Monday, August 10, 2009

Eve, Revisited

"Forbidden Fruit"

You are what is female
You shall be called Eve.
and what is masculine shall be called God.

And from your name Eve we shall take
the word Evil.
and from God's the word Good.
Now you understand patriarchal morality.
-Judy Grahn

I will never not be shocked when I hear women say something like "stupid Eve! ruining it for all of us!" when they complain about their periods. I cannot understand how deeply they buy into that bullshit when it's scientifically proven that the pain one feels during menstruation is due to the fact that the lining is ripping off of your womb and falling out your vagina! It's not because of some mystical "curse." That would hurt whether or not you ever heard the Genesis story.

It saddens me what hatred and anger women can have for Eve when it's so misdirected. What they should be pissed off at isn't some mythical woman who takes the blame for all humanity's failures, but at a culture who systematically tells women we are crazy, weak, stupid and lame for having perfectly natural physiological and physical responses to a necessary biological function of our bodies.

What they should be mad about is being marginalized for being a woman instead of being supported as part of the the cradle of our civilization.

What they should be mad at is this culture still refusing to widely disseminate images and information of women's complete reproductive or muscular systems because women's bodies are still treated as "indecent," so you can't even find out what's going on in your own body without really hunting for the information.

What they should be mad at is this culture that treats any difference between genders as weaknesses inherent in women instead of simply the natural order of things or two complimenting sides to the single human coin.

The gendered social interactions in our culture truly anger and horrify me. But nothing I have previously said on the subject is as clear and succinct as this post on rape by Fugitivus (found via Hoyden About Town), where she clearly lays out how women's issues, bodies and voices are attacked daily:
Women are raised being told by parents, teachers, media, peers, and all surrounding social strata that:
  • it is not okay to set solid and distinct boundaries and reinforce them immediately and dramatically when crossed (”mean bitch”)
  • it is not okay to appear distraught or emotional (”crazy bitch”)
  • it is not okay to make personal decisions that the adults or other peers in your life do not agree with, and it is not okay to refuse to explain those decisions to others (”stuck-up bitch”)
  • it is not okay to refuse to agree with somebody, over and over and over again (”angry bitch”)
  • it is not okay to have (or express) conflicted, fluid, or experimental feelings about yourself, your body, your sexuality, your desires, and your needs (”bitch got daddy issues”)
  • it is not okay to use your physical strength (if you have it) to set physical boundaries (”dyke bitch”)
  • it is not okay to raise your voice (”shrill bitch”)
  • it is not okay to completely and utterly shut down somebody who obviously likes you (”mean dyke/frigid bitch”)

If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.

And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.

Women who are taught not to speak up too loudly or too forcefully or too adamantly or too demandingly are not going to shout “NO” at the top of their goddamn lungs just because some guy is getting uncomfortably close.

Women who are taught not to keep arguing are not going to keep saying “NO.”

Women who are taught that their needs and desires are not to be trusted, are fickle and wrong and are not to be interpreted by the woman herself, are not going to know how to argue with “but you liked kissing, I just thought…”

Women who are taught that physical confrontations make them look crazy will not start hitting, kicking, and screaming until it’s too late, if they do at all.

Women who are taught that a display of their emotional state will have them labeled hysterical and crazy (which is how their perception of events will be discounted) will not be willing to run from a room disheveled and screaming and crying.

Women who are taught that certain established boundaries are frowned upon as too rigid and unnecessary are going to find themselves in situations that move further faster before they realize that their first impression was right, and they are in a dangerous room with a dangerous person.

Women who are taught that refusing to flirt back results in an immediately hostile environment will continue to unwillingly and unhappily flirt with somebody who is invading their space and giving them creep alerts.

People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion, make obvious signals that they are uninterested in conversation or being in closer physical proximity and are ignored. They don’t wonder about all those daily social interactions in which women are quieter, ignored, or invisible, because those social interactions seem normal. They seem normal to women, and they seem normal to men, because we were all raised in the same cultural pond, drinking the same Kool-Aid.

And then, all of a sudden, when women are raped, all these natural and invisible social interactions become evidence that the woman wasn’t truly raped. Because she didn’t fight back, or yell loudly, or run, or kick, or punch. She let him into her room when it was obvious what he wanted. She flirted with him, she kissed him. She stopped saying no, after a while.

These rules for social interactions that women are taught to obey are more than grease for the patriarchy wheel. Women are taught both that these rules will protect them, and that disobeying these rules results in punishment.

So fuck the rules. Follow your heart and don't let the bastards grind you down.

Related posts:
Another Bloody Women's Issue Post
What Makes a Feminist?
It's Not Sex When It's Rape

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1 comment:

Stacey K said...

Awesome post May!

Lots to think about.