just been reading kate milletS ‘sexual politics’, a work from 1968. it’s interesting to embed it into the discourse on some however hyphenated feminism du jour – ‘new’ is the tiny one taking the hand of its big, old momma most of the times these days. read these lines, dear sisters and brothers, and feel – their grip is still strong:
“It is puzzling too how, as woman (…) she (wer wohl, die Damen?) is arbitrarily and unjustly blamed for nearly every fault in American life today – and turned into a veritable symbol of the Hateful Establishment. As beauty queen, the male establishment is willing to allow woman a place as mascot or cheerleader – but it is a long way from admitting her to any personal stake in the establishment’s show. As a girlfriend or a wife, she may participate vicariously for a time, – but she is easy to replace and the trade-in on old models of wife and mistress is pretty brisk. She may sleep with so many thousands a year or such and such an office, but she is dreaming if she ever fancies such glory is her own.(…)
And now we have it we realize how badly we were cheated – we had fought so long, worked so hard, pushed back despair so many times that we were exhausted – we just said then give us that and we will do the rest ourselves.(…)
But the oppression of women is not only economic; that’s just a part of it. The oppression of women is Total and therefore it exists in the mind, it is psychological oppression. Let’s have a look at how it works, for it works like a charm. (…)
We must now begin to realize and to retrain ourselves to see that both intelligence and a reverence for life are HUMAN qualities.(…)
We are numbers sufficient to alter the course of human history -by changing fundamental values by affecting an entire change of consciousness. We cannot have such a change of consciousness unless we rebuild values – -we cannot rebuild values unless we ‘restructure personality.’ But we cannot do this or solve racial and economic crimes unless we end the oppression of all people – unless we end the idea of violence, of dominance, of power, unless we end the idea of oppression itself – unless we realize-that a revolution in sexual policy is not only part of but basic to any real change in the quality life. Social and cultural revolution in America and the world depend on a change of consciousness of which a new relationship between the sexes and a new definition of humanity and human personality are an integral part. (…)
As we awake and begin to take action, there will be enough of us and we will have both a purpose and a goal – the first truly human condition, the first really human society. Let us begin the revolution and let us begin it with love: All of us, black, white, and gold, male and, female, have it, within our power to create a world we could bear out of the desert we inhabit for we hold our very fate in our hands.”
milletS text carries, though dominated by a means of writing a bit too old school for many-a-girlS tast, what i miss in the current lines on feminism today: the integration of gender oppression into a larger set of practices, the very ‘desert’ we inhabit. ‘by politics’, she writes in the introductory lines of her essay from 1968, enjoyable in full length here, ‘i mean powerstructured relationships’. of all kinds imaginable. the thorough penetration of all aspects of private and public life by politics is hawked as easy escort service, special offer, at every corner. really wanna buy it all, ladies?