Monday, July 16, 2012

Feminists are Pro-Choice, unless You choose not to label yourself a Feminist.






I grew up in the 60's, surrounded by feminism. Our household was atheistic, so none of the misogynistic overtones of the Abrahamic faiths dominated the women in our house. I heard the news of bra burnings, protests for equal rights/equal pay, abortion rights, pro choice, women power and the NOW. My mother was the first feminist I knew, but she was a feminist in words only. I never saw her protest, never saw her do anything to advance the cause of gender equality. She played both sides of the fence, which ever was more advantageous to her at the moment. She lived by a kill or be killed mentality, which included her oldest daughter. As humanity goes, my mother was a nasty piece of work.

I had a very close relationship with my father. He had no sons and always encouraged me to be myself, pursue whatever interested me. He taught me how to mow lawns, work with tools, basic auto care like changing tires and maintenance. Yet, he was also the one to teach me how to cook and sew. He never once told me that I should not pursue track because I was a girl, or that I should wear more dresses, not play football with the boys in the neighborhood (I was a tomboy) or play with dolls instead of wanting a race track set or chemistry set. As a child, I had it made with his support. Some people might think that this not having sons might have played a part in his treatment of me as a child, that I was his surrogate son. Perhaps. But considering his support and encouragement of me, even if he did not agree with my decisions, I tend to believe otherwise.

When my parents separated, I chose to live with my father, my younger sister with my mother. This was nearly unheard of in 1975. It was difficult enough for men to get custody of children, much less a daughter. My father was in the Air Force, in the big military town of San Antonio, Texas. We had lots of racial diversity. It was also a large college/university town so there was also the diversity of thought. I did not grow up with racism, nor ignorance in our home. My mother was attending college when I was young (art major), so I saw the streakers, the skinny dipping parties at the house, the nude artwork. My father sculpted in wood and metal. As a result, I never grew up thinking that a womans body was shameful, simply beautiful.

This upbringing set the stage for my perspective on gender issues. On one hand I had a hypocritical parent that treated people in general like shit and on the other, a parent that taught me to judge the individual, not the group. So I have never seen men as a group, to be judged as a whole, by the actions of some men. My father always drilled into me, not to open my mouth unless I knew the facts, so that I dont put my foot in my mouth and look like a fool. Dont make generalizations; dont assume, and consider what it is like to walk in some elses moccasins. The feminists I had exposure to generalized men, did not have all the proper facts and most of the time, like the dirty cloud that always surrounded Pigpen on Peanuts, had a cloud of anger and hate. 




Fast forward to current times. For over 4 years I have been an active Redditor. Reddit is described as a social news website, a news aggregator, with over 67,000 subreddits to choose from. Not only can you read the posted or linked content, you can comment and redditors can upvote content or comments they agree with or downvote it. It is a very participatory community – a virtual microcosm of the real world. I fell in love with it the moment I found them. I hate mainstream news and had been going to a few independent news sites online for my news. Reddit was like a vast farmers market of independent news sources and information.

As a woman, my experiences are a wee bit different from the majority of redditors, which are men. But then again, as a woman, my experiences are apparently not the norm for women either. Due to my favored subreddits, the populations tend to be more male dominated and frequently I am mistaken for a man when posting, unless my post clearly states something about breast feeding or such. So if someone says, “Thanks dude.” I will casually, yet unoffendedly, let them know that I am a woman and they are welcome.

The biggest complaint of most female redditors is the rampant misogyny on Reddit. To be honest, I do not see that Reddit is any different than the real world, which is rampant with misogyny. I do not care for the woman hating, yes there is alot and frequently I have posted against it. The reality is, our culture, in the United States, is founded on the misogynistic patriarchal Indo-European cultures – it saturates almost all aspects of society. I have experienced more misogyny in the real world - in education, religious gatherings, marriage, and the work place than I ever have at the virtual world of Reddit. I had heard rumors of some really horrible subreddits that were dangerous to women and petitions to shut them down. After seeing the change.org petition and the links to the offending subreddits, I braced myself for getting pissed off and clicked the links. I was more saddened than pissed. It brought back memories of an abusive marriage.Those subreddits were horrid.

Being a research author, I frequently post some of my research findings in comments that are applicable subject matter. Sometimes that brings up the patriarchal Indo-Europeans. I came across a subreddit as a result. Like the White Supremacists, who adamantly deny that the holocaust ever happened, that it is a lie made up by the Jews, there is a Mens Rights group that patrols some of Reddit and claims that the patriarchy never existed and is a feminist lie. Shocked, I promptly reply that one - there is overwhelming documentation of the patriarchal Indo-Europeans; and two - I am not a feminist. They dont care about facts, nor that I am not a feminist, I am a woman and that is bad enough. I am the enemy in their eyes. These men exude anger like the early feminists I grew up around.




After a couple years on Reddit I heard about a subreddit, TwoXChromosomes. The first comments I heard were derogatory, about the rabid feminazis at TwoX. Finally, I visited TwoX. TwoX is not just a subreddit, it is like a female version of all of reddit, without all the subreddits for easier surfing. So you might get a really great article posted and lively discussion as a result, or you could get some teenage question about her boyfriend and what she should do. I have never bought or subscribed to womens magazines, so I have a wee bit of difficulty when I wander into TwoX with some of the nail polish, hair, bathing suit or relationship posts.It is not just populated by women. There are men there as well, that help add balance and a healthy perspective - men who do not agree with misogyny.

Hoping that the egalitarian issues I research about would be more accepted at TwoX, I began participating on posts that dealt with gender issues. Again, I am always honest and lay my cards on the table when the pertinent subjects come up, I am not a feminist. I believe in the equal rights of all genders. As a result of all my research, I no longer believe in a two gender world. I believe in an egalitarian culture and fight for the equality of all its members. Well apparently this regularly pisses off some of the feminists at TwoX, who downvote those posts in great number. But, as I stated before, Reddit is a microcosm of the world. This pissing off of some feminists is not just a virtual experience for me.

So recently there was a great post titled, “Feminism Without Judgement” - the article, This Is How It Feels to Be Free, Feminism can be a prison if it’s all about the anger by JessicaH. This article I could relate to, having seen the anger of feminism and was glad to see a feminist writing about her earlier angst and letting it go. I could respect this woman and this post, so I replied:

“One of the reasons that I have never called myself a feminists is because of the hate I saw so prevalently in the women that fought before me. I view myself a humanist because I fight for the rights of all genders from the patriarchal oppression. I have been doing archaeological/historical presentations for Historical Baggage and one of the most validating comments I keep hearing is that I am not man hating and that more and more men are spreading the message of what I am teaching as a result. Because men have also been subjugated by the hierarchical, patriarchal Indo-European culture.
I understand the angst that goes with feminism. I understand the frustration of thousands of years of fighting against this oppressive patriarchal culture that subjugates, rapes, and at the very least turns a blind eye to the oppression enabling it. I understand the desire of some women to overthrow a patriarchy and replace it with a matriarchy, though I would not want to replace one oppressive system with another. 

Denis Diderot, a French philosopher in the 1700's, began training in the Catholic clergy but had to leave. He could not tolerate it. He then got into law and could not tolerate the injustices there. He wrote,'Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.' Now, if you understood the connection between the king and priesthood, the first 2 of 3 caste systems set up in every fucking patriarchal Indo-European culture, the 3rd being the subjugated, you would understand Diderot's statement. As a woman and researcher teaching about these subjects, I struggle on a constant basis with this thought - if only we could remove the kings and priests from the equation! 

I would dearly love to see people free and I know the source of this subjugation and its thousands of years history. I am so angry that the first recorded word for slave is a pictograph of the word woman and a pictograph of the mountains because they would go to the mountains to capture the women for slavery; I am so angry over the tens of thousands of women, young children, and the young males that were (forcibly castrated) enslaved in ancient sweat shops by this patriarchal Indo-European system in ancient Mesopotamia (2100 BCE); I am so angry at the two Catholic asshole priests that wrote the Hammer of the Witches and embarked on a campaign of torture and murder against primarily women (sometimes men were also murdered), across Europe, killing nearly a million women in a few hundred year period of time, sometimes wiping out all the females (daughters included) in a whole village. 

But my anger is not against men in general, nor limited to that gender. I know that not all men are that way. I also know that too many women have participated in/enabled this system as well. My anger and revolution are against a hierarchical patriarchal Indo-European culture and I daily fight against the empathetic angst, tempering it with love for an egalitarian culture, so that people might have ears to hear - because the hate causes walls to go up and block ears.”

As usual, I got downvoted. Years of this have never stopped me from speaking the truth and my opinion of the necessity of fighting for the egalitarian rights of all. Though I have kind of walked on eggshells and tried to be more diplomatic about it, to not incur their wrath, rather than simply pissing them off, generating a downvote. But, it does make me feel like the creamy filling of a bloody oreo cookie with the angry mens rights group on one side and the angry feminists on the other. This time, one beautiful woman (at least I think she is a woman based on her username, PriscillaNumerion – you never can tell online) replied, “I love how you got downvoted because you don't call yourself a feminist. That was a beautifully written post, Diderot is a badass motherfucker.” And then, “The funniest one, for me, are those women who say 'Feminism is all about choice' and then, when you say that you don't call yourself a feminist for reasons x and y, they reply 'Well, that makes you feminist because x and y are what feminism is about!' So it's all about choice, unless that choice is not labeling yourself a feminist.”

I sat and thought about her comment for a couple of hours, coupled with a comment my older daughter wisely spoke to me before the last Historical Baggage presentation at the library a week before – “Mum, dont apologize for your research, even if it pisses them off. By apologizing, you are taking responsibility for their reaction to the truth. They are responsible for their reactions, not you.”

I have done nothing wrong by presenting the truth of equality. I should not have been apologizing at presentations for potentially pissing people off and walking on eggshells on Reddit. I have not participated in misogyny, nor misandry. I have fought for the rights of individuals to be themselves. The healthier culture is that of the egalitarian, not a patriarchy, nor a matriarchy. I have the fucking right to choose, as a human being, and I have chosen Egalitarianism!

In light of these two comments, I decided to do something about it. I know my research pisses people off and my egalitarian perspective angers some of the two genders. So why settle for just pissing off a few people at a time, why not go for the shotgun effect and piss off larger groups of people enmasse – just rip the bandaid off quickly. With that in mind, I decided to create this blog. So I dedicate this to my daughter Leviyah and to PriscillaNumerion of Reddit, who have inspired me.

I am a rabid, organic dark chocolate addicted researcher, promoting egalitarianism, taking on the angry patriarchal Indo-European culture and I am not apologizing for it anymore!

EDIT: 12/8/2012 d/m/y - I just found out something humorous on TwoX today. It turns out that the reddit user PriscillaNumerion, which I mentioned in this post might be a female based on the username, was a man doing research. He created an obviously female username to post the same comments he had been as a male, to gauge the reactions. Reddit TwoX post by Priscilla Numerion. "You may recall, about a month or two ago, there was a post wondering whether women get treated better (ie, more upvoted) here than men do. A couple of people said they would create new usernames and pose as women, obviously I was one of them. Here I will outline my findings." Within minutes of posting his findings, the post was removed by the moderators and he got banned from TwoX.

This especially makes me smile because I had done the same thing many years ago at the Hoods Woods Survival forum (I love paleo skills), to prove to myself that the treatment by the male dominated forum was due to my being an obvious woman (registered with my real name and mentioned in applicable circumstances that I was a woman - didnt hide it), and not the content of my statements nor questions. Posting under a masculine sounding name, and never alluding to being female, I posted the same content I had under my real female name and was warmly received and treated like one of the guys". I thought about telling them, to prove a point, but then I thought that they knew exactly what they were doing and did it anyway, my pointing this out would not open the eyes of a single one of them. Perhaps it might have. 

At any rate - PriscillaNumerions comments are still applicable, appreciated and inspiring and I doubly dedicate this blog inspiration to HIM. Thank you.


Kathryn QannaYahu

6 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading your comments about the gender blaming. I agree that it makes no sense. But I think I have a somewhat different take on the origins of patriarchy.

    My view is that cultures/tribes/survival units, under severe competition from other such groups, specialize in ways that maximize their chances of surviving an armed conflict. Those who end up giving the orders in a pinch tend to be the the bad ass strong men. When your village is under attack, men and women alike embrace this. Over time this can influence how gender roles become traditionally hierarchical and patriarchal.

    I agree that egalitarian is better. I also think we have as good a shot at egalitarianism as any time in history since the neolithic revolution.

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  2. While I have been researching, following the trail of the patriarchal Indo-Europeans through primarily linguistics and archaeology, I see a distinct group of men that behaved radically different than the egalitarian neighbors they conquered. Their own later writings speak of these conquests and empire building. Their patriarchal ancestor cult is easily identified in archaeology. Now, after generations of this, I can see some cultures trying to defend against these "giants" and having to utilize their men to fight fire with fire so to speak, propagating the warrior hero culture. But there are accounts of the women, who were still warriors and defenders of their people, still fighting against the patriarchy, not just the men. Which is why so many of the patriarchal cultures passed laws forbidding the women to fight.

    Even in the Tanak/Old Testament there are laws against the women fighting. The first, HaDebariym [Deuteronomy] 22:5, usually translated in most English texts as something like this, "a woman will not wear the garments of a man, nor a man women’s clothing". But the Hebrew actually reads, "there will not be the thing of a geber [warrior/hero] on a woman, nor will a geber [warrior/hero] put on a woman's mantle/cloak. for whoever does these things is an abomination to YHWH your elohey.” This word geber - warrior/hero, has the Hebrew root word of gabar, which means to be strong, overpower. This is not your typical, general word for man, such as iysh, adam, or enosh. Obviously, we need to understand the context, to better understand what this verse is about.

    A woman is not to have a thing, which does not specify a garment, but any thing of a warrior on her, which can include armor and weaponry. And likewise, a warrior is not to have a mantle, cloak of a woman. That part is not as specific, but can possibly be figured out, based on cultic context. If we understand the first part of women not dressing and acting as a warrior, such as Ugaritic Anath, then looking to the opposite role for men, it might be applied that warriors or men in general, were not to dress as women, as the male shrine prostitutes were said to have done. Women who battled were a great source of trouble to patriarchal societies, such as the factual Amazon women warriors to the Greeks. I am simply relaying what patriarchal, deuteronomistic authors have written on the subject and then ascribed to YHWH for authority. This forbidding women to fight is common in each of the patriarchal Indo-European cultures.

    I came across a paper the other day that spoke about the lack of evidence for intertribal warring in Old South Europe, prior to the patriarchal Indo-European invasions. I am in the middle of packing my house for a move, so hopefully I can find it easy enough and get the source and quote to you if you are interested. It is not the first I have come across, but it is the more recent so it might be the easiest to get my hands on.

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    1. I would not want to add the stress of finding stuff to someone in the middle of moving. This is an interesting conversation topic to me, and with any luck I will still be around after you are moved and settled.

      My observations have congealed around the similarities of peoples under competitive stress juxtaposed with similarities of peoples ideals.

      The most basic distillation I can think of is the whole notion of specialization and our begrudging acceptance of it as it relates to any kind of survival/competitiveness, (modern or primitive). Our ideals, our hearts desire, pushes us away from specialization too more and more unity. This while competitive realities push us too greater specialization and some inevitable alienation.

      Melding the ideal with the possible is a work in progress that is rarely worthy of our satisfaction. I see a trajectory or continuity in early evolved warrior class specialization, men as bread winners, and vast numbers in debt from student loans. It is all about survivability with as much of our dignity and ideals intact.

      Forbidding women to fight can be seen in the context of holding on to our ideals/creating a refuge from our harshest realities.

      Our tribally adapted species is a victim of our own success. We eventually used up all the habitable real estate. Competition became unavoidable in more and more parts of the planet. Survival advantage went to those groups who would merge and specialize, often in brutal ways.

      Here in NE Oregon the Native Americans have an interpretive center near Pendleton where some of there oral traditions are preserved. Of special note to me was there story of how they got along well with their neighbors to the south until the horse was reintroduced to the Americas by the Spanish. Suddenly their hunters could go farther and bring home more game, but they also started crowding their neighbors and warring ensued.

      I am sure there are arguments to be made that, like any other species, a territorial boundary will eventually be formed and there will be a period of stability. But with people the survival units are so unnaturally large at this point that when the least little thing goes wrong with internal cohesion the easiest tool or remedy for flagging internal unity is to make an enemy out of those outside your boarders.

      It is a dangerous game, among many, that survival units play in the post neolithic competition.

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    2. Found the article - Warfare in the European Neolithic: Truth or Fiction?
      Joan Marler - http://www.belili.org/marija/marler_article_03.pdf

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    3. This article takes me back to my college days. I love all the debates and speculation about the different pieces of evidence. I started as an anthropology/sociology major before I got sucked into the art department. I've mostly been doing pottery full time for the last 36 years so have missed being immersed in the anthropology and pre-history stuff that I find so interesting.

      Two things you might find interesting. One is the prehistory that people are trying to put together about the Anasazi and other people of the SW. Many things remind me about the issues of the peoples in S Europe 4,000 - 5,000 BC. Here the time period was more like AD 1200 (+or-) -- 1,500. A lot can happen in a few hundred years, or less. A lot can happen in a decade.

      The other thing you might find interesting is Marvin Harris's Book, 'OUR KIND'. I love that book! For a thick and comprehensive synopsis by a respected anthropologist, it is really put together in a format that is easy to pick up and put down. It is 500+ pages but put together under little titled 'essays' that are usually no more than 2-4 pages long.

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    4. I am glad that you enjoyed it. Sorry it took a bit to find. I had been working the Gallatin Wildlife Association booths for 3 days (conservation education) and then I had to mentally back track what I had been reading for the last few weeks.

      As to the Anasazi (ancient enemy in Navajo), I prefer to refer to them as Hisatsinom, the ancient people. Now it is interesting that you bring them up, cause I have some hypothesis about them coming from the Aegean Sea territories around 1200 BCE. So who are these people working on the prehistory of them?

      I will check out the Our Kind book. I am not daunted by large reference books. Many of the books I read are quite large and often dictionary or encyclopedic in nature.

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