End Patriarchy By Any Means Necessary

any-means-necessary1Here at P&L, we try not to re-invent the wheel. History is filled with countless examples of people who challenged power structures and won. Take a page, take a page is the constant refrain of my song. Sometimes it takes something radical to shake the world up–see Martin Luther, Alice Paul, or Malcolm X.

Here at P&L we also fight the patriarchy. For months and months now I have been writing about effective ways to do this. One of my recommendations is that we use dynamics that are intended to keep us down to fight back, and first and foremost in that set of dynamics is the issue of child care. While magazines are filled with articles about the new dad who participates and finds joy in parenting, even taking over some of the more odious tasks, the reality is that part of the design of patriarchy is the free labor of women, and nowhere is that labor more free than between a mother and her child.

Over at I Blame the Patriarchy, commenter MLH is doing a very good job of instructing her son about issues of sex as he comes of age. This is important work, and she’s doing the best she can with the tools she has. Here’s what she had to say:

I have a 16-year old son. I have told him about rape. I have told him that just because a woman is dressed in a “particular way” (whatever that means) does not mean that she wants to have sex with him. Or because she looks at him in a particular way, or anything she says, or because she is a woman. If she says no, to not insist. She won’t change her mind. Why would he want to have sex with a person that does not want to do it with him, anyway? And that includes his future wife, if he marries. The underlying issue here is that a woman’s body is her own and she chooses whom she is going to have intercourse with. She does not belong to him.
I have told him that if she says “yes” and then she changes her mind, to not insist. No matter how bad he wants it; no, nothing bad will happen to his reproductive organs, the won’t fall off.

Anyway, fellow blamers, anything else I should be saying to him? I want to make sure he really understands.

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I Fall on the Floor and I Laughing

Jubilation! It’s Friday, and the weekend spreads before us, promise looming with brightness of the late February sun. A few brief laughing points for you today:

Matthew Yglesias Plays Fantasy Poker (Or Not)

Yglesias: “I’ve noticed an odd tendency in some quarters to, whenever Obama makes a move to the right and therefore attracts some criticism from the left, turn around and criticize those critics on the left for failing to recognize the brilliance of Obama’s secret left-wing plan. From where I sit, whether or not such a plan exists, its execution actually depends on moves to the right attracting criticism from the left. So rather than speculate as to whether or not this is ‘really’ what the administration is planning to do, I’ll just say I think that would be the right thing to do.

WTF? This man is paid for this? Again: WTF? Shorter Yglesias: I’m not really sure if there’s a fantasy poker game going on, but I’m all in anyway! Buffoon.(via)

Analogies Guys Can Understand

How patriarchy operates: Men are the owners; women are the baseball players. (via Mr. Peacock)

The Future of Poetry

A little something I’ve been compiling in my spare time…a sort-of-sonnet in links.

I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.
I told you so
. I told you so. I told you so.
I told you so
. I told you so. I told you so.
I told you so
. I especially told YOU so.

I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.
I told you so
. I told you so. I told you so.
I told you so (there goes Wonder Woman).
I told you so. How was that slumber, buddy?
I told you so. Good fucking grief, wasn’t THIS obvious?

Just a little fun late in the afternoon on Friday. Enjoy!

Mature Poets Steal

The title is a quote from T.S. Eliot, and happens to be the truth; this much I can discern after some 20-odd years behind the pen. Everything we do is imitation. This truth is so evident it is included in the Bible: there is nothing new under the sun. The best we can hope for is an artful enough arrangement of words–literally rhetoric–and enough help from the humans who’ve gone before to not have to re-invent the wheel. That’s part of why I focus on history so much. There is a way to progress, and others have found it, therefore so can we.

I realize I’ve been emotional this week. I’m under a lot of stress already and media exposure, which I’ve just recently allowed back into my life after a months-long  intentional media blackout, has seriously affected me. The Rhianna story and the Aasiya Hassan story have seriously messed with my mental well-being. I’ve written before about my growing alarm at the level of misogyny present in the world, and I continue to be alarmed. These events have incalculable consequences.

So I’m weeping tonight. I don’t know what else to do. I want so badly to unify with other women, to achieve something like the women from history I know about, to impact the world and make it easier for the women to come, some just girls, some not even born yet. My own powerlessness breaks my heart.

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Latenight Frameshop: America Already Has Sharia Law

Well fuck. No other way to say it; sorry if you hate cursing. I wrote the title of this post on Saturday, intending to come back later and finish it out with a righteous analogy between Sharia Law and America’s family courts, where U. S. citizens are subjected to parallel justice because their attackers were family members. But for the citizens being Middle Eastern, that’s the definition of Sharia in a nutshell.

Then I saw this today. Let’s just tell the fucking truth here:

On February 12, 2009, in Orchard Park, Buffalo, NY, forty-four year-old Muzzamil Hassan, a prominent Muslim businessman, was arrested for having allegedly beheaded his wife, thirty-seven year-old Aasiya Z. Hassan. What was Aasiya’s crime? Why, Aasiya was having Muzzamil served with divorce papers. And apparently, on February 6, Aasiya obtained an order of protection which had forced her violent husband out of their home.

NOW New York State is horrified that Erie County DA, Frank A. SeditaII, has referred to this ghastly crime as “the worst form of domestic violence possible.” The ridiculous juxtaposition of “domestic” and “beheading” in the same journalistic breath points up the inherent weakness of the whole “domestic violence” lexicon. Continue reading

What Every Woman Should Know: A Black History Sampler, Part I

What Every Woman Should Know is a bi-weekly series on American Women’s History published at The New Agenda.

Samplers are an aspect of history that is exclusively associated with women. As many feminists have noted, sewing has traditionally been women’s work, and it has been the assignment of just this kind of tedious, time-consuming labor that has contributed to our inability to participate meaningfully in the public sphere in ways that men have, among other consequences we’ve suffered. Few will argue that having literally clothed all of humanity for millennia, we have universally been a kind of slave in a system that shunned and thwarted us, and used us for our free labor.

19th Century Sampler

19th Century Sampler

But what is a sampler? Samplers were long pieces of cloth that a woman would use over the course of her life to accumulate ideas for sewing patterns. When a woman saw a pattern that she wanted to remember, she would sit right down and sew her example onto her sampler for future reference. So a sampler is a collection of lessons accumulated over time—an educational tool as much as a practical solution. Women would often later collect their best ideas on one piece of cloth, sort of like collecting works for publication; these samplers were for display. Some families had samplers that were passed on from one generation to the next, often by way of wills.

Sewing has been our legacy until lately, and our contributions have been so under-valued that the technology of our work had barely been improved upon from the spinning wheel and needlepoint to the invention of the sewing machine at the end of the 18th century and the advent of patterns at the end of the 19th century. Women have been forced, without the benefit of education or any knowledge of mechanics, to create their own solutions in accumulating knowledge and passing it on. One way they did so for hundreds of years was with the sewing sampler.

The sampler is the perfect frame for a discussion of several prominent African American women, a frame I will use again when I want to collect connected threads of history under one topic. Black women’s history is even more hidden that white women’s history and, like our foremothers, we will have to improve upon the technology and formulate the solutions ourselves. Like women throughout centuries, we are accumulating knowledge, building a body of reference work that we will one day hand down to our daughters. Here then, is my collected sampler of American black women’s history.

Black Female Poets Continue reading