Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Imagining feminism worked

The Guardian has been soliciting information from people who regard themselves as working class, about feminism. I don't know whether they have middle-classified the answers, but they sure don't sound working class. But then, no more do I. I have an extreme form of mixture in my mother's ancestry, with one line being more or less uniformly Norman ancestry, middle class, and the other with Anglo-Saxon ancestry and working class. Dirt poor working class, dying in the workhouse, dying with nothing to their names.

I read the Guardian all the time, although the pro-school vibe is a bit offputting, but then a large proportion of their readership seem to be teachers. They try to solicit working class views, but really, if you're reading the Guardian on a regular basis, you're halfway to the middle classes, whatever your background or financial status. It requires a certain sort of worldview before you can read it. Daily Mail readers hate the Guardian.

The article made me think though. A couple of days ago I visited the Joseph Rowntree Foundation webpage. I saw that their strapline was "Inspiring social change" and I know of their work through the quakers. But much of what I saw on the website was a meticulous recording of what is happening, a social commentary on the problems and the challenges that people face today, and very little vision or inspiration for changing it. Many of those sorts of charities spend their time fighting the things, the injustices that they see in the world, rather than presenting a vision of what it should be for the future.

It meshes with something else I have been wrestling with for myself. I don't remember how I started watching Bashar videos... I think it was through Educating Humanity, which is a website which reports on UFOs and the like. Bashar is apparently a channelled being from the future, who gives spiritual advice. The main crux of his advice is what my grandmother always told me: "To thine own self, be true". He says that we are in the world to be the best possible version of ourselves, and that every incarnation is unique and therefore has a mission to be the most like themselves that they can be.

I set aside all the questions about whether it is possible to channel other entities, and whether it is possible for people from the future to talk to today. I look only at the message... is it true? Does it work for me? Do I resonate with it? It's not a unique message, but it does have some unique detail. What he suggests we should do is to imagine for ourselves what world we would prefer to live in, and then pretend it exists. To engender in ourselves a vision of the world we would prefer and then to create it in feeling, in experience, in our minds, and know that it exists.

I don't know if the method of manifesting the future you prefer is an effective one, but it made me think about what I want, what world I prefer. And it made me wonder what is the obstacle to achieving it, what stops humankind from making a world without war, without want, without hunger, without illness and disease. What are we waiting for? We have all the resources we need to solve world hunger, to stop wars, to look after the people who need looking after. At present the UK seems to be going backwards as far as that is concerned, and for what? For money. This artificial construct that we developed in order to make barering easier has become something which controls governments, controls people and forces us into positions we don't want to take. Saving it, hoarding it, balancing the books, has become far more important than all the things it represents... the ability to move stuff around to the people who need it.

I see one of the challenges of the world today that it is in the grip of a very male approach to problems. There isn't enough of the female in our systems - and in fact the recent changes to the welfare system are making it less and less nurturing and caring and more and more punitive in approach. That isn't a good thing. A feminist approach, a feminine approach, would be to put the people first and the money second. To find ways of nurturing and caring for people, however little they are able to look after themselves. I am not talking about socialism, I am talking about tht human instinct to care for those who are unable to care for themelves, to make sure they are safe and well and looked after, and not to count the cost, the way you would if a broken or needy person was set in front of you.

I start to think of my vision of a feminist future, and if I were Queen of the world, I would ban the stick thin models from the cat walk and the pages of the magazines. I would put women on them, real women with curves and lumps and bumps in the wrong places, who are more beautiful than the stick thin boygirls they use today.

I'd make every woman buy a pair of flat shoes and confiscate the teetering high heels until they could run for a bus.

I'd close every massage parlour, every brothel, every spearmint rhino, every lap dancing club. I'd set up free community centres, with interesting programmes of talks and demonstrations on science, on flower arranging, on any damn thing that anyone was interested in.

In my feminist world, women would be free to stay at home or go to work. If they stayed at home they would be paid by the state to look after their children. Woman and men who commit violent and sexual offences would be held in prison until they were no longer a danger to others. Prison would be a town, walled in, but containing everything on the inside that is on the outside - shops and cafes and theatres and restaurants... and only those who proved unable to exist in such a place would be sent to anywhere more punitive.

I loved the model of home for old people which was upon those lines - a place which mimicked real life, it exists in the Netherlands. That place doesn't assume that someone with dementia will have forgotten everything they ever knew, and it allows them to continue to do the things they know how to do. I think prisons should be the same - we would be able to maintain prisons far better if we made them better places to be.

My ideas are unformed, and of course, completely impractical at present, but I do think that having a vision for the way you want things to be, the way you prefer them to be, is an important thing to have, otherwise everything becomes very negative. If you only ever know how you *don't* want things to be, it's a long and hard way towards a better future.