Monday, August 31, 2015

The Personal Is Political by Carol Hanisch

"The paper, “The Personal Is Political,” was originally published in Notes from the Second Year: Women’s Liberation in 1970 and was widely reprinted and passed around the Movement and beyond in the next several years."

A few highlights:
"The very word “therapy” is obviously a misnomer if carried to its logical conclusion. Therapy assumes that someone is sick and that there is a cure, e.g., a personal solution. I am greatly offended that I or any other woman is thought to need therapy in the first place. Women are messed over, not messed up! We need to change the objective conditions, not adjust to them. Therapy is adjusting to your bad personal alternative. 

This is not to deny that these sessions have at least two aspects that are therapeutic. I prefer to call even this aspect “political therapy” as opposed to personal therapy. The most important is getting rid of self-blame. Can you imagine what would happen if women, blacks, and workers (my definition of worker is anyone who has to work for a living as opposed to those who don’t. All women are workers) would-stop blaming ourselves for our sad situations? It seems to me the whole country needs that kind of political therapy. That is what the black movement is doing in its own way. We shall do it in ours. We are only starting to stop blaming ourselves. We also feel like we are thinking for ourselves for the first time in our lives. As the cartoon in Lilith puts it, “I’m changing. My mind is growing muscles.” Those who believe that Marx, Lenin, Engels, Mao, and Ho have the only and last “good word” on the subject and that women have nothing more to add will, of course, find these groups a waste of time.
The groups that I have been in have also not gotten into “alternative life-styles” or what it means to be a “liberated” woman. We came early to the conclusion that all alternatives are bad under present conditions. Whether we live with or without a man, communally or in couples or alone, are married or unmarried, live with other women, go for free love, celibacy or lesbianism, or any combination, there are only good and bad things about each bad situation. There is no “more liberated” way; there are only bad alternatives. 
One more thing: I think we must listen to what so-called apolitical women have to say—not so we can do a better job of organizing them but because together we are a mass movement. I think we who work full-time in the movement tend to become very narrow. What is happening now is that when non-movement women disagree with us, we assume it’s because they are “apolitical,” not because there might be something wrong with our thinking. Women have left the movement in droves. The obvious reasons are that we are tired of being sex slaves and doing shitwork for men whose hypocrisy is so blatant in their political stance of liberation for everybody (else). But there is really a lot more to it than that. I can’t quite articulate it yet. I think “apolitical” women are not in the movement for very good reasons, and as long as we say “you have to think like us and live like us to join the charmed circle,” we will fail. What I am trying to say is that there are things in the consciousness of “apolitical” women (I find them very political) that are as valid as any political consciousness we think we have. We should figure out why many women don’t want to do action. Maybe there is something wrong with the action or something wrong with why we are doing the action or maybe the analysis of why the action is necessary is not clear enough in our minds.  "
 Read the full introduction and paper here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Muslims and Shakti : THE GODDESS

Painting by Shahzia Sikander

"In the interaction between Muslim, Hindu, and Christian traditions in South India, there was a borrowing of symbols and ideas, a frequently shared vocabulary, and an interweaving of motifs within a common sacred landscape. At the center of this interaction is the imagery associated with the ammans or goddesses of the region.

The most important figures within the religious landscape to all South Indians are "divinities of blood and power." In the Hindu tradition these are warrior goddesses (locally known as ammans) and warrior gods, both of whom are representations of "activated divine power." In the Muslim tradition, this power is represented by the Sufi warrior pîr, who is perceived in virtually the same terms as the blood-taking goddesses. Known under various names, such as Kali or Kaliamma, Durga or Mariamma, these goddesses have "an extra endowment" of Shakti, the female energy of the gods, and are associated with Siva.

The figure of the Muslim warrior pir, saint martyr, or shahîd was easily accepted into this tradition, associated as he was with the world of the forest, which in Hinduism is the world of Siva. The martial pir was not a divisive being in South Indian society. On the contrary, he was a figure of universal power with deep roots in the world of the Tamil goddess cults and power divinities. The dargâhs or shrines of Sufi saints were thus revered by both Hindus and Muslims. Tota Kuramma was a Muslim woman who after her death became an amman.

The result is that Muslim and Hindu conceptions of sacred power are virtually identical. In the case of the warrior goddess, her power is Shakti, "the dynamic, awesome, and sacred power which is the goddess Durga-Kali." The power of the pir, on the other hand, is his barakat. The merging of these two concepts in South India is demonstrated, for example, in the biography of a Tamil pir, where the word used to describe his power is not barakat but Shakti.

There have been Muslims who, from within their awareness of the Divine Feminine Shakti within Islam, have found in their hearts a response to Her manifestations in India."

Read the full post here:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Carolee Schneemann – “Interior Scroll” – Performance – 1975

"Performed in East Hampton,NY and at the Telluride Film Festival, Colorado. Schneemann ritualistically stood naked on a table, painted her body with mud until she slowly exracted a paper scroll from her vagina while reading from it.

"I thought of the vagina in many ways-- physically, conceptually: as a sculptural form, an architectural referent, the sources of sacred knowledge, ecstasy, birth passage, transformation. I saw the vagina as a translucent chamber of which the serpent was an outward model: enlivened by it's passage from the visible to the invisible, a spiraled coil ringed with the shape of desire and generative mysteries, attributes of both female and male sexual power. This source of interior knowledge would be symbolized as the primary index unifying spirit and flesh in Goddess worship." -CS 



Friday, August 7, 2015

Japan revisionists deny WW2 sex slave atrocities By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes BBC News

A monument to comfort women erected outside Japanese Embassy in Soul.

Seventy years after the end of World War Two, the voices of revisionism in Japan are growing stronger and moving into the mainstream, particularly on the issue of comfort women, who were women forced to be sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during the war.

One of the most eloquent voices of revisionism is Toshio Tamogami.

It is when I ask him about the issue of Korean comfort women that Mr Tamogami's denials are most indignant.

He declares it "another fabrication", saying: "If this is true, how many soldiers had to be mobilised to forcibly drag those women away? And those Korean men were just watching their women taken away by force? Were Korean men all cowards?"

Although they may not say it as loudly and as bluntly as Mr Tamogami, this is a version of history that is widely believed by many of Japan's nationalists.

Earlier this year at a joint session of the US Congress in Washington DC, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed deep sorrow for the suffering caused by Japan during WW2.

Mr Abe does not deny there were Korean women serving as comfort women near the frontlines in China and South East Asia.

But he has repeatedly said there is no evidence these women were coerced or that the Japanese military was involved in their recruitment and confinement. The implication is the women were prostitutes.

This is a very murky area. Girls from poor families have been sold in to prostitution in Japan, Korea and China for centuries, and the practice was certainly still going on in the 1930s and 1940s.

Read the full article here.