Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Aria plut Cat: Analysis

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In March I had 246 viewers.

My most popular blog posts seem to have been the Alternative vs Altering, Boston Marriage Passionate friend, Semester start, and Sol Lewit and Listening

Readers seem to enjoy (or at least click on) posts with either

Feminism on a charged topic


Photo heavy personal posts

I think the post that I'm most proud of is Boston Marriage, Passionate Friend, because I really feel like I put myself and my thoughts out there. I challenged myself to go further with my thoughts; I'm proud of where those new ideas went and developed.


I'm most proud of the Patriarchal Sisterhood pieces that I've written. Again, I pursued my ideas as far as I knew how and tried to really imagine a new way of relating to women.


I'm actually really surprised by how many people from outside the Us are reading this. Hello World!

I wonder if there's something about what I write that attracts many different people or if I should try to figure out issue that seem to relate to events in other countries that are reading. If you're a global citizen, please let me know what you'd want to read!


  • Sort my posts based on topic

  • Cross post key quotes to tumblr

  • Create longer connected series

  • Interact with my readers

  • Take more photos!

Also, when the semester ends, I want to go back and edit some of the writing that I did for my course work to use here. I'm always disappointed when I think that only I and the professor will read the things I write for a course. So I did submit a number of my writings to MIT writing competitions. Also, I'll share the writings here once I am done with term!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sintering, Centering - Study Stress

IMG_1463 Studying for 3.022 is a little bit like dying.

I'm trying to understand sintering.

This is very hard.

Also sintering sounds a lot like centering, but is not in fact the same as centering.

I wonder who came up with these ideas.

Did they do this just to spite me?

Who came up with this?

In reality, I know that these are ideas fundamental to processing ceramics and do not exist solely to bother me.

And yet...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How to: Create a Hegemony

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(I literally don't know what reading this was captured from because I took this screen shot a long time ago)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mooch Ethic and Resistance

I wanted to tease out some more information from Lierre Keith's words on Resistance and Mooch Ethic.
I have seen a few too many protests and alternative communities surviving on the Mooch Ethic. I have sat on couches that housed rats, eaten off dishes that gave me gastroenteritis, and learned (second hand, thankfully) that an itchy butt at sundown means pinworms. [...] I don't know which is worse: the general ethos's entitlement, or the stupidity; the smell of the outhouses, the unwashed bodies, or the marijuana. (DGR Lierre Keith - Part I: Resistance, 154)

She details some possible influences for Mooch Ethic in radical communities as well as the way radical movements and resources are leeched due to a refusal to do basic sustenance work.

I was alway irritated by the disrespect inherent in the messiness of MIT living groups and radical groups: what about the housing staff who have to clean up after these entitled young 'revolutionaries'? Now I recognize the gendered entitlement. These movements prey on the caregiving women and working poor women.


I would like to point out that when I refer to the exploitation of working poor women I am referring to a long history of upper class white people being able to hire the labor time poor white women and buy the bodies of black women. I am referring to a class struggle that has been very racialized and gendered for the purpose of exploitation.
Additionally, I find that although these projects [of anti-authoritarian mutual aid groups] take social reproduction as an object of struggle, they are prone to undervalue gendered and racialized work in a way that mirrors the same neoliberal social relations which mutual aid groups seek to escape. The conflicts that ensue from these contradictions can and often lead to women and people of color (and others) withdrawing energy or support in order to create stronger forms of v mutual aid. (Spataro, We work, We eat together)

Now these are high and mighty words but I would like to emphasize that we are literally talking about who cleans shit from a toilet, who moves the dead mouse from the trap, who washes moldy plates and mugs.


And the expectation for female students that after cleaning and sweating and hauling for other male students, that we are expected to treat these unwashed, dirty, smelly boys as adults. I've seen male students vomit in public areas on floors they don't live on. And I've heard these same boys complain that some women don't take them seriously, berate me personally for refusing to accept them as leaders in dorm matters.

With examples of labor exploitation, we can't claim that Mooch Ethics undermine entitlements to women's labor and respect!
[H]ow to balance waged work and the reproduction of our families so that (learning from the experience of black women) we keep something of ourselves to give to our own, how to love and live our sexuality—these are all questions that female students now must answer individually, outside of a political framework and this is a source of weakness in their relations with men. Add that academic life, especially at the graduate level, creates a very competitive environment where those who have less time to devote to intellectual work are immediately marginalized, and eloquence and theoretical sophistication are often mistaken as a measure of political commitment. (reclamation journal, silvia)

When time is limited, students participating in this maschismo mooch culture will eschew domestic responsibilities and even basic cleanliness.

Women are then expected to take up the slack, to dedicate that same limited time resource to keep spaces livable. 

This is theft. Let's all be very clear: this is a systematic undermining of women in academic circles. I am thinking of a lounge where a nice coffee pot was recently purchased. Everyone, students and staff, may use this coffee pot. One of the female professors is a coffee enthusiast and generously starts a nice pot each morning. But other people - students and professors - have refused to help clean the pot. She put up signage with instructions, assuming people simply didn't know how. Still, people refused to clean and she had to empty out moldy grinds. She put up aggressive signage asking others to help, to make sure that the coffee machine didn't break, that no one would get sick from mold.

I've watched students silently drink the coffee she made as she struggles to clean out the pot. They sit silently enjoying the warm drink while she washes and dries the filter. The Mooch Ethic is strong.

Expecting women to make the coffee, clean the coffee pot, serve the coffee is expecting women who are prized in their field to take on a role that has been coded as inferior and servile. Literally this published respected female professor is cleaning up after 18 year old students. Most importantly it states that the time of male colleagues is more valued, that men can shirk their work onto less valued people because of those people's race and gender. 
The broader question is the persistence of sexism in today’s radical politics: that is, the fact that, as in the ‘60s, radical politics continue to reproduce the sexual division of labor, with its gender hierarchies and mechanisms of exclusion, rather than subverting it. [...] Crucial issues like the need for childcare, male violence against women, women’s broader responsibility for reproductive work, what constitutes knowledge and the conditions of its production, are still not a significant part of radical discourse. This is the material basis of sexist attitudes. (reclamation journal, silvia)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Feminist Sisterhood: Goals

Having covered patriarchal sisterhood, I want to begin constructing a definition of feminist sisterhood.
The patriarchal sister is weak, forgiving, cringing. She lets people take advantage of her. She feels guilt. She’s fearful of her crippled strength and others who are stronger than her. (Aria plus Cat)

Why is sisterhood important to feminism?

  • Women need to see one another as allies rather than competition

  • Women need to create lasting fulfilling relationships with women

  • Women need to find ways to relate outside of hierarchy

  • Women need to unlearn systems of dominance in personal relationships

Framing the question as feminist, we can begin to return to the original form of sisterhood, rather than the toxic patriarchal derivative. Feminist sisterhood will give us an support network between women as we challenge institutional power, as we grow and fail too. Feminist sisterhood will empower us with creative energy and powerful fury - a constructive anger. Sisterhood will connect us from sister to sister.

Many women have spoken about the power of women connecting to one another, including Daly:
Those who live in the tradition of the Furies refuse to be tricked into setting aside our anger at this primordial mutilation, which is the ontological separation [...] of sister from sister. [...] Hag-ocracy is the time/space of those who maintain a growing creative fury at this primal injustice (Mary Daly, Gyn/ecology)

I don't want to ask what women need from one another, because to take from women what we want is a dominant question of power.

Instead I would like to ask:

What can women give each other? How can women support one another?

As we give to each other, fulfilling and reconnecting, positive creative energy will flow between us. We will find strength in one another, to challenge patriarchal institutions based on our own flexible networks outside of dominance/submission relations. Our energy will rebound on itself, doubling and tripling. Removing draining power relationships allows us to enter positive biophilic relationships of growth.

Feminist sisterhood will escape negative relationships.
To enforce this dimension of female negativity, we are systematically denied access to formal education, and every assertion of natural intelligence is punished until we do not dare to trust our perceptions, until we do not dare to honor our creative impulses, until we do not dare to exercise our critical faculties, until we do not dare to cultivate our imaginations, until we do not dare to respect our own mental or moral acuity. Whatever creative or intellectual work we do manage to do is trivialized, ignored, or ridiculed, so that even those few whose minds could not be degraded are driven to suicide or insanity, or back into marriage and childbearing. There are very few exceptions to this inexorable rule. (Our Blood by Dworkin via no status quo)

Feminist sisters encourage one another in :

  • intuition

  • educational access

  • creative impulses

  • critical faculties

  • imagination

  • mutual respect

  • moral acuity

  • intellectual continuity (as opposed to dissonance or erasure)

Again, our sisterhood is not just about reaping these attributes from each other. Instead, it is about sowing and growing these traits in each other. I cannot say enough how important feminist sisterhood has been for me personally or how valuable it can be for women as a class.

It me!

Sisterhood as Activity, Emotion, and Thought

Active: We can give to one another our time and space to vent our anger at the violence done to women. We can brainstorm creative witchy things to do to point out and undermine patriarchal violence. We can encourage our creativity, pooling our resources and skills. We can remember the words of one another, weaving our sister-witches' word with credit and pride in what we can make together.
Listening to women, our concerns and hopes, gives me inspiration and in turn I return to the work of unwrapping and weaving. When we sing and speak together, not only are we louder but we are clearer. We find the reverberations of truth. Really, it’s a blessing to spin and weave with others. (Aria Plus Cat)

Emotional: We can trust one another's intuitions, providing a framework of evidence and emotional sensitivity - to recognize violence done to us and to heal ourselves; to protect ourselves and prevent future harm. We can simply recognize one another. I'm amazed by the strength both gained and given in being seen. We can validate our pain. We can anoint one another to heal, remembering our doula and midwife mothers. We can teach one another how to bear pain, not as vessels but as discharging rods. We can teach sisters how to strike out to protect ourselves. Sisters can reverberate in our fury and get in touch with our repressed passion. We can love and praise the unique beauty of our sisters, freckles and fury.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="174"] Grounded: We can ground one another, allowing us to discharge negative attacks out of our network[/caption]

Intellectual: Again, in seeing and remembering, we can refer to our fellow sister's work. We can criticize one another from a place of love and respect. We can catch one another when our fingers falter. We can spar with one another, teaching each other the tricks that once were used against us and disarming a strength against us. Our sister secrets can be our shared truths.

Again, feminist sisterhood exists outside of dominance/submission masochistic/sadist hierarchical relationships. Older sisters are not lords or masters over younger sisters; younger sisters are not swaddled in weakness. Sisters do not have to submit to hazing or pain to find the love of their kin. Sisterhood is not a competition for attention.
Our revolutionary task is to destroy phallic identity in men and masochistic nonidentity in women--that is, to destroy the polar realities of men and women  (Our Blood by Dworkin via no status quo)

We must be part of that "subversive or sympathetic sisterhood" that Richele was denied (intercourse, possession, Dworkin: 93).


Sisterhood become re-sisterhood.
I believe that ridding ourselves of our own deeply entrenched masochism, which takes so many tortured forms, is the first priority; it is the first deadly blow that we can strike against systematized male dominance. In effect, when we succeed in excising masochism from our own personalities and constitutions, we will be cutting the male life line to power over and against us, to male worth in contradistinction to female degradation, to male identity posited on brutally enforced female negativity--we will be cutting the male life line to manhood itself. (Our Blood by Dworking via no status quo)

To understand that no one has or can have your power, that it remains in you no matter how forbidden you feel it to be, means defying the patriarchal taboo and that's very hard. It means claiming one's own limited but real power and abandoning one's inflated notion of other women's power. It means engaging in a direct public confrontation with the patriarchy as embodied in men and men's institutions, not concentrating on its symbolic presence in other members of the women's community. (Power and Helplessness via Feminist Reprise)

Sisterhood is about moving beyond a sense of power over others. Resisters must have power over themselves, power to relate to and encourage others, power to control and engage with themselves, power to use for love.

Sisterhood encourages other women to do their best, not at our expense but at our interest.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Friendly Reminder

I am amazed. This is a real note posted in a real MIT dorm to real actual students who are 18-22 years old.

[caption id="attachment_647" align="alignnone" width="300"]"Food is delicious, but fire is deadly. This is a friendly reminder" "Food is delicious, but fire is deadly. This is a friendly reminder"[/caption]

We, as MIT students and legal adults, apparently need to be reminded that leaving a stove on can lead to a fire that can kill you (along with all the other residents of the dorm, too).

One of my favorite quotes from an MIT class:
MIT is real life. If you die at MIT, you die in real life. -Prof Sekazi

Maybe some other students need to hear these wise words and reconsider their player strategy here. A really valuable lesson in that quote.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Patriarchal Sisters

As I participate in more feminist discourse and communities, I find myself challenged to describe what sisterhood means.
Making actual change is difficult. Talking big within your safe in group is easy. Those risk willing people weren’t interested in taking purposeful risks. Plenty of people hack. Few people protest. (Aria Plus Cat)

I know that sisterhood means a real active change that challenges institutional power, but also I know that it means loving women as we grow and fail too. 

But how do we motivate each other to do better without stagnating? While moving beyond seeing one another as only valuable as productive laborers? How do we stand with our younger learning sisters when they do wrong? Without condoning their bad behavior? What sort of relationship does sisterhood convey between lesbians and heterosexual women, black and white women? How can we have a relationship when we have participated in our dividedness? How do we recognize the differences while claiming same-ness?

Certainly, I don't have an answer to this question. I doubt that there's one right answer to this question. I pose it to challenge myself to try to answer it and to hope that maybe this internal conversation can be an opening to active discussion.

First let's look at a patriarchal definition of sisterhood, how the patriarchy has created a dark reversal of a gynocentric relationship between women.

Part of this active discussion is going to be criticism. I am always amazed at the women who claim to be political, but cannot take criticism of their actions. Being honest - pointing out an error - is seen as cruelty. We have to recognize how we have been sensitized as women, to believe in our incompetent fragility and also our need to be perfect to deserve even the smallest degree of respect. We are going to look hard at our community, even at how we feel about ourselves and each other.
To insist that women challenge their own fear of effectiveness and their own guilt for behaving effectively, to insist that we both behave honestly and responsibly and risk hurting others' feelings (which is hardly the worst thing in the world) is emphatically to disobey the Feminine Imperative. It's selfish. It isn't sisterly. It isn't "nice."

But it is, I'm beginning to suspect, the feminist act. (Power and Helplessness via Feminist Reprise)

Sisterhood seems to be here defined as a patriarchal sisterhood. The patriarchal sister is weak, forgiving, cringing. She lets people take advantage of her. She feels guilt. She's fearful of her crippled strength and others who are stronger than her. "Daddy's Girl, always tense and fearful, uncool, unanalytical, lacking objectivity, appraises Daddy, and thereafter, other men, against a background of fear (`respect') and is not only unable to see the empty shell behind the facade, but accepts the male definition of himself as superior, as a female, and of herself, as inferior, as a male, which, thanks to Daddy, she really is." Perhaps patriarchal sisterhood is a bit like matrophobia:
Consider, for example, the instilled fear of becoming like one's mother (matrophobia). Repeatedly we find daughters who repudiate the particular kind of victimization they see in their mothers' lives, only to live and die out an apparently opposite but really only slightly variant form of the same dis-ease (for example, the life of a Cosmo Girl as opposed to that of a staid suburban housewife). (Daly, Gyn/ecology)

The patriarchal sisterphobia would be the pitting of Cosmo girl against her older sister housewife, the city sisters against each other in the workplace, the working sister her younger dependent sister. "A vivid and accurate image of the way in which women have been coerced into “participating” in the phallocratic processions" can include the way sisters have competed against each other to be more hobbled. Daly focuses on the mother who mutilates her daughter's feet, but patriarchal sisters participate in this process too.

In the old stories of Cinderella, the mother mutilates both her daughters but at the same time, the daughters compete against each other for both her attention and the male attention of the Prince. This sister against sister portion of the story is revived in the production of Into the Woods.  This intra-sister violence may also be shown again in the Disney production of Cinderella.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="606"]Cinderella's sisters from the movie production of Into the Woods Cinderella's sisters from the movie production of Into the Woods[/caption]
The prince tried the slipper on the eldest stepsister. The sister was advised by her mother to cut off her toes in order to fit the slipper. While riding with the stepsister, the two doves from Heaven told the Prince that blood dripped from her foot. Appalled by her treachery, he went back again and tried the slipper on the other stepsister. She cut off part of her heel in order to get her foot in the slipper, and again the prince was fooled. While riding with her to the king's castle, the doves alerted him again about the blood on her foot. He came back to inquire about another girl. As Cinderella was walking down the aisle with her stepsisters as her bridesmaids, (they had hoped to worm their way into her favour), the doves from Heaven flew down and struck the two stepsisters' eyes, striking the remaining eyes of the two evil sisters blind, a punishment they had to endure for the rest of their lives. (via Wikipedia)

In the story we see the inter generational violence: Mother to daughter. We also see the intra generational violence: Sister to sister, back and forth. 

The story recognizes that the violence occurs as the women fight for the Prince's attention and the privileges that come with it. The scrambling conniving step sisters are a conveyed as clear evil force. But the step sisters could be portrayed as victims too. Cinderella and the step sisters have been abused and hurt by the step mother, but that is totally erased. The sisters cannot work together or bond over their shared experience.

Nor can the women, sisters and mothers, work together to escape the (patriarchal) cycle of abuse: Cinderella strikes the sisters blind. Cinderella is a good patriarchal daughter in that she remains an order removed from the doves of heaven, but her distorted wish for violence that drives the retribution. In other stories, Cinderella's husband binds the stepmother in hot iron shoes as a wedding gift to his new wife. Cinderella's marriage begins with the mother "dancing" to death as the hot metal burns her feet. Cinderella remains dependent, now on the prince, rather than her step mother or father. 

This same sisterly relationship as competitive and dependent can be continued in feminist spaces, between feminist women. Systems of dominance and relationships of dominance abound in patriarchal societies, even between women.
Since the middle-class friends [...] were never explicit that what made them uncomfortable with me was not what I said but that I could say it, what I got in return was abuse. Just as my long-ago class-privileged friend had explained to me, when people are forbidden a right to honest anger and the apology that could be demanded from one who has injured them, all that is left to express is cruelty; all that is left to reach for from the other person is a reaction—any reaction—but preferably one that hurts as much as the wounded party now feels hurt. ( The Lesbian Revolution and the 50 Minute hour)

The same issues are used to keep out lesbian feminists from mainstream feminist spaces:
There is a disgusting history of women shutting out the (lesbian) hysteric woman from feminist discourse. The woman who talks a little too loudly about hating men is never welcome. The woman who is honest about her anger at rape in her politics is worse still. The lavender menace is at once named, othered, and shut out. (Aria Plus Cat)

Womyn’s centers (and bookstores and restaurants and buildings) were effectively closed to separatist and other radical lesbians by their switch from revolutionary forums to social reform, and later still to a focus on personal growth. Relationships between lesbians were similarly undermined [by] privileged womyn ( The Lesbian Revolution and the 50 Minute hour)

But what is feminist sisterhood?
Those who live in the tradition of the Furies refuse to be tricked into setting aside our anger at this primordial mutilation, which is the ontological separation of mother from daughter, of daughter from mother, of sister from sister. Women choosing Hag-ocracy refuse to teach divine science to the kings of the earth, to initiate them into our mysteries. Hag-ocracy is the time/space of those who maintain a growing creative fury at this primal injustice (Mary Daly, Gyn/ecology)

I'll try to tackle the question in more depth. But we're going to have to unweave the patriarchal reversal.