Lyrics:

As the sun comes up, as the moon goes down
These heavy notions creep around
It makes me think
Long ago I was brought into this life, a little lamb
A little lamb
Courageous, stumbling
Fearless was my middle name
But somewhere there I
Lost my way
Everyone walks the same
Expecting me to step
The narrow path they’ve laid
They claim to

Walk unafraid
I’ll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me
High

Say “keep within the boundaries if you want to play”
Say “contradiction only makes it harder”
How can I be
What I want to be?
When all I want to do is strip away
These stilled constraints
And crush this charade
Shred this sad masquerade
I don’t need no persuading
I’ll trip, fall, pick myself up and

Walk unafraid
I’ll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me
High

If I have a bag of rocks to carry as I go
I just want to hold my head up high
I don’t care what I have to step over
I’m prepared to look you in the eye
Look me in the eye
And if you see familiarity
Then celebrate the contradiction
Help me when I fall to

Walk unafraid
I’ll be clumsy instead
Hold my love me or leave me
High

I’ve been following in fascination the debate Polly managed to kick off with her recent post: The lunatics have taken over the asylum, specifically the discussion that’s now developed around the issue of consent, and whether under the patriarchy women can ever be deemed to have fully and in complete autonomy consented to sexual intercourse with men.

In Heart’s view the answer to that one’s a no, for as she sees it:

I don’t think that sex between a man and a woman can take place under male heterosupremacy (ever) apart from some degree of coercion. I think the coercive factors I listed, and others, will always be operating in every het sexual encounter, even when a woman isn’t thinking about them expressly during sex and even when a man isn’t expressly thinking about them during sex…..Women are *always* vulnerable in sexual encounters with men. Every single time. All het sex is threatening to some degree to women.) The playing field is not yet equal between men and women anywhere in the world; men still enjoy power relative to women, and particularly and centrally in matters around sexuality. Het sex, whenever and however it occurs, cannot be bracketed off from these power relations.

Later on in her comment thread Heart elaborates on this:

when I say all heterosexual encounters are coercive, I mean that our second-class status as women under male heterosupremacy, and the subsequent inequalities of every kind that surround us because of our second-class status, are not suspended when we have sex with men. We can certainly give our spoken consent to sex with men, we can say “yes,” and mean it, we can want sex with men, and enjoy it, but the best we can expect *or* enjoy — in the most enjoyable sex with men that it is possible to have — is sex that is surrounded by and shot through with reminders and artifacts and vulnerabilities, unspoken threats, fears centered in our second-class status……We can’t change our histories of sexual assault, violence, battering, rape, incest, domestic violence, family violence at the hands of men. We can’t have any faith whatsoever in courts, in judges, in police, in hospitals, doctors, to deal honestly and justly with us where we have been harmed by men. This knowledge that we have and that men have as well follows us into all the encounters we have with them.

There’s so much I agree with here, and yet……..no, I really can’t go along with this, not totally.

As Renegade Evolution says in her own inimitable style:

I’d never, as a het gal, want to feel that damn powerless when it comes to sex. Here is one woman who does not feel that fear every time…hell, hardly any time at all…if any. And I thank whatever powers that be for that…especially today after reading that statement. I do not want that kind of fear. I don’t think I could deal with it.

The way I see it, Heart’s is an all men are rapists all women are perpetual victims kind of argument. It’s an argument that tells women that no matter what we do, no matter how far we might think we’ve moved on from whatever abuses we may have suffered, for as long as we live under the patriarchy (and let’s be realistic, for most of us that means for the entire rest of our lives), we’re going to be carrying those abuses around with us each and every day, in each and every waking moment, like rocks on our backs. It’s a message of hopelessness, of putting up with the status quo, accepting our lot as second class citizens and allowing that status and our past abuses to define us.

And I hate to sound harsh but no: just no. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

Feminism to me does not mean sitting back and accepting my lot in life. It does not mean passively going along with the prevailing male heterosupremacy as Heart so eloquently puts it, shrugging my shoulders to it all and encouraging my daughters to do the same. It does not mean encouraging women to wallow in their victimhood mumbling “it was the patriarchy wot done it,” while at the same time giving them no hope and no ambition for something better, for something different, for something other than the shitty fucked up existences so many have been forced to live up to this point.

If feminism is about anything, surely at its most basic it’s about fighting back against that kind of thinking; it’s about giving women, collectively, the tools to enable us to stand up and say no, this is where that crap ends. Feminist consciousness helps us learn why we’ve lived the lives we have, why we’ve been abused the way we have, and most importantly, it gives us the means by which we can move forwards, positively, shrugging off those damned rocks, one at a time if need be, but certainly refusing to be bowed down under the weight of any more.

Heart’s right, we can’t change our histories of sexual assault, violence, battering, rape, incest, domestic violence, family violence at the hands of men, and absolutely, those histories shape us and contribute to making us who we are today, but those histories don’t have to be our futures too, we do not have to accept that that is all there is for us.

As Andrea Dworkin said: “We have challenged what appears to be the permanence of male dominance by destabilizing it, by refusing to accept it as reality, our reality. We have said, No. No, it is not our reality.”

And:

“I am going to ask you to use every single thing you can remember about what was done to you – how it was done, where, by whom, when, and, if you know, why – to begin to tear male dominance to pieces, to pull it apart, to vandalize it, to destabilize it, to mess it up, to get in its way, to fuck it up. I have to ask you to resist, not to comply, to destroy the power men have over women, to refuse to accept it, to abhor it and to do whatever is necessary despite its cost to you to change it.”

Heart says “The best heterosexual sex we can consent to is sex with a partner in comparison with whom we are second-class citizens.”

Well I refuse to be a second-class citizen. I’ve been there, done that, bought and worn the fucking t-shirt, and I’m not going back there again.

Remember, resist; do not comply.

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