Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A note on feminism

This koan: an elephant walks in the living room, shits, and leaves. It's the woman's job to clean up the shit and put her house back in order: No one will do it if she doesn't, and she can't live w/ all that stinking elephant shit on the carpet. She applies herself to the task, and soon, the further she gets, the more achieved she feels. Self-esteem arises in her from this amazing experience of becoming efficient at cleaning up the elephant's shit. Then the elephant walks back in. What is feminism? Women here have been describing it as an "ism." Someone else assumes it is meaningless, but would he say, meaningless like Marxism. I have heard that some think feminism is an extenuation of religion.

Men sympathetic to women's causes and plights are sympathetic because they like women. It seems increasingly that many women don't like women very much, that liking women is too obvious, that one has to pretend one doesn't notice us. There is no out and out acceptance of Feminism as necessary to humanism. Where I live (perhaps outside religion as most people where I live are), girls are liabilities -- openly complained of -- and boys assets. The futures for girls & women are limited to their physical assets, but even beauty is poor -- the pay is well below the livable rate for many women I know who work, resumes & experience go unregarded, housing costs are obscene, and contrary to the popular songs about the joy of and signs of love that come of hitting us ("if that ain't love, I don't know what is"), even non-feminists leave when he acts violently;

by the same token, men have told me that they know only women with high incomes, and have rarely met the other kind of woman, the mother of daughters, who goes underpaid, her daughters who go underpaid, thin women who go underpaid, regardless of their educations, regardless even of Ivy-league educations, the unmarried who go underpaid, the women's sympathizers who go underpaid.

Item: In 1999, my boyfriend abruptly blocked access to my car, when I tried to leave a restaurant without him -- we were in a disagreement over someone else's religious recovery, and he turned on me; he hoped there would be life and death stakes in this woman's life; she was the Jewish mother of two young daughters. I'd already known him to be a salesman who assigned dollar values to people's foreheads. I called the police, who interrogated me at my car. A year later, I had lost 20 needed pounds due to stress; the mother I had defended from my boyfriend's attitudes had taken to heroin; he had gained 10 pounds, complained of his spare tire, and awaited the birth of his male 9-pounder out another woman's oven -- she a non-college-educated non-feminist, who was out-earning us, who left him for violence within a few years.

Anyway, it's this kind of "sex" that many women don't want to run the risk of going without.

Thin women around here, the lucky ones, make $18 K for a full year at it. I swear, they're paying women by the pound! It's as if the collective mind believes that men will make up the difference in thin women's paychecks, as if it's an Us not an ism.

Write a song about that. Do we poets know how to write songs?

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