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.