living underground in the real world

women: a feminist perspective

Women: A Feminist Perspective is the hilarious title of a book in my woman-only bookshelf in my womany pink room. Working under the “room of one’s own” principle, instead of turning our extra bedroom into a guest room, we force our guests to sleep in the pink room. The pink room is my office and quiet space. It’s pink with red windows and trim, pink and red being, of course, the best color combination ever invented. (My mother always rolls her eyes incredulously when I profess my undying love for pink. She did the very best job she could trying to make sure the world didn’t force me into being a girly girl. She mostly succeeded, except for a weakness for vintage dresses and a love of the girliest shades of pink imaginable.)

I put my most radical feminist books in there, thinking Mary Daly and Katherine MacKinnon wouldn’t want to mix with the Thoreau and Malcolm X and Kurt Vonnegut in the library (um, the other potential guest bedroom we turned into my sweetheart’s office and the library. We are selfish hoarders, what can I say? We have a very nice air mattress for the pink room.).

The pink room has everything I need to center myself and escape from the real world: a nice tidy desk no one ever messes with, views of trees and sky and nothing else (on summer nights I swear I can hear the faraway cows by the rail trail mooing—do cows moo at night, or am I imagining this?),

happily messy ideas and inspiration,

and, of course, books and cats.

I will never understand how Noodle the cat magically works herself into every photo.

Though (standard disclaimer alert:) I have many male friends and am in love with a great man who shares my life and house, I value and adore woman-only spaces.

My beloved Bloodroot restaurant used to have a women-only night. Every Wednesday night a woman would stand sentry at the door and tell any XYs that they were closed.

Some women came for a meeting of the now-defunct G. Knapp Historical Society. Goody Knapp was a women hung for being witch in 1653 in Bridgeport, CT, where the restaurant is located. In their 1980 cookbook The Political Palate (WordPress won’t let me underline, so please know that I know that a book should be underlined, not bold, oy!) – the first of six Bloodroot cookbooks – the Bloodroot women write that “her death, like 9 million others between the 14th and 17th centuries, was an act of woman hating…Andrea Dworkin has said in reference of the genocide of witches: ‘A lot of knowledge disappears with 9 million people.’ The G. Knapp Historical Society is an attempt to remind women that such knowledge must not disappear again.”

(Much as I love both Bloodroot and Andrea Dworkin, I have to state that the nine million figure quoted above has been roundly rejected by many other feminist scholars—I can’t find the stats that are thought to be most accurate, but I believe they are in the 1 million range. No one is really sure where nine million came from.)

Many women, however, came on Wednesdays because of the special power that comes from women-only spaces. I learned this working at Bloodroot. At first I didn’t see the value of working with all women, but it truly does make a difference. It sounds a little silly to say, but never underestimate the power of not having to worry about if your shirt is rising too high and exposing your stomach when you reach up to get the bread pans. Something special happens when you can’t ask the boy to bring in the flour sacks, truly, it does. Yes, often it’s just that you will ask the most butchy lesbian around, but I love the problem-solving that happens at Bloodroot, the honest conversations, the way “women’s issues” are taken seriously and throughly discussed, with everyone allowed an equal voice.

The truth is: I love women. The owners of Bloodroot, Selma and Noel, once decided to call me a “political lesbian,” and though I wouldn’t have chosen the label for myself, it fits, and since they are real live lesbians, I’ll not question their power to bestow the label on others. I am in love with a man, but in pretty much all other ways I am a woman-identified woman in that I vastly prefer women to men.

I love watching women. I love the little game that gets played out on the streets of big cities where if you like a woman’s outfit you’ll turn around to look at her from the back. Have you ever done that and the woman you’re looking at turns to platonically check you out too? God, I love that. I always think: “Look at us! We’re so cool!” Maybe the other woman is thinking “why is that freak staring at me?,” but I prefer to think she’s thinking the same thing I am.

Women checking each other out—let’s be honest about it. It happens because women are beautiful.

Men are not beautiful. My man happens to be gorgeous and the cutest boy in the universe, but as a whole men kind of freak me out. Overall they are lumpy and misshapen, especially when dressed in their typical American uniforms of those terrible white-soled sneakers and baggy t-shirts.

Women, on the other hand—I could look at their jaw bones, the shape of their legs, the curve of their arms all day long. I’m know I’m not alone in this.

Either you feel me or you don’t when I say that I deeply feel the essential mysterious awesomeness at the center of the world of women. If you don’t feel me you’ll think I’m silly and reductionist and essentialist, and that’s your right. Maybe I am silly and reductionist and essentialist. Who cares? We’re not in Women’s Studies 101 anymore. We’re in the pink room.

(Hey, I wrote an essay about this in relation to women on the left, if you’re interested.)

Thinking about these kinds of issues lately, I’ve decided that I’d like to keep rolling with the woman-mostly space I seem to have created here. No offense to you good dudes out there—but have you noticed that almost all of you fine commenters are women? I like that. I want to publicly encourage this trend of mostly women talking to mostly women in this little corner of the internet. I know some very fine male specimens, so please keep reading and commenting and being my friend, but the idea of a woman-mostly blog is so great, isn’t it?

A little balance, a little privacy, a little space to be taken seriously – pink walls and all. Let’s do it.

4 Responses to “women: a feminist perspective”

  1. Katy

    Oooh – I was going to paint my guest bathroom pink since, a) I wanted to, and b) everyone would have to use it whether they liked pink or not; now I must do the trim in red! Why did I not think of this before! Brilliant!!

    Reply
  2. purplefinn

    My 95 year old friend, a feminist, always said that “they” were not going to take the color pink away from her. She had a pink bathroom, briefcase etc.

    Reply

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