Letters to the EditorValue Feminism - Guilt is a useless emotion
by California Greens
In bell hooks Feminist Theory, from Margin to Center, she quotes author Jo Freeman, What was once thought to be a personal problem has a social cause and a political solution. The Green Party shows its alignment with that assessment by having Feminism as one of its Ten Key Values.
The Green Party enacts feminism by creating gender balance in state and regional positions, alternating male and female speakers on teleconferences and during meetings, holding womens caucuses, and promoting women candidates.
In my view, the Green Party now needs to take further steps to implement feminism within the functioning of the Party itself. These steps include consciousness-raising groups, education to reframe former inaccurate, neo-Victorian beliefs, workshops to address womens issues, new organizational strategies; rotation of tasks, consensus at all levels, and an emphasis on internal democracy.
As an example, at various state or local events women are relegated to housekeeping tasks of food preparation, table setting, hosting and clean-up; whereas the men feel encouraged to lead discussions on party business. Although all people eat and contribute to the waste produced, these tasks have been devalued by society and referred to as womens work. First, it needs to be recognized that this social condition needs to be corrected politically. Then methods to remedy the condition need to be implemented, such as instituting gender balance in carrying out housekeeping tasks, democratically assigning the tasks ahead of events, and encouraging women to participate more fully in Green Party policy-setting.
Guilt is a useless emotion.
I heard Winona LaDuke, U.S. vice presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, say Guilt is a useless emotion. It is easy for me to get bogged down and relatively depressed about our present situation. I pay taxes which are wasted on disproportionate defense spending, subsidies to huge oil and timber companies, and other forms of corporate welfare. I dont spend enough time feeding the hungry. I am not distributing leaflets, joining sit-ins, or committing civil disobedience as much as I need to. I feel bad about how privileged I am. I eat 3 or 4 times a day; I live in a house; when I get sick I go to the doctor. These dont always seem like luxuries, but compared to most of the world, one cant help but notice how wealthy most of us really are.
My ancestors were not raped and killed for land they were willing to share. In fact, I live where I do because said oppression occurred. My ancestors were not enslaved or disenfranchised in recent years. Many in this country have lineages that include such atrocities. These realizations are enough to cause overwhelming feelings of guilt and hopelessness. But, to put it plainly, this is a useless reaction. When we take the time to study the world we live in, with all its atrocities and unfairness, we have to replace those guilty feelings with hope and change. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we can talk to other people about whats going on, learn what has happened, what is happening, and why things are the way they are. Then, if we dont like what we learn, do something to change it. Take the time. Work together. Do good. It is hard to care; one has to work at it. Realize that by helping a little, you help a lot. You are a part of the solution, not the problem. This is a constant inner struggle for me personally, and I share it today because I think others might relate. Lets go to work.
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