Unpacking, Unwrapping – Expanded

I wrote last about unpacking internalized issues of discrimination. I will give an expanded explanation for why I put this work as primary.

First, I find that it is important to have a coherent theory and logical framework before taking action. It seems to me that you must understand yourself, the system and also your place in the system in order to take effective action. If you don’t carefully read about and question the way things are, you won’t know the first step to efficiently changing our current system-society.

Now, when I talk about a resistance, I am talking about an organized political resistance. I’m not just talking about something that comes and something that goes. I’m not talking about a feeling. I’m not talking about having in your heart the way things should be and going through a regular day having good, decent, wonderful ideas in your heart. I’m talking about when you put your body and your mind on the line and commit yourself to years of struggle in order to change the society in which you live. -Andrea Dworkin (via DGR)

Second I do recognize the barriers to the “appropriate” or “real” types of activism. It is necessary to understand these barriers and create streams of action that are accessible to all women. As a scholarship recipient, I am aware of the risk involved in protest that leads to arrest in a way that other students -literally- can afford to be blind to. It’s well know that black and other minority protesters face higher degrees of violence, penalization, and judgement in their activist work. I was truly touched by the comment that poor women of color write poetry as activism rather than academic novels not due to a lack of talent but a lack of resources. Therefore I do not feel comfortable relying on or valuing these forms of activist work over others that are more accessible. I refuse to reinforces these hierarchies of work value and accreditation. 

Over the last few years, writing a novel on tight finances, I came to appreciate the enormous differences in the material demands between poetry and prose. As we reclaim our literature, poetry has been the major voice of poor, working class and colored women.  A room of one’s own may be a necessity for writing prose, but so are reams of paper, a typewriter, and plenty of time. The actual requirements to produce the visual arts also help to determine, along class lines, whose art is whose. In this day of inflated prices for material, who are our sculptors, our painters, our photographers? When we speak of a broadly based women’s culture, we need to be aware of the effect of class and economic differences on the supplies available for producing art. (Audre Lorde, 1981, 116)

Third, these hierarchies are rife with the same value judgments I hope to dismantle. Again, returning to the example of poetry writing: refusal to write academic papers may be about focusing on the narrative and emotional, keeping our theory open to all women. Providing space and comfort to women is valuable in and of itself. It does not need to be valued in the wage-hour or productivity; we do not produce for an overseer or for blind pursuit of individual profit. Internal emotional work is not less valuable because it is associated with the feminine. A focus on the gynocratic women’s community is not to be devalued because it refuses to mix with the patriarchal private/corporate political.  

Finally, I emphasize this personal unpacking because it has fundamentally changed me. It is valuable in itself. Women deserve the time and respect to make peace with themselves. WE do not owe anyone our time, energy, loyalty, blood. We may open for ourselves, weaving out truths of our hearts. Penelope need not weave for her husband nor unwind for her suitors. Arachne may weave for her herself, in resistance and self love. She need not justify herself to patriarch Zeus or handmaiden Athena.

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