it’s a sepia day on the west coast. I just saw a chickadee flit along the branches of the grey buds of the magnolia tree outside the third floor bedroom window. I’m writing here, noodling away at a couple of assignments for this course I’m taking. The radio is on in the other room, piano music spilling out of the doorway along the hall. It’s cool and still.
I’m taking a course on ‘theories of counselling’. it’s been really fun so far. And I’m learning some things that I can use at work. We’ve discussed psychoanalysis, humanist therapy, cognitive therapies, behavioural therapy, family systems, Adlerian, Rogerian, feminist therapy and trauma-informed practice. I’m taking it all, though, with a grain of salt — even the feminist therapy, ’cause I’ve been around the block a time or two, and I’ve noticed the individual nature of therapies and counselling. Not to mention the entrenched sexism of the institution of medicine — the ongoing and increasing trend to pathologize all aspects of human behaviour and coping. Also, many years ago, i read Changing our Minds: Lesbian feminism and psychology by Celia Kitzinger and Rachel Perkins.
That was an important book for me. I have it somewhere, but I haven’t read it in many years now. From what I can remember, their main argument was that only people who are relatively well-adjusted, (and for whom the social-political structures in which we live work), will benefit from any kind of psychological or therapeutic intervention. For most women, they argued (I think), what is most useful is collective interventions — the comfort of friends; accountability to a community; belonging to a group and shared meaningful work. Politics, really — the power of a movement and an analysis of our strength and worth.
Then again, I’ve benefited from individual counselling as well as collective action, and the mutual aid of people who gather for common cause. I see the benefit of focused therapy, but not instead of political action and organizing, not instead of finding others with whom to share common cause. The thing to which I most take issue about most therapies is the lack of challenge. Like, one of the first things our instructor asked us was to indicate which pronouns we prefer. Of course everyone in this class indicated the pronouns appropriate to our sex, but that she asked us in the first place indicates that gender ideology has been imposed upon this supposedly ‘neutral’ course exploring theories. Nothing is neutral, for sure. But that pronoun thing…dear god.
Anyway, listen! We attended another GIDYVR talk. This was the 3rd one, and the first in which I didn’t have a job. So I could soak it all in, and participate in the Q&A, too. It was a while back now, in early November. About media bias. Meghan Murphy, Jon Kay and Anna Slatz (who was absolutely a breath of fresh air! I knew nothing about her before). They all talked about how important it is for women to have sex-segregated space, sports, public and private gatherings, and language with which to refer to ourselves. It’s absurd that we are having these conversations. That we MUST have these conversations.
Oh, speaking of language and conversations; I heard a few weeks ago that apparently I’ve been going around harming people. There are people in Vancouver who believe that I have named people (vulnerable people, the inference was), and posted their addresses and private information on my blog. Here. I you all find anything of that sort here, please let me know.
This is not exactly what I meant when I have said that I want to be famous, and it’s kind of cool to be thought of as dangerous. But it’s not true. In case you were wondering. I’m not harmful or dangerous, as far as I know. I have been, on the other hand, harmed. As have many many women I know of. Anyway, I’ll get to that.
The talk was supposed to be about the media, and the media response/coverage/editorializing of gender identity and sexism and women and so on. All the people were journalists. Lyndsay Shepherd was the moderator. It was pretty good, mostly. But Jon Kay took up WAY more than his share of air time and space. Also he corrected people who referred to trans-identified males as “he”. And instructed us about treating them with respect. Even fellas like Morgane Oger — who has directly campaigned against Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter’s right to determine their membership; and who has attempted to prevent Meghan Murphy from speaking in public — (Oger is male, and those of us wishing to be accurate in our use of pronouns will refer to him by masculine pronouns). Kay’s admonishment of the women who referred to Oger as ‘he’ was not a fine moment. He (Kay) did alright during his prepared presentation, but during the discussion part, he lost the plot. Ah well. All the panelists were united in their agreement that women need to have our voices in the public discourse; and that the vitriolic response to any question or critique of gender identity ideology, or transgender rights compared to women’s rights, is effectively pushing us (women) into the shadows.
The lesbian collective were there, handing out stickers that said, “you can’t drown us out” — a reference to the mideval practice of drowning witches– and others with the words “men aren’t women, though” (which apparently got Meghan Murphy banned from twitter, I think).
It was good to have an opportunity to tell a bit of my story, too, in the Q&A part. I asked everyone who had lost a job, or had their physical safety or livelihood threatened, to raise their hands. And a forest of arms rose to the air. Jon Kay asked if I was among those. I said “yes” and he asked if I would tell my story. Seeing as how I signed a non-disclosure agreement, I was a bit nervous, but I went ahead. A friend of mine in the audience said, “you know this is being recorded” — to which I responded, “What are they gonna do, fire me?” Anyway, I didn’t name the institution or the names of the people who harassed and surveilled me. It was fine. Some people came up to me after, and let me know they appreciated my comments — “I’m a teacher,” said one woman, “it’s very distressing, what’s going on”. I think it’s important to take those opportunities when we can. Because we need each other. And if we don’t know that there are others, we might go mad. But there is a ‘we’, and we are everywhere.