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Our Bodies as Wonderlands (for men)

will11
I have been biting my tongue about the Twuffel sexcapades of the infamous Issue 34. Perhaps I should keep biting down. I don't read the comics. My main interest lies in the TV series, and I mainly find myself amused by the reactions to the comics.

However, I know that #34 was a controversial one, and I know that a number of women feel almost violated on Buffy's behalf by the graphic nature of the scene. I also know that there's a lot of unknowns that could affect consent issues and such, and that causes a large amount of squick.

I can't address any of that because, as I said, I don't read the comics.

So I'm not gonna write about the comics. I'm gonna write about the contextual backdrop of female nudity and sexuality that the comics were written in. If you try to argue with me about the comics, I will give you a spanking icon.



It's perfectly possible to have female nudity in a non-exploitative fashion. It's difficult. There's a very, very long history of female sexuality being up for male consumption.

I've been reading Surpassing the Love of Men by Lillian Faderman. In case you've not heard of it, it's a book about lesbians in history, basically. It's a bit disheartening in that the earliest "records" of lesbianism were fictional erotica stories written by men, for men. And, as can be guessed, the lesbians in the stories quickly moved on to "real" sex with men.

There are few early accounts of actual lesbians by lesbians. They are the exception rather than the rule, and you have to specifically seek them out to find them.

The history of female sexuality has been written by men.

The history of my sexuality was written by men.

What's more, the fictional stories these men wrote were sometimes about real women that they disliked. Women that were strong-minded and outspoken. So the men wrote fictional depictions of the women as being "sexual deviants" to put them in their place. To humiliate them.

That's not to say that men never have their sexuality used as a weapon against them. After all, it's a common tactic to connect homosexuality or femininity to a man you dislike.

However, that's not the entirety of their history. Men will also be able to find depictions of men as virile love machines, pleasuring fifty women at once. It's all over history.

Me? I have stories intended to humiliate and degrade. That's my sexuality.

What about the present day? Surely, we have powerful depictions of female sexuality by women, for women?

Yes, we do.

We also have a mass of mixed signals and the same ol' "lesbians want the dick" porn that they had back in the olden days.

Those empowering representations are fighting against the baggage of historical context which cannot be erased. That history lives on. Its effects are still with us in the mainstream. Porn is for men and is, largely, not very empowering for women. Non-porn images of sexuality are still primarily for men. Still primarily by men.

There's another factor to consider, though, and that's bodily autonomy. The revolutionary idea that women are in control of their own bodies. I use "revolutionary" quite seriously. It's only recently that women have started being accorded the rights to make decisions about their bodies. Not even one hundred years ago, women were being arrested for giving out information on birth control.

The battle's not over on that one. It's being fought everyday in frightening practical realities.

When I was a kid, my sister and I were at the playground. It's a few blocks from our house, and we'd go up there by ourselves. One day, a man followed us as we left the playground, and he exposed himself to us.

Early lessons in the idea that other people have designs on my body. Lessons that were reinforced later in junior high, high school, college. Even as I'm screaming out loud that my body is mine, I've had to wrestle with people who feel it should be theirs, as well.

Why do women walk to their car at night with their key between their knuckles? Because they know that they might have to fight to keep control of their body.

As such, a lot of women tend to have an almost visceral reaction to anything that impinges upon their bodily autonomy.

Nothing can be divorced of its context. The culture created it, and it'll, in turn, affect that very same culture.

I've gone on quite long, but I want to end with little discussion of Xena.

As mentioned above, society now has a mish-mash of portrayals of female sexuality. Not all of it is negative.

Xena gets naked a fair amount of time in her show. Part of it is, certainly, titillation for the male audience (and the female audience, as the producers recognized that they had a large lesbian fanbase). However, what was empowering for many women was that Xena was always in control of her nudity. She owned it. She rarely used it with the purpose of seducing a man. Usually, it was incidental (Xena being interrupted while bathing or Xena changing clothes for some reason).

It was a woman in control of her body, in control of her sexuality, and unafraid of it. It wasn't humiliating. Xena was never embarrassed by her nudity. Never embarrassed by her body.

Then came the series finale, A Friend in Need. In it, Xena is killed and her ghost ends up in servitude to the villain, Yodoshi. In one scene, Yodoshi whips Xena, causing her robe to be tattered so that she ends up face-down naked on the floor.

Fan's hated it. Because suddenly, the Warrior Princess' sexuality was being used to humiliate her. It was degrading. It was violent. It was against everything the show had given them before.

This, magnified by Gabrielle having to fetch Xena's headless, naked corpse that had been strung up in the center of town, shows the contrast in positive and negative portrayals of female sexuality. Who's the nudity for? Think of both the consumer of the media and the in-show context. Who's benefiting from it?

Xena showed me that I didn't have to be ashamed of my body...then she was punished for it.

I can't speak to the Buffy comics. I'd say a lot hinges on the fuzzy consent issues right now, just from my bird-eye view. But I can speak to the visceral reactions I've seen from women who are seeing their hero being used for her sexuality. BtVS, the show, made little use of Buffy's sexuality. It spent far more time on the men's sexuality than the women's. This set a precedent and a standard that was appreciated by many female fans, myself included. Having the comics suddenly jump into the realm of utilizing Buffy's sexuality in such an explicit way is a shock. An unpleasant shock. Good? Bad? It's up in the air. But I feel for the women that are disheartened by this turn of events, because I've been there. It's a sucker punch to see that, oh yes, even your hero (who had previously managed to avoid this whole mess) is subject to having her sexuality used in this way. Her sexuality is no longer her own. It belongs to the comic readers and the comic writers. Her body belongs to them.

I'm not sure I explained that well. Subtleties often fail on the internet, so let me spell this out:

It's not about whether Issue 34 ends up being a positive or negative portrayal of Buffy's sexuality. That's unknown right now until the consent issues get settled.

It's about Buffy's sexuality being used at all, when it previously hasn't been. It's about women who had been given a show that's not about a woman's sexuality for once (remember the historical baggage here), suddenly finding out that, oh yeah, it is about her sexuality in a very graphic way.

It's the shift. Like the shift Xena fans had in the finale where Xena's sexuality, which had previously been empowering, was used to humiliate and punish.

It's taking something that had been safe for women (in a world where most media isn't) and plunging it into uncertainty, throwing thousands of years of baggage on it. What's more, it's in a medium (comic books) predominately by men, for men. Moreso than TV is.

Do not argue with me about the Buffy comics. This isn't about the content, per se. It's about the reactions to it, that I've seen quite of a bit of bafflement at. Apparently, it's hard to grok why women are uncomfortable seeing their hero's bodily autonomy in question while her sexuality is displayed for all to see. Well, here's why. It's in the history and the messages we, personally, get about our bodies. It's about the safety we feel in seven years of being assured that our fictional hero is not being used for her sexuality. And it's the turmoil we feel when we see that shaken.

You can argue about the positive vs. negative of the Twuffel sex all you want, but the feelings it's created can't be dismissed, nor are they illegitimate or any such nonsense.

...I have no eloquent closing statements. I'll just end, again, with the imperative to not argue with me about the Buffy comics. (Hopefully, if I repeat it three times, it'll sink in).


Comments

penny_lane_42
Apr. 29th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
Gah. You are so invaluable to my fandom experience. Thank you.

I have lots of thoughts about this--contrasting the comics depictions with "Smashed," for instance (which I adore), but I'm not going to go there so as to avoid the whole comics thing and also because I know it would get rambly.

Anyways, well said. I love this post. Thanks for it.
gabrielleabelle
Apr. 29th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
*wants you to get all rambly*

Talk about the comics all you like as long as you don't argue with me about them (or about any of the non-conclusions I came to about them in the post).

Really, I was just reading Faderman's book, and I felt absolute despair that we had pretty much no recorded history of our own. Men have their sexual exploits written in great detail throughout history. Gay men have the open pederasty of the Greeks to look back to. Women? Only have what men wrote about them, some of which was used to shame them. It's pretty damn depressing.
penny_lane_42
Apr. 29th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, okay! Well, I was just going to contrast the comics (what I've seen with them) with "Smashed. In "Smashed," both participants are fully clothed. Buffy's totally in control: she hitches herself up on him, unzips the zipper, she's the one moving. There's no doubt of what she wants.

And that's awesome. And yet, the scene is so much more than that. It's not about the "hotness." It's about the looks on Buffy and Spike's faces. It's about the metaphor of the house falling down around them. It's about the thin line between violence and sex that they explore. It's about the fact that she's come to this--making a decision that isn't wise, but she needs it because she's so very alone. It's about Spike's struggles with being chipped and with loving this broken woman and with being broken himself. And every detail--from the lack of nudity, to the dialogue (that proceeds the scene, and then the lack thereof when they're actually having sex), to the music and the focus on faces and movement and the collapsing building--all of that says something about character, about who these people are, about how we're supposed to relate to them.

It's masterful.

Compare that to the comics...and it just isn't the same at all. It reminds me more of "Where the Wild Things Are," which is just about sex. It's not about anything bigger than that. It doesn't tell us anything.

Does the comic do what "Smashed" does? Do the tiny details of each panel tell us about who these people are and what their motivations are? I think the sex is important to the plot--obviously, as we see the world being destroyed. But do the details of it say anything about the characters, who they are and why they're behaving this way? I'm not sure.

Plus, I just have this visceral reaction to seeing SMG's body portrayed this way, when she so fiercely guarded it in the show (thinking of all those scenes in S6 where she's covered, thinking of how she wears more and more clothes and shows less and less skin as the show goes by, which I think is both a reflection of Buffy's character and a reflection of SMG being more in control of her own image), and when I could watch the show without seeing more of those sexualized images that I'm bombarded with all day long.

So pretty much what you said in this post!

As for the historical context, oh, yes. It really is depressing.
gabrielleabelle
Apr. 29th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
I'll admit, I'm curious to see where they're going with the comics. I did find the sex scene to be very over-the-top in the context of the Buffyverse. I didn't have quite the visceral reaction that a lot of fans seem to have had (mainly because I'm not very attached to the comics), but I found it jarring in contrast to the portrayal of Buffy in the show.
eowyn_315
Apr. 29th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
Compare that to the comics...and it just isn't the same at all. It reminds me more of "Where the Wild Things Are," which is just about sex. It's not about anything bigger than that. It doesn't tell us anything.

Yeah, this was pretty much my reaction, too. Also with the visceral reaction to the portrayal of SMG. And even though I know it's not really her, it's a drawing of a fictional character, it's still very, very hard to separate the two in my head.

I wonder if this is something that fans of larger comics franchises don't worry about. I mean, if you see Superman getting groiny with Lois, totally naked, which cast are you imagining? Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder? Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher? Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth? (okay, probably no one pictures that) Whereas SMG is Buffy for most people, and it's impossible to not think, "What would Sarah think of this?"

Not that that would invalidate any of Gabs' post, because it's still taking a female character who had control over her body and turning it into an ugly use of her sexuality. But I think it bothers me even more because it gives the impression that SMG's nudity clause was the only thing standing between Buffy and total exploitation. Which is really sad.
penny_lane_42
Apr. 29th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
OH, yes! I agree with this entire comment so much. But especially this:

But I think it bothers me even more because it gives the impression that SMG's nudity clause was the only thing standing between Buffy and total exploitation.

EXACTLY. It's like...they're making a big deal about all the things they can do now in the new comic form that they couldn't do on the show because of the budget or because the CGI wasn't good enough or whatever. But this definitely can imply that they would have done this, too, on the show, if they could have. And after years of taking a lot of comfort in the portrayal of Buffy, that is jarring and ugly, and I hate it.

I think the solution is penguins. Because who's gonna sexualize penguins?
eowyn_315
Apr. 29th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC)
Yeeeaahhhh. That is a totally squicky thought, but I cannot deny it crossed my mind.

The solution is definitely penguins. But then you know somebody's gonna come along with penguin porn. I guess as long as it's empowering penguin porn...
red_satin_doll
Oct. 5th, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
But this definitely can imply that they would have done this, too, on the show, if they could have. And after years of taking a lot of comfort in the portrayal of Buffy, that is jarring and ugly, and I hate it.

Head, meet desk. Ugh.
red_satin_doll
Oct. 5th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
And yet, the scene is so much more than that. It's not about the "hotness." It's about the looks on Buffy and Spike's faces. It's about the metaphor of the house falling down around them. It's about the thin line between violence and sex that they explore. It's about the fact that she's come to this--making a decision that isn't wise, but she needs it because she's so very alone. It's about Spike's struggles with being chipped and with loving this broken woman and with being broken himself. And every detail--from the lack of nudity, to the dialogue (that proceeds the scene, and then the lack thereof when they're actually having sex), to the music and the focus on faces and movement and the collapsing building--all of that says something about character, about who these people are, about how we're supposed to relate to them.

It's masterful.


I have this particular convo bookmarked in large part because THIS comment is so f**** great. You've got the entire scene analyzed so beautifully - I HATE when people make it "all about the sex". And that's exactly what the comic misses. That's Buffy's sexuality being exploited as a joke, and I will never be ok with that.

(And then I read your fics and forgot about the comics for a while, and happiness was restored to my brain.)
quinara
Apr. 29th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
Women? Only have what men wrote about them, some of which was used to shame them.

Actually, besides Sappho, we know about quite a few women writers writing about their sexuality in antiquity - the problem is that a lot of modern scholars (and a few ancient ones) will argue that pretty much anything we have attributed to a female author must be pseudonymous, because of course(!) ancient women wouldn't have written anything risqué. Sulpicia, an elegist we have in a manuscript of Tibullus, is a good example. And there seems to have been a whole tradition of sex guides written in the Hellenistic period, supposedly by well-known prostitutes. Lesbians do get a short shrift, but I'd posit the idea that women (heterosexual at least) have never written about their sexuality is as much a shaming technique as actively shaming women. Harriette Wilson flipping rocked the early nineteenth century, for example.
gabrielleabelle
Apr. 29th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
Ah, I should have added the same caveat I put in my post, which is that, to my knowledge, those are the exception rather than the rule, and you have to specifically seek them out to find them.

I didn't go too much into the reasons behind it, but part of the reason we're lacking in that history is because those writings aren't recognized (or are attributed to men).
gabrielleabelle
Apr. 29th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
You know, I always think of the Guardians with stuff like this. Yeah, crappy execution and kinda throwing a curve ball into Buffy mythology. But the idea behind the concept - that women have a history, even if it's not always apparent - is one I can relate to. The act of discovering that, yeah, women were doing awesome things way back in the day. They just don't discuss it in history class. You have to go looking on your own.

/random pondering
eilowyn
Apr. 30th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC)
*Ooh, random thought that increases my love for season7. I like this!*
quinara
Apr. 29th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
those are the exception rather than the rule, and you have to specifically seek them out to find them

Well, like a lot of manuscripts, that we have them at all is pretty much down to luck and circumstance (and masculine educational tradition), so it's hard to tell how exceptional they were or not (and we can only speculate about women's reading habits, after all).

As for the history, there's still a lot to be reclaimed from Victorian scholarship and so on, so it seems a bit pre-emptive to say that we're lacking in it. (There's a big backlash going on at the moment, for example, against the idea that we can't know anything about ancient women because the vast majority of our sources are male-authored, and some great stuff on things like Ovid's writing from the female POV.) It's not the same as having women writing for women about women, but I wouldn't say that men writing about women for men's titillation is the prevailing mode in antiquity either.
gabrielleabelle
Apr. 29th, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
Huh. I must defer. You seem to be more informed than I. :)
angearia
Apr. 30th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
I know you're talking about antiquity but this statement prompted thoughts...

so it seems a bit pre-emptive to say that we're lacking in it.

Aren't women effectively lacking history when said histories are suppressed? When they aren't widely available? What's the difference between keeping a woman from speaking/writing her history (through illiteracy and shame) and hiding/discrediting the history she wrote? It seems like both destroy women's history and create the lack--one is preventing the creation of the narrative, the other disproves the narrative as worthwhile and limits its distribution.

To me, being unaware of history is lacking history. Because history is awareness.
quinara
Apr. 30th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Aren't women effectively lacking history when said histories are suppressed?

But when is it being suppressed? In Classics, at least, if there's one thing feminism's managed it's getting women fairly central to historical study. Telling women that none of their counterparts had ever written anything was a way of suppressing women (as I think I said), but where I am it doesn't feel true of what's happening today. This stuff is being distributed, it's accessible and moving around. And if some of it still needs to be sought out, then saying that we lack it isn't going to pull Hrotsvitha or whoever into the limelight any quicker.
angearia
Apr. 30th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
To clarify, I'm talking about history at large, not women's history in antiquity...

But when is it being suppressed?

By not being widely taught, widely available, widely supported and widely influential. When Women's Studies only becomes a part of an individual's lexicon once they're an adult, that to me indicates suppression on a systemic level.

I'm saying this from my own perspective of growing up. I've studied history all my life. Fun for me is reading history, dabbling. Studying medieval history, ancient history. But it still feels like a dearth is present.

In my freshman year, I took "Women in Ancient Greece and Rome" as a course. So yes, there's a lot to delve into there about women. But as I recall, most of my reading list was about reading famous ancient Greek and Roman men and how they represented women. The only woman I can recall reading about was Sappho. That was a class taught by a woman and it was great. But the lens through which we viewed women in antiquity was largely influenced by male authors.

I've always had this fanciful notion about maintaining history. I remember being heartbroken upon learning about the burning of the Library of Alexandria. And I imagine what would any person running into that burning building save? My perception of the value placed on texts by women then becomes this image of scroll-keepers endangering their lives to preserve texts written by men.

quinara
Apr. 30th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
But to me that's not lacking a history, that's lacking a sense of history. I was responding to the idea that there's no female-written source material on sexuality left for us to build something out of. Of course we needed to strengthen the focus on women's history so it gets introduced earlier down the curriculum, but that history exists, in female-authored texts and the world perceivable beyond what male authors might want us to read (practically all of these texts, after all, only have the power we provide them with). It hasn't been eradicated. And, to me, saying what we have isn't enough or that it's exceptional or whatever is compounding the perception that women's writing never did exist. Which is wrong. And tacitly grants male authors more control over the discourse, because 'they're the only sources we have'.
(no subject) - angearia - Apr. 30th, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - quinara - Apr. 30th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
norwie2010
Apr. 30th, 2010 01:22 am (UTC)
You said it. Oh well, i wrote some stuff below during work, giving me all sorts of stress whan all i had to do was actually reading what you wrote. ;-)

"Shaming technique" is a great term.

We have a certain presentation today and little knowledge of the actual past.

Gabs even promoted antique Greek homosexuality as a positive history for male gay people. Which is the opposite of "shaming technique" - rose coloured glasses. Faulty, but still: a lot better for personal wellbeing than shaming the own herstory away.

(While the Greeks considered the male body and mind as the ultimate and women as slaves, the homosexual sexuality was not some kind of free paradise for gay men: there were strong regulations and traditions about which kind of sexual interaction between whom was "good" and which was "bad". Actual penetration during sexual intercourse between two consenting males was considered dirty: The penetrated man was viewed as a woman, and therefore wothless.)
gabrielleabelle
Apr. 30th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Gabs even promoted antique Greek homosexuality as a positive history for male gay people.

Ah, it wasn't my intention to do so. I was merely using it as an example of portrayals of homosexuality written by actual homosexuals (or at least, people who practiced homosexuality (knowing that homosexuality was not an identity until very recently and I just put a parenthetical aside inside another parenthetical aside)). I see that the implication is there, though.
quinara
Apr. 30th, 2010 06:54 am (UTC)
We have a certain presentation today and little knowledge of the actual past.

*nods* And it's very hard to find people writing without accepting that that's true

Pederasty's interesting in the sense that it was as much a rite as an actual facet of sexuality. Definitely problematic as a representation of gay men, though people have tried (relatively unsuccessfully, in my opinion, looking at their evidence) to argue there was some sort of gay identity/subculture in Rome. (Have you read James Davidson's Courtesans and Fishcakes, BTW? He develops Foucault's argument to the idea that what was really important to the Greek psyche was self-mastery, and that going around penetrating too many people in an uncontrolled way was just as bad as being penetrated and lacking the control.)

The problem with working out what's going on with Greek representations of women, I find, is that they were seen as sexually active creatures - rampantly and terrifyingly so (virgins weren't 'pure'; they had to be 'tamed' to the yoke) - so it's not that their bodies become playtoys for men, but that their bodies become threatening, full of temptation but naturally inciting fear. Just as misogynisic, but working with different dynamics.

(This is part of the problem I have when people talk about the 'positive' portrayals of women in Greek tragedy. Because, sure, Clytemnestra's the sort of character we'd love to have on our TV, but all she proves on her own terms is that of course your wife will take a lover and kill you if you haven't controlled her properly. Similarly Medea - naturally, if you take foreign wife then it's only a matter of time before she destroys everything around you. Because 'you', of course, are not her, though of course you are in danger of being taken in by her - either as the actor playing her part or as the audience listening to her words. Which is, again, terrifying.)
norwie2010
May. 1st, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
Of course you are correct that Greek society saw women as sensual beings threatening male superiority. Pure speculation on my part but as greek society had actual contact to matriarchal societies (including warfare against said societies) it seems that the "fear of the female" was actually rooted in foreign politics as much as in inner repression.

Thank you for your reading tip - i will certainly look into that book!

Generally speaking, I am a bit wary of things surrounding Foucault, while i find his focus on the psychological very interesting i don't think he develops a good structure (hee! he would hate me for that! ;-)) to declare, understand and critizise society and system. His "obsession" with de Sade for example makes me uneasy towards his whole works - while de Sade certainly gave me new insight into the workings of liberal bourgeois ideology it is also amongst the most difficult to digest things i ever read (speaking of the formalism of "the 120 days" - his "Justine" had satirical value, for sure!). Bataille is easy stuff compared to that - self-disgust after reading notwithstanding. ;-)

To me, Foucault is too near Nieztsche and the male fantasy of anarchy - which in itself is too near the liberal bourgeois ideology for me to be comfortable with. (I concur with Sartre here.;-))

And yay! for seeing you discuss history so passionatly - i absolutely agree: History is the ground we stand upon. We just have to remember that we, who have visited a university, are in the very minority and very privileged.
quinara
May. 1st, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
Pure speculation on my part but as greek society had actual contact to matriarchal societies (including warfare against said societies) it seems that the "fear of the female" was actually rooted in foreign politics as much as in inner repression.

Do you mean the Amazons? Because I thought they were pretty much always people Greece fought with 'in the past', rather than a current issue of foreign policy. Not that things don't get a bit blurred as we go back through the archaic period, so I suppose it's possible they were around at some point and definitely not to say there wasn't a big intersection between misogyny and xenophobia (because, of course, all women are foreign to the state/family really - they have to be brought in through a Lévi-Strauss-style game of pass the parcel... D: ).

I have to admit that I don't know Foucault very well, but as far as I'm aware he's always been the main exponent of the idea that male Greek sexuality was all about power relations and making sure you were on the right side of the action, which is why I brought him up. :D A book I was reading the other day, by Kate Gilhuly, put it very well I think, by saying that there's a lot of reasons not to accept Foucault's theories wholesale, but he tends to have a useful perspective to put out there, along with others, to give you something to work with and think around when dealing with evidence.

History is the ground we stand upon. We just have to remember that we, who have visited a university, are in the very minority and very privileged.

Good point - I'll admit that when I think of people writing/studying history I think about academics and university students rather than popular/school stuff, and I fear, thinking about it now, that I might have been mentally downplaying the problem because my perspective is skewed (it probably doesn't help that, revising for finals and a paper on 'prostitutes and saints' in antiquity, which isn't technically just about women but is allowed to be so if we want it to be, I'm looking at library shelves and seeing more and more books on women's classical history that I haven't read). I'm well up for changing perceptions, though. There is hope to be had.
norwie2010
May. 2nd, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
Do you mean the Amazons?

I actually thought more of the conquest of Crete and the minoan society, but amazons fit in allright. Homer, the great greek ranter had his greatest greek hero, Achilles, kill the queen of the amazons, Penthesilea in combat, "besting" her, dominating her. Male superiority over the female, in a battle to the death. After she is dead, robbed of her power (woman again) Achilles then falls in love with the dead Penthesilea - he falls for the depowered, robbed of life woman. That is really, really gruesome.

(On top of that the amazons fight on the wrong side during this battle, of course.)

A book I was reading the other day, by Kate Gilhuly, put it very well I think,

I don't know Gilhuly, but what you wrote about her work seems pretty much congruent with my own view. Foucault is certainly worth reading - he is just not enough to make a world view of.

About knowledge and education:
I am a strong promoter of "women teaching women". We, as the privileged and knowledgable, (or rather, YOU - i have no right nor desire to usurp the feminist discussion) have the obligation to spread that knowledge well beyond the small boundaries of the privileged circle of fellow academics. The discussion needs to include the women of the working class, the (illegal) immigrants, the depowered women of all the places of this world. We need their perspective and, ultimately, the fight for equality needs them to succeed (and vice versa: the women of the world need the fight for equality to, well, achieve equality).

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