Monday, June 25, 2007

The Feminization of Power

Darlings, Pretty Lady is missing you all terribly, and feels dreadful for having neglected you. She had all sorts of wise things to say on the subject of Feminine Power, and then she sat down to think about it and discombobulated herself. Sometimes Pretty Lady thinks that this 'sophisticated wisdom' schtick of hers is all just an act.

She does believe, however, that some of us Smart Girls out there have it all wrong, when we envision packs of roving Smart Girl Gangs banding together, and taking over the government, or the economy, or even the Art World. In her experience, attempts at forming Smart Girl Gangs have always ended in unmitigated disaster. Smart Girls, it seems, are not particularly suited for gangs.

No, it seems to her that acquiring sordid sorts of Worldly Power has always had much more to do with perceptions of appropriateness, and the acting accordingly, than the brute acquisition of Power at All Costs. For example, you will all recall that last week, Pretty Lady was having a meltdown regarding some simple Web Design issues. You will all be as thrilled as Pretty Lady is to hear that these issues have been resolved; they have been resolved, unsurprisingly, by a Nice Gentleman who knows a great deal more about troublesome computer issues than does Pretty Lady. Not by a charter member of any mythical Girl Gang. Pretty Lady hates to puncture your idealism, but so it is.

For, as she pontificated to the Nice Gentleman over brunch yesterday, true Power only has tangentially to do with Authority. An ignorant person who begins issuing orders indiscriminately, at whatever level of External Hierarchy, will sink the ship and become terminally Disempowered if she does not stop to perceive and listen to Incoming Facts, no matter from whom these Facts are incoming. It may take awhile, but Worldly Power, when ungrounded in Transcendent Wisdom, is always fleeting.

Pretty Lady has learned, from sad and codependent experience, that it is insufficient to the acquisition of Feminine Power to simply support Women in Everything. It is suicidal to support some people; the lame, the ignorant, the incompetent, the narcissistic, the manipulative and the rude should be Constrained, if not Shunned, no matter how politically expedient it may seem to attempt to Empower them, or they will drag the Female Empoweress to a watery grave. Conversely, the Competent and the Kind ought to be accorded positions of High Respect in one's personal Power Canon, however white, male and upper-middle-class these persons might happen to be.

This is not to say that Great Leaders may not be both Female and Feminine. This is to say that mature Feminine Power may not look at all like common, military-variety notions of Authority; it may blossom into some other paradigm entirely. It may be serene, rather than strident; delegatory, rather than authoritative; ruminative, rather than frenetic. Above all, it should recognize the strengths of every person in the spectrum, and create a structure wherein these strengths may be depended upon, not merely attempt to inject power where power is not.


Doom said...

I cannot know the place you find yourself. I only know that you have invited me to see into this one part of your domain. I am sad that realizations hurt. I am frustrated along with you in some ways. But I thought I would offer what salve I have as well.

Women have always been some of the most powerful beings on this planet. They craft those who rise to power. They whisper in those ears, as mothers, wives, and daughters. Their power is invisible, in some sense, but can be seen in the weave of history more certainly that any other force, leader, or nation. It does sadden me that for some women today, this is not enough. Turning away world wide influence for a few years of work, temporary political power, or anything is something I do not understand.

Your chance remains to join the the living and renounce death. On this, I struggle myself. I do not like this part of the salve always, but the reality of the choice remains, for both of us, for a while.

I probably shouldn't, but...

Pretty Lady said...

Doom my dear, I completely understand what you are saying, and to a certain extent I agree.


In the interests of full disclosure, I will first say that the discussion which sparked this post had to do with the unequal influence of Women in the Arts. It is all very well to say that indirect influence is influence as well; but the absence of direct recognition in a female artist's life makes the stark difference between Lifelong Drudgery, wherein one's work is constantly drained and constricted by the necessity of earning a living in a manner unrelated to one's vocation, and full Creative Expansion. This is not a trivial thing to most of us.

Second, the type of indirect influence you discuss can all to often veer into the realm of the Creepy. Persons who are unable to attain power in a direct manner will frequently become Creepy in a manipulative, passive-aggressive, tentacle-like manner, which Creepiness blots their own souls and the souls of those around them. Many of us ladies do not wish to be Creepy. We wish to be honest, forthright, and direct, and to live our lives in the sun as fully realized human beings. The goal is not 'power over others,' but 'power to be ourselves.'

Doom said...

I see. But, aren't the ones who become creepy the ones who wish to attain power they cannot have? Who are those? The honor system is easily manipulated by the unworthy, but I myself will stay with. I know it isn't that clean, but it is that simple, for me.

Pretty Lady said...

the ones who wish to attain power they cannot have?

If a person cannot have the power to be the person that God intended them to be, my dear Doom, it is time for a Revolution.

A female person, Doom, is all to often Slapped Down from childhood for attempting to express herself in an honest, direct, forthright, simple way. She is encouraged to become Creepy, because this is what is rewarded. This is how she learns to get her fundamental needs met. We are not talking 'power to dominate'; we are talking 'power to feed and clothe oneself.'

It is a sorry system which actively encourages irresponsibility, passivity and manipulativeness in women, then derides these same women for being irresponsible, passive and manipulative. This is the element of the social 'honor code' that Pretty Lady would like to see rooted out and abolished.

Doom said...

I would like to take a moment to ensure something is understood, or try, sincerely. I do not come here and comment to be a pest, even though I may be seen as one. I do not wish to inflict unnecessary pain, the Lord knows there is enough already. And I will not judge or play that role, it isn't my role. You may or may not choose to accept that as it sits, but it is what I feel needs to be proffered. I do not question, merely ask. Please, bear these things in mind?

I saw your post earlier but was dead tired and had to nap. I dreamed the answer, I am more or less transcribing, so I hope it's ok.

I was speaking with my lady friend just yesterday, at which time she indicated her father too had kept her down. In her 50's, she is doing somethings she loves which she felt her father had kept her from, outdoor excursions among them. But she becomes quite ill because for it, seriously ill, every time. Now, I have to stop and think. Should I say anything about the connections that were just so obviously laid out or, no. No, we have been there. I know she will refuse to realize there may have been a reason for her fathers interventions, even should he have been an arse about it, as I am assured and sure he was. Here is different, as I wish to see how you think on these matters a bit more clearly.

I have seen many people succeed and many people fail. I have seen people try this and end doing that. I have seen a great many things in my life, and even understand a few of them in a simpler form then their complete realities, but it serves me well. If you were born to do something, you will do that. It just seems to be how it is. There may be a price for it, however. I realize many of the greatest artists, architects, engineers, scholars, and even some leaders before they ruled, lived commonly in poverty. Bach depended on the wealthy, his attitude lent him no small pain in such a situation. He would not concede and probably ended before his time, if indirectly, for it. And, men have no more power than women in anything. It seems that power is held by the dollar, and that if guided by men is spent by women. So, your troubles seem to be of a nature in which they shouldn’t be clumped as you seem to be doing.

Oh, bother, I know this helps you not a whit. Wisdom from the dead, really. I will, at this point, just offer my congratulations on your efforts and wish for you the best. I hope, if it is God’s will, that a revolution occurs and is in your favor. I hope you are able to discard the unwise chains you feel your father and men have and try to place on you. And I hope you honestly come by the influence you desire. If nothing else, I hope you find peace in your sufferings and privations. There is art in this too.

Pretty Lady said...

men have no more power than women in anything.

My dear, if a female person had been born in Bach's time with Bach's talent, she would have been denied any education at all, laughed at for attempting to do more upon a musical instrument than play a few popular songs, and, exhausted from childbearing, have died without writing a note.

We cannot do anything about the facts of biology. The knee-jerk disdain for female effort, however, could use a little tweaking.

the unwise chains you feel your father and men have and try to place on you.

Who says it is my father and men? My father and men have always been my biggest fans! It is the embittered, competitive, backstabbing, manipulative, disempowered, passive-aggressive women who have been by far the biggest problem.

It is in the nature of damaged human beings to attempt to inflict that same damage upon others, particularly others whom they perceive to be a threat. This is why it is paramount to understand the healing process, as well as to study ways in which we can avoid damaging people in the first place.

Doom said...

I considered a response, wrote it several times, and decided against it each time. However, I have decided to include a part of it.

Because of my, mysterious to me, interest in only playing Baroque in spite of having no great or particular love of the sounds when consumed as entertainment, I decided to look into my interest. In my search, I was only slightly surprised to find that men and women had played a part in it's creation and production in it's day. Women were trained to play, more so than men actually. They, if from a good family, had a much better chance at a musical education. As well, men and women were turned away from further education based on wealth or lack of it (both), politics as usual, social expectations (both sexes), and other factors, though not seemingly purely because of their sex. Most of the true greats were great before they received a true education, before they could have received one. Then as now, what I see is that few if any women have that innate genius that allowed certain males, as young as three, to compose. It has nothing to do with one’s sex, at least as an externally limiting factor. There is nothing sexist about reality.

As well many, what are called giants in their fields, in their day lived in frightful poverty and pursued their craft in spite of it, some might say because of it. They never knew wealth, fame, glory, only humility, shame, scorn, and labor after labor just to try and do what they enjoyed or needed to do. Van Gogh is a favorite example, but there are tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of others, maybe millions now who probably could be known but just haven't come into favor or who's works are lost. If you are in art for the money, glory, social status, or anything but the art itself, perhaps you aren’t in the right field, or the correct part of the field?

Pretty Lady said...

If you are in art for the money, glory, social status, or anything but the art itself, perhaps you aren’t in the right field, or the correct part of the field?

Yaaargh! Doom, darling, my dear, do you have any notion of how often an artist hears this statement, and how often it is used against us by persons who DO value 'money, glory and social status' a great deal more than we do, and who are using this sort of reasoning to keep a lockhold on such?

Artists, my dear Doom, are simply sick of hearing about it. If we chose our careers for the sake of 'money, glory and social status' we would have quit within six months of graduating from art school, when we were plunged into a world which has no interest whatsoever in our useless, esoteric constructions, and is even less interested in paying us for them.

The fact is, dear Doom, there are a certain set of highly observable, documentable, repeatable Facts which may be noted about the state of being an Artist in the World Today.

1) Money is made from Art. Lots and lots and lots of money.

2) The Art World fetishizes the Young, Good-looking, Male artist to an extraordinary degree. To a degree which you, dear Doom, would not credit even if you were there observing. A young, good-looking white male artist can stand in front of a dealer, curator or collector and spout off the most execrable, meaningless nonsense and be taken completely seriously.

3) Female artists are largely ignored, except when we are patronized, ghettoized, or recognized after we are eighty or dead.

These, my dear Doom, are Facts which Pretty Lady would be entirely unwilling to credit, except that she has been living these facts for the last couple of decades. These facts are Reality, and Reality is Sexist.

Pretty Lady deals with these Facts, largely, with grace, philosophy and phlegm. But if you dare to tell her that she is a Shallow Egoist who is primarily concerned with Money, Glory and Fame, Pretty Lady will become seriously infuriated with you.

Fair warning.

Doom said...

Ah, pardon me. In this situation, and as you now phrase it or I see it, and probably to your surprise, yes, I know that part. I've always thought it was the thrum of homosexual tendencies which explode through the art world, bolstered by wealthy women’s taste for particularly stupid young men, and some other weird stuff. However, I did not realize women did not hold their own part of this cultish sex twist stuff. I guess I assumed it was more private, done whether in fact or verbally enacted in more private settings. I wonder if it has always been so? In the mythology of my religion, it has been suggested that heaven’s lord of art, music, beauty, and a few other things was Lucifer, named for his likeness to the brightest star in the sky, the last to fade into the new day’s sun. Perhaps he leaves his calling card in plain site, in some ways, and in his old work.

As for the money part, it is just so with banks. And, that to some degree, though without any legal or moral restraints, is what you are dealing with. Never go to a bank thinking you will come out ahead, you can’t win. Pull out legal and moral limits, and you shouldn’t even talk to those folks. Although, you seem to have no chance whatsoever, since they are the only ones who might be able to sell your works.

Ok, you have some sympathy from these quarters (albeit, for what it is worth). Hmmm, why didn’t you just ask for it? *laughs*

Pretty Lady said...

I did not realize women did not hold their own part of this cultish sex twist stuff.

Ah, you see, we do. When a Great Artist falls in love with a young female artist, he wishes to spirit her away and keep her All To Himself, so that he may be the only man on the planet to properly appreciate her wit, her beauty and her talent; he paints portraits of her, listens avidly to her ideas, steals them and makes them his own. He enlists her assistance in editing, critiquing and fabricating his own work, uncredited.

He does not, of course, write her a reference, introduce his dealer to her work, or mention her name in public. He feels that this would spoil her in some way.

Doom said...

Ah, one learns the intricacies of the ennobled consistently and whenever one should decided to delicately ponder said affairs more than softly in the presence of an entity from said estates who should take such a notion as a request and rightly so as present. Should one humbly or in naiveté begin to ruminate further upon the proffered innuendo, ratiocination, and finally the simple truth, the picture shifts from a primitive to a practical portrait with each level of the data set. I see, said the blind man to the deaf man, in spite of the fact that all was plain or that no one else knew but the initiating cripple, perhaps.

It seems knights, rogues, and artists are not so different after all, in some ways. Though the differences become starker, as do the gilded cages each constructs for the song bird of choice. As well, something is stolen by all; the warrior seeks strength and life, the thief assent and protection, the artist seems to seek for soul.

Pretty Lady said...

Doom, you crack me up. :-)

Doom said...

I am unsure of the nature of the comment, how to take it more to point. So, I have decided, since I am a comic book character it doesn't matter so long as you enjoy.

I have a lot of time and do little else of value, so, I just allow that it was my pleasure. Clown or worse, a laugh serves the lonely well. And so I just feel the mirth and then am gone, again.