I was 15 when I first learned about Female Genital Mutilation and Riot Grrrl and declared myself, officially, a feminist. That was also the year when I had a growth spurt and went on an Atkins diet, and first started to receive a new form of attention. It expressed itself in car honks, and public comments, and aggressive looks, and gossip, and sweet notes written by grungy boys in art class. I felt, for the first time, not as a large pale blob of preteen awkwardness, but as a fully recognizable female social being (despite my persistent worry that my boobs were way too small to qualify me for womanhood).
Thank god (aka livejournal) I discovered feminism at about the same time, because in addition to being confused and scared by all of these new developments, I also got ANGRY. I saw my own experience as part of a global, pervasive system of inequality and oppression. The same system that now gave men permission to treat me as a public sexual object (see also: rape culture), when expressed to a different degree, denied sexual pleasure to over 200 million women and girls across the world (google: FGM), robbed female workers of equitable pay, and produced such deep-seated self-hate that almost every girl I knew was either developing an eating disorder or fantasizing about plastic surgery. The following year, I took my high school?s Women?s Studies class and started wearing a spiked dog collar and made a DIY T-Shirt with a cat face inside a Venus symbol and the words ?pussy power? across the chest.
Just a sixteen year old grrrl learning to crush patriarchy.
Maybe my teenage militarism was a preview of what?s to come, but it took me until this year to really decide, you know, being a feminist is frankly not enough anymore. At 31, I am casting my official support for Female Supremacy.
I?d like to tell you why, but let?s first do a check-in. How does the idea of Female Supremacy make you feel, right now?
a) Scared. Ahh, isn?t any kind of supremacy super bad Natalia???
b) Critical! What about all the other marginalized non-feminine identities?
c) Angry. Sounds like Some Crazy Women Making Shit Up.
d) Nervous? Um, are we even allowed to think this?
e) You?re Laughing. This must be a joke. This is satire, right?
f) Whatever. It?s impossible anyway, so what?s the point?
Just take notice of how you react to the idea. Breathe.
Now I?d like to tell you what I mean. Female Supremacy is a structural order where the female sex is dominant and the feminine is the privileged form of expression and social organization, channeled by the rulers and the rule-makers. I use the term Supremacy here as bell hooks does when she describes our current society as a system of ?white supremacist capitalist patriarchy? ? a structural order that advantages white, male, hetero, economically productive bodies, and in turn disadvantages or oppresses all others. I am not identifying with the notion of Supremacy as those who are White Supremacists do when advocating an explicitly racist and violent ideology of absolute superiority. I do not believe that the female body is essentially, biologically superior to any other kind of body. But I do support the system of Female Supremacy, where the female and the feminine would be privileged, because I think it would be a better and more comfortable experience for me and other female and woman-identifying beings. I can also make an argument for how it would be a more nurturing and interesting experience for other identities, but I?m not that concerned with that right now. It?s a lot of work to think about other people.
I want to imagine the better life experience for me.
How would Female Supremacy benefit me?
By privileging and valuing my sex and gender expression as higher than the others in the ranks of the gendered social order; by providing me with special rights and immunities simply by the virtue of being a woman.
Reflecting on various privileges I?ve held in my life ? White Privilege, Cis Privilege, Class Privilege, Able-body privilege, Heteronormative Couple Privilege, Educational Privilege ? there are ways I surely feel conflicted about my identities. I totally have white guilt; I feel bad for having been such a good student (for succeeding in a system that values a limited definition of intelligence); and I have fantasies about raising a multi-racial trans child in a polyamorous commune (problematic!), stemming in part from my shame of adhering to largely normative social scripts, and also in part from the suspicion I have, based on some experience, that living with and loving more marginalized bodies will likely help me be more #woke.
However, when I ask myself, honestly, would I give my privileges up, trade them in for other (lower-status) bodies or histories? My answers range from ?um, no, thank you? to ?I?m too scared!? to ?but, but I deserved this!? At the end of the day, I accept the guilt as part of the benefits of these identities. Because the truth is, I also have the privilege to turn the guilt off if I feel like I just can?t deal right now.
So imagining and identifying with the concept of Female Supremacy means imagining a world where I can also claim Female Privilege. Imagine that. Where being female would give me just a bit of a starter advantage in every interaction. Where my words and ideas, as a woman, would be taken seriously without the need to display extra qualifications. Where I would be given basic respect even if I looked sloppy (maybe even more respect!). People would listen to me with intent, and nod, even if what I was talking about didn?t really make total sense. I would learn to stretch into the available space. I would begin to believe my own entitlement. I would naturally acknowledge other women, my sisters, as the main creators of cultural, social and political cornucopia. I would feel a sense of, well, privilege.
Female Supremacy wouldn?t just look like Patriarchy, with roles reversed ? women smoking cigars in swivel chairs. That sort of fantasy of the lady boss is just tokenism, patriarchy in drag. The feminine power has a different set of values, energies that will be foregrounded and celebrated. Softness. Interdependence. Cyclicality. Wisdom & intuition, rather than abstract intellectualism. Mutual nourishment. Emotional expression as a creative form: the art of feeling of feelings.
Imagine the rituals, practices, timescales, sacred texts, that will realize and reproduce these feminine values.
?We?re so wise together!? two children praising each other as they co-learn.
?I wish I could cry as beautifully as you,? a lover expressing admiration about a partner?s emotional repertoire.
?Today, I discovered my third kind of orgasm, and named her Anabelle,? a typical teenager, proudly journaling the day?s erotic explorations.
We wouldn?t read histories of the Founding Mothers, the hero and his conquests too masculine and separatist for our philosophies. Instead, we would celebrate our Collective Mothers and practice connecting and cultivating their continuing spirits within ourselves. We would chant and bleed together and re-tell birthing stories, alternating between feeling the mother?s pain, feeling the child?s shock, feeling the doula?s wisdom. We would immerse ourselves in the warmth and the coldness and the liquid mess to remember: life neither begins nor stops at any point. Life is, and we are its channels, its keepers, its carriers.
?We are all each other?s mothers sometimes,? a common platitude, said between acquaintances.
No, we wouldn?t display exalted portraits of Goddess figures in our homes of worship. Instead, our altars will be quilts, mending together memories and mirrors to remind us of our eternal cycles.
A world organized based on Female Supremacy would create new scientific breakthroughs and prioritize the understanding of the female body and its complexity as one of the principal goals of the current research program. We know so little! Today, in what will be known as the Toxic Era, ruled by the system of Male Supremacy, female conditions are chronically misdiagnosed, dismissed and under-researched. A myriad of contradictory symptoms are combined under vague umbrella terms, like ?Pre-Menstrual Dysmorphic Disorder? or ?Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome,? prescribed synthetic pharmaceuticals or double bind orders: it will help if you lose weight, except the condition will make it almost impossible to; PMDD makes you crave sugar, but sugar exacerbates the symptoms. In other words, you?re fucked, and we don?t care to find out why or how to help you. Under Male Supremacy, Female body parts and processes are shamed, shielded or sexed. Women don?t have nipples, except as objects of male pleasure. Menstruation must be either made invisible or eliminated altogether. Vaginas are gross; penises architectural.
Truth: most women I know are living in undiagnosed, chronic pain.
A Female Supremacist science would ask different questions. How does the whole system work together? In what ways do we stay connected after parting at birth? How can we harness the wisdom of our bodies and planet to produce the nurturing and healing that we, as its children, need to survive and thrive?
It?s true, this world won?t feel comfortable to all, and some members of society will experience it as violent and suffocating. For them, it will feel like drowning in a giant vagina, like being trapped in a womb, smothered by a collective mother. With no more wars to fight, excess aggression will seem like a dangerous and unnecessary appendage. Male anatomy and desire will be seen as terroristic and primitive; to be contained with familiar technologies of shame, shielding and sex.
A Female Supremacist science, just like Male Supremacist science in which we live, is in danger of positioning its own form as the norm, with everything else as deviant. Society will ask: Why don?t men have periods? A Hypothesis: Ah, that?s probably what makes them so angry and emotionally repressed! Maybe we should induce more regularized hormonal cycling! Please fund this, National Science Foundation. Voluntary and involuntary castration and orchidectomy (removal of testicles) might become common, perhaps encouraged by doctors at birth. Some men, the most attractive of the species, will be allowed to keep their organs and trained as entertainers.
But that doesn?t have to happen. Who knows, maybe it won?t? Maybe men?s protests and fights for equality and recognition will be heard and acknowledged by their caring, loving mothers and sisters. A few special grants will be allotted to the continued study of Chronic Aggression Syndrome. Internet message boards (saint internet!) will organize to provide mutual advice and affirmation. Men will learn to fake the emotional depths they don?t understand. Boys will be given scholarships to special camps, where they will hear empowering mantras that even without periods, even with stunted emotional and erotic repertoires, they are still human, lovable, worth it. Men will have the beautiful opportunity to share a special bond that comes from being the second sex ? a deep, brotherly understanding of their collective suffering.
Maybe it won?t be so bad for the men in a Female Supremacy system. Probably not worse than it is for women in the current order of things?
While writing that there is no hierarchy of oppressions, Audre Lorde encouraged women to connect to their own unique power.
The fantasy of Female Supremacy (are you relieved that I?m saying fantasy? Or maybe disappointed?) is a useful meditation of the imaginative power of the Reversal, as in the system of Tarot.
In the practice of Tarot divination (which will enjoy a deserved legitimacy under Female Supremacy), when a card comes out reversed (upside down), it can mean the archetypical energy represented by the card is blocked or internalized. Energy blocks cause congestion and suffering, and can produce negative effects in many proximal and distant parts of the system (undiagnosed, chronic pain).
The Empress card represents the female energy, fertility, creativity, the Earth mother. In a system of Male Domination, the Toxic Era, in which we currently live, this female energy is perpetually blocked, perverted and repressed. A system of Female Supremacy would reverse The Empress (the ?Woman Card?) back to its upright position, unleashing the energy that is always there but currently not allowed to be expressed to its full potential.
The Empress Card, Reversed. The world as it is now.
Imagining and identifying with Female Supremacy empowers me to reverse my energy from anger and suffering towards the celebration and pursuit of female interests and benefits.
Why is feminism not enough to do that? I have consciously identified as and practiced being a feminist in a male-dominated society for over 16 years. Feminism ? both the movement that advocates civil rights and equality for all people regardless of gender, and the larger fight to end all forms of oppression ? takes as its starting point the losing end of an existing social order. From this position, it can aptly articulate the problems and limitations of the current system and work towards addressing them, but it also undercuts its own potential of taking the lead, of taking up a more privileged position, of articulating the imaginary alternative that begins from a place of power.
I am still a feminist, but I would just really love to be one in a society organized under Female Supremacy. I promise, I will work hard to fight against male oppression and for more trans inclusion and representation. I will donate and volunteer to improve career opportunities for boys and all gender identifications. But I would love it if being a woman in the world gave me the special privilege of getting to choose to do that. It would just feel a little more comfortable, and safe, and like it makes sense with this body that I have. I would feel a little guiltier probably, but that?s okay.
So imagine it with me.
How would Female Supremacy benefit you?
How would other forms of Supremacy, that are currently blocked, benefit you?
Afrocentricity. Queer Dominance. The Fat Ideal. What would it be like? How would you feel?
Reverse your cards.