Who Fights Monsters

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

 – Friedrich Nietzsche


The past day I’ve been mulling over my thoughts about Allecto’s post Big Porn Inc at the RadFem Hub.  There were parts of it that were honestly quite triggering and got me thinking about what kind of pain and trauma we subject ourselves to as radical feminists.  To boldly look into and name the horrors that polite society just isn’t able to see (or doesn’t want to).  To carry all of this terrible knowing around with us.  Its enough some days to make a woman feel crazy.

First there’s the isolation.  Intense isolation of knowing that you’re probably going to lose a lot of people in your life because they can’t handle that you’ve taken the leap into the terrible knowing.  Also little quirks about the person that may be very common among the human race may just leave you with the sour smell of patriarchal bullshit in your nostrils.  The isolation of knowing that you just cannot be yourself or let your guard down around most people because they do NOT understand you.  This isn’t some desperate teenage feeling of not being understood, its a deep well of knowing that you’ve had your eyes opened to some cold hard truths that most people are brainwashed from birth til grave to just not see.

There is the isolation of being unabashedly pro-woman in a society that is just as unabashedly anti-woman.  The isolation of being kicked out of other political communities for daring to speak up about all the little obvious inequities.  The isolation of being the one that brings everyone else down.

The quote from Nietzsche in many ways sums up the dilemma of radical feminists as they plunge into the terrible knowing.  The abyss is staring into us.  Many of us have experienced the traumas we see enacted on the bodies of other women, many of us have been through toxic bonding with males, many of us have experienced intense violence labelled “love” or “passion”.  We take the dive in, ignoring our own safety and dare to see the truth of what male violence is and how it manifests and it fucking hurts and we want to fucking scream and we want to destroy the men who do these things.  DESTROY like Kali beating her arms in righteous rage.  This is not a world with justice for women and we are stepping off the path of what is known in the hopes of finding that we can one day make it so.  We fear we may become gruesome like the monsters we despise, that they will poison us with their wickedness and transform us into being like them and we are labelled as worse than them from the left, right, center and even other women who call themselves feminists.

But we survive.


18 responses to “Who Fights Monsters

  1. This may explain why nihilism is a popular respite for those who dare to look into the gruesome acts of MANkind. Its hard to hold much hope out with that kind of knowledge and many resign themselves to a deep vacuum of feeling.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this!! It really feels good to hear how I feel come from another woman. I also fell a little bit less alone. I will leave you with a quote from Mary Daly:

    “It isn’t “prudent” for women to see all of this. Seeing means that everything changes: the old identifications and the old securities are gone. Therefore the ethic emerging in the women’s movement is not an ethic of prudence but one whose dominant theme is existential courage. This is the courage to “see” and to “be” in the face of the nameless anxieties that surface when a woman begins to see through the masks of sexist society and to confront the horrifying fact of her own alienation from her authentic self.”

    • Ain’t that the truth? I’ve studied philosophy as a personal interest since I was a teenager but nothing, literally nothing is as compelling as what Mary Daly has to say about women’s reality.

      I’m glad to hear this has made you feel less alone. “Alone” is a topic for a whole other post.

  3. You’ve perfectly captured how I feel. Sometimes it weighs too heavy on my heart, and I have to walk away for a while. Sometimes I look at others who are beaming innocence — their lack of insight and knowing — and wish I’d stayed in their realm. But most of the time, I’m glad I understand. Ugly as it is, it’s better to know than to be battered from not knowing.

  4. Terri, thanks for this.

    Michele, thanks for that quote; quite appropriate I think.

  5. Thanks for writing this. It makes me feel less alone in my isolation. The loneliness of seeing the world so differently than most has been getting to me lately. I sometimes wish I could pretend that all is well and not see misogyny everywhere. Seeing it makes it hard to be part of the world that doesn’t see it at all. And I want to be part of it. I’m tired of being so alone. But being aware of the misogyny all around me separates me, even though I keep my thoughts to myself. But what has been seen cannot be unseen.

    • It helps to make friends who “get it”. I suppose I’m lucky that I have a few I’ve made. I keep thinking “where I lead others will follow”. Hopefully I’ll act on it someday.

      I hope you can temper the loneliness, or if not, use it as a space to follow all thoughts to their conclusions.

  6. allectos post has haunted me as well. it was necessary, and well-timed i think. i have avoided reading those works as well bc i dont know what will happen to me if i read them, bc i dont know whats there and cant know until i see them for myself (the horrors men perpetrate on girls and women are literally unimaginable, even though they are real) and am stuck with the images for life bc they dont go away. you cant un-see this stuff as we all know. some women wont face even the most basic examples of it, and im not sure thats the same as what we are dealing with? but there are others of us who fully embrace the basic stuff and are properly enraged about it but still wont fully commit, or go all the way to the bottom. dworkin did, and others have and they report back to the rest of us, so we can all know. its very brave, and a necessary service.

    i am still left thinking about what allecto said, that we need to know these things and knowing them stirs up the rage and the rage is necessary and good. but what good is it if so many women arent raging at all, to have but a few that are THERE, SO THERE and noone else is ready? if i thought it would really matter, and that MY rage would be the rage we needed to get this thing started, i would do it. but i know its not. its difficult to know what to do with this information, including the decision we all have to make re whether to go all the way, or not. knowing that men do things all the time that would literally change you and keep you up at night if only you knew about it, and admitting that much is….what? what is it? i really dont know what to do with any of it. that there is so little female rage or actualized/externalized female rage out there, it all feels like a nonstarter.

  7. This is exactly how I feel… thank you for this. I cannot un-see or un-know what I know. Ever.

  8. wetakefromourlivesthosedays

    “i really dont know what to do with any of it. that there is so little female rage or actualized/externalized female rage out there, it all feels like a nonstarter.”
    FCM, I am right here in this. I battle with myself – raging inwardly at the grotesque injustices and raging in another way – at the women in my life who I feel deep relationships with, but with whom I am not at all comfortable discussing the injustices with; who I fear, for one because of potential ostracizing, and for two, because of a total lack of interest in acknowledgment of said injustice. So confused, so sad. And yet, with all of your words, all of you, I feel vindicated and among friends.

  9. Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU! This is exactly how I have been feeling for at least FOREVER!

  10. Excellent post. The secret is to do just what you mentioned: take little breaks, give your mind and heart time to heal — fresh air, sunshine, baths, kittens, making love, laughing with true friends, howling at the moon. We need to keep our balance as we walk along the rim of the abyss, mapping its contours, planning our routes, constructing strategies. Don’t let the cretins on-line suck all the joy out of your day-to-day life. Survive to fight another day. I carefully choose whom I trust with my inner-most thoughts and feelings in real life. There is nothing productive to be gained from arguing with one of my entrenched-sexist older male relatives, for example. I don’t walk alone, but I choose my walking companions with care.

  11. I feel the same way. I go to sleep each night and wish wish wish that I don’t wake in the morning. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all meet each other in real life, and band together and not be terrified?

  12. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been feeling this for quite a long time, and recently it’s almost like drowning. It’s nice to feel some solidarity.

  13. Thank you for expressing this so well. One thing, though…
    “This isn’t some desperate teenage feeling of not being understood, its a deep well of knowing that you’ve had your eyes opened to some cold hard truths that most people are brainwashed from birth til grave to just not see.”
    I think back to my teenager-hood and can’t help but wonder how much of the despair and clinical depression was feeling these things, the utter injustice to my personhood, seething invisible in the culture of every day life, and not being able to articulate them. I just didn’t have the words or a clear analysis of the concepts, so it had to be me. How different would I have been if I had access to the language of radical feminism? Would it have helped me deal with the world and even the inner crippling from emotional abuse at home? Teen angst, indeed.

  14. @ Sabrina. Totally with you on the so-called ‘teen angst’. It’s hard to be a teen already with hormones and such; let alone trying to integrate yourself into a crazy world of oppression and superficiality, a society that is sleepwalking in a warzone. You see the disgustingness of all around you, or how you are being treated, and everyone acts like everything’s totally fine, normal, and that you’re the crazy one. And all the while, being dismissed and de-legitimized as just ‘teen angst’.

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