60 pp. £3.30
Includes two essays:
Feminists invented the term 'male-identified woman'. This is no more than a euphemism for 'slag' and suchlike epithets commonly employed by ladies with pretensions to respectability. By categorizing women as sisters/ male-identified feminists promote the old virgin/ whore myth by another name. The implication is that male-identified women are somehow traitors to their own sex.
A woman's acceptance or rejection as a sister largely depends on what her feminist judges imagine her sexual behaviour to be. Women who work in the sex industry are either scorned or patronised as 'victims'. Feminists are utterly contemptuous of anyone suspected of heterosexual promiscuity or of engaging in sexual practices they find disgusting (notably sado-masochism)...
There are modes of dress and behaviour which feminists, like all respectable people, read as signs of sexual promiscuity. I became aware of these prejudices myself while at university. It came to my ears that the college women's group were saying that I 'wore no knickers' (unfortunately it is usually too cold in this country to go without). In traditional respectable woman fashion they assumed that I wore my flamboyant clothes and make-up in order to attract men. Worst of all in their eyes was the fact that I spent a lot of time drinking in the college bar. I found the cheap beer a good deal more attractive than the male undergraduates; in fact I spent my college years in virtual celibacy. I learned from the feminist group however, that 'virtuous' women believe that a woman only has male friends because she wants to have sex with them.
Romantic love is the delusion that intimacy with another will act as an antidote to personal malaise. Fear and laziness prompt unhappy people to hold someone else responsible for their own emotional welfare. Lovers resort to desperate measures when they feel treatened by the one on whom they believe their happiness depends. Spouse murder is no insane aberration. It is but one logical product of a 'loving relationship'...
Women are brought up to fear men...male violence is portrayed as the hidden
menace that awaits the woman who is careless enough to expose herself to it. Traditional logic has it that, as women are defenceless on their own, they should choose one man to keep the others away...
Fear annihilates lust for life and induces social conformity. By adulthood, most women have been so thoroughly terrorised by those who would 'protect' them that they have lost all faith in their abilities to look after themselves...
Our society may be ruled with the ultimate sanction of force but its day-to-day operation is carried out by a population industriously engaged in forging its own chains. People do their best to limit their choices and have their decisions made for them. The desire for restriction was graphically expressed by an American friend who said she fancied the veiled and secluded life of a Saudi woman. Her bounds would thus be set, she argued, leaving her free to 'get into being herself'. Doubtless a prisoner in solitary relishes the chance to do the same.
It is this crippling fear of life that compels women to enmesh themselves in violent relationships.
Like myself, most people bury themselves in mindless political activism because popular morality has instilled in them the belief that 'doing something for others' is a valid justification for their existences. This delusion is particularly common amongst the female sex. Most of womenkind devote their lives to servicing others. They not only find their raisons d'etre in looking after their immediate families, but in becoming the handmaidens of 'higher causes'. Up and down the country middle-aged women busy themselves with organising church fetes and embroidering altar pieces. Their daughters believe they are rebelling against their conditioning by peddling socialist literature on windy street corners. They arrange meetings and debates in the upstairs rooms of pubs, occasionally making so bold as to address the meetings themselves on 'women's issues'. Traditional female skills are also handy for typing up minutes and sweeping out the headquarters of subversive organisations. Such devotion is a form of atonement for the effrontery of being alive.
Feminists have already pointed out the ease with which male revolutionaries reduce their female comrades to dogsbodies. It would be more pertinent to question why so many women acquiesce to this treatment, but some feminists are too busy taking advantage of this aspect of female conditioning to do so. Many women in single sex groups play out their submissive roles with equal gusto. Seperatism was initiated by women who wanted their own political domain in which to play their power games.
Some people are scared by the prospect of waking up in the morning and wondering what in the world to do. They relieve themselves of the problem by becoming careerists, drug addicts, parents or revolutionaries. Tasks are arranged, as if by external necessity. These take precedence over personal desires. Of course, the perfect cadre, functionary or parent sees no contradiction between living for the party, the company, or the child and living for the self. They are driven to serve something outside themselves through a desperate fear of being useless and unneeded.
Life in post-Soviet Russia: Witches, KGB men turned enforcers, speculators, alcoholics and the women whose labour keeps society from total breakdown...the residents of these communal flats speak about the reality of Russian life. Their stories show how economic and political reform have bred nationalism and nostalgia for Stalin. The author is a British woman who lived in this tenement in the formerly closed military city of Samara, on the Volga.
(On drinking): Violence is an accepted part of Russian drinking culture. Lina Ivanovna said there was a common belief that a wedding was not a wedding without a good brawl. A few years ago she had been a guest at one where a barrel of samogon was brought in from the country. Two men and a woman dropped dead from alcohol poisoning. The other guests called an ambulance which took the corpses away to the mortuary. Then they carried on drinking and fighting. Next morning they faced each other with black eyes and bruises to begin drinking again. Two men started a fight at the top of the stairs; they tumbled down and one was killed. Again an ambulance had to be called. The next day those who had drunk themselves to death were brought back in coffins. Another barrel of samogon was fetched from the country and the revelry resumed.
(On women): Russian women exude a boundless competence. Although often thankful to find myself in their all embracing care, I sometimes felt as though I was being treated as an honourary man or an invalid. I refected that if I were a man I would rather have a friend than a nursemaid. There again, if I were a Russian man I would probably find the contents of a bottle more compelling than female company.
The post-war Soviet Union was a modern, industrialised society. If it could put women into space it could have built efficient public laundries on every block. It did not do so, because it expected women to continue to be the caryatids of the economy and the home. Most depressing of all, they expect it of themselves.
(On bureaucracy): I was waiting in the Department of Visas and Foreign Affairs to register my temporary domicile in Samara. I had an impression of stepping back into the 19th century. It was almost dark in the waiting-room and silent except for the buzz of flies and the clack of a typewriter in an inner office. Wooden benches were crammed with peasant women in headscarves and shabby men in felt boots. I asked:
'Who's last in the queue?'
Silence. I repeated the question in a stentorian voice. A few weather-beaten faces looked up but no one answered. Each lumpy face radiated priterpelost - a characteristically Russian expression for patience and the capacity to endure.
In frustration I strode past a row of supplicants and barged through a forbidding door. It opened into a calm and sunny office. A pair of plump ladies in fluffy jumpers sat behind their desks stirring glasses of tea. They looked up in annoyance at having their peace disturbed. I announced that I was a foreigner who wanted a propiska (residence permit). As I had expected, they were pleased to have such an unprecedented distraction. I praised the beauties of the city while one of the ladies galvanised herself to pick up her pen.
A family group was gathered around a farther desk. The younger members were encouraging a man of about 60 to sign a paper. His face was twisted into a grimace as he drooled onto his shiny black suit. A girl directed his hand along the page. I wondered what rights the imbecile was signing away.
One of the officials interrupted my thoughts by telling me to go to the side-office to have my documents copied. I stuck my head through the hatch in this cubby-hole and addressed the clerk within. She snatched my papers and scanned through them. Seeing my nationality she barked:
'This paper must be translated!'
'But it's already written in Russian - otherwise you wouldn't have been able to read it!' I protested.
She shoved the document back into my hands and slammed the shutter down. I knew I should open my purse and wave a couple of dollar bills through the glass, but I was suddenly overcome with bitter fatigue.
I seized my papers and ran out through the waiting-room of dead souls. No one stirred in the gloom.
Back home in Specialist Alley I let off steam to my neighbours. They said:
'You see, this is how we lived and how we still live. The bureaucracy stamps on us at every turn. They have it all sewn up. We can do absolutely nothing for ourselves. Bureaucrats increase the number of rules and regulations in order to get paid for breaking them. Our only recourse is bribery.
We know that place. It's always the same. Those peasants in the waiting-room have probably been there for so long they have forgotten why they came. They come to the city twice in their lives, for marriage certificates and death certificates. Now you see what the Soviet system has done to our people. The bureaucracy weighs down on them from cradle to grave. There is nothing they can do except wait and endure.'
(On the city): The city is built on skeletons of the Soviet past. When workmen dug out two artificial lakes in the Park Gagarin they found thousands of bones of people shot by the NKVD in the thirties. There is a forlorn graveyard by the Samarka, a resting-place for local boys killed in Afghanistan. Below Samara are the satellite towns of Novokuibyshevsk and Chapaevsk. Their cemeteries are filled with the corpses of workers killed in building accidents and chemical and gas explosions. Little attention was paid to safety measures in the course of post-war industrial expansion.