“There was a time when you weren’t a slave, keep in mind that.
You walked alone, stuffed with laughter, you bathed bare-bellied.
You say you may have misplaced all recollection of it, keep in mind! ….
You say there are not any phrases to explain it;
You say it doesn’t exist.
However keep in mind. Make an effort to recollect.
Or, failing that, invent.”
From Les Guerilleres, by Monique Wittig, mid-20th Century French feminist author
The primary time I heard this quote from Wittig was within the mid-Nineties after I took ‘Muffins for the Queen of Heaven,’ an introduction to feminist thealogy and the Nice Goddess, created by the Girls & Faith committee of the Unitarian Universalist Affiliation. Muffins was my introduction to Carol Christ, feminist thealogy, and the Goddess. It modified my life without end. I’ve been educating this program for near twenty years now and as my understanding of girls’s historical past and the position of patriarchy in our suppression has deepened, I proceed to seek out new resonances with Wittig’s phrases.
“There was a time when you weren’t a slave, keep in mind that.” This assertion is related to all oppressed peoples and particularly to girls. Historical past tells us that enslavement was part of European tradition lengthy earlier than Africans have been kidnapped into slavery on this continent. Enslavement of the defeated was a typical facet of battle, courting again to Biblical instances. Many points of the feudal system dominant in western Europe for hundreds of years have been little higher than slavery.
We all know from the historic report that among the earliest legal guidelines handed within the historic Mesopotamian city-states outlined what girls might and couldn’t do, stripping sovereignty from their fingers and putting it into the fingers of associated males. “There was a time when you weren’t a slave” however that point is buried so deeply that it’s certainly onerous to recollect a time when girls weren’t topic to the whims and authority of males.
“You walked alone, stuffed with laughter, you bathed bare-bellied.” Are you able to keep in mind a time whenever you walked alone, and weren’t stuffed with concern? Are you able to keep in mind a time when adventures into unknown areas or darkness weren’t fraught with hazard? Maybe those that dwell within the countryside are in a position to do this, however throughout the years I lived in a metropolis, I walked alone with a relentless consciousness of the place I used to be, who was round me, and what protecting measures I might take if needed. My grownup daughter, an skilled hiker and camper, lately complained that since her divorce she has nobody to go tenting with and is afraid to camp alone.
Sadly, most assaults in opposition to girls come from intimate companion violence (IPV). In accordance with the NCADV (Nationwide Coalition Towards Home Violence), a lady is at biggest threat of violent and/or sexual assault in her own residence, by the hands of her companion. Thus for a lot of girls, bathing ‘bare-bellied’ even when at residence isn’t secure.
“You say you may have misplaced all recollection of it, keep in mind! …. You say there are not any phrases to explain it; you say it doesn’t exist.” After all we’ve misplaced all recollection of it, attempt as we might to recollect. There are not any phrases to explain it as a result of girls have been written out of the historic and mythological report, in intentional actions by male leaders. Older Greek myths have been modified to take away energy from the Goddesses and accrue it into the fingers of the Gods, reflecting in mythology the cultural shifts that have been already happening within the bodily world. Girls have been written out of the mythological report of the Christian Bible as nicely. The Bible was compiled throughout the first 4 centuries of the Widespread Period. Books have been chosen and tailored to affirm the narrative created by the church fathers and ladies had no position of their imaginative and prescient.
Now we have been taught to consider Homer because the world’s first nice poet—he wrote concerning the exploits of gods and heroes. However few individuals have ever heard of Enheduanna, a priestess of Inanna who wrote round 2400 BCE, nearly two thousand years earlier than Homer. Enheduanna wrote hymns of reward to her Goddess—phrases that have been used to unite her individuals round that worship. But, even in these distant days, the Goddess was taking over among the extra fearsome attributes of the god.
Not solely have girls been written out of the historic report, in Greek and Roman mythology, we’ve got typically been outlined as monstrous. In a captivating e-book titled Girls and Different Monsters: Constructing a New Mythology, writer Jess Zimmerman observes that feminine monsters are “the bedtime tales patriarchy tells itself.” Feminine monsters, equivalent to Scylla and Charybdis, Medusa, and the Sphinx typically show qualities which might be seen as heroic when displayed by males, such voracious appetites, nice power, seductive magnificence, and secret information. However they characterize issues males most concern about girls and thus when girls show these traits they’re monstrous.
“However keep in mind. Make an effort to recollect. Or, failing that, invent.” Regardless of nice efforts, I discover I can not keep in mind. So I’m grateful to reside in a time when archaeological analysis and the growing variety of sensible girls looking for to vary the narrative are offering ample fodder for the final of Wittig’s statements— “failing that, invent.” Zimmerman suggests that ladies may reexamine among the historic monsters, uncovering the strengths they represented and claiming these strengths for ourselves.
Or failing that, Invent! That is my very most favourite a part of Wittig’s assertion. Invent! That’s an specific invitation to create—to take all probably the most magical, mystical, and artistic components of myself and use them to develop a private narrative that heals and feeds my soul. An invite to reject the cultural lies that patriarchy retains whispering in my ear and substitute them with tales I create with my neighborhood—tales that talk of our power and energy as girls, our visions of the world we wish to co-create, and the love and compassion we wish to share with all beings.