Later edit: I’ve been informed I wasn’t clear regarding this posting — sorry! I should have said what I am describing, in my comments below, is a collection of quotes of other sources put together by Griffin, the book’s author, to show the state of the world as far as women and nature are concerned — and that state was and is not good.
I am in the first half of the book still. I cannot read this book in long sittings — it makes me too angry, and I don’t want to go/live there. I have to get up and move around, clear out my head and get fresh air. I’d been aware of all the issues presented in the book, but haven’t previously found such a concentrated mass of them all together at once — my nose is being rubbed violently in male misogynistic hate and fear, and I am disgusted, revolted. How can these men seriously write these things? I have to go back and re-read more than once due to sheer incredulity.
On page 20: “And it is written that ‘it is annoying and impossible to suffer proud women, because in general Nature has given men proud and high spirits, while it has made women humble in character and submissive…'” Do they not see the very lie they seek to insist into reality? Page 38, I am once again boggled at the arrogant blindness of the authorial men:
That women have less of a sense of justice, that their thoughts are more colored by feelings than those of men.
(That women are less objective.)
That men are responsible for civilization, it is stated. …
Passivity is the share of the women, it is pointed out… that they resent civilization, that in the wake of its progress they cause discord.
Since when has a lack of feelings led to anything but emotional damage? Even male-ruled Science has conclusively demonstrated the truth of that horrible problem: raise any young creature without emotions — without love, without caring touch — and they are mentally stunted and intellectually damaged for the rest of their lives. This sort of horrific damage — not rationality — is the basis of what is optimistically, euphemistically referred to here: “pity depends on the ability to identify with another creature; but that a rational state of mind gives birth to isolation through reflection; that the rational man on seeing suffering can say, ‘Die, if you will. I am safe'” (30). The incredulous italics are mine.
Further, how can such an astonishingly misguided perception (as in only men being capable of creativity) be anything but subjective? Can the men who wrote such self-congratulatory tripe not see how petulantly childish they appear, with their insistence that women are somehow not sufficiently appreciative of this “civilizing” male misogyny? Incredibly, it gets worse: “The memories of women suffering from hysteria are said to be false. Those who said they were raped by their fathers, it is decided, were seduced by their mothers” (43).
Wow. Talk about utterly refusing to see — and when forced to look due to the sheer number of agonized girls and women pleading for help, for assistance, for anything to relieve their pain… turning arrogantly away to instead “decide” these women are all wrong — all of them! -even though that is hugely statistically improbable! -to angrily blame not the guilty — but the victims! This male sickness just keeps growing: “That the infant girl wishes to be eaten, devoured by her father, that later she wishes to be beaten or whipped by him, that young girls dream of rape, that the grown woman wishes to be pierced. That women have a lust for pain” (45). This is simply insane — I cannot understand how any rational man — or human being — would wish to so abuse those weaker than him, let alone gleefully justify his sociopathic viciousness by claiming “but they wanted it!” How can such blatantly false double standards not cause these men’s deceitful, accusatory, lying tongues to burst into flame in their psychologically-projecting mouths?!
There are no institutions, no politics, no government, where my sex and I have not been dominated, subdued and robbed of our potential and talents as we are excluded from patriarchal privilege.
What then does it mean for a woman to be loyal in patriarchy?
— Kathleen Barry, “Did I Ever Have a Chance”
I can’t even take refuge in it all being “just history,” since a lot of it is placed in the here and now. Did I ever have a chance? The curiously distanced, sort of faux-serene, almost gentle musicality of the prose is a form of cognitive dissonance for me. Unfortunately (because the content depresses me) this means I am required to read with all the focus and care I earlier (and fruitfully) devoted to Luz Irigaray’s initially confusing, lyrical texts. I sincerely hope there is as great a reward at the end of this book as I found in Irigaray. I make myself go back and re-read the lovely, peculiar, oddly familiar Prologue on page 1, so I can make myself continue:
We are the bird’s eggs. Bird’s eggs, flowers, butterflies, rabbits, cows, sheep; we are caterpillars; we are leaves of ivy and sprigs of wallflower. We are women. We rise from the wave. We are gazelle and doe, elephant and whale, lilies and roses and peach, we are air, we are flame, we are oyster and pearl, we are girls. We are women and nature. And he says he cannot hear us speak.
But we hear.