The fear of freedom is strong in us. We call it chaos or anarchy, and the words are threatening. We live in a true chaos of contradicting authorities, an age of conformism without community, of proximity without communication. We could only fear chaos if we imagined that it was unknown to us, but in fact we know it very well.
Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves-to breakour own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today."Stewart B. Johnson"Men rule because women let them. Male misogyny is real enough, and it has dreadful consequences, but female misogyny is what keeps women out of power.
So far it has been assumed that the only pregnancies which are aborted are accidental ones and the only foetuses destroyed those whose mothers could not bear the thought of their becoming children. In a just world this would be the case, but the world is far from just. Too many women are forced to abort by poverty, by their menfolk, by their parents. Poverty has many faces; it may be the poverty of the young, the unmarried, the student, the unemployed, the female or a combination of these.
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War is the admission of defeat in the face of conflicting interests: by war the issue is left to chance, and the tacit assumption that the best man will win is not at all justified. It might equally be argued that the worst, the most unscrupulous man will win, although history will continue the absurd game by finding him after all the best man.
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We can only afford two children' really means, 'We only like clean, well-disciplined middle-class children who go to good schools and grow up to be professionals', for children manage to use up all the capital that is made available for the purpose, whatever proportion it may be of the family's whole income, just as housework expands to fill the time available.
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What is certain is that he [the baby] has too much attention from the one person who is entirely at his disposal. The intimacy between mother and child is not sustaining and healthy. The child learns to exploit his mother's accessibility, badgering her with questions and demands which are not of any real consequence to him, embarrassing her in public, blackmailing her into buying sweets and carrying him.
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The love object occupies the thoughts of the person diagnosed as 'in love' all the time despite the probability that very little is actually known about it. To it are ascribed all qualities considered by the obsessed as good, regardless of whether the object in question possesses those qualities in any degree. Expectations are set up which no human being could fulfill. Thus the object chosen plays a special role in relation to the go of the obsessed, who decided that he or she is the right or the only person for him. In the case of a male this notion may sanction a degree of directly aggressive behavior either in pursuing the object or driving off competition.
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The chief means of liberating women is replacing of compulsiveness and compulsion by the pleasure principle. Cooking, clothes, beauty, and housekeeping are all compulsive activities in which the anxiety quotient has long since replaced the pleasure or achievement quotient. It is possible to use even cooking, clothes, cosmetics and housekeeping for fun. The essence of pleasure is spontaneity. In these cases spontaneity means rejecting the norm, the standard that one must live up to, and establishing a self-regulating principle.
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The most cursory examination of even the most progressive organs of information reveals a curious inability to recognize women as newsmakers, unless they are young or married to a head of state or naked or pregnant by some triumph of technology or perpetrators or victims of some hideous crime or any combiniation of the above. Women's issues are often disguised as people issues, unless they are relegated to the women's pages which amazingly still suvive. Senior figures are all male; even the few women who are deemed worthy of obituaries are shown in images from their youth, as if the last fourty years of their lives have been without achievement of any kind. If you analyse the by-lines in your morning paper, you will see that the senior editorial staff are all older men, supported by a rabble of junior females, the infinitely replacesable 'hackettes'.
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Love, love, love -- all the wretched cant of it, masking egotism, lust, masochism, fantasy under a mythology of sentimental postures, a welter of self-induced miseries and joys, blinding and masking the essential personalities in the frozen gestures of courtship, in the kissing and the dating and the desire, the compliments and the quarrels which vivify its barrenness.
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The older woman's love is not love of herself, nor of herself mirrored in a lover's eyes, nor is it corrupted by need. It is a feeling of tenderness so still and deep and warm that it gilds every grass blade and blesses every fly. It includes the ones who have a claim on it, and a great deal else besides. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Every wife who slaves to keep herself pretty, to cook her husband's favourite meals, to build up his pride and confidence in himself at the expense of his sense of reality, to be his closest and effectively his only friend, to encourage him to rejectthe consensus of opinionand find reassurance only in her arms is binding her mate to her with hoops of steel that will strangle them both.
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Rather than seek to be squired and dated by their rivals why should it not be possible for women to find relaxation and pleasure in the company of their 'inferiors'? They would need to shed their desperate need to admire a man, and accept the gentler role of loving him. A learned woman cannot castrate a truck-driver like she can her intellectual rival, because he has no exaggerated respect for her bookish capacities. The alternative to conventional education is not stupidity, and many a clever girl needs the corrective of a humbler soul's genuine wisdom.
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Properly speaking, altruism is an absurdity. Women are self-sacrificing in direct proportion to their incapacity to offer anything but this sacrifice. They sacrifice what they never had: a self. The cry of the deserted woman, 'What have I done to deserve this?' reveals at once the false emotional economy that she has been following.
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The housewife is an unpaid worker in her husband's house in return for the security of being a permanent employee: hers is the reductio ad absurdum of the employee who accepts a lower wage in return for permanence of his employment. But the lowest paid employees can be and are laid off, and so are wives. They have no savings, no skills which they can bargain with elsewhere, and they must bear the stigma of having been sacked.
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Every human body has its optimum weight and contour, which only health and efficiency can establish. Whenever we treat women's bodies as aesthetic objects without function we deform them and their owners. Whether the curves imposed are the ebullient arabesques of the tit-queen or the attenuated coils of art nouveau, they are deformations of the dynamic, individual body, and limitations of the possibilities of being female.
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In the struggle to remain a complete person and to love from her fullness instead of her inadequacy a woman may appear hard. She may feel her early conditioning tugging her in the direction of surrender, but she ought to remember that she was originally loved for herself; she ought to hang on to herself and not find herself nagging, helpless, irritable and trapped. Perhaps I am not old enough yet to promise that the self-reliant woman is always loved, but she cannot be lonely as long as there are people in the world who need her joy and her strength, but certainly in my experience it has always been so. Lovers who are free to go when they are restless always come back; lovers who are free to change remain interesting. The bitter animosity and obscenity of divorce is unknown where individuals have not become Siamese twins. A lover who comes to your bed of his own accord is more likely to sleep with his arms around you all night than a lover who has nowhere else to sleep.
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In some ways the operation of the feminine stereotype is so obvious and for many women entirely unattainable, that it can be easily reacted against. It takes a great deal of courage and independence to decide to design your own image instead of the one that society rewards, but it gets easier as you go along. Of course, a woman who goes her own way will find her conditioning is ineradicable, but she at least can recognize its operation and choose to counteract it, whereas a man might find that he was being more subtly deluded.
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As far as cosmetics are used for adornment in a conscious and creative way, they are not emblems of inauthenticity: it is when they are presented as the real thing, covering unsightly blemishes, disguising a repulsive thing so that it is acceptable to the world that their function is deeply suspect. The women who dare not go out without their false eyelashes are in serious psychic trouble.
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The problem of the survival of humanity is not a matter of ensuring the birth of future generations but of limiting it. The immediate danger to humanity is that of total annihilation within a generation or two, not the failure of mankind to breed. A woman seeking alternative modes of life is no longer morally bound to pay her debt to nature.
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The surest guide to the correctness of the path that women take is joy in the struggle. Revolution is the festival of the oppressed. For a long time there may be no perceptible reward for women other than their new sense of purpose and integrity. Joy does not mean riotous glee, but it does mean the purposive employment of energy in a self-chosen enterprise. It does mean pride and confidence. It does mean communication and cooperation with others based on delight in their company and your own. To be emancipated from helplessness and need and walk freely upon the earth that is your birthright. To refuse hobbles and deformity and take possession of your body and glory in its power, accepting its own laws of loveliness. To have something to desire, something to make, something to achieve, and at last something genuine to give. To be freed from guilt and shame and the tireless self-discipline of women. To stop pretending and dissembling, cajoling and manipulating, and begin to control and sympathize. To claim the masculine virtues of magnanimity and generosity and courage. It goes much further than equal pay for equal work, for it ought to revolutionise the conditions of work completely. It does not understand the phrase 'equality of opportunity', for it seems that the opportunities will have to be utterly changed and women's souls changed so that they desire opportunity instead of shrinking from it.
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It is commonplace observation that women are forever trying to straighten their hair if it is curly and curl it if it is straight, bind their breasts if they are large and pad them if they are small, darken their hair if it is light and lighten it if it is dark. Not all these measures are dictated by the fantom of fashion. They all reflect dissatisfaction with the body as it is, and an insistent desire that it be otherwise, not natural but controlled, fabricated. Many of the devices adopted by women are not cosmetic or ornamental, but disguise of the actual, arising from fear and distaste.
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A child must have care and attention, but that care and attention need not emanate from a single, permanently present individual. Children are more disturbed by changes of place than by changes in personnel around them, and more distressed by friction and ill-feeling between the adults in their environment than by unfamiliarity.
Woman cannot be content with health and agility: she must make exorbitant efforts to appea something that never could exist without a diligent perversion of nature. Is it too much to ask that women be spared the daily struggle for superhuman beauty in order to offer it to the caresses of a subhumanly ugly mate? Women are reputed never to be disgusted. The sad fact is that they often are, but not with men; following the lead of men, they are most often disgusted with themselves.
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If women understand by emancipation the adoption of the masculine role then we are lost indeed. If women can supply no counterbalance to the blindness of male drive the aggressive society will run to its lunatic extremes at ever-escalating speed. Who will safeguard the despised animal faculties of compassion, empathy, innocence and sensuality?
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On ladies' nights they watch frozen-faced while their men embrace and fool about commenting to each other that they are all overgrown boys. Of the love of fellows they know nothing. They cannot love each other in this easy, innocent, spontaneous way because they cannot love themselves.
We can say the brotherhood of man, and pretend that we include the sisterhood of women, but we know that we don't. Folklore has it that women only congregate to bitch an absent member of their group, and continue to do so because they are to well aware of the consequences if they stay away. It's meant to be a joke, but like jokes about mothers-in-law it is founded in bitter truth.
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Female castration results in concentration of her feelings upon her male companion, and her impotence in confrontations with her own kind. Because all her love is guided by the search for security, if not for her offspring then for her crippled and fearful self, she cannot expect to find it in her own kind, whom she knows to be weak and unsuitable.
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The element of heroic maleness had always been present in the concept of the artist as one who rides the winged horse above the clouds beyond the sight of lesser men, a concept seldom applied to those who worked with colours until the nineteenth century. When the inevitable question is asked, "Why are there no great women artists?" it is this dimension of art that is implied. The askers know little of art, but they know the seven wonders of the painting world.
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How you answer the question, whether individuals should be persuaded to live their whole lives in a state of chemical dependency, first upon contraceptive steroids and then on replacement therapy, depends upon your regard for the autonomy of the individual. If men would not live their lives this way, why should women?
Great artists are products of their own time: they do not spring forth fully equipped from the head of Jove, but are formed by the circumstances acting upon them since birth. These circumstances include the ambiance created by the other, lesser artists of their own time, who have all done their part in creating the pressure that forces up an exceptional talent. Unjustly, but unavoidably, the very closeness of a great artist to his colleagues and contemporaries leads to their eclipse.
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The hippie is the scion of surplus value. The dropout can only claim sanctity in a society which offers something to be dropped out of--career, ambition, conspicuous consumption. The effects of hippie sanctimony can only be felt in the context of others who plunder his lifestyle for what they find good or profitable, a process known as rip-off by the hippie, who will not see how savagely he has pillaged intricate and demanding civilizations for his own parodic lifestyle.
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It is often falsely assumed, even by feminists, that sexuality is the enemy of the female who really wants to develop these aspects of her personality, and this is perhaps the most misleading aspect of movements like the National Organization of Women. It was not the insistence upon her sex that weakened the American woman student's desire to make something of her education, but the insistence upon a passive sexual role
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Women have been charged with deviousness and duplicity since the dawn of civilization so they have never been able to pretend that their masks were anything but masks. It is a slender case but perhaps it does mean that women have always been in closer contact with reality than men: it would seem to be the just recompense for being deprived of idealism.
Women over fifty already form one of the largest groups in the population structure of the western world. As long as they like themselves, they will not be an oppressed minority. In order to like themselves they must reject trivialization by others of who and what they are. A grown woman should not have to masquerade as a girl in order to remain in the land of the living.
There has come into existence, chiefly in America, a breed of men who claim to be feminists. They imagine that they have understood what women want and that they are capable of giving it to them. They help with the dishes at home and make their own coffee in the office, basking the while in the refulgent consciousness of virtue. Such men are apt to think of the true male feminists as utterly chauvinistic.
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