Personal Politics: Separatism – Part 1

(This is a subject that I have devoted a lot of time to thinking about over the years and I knew that at some point I would write about it because it is a *lifestyle* that is very much maligned and equally misunderstood. As with almost anything females endeavor to accomplish for themselves only, there is the ever-present static of male domination of space. thought and action that blocks our way. As with all great movements, it begins with one thought, one step onto the continuum of separation.

Also, as I began writing this I realized that it will be (of necessity) a series of at least two parts, maybe more, depending on the level of detail that seems appropriate. – Sargasso Sea)

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A few days ago Nine Deuce said that separatism is a viable option for just a handful of women and that she is not one of them. In a comment she chose not to publish, I asked her to elaborate on the veracity of that statement. My best guess is that she chose not to because she doesn’t know what Separatism is, or can be, as a real force for women‘s freedom across the board.

When I was a kid back in the 1970s, I sat at kitchen tables where women spoke of lesbian/feminist separatist communities in the hills, I saw them putting together events like Michfest (in fact, one of the very first women’s music festivals was held at Sacramento State University where my mom was a student), I was welcomed into homes where only females were allowed.  As a rule. I was exposed to many different ways to be feminist, be separatist, to be by (and for) ourselves.

Along the way, during the late 80s and early 90s, the years in which I lived, worked and engaged in PIV with men, what I knew about separatism sort of faded away and morphed into a vague disdain for *lesbians who couldn’t handle the real world*.  I’m ashamed sometimes for having felt that way, but I also understand how it happened; I had become male-identified even though I was a feminist and politically active. Or put more simply, I was a Liberal Feminist. It was the medical necessity of my second abortion that, in hindsight, really set me back on the track to re-membering my self and my kind.

Fast forward about 15 years to 2008: after a number of ups and downs (biggest up, The Kid – biggest down, a matter of days away from homelessness more than once) our secure-ish footing had been reestablished and I had the luxury of time to devote to my avocation of relaxed observation of life through the feminist lens. What I saw with my more mature, tested and tired eyes was that men had not changed at all, that in fact things had become much, much worse with the full-on mainstreaming of pornography in pop culture, male transexuals legally claiming beds in women-only shelters, prostitution being called “sex work” et cetera, ad nauseum. It came as a shock to me that there were women who were embracing it all and calling it Empowering and Egalitarian.

At this same time, in addition to working for our growing home-based small business, we were caring full-time for my partner’s very elderly male parent. It was difficult to deal with him every single day (dull, conservative, military, entitled, bigoted, abusive, blah, blah) but on Thursdays, after breakfast was served, I made a point of not seeing him for a full 24 hours. It became “Dude-Free Thursday“.

But, one of those Thursdays I had a dentist advise me that I would be wise to cap my teeth in order to “get a husband”. One of those Thursdays an emergency gyn exam turned into a lecture about how I must tell my “boyfriend” about my HPV “condition” lest said boyfriend be “infected”. Yet another Thursday, a former neighbor’s father thought it perfectly normal to hug me on sight, on the sidewalk in front of my house, because I had once hired him to do some emergency plumbing. Another neighbor, whom I’d never even been introduced to, just walked into our living room one Thursday looking for his daughter. Another Thursday a checker at the grocery gave The Kid a quarter and told her she was a good girl.

And I began to notice that Dude-Free Thursday wasn’t really dude-free at all, so I set out to see if I could find a way to make it that way.

The Kid and Maude McMoocan

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7 thoughts on “Personal Politics: Separatism – Part 1

  1. Women will never be able to do the necessary creative work unless we have space where our minds are free from dude nation.

    A room of one’s own basically. It just makes sense.

  2. The most common response I get when I talk about separatism as a viable life choice is: “But men are half the world’s population! It’s not REALISTIC to go hide out in the hills with other women! It doesn’t solve anything!”

    My twofold response: First, of course separatism is a realistic life option, if one has the desire and the means. Some people live alone in TREES, you know? Some people live in yurts; in socialist compounds; in lighthouses miles away from anything, so what makes separatism so sci-fi/fantasy? Is it because it involves only women?

    Secondly, separatism solves a LOT for the women who practice it. A life free from the male gaze; from male intrusion and rules and power structuring. It means living in peace, surrounded by the people you want to be surrounded by. It means creating the life you want for yourself. It solves almost everything when it’s done well.

  3. To me, separatism is between the ears. Of course! diurnal existence probably means chance encounters with dudes, but they are not there….to me. I see right through them, they simply do not exist.
    All of my focus and energy goes to women.
    I. Simply. Adore. Them.

    Hey S4! Cute kid and puppy! 😉

  4. Hi everybody! And thanks, I’m glad you all find this a worthy subject. 🙂

    I was thinking back over the past couple of years and realized that I couldn’t recall anyone talking about separatism in any practical, *lived-experience*, this is the way it plays/ed out for me way except for Punk maybe, but not really as a main subject. So.

    Anyway, it was just the icing on the cake for me when there at the very end of Deuce’s… well… debacle of a series there she is poo-pooing the notion, like Phona says: as if it’s some kind of crazy sci-fi future world or something. Jeez. Sister, it’s mostly about a state of mind!!

  5. Yes, it’s mostly a state of mind that involves investing one’s time, energy, and money in women at every opportunity; at every point when one has any choice at all.

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