New Series: The Birth of a Feminist
I’m beginning a new series in my sidebar. It will be the Birth of a Feminist series, a record of what went into my formation, or I suppose I should say rebirth (given my understanding of feminism) as a radical feminist.
I was raised academically as a quantitative analyst. A boys’ club to be sure. Statistics are important in describing problems and in predicting outcomes, and being able to quantify things is useful to some extent for a variety of reasons. I was further raised in this tradition to pooh-pooh everything that seemed subjective or qualitative – we were ‘hard’ scientists in the ‘soft’ science of psychology – there was a lot of posturing needed, of course, to make sure *our* dicks stayed hard. This is how men roll. The unspoken rule was that that qualitative shit was the domain of women. Women and their experiences. Women and their stories. Women and their emotional ties to information. And I believed it for some time. I didn’t take my fellow graduate students in community and social psychology so seriously. After all, I was mapping the brain and quantifying male-defined forms of intelligence. I had access to numbers. I was using math. So there. We win.
And then years later, I went back to graduate school expecting to do more work in numbers and business and technology, and I found myself exposed to different forms of knowledge creating, dissemination and preservation. I learned about the art and value of story-telling. I learned about the complexities of non-quantifiable knowledge exchange. It was fascinating. I followed that academic degree with a year of research with a group of doctors and, more interestingly and importantly, qualitative analysts. Our work was in mixed-methods (quant and qual working together). I realized that numbers only take you so far. You need stories and personal accounts and understanding and sometimes including biases to truly explain reality. You need both. I felt I improved as a researcher. I was humbled. Humility is essential in a researcher. So I see value in stories. They have an important place in our record. Our early ancestors communicated this way, and somehow we moved away from it as men have come to dominate.
So anyhow, onto Genesis: my series on the (re)birth of a feminist.
the origin or mode of formation of something
Feminists, or women-centred women:
- are born;
- swiftly and relentlessly undone and subordinated; and then
- remade through
- experience resulting from
- systematic, impersonal misogyny through rape culture, and
- unique, chance encounters with particular individuals, times, places, and situations;
- and glimmers of remembrance of the collective memories of feminists-past lying in their subconscious.
- experience resulting from
Or something along those lines.
If I think about how I became a feminist, that is how I would describe it. I think all girls are born to be free. The majority (excluding those with the propensity for the nastier of the personality disorders) are born with the capacity to be free, intelligent, creative, empathic, mindful, and cooperative.
I think girls are born into the flavour of subordination dictated by their culture/patriarchy whereupon all members are subject to that culture’s indoctrination. But girls are also individually stripped of their birthright to feminism upon entry into the world when all the ‘cutesy’, protective, paternalistic, and dismissive, underestimating treatment particular to their family/group starts.
All girls test out rebellion – a natural response to the language-free remembrance of their real woman-defined purpose as women through what Jung* termed the ‘collective unconscious’ – in small ways. They defy gender-defined behaviour. They break rules designed for them as girls. And they are smacked down in a variety of ways – verbal, emotional, psychological, physical and sexual punishment. For almost all girls, this works effectively to keep them in their chains and then to do the work themselves to keep the chains in place unquestioned.
* [Note: I have little use for the misogynist, Jung.]
For others, for one reason or another, the punishment doesn’t take. The call of the wild, the natural, their real purpose is too strong. And they take a better, but harder, path. The one to feminism. Woman’s natural and rightful state.
This collection of stories was/is my path to feminism. Many of the punishments worked on me, but my feminism was always so close to the surface of consciousness, that in the end, I got back to where I belong.
Posted on December 20, 2015, in Birth of a Feminist, Feminism and tagged genesis, patriarchy, qualitative, quantitative, research, science, story-telling. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on New Series: The Birth of a Feminist.