another example: The article on “Fears about pregnancy debunked” lies about everything from the actual rate of unnecessary C-sections to the risk of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia and what that specifically involves.)

  8. p.s. Every time a woman becomes unhappy with pregnancy and motherhood, as you’ll see quickly in the comments on that site linked above, my first temptation is to say “told you so,” but then I realize so many women just do not know any better. The lies are thick and the propaganda is deep. Even my having access to high-speed internet and understanding what to look up, even understanding the definition of words like “patriarchy” is a privilege of my being in the MC/UMC. The internet is becoming more democratic as price points fall, but as we all know, women are still treated like the Other online and are relegated to pink-hued “women’s interest” sites like Parents.com. My hope is that there’s a way to reach women who are just entering the online space and are bewildered by what on the surface appears to be only two choices: wade into the broseph-sphere and get their femaleness used against them, or stick to the female ghettos of parenting, fashion, and body image sites which will inform them 24/7 that their existence is contingent upon meeting a norm that is constructed in a way so as to be perpetually out of reach for everyone born female.

    I know this is long, so if it doesn’t make it through filters, I understand. I just had an idea and I went with it…

  9. I think the problem with “What Women Need” is that it depends a lot with social context. *I* Latin American White Middle-Class College-Educated Privileged Woman have different set of needs than “Black Poor US Woman” or “White US High Class Woman” Or “Quechua Woman” or whatever. That’s why most women choose to ally with folks just like them instead of all Women as a Class; in fact I believe many poor women don’t trust Privileged White people Male or Female.

  10. I agree. It takes trust to organize as females. We are a long way from that goal.

  11. I would be willing to accept non-radfems, but only depending on why they are not adherent to the truth. If they truly were brainwashed, as most of us were to some extent, fine. If not, if they knew what they were doing was stupid and did it anyway, then no, not accepted.

  12. Haven’t seen you guys in a while. How’s it going?

  13. Spot on! Brilliant post! I certainly agree that women have to stand together, support each other, and place each other first. Our “little identify groups” are not enough. We hold the power to break down the walls that divide us and that prevent us from coming together in unity and solidarity. As women united together, we can make those walls crumble and work towards making true changes to the existing structure that exists within our societies…

  14. I’m a straight female and I do have a huge problem with men – which sucks, but there it is. I’ve dealt with it my whole life. It’s no picnic. For people who think lesbians are man-hating I have news for you – not so much. They deal with men in a different context. The main fear of being labeled feminist (as a straight female) has to do with being thought unfuckable or unattractive especially in your younger/coupling years. It’s why so many young women left Hillary in the dirt for Obama. Hillary was the old mother-in-law. Obama was popular with the young guys. Many of them have learned, but as usual, too late.

  15. Thank you for this post. I totally agree that women are not currently firing on all cylinders. This incomplete female is not the fault of females, it has been socialized into them and women think it is normal to be empty, vacuous, insecure etc… Men plundered the authentic female thousands of years ago and put in its place the male prescribed female that is by design dependent on them and because this false female is all we know, we think it is normal, that the false female is the only female, But its not! The authentic female is within all females waiting to be rescued from their prisons! We are truly powerful however our energy (power) is invested into men and into patriarchy, supporting the very system that is enslaving us. If we women took our energy back and used it to advance the female agenda, we could save the world!

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