Wednesday, 10 February 2016

36. Emancipatory anger (as opposed to destructive anger)

It takes a certain amount of "aggression" and anger to use a sword or a pair of scissors that will cut our psychological dependencies and inertia. Anger, when used consciously, gives us that excess energy we don't normally need to do something we don't normally do.
For years anger has been given a bad name, and we have never been properly guided into how to use it constructively. That's why hearing a Peace Nobel Price winner, Kailash Satyarthi explaining that everything he did for children's rights wasn't because he was content but rather because he was angry, is very relevant today. Like fire, anger can be used as a transformative force, or can be destructive if left out of control. He argues that when this anger lights an idea and this idea is taken to action, change happens.

In a similar way, Beyonce called ladies to get in formation (ie get organised) on Sunday dressed like Michael Jackson with dancers dressed like the black panthers, with proud afros, subsequently forming a triangle (uterus), an arrow and an X in reference to Malcolm X, where the X was in itself the scissors cutting his ties with the past (the inherited slave surname).

In this excellent blog entry "We Slay, Part I" by Zandria, the Formation video is a analysed in detail the multi-layered messages as an articulation of southern blackness and resistance.

The enemy is not necessarily the system

Emancipatory anger helps us to separate not from the place, system or person we are now, but from a previous idealised past from which we were separated (that imaginary past when we were great, pure and innocent), that pulls us back to a state of dependency driven by our hunger, our need, our lack. This does not mean that our present is not problematic. It is. But first we need to deal with the past.  

In this sense, as a feminist, I don't think the patriarchy is the only enemy. The patriarchy, with all its shadows, has a purpose or at least a use. The other "enemy" to an adult (men and women) is the matriarchy. The matriarchy is fundamental for a child, but letting go of it is also fundamental for an adult. It is the feeling of wanting to go back to and idealised past to find someone (our mother, lost paradise) whom should satisfy our hunger (the need to be recognised and accepted in our uniqueness, respected in our space, the need to be fed with food, love and nurturing attention) instead of moving forward and developing the tools to feed ourselves (individually and in collaboration with others).

Rumi said "the wound is the place where the lights enters you", or as Zizec explains about the hegelian wound, in the wound heals itself by recognising in itself the solution (video below min 20-26 approx). If the wound is the first separation from the feminine, Eden under the command of the patriarchal father who threw us out, it is in this place outside Eden where we find the tools to heal the wound and connect to our own feminine -as opposed to go back to reconnect to the external one- (this is both for men and women). If for feminism, one of the characteristics of the patriarchy was the control over the uterus/sexuality, it was owning the control over the uterus (e.g. the pill, access to safe abortions, etc) and claiming the ownership of their sexuality what was most emancipating to women .
In Beyonce's performance, the emancipating spirit is not showing subjugation but rather being boldly american.

In this sense, even though both Trump and Sanders are these "outsiders" representing an anger against the establishment, the greatest difference between them is that the negativity of todays' is used to lead people in opposite directions: "to make America great again" is leading people backwards, aiming to recover an idealised lost state whilst blaming a demonised other. Bernie Sanders' messages are more inward-looking and forward-looking, seeing the current problems as new ones.

We love, we hate, we become

Freedom to love and create comes when we transit these stages: we love, we hate, we become. The first love is blind. It's attachment which fuses us in a blur with the other.
In hate, love still exists but it is working towards its emancipation, to cut dependency. It is an effort to put a distance in between us and the dependence we hold with that other who is important -we only hate people who are somehow important to us, even for the wrong reasons-. And in this distance, we gain perspective, we see a fuller picture. Then we stop hating. The hated one does not define us any more in any way. We become. We are not longer blind. We are no longer victims. We want people to look at us for who we are, in all our perfect imperfection. At this point we are free to love, to love freely (without the fear of loss, or the fear that in a potential loss of the loved one we will be disappear too) and we are free to create and collaborate.

Hungry women and angry women

Anger and hunger are closely related. 
The only way to overcome the social patriarchy is that we use the tools that the patriarchy has given us to see our shadow and integrate it. 

For women, we won't finish with the patriarchal process if we don't talk about motherhood for instance, and its shadowy aspects without a taboo. 
We need to be able to see in motherhood the potentiality of becoming -even if it is from time to time- the spider of Lord of the Rings (who numbs, immobilize and wraps like a baby our children to feed from them), the witch (with the house that looks very sweet from the outside but that inside keeps the children jailed and in control), the evil queen (the narcissist that needs to be looked at and fed with attention, impoverishing her children of attention) or the stepmother (the one that is not emotionally involved and able to enslave her children to do what she wants). We need to know this negative space of motherhood, this hunger. In this sense, we should take ownership of this knowledge. 
"Yes, we know we can be like that at times. But because we know, we can recognise it and address our hunger differently". Embodying the patriarchal mother without recognising it, leaves children empty and in need, hungry. In fact, I'd argue that the patriarchal mother is the main vector of the patriarchy (as much as neoliberal governments are the main vector of neoliberalism)
Later on this infantile hunger transforms itself into over-attachment to other forms of maternal patriarchy (abusive/intrusive or neglecting governments, cold corporations, etc), to debt, to things not changing, and anger whenever an experience reminds us of our wound (losing jobs, changing environment and our sense of collective identity, appearance of other people in greater need...). Under this logic, if poor, refugees, minority groups -in other words competition in terms of unsatisfied needs- disappear then my mum will be free to take care of me. Governments will struggle to talk about helping refugees whilst imposing austerity and welfare cuts over its own population (embodying the stepmother /patriarchal mother model). Whenever we see "haters" complaining about others, the analysis should focus not in what they say but instead in what their own economical situation is. 

It is probably this what makes Hillary Clinton not such a clear candidate for women yet. Her links with the establishment cast a doubt on what sort of woman she really is. Is she truly free? Is she an empowering figure? Is she able to see the others? 

This reflection on the patriarchal mother is not to cast blame on women, on the contrary, it is empowering because it means it is in our hands. The more women reflect on the patriarchal mother model, the more they can transform it. The biggest trap is, of course, violence against women.

We won't finish with the patriarchal process either if we don't confront the mandate of being the good girl, the good pupil who never uses the energy of her anger to be assertive. Famously, this has been discussed not so long ago in the press after Jennifer Lawrence pointed out that speaking her mind was easily taken as aggressive behaviour. In the analysis of this even, the press provided with a translator English-woman in a meeting to explain how a woman should say a famous quote without being perceived aggressive or bitchy:
“I came. I saw. I conquered.”
Woman in a Meeting: “I don’t want to toot my own horn here at all but I definitely have been to those places and was just honored to be a part of it as our team did such a wonderful job of conquering them.”
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
Woman in a Meeting: “I’m not an expert, Dave, but I feel like maybe you could accomplish more by maybe shifting your focus from asking things from the government and instead looking at things that we can all do ourselves? Just a thought. Just a thought. Take it for what it’s worth.”

Woman-in-a-meeting language keeps us in the patriarchal process (as much as men who fear assertive women are still in doubt of their our "performance" and remain castrated by the patriarchy).

Transformative fire

I always hypothesise that the left and the state tend to mirror the feminist issues. So a state that is aware of its own shadow (eg potential to be over-controlling, smothering, disengaged with the people and submissive to the corporate world), can start to show its teeth (to feed, to take a bite of life) and become creator again. Whilst the right and the corporate world could also reflect what would it be the post patriarchal right, the one that is against dependency but does not neglect, the one that pushes for focus and discipline but does not castrate, that one that encourage risks but assumes responsibility, ultimately the one that does not need to control or undermine the creative power of the state to succeed, nor humiliate people for them to align in pursuing a group purpose.

It is only when we don't fear our own anger that we can break away with past mandates and take action independently. In this sense, and even though I think yoga, meditation and mindfulness are very positive practices as a personal choice, I am suspicious when the corporate world encourages it actively, as its purpose could easily become to tame people's anger instead of listen to it and address the issues that might be triggering it.

It is only when we don't fear our own anger that we can use it as a transformative fire instead of a destructive explosion, claim ownership of our words, and break with the patriarchal language, not to go back to the maternal narrative but to move forward. 
Both narratives need to be recognised as foreign. 
Then, we become.


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