Posted by: hellonhairylegs | May 15, 2008

The Role of Women

Another handout, another day, a list of focus points with everything properly labelled so we can takes notes just so. The list stretches out, the bottom three points reading “Economy, Heritage and the Role of Women” together, graciously given half a page.

I start scribbling and I don’t stop. I watch as titles and sub-titles are knocked astray by a line of text that has become so much more than a note to be revised and incorporated into summaries.

Women carry the world, their shoulders heaving. They work and work and work. They are starved, raped, caged and abused. The world treats us with a massive yawn.

Even we, the feminists who say women are human. We who scream those words until our throats bleed. A rape here, an honour killing there, we take notes and sigh. A couple tears fall, making the words “oppression”, “patriarchy” and “humanity” indecipherable, except we know them so well, having written them so many times before. Women’s pain has become the norm.

So we scream into the wind as people edge away. Women’s suffering is just background noise, context. Patriarchy is a dominant paradigm, a universal value, isn’t it? So let us talk about how characters in texts were raped or not, because they liked it anyway. Let’s pretend that its open for argument, as rape is just a word, and words have no meaning. The fact that the movie was directed by a man, produced by a man for men has no relevance. The suffering of women becomes background static.

We can marvel (marvel together) at the technical efficiency of the patriarchy. It turns the volume of our screams down until we are mute. We are old movies, our mouths opening and closing on old televisions.  People wander past the Antique Shop, barely stopping to marvel. The noisy advertisements draw them in; our image is sold as we are sold. Objects, defined by men for men.

The Role of Women, the Role of Feminists.

Our role. Our role is simple really, do most world labour for a fraction of world pay. Not only that, do the boring, repetitive bits of the world labour. Sweep the shit and blood. Then pretty yourself up and think of England as you look up at the iron bars of your cage. Stay in poverty; raise the children and sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.

I will not offer up my sisters on the altar of patriarchy. No more. They are my sisters and I will scream our humanity until my throat evaporates entirely.



  1. Wonderful writing.

  2. I keep wondering how bad it has to get before the international community will do for the women of the world what it did for blacks in South Africa during apartheid.

    Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
    “Reclaiming Honor in Jordan”

  3. ERS, there’s a fantastic scene in “The West Wing” which makes that very comparison; have you seen it? It’s one of CJ’s best scenes in the whole series…

    “The point is that apartheid was an East Hampton clambake compared to what we laughingly refer to as the ‘life’ these women lead and if we had sold M1A1s to South Africa 15 years ago, you’d have set the building on fire!”

  4. Wow. I hope you’re going to do womens studies @ uni. There are lots of good programs that would be perfect for you!

    I love this line: “Then pretty yourself up and think of England as you look up at the iron bars of your cage.” Jeebus. I don’t think I’ll look at my clothing the same way again.

  5. This lovely post reminds me of some issues I’ve been thinking about recently in regards to Hilary Clinton’s campaign for US President. It seems we women have our work cut out for us – we not only have to continue to demand, insist on basic respect, but we will have to work doubly hard in offering that respect to other women.
    We are too often complicit in the patriarchy, in ‘offering up our sisters’ as you say. Two articles, one by Peggy Orenstein and one by Arianna Huffington, recently captured me with the way they spoke with respect about Clinton, even though neither of them want to vote for her, as far as I can tell.

    This respect is severely lacking in political discourse in general, but certainly when it comes to women (although sometimes you do get patronizing respect – “Aw, look what she’s done, and she’s just a woman! Good girl.” pat on the head, etc.)

  6. Hey Hairy,

    I’m another Australian radical feminist blogger and I love your blog. You are so added to my blogroll.

    This piece of writing is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. This is a fantastic post. Thanks.

  8. Wonderful and terrible.

  9. […] On Hairy Legs is frustrated with high school teaching about The Role of Women: We who scream those words until our throats bleed. A rape here, an honour killing there, we take […]

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