Redstockings Manifesto - Part 3
Today's talk, is part 3 of a podcast series concerning the Redstockings Manifesto, an early feminist document which in my opinion lays bare most of what is essential to feminism. Yes, you could throw away nearly everything else that people say feminism is, and feminism would remain intact upon the strength of what the Redstockings Manifesto contains. But if you throw away Redstockings, feminism both as an ideology and as a movement would amount to little better than loose straw, and this loose straw would scatter in the wind in very short order. ..
To recap briefly, the Redstockings Manifesto was published in New York City in 1969, and its principal author appears to have been the Marxist-inspired Shulamith Firestone—who also wrote a well-known book called The Dialectic of Sex.
Redstockings differs from the preachings of Valerie Solanas or of Rasa von Werder (of "woman thou art god" notoriety) in that it does not expressly advance the idea of female supremacy. Granted that by its hostility toward men it paves the way to such a conclusion, but it falls short of stating the conclusion in set terms.
Redstockings also amounts to an elliptical summary of the patriarchy theory, even though the word patriarchy itself nowhere appears. Again, as with female supremacy, Redstockings suggestively paves the road to such a conclusion—and both conclusions are easily supplied by any reader so inclined.
But for our purpose, the most important thing about the Redstockings Manifesto is that nobody can plausibly aver that it isn't really feminism. Redstockings is very much indeed a politically conceived feminist document—a kind of party platform. I would be interested to meet the feminist answer expert who could put the case otherwise. I believe that Redstockings contains so much that is essential to feminism, that to shine a blazing daylight upon it would be the same as if we had pulled up feminism altogether by the roots.
And knowing Redstockings to be essentially feminist, we can easily use it for a measuring rod. We need only line it up against a given body of speech or writing to obtain a rough-and-ready spectral analysis.
Further, we can challenge any self-declared feminist to put her money where her mouth is. For example, if for some odd reason she insists that Redstockings "isn't really feminist", we can reasonably require of her that she disown it, and thereafter restate for our benefit what she thinks feminism really means—simply as a way of setting the record straight! And more: we can place her words and actions under a microscope for any sign of intellectual complicity with the Redstockings ideology, and demand the highest standards of probity in her conduct.
If she agrees that Redstockings is feminist, but perkily informs us that she herself is some different kind of feminist, then her case varies only superficially from that outlined above. Either way, it comes to the same thing: she finds the document embarrassing and wants to distance herself. And either way, we would hold her feet to the same fire.
Finally, if our hypothetical feminist proudly declares herself a Redstockings loyalist and bids us go to the devil, then she will have damned herself out of her own totalitarian mouth—which is to say, she will have metaphorically inserted her head in the noose. We would thereafter hold her to a nuanced accounting for the nuanced implications of her stated credo.
By the end of the day, the world contains two kinds of people: those who will abjure the Redstockings Manifesto, and those who won't. Friends, that is how we separate the sheep from the goats. Redstockings seems almost purpose-made for the job because it covers so much territory in such a small package. I could hardly ask for a more concise resumé of feminism's core principles—and almost anybody can read it in five minutes.
Now, up to this point I have hinted at the usefulness of Redstockings as a social arm-twisting device in one-on-one scenarios. But I wish to dial the lens back, in order to take in the broader landscape of macro-political operations. We need not only to work this thing upon private individuals, but to impress the very same understanding upon the public mind at large. .
So, we need to make the Redstockings Manifesto famous. Most people have never heard of it, and that is a collective mental deficiency that ought to be remedied. For this manifesto is nothing less than a political watershed marker, a fact that should be impressed upon people in great numbers. And so the Redstockings Challenge goes out to the entire world, calling any and all to take a stand upon one or the other side of a great moral and existential dividing line.
Our endeavor is to advertise the existence of the Redstockings Manifesto, what it contains, and most of all what it signifies in raw political terms. We would like to use Redstockings as a wedge issue in order to generate polarization around a flashpoint. We want to split the world straight down the middle into two conflicting camps—those who embrace Redstockings and all it entails, and those who adamantly reject it.
All of which is simply another way of saying, that we wish to pound a wedge between the feminist sector and the non-feminist sector, to ratchet up the tension between them, to force an open confrontation between them, and to generate an energy for change.
And at the same time, we wish to throw feminism everywhere on the defensive, to block the expansion of its power, to collapse its fuzzy borders, and to make the obfuscation of its actions progressively more difficult.
I say, isn't it swell to have your enemy all sewn up into one neat little bag? Think about it. Then, share the thought with others.
Fidelbogen. . . .out.
The podcast version of this will follow in the near future. Actually, it would have followed right now, but. . . my recording software "unexpectedly quit" while I was in the final editing stages and, wouldn't you know it, I had NOT backed up the .aup file even once. Not once! So all of my work was lost!!
That was a harsh lesson which, from henceforth, shall not be wasted on me.
In the meantime, you might want to get acquainted with the two earlier podcasts in this series: