Monday, August 07, 2006

When women unite: Solidaridad

By Guest Columnist Genet


Xochitl wrote a very interesting reply to my column The Bible As Fountainhead of Sexism. I believe it deserves a serious answer.

First of all, I appreciate a thoughtful response to my column. Mary Daly is a very controversial figure in the world, and most of the response to her books and life is based on hatred of the message of real freedom for women.

Most lesbians haven't heard of or read Mary Daly, and that is unfortunate, because she is one of the most original and liberating voices to come out of the feminist movement.

But Xochitl raises some interesting questions. Can non-lesbian women come along on this journey to freedom? Can women have solidaridad -- is it a real and workable possibility?

I believe that straight-women-identified women can come on this journey, but the danger to this is that so few straight women have any idea of what this actually entails. My separatist position comes out of 30 years of experience in the movement worldwide. What I saw in feminism is an obsession with right-to-choose issues, birth control, and a middle-class fixation on jobs. All of that is fine, but it's not lesbian.

I've talked to many lesbians who busted their butts working on straight women's issues and there was no reciprocity. Or straight women were disruptive in being more loyal to men than to other women. There is a time and a place for working with like-minded men, straight women, etc., but in order for solidaridad to work, there has to be honesty of motives and genuine interest on the part of straight women to see where the lesbian intelligentsia are really coming from.

Mary Daly's message is very simple: men are the problem. They are the ones who are actively destroying the world. They are the ones who make cities unlivable at night, and they are the ones who try to steal and destroy the minds and souls of women. The fact that women seem to not know this surprises me. Does this mean that men were born evil? No, it just means that half the world's population has chosen to go along with the male agenda worldwide.

I'm not interested in changing men, I'm interested in having women wake up to this reality. Even Susan B. Anthony said:

...still I do pray, and that earnestly and constantly, for some terrific shock to startle the women of this nation into a self-respect which will compel them to see the abject degradation of their present position; which will force them to break their yoke of bondage... which will make them proclaim their allegiance to women first; which will enable them to see that man can no more feel, speak, or act for women than could the old slavemaster for his slave.

Susan wrote these words in 1870.

For me, I'm looking for the Lesbianati, the intelligentsia of Plato's Republic lesbian style. This means a commitment to the mind, a commitment to revolutionary ideas, and a commitment to action. It means a material as well as spiritual commitment to women the way Susan B. Anthony describes above.

I'm not being mean here. My columns are meant to be tough, but not mean-spirited. I'm not interested in "debating" people. That's a male form of expression we could be well rid of. It's a false form of insincere conversation.

Being blunt, and truthfully, I don't see straight women rising to this challenge. I see them using lesbian energy for their own gain, but I don't see them celebrating lesbian existence. Lesbian existence is resistance in the most basic way to the contaminating influence of male colonization. Men colonize women. They know no other form of behavior. Just like British men colonized India.

Straight women have yet to go public defending lesbians categorically. Most straight women I know are still afraid to be with lesbians. I can sense their fear constantly. Straight women act like the gender police, bullying lesbians for looking like lesbians.
They are unaware that their culture is oppressive and dulling to lesbian minds.

What would I like to see from straight women? Real commitment. I want new issues on the table, and I want to see all women get serious about action. I don't want to hear one more word about children, hetero marriages, fashion or men. I don't want to be bored for hours by the dimwittedness of heterosexual life. It's just god awful. I want straight women to use their minds in public, to be forcefully brilliant, and to shake off the slave-like role playing.

I want lesbians to start taking each other seriously. As I said before, put the money in women's hands, and stop contributing to everyone else's liberation agenda.

The action we need to take is the support of other lesbians. Tangible and economic support, so that we can do our work passionately.

Long ago, I was a part of an effort to create the very first rape crisis center abroad. It was a lesbian effort, and the primary beneficiaries of this work were actually straight women. Other lesbians helped in the underground railroad for pregnant women before Roe vs. Wade. Lesbians did this work, but I have yet to see straight women thank us.

When we had lesbian marriage in San Francisco, not one straight woman ever said, "Congratulations on your victory." Not one. Now why is this?

I've told women again and again to stop having children, to stop this activity that so dulls the female mind. We have six billion people on earth, and we don't need any more. If women have children, they will be poor, they will neglect their minds, and they will waste valuable time. That's the bottom line. Men don't support children and resent paying child support bitterly. I don't even think that men like families, they just want to be "owners" of women bearing their last names. But straight women persist in this behavior, and then they expect lesbians to be on board for this nonsense.

The women's revolution is about freedom. It is about the freedom of women as number one on the world's agenda. There are things we need to do -- like support lesbian candidates for Congress, for one. We need to be examining how our actions can support, empower and enhance dreams.

Is your dream creating a lesbian chapel of sacred art? Is your dream about creating a lesbian religion? Is your dream about creating lesbian space? Is your dream traveling to Paris? Is your dream about increasing the wealth of 15-45 lesbians? That's right-- wealth creation. I've seen more lesbians spend money in Vegas than on any lesbian venture, for example.

I've seen lesbians so preoccupied with dyke dramas that they forget about the work that needs to be done.

What is Mary Daly's call to action to "Sin Big?" What is Xochitl's call to Solidaridad? What would this world look like if we went out and did this?

I've made a commitment to certain women. I've made a commitment to mentor younger women on the path to freedom. I've made a commitment to celebrate and encourage lesbian artists. Artists are our great heroines, because they create the images for a new world.

I want all the people who read this blog to look to the top right. You'll see a donation icon. The first thing you can do is press that button and donate money to this site. Why? Because the woman who created it is a visionary. Her paintings open up real portals to inspiration and spiritual enlightenment.

Just recently, I had a conversation with my art historian mentor. We were talking about fine art and he was adamant about museum quality work. All of the artists I've visited have been gay male artists. Their work is brilliant and I support it. I support greatness, and I support gay male and lesbian dialogue. I am a separatist in my spiritual being, and I'm a pragmatist as well.

I support a more complex view of lesbian separatism that is not about the hatred of men, although I can get bloody mad at them. It's about my freedom, and about revelation of freedom as a path to other lesbian seekers.

What did my art historian friend and mentor say? Undeniably, gay men had an edge in gallery quality art and patronage. Undeniably, lesbian visual art isn't in this category yet. But what I said is, "I want to support lesbian artists, because they will paint the subjects that are lesbian visionary. Men won't paint Susanna and the Elders because they don't have the eyes to see."

Men cannot see women's worlds or visions. They are pretty blind to women's intellectual gifts overall, as their pornographic world amply illustrates. I set out on an intellectual journey to find the image of the 21st century in October of 1999. I sought out the images that didn't exist, and yet deep in my heart, I wanted to see the unseen. That's what's true about lesbian existence, we are the invisible and the unseen. We are a culture that is powerful, yet little known.

Our ideas change worlds. Susan B. Anthony got us the vote because she was a lesbian. No straight women of the 19th century got this the way she did, for example.

I extend my hand to all women identified women out there to join in this intellectual adventure, in this great vision of liberation. We have the artists who are creating this and we have the philosophers who have given us a blueprint for freedom.

We have the ability to share our resources with each other, and to build this shining city on a hill. My ideas are not for everyone. My theories will meet with resistance, but they are my ideas, they are my reflections based on 30 years of lesbian feminist visioning work.

With my words, I hope to inspire women to follow their dreams, and to know that their work and ideas matter. We don't have to waste time in dialogue with the blockers and snools of patriarchy. We can be solid as in Solidarity as in Solidaridad, as in Complex Communidad. Or is it the dad of dada? :-)