Audre Lorde, quote mining and rambles from an editor in despair

It’s spring again. Unfortunately not everyone is in love and flowers are nowhere close to picking themselves[1]. Yet it’s a wonderful spring, Mubarak has been overthrown, Ben Ali has been kicked out and in our hearts we are jumping north, as Damascus is about to rise. Beirut seems half empty half full, an anti Sectarian trend is coming together every Sunday, with open sit-ins everywhere, and everyone seems to be so vocal about overthrowing the sectarian system.

 

What does that all have to do with me (you) as a feminist living in Lebanon? What does going to an anti sectarian meeting mean, where men hold their positions tight, where any suggestion relating to women’s rights and equality is either turned into a battle between men and women (the same old tactic of brotherhood), and where feminism becomes an agenda that is threatening to the fate of the revolution (patriarchy disguised in Secularism).

 

A (true) anecdote: a “comrade”, filled with half communist zeal, half patriarchal power, and an excess of aggressiveness completely silences another woman. She dared to propose a women- related matter for the march; he screams from the top of his lungs that “in these revolutionary times what are we talking about a ridiculous matter such as women rights”; an applause is heard- NEXT POINT IN THE AGENDA. (They move on, I see the woman shrinking, face goes yellow, and eyes shut but wide open).  What do you do? The obvious: make a statement in their face and leave, while your supposed allies hide their faces from you, they become strangers, it’s that facial expression again, when you know you are being ignored on purpose because you are RIGHT. Yes, they know that they are repeating the same old story- where nation-state-collective desire is dominant, and liberties and emancipation of any form of OTHERNESS is by default a post revolutionary concern, so why bother by bringing it out now?

 

An anecdote’s conclusion: What’s the situation of the women in Egypt after the revolution?

 

3adi, [2] happens all the time. Happens everywhere, happens to all of us. It has happened everywhere and to all of us before.

 

I’m obsessed with knowledge. I realize this every time I speak. Sometimes I’d rather not attend meetings at all, and just send a recorded message that people can play if they want to hear what I have to say. It would say that we need to produce knowledge, and I know it’s not cool, and that it’s really far from the image of the radical feminist that is smashing patriarchy with a hammer, it doesn’t encourage you to go down the streets and chant. I mean, what would you shout out? “Produce Knowledge Now!” That’s boring and is easily attacked as elitist. But it’s not. Knowledge was hijacked by the elite, and I ( you) reclaim it, because (i) you come from the margins, the less privileged, the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid.  I want to produce knowledge because this is how I survive, and how I trace my radical non-confirmative ideas back to my (your) ancestors and those who came before me (you). It’s the only way that I can say: Whatever you want to call it, whether feminism or women in a constant state of PMS, separatists, men haters, lesbo dykes with a penis complex, aggressive bitch in need of anger management treatments, you name it. I can say: whatever it is that I’m saying is not something I invented but I am adding to it and I’m modifying it according to my experiences; that these  injustices and wars on women’s existence and bodies have been happening for thousands of years, and that my sisters in ancestry have spoke about this and have passed it on. Feminism and the notion of understanding women’s situation and their position in the global, local and historical sense have always existed. And I (you) are just agents that are vocal about it, and continue and complete the knowledge around it until it’s fully exposed, and understood. My (your) sense of injustice is not different from the sense of privileges that the agents of patriarchy feel and keep on reproducing in various forms of ideologies and tragedies so that they can never lose them.

 

In my daily rants a friend reminds me of Audre Lorde, and if she doesn’t Audre Lorde reminds me of herself. Why do I mention an American (black lesbian) feminist? Because this is how struggles connect and knowledge gets produced? Because Audre Lorde’s work is a time capsule in a form of knowledge. Her work exposed silences and power struggles within the feminist movement, and her work made it possible for all of those living on the margins of movements (lead by the white middle class) to reclaim a space in it, and connect race, sexuality, and class with gender and justice. Here in Beirut, we need to know all, read all, but produce our own. But most importantly, we need to be very careful about quote mining and taking matters out of context (we are always out of context in the eyes of patriarchy). Because quotes are an idea in a context, context is as important as ideas and that means we need now, today and in core of our presence to take ourselves extra seriously; and that means we need to regroup, talk often with each other and be political about it. We need to start understanding the value of each and every one of us, by understanding that our struggles are intersecting.

 

It’s spring and I’m in despair. I want to produce knowledge. I want my sisters to come and join me by asking me, “how can this knowledge be part of our struggle and revolution”, and more importantly, “how can this knowledge set us free?”

 


[1] Check E.E Cummings Poem: who knows if the moon’s

http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/eecummings/361

[2] it’s normal

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