Archive for the ‘women resisting colonisation’ Category

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Caves: the eeriness of reading Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature

April 5, 2009

woman-and-nature

So I’m reading Woman and Nature and it was very weird reading this particular section. I started writing something about two years ago that I intended to be a novella but never finished it. It was tentatively called Caves. And this section of Woman and Nature is just so, so similar to this piece of writing it is freaky.

The following is from Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature:

Passage

Her Journey
Through the Labyrinth
to the Cave Where
She Has Her Vision

The Cave

The shape of a cave, we say, or the shape of a labyrinth. The way we came here was dark. Space seemed to close in on us. We thought we could not move forward. We had to shed our clothes. We had to leave all that we brought with us. And when finally we moved through the narrow opening, our feet reached for ledges, under was an abyss, a cavern stretching farther than we could see. Our voices echoed off the walls. We were afraid to speak. This darkness led to more darkness, until darkness leading to darkness was all we knew.

The shape of this cave, our bodies, this darkness. This darkness which sits so close to us we cannot see, so close that we move away in fear. We turn into ourselves. But here we find the same darkness, we find we are shaped around emptiness, that we are a void we do not know.

The shape of a cave, this emptiness we seek out like water. The void that we are. That we wash into as sleep washes over us, and we are blanketed in darkness. We see nothing. We are in the centre of our ignorance. Nothingness spreads around us. But in this nothing we find what we did not know existed. With our hands, we begin to trace faint images etched into the walls. And now beneath those images we can see the gleam of older images. And these peel back to reveal the older still. The past, the dead, once breathing, the forgotten, the secret, the buried, the once blood and bone, the vanished, shimmering now like an answer from these walls, bright an red. Drawn by the one who came before. An before her. And before. Back to the beginning. To the one who first swam from the mouth of this cave. And now we know all that she knew, see the newness of her vision. What we did not know existed but saw as children, our whole lives drawn here, image over image, past time, beyond space.

The shape of a cave, the bud, the chrysalis, the shell, what new form we seek in this darkness, our hands feeling these walls, here wet, here damp, here crumbling away; our hands searching for signs in this rock, certain now in this darkness, what we seek is here, warm and covered with water, we sweat in this effort, piercing the darkness, laying our skin on the cool stone, tracing the new image over the old, etching these lines which become clear to us now, as what we have drawn here gleams back at us from the walls of the cave, telling us what is, now, and who we have become.

This round cavern, motion turned back on itself, the follower becomes the followed, moon in the sky, the edge becoming the centre, what is buried emerges, light dying over the water, what is unearthed is stunning, the one we are seeking, turning with the ways of the earth, is ourselves.

This cave, the shape to which each returns, where image after image will be revealed, and painted over, painted over and revealed, until we are bone. Where we touch the ones who came before and see their visions, where we leave our mark, where, terrified, we give up ourselves and weep, and taken over by this darkness, are overwhelmed by what we feel: where we are pushed to the edge of existence, to the source which sounds like a wave inside us, to the path of the water which feeds us all.

The way of the water we follow, which has made this space, and hollowed the earth here, because the shape of this cave is a history.

cave

My piece of writing. Keep in mind that it is unfinished.

***

This cave could not abide by linear time; being cyclical in existence, existing in circular realities. The cave had no voice, no hands, no corporeal presence. This cave which is more than memory or myth; both less and more than real. Formed by the infinite power of story and will.

Of course, she is fenced off by their borders and their notions of nation. Territorial pissings. She both is and is not terra. She defies their nullius; she is the land that claims them. What fool is man.

Because she can exist outside their power. Because she has her own power and it stretches on, out of control. Wilder than the wilderness that she calls home. In raw and unbridled passion, in the wilderness of our minds.

She calls us. In the day and in the night, there are those of us that find her. Hidden in the deepest depths, those of our minds. And quietly, quietly she is seeking.

In the mist the last one arrived. Draped in the underwater clouds of fog. Beguiling sense. And in confusion. This was the last of her. She had no strength, she had much strength. She sank into the fog.

A densely coded oblivion.

These were the landscapes in her imagination. Here. In this silence. She couldn’t exist within the depthlessness of their space. She took the dive. She had faith that time existed further from their borders and their safety edges. If there was a fence, man-made or god invoked, she would climb it. Over and beyond. So far she had not stopped existing.

Only to their eyes. Only to theirs. But they couldn’t help noticing.

She pissed on their consecrated ground. She believed this was a spiritual act.

And this was a type of resistance. She didn’t break or crash, she passed through. A type of energy, greater than any kind of force that she alone was capable of.

Deep in the intimate regions. They call this regional because they have not yet destroyed it. She walked. She had discovered what it was that they called depth. It wasn’t enough. How could it be when she was walking underneath into a world that was older than their oldest thought? These trees held all the answers.

Deep in the intimate regions. She could forgive their transgressions, she would forget. For it was beauty that she sought. Here. It was her own beauty that she sought. Here.

Once they could have taught her to forget. Forget herself. Lose, lost, dizzy from they way they spun and spun and spun. A beautiful network of lies. They had trapped her once. Into this. And Oh Yes It Hurt. Like fuck. Like fuck.

She had heard all of their stories, she had listened to their wisdom. And she had known she was mad. Right from the beginning. Because the harder she studied their words. The harder she focused on hearing, seeing, living the way they told her to, and there was no other way. And in a sense they were right. There is no other way for them. But for her?

Sure. She could see through them. Straight through them. They were nothing in the end. And so she reached out and stretched out. Finding her madness. Another world. And it had always existed. Right in front of them. Right behind them. Right all around them. And they knew. And they didn’t know. Who was it that they were fighting?

She realised. We are shadows to them. Negative space. But the truth of our existence lies within this hidden cave. Dangerous to enter. Dangerous to whom?

She was once a great believer in Chaos but now she could listen and discern harmony, now she could look and see tapestry. And these were patterns of her making, held in her own hands. Their Chaos was petty in comparison. Their Chaos was nothing. Not even negative space. For it does not serve to shape.

And so she passed into the cave. Through the ages, through the years, and down, down into unconditional depths. No return from this.

It was easy. To flip a leg over the railing. To pause a second on the edge. To fall, with sense, onto her feet.

Because she did not own this land. The land owned her. And she could breathe and live and love with it. Like everything the attachment was cyclical and circular. Loving, as she did. This land that held her existed in the same space as the land that held her mothers, existed in the same space that held her daughters. This land that held her existed in the same space as the land that held her sisters and their arms stretched out and their arms reached out. This land; earth, sky and water. Arms that reached, and encircled.

Because this was the depth she had been looking for.

The cavern opened before her; she was pulled before its mysterious depth, drawn in by the fullness of the vacuity. Tapestry, harmony. Silk and salt, earth and rock, patterning palms. She could believe in this. She paused before the entrance, touching her fingers to the lips of the cave, turning her eyes to the darkness accentuated in the midst of the fog.

Red rock shot through with lines of coal and lime streaks, moisture dripping coolly down its sides making the floors slippery with moss.

She was sure of her imagination as the rock pulsed like blood-life beneath her palm. She was sure of her imagination as the moss layered the cave in skin softness as she pressed it to her cheek.

Again, she turned her eyes towards the cave; her eyes creating shapes, images of women forming and crowding the edges of her vision.

Deep and dark, different hues of black and midnight blue, taking the shape of stories long forgotten. And songs of ancient peoples, pulsating rhythmically through the stone and ore. Forward, like the pull of a river, like the pull of a storm, forward until she had no sense of time or space and there was only darkness.

Without fear, without conscious thought, she expanded her arms, pulling the cave into herself, filling herself with its memory. And she was dancing, dancing in the cave with magics all around, undulating with the tide of distant pasts and wary futures, bleeding with the blood of many women.

As she surrendered or was taken up by the passion of place, sensation on the edge of reason, belief on the edge of doubt. There were many rooms of the cave and as she passed by they awakened, brought to life by the presence of a soul who could hear them.

Each room sang its own song, kept its own time and she danced her way into story until she was overtaken by dream. She slept as she danced, danced as she slept, breathing the life of the rock, breathing in rhythm and rhyme, sleeping to the memory and wakening to song.

Here she comes.

***

Weird how similar they are. Woman and Nature was published in 1978, but I only read it recently.

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Where are all the younger lesbian feminists/separatists?

March 12, 2009

eva-johnson

Eva Johnson, Aboriginal playwright and radical lesbian feminist

In these times, where pornography abounds and young men expect young women to gratify their unnatural urges to dominate/control and make slaves out of us, where sexual slavery, the buying and selling of women as sex, is seen as liberation, where evidence of men’s hatred of us blares itself from movie screens and billboards… in these times, lesbianism, as a political choice, makes sense. It seems ridiculously simple. Men hate women. Why the hell would you want to sleep with one?

renate-klein

Renate Klein, biologist, activist against dangerous reproductive technologies, radical lesbian feminist

I chose separatism as a way of life fairly early on. I saw my mother being abused by my father and stopped speaking to him as a form of protest. I realise now that it was also one of the first separatist acts I made, in addition to being an act of sisterhood with my mother and my sisters. It wasn’t long before my not speaking to my father became me not speaking to any male peoples whatsoever. I was a ‘beautiful’ girl. Both men and boys would follow me around, ask me out, touch me, wolf-whistle etc, etc. I rarely had a day that I was not sexually harassed during my teenage years. This is not atypical however. Most women experience this kind of harassment on a daily basis.

audre-lorde

Audre Lorde, poet, writer, radical lesbian feminist

So I decided that all males were as bad as my father and refused to speak to any of them. I guess this meant that I automatically invested in my relationships with women. My primary relationships were with my mother and one of my sisters. But I had a succession of other deep friendships. Those friendships only waned because I moved around a bit. It was the love and support of those female friends that got me through highschool, through an eating disorder, through being suicidal and messed up.

sheila-jeffreys

Sheila Jeffreys, professor, activist against prostitution and all forms of male terrorism, radical lesbian feminist

I was aware of my attraction to females fairly early on. I loved Xena. Definitely my first ‘girlcrush’ as Rain likes to put it. But despite the fact that I was raised in a strict christian household, I didn’t really feel any guilt from my attractions to women. In fact, in order to cause trouble with my father, I would purposely go to see ‘gay’ films and buy ‘gay’ music. It was actually really funny. When I was about 14 my father asked me out to get an ice-cream. I agreed to go, thinking he wanted to maybe try and repair our relationship or something. Anyway, we go and buy ice-cream, we sit down and he proceeds to give me a lecture about not sleeping with boys and not taking drugs!!!! Oh, I was trying so hard not to laugh. He was so way off the mark it was so, so hilarious. So, yes… um no worries with that one, daddy.

mary-daly

Mary Daly, poet, visionary, spinster, sister, radical lesbian feminist

Anyway, I didn’t have much trouble avoiding boys. They gave up trying to talk to me in school as I completely ignored all of them. But when I was 17 I started working. One of the boys at work showed an interest in me, and whether it was curiosity or something, I agreed to date him. He was really boring, he kissed me and it was so unbelievably gross. I dumped him. For some reason, up until this point, I still thought of myself as straight. I had spread rumours around the school that I was a lesbian 1) because I like negative attention and 2) because I had had some really embarrassing incidents with boys inviting me out in front of the whole school and I did not want anything like that to happen again. But despite this, I was primarily attracted to males, even though I couldn’t understand why I was. I really willed myself to be attracted to other girls because boys and men were just so unbelievably disgusting.

staceyann-chin

Staceyann Chin, poet, activist, performer, radical lesbian feminist

So fast-forwarding to uni where I met and fell in love with a gay boy, the son of a lesbian feminist no less. We had a great relationship, while it lasted. Neither of us wanted sex from each other, just love and emotional intimacy. Unfortunately, like most men, he had no problems at all sorting out his priorities and I, of course, was dumped to the bottom of the list once I stopped being interesting to him. I ditched him and it was all very sad, but I decided that he was the last man that I was ever going to care about.

nedra-johnson

Nedra Johnson, singer/songwriter, radical lesbian feminist

But that relationship did bear fruit. I met his mother when I signed up to do volunteer work at The Women’s Library. Both her and her partner were an invaluable source of support and care during the time I was in Sydney.

I had a few brief heterosexual encounters in uni but they all bored and disgusted me. Looking back, I have no idea why I let myself get roped into them. I guess it was a mixture of curiosity and the whole ‘everyone else is doing it’ thing. Which is strange because I’ve always been very reluctant to do anything that everyone else is doing. Also, despite everything, I was still more attracted to men than women.

robin-morgan

Robin Morgan, poet, writer, radical lesbian feminist

The reason that women find men more attractive has NOTHING to do with sexuality and everything to do with socialization and validation. I had serious work to do on myself psychologically, before I could see women as being life partners. I was easily attracted to women, but could not envisage being with them in a relationship. And I don’t think I could really understand why. Not to mention the fact that I was seriously addicted to the male gaze (hence the eating disorder).

susan-hawthorne

Susan Hawthorne, poet, novelist, aerialist, radical lesbian feminist

After a wake up call, which started with a man befriending me when I was desperately lonely, and ended with sexual assault, I decided to tell my best friend of my feelings for her. She reciprocated and I entered my first lesbian relationship, my first relationship period. And it was really good. It didn’t work out long term, although we are still really good friends. During the time of my first relationship I discovered political lesbianism and lesbian separatism by reading about them in The Women’s Library and that felt like the world breaking open. I couldn’t believe that these women existed and that I’d never heard of them. Oh, I had been looking all of my life for them. And I hadn’t found them. And then suddenly they were there. And my imagination was on fire, but it wasn’t a dream, these women actually existed. They were real, and they were just like me. They shared the same hopes and dreams, they believed that a world without violence could exist and they set about making that a reality. And, oh, I wanted to be a part of that so, so much.

sisterhood

But I look around and I don’t see many younger women being interested in political lesbianism and separatism. There are only 2 lesbian feminist bloggers under 30 that I know of. I find this really sad. I think lesbianism is a very powerful and immediate solution to male supremacy and violence. Women-loving women, women-touching women are the ultimate anti-thesis to this woman-hating world. As much as I hate to agree with the ‘fun’-feminists, I do think that feminism needs to change its image. We should be saying, “Feminists ARE hairy, man-hating, prudish, fat, ugly, dykey and radical”. And we are a hell of a lot happier than the women being treated like sexual and domestic slaves by men who say they love women.

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Vandana Shiva: Ecofeminism

March 7, 2009

ecofeminism

Vandana Shiva is quite simply an incredible woman. Her life and her work are supremely inspirational. Her words have moved me, displaced me and changed my mind. Very, very few things that I read actually cause me to stop and look at the world from a completely different angle. Her work and her words are world-changing and mind-altering.

I read Ecofeminism (co-written with Maria Mies, another amazing eco-feminist) about a year ago and was just stunned by this woman, by the clarity of her thoughts and her insights. This woman is SMART. She cuts right clear down to the quick and turns the whole world and its crapitalist, male supremacist bullshit on its head.

Dams, mines, energy plants, military bases – these are the temples of the new religion called ‘development’, a religion that provides the rationale for the modernizing state, its bureaucracies and technocracies. What is sacrificed at the alter of this religion is nature’s life and people’s life. The sacraments of development are made of the ruins and desecration of other sacreds, especially sacred soils. They are based on the dismantling of society and community, on the uprooting of people and cultures. Since soil is the sacred mother, the womb of life in nature and society, its inviolability has been the organizing principle for societies which ‘development’ has declared backward and primitive. But these people are our contemporaries. They differ from us not in belonging to a bygone age but in having a different concept of what is sacred, what must be preserved. The sacred is the bond that connects the part to the whole. The sanctity of the soil must be sustained, limits must be set on human action. From the point of view of the managers of development, the high priests of the new religion, sacred bonds with the soil are impediments and hindrances to be shifted and sacrificed. Because people who hold the soil as sacred will not voluntarily allow themselves to be uprooted, ‘development’ requires a police state and terrorist tactics to wrench them away from their homes and homelands, and consign them as ecological and cultural refugees into the wasteland of industrial society. Bullets, as well as bulldozers, are often necessary to execute the development project.

In India, the magnitude of this sacrifice is only now becoming evident. Victims of progress have, of course, experienced their own uprooting and have resisted it. But both the victims and the state perceived each sacrifice as a small one for the larger ‘national interest’. Over 40 years of planned development, the planned destruction of nature and society no longer appears negligible; and the larger ‘national interest’ turns out to be embodied in an elite minority without roots. Fifteen million people have been uprooted from their homelands in India during the past four development decades. They and their links with the soil, have been sacrificed to accommodated mines, dams, factories, and wildlife parks.

‘Development’ has meant the ecological and cultural rupture of bonds with nature, and within society, it has meant the transformation of organic communities into groups of uprooted and alienated individuals searching for abstract identities.

Colonialism and capitalism transformed land and soil from being a source of life and a commons from which people draw sustenance, into private property to be bought and sold and conquered; development continued colonialism’s unfinished task. It transformed man from the role of guest to predator. In a sacred space, one can only be a guest, one cannot own it. This attitude to the soil and earth as a sacrilized home, not private property, is characteristic of most Third World societies.

In indigenous communities, individuals have no property rights, instead, the entire tribe is the trustee of the land it occupies, and the community or tribe includes not only the currently living members but also the ancestors and future generations.

Development has converted soil from sacred mother into disposable object – to be ravaged for minerals that lie below, or drowned beneath gigantic reservoirs. The soil’s children, too, have been made disposable: mines and dams leave behind wastelands and uprooted people. The desacrilization of the soil as sacred space was an essential part of colonialism then and of development now.

In effect, the process of development leads to turning away from the soil as a source of meaning and survival, and turning to the state and its resources for both. The destruction of organic links with the soil also leads to the destruction of organic links within society. Diverse communities, co-operating with each other and the land become different communities competing with each other for the conquest of the land. The homogenization processes of development do not fully eliminate differences. These persist, not in an integrating context of plurality, but in the fragmenting context of homogenization. Positive pluralities give way to negative dualities, each in competion with every ‘other’, contesting the scarce resources that define economic and political power. The project of development is propounded as a source of growth and abundance. Yet by destroying the abundance that comes from the soil and replacing it by the resources of the state, new scarcities and new conflicts for scarce resources are created. Scarcity, not abundance, characterizes situations where nothing is sacred and everything has a price. 

Vandana mentions the Chipko women’s movement in this vid. You can find out more about them here.

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The Industrial Vagina

February 26, 2009

the-industrial-vagina

Awe-inspiring, radical, charismatic, lesbian feminist Sheila Jeffreys has written a new book called The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade. It looks like it will be a really eye-opening and well-researched book (as are all books written by Sheila Jeffreys). Radio National interviewed Sheila about the book. You can find the interview here Go listen. Sheila is awesome!

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New Poem on Spinning Spinsters

February 11, 2009

Hey sisters. Check out Vacant a great, angry poem by Taunia Rebel.

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STOP Australia

December 20, 2008

notforsale-2

STOP (Sex Trade Opposition Project) was started in Western Australia by a group of feminists who were opposed to the Labour governments’ proposal to legalise prostitution in Western Australia. The legislation had the backing of the Greens and was passed despite opposition.

At the last feminist conference I went to in Brisbane I met up with a group of radical feminists to discuss the possiblity of launching a national campaign against prostitution in Australia. We decided to work together to build a national feminist movement against prostitution; to pressure the government to adopt the Swedish model which criminalises the buying and and selling of women as sex (the pimps and johns) but decriminalises the women caught in systems of prostitution.

We have started up an email group and a blog and would love to get more women involved in this campaign.

 

Click to join sextradeoppositionproject

Check out our blog: http://sextradeoppositionprojectaustralia.wordpress.com/

And our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=45549736586

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The 18th and 19th Carnivals

October 30, 2008

Two very fine carnivals:

18th Carnival of the Radical Feminists: ‘Exploring a Radical Feminist Understanding of Hierarchy and Class’

19th Carnival of Radical Feminists

… which includes an interview with me, alongside interviews with many other fine radical feminist sisters.

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The Price We Pay

October 25, 2008

Another piece from a womyn of colour at Michfest. This one is close to my heart. She talks about resisting the shitty dom/sub, butch/femme destructive heteropatriarchal dichotomy in lesbian relationships… as well as other things. Thank goddess for sane womyn like this.

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Don’t Nobody: Kaleema speaks out against misogynist rap music

October 25, 2008

Brilliant spoken word piece by a Kaleema. Performed at Michigan Womyn’s Festival. Where else?

Watch it, sisters.

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Our Voices Matter

October 12, 2008

Our Voices Matter (OVM) is a new, grassroots, online project being launched to bring to the forefront the voices of individuals who have been harmed by prostitution, pornography, and/or trafficking. OVM seeks to provide a safe space for survivors to give voice to how prostitution, pornography, and trafficking have impacted their lives.

Our Voices Matter aims to shatter silences, create healing, raise awareness and incite action. OVM seeks to gather the pain, hurt, abuse, and horrors of survivors into a loud, overwhelming, and hopeful outcry that can and will be heard. OVM is an assertion that women and children matter; that the quest for a day when women and children are not bought and sold is worth fighting for; and that real social change is imperative to actualizing this goal.

Please help spread the word.

Go visit this new site. It is brilliant.

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