Monday, January 01, 2007

2006 a retrospective

I thought I'd do a proper retrospective, with my favourite post from each month. It's been a funny year for me; I think it shows in my writing. I had two months of insanely intense activism, so that I couldn't think about anything else (see March and September below). But those months almost threw the rest of the year out of balance - I know I did a lot but it's hard to see every other month as anything but empty.

January Why I call Myself a Feminist and don't qualify that statement:

There's an interesting discussion on Alas: 'Is The Oppression of Women The Root Of All Oppressions?' Now I've given my response to that argument in the comments (Short Answer: Don't know, don't care. Slightly Longer Answer: Will you shut up with comparing black men to white women already; I'm glad that the rest of us have learned a bit from the 19th Century), but I thought I'd take this opportunity to write a little about why I just call myself a feminist, and don't put anything before or after it.
I wasn't that into any of my posts in January last year, but this post outlined some of my ideas about feminism quite nicely. I wanted to include this post, just because I liked the pull quote I would have used:
I'm finding it really hard to believe that there's anywhere in America or New Zealand where a teenage girl is sitting thinking "I really want to know what the low-fat alternative to ice cream is, but I just don't know where to find that information."

February Being Purple:
Maybe that's not even what I mean - maybe I mean: the experience of being fat is part of being a woman in the society I live in - whatever size you are.
This was the first post where I wrote about something that was hard for me, something I still don't do enough (if anyone - except my friend Besty) can identify where the title of this post comes from I'll write a post on the topic of your choosing, but your guesses in the comments).

March I Believe Louise Nicholas:
The jury has found Brad Shipton, Clint Rickards, and Bob Schollum not guilty of raping Louise Nicholas.


Obviously some members of the jury believed Louise Nicholas, or else the deliberations wouldn't have taken this long. I pay tribute to them, and wish they could have had the evidence that would have convinced the rest.
The post that is there now isn't actually the post that I'm talking about - read this for an explanation.

April East Beasts:
I was talking about high school with a guy who had recently left Rongotai (the male version of my Wellington East). When I mentioned that I'd gone to Wellington East he started a chant I'd forgotten about (if I ever knew about it in the first place, paying attention to the world around me wasn't my forte in high school):

East Beasts
Thunder Thighs
Eating all the Georgie Pies

Ten years later I found it funny. But it reminded me that this is what boys, particularly those at all-boys schools, chanted at East Girls. In a way I'm impressed at how much they managed to pack into 9 words, at how many different degrading sexist and racist attitudes can be conveyed in so little time.
The first moral of this story is don't send your sons to all boys schools.

May Geeking Out This was mostly a list of my top 5 most feminist, and top 5 least feminist episodes of Buffy:
3. Lullaby Ok I know this is actually an Angel episode, but it flew from one franchise to another powered on nothing but it's own misogyny, so I had to include it. The plot is that Darla is pregnant with Angel's child, and having a good human being inside her has stopped her from being evil. It looks like the child will not survive giving birth so Darla stakes her (evil) self in order that her (good) child can live.

I watched this episode with my friend Betsy and said "wow everyone who had anything to do with this episode must have hated women with a firey passion."
I enjoyed writing this post more than is healthy.

June Women are Really neat People:
I think there is some danger that this sort of analysis leads to the sort of paralysis that comes when feminists talk as if 'choice' was the most important thing for women. I used the word 'actions' rather than 'choices' in this post, and I've did that deliberately. To me the point of feminism isn't to give women choices, but to make sure that we don't have to make them. We don't have to be virgins or whores, or career women or housewives. We have to make shitty choices every single day - for me the point of feminism isn't to celebrate shitty choices, but make sure we don't have to choose.
This was my piece about Carol Hanisch's article The Personal Is Political, as I'd said earlier in the year:
Before I go any further, I have to interrupt our regular programming with some words from the rant department. The phrase is "The Personal is Political" not "The Political is Personal." There's a really important difference there, and it gets lost (although to be fair less lost in the feminist blogsphere than it does among hippy types).

The feminist revelation wasn't supposed to be that by buying fair-trade coffee, not shaving your legs, going braless, having lots of sex, charting your fertility, boycotting tobacco companies, dumpster diving, dressing butch, dressing femme, not doing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, boycotting Domino's, working as a lawyer, raising children, or whatever other individual decision you made, could change the world. These decisions are all fine decisions but they're not political actions and they're not going to change anything.

What women's liberation was saying was that things we experience as individual problems: sexual harrassment, unwanted pregnancy, body hatred, unconcensual sex, domestic violence, depression, housework and so many other parts of being a woman, were actually political problems. They weren't just things individuals were experiencing and they weren't things individuals could fight - they had to be fought collectively. Almost the exact opposite of what the phrase is so often reduced to now.

Every time I hear that phrase so bastardised, so trivialised, and so misrepresented I imagine the members of those early women's liberation groups turning in their graves - and most of them aren't even dead yet.

July Beautiful Boy:
My friend has an 11 month old baby boy. When she was pregnant someone she knew was raped and we talked about the not-yet-child inside her. She didn't know whether the Frog was going to be a boy or a girl and we didn't know whether it was worse to raise a girl and be afraid that when she grew up she'd be raped, or a boy and be afriad that when he grew up he might rape someone.
This was the post that made my friend's baby (known as the frog) pitied by right-wing men all over New Zealand. The thought that there was a little boy out there that was being raised by women who didn't want him to rape anyone, terrified them (yeah I wish I was kidding).

August Motherhood
Until we acknowledge that caring for children is work - and restructure our society accordingly - women are going to continue to be screwed over by the double shift. I'm not suggesting it can be done under capitalism (I don't believe it can). But I think we can fight for changes in the right direction - anything that makes it easier for parents, that makes space more accesible for parents, that offers more support for parents, and makes child-rearing more a collective responsibility, will make women's lives better.
The more I think about it, the more I write about, the more I realise how central my analysis of reprdouction is to my feminism.

September My favourite post was definately Take it Easy but Take it:

But out at Ford, here's what they found,
And out at UPS, here's what they found,
And out at Stagecoach, here's what they found,
And down at Progressive, here's what they found:
That if you don't let the red-baiting break you up,
And if you don't let the racism,
And if you don't let the sexism break you up,
And if you don't let homophobia break you up,
And if you don't let red-baiting break you up,

You'll win

Obviously more for the sentiment than the content - that was the day we won the lockout (I think my favourite post of any substance is my post on Section 59, it was one of those issues where the debate was infuriating me, even though I was very firmly on one side).

October I'm not even going to touch the 'oh my god she's had sex' subtext:
Look I'm a middle-class white girl, I find the idea of having a baby before I'm economically and socially secure terrifying, but I get to think that one day I will be economically and socially secure. Not everyone grows up with those set of assumptions about their life, and if you don't have those assumptions your feelings about pregnancy and motherhoood are going to be qutie different.

The response to Keisha Castle-Hughes's pregnancy in the New Zealand media infuriated me.

November Mutually Abusive:
'Mutually abusive relationship' as the default setting creates the idea of a perfect victim. If anyone who fights back is in a 'mutually abusive relationship, then the only way you are entitled to support is if you don't fight back. But if you react to the abuse, physically defend yourself, act jealous or fucked up by what's happened to you, then you don't deserve support, and people around can wash their hands and walks away from what they term a mutually abusive relationship.

As a feminist, as a human being, it is my duty and my desire, to support the powerless against the powerful, and to not wash my hands of women who fight back.
My favourite posts are the ones where I can bring together personal experience and link it to a wider debate. A lot of my posts about violence against women recently have been based on what I've seen among people I know.

December Maia vs Winz: wrk4u:

The whole thing was in essence creating opportunities to shove people down the cracks. What makes me so angry is that it won't be the people who need the benefit least who don't get the benefit under this system, it'll be the people who need it most. I'm fairly certain that I'll get the benefit, and I'm also fairly certain that the woman sitting next to me, who'd been on the student allowance and was wearing a Gucci bracelet, will too. But the guy who'd been on the independent youth benefit and didn't have a passport or a birth certificate, he probably won't.
This has definately been a year of beneficiary bashing in New Zealand and I've written a bit about it, but you can't quite comprehend the complete distance between WINZ-land and reality until you experience it first hand.

Onwards and upwards, I start 2007 unemployed, wondering what to do next with my life, and with a shockingly tidy house.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations for last year and your efforts. All the best for the next.