Back to being woman-centred

Thanks to Masked Lilly, who recommended it, I found myself watching an amazing music clip. Again. And again. It gives me the chills. It heals me. The past few weeks I’ve been a hollowed out shell of the person I was before you-know-what happened. And today, watching this, I feel some of the old female power returning.

What strikes me is that the singer makes the same connections between women and nature that Mary Daly did: that women are nature and life  and men are machines, metal, oil and death. Cement and stone walls symbolically represent men in the clip, as indeed they do in real life. Unmoving, single-minded, unchanging, halted, deadlocked, rigid. Men don’t budge. Their bodies neither.

Their bodies do not have the capacity to evolve, the way women’s do. Medical abuse of women by male doctors in infamous, the most unecessary interference being the episiotomy, where the doctor cuts a labouring woman’s perinium with scissors, believing that he’s helping the baby to come out. What he’s actually doing is damaging her pelvic floor muscles, creating third degree tears leading to incontinence and many more problems that I’m not going into now. The mark of a midwife’s professionalism, on the other hand, is the ability to deliver a baby with the perinium intact. It was Mary Daly who pointed out that the verb “to doctor”  has roots in common with the verb “to butcher”.

The problem is, you see, that men’s reproductive organs are so very limited in the size they can expand to, which means they simply cannot imagine what women’s bodies are capable of. They refuse to understand that we are beautifully designed. What I mean is, men’s physical capacities are extremely finite, and  they project these limitations onto women’s bodies.

Not every radical feminist agrees that women and nature share an affinity with each other. Some say it is an essentialist point of view. But from what I know about the wilderness of nature, and my own response to it, and the way I’m at peace only when I’m immersed in it; and what I know about men’s love of order, neatness, steel, machinery, contraptions; and what I feel when I see men’s machinery bulldozing nature to the ground and cementing over river basins and mountainsides, I would hazard a guess that she’s not wrong

Here is a section of the interview with Mary Daly, which is now being discussed at femonade:

In the early seventies, Susan Griffin wrote a book called Women and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her, and it was totally about the connectedness of women and nature. And I have always emphasized that myself. But one of the horrible, self-censoring and destructive events within women’s studies and the so-called women’s community that happened—and I’m sure it was imbedded from some alien source—was that any woman who said that women have a special connection with nature, or that there’s anything like a “female nature,” was called an “essentialist,” and that was the “worst” thing you could possibly say. I have been accused of being an essentialist, and so has anyone else I respect.

But I’ll also argue that whether or not they’re inherent, the fact is that the differences between men and women are there, even if it’s just through millennia of conditioning. I, of course, think it’s inherent. But even if it were cultural, the fact is that this is the way to go if you’re biophilic. What I’m concerned with is the war between biophilia and necrophilia. It’s love of life versus hatred of life. Necrophilia translates strictly into love of death, or loving the dead—actually f—ing corpses. And in general, patriarchal culture is necrophilic, fixated on hatred of life and love of death.

Daly was a philosopher in the true sense of the word, because her words give me strength. I can open up a book of hers on any page  and feel like I’ve come home to rest (the second passage of Gyn/Ecology excluded, due to the subject matter)

So here’s the clip. Women are nature: breeze, grass, flowers; men are civilization: walls, mortar, linear shadows, order

[And isn’t Tori Amos beautiful here. Her ancestors were celtic witches, I’m certain of it.]


13 thoughts on “Back to being woman-centred

  1. The male response to nature, the earth is one of fear. The same way they react to women. Fear, hate, destruction.

    Wilderness (free of men), even small spaces of the natural world can be very healing for us though. I wish there were more opportunities for women to experience that.

  2. i never understood the woman/nature stuff until daly made the point of “biophilia” versus “necrophilia” or love of life vs love of death. clearly, men prefer death. also, experiencing nature for any period of time requires functional clothing, nutritious calorie-dense foods, the human things that patriarchy denies us. if for no other reason than that, i think all women need to experience nature. sadly, i know many never will.

    • yes, the practical side of enjoying nature is interesting. In The Beauty Myth Woolf points out that women’s fear of ageing, and of not looking their best, creates a barrier between them and nature. THe obvious one is the fact that in order to enjoy the sunshine you can’t be worrying about whether it’s going to age your skin. To really enjoy nature with abandonment, you have to discard the reflection of yourself you carry around in your head.

      (The BEauty Myth was quite a radical text before Naomi Woolf recanted it all because she was treated like shit for writing it. Apparently in one particular interview she was completely tramelled and the experience upset her a lot. She veered so far off the path that she later went on to defend Assange-the-rapist 😯 .. but I digress)

  3. Biophilia.

    When I read that in the interview I immediately thought of something that happened when I was about 6 years old when we were visiting my grandparents who lived in a beautiful temperate forest.

    My brother (who is 6 years older) and I were out playing when he started pointing his b.b. rifle at a bird. I told him to stop and he kept doing it. I kept getting more insistent and then he shot it dead. Of course, I burst out crying, like really, really sobbing hard and he looked at me as if to say, What’s your problem?

    When it suits them, men like to label a man/boy with behaviors like that a “sociopath” when in reality it is the simple, typical male “necrophilia” that WE (the Living) suffer.

    • Oh, jeez… your story made me tear up. I remember something this reminded me of (maybe 2nd grade for me?); I found a robin’s egg fallen out of the nest, didn’t know if it was still viable, so… I made a nest out of a paper cup and TP, and held it close to my body inside my shirt to keep it warm, thought about what kind of incubator I could set up in my room, as I waited outside the school for my ride… just about then a group of boys bashed into me, knocking the egg on the pavement, smashing it. I cried and cried… and those boys ran off like it was nothing to them.

  4. Sargasso, I remember there being a beautiful red rose in my childhood garden. THe house was old, and a single red rose,which might have been as old as the house, bloomed in the same spot every year. THe smell was beyond heavenly. I used to wait for it each summer. One summer’s day, when I was about 12, and the rose was in full bloom, I went out to see it — and there was a pile of bricks in the place where it should have been.
    My father was cutting down trees and building something or other, and he’d just dumped a wheelbarrow load of bricks and stones there. I knew it was dead. I started crying inconsolably. My dad came and I told him what he’d done and he shouted at me 😦

    I’ve just remembered that I actually had a Mary Daly-esque encounter with a priest once, which may be another reason why I found that Tori Amos clip so compelling. I’ve written about it in detail here, it was one of my first ever posts.

  5. I don’t know how I managed to miss this! I’m so glad you liked the video! I do have a sneaking suspicion that Tori Amos *is* a radfem, still. she was quite radical back in the day and got ridiculed for it. I’ve almost no doubt that she’s read Daly, too. This song is from her best album (IMO), Under the Pink. it’s really beautiful and her next-best Boys for Pele carried me through my teens, I think, there were no other female voices as bold and radical as hers then. Or now, really. This was in the early 00s, sp these albums were already around a decade old.. I think she’s probably still a radfem at heart.. Oh, and she’s definitely got a witchy streak! 🙂 I love KD Lang, too!

    Your story about the rose is heartbreaking.. men really don’t seem to notice the beauty in such things do they? they just plow through everything

    And Sargasso’s story about the bird plain makes my blood boil.

  6. I don’t like the “women are nature and men are everything else” concept; it seems like giving up enormous ground. (Plus it’s already kinda accepted, common thought, which is suspect as all hell.) Metal and oil and stone are all as natural as a spring breeze, and a smooth, cold stone wall can be a pleasant thing. I think, in a world without men for example, technology, architecture, science, etc. would be better, more advanced, more beautiful, less destructive, etc. I’m sure most women would enjoy lolling in fields and painting mountains and milking cows or whatever (I would too, sometimes), but technology &c are wonderful fields for expressing creativity, and creativity is supposed to be one of women’s real talents, right?
    I suppose the main problem I have here is “men = death”, when death is a big part of nature; and then all this other stuff is lumped into that. I think Daly or Johnson talked about the “men = aberration/mutation” concept, in Wildfire or Sisterwitch; I obviously prefer that. The problem isn’t that things die and are killed, it’s that men are so fixated on dying and killing that they ruin that, and everything else. I don’t like “women = nature” because it seems it should be “women = everything”, including whatever men are trying to hold all for themselves.

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