Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

In my last post on mother daughter damage I asked how do we learn to love women when our female caregivers have hurt us so badly? But Susan Griffin in her essay Lesbians and Literature writes:

When you come to a relationship between the mother and the daughter, you come to a relationships inevitably about the daughter and her own self. If she cannot accept the love shes felt for her mother she cannot accept that identification, she cannot accept also the love that she’s felt for herself. We get back here to what i think is the central problem with women’s writing: that is self hatred, hatred of the body, hatred of ones own voice, hatred of ones own perceptions

which for me asks a much more immediately important question, how do we love ourselves if our mothers didn’t love us? Or if our mothers love was so distorted by patriarchy that it was unrecognisable to us as love? we are angry at ourselves because our mothers were angry at us, our mothers were angry at us because they were angry at themselves.

and how do we break the cycle? Can we have a healthy feminist community when women have been wounded by each other and do not believe they have each others best interests at heart?

I dream of a feminist utopia where women mother collectively, where motherhood does not send women crazy through isolation and frustration, where mothers can nurture their own creativity and skills that are not directly related to motherhood, where mothers are not afraid that they or their children will be damaged or rejected by society, where women have not been so damaged that they pass that damage down.

But in the meantime we, the daughters, live with our mothers damage, and I don’t know how we live healthily with that, build healthy relationships with that, love ourselves to the bone with that.

I’ve been reading Angela Davies Woman, Race and class and its unsuprising but still depressing how racist and classist the beginings of feminism were

Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and their colleagues..they never really accepted the principle of trade unionism. As they had been previously unwilling to concede that black liberation might claim momentary priority over their own interests as white women, they did not fully embrace the fundamentals of unity and class solidarity, without which the labor movement would remain powerless….Although Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton persuaded several female labor leaders to protest the disenfranchisement of women, the masses of working women were far too concerned about their immediate problems -wages, hours, working conditions – to fight for a cause that seemed terribly abstract

we can say that they have the excuse of history,of not knowing any better but white middle class feminists are still not taking into account that women who are not them often have different often more pressing needs and fronts to fight on, women who are not white, middle class, able bodied, heterosexual are often denied the right to speak, made so uncomfortable that they don’t want to speak or ignored and belittled when they do speak

Anthony’s staunchly feminist position was also a staunch reflection of bourgeois Ideology. And it probably was because of the ideology’s blinding powers that she failed to realise that working class women and Black women alike were fundamentally linked to their men by the class exploitation and racist oppression which did not discriminate between the sexes

white middle class women often don’t unpack the institutions of individualism and consumerism that are such important parts of being white and middle class and the way that the white middle class need to be an individualist and a consumer is so bad for everybody else and I really believes this damages relationships and connections between white middle class feminists and other feminists

Feminism is important and the basis of feminism is and always should be fighting for women’s liberation/rights but there needs to be an understanding that women who are oppressed often find common cause with men who are oppressed in the same way, an understanding that white middle class feminists do not know best, are not, to borrow a phrase from the SWP, the “vanguard of the revolution”

One of the most insidious ways patriarchy damages us is by damaging our mothers, by abusing and mistreating them and teaching them lies about what women are for and what they are worth and then demanding, expecting that they pass that damage, that knowledge on to us.

I had two mothers and my relationship with both of them was completely toxic, poisoned all the way through by what the patriarchy had done to them and then what they did to me. None of these relationships can be rebuilt, there is too much damage and pain there. One of my mothers is dead now and one of them chose to side with patriarchal belief’s and structures rather than have a relationship with me.

I know a lot of women who’s mothers were abusive, and how do we learn feminism, how do we learn to love women when our female caregivers have hurt us so badly? How do we learn to have compassion for women in the same positions our mothers were? How do we aknowlege and label the hand patriarchy has in damaging mother/daughter relationships without suggesting that our mothers had no responsiblity for what they did to us and without minimising our pain?

We live in a society that blames mothers for everything that goes wrong despite the fact that statistically it is fathers/male care givers who are much more often physically and sexually abusive and financially, emotionally and physically absent so sometimes being angry at our own mothers seems like a betrayal of feminism, a betrayal of the world we are trying to build.

One of the things we need to do is look at anger through a feminist lens rather than believing all the things patriarchal society tells us about anger, we learn that anger has to be violent, abusive, has to be about taking someones power from them, we learn that we cannot love someone if we are angry with them, we learn that anger can not be congruent with compassion for those we are angry with.

I am not suggesting we ever have to be okay with the damage our mothers did us, or that we have to have a relationship with them if that is bad for us, our sense of self, our boundaries, but we can learn compassion for our mothers and female caregivers who hurt us at the same time as being angry with them, we can use the anger we have for them as a force to heal the damage they did to us, as a force to learn how to have happy healthy non toxic relationships with the women in our lives, to learn how not to perpetuate the cycle of women damaging each other,

Serendipidously as I was thinking about my mothers and thinking about writing this post I stumbed acros a post by radfemcrafts and I think she puts it perfectly when she says

I want better for me and the only way to get better for me is to get better for them. That’s what it means to take the pro-woman line. If I can’t understand their internalized hatred of themselves for being women in the patriarchy, how will I ever understand what was done to me? How will I ever understand the enormity of their own hurt that they tried to unburden onto me? And how will I ever understand that trying to unshoulder the pain onto other girls and women like they did doesn’t work? Only radical feminism unlocks these thoughts and lets them see sunshine.