Forgiveness + Positive Thinking = Eating Shit

Every patriarchal religion has a Forgiveness Clause. Forgive! It’s Holy! Get Whole again!  Why even the Dalai Lama says forgiveness is good for you. And not only that, any psychologist who spent all that money getting the paper-thingee to sit and listen to kinda redundant incest/depression tales will tell you the same: Forgive! Because it’s the only way you’ll heal…

The congregation and the couch-client, we all know, are primarily FEMALE. — Women trying to find succor from the layer upon layer upon layer of psychic/spiritual damage patriarchy inflicts on all women. The forgiveness clause is for us (and the kids later on with their damn class-action lawsuits). Do men forgive? Have the Palestinian patriarchal command forgiven the Israeli patriarchal command? Did the English Airforce forgive the German Infantry? Have the Crips forgiven the Bloods?? HELL NO. Men don’t forgive. Forgiveness is for gurrls. Men do war. Because men understand forgiveness as capitulation, as an admission of overwhelming powerlessness. As Robin Morgan pointed out in Demon Lover, her scintillating work on men and terrorism: They try-out their atrocities on us. A rarely-noticed side effect of these homelab scientific tinkerings is women nearly dead from pain, at a complete loss on how to ever function normally again. Regardless of the method/crime, the aftermath of male-induced trauma is the same: a smashed psyche (psychological fragmentation goes nicely with the dicing-up-our-bodies thing. Matches!) And while women are curled in fetal positions under blankets, perseverating, wondering what just happened, they hand us forgiveness. Here: Try this. Onus on you.

I know a Handmaiden Extraordinaire, het-paired at 18, lost her man-rock at 55 (why do white middle-class wifies seem to know less about men than anyone else on this planet?) A dispenser of two sons, she ignores other women, and finds feminists distasteful. See, her life was grand, financially secure, all Home and Garden Magazine until one day a man held a gun to her head, forced her in his trunk, drove her to the woods and raped her. Well she laid in bed and laid in bed, and even dreamed of pulling the switch on this prick. But that was then and this is now, and since her husband died, she is busily screening for a new PIV/financial security arrangement, and proudly told me she has now “totally forgiven my perp.” Woo-hoo! (“Not all men are like that,” she said contemptuously, cuz I am such a dumbshit. “My sons aren’t…”) Naturally, it was quite demented to think one could fry perp. But taking bang-bang-squirt so you can have a place to live isn’t demented at all.

Obviously Handmaiden Extrordinaire earns distasteful back, but this is not the point. Not only do women have to clean men’s shit up inside ourselves, but by golly, didn’t you know? We get to GROW from having endured it. Our way to pride.

So true. Because holding hands with the Forgiveness Clause and Modern Psychology is the concept of “marianismo” — the idea that suffering is ennobling.” (“Marianismo” is actually considered the partner concept to “machismo.” — Interesting no? There they are together: Insane Maleness and Long-Suffering-Hence-Ennobled femaleness). No one told you? We get NOBLE from taking their shit. Taking their shit IMPROVES us. We become DEEPER. – Which means we know stuff and are keeping quiet about it. We become ADVANCED and COMMENDABLE beings. – Which means we are trying not to die inside from their shit.

This personal development we are blessed with can even bring us closer to that most kindest of hippie dudebros — Jesus. Cuz if ever there was a messiah you could count on, it’s this guy. The Dolly Lama, top dog of Tibet’s exiled ruling class, – also pretty freakin HOLY. Desmond Tutu too, likeable churchy guy awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his forgiveness stuff and whose face will appear on money any day now. So how did these dudes get so SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY HOLY? Well, they acted masochistic, er,…womanish. What it is is: these are the only dudes EVER to use the forgiveness clause. EVER!

Anyway, forgiving dudes seem kind of show-offy. They get noticed. Not to mention GOD STATUS, WORLD-WIDE WORSHIP, IMMORTALITY, and BOOK SALES. Women, meanwhile, are trying not to die under their covers. Difference.

Besides forgiveness, there is a new and exciting way to deal with nearly losing your will to live: Positive Thinking. This is a fantastic make-your-own-brain-techneek whereby one can, like magic, — wa-la! — forget. Just think and rinse stubborn pain-stains away. (Lots of rinsing here. Notice? Forgiveness or Positive Thinking: rinse away the shit. Fortunately, women, – we know how to rinse!) Positive Thinking is all the rage now, as the therapists are liking this one a lot better because it is about Action and Scientists and even the Dalai Lama! Total legitimacy!

According to Positive Thinking, you can create your own reality by thinking it. What say, at the next radfem wingding, we think we’ll never again be touched by the manhands of patriarchy? Worth a try, no?

I know a radfem whose girlfriend, because she was an exceptionally femmy lesbian, was attacked by members of a certain unnamed police department. Girlfriend went fetal under blow after blow of their nightsticks, with radfem watching helplessly as the love of her life was nearly beaten to death. When the women prepared to bring a lawsuit against the goodoleboys, their house burned down. They lost pretty much everything but the animals. (Uh, …unsolved). Well, exceptionally femmy ex-girlfriend (yes, life-long partnership failed — good job boys) is damn near dead from the trauma. Radfem, on the other hand, practices Positive Thinking every day, and calls it “my spiritual practice.” It has helped her survive better than her ex, yes. But it is based on the idea that if she refocuses her thoughts away from REALITY, that she will then be OK. Hey, works. Cuz ya know, realitykinda sucks…

This create-your-own-reality approach is appealing because the dictate is so familiar to women: it’s your bad thoughts causing you problems. You need to change your bad thoughts. Onus on you. Twisted up with this blame/you-need-to-change/endless-self-scrutiny message is the elusive promise of personal empowerment. We have the ability to rinse. But how is this empowerment? Isn’t this just trying to get OK again? Also known as survival?

Regardless – Forgiveness or Positive Thinking – the Onus is on us. Onus #1: The trajectory of male violence smashes woman’s psyche. Onus #2: Functioning. Onus #3: Finding a way out of Hell. (And how many women cannot even find out? How many get tripped up by another one of Dudeom’s Onuses: What did I do wrong??...OR, I am so ashamed…OR, I have brought shame to my family…OR, I must have displeased God…OR, I must have deserved what happened to me.) We get all the Onuses. Inflicting dudes may be found guilty. But they are not made accountable. They don’t have to answer to anyone. And they don’t.

Whether handmaiden or radfem, women try Forgiveness or Positive Thinking because they have no choice.  The handmaiden can’t get out of bed from the trauma if she doesn’t forgive. The lesbian radfem can’t get out of bed from the trauma unless she tries to change her thoughts. Women must slay their rage. This is salvation. Because alot of under-the-covers-time is spent wanting to kill these goddamn motherfuckers.

We all know what would happen. Whether handmaiden or radfem, we all know what would happen to us if we stood up for ourselves/retaliated/avenged/clarified. Death or worse. Death or worse. Death or worse. And this is how they rule…

Are these techneeks not then capitulation? An admission of overwhelming powerlessness?

I don’t mean to dismiss either approach. Women spend a lot of time hurting, and they need to get out of it. Anger can kill you, it’s true. And it often finishes the job dude started.

But Forgiveness and Positive Thinking, while useful, and potentially very helpful to women who have been through really bad shit (ie,: MEN), are frozen bags of corn to the bruises and cuts and knifeslashes and gunshots and rapes and strangulations and daily diminishment of women that is patriarchy.

34 thoughts on “Forgiveness + Positive Thinking = Eating Shit

  1. This post is fantastic! Women need to embrace and direct their rage towards dismantling patriarchy. Mary Daly calls it righteous rage and it can be used creatively towards female liberation. Forgiveness and positive thinking is just another tool used against women in patriarchy that is equivalent to denial. The movie “The Brave One” is one of my favorite movies because after the lead female was attacked, her fiancee murdered and her dog stolen, she healed not by forgiving but by going out there and killing violent male attackers and she got her dog back too. 🙂

  2. Thanks for this brilliant post! Thanks for being real about the punishments we face when we fight back against the P. Our minds, and sometimes our bodies too, are wrapped in scar tissue.

  3. Thank you for speaking the truth! That whole forgiveness bullshit is merely a way of letting those with privilege justify the suffering of those without privilege. It’s an excuse so that they won’t have to feel bad at knowing the awful truth that maybe they “got theirs” at the expense of a whole lot of others (mostly women) NOT getting ours. Think positive happy happy joy joy thoughts and you too can “make it” (in a man’s world), and you won’t suffer from poverty (due to sex AND class oppression), and men won’t be total shit-asses to you, and you’ll “snap right back” after giving birth and have a nice body again (and therefore be worthy of love, social acceptance and another job), and if you only had the “right attitude” in trying to speak up for your rights, men won’t lob rape threats and death threats at you and silence your voice. ::barf::

  4. I demand the male perpetrators and their male allies all get on their knees and beg us women for mercy, but that won’t happen – not until male supremacy is finally eliminated and the male perpetrators are held accountable for their crimes against women.

    But men of course believe they have nothing to apologise for; have never, ever committed violence against women because men believe they are all innocent and we women are always to blame for causing the men to commit violence against us! Twisted thinking? Of course it is and it is called patriarchal/male supremacist reversal.

    If we are going to promote forgiveness then the focus has to be on the men and their crimes against women but that would mean men being held accountable and responsible. Perhaps, just perhaps one day men will be held to account and yes punished for their crimes committed against women. Because make no mistake men have and continue to commit crimes against women and men continue to be acquitted of these crimes whereas the female victims continue to be the ones living with the aftermath of men’s casual violence committed against them.

    Guilt tripping women is what men always do and sadly it all too often works.

  5. Very interesting, exactly what I felt for a long time: forgiveness is strictly gendered, never understood what it meant anyhow.
    Originally, it’s a Christian concept: you for-give, you transfer to God the responsability of judgement. If you don’t believe in God, the concept doesn’t mean anything.
    And forgiving, unless you have absolute proof, that the person has completely reformed, is just a blank check given to repeat offenders.
    One thing though: no, anger doesn’t necessarily kill you, quite the opposite, it can help you survive, it’s a very strong energy, it fuels you, it keeps you going, it gives you a reason to live.
    Through different traumatic experiences inflicted by men, it’s my anger that kept me alive, lIke a burning flame in a storm.
    And I plan sto stay angry at patriarchy for the rest of my life, it’s a the source of my strength.

  6. Wow. YES. Fuck forgiveness. Thank you for this.

    (Found you via a link on Against All Evidence. Can’t wait to see how this new blog unfolds.)

  7. Wow. Thank you! You. nailed. it. I was the handmaiden once, and now I am the radfem. But the anger is still there and always has been. The difference is, now I put the blame where it belongs and not on myself anymore. Means I now don’t want to kill myself anymore, but I sure as hell spend quite some time wanting to kill those motherfuckers!

  8. Thank you all for your welcoming response. I have been a radical feminist for decades. So it gives me GREAT JOY to contribute to this Radfem Resurgence that I have been waiting for for a very long time…

    I am sick of constantly living under the threat of their violence. And I am sick of this chokehold they have us in with their aftermath. I was reading an article in which some goodworksdude was being commended for bringing victims of violence into the jails to forgive “their offenders.” The article did note that almost all of the victims were women. It also noted how goodworksdude spends months training these women not to be too confrontational with perp or else “he may shut down.” Goodworksdude was quoted as saying: “Forgiveness is usually the last thing on these people’s minds.”

  9. Says what I would have said but in a better way. I so enjoy take-downs of the whole “positive thinking” BS.

  10. Reblogged this on failure is impossible! and commented:
    “Regardless of the method/crime, the aftermath of male-induced trauma is the same: a smashed psyche (psychological fragmentation goes nicely with the dicing-up-our-bodies thing. Matches!) And while women are curled in fetal positions under blankets…wondering what just happened, they hand us forgiveness. Here: Try this. Onus on you.”

    excellent piece on the healing-through-forgiveness gestalt, which is really just another way of tricking women into defending their oppressors.

  11. Thank you for this essay. And welcome to the ‘blogosphere.’ I have been a radical feminist for decades too, and am relatively new to this world, but so, so glad to be in it, to see it happening, and to perhaps be a part of it. Better late than not at all. Keep writing!

  12. Thanks for this brilliant post. I followed the link from Against All Evidence. Looking forward to more!

  13. You could not be more right.
    Sick to death of the Secret mentality. What an unspeakably cruel meme to support. Convincing targets that targetship is apparently all they are capable of makes the oppression of the sex class that much easier.

    The Christians really are something else with their turning of the other cheek. I used to teach scripture to children (and behave myself). When I finally freaking realized that most Christian men were simply in the business of domesticating women for men’s ownership/breeding purposes.

    I’ve been collecting dirt on patriarch godbags for my whole life, and you can bet I’ll use as much of it against them as I can. We’ve all got our lists!

    Shared the link on fb.

  14. Ehm… Hi. Fellow radfem here. I just wanted to say, I don’t think “forgiveness + positive thinking” are incompatible with radical feminism.
    I think it’s possible to use “forgiveness + positive thinking” to heal yourself, and then go and fight the patriarchy, once you are healed and not hurting so much from all the trauma.

  15. Thank you kindly, Mary, for commenting. I don’t think I’m saying forgiveness and positive thinking are incompatible with radical feminism. Towards the end of the post, I said I don’t mean to dismiss either of these approaches — that women are hurting and need to get OK.

    For me, radical feminism is the best way of dealing. But look at the radfem I wrote about: understanding patriarchy did not help her with her pain. So yes, whatever women need to get better. Of course.

    My point was that forgiveness and positive thinking (really: slaying our righteous anger) are the paltry individual responses we are left with in the face of an ongoing epidemic of male violence against us. And to look at that. Really look at that. If women were traumatizing and killing men in such numbers, would men be quietly trying out forgiveness and positive thinking from under the covers of their locked rooms?

    An observant radfem posted on Facebook recently that with the loss of consciousness-raising groups, psychiatry has served to sever women from each other and from the political nature of their “problems.” I agree.

    Forgiveness and positive thinking do not address men’s collaborative thousand-year war against us.
    These two common responses to particular acts of war against us, — forgiveness and positive thinking — while possibly individually helpful, are only icepacks, and may even serve, unfortunately, inadvertently, or perhaps deliberately, to perpetuate that war.

  16. Thank you for this! I really agree. I also have been a Radical Feminist for decades, since 1970, and there is so much pressure to forgive and just let all the female-hating continue. I always say that pacifism and non-violent resistance works only when there is an accompanying Liberation movement willing to scare those in power, or when the victims outnumber the invaders/attackes by the millions. Women are too divided already.

    Just say no to saying yes, and no more “you create your own reality” crap!

  17. I am not a radical feminist….I like men….I like women….I dont think you can blame either sex for the inequality and injustice in this world….I think a small section of society called psychopaths can be blamed for that.Those with no guilt or empathy.Some of them are women. THESE are those who would have us forgive so they can get away with more crimes.They learn to exist among us undetected, being selfish and causing ripple after ripple of hurt and devastation to the unsuspecting who cant understand why they dont behave like normal people. I dont believe in forgiveness. Forgetting, if no other option, for your own sanity – maybe …..I believe in revenge served cold…In fact I believe in dog shit served cold …in a nice parcel….through the post….so cold in fact that the receiver wont know who its from which all adds to the effect….

  18. “Do men forgive? Have the Palestinian patriarchal command forgiven the Israeli patriarchal command? Did the English Airforce forgive the German Infantry? Have the Crips forgiven the Bloods?? HELL NO. Men don’t forgive. Forgiveness is for gurrls. Men do war. Because men understand ”

    I will post as the man in the room, perhaps to my detriment. I am saddened that you immediately cite forgiveness as a farce; it has worked in my life, and I only profess its effectiveness because I have *seen it*. I am a male, and i forgive as a way of life; not a controlling mechanism of the population, but a way to free the population from being caught up in its quarrels. To quote myself, “see, it’s a spirit of love which drives renewal/revival doesn’t come in hidden quarrels brewin’/but in a removal of shackles and breathin’ free/as a broken man, this i pray for ye”

    It seems you have an embittered vision of the male body; I would ask you to reconsider us. Humans have capacities for a host of horrors, but they also have similar capacities for a host of greatnesses. Goodness, you would assume that every male on this Earth simply wants a woman who wants to be beaten? **my friend, you are pointing to a nihilism which doesn’t exist. Some people are bad; a majority want to help the world at large, including the women of the world.

    Please… it is not heroism which binds you, it is rage. If it means anything, i apologize for the conduct of the men who were in your life and who influenced or hurt you. I don’t like to see pain or despair, or this nihilism. Please, friend… be calm. Men are not a damned subspecies.

  19. Love the article. So tired of that “get out of jail free” card ….forgiveness. Forgiveness enables the shit-doers to just do it again. Sure, let go of the anger so it doesn’t kill you, but FORGIVE? Is George Bush asking forgiveness for the lives lost and ruined lying us into a war? Are the bankers asking for forgiveness for destroying the economy? Are Christians asking for forgiveness for all the gay kids who killed themselves thinking they’re an abomination? Is BP asking forgiveness for destroying the eco system of the Gulf of Mexico? Or the wife beater whose wife keeps coming back? Or the Church that tells women it’s okay to divorce if she’s abandoned by her husband but not abused?…on and on and on…Righteous anger can be channeled into changing culture and changing lives.

  20. OMG. Yes. Yeeeeeessssss. These two topics have ALWAYS made me insane with rage. Even in childhood. This idea that we don’t have a right to our anger and pain. That they are meaningless. That they don’t EVER get to be acknowledged. They just get swept under the rug like so much nothing. Thank you for this. I have felt this way forever. Thank you for getting it.

  21. Did you do the Vulcan mind meld with me to write this? What a brilliant article! This topic has enraged me for years on end. Every time I see a woman on a talk show telling her story of misogyny the host ALWAYS pressures the woman to say she has forgiven him. I want to smash something every time that happens. Forgiveness is for women only. YEEESSSS. Only men are allowed the dignity of justice. When men destroy women’s souls by cheating on us we are told to forgive = let it slide = don’t require any consequences at all. Just suck it up = take it and move on. Don’t deny men anything at any time for any reason. No mater what they do. Soul slaughter of infidelity? OK. Rape me. S’alright. Rape my children. S’alright. Steal my life savings and leave me with nothing. S’alright. Take my love and reproduction for a lifetime when you knew you were gay. S’alright. Make me suffer the ongoing humiliation of being married to transwoman without getting a divorce or protecting myself in any way. S’alright.

    Just a couple months ago I gave someone Barbara E’s book on positive thinking because they had given me a pamphlet on depression without knowing me in any way. This morning I heard a dreadful new term on the TV. It’s called Bitchy Resting Face (TM) whereby people assume you are a bitch because you lack what I like to call the porn grin which signals to all men that you are just waiting for any breezy opportunity to suck it. Apparently there is a youtube video showcasing BRF.

    I am still laughing my ass off over “bang-bang-squirt”. I LOOOOOVE IT. Definitely stealing it. Stolen. Thanks.

  22. Thank you femmeforever. You have it exactly right. Once a woman understands she does not have to forgive, she is FREE. I love that you are FREE! Let’s get fucking free.

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