For a mother the project of raising a boy is the most fulfilling project she can hope for. She can watch him, as a child, play the games she was not allowed to play; she can invest in him her ideas, aspirations, ambitions, and values -- or whatever she has left of them; she can watch her son, who came from her flesh and whose life was sustained by her work and devotion, embody her in the world. So while the project of raising a boy is fraught with ambivalence and leads inevitably to bitterness, it is the only project that allows a woman to be -- to be through her son, to live through her son.
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I love, cherish, and respect women in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul. This love of women is the soil in which my life is rooted. It is the soil of our common life together. My life grows out of this soil. In any other soil, I would die. In whatever ways I am strong, I am strong because of the power and passion of this nurturant love.
Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it. Either the transsexual will be able to expand his/her sexuality into a fluid androgyny, or, as roles disappear, the phenomenon of transsexuality will disappear and that energy will be transformed into new modes of sexual identity and behavior.
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Feminist art is not some tiny creek running off the great river of real art. It is not some crack in an otherwise flawless stone. It is, quite spectacularly I think, art which is not based on the subjugation of one half of the species. It is art which will take the great human themes -love, death, heroism, suffering, history itself -and render them fully human. It may also, though perhaps our imaginations are so mutilated now that we are incapable even of the ambition, introduce a new theme, one as great and as rich as those others -should we call it joy?
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Romantic love, in pornography as in life, is the mythic celebration of female negation. For a woman, love is defined as her willingness to submit to her own annihilation. The proof of love is that she is willing to be destroyed by the one whom she loves, for his sake. For the woman, love is always self-sacrifice, the sacrifice of identity, will, and bodily integrity, in order to fulfill and redeem the masculinity of her lover.
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In her heart she is a mourner for those who have not survived. In her soul she is a warrior for those who are now as she was then. In her life she is both celebrant and proof of women's capacity and will to survive, to become, to act, to change self and society. And each year she is stronger and there are more of her.
I need the money, people are very coy about money, and the ladies arent just coy, they are sci fi about money... people ask, well, dont sweet things happen? yes, indeed, many sweet things, but sweet doesnt keep you from dying, making love doesnt keep you from dying unless you get paid, writing doesnt keep you from dying unless you get paid, being wise doesnt keep you from dying unless you get paid, facts are facts, being poor makes you face facts which also does not keep you from dying.
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She will try to find the nice way to exercise intelligence. But intelligence is not ladylike. Intelligence is full of excesses. Rigorous intelligene abhors sentimentality, and women must be sentimental to value the dreadful silliness of the men around them. Morbid intelligence abhors the cheery sunlight of positive thinking and eternal sweetness; and women must be sunlight and cheery and sweet, or the woman could not bribe her way with smiles through a day. Wild intelligence abhors any narrow world; and the world of women must stay narrow, or the woman is an outlaw. No woman could be Nietzsche or Rimbaud without ending up in a whorehouse or lobotomized. Any vital intelligence has passionate questions, aggressive answers; but women cannot be explorers; there can be no Lewis or Clark of the female mind.
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Often, to keep the family together, the woman will accept repeated beatings and rapes, emotional battering and verbal degredation; she will be debased and ashamed but she will stick it out, or when she runs he will kill her. Ask the politicians who exude delight when they advocate for the so-called traditional family how many women are beaten and children raped when there is no man in the family. Zero is such a perfect and encouraging number, but who, among politicians in male-supremacist cultures, can count that high?
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When I say that we must establish values with originate in sisterhood, I mean to say that we must not accept, even for a moment, male notions of what non-violence is. These notions have never condemned the systematic violence against us. The men who hold these notions have never renounced the male behaviours, privileges, values and conceits which are in and of themselves acts of violence against us.
I listened; I wrote; I learned. I do not know why so many women trusted me enough to speak to me, but underneath anything I write one can hear the percussive sound of their heartbeats. If one has to pick one kind of pedagogy over all others, I pick listening. It breaks down prejudices and stereotypes; it widens self-imposed limits; it takes one into another's life, her hard times and, if there is any, her joy too.
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Male supremacy is fused into the language, so that every sentence both heralds and affirms it. Thought, experienced primarily as language, is permeated by the linguistic and perceptual values developed expressly to subordinate women. Men have defined the parameters of every subject. All feminist arguments, however radical in intent or consequence, are with or against assertions or premises implicit in the male system, which is made credible or authentic by the power of men to name. No transcendence of the male system is possible as long as men have the power of naming... As Prometheus stole fire from the gods, so feminists will have to steal the power of naming from men, hopefully to better effect.
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The intelligence of women is not out in the world, acting on its own behalf; it is kept small, inside the home, acting on behalf of another. This is true even when the woman works outside the home, because she is segregated into women's work, and her intelligence does not have the same importance as the lay of her ass.
The object, the woman, goes out into the world formed as men have formed her to be used as men wish to use her. She is then a provocation. The object provokes its use. It provokes its use because of its form, determined by the one who is provoked. The carpenter makes a chair, sits on it, then blames the chair because he is not standing. When the object complains about the use to which she is put, she is told, simply and firmly, not to provoke.
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Inferiority is not banal or incidental even when it happens to women. It is not a petty affliction like bad skin or circles under the eyes. It is not a superficial flaw in an otherwise perfect picture. It is not a minor irritation, nor is it a trivial inconvenience, an occasional aggravation, or a regrettable but (frankly) harmless lapse in manners. It is not a 'point of view' that some people with soft skins find ' offensive. ' It is the deep and destructive devaluing of a person in life, a shredding of dignity and self-respect, an imposed exile from human worth and human recognition, the forced alienation of a person from even the possibility of wholeness or internal integrity. Inferiority puts rightful self-love beyond reach, a dream fragmented by insult into a perpetually recurring nightmare; inferiority creates a person broken and humiliated inside. The fragments- scattered pieces and sharp slivers of someone who can never be made whole-are then taken to be the standard of what is normal in her kind: women are like that. The insult that hurt her-inferiority as an assault, ongoing since birth-is seen as a consequence, not a cause, of her so-called nature, an inferior nature. In English, a graceful language, she is even called a piece. It is likely to be her personal experience that she is insufficiently loved. Her subjectivity itself is second-class, her experiences and perceptions inferior in the world as she is inferior in the world. Her experience is recast into a psychologically pejorative judgment: she is never loved enough because she is needy, neurotic, the insufficiency of love she feels being in and of itself evidence of a deep-seated and natural dependency. Her personal experiences or perceptions are never credited as having a hard core of reality to them. She is, however, never loved enough. In truth; in point of fact; objectively: she is never loved enough. As Konrad Lorenz wrote: ' I doubt if it is possible to feel real affection for anybody who is in every respect one's inferior. ' 1 There are so many dirty names for her that one rarely learns them all, even in one's native language.
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I don't believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It's not because there's a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.
Every woman who has had experience with sexual violence of any kind has not just pain, and not just hurt, but has knowledge. Knowledge of male supremacy. Knowledge of what it is. Knowledge of what it feels like. And can begin to think strategically about how to stop it. We are living under a reign of terror. Now what I want to say is that I want us to stop accepting that that's normal. And the only way that we can stop accepting that that's normal is if we refuse to have amnesia everyday of our lives.
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Writing is alchemy. Dross becomes gold. Experience is transformed. Pain is changed. Suffering may become song. The ordinary or horrible is pushed by the will of the writer into grace or redemption, a prophetic wail, a screed for justice, an elegy of sadness or sorrow. ... There is always a tension between experience and the thing that finally carries it forward, bears its weight, holds it in. Without that tension, one might as well write a shopping list.
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The fact that we are all trained to be mothers from infancy on means that we are all trained to devote our lives to men, whether they are our sons or not; that we are all trained to force other women to exemplify the lack of qualities which characterizes the cultural construct of femininity.
So you go away from where you were afraid. Some stay; some go; it's a big difference, leaving the humiliations of childhood, the morbid fear. We didn't have much to say to each other, the ones that left and the ones that stayed. Children get shamed by fear but you can't tell the adults that; they don't care. They make children into dead things like they are. If there's something left alive in you, you run. You run from the poor little child on her knees; fear burned the skin off all right; she's still on her knees, dead and raw and tender.
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Does the sun ask itself, "Am I good? Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?" No, it burns and it shines. Does the sun ask itself, "What does the moon think of me? How does Mars feel about me today?" No it burns, it shines. Does the sun ask itself, "Am I as big as other suns in other galaxies?" No, it burns, it shines.
We as women know that there are no disembodied processes; that all history originates in human flesh; that all oppression is inflicted by the body of one against the body of another; that all social change is built on the bone and muscle, and out of the flesh and blood, of human creators.
Feminism is a political practice of fighting male supremacy on behalf of women as a class, including all the women you don't like, including all the women you don't want to be around, including all the women who use to be your best friends whom you don't want anything to do with any more. It doesn't matter who the individual women are.
I love books the way I love nature. ... I can imagine now that a time will come, that it is almost upon us, when no one will love books ... It is no accident, I think, that books and nature (as we know it) may disappear simultaneously from human experience. There is no mind-body split.
A man can be a hero if he is a scientist, or a soldier, or a drug addict, or a disc jockey, or a crummy mediocre politician. A man can be a hero because he suffers and despairs; or because he thinks logically and analytically; or because he is sensitive; or because he is cruel. Wealth establishes a man as a hero, and so does poverty. Virtually any circumstance in a man's life will make him a hero to some group of people and has a mythic rendering in the culture -- in literature, art, theater, or the daily newspapers.
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Men love death. In everything they make, they hollow out a central place for death, let its rancid smell contaminate every dimension of whatever still survives. Men especially love murder. In art they celebrate it, and in life they commit it. They embrace murder as if life without it would be devoid of passion, meaning, and action, as if murder were solace, stilling their sobs as they mourn the emptiness and alienation of their lives.
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Standards of beauty describe in precise terms the relationship that an individual will have to her own body. They prescribe her mobility, spontaneity, posture, gait, the uses to which she can use her body. They define precisely the dimension of her physical freedom and psychological development, intellectual possibility, and creative potential is an umbilical one.
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Being female in this world means having been robbed of the potential for human choice by men who love to hate us. One does does not make choices in freedom. Instead, one conforms in body type and behavior and values to become an object of male sexual desire, which requires an abandonment of a wide-ranging capacity for choice... Men too make choices. When will they choose not to despise us?
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Women are an enslaved population - the crop we harvest is children, the fields we work are houses. Women are forced into committing sexual acts with men that violate integrity because the universal religion - contempt for women - has as its first commandment that women exist purely as sexual fodder for men.
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The nature of women's oppression is unique: women are oppressed as women, regardless of class or race; some women have access to significant wealth, but that wealth does not signify power; women are to be found everywhere, but own or control no appreciable territory; women live with those who oppress them, sleep with them, have their children we are tangled, hopelessly it seems, in the gut of the machinery and way of life which is ruinous to us.
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[I]n the male sexual lexicon, which is the vocabulary of power, erotica is simply high-class pornography: better produced, better conceived, better executed, better packaged, designed for a better class of consumer. As with the call girl and the streetwalker, one is turned out better but both are produced by the same system of sexual values and both perform the same sexual service.
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We think that we live in a heterosexual society because most men are fixated on women as sexual objects; but, in fact, we live ina homosexual society because all credible transactions of power, authority, and authenticity take place among men; all transactions based on equity and individuality take place among men. Men are real; therefore, all real relationship is between men; all real communication is between men; all real reciprocity is between men; all real mutuality is between men.
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Sex as desired by the class that dominates women is held by that class to be elemental, urgent, necessary, even if or even though it appears to require the repudiation of any claim women might have to full human standing. In the subordination of women, inequality itself is sexualized, made into the experience of sexual pleasure, essential to sexual desire.
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Men are rapists, batterers, plunderers, killers; these same men are religious prophets, poets, heroes, figures of romance, adventure, accomplishment, figures ennobled by tragedy and defeat. Men have claimed the earth, called it 'Her'. Men ruin Her. Men have airplanes, guns, bombs, poisonous gases, weapons so perverse and deadly that they defy any authentically human imagination.
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In this society, the norm of masculinity is phallic aggression. Male sexuality is, by definition, intensely and rigidly phallic. A man's identity is located in his conception of himself as the possessor of a phallus; a man's worth is located in his pride in phallic identity. The main characteristic of phallic identity is that worth is entirely contingent on the possession of a phallus. Since men have no other criteria for worth, no other notion of identity, those who do not have phalluses are not recognized as fully human.
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The will to domination is a ravenous beast. There are never enough warm bodies to satiate its monstrous hunger. Once alive, this beast grows and grows, feeding on all the life around it, scouring the earth to find new sources of nourishment. This beast lives in each man who battens on female servitude.
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