House of Cards: Why not calling myself a Feminist often seems like the most pro-femi thing I can do.
You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me–what I’m thinking. What I’m doing? Circling my little room. Rump directing and redirecting like a yellow jacket about to take sweet you know? I was getting ready to write. Circling the whole of my apartment, a single little room because Woolf was right, it’s a tenant of feminism with which I fully agree: women, whoever you are, from wherever you come, we do need a room of our own.
In this day and age, a little space to get to know and relate to our self, it’s what we all need. A practical responsibility.
I’ve created my whole life around that need, my little room is the sum of all my space: a shoebox barely big enough–shoulder to shoulder–for three, and right enough for me to relate endlessly to me. Real me. To create and give permission and fall silent, to sing and dance and laugh and cry and scream. To watch internet TV, eat horrible junkfood, grow fresh veggies outside my door, read, write, revere, be lonely, make love, not shower for days. Put friends up when they come meandering or rushing through. Feed. Sometimes, starve.
It’s tiny, and it’s mine, and I fought hard to make it.
And I was going to write about that. The Salon article about the trend of single women who aren’t fabulous, or spinsters, but just honoring them selves and their choices as equally important to the women who marry and parent the traditional way. That’s what inspired it.
Then I read this, inspired by the Jezebel article. About how House of Cards is the most Feminist thing happening on TV. And here’s my disclaimer: Back in 2008, when I was leaving my longterm relationship to go out and pursue the room of my own, the life on my terms, Jezebel was a great inspiration to me. But I have major issue with the tenants going on in both these articles. Major enough to show my own ass so here we go.
Why I Believe in the Deconstruction of Feminism
Feminism is a function of dominant culture. That means that the value system which created the need for women to organize in favor of equality between the sexes arose out of an upperclass, imperialistic, European, white, Christian (though look no further than Mexico, or New Mexico, Texas, California, or Arizona, for the heritage element to switch to Spanish–as in Spain–teaching us to consider the philosophic underpin of dominant culture) way of conquer-the-other and assimilate. Fundamentally, the underlying philosophical aspect of this rigid and long time established illusion of this is the right way is a natural aspect of dualism. Dualism, if you are unfamiliar, is the self/object dilemma. It is the idea that I as subject am separate from you as object. It is a sweeping statement, yes, full of discrepancies for sure, but for the sake of getting to my point I will say: most dogmas and religious rules, societal norms and mores, are flawed at the core because they have taken for granted an applied assumption of a dualistic understanding of consciousness.
Meaning: I am separate from you. God is separate from me. Night is separate from day. Love is separate from hate. Man is separate from women. Black is separate from white. Masculine is separate from feminine. These are true from a strictly social, perceptive, or three-dimensional stand point. But arguing equality as a necessity of we deserve the same treatment not despite of but because of our differences, without taking into consideration the philosophy underlying your politics, is irrational.
Consciousness is a vast unseperate state that arises entirely from within yourself. The illusion that your waking thoughts are separate and unrelated to your nighttime dreams, for example, is a function of adherence to dualism. The illusion that you of age 8 as separate from the you of age 50 is a function of adherence to dualism. Dualism underlies, for example, the decree by the Nicaean Council that nature is not ensouled. Or the biblical misinterpretation that dominion over the animals means conquer rather than serve. In reality, consciousness, like night to day, white to black, masculine to feminine, are actually on a continuum. Dualism, as stated, is real, but only on one level of reality. A man whose gender is male is separate, on a gender level, from a woman whose gender is female. YES. Yet within himself, the man has feminine instincts, what Eastern traditions call yin, or depth traditions the anima (so as to not confuse the gender conversation). Within herself, the woman has male instincts (yang or animus). How she or he relates to these instincts are his or her own primary responsibilities. It begins, as far as I am concerned, with nurturing a climate of understanding within our self, of the relational continuum which consciousness actually is…in fact not separate at all. When we allow this within, we are breaking down ions of cultural constructs that allow oppression and unchecked rampant hate in the world we are actively creating around us.
Bio-cellurlarly we know this to be true. BUT THAT ITSELF IS A WHOLE OTHER CONVERSATION.
Patriarchy is merely a lens through which we have learned that reality devalues other. It values white, European norm over people of color or heritage. It values men, and what we associate as masculine, over women, and what we associate as feminine. Underlying it is the unconscious value judgement of logic over intuition (animus or yang, over anima or yin); of doing over being; of thinking over feeling, of the end over the means. It is why white feminists are called to task for blindly valuing “white” (dominant culture) mores–which is what happens when a white woman doesn’t check her relationship to other, by beginning within.
When we don’t check our relationship to other, starting with how we relate to the continuum of aspects of our own selves, then we fall in to the dualist trap of fearing, hating, or WORSE: NOT EVEN SEEING OTHER. In this, we each and every one are implicit in the maintenance of dominant culture and patriarchal systems.
Which is why there is no way on earth I can take seriously a feminist perspective of House of Cards that values undermining and manipulative “chess moves” to bring to light the social issues of sexism and sex abuse, in order to set them on the platform of the HEART OF THE FLAWED INSTITUTION itself. Social commentary? You bet. But a system that values other, that reveres differences, emotions, being, intuition, love, understanding, that is thoughtful about the instincts, reasons, and rationales in support of separateness, as in my room of my own? NO. Which modern day dominant culture Feminism seems to not be about anyway. And Jezebel, while thoughtful in the final line: “In the context of House of Cards’ amoral, political spin machine, the end justifies the means” is just maintaining the old system’s norms of what’s acceptable by eschewing the tactics of House of Cards “feminism”. For us to break down dominant cultural conditioning by serving at the alter of its apex? To call Claire Underwood a feminist strictly because she speaks out against these abuses?
This is why I say we have to tear down, deconstruct what feminism is. As much as I am able to stay fresh and challenge myself, I can’t and won’t value the politics of demonize other. I am humanist, relational, non-dualist. Feminism in its most recent push publish forum separates me out, places me on the us against them battlefield that believes itself only important on the dominant culture iconic stage, because that’s the philosophy it was born out of.
How can we re-create? Re-vision?
To me it begins with how we relate within. As a human, to allow my feelings and my logic to influence my original thought.
The paradigm’s shifting people.