Part I: “Haunted” Asylums = Patriarchy, Unmodified by FCM
hello!! here i am, hanging out with sargasso sea in a super secret feminist location enjoying a lovely fall day. since halloween is coming up i thought it would be nice to do a hallo-weeny type post, which i will. but first let me comment on the hanging out with sargasso sea part, which i think people might be interested in reading as well. because its exactly where we left off, isnt it, over a year ago when i first quit blogging (and was getting ready to quit). feminist in-action, together.
i have missed some things about writing and particularly the discussions very much and have often thought about coming back, but like a bad and well reasoned break up, i always decided not to. the reasons i left in the first place are still valid and the things that made it not worth it to me or to anyone for me to continue are still there, namely the scarcity problem and the desperation it causes in radicalism-starved women who “just” want something to read that isnt steeped in misogyny and porn (and to spin and spiral together). i feel this desperation every day when i read online and it does not matter if there is no, or one, or 6 new posts up from radical feminist writers (although on most days there are none). this scarcity and desperation problem hasnt gone away, and it is not something that one (or one more) woman writing will be able to help. its a contextual issue. the context of the internet *is* misogyny and porn. this is the context of patriarchy of course — or of “culture” where culture and patriarchy are synonymous. so no matter how badly i have wanted to write again i havent done it because there would have been no point. i think i have said everything i wanted to say and that the exact point i left was the exact moment that my continuing would only be repetitious.
but. hanging out with sargasso sea and spending time and sharing space with another radical woman is in fact different than anything i was doing before and obviously i never wrote about it because i couldnt have. and now i can! so thats different. good, something different that might be interesting for someone to read — different and interesting having always been criteria i used in deciding whether writing anything was worth my time (or anyones). so what can i say about it that everyone doesnt already know? well, if you have been doing this the whole time, hanging out with other radical women i mean, you probably already knew things that i did not until recently. i do not want to bore you either, so let me sum up. it really is everything its cracked up to be.
for me, and something i definitely did not expect, was that, surrounded by only radical women, and no one else, for the first time in my life i knew the people around me didnt think — no, they knew, they *knew* i wasnt stupid. i dont think i realized that my own (shameful) stupidity was the context i was swimming in every day, having graduated near the top of my class and mostly fulfilling the extreme expectations laid on me by my parents (for example) i did not think that was my issue. but apparently it was. having experienced the opposite, i now think that every single interaction i have ever had with everyone, no matter how otherwise benign (or not) these interactions were, was within the context of myself, existing as a stupid person. or more specifically, of everyones — mens and womens — condescension, pity, disgust and dismissal of me as a female person. perhaps this is the crux of it — and there are really no words for this, so i am making it up — before spending time with radical women, i had experienced as normal and invisible, literally nothing except condescension, pity, disgust and dismissal for being female. every day. and in every way. perhaps “stupid” is not the perfect word for this, but its a pretty good one. i mean really.
and with that, i would like to comment on something hallo-weeny for your (hopefully) reading pleasure! i have had reason to note of late that abandoned asylums are really creepy. these places are just palpably evil and everyone knows it (a new reality show called “haunted asylums” takes it to the next level…with ghost traps and stuff, made up macgyver style with beer cans and fish tanks no less. talk about stupid.) anyway, it made me wonder what it is about abandoned asylums that is so palpable, and you do not even have to believe in “ghosts” or the supernatural or anything else to feel this. whatever “it” is, its not a belief, or based on a belief system — its reality based. so what is it?
i suspect that abandoned insane asylums are “patriarchy, unmodified” and that this is what patriarchy, unmodified feels like, what it is and what it does. reading anything about these places when they were functional and what they did there reveals extreme torture and necrophilic policy and practice, often carried out on female bodies, but it was not just “people” doing this — it never is. insane asylums were where powerful males granted themselves free reign to be male, where men were themselves, unmodified by females, and they were allowed to go to the ends of their thoughts about whatever they happened to be thinking about at the time. and like men as a class, what these men thought and what they thought about, was literally willed into being, by them. this is the “creative” power they have granted themselves — the power to destroy. witchwind talks more about this on her blog. and in increasingly creative and innovative ways (like all industries, the male industry of necrophilia builds on the work of those who came before and takes it further).
there is also something palpable about the spaces themselves, being commonly extremely vast permanent structures built on large grounds, and then abandoned — this smacks of male hubris, wastefulness and lack of foresight (or simply not caring about what lies ahead — a cognitive and emotive dead-end). and probably other things. in the case of the asylums, the next generation(s) of males made these massive buildings and grounds largely obsolete when they created psychotropic drugs — a different man-ifestation of necrophilia and torture (and misogyny).
anyway, what this made me think of — patriarchy, unmodified and how the effects linger and are palpable to just about everyone — is that, if this is what males do and what they are when they get together, we can assume that individual males have these qualities too but perhaps on a smaller scale. in other words, the palpable grossness of asylums are the aggregate effect of many individual males values, beliefs and behaviors that are also gross in the exact same ways. to figure out just what in the fresh hell, in aggregate, could ever produce the bone chilling effects of abandoned asylums, all we have to do is look at “normal” small scale (individual) male values, beliefs and behaviors across time and place. this is not hard to do. even the fun fems recognize “creepiness” when they see it afterall. and “boys will be boys” is pretty universal. in aggregate, these things are what is colloquially known as “evil”. it is a real and palpable force that literally everyone can see and feel for themselves, although no one acknowledges it for what it really is — aggregate maleness. its terrifying alright, but its super natural (and not natural). and this “whatever it is” is definitely not specific to one sex.
and interestingly, whatever else halloween might be or might have been in the past, it has now become a celebration of mens violence and necrophilia. play-acting chainsaws, masked men and the tortured screams of mens victims (for example!) as if this *isnt* the stone cold reality of living in mensworld for real every day. re-enacting reality makes reality a fantasy. thats rich. and, where have we seen that before?
Part II: No Tricks, Just Treats by Sargasso Sea
Happy Halloween! And what fun to have a post from FCM! Yay!!
It’s such a pleasure to be with her, to continue our conversations (and build our friendship) in person – just hanging out and rapping about whatever comes up and always in light of the ways the littlest and/or subtle events and circumstances inform (and, unfortunately, plague) women’s lives. Our lives.
A serious bonus for me, beyond the refreshing and heartening ease of conversation with a woman who gets it, has been to have the opportunity to observe and ask questions about what always seemed to me to be her fluid and free writing process. And I have to say that FCM has a certain gift for communication that not many possess. What’s interesting to me is to realize that while she ‘has’ this gift, it’s really those of us who read who are being gifted. So, thanks Fact for all the treats you’ve laid on us over the years!
Now, oddly (or maybe not) asylums and sanitariums have been creeping onto my radar recently as well and I’ve been giving some thought to how the rise of these Institutions generally coincided with a post-Victorian cultural movement of getting ‘back to nature’ – that nature was no longer to be thought of as an adversary but as healthy, invigorating and curative. But when you look just a little closer what you find is that while these asylums were being sold to the public as an humane, wholesome environment for ‘troubled’ people what they were, in actuality, were work farms for undesirables. Here, instead of work making you free it was supposed to make you better. And this is a model that only men could come up with: house hundreds of people with varying degrees of ‘unworthiness’ (violent psychotic men, depressed and broken women, people with even minor disabilities and at times very, very ill people with highly communicable diseases) all together in a self-contained prison-like environment wherein the inmates are expected to work themselves to health…
And as FCM mentions above, one need not believe in ghosts or hauntings to see and feel (when in close proximity to one of these mostly abandoned sites) or to simply intellectually understand that The Establishment forcing such large numbers of dangerously dis-balanced men together with relatively benign ‘not-perfect-examples-of-humanity’ that the end result is clearly and completely outside the realm of natural and is in fact a conscious design for an altogether anti-curative space – a space to further drive those on the margins even further out and eventually to death.
The thing that is especially disconcerting to me (and I am a *knower* of earth-bound spirits and other entities) is that great suffering creates a sinkhole of negativity that is not easily disbanded or freed or made better – it’s a sort of toxic waste – and that’s what I feel when I pass by, or ‘recreationally’ visit, such a space. Not only do the monuments of hospital wings and dormitory buildings remain as a mark of men’s power over architecture and budgets and ‘health’, but also the darkness of the enforced and heightened suffering of others that fed their own false edification.