marlene mountain
letter essay
november 1990


strident women i wish

dear alexis 11/2/90

I hope all goes well with the reprinting of 'Affair.'

I think my sequences and one lines could have been reduced by copier (I can do it here) to fit your margins. When you suggested that they be shortened (or whatever), it was deja vu from way back when G. Keyser claimed to be against one-lines because they wouldn't fit magazines spaces--odd criteria for poems. Also reminded me of a time a guy was to frame about 30 paintings. I tried to get him to measure each of them, but he insisted on making a standard size and half wouldn't fit. He also insisted that I cut my paintings down to fit his frames. I of course didn't.

I like the potential of PT, but I've got a lot of money woes at the present, and don't know if I'll renew (haven't even gotten your anthology, or Gloria Orenstein's new THE REFLOWERING OF THE GODDESS, which has some of my stuff). Why I subscribe to MH or FP is beyond me--most of the haiku, rhetoric, and esp the so-called authorities bore me to death. I still look at your haiku and a few others and appreciate. Most tho is a mish-mash I've seen for 20+ years. 'Nature Hash and Rehash.'

The other day I sent 'male-colored glasses' to LYNX. I had a bit of a problem with some of the responses to Jane's commentary in the last issue. The women/men/goddesses parts, including yours. I don't base my perceptions of women or men on just those I know, but on the larger world picture of the damage done to women by men and their ideas of the way it is. I truly believe that there is a out-and-out war on women. I have a big interest in archeology, anthropology, etc and I'm fed up with the ignorant interpretations I read by men and their 'menettes.' Lies, Poor Science (i.e. Non-Science) abound, which continue to harm women. Since I was more or less a menette (difficult not to be when one 'grows up' in the 50s), I've had a lot of thinking to do in recent years. I've still not gotten over my own ignorance, sexism, gullibility. Embarrassment is a mild word for how I feel about spending most of my life as a menette. Believing the male line (interesting as it sometimes was) caused me not to search out other views.

Marija Gimbutas is for real--I trust her, and what a hero she is in the midst of that male-dominated field! With so many male misinterpretations, if she's wrong (and I doubt it), at least she's erred on the side of something noble. Have you REALLY read male interpretations of the past? I gag when I try anymore. THEY found what they wanted to find--like the bible archeologists who explored the unholy land with a spade in one hand and a bible in the other. And the cave paintings--what pathetic interpretations, desperate.

Basically, most men haven't the slightest interest in having a female side--being frightened by that and what others will say of them. Women--knowing men--do not want to think like them (even half-way), unless of course they want to succeed in male culture. Culture has to change drastically before anyone really wants to be like 'the Other.' If/when culture does change, the 'male side' would disappear anyway.

We've been told by male thought [sic] that we had no souls (not that I want one as has so far been defined), no penis, an underdeveloped brain, a fragile body (needing fragile clothes) continually inflicted by disease (menstruation, pregnancy etc). Thought to be subhuman, yet, somehow capable of ruining the world by deceit and whatever else. Our feet have been bound (mentally & physically), and currently our clitoris and labia cut off, our daughters killed at birth because 'it's a girl' (groan), and killed and burned when their husbands die. Our bodies owned and dissected, and raped in marriage beds, our minds denied education, total religious participation, ETC.

But medical science does acknowledge (mainly in secret) that a woman's body is 'superior'--meaning better able to survive from embryo through old age, better able to withstand pain, and that the brain is better 'unified.' That the Y chromosome is probably a broken X. That 2 Xs are better protection from disease etc than XY. Even old-fashioned and sexist Ashley Montague (sp ?) believes all this and more. Check into this biological info before you decide completely that the bodies are equal.

You said, 'As soon as I hear one ... sex blaming another for the ills of life, I become suspect ...'----That's exactly what has happened for several thousand years, reinforced by the bible, other 'reliegions' and myths. When women have protested they have been devastated, including the burning of women for several hundred years. Have you not read the church's THE MALLEUS MALEFICARUM? (I can barely get through some of it.) All of this takes its toll on women, has very long-range effects. The short-lived waves of overt feminism have always had to go underground to survive and to resurface when possible. Strident women? I WISH.

Anyway, I take the current world-wide subjugation of females more seriously than anything. I know from personal experience that our visions have been dulled, disturbed, damaged, devalued. I truly regret the philosophy (whatever else Jung may have to offer--I'm just not interested, so many other ideas to be involved with) that a female needs to find her male side. It's a rip-off. When she needs is to find/develop her whole femaleness. Wow, wonder what that would be like?!

Well, a few thoughts.


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