marlene mountain



Dear Lynn Neery and friends                 10/6/92

I appreciate all the hosts and commentators on morning, evening and weekend news. I especially like the comments of Verda May Grovener et al, i.e., 'women and minorities.' Did you ever consider that racist and sexist term? What's left out is the real minority or what I affectionately call 'white menority' or 'everyone but white men.'

In fact, to counteract such illogical reasonings I often produce 'deliberate reverse sexism' (and sometimes 'deliberate reverse racism,' e.g., 'pale face summer') which I consider a valid art form/forum just as pop, op or mop is.

What I really miss considered are the views of radical (at the root) women, i.e., 'rootical' women. Really 'rootical'! I groan when one letter says ATC is liberal (ho hum), another says it's conservative (ho hum).

Words are indeed important to consider. (Consider Noah's 'the Anita Hill affair'--what??) For a recent exhibition, 'femail boxes and junk male,' I painted and made 'tear outs' (collages) of words, questions and comments. I would like to share some with you in the hope that words and terms would be researched and addressed on ATC.

Although I'm glad to see that the media is backing away, the most popular and derisive term these days is 'family values.' I kept waiting for a TV or radio commentator to say, let's look it up. The post-matristic (patriarchal) word family comes from the Latin famulus and apparently means servant/slave. Because a man was/is owner and head of the house’hold’--how about that word?--family also includes his wife/wives and children (more workers). Values indeed: valuable people, his property, who enable Mr. Head to do what he does. Worldwide, including America, this is not a 'past' definition of family.

Another term, 'broken home.' (Painting/tear out: A REAL BROKEN HOME; BROKEN ARM BROKEN JAW BROKEN RIBS) This means that said husband/biological father is not around--that no malehead of the household equals something wrong with the family. Good research will show that the most basic family unit in mammals (and crayfish, etc.) is the mother and her offspring. In human mammals ('you'll notice we're not called testiculars') this was true until paternity was understood--in reality until men overreacted to this news sometime late in the Neolithic.

In matristic times (most of human existence) a woman's brother was no doubt the significant male in her home and to her children. Perhaps too her lovers were significant but NOT as husbands or fathers of her children. The connection between intercourse and what happened nine months later was (and in some places still is) not understood. Apparently a peaceful time. Matriarchy is not the opposite of patriarchy which exists today. There was a transformation from female 'rule' to male, i.e., from mother-birthing to father-usurpation of birth, from mother-right to father-ownership, from natural order to invented order. Many myths reflect this take-over--written to reconstruct society.

In fact, there is no sign yet of male imagery in the Paleolithic (one ithyphallic stick figure and a part-animal/man, maybe) and only something like 3 to 4% in the Neolithic. A painting/tear out: WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT MALE IMAGERY IS ABSENT FOR MOST OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. Regarding matriarchy. Picture a naked male and a naked female. Note what she can do: bleed once a month in connection with moon phases and not die, produce another being and feed it for 2 years or so. Who do you suppose was listened to? Also she procured most of the food, although most 'manthropoligists' have had a hard time seeing that. (Man-the-hunter theory sold/sells lots of books.)

A small sculpture of a female knapped from flint has been dated c. 500,000 years ago!. Instead of men sculpting what are often called 'venuses' (groan), might not women--the informed--make art of themselves, of their capabilities, of their awesomeness?

A word I feel that is ripe for the garbage heap is girl. All children were called girl until the 14th century, when boy came about in written English. Not only is girl used in many ignorant and degrading ways but, oddly enough, it shows whether people can count. A painting/tear out: TV CAN MEN COUNT QUICK SOMEBODY GET AN AMBULANCE A GIRL'S BEEN SHOT HOW OLD IS SHE 8, 18, 28, 38. Noah and others, do you remember saying a number of times, 'young teenage girls' who are pregnant? How about: young women?

Recently a boy of 4 was abused and his plight reported in the local media. One commentator continually referred to the four-year-old as young man. It seemed that this was done to give him credibility and dignity as it was hoped he could testify in court. After the case was won he was called a four-year-old boy. I believe those who have reached the child-bearing years should be called young women and men. This would give them dignity by recognizing not only their new abilities but the responsibilities that go with such an important passage.

For many years women when asked what they did said, 'oh, I'm just a housewife.' Then as more women began to get jobs (careers, even) the question became, 'do you work outside the home?' A painting/tear out, 'DO YOU WORK INSIDE THE HOME.' When I asked several viewers to whom this was directed, they said women. It was wondered, it seems, whether outside-the-housework interfered with their 'regular' inside work. Actually it is addressed to men. My 'deliberate reverse sexism' idea is that after we are introduced to a man we need to know this information quickly. Would he say, 'oh, no, I'm just careerhusband'?

There are some great books I'd like to recommend for research for an upcoming 30 minute segment of ATC. WORDS AND WOMEN, Casey Miller and Kate Swift, Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, 1976. (It's just been re-issued by another publisher.) In it you'll find that the words male and female are not related, and how wife, man and other words/meanings came about. THE WOMAN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MYTHS AND SECRETS, Barbara G. Walker, Harper & Row, 1983. You'll be amazed, shocked and 'rootically' educated by this. Two books by UCLA professor/archeologist Marija Gimbutas, GODDESSES AND GODS OF OLD EUROPE, Univ. of California Press, 1982 and THE LANGUAGE OF THE GODDESS, Harper & Row, 1989. You'll love them! I can't wait for some 'rootical' things considered.

from the mountain

PS Two other terms that are much too much with us these days: 'you guys' and 'issues.' Of the latter, it's like people who say they do arts and crafts--as if that were a genre in itself. Concerns would be a welcome relief.

PPS Tokyo has no e or e sound in it. To/kyo.


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