Posts Tagged ‘pacifist feminism’

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Language is powerful! (audio)

March 18, 2013

Listen to this at Talking People Podcast episode

Here is the transcript

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Language is powerful! Metaphors we live by: Argument is war

March 17, 2013

Listen to this at Talking People Podcast episode

Feminists are people who have been able to question their own conceptual system, the language they use to express it and the way they relate to their own selves and other people. We have actually noticed how our minds liberated and expanded as we realized for instance the importance of language in conditioning our understanding. On top of that, many of us have read and listened to people doing all kinds of research, more theoretical research but essential for human knowledge. Still, the value of feminist work on language is astounding. Unfortunately, most people, unaware of how their own conceptual systems are built and how language works to construct culture — mostly tradition — being unable to develop any feminist curiosity or feminist intelligence, feel entitled to despise and criticize what they are totally ignorant of.

I’m excerpting some thinking by a non-feminist around language, which offers the same rich ground of thought and action feminists offer when we analyze language. I find these ideas really interesting and they bring about the resources of feminism and nonviolent struggle, too — sources we should all be exploring to learn to build a better world.

EFL students will also find value in these ideas for improving their oral work at speaking tests and their ability to hold rational discussions. (You can read my notes on Holding Rational Discussions on the Speaking – Discussions section on talkingpeople.net). Defending a position just means explaining your reasons to say something. Not agreeing should not mean fighting and repeating the same things over and over again. Agreeing on something is not One Winning The Other Losing, but both finding some constructive joint future action. If you collaborate, if you work together in your interaction or conversation, you will all win, so to say! If you don’t, you might all lose, to keep using this kind of violent language that has made us so violent when holding discussions!

It was not violence, but collaboration that developed the best in humanity in PreThemstory!

Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff & Mark Johnson (The University of Chicago Press, 1980)

Concepts We Live By. Chapter 1. Pages 3, 4, 5 [With my underlinings and comments]

Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination … a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language. Moreover, metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of language alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action. For this reason, most people think they can get along perfectly well without metaphor. We have found, on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.

The concepts that govern our thought are not just matters of the intellect. They also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details. Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. If we are right in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor.

But our conceptual system is not something we are normally aware of. In most of the little things we do every day, we simply think and act more or less automatically along certain lines. Just what these lines are is by no means obvious. One way to find out is by looking at language. Since communication is based on the same conceptual system that we use in thinking and acting, language is an important source of evidence for what the system is like.

Primarily on the basis of linguistic evidence, we have found that most of our ordinary conceptual system is metaphorical in nature. And we have found a way to begin to identify in detail just what the metaphors are that structure how we perceive, how we think, and what we do.

To give some idea of what it could mean for a concept to be metaphorical and for such a concept to structure an everyday activity, let us start with the concept ARGUMENT and the conceptual metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR. This metaphor is reflected in our everyday language by a wide variety of expresssions:

ARGUMENT IS WAR

[Notice how language has always used the masculine. Why was that? Women were banned from thinking and education. Traditionally, they’ve been considered unfit for rational thinking. Of course, this is not true. We should all be unfit now for exerting patriarchal reasoning and we should all be finding ways to think beyond the patriarchal frame of mind, so solidly based on violence and misogyny (considering women inferior in everything). We’re developing Empathetic Rationality, reasoning which includes love or solidarity, a concern for life, and this is kinder, wiser, and better for our living together!]

Your claims are indefensible.He attacked every weak point in my argument.His  criticisms were right on target.I demolished his argument.I’ve never won an argument with him.You disagree? OK, shoot!If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out.He shot down all of my arguments.

It is important to see that we do not just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguying with as an opponent. We attack his [sic] positions and defend our own. We gain and lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we DO in arguying are partially structured by the concept of war. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument — attack, defend, counterattack, etc. — reflects this. It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; it structures the actions we perform in arguying.

Try to imagine a culture were arguments are not viewed in terms of war [but in terms of collaborating in joint thinking, or to learn, to know, to solve problems], where no one wins or loses [but everybody learns a bit more about itself, people and/or the world], where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground [but a sense of contributing ideas for joint analyses, and contributing experience for joint reflection]. …

Chapter 3. Page 10

… in the midst of a heated argument, when we are intent on attacking our opponent’s position and defending our own, we may lose sight of the cooperative aspects of arguing. Someone who is arguing with you can be viewed as giving you his [sic] time, a valued commodity, in an effort at mutual understanding [or joint pursuing of more knowledge and wisdom, or at problem-solving]. But when we are preoccupied with the battle aspects, we often lose sight of the cooperativeaspects [& knowledge building, problem-solving].

Well, I hope that you mull over all of these ideas, because we should really improve our way of viewing and performing discussions! In the same way we should learn to stop connecting love to obligation, for the latter degrades and distorts love!

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Convocatoria Noviolencia 15M Sol

March 13, 2013

If people can attend this meeting, I’d love to know about their impressions!

Encuentro de grupos y personas sobre NOVIOLENCIA Y TRANSFORMACIÓN SOCIAL. Segunda reunión.

Domingo 17 de marzo. 18 horas. Csoa Raíces. Calle Mesón de Paredes nº 15. Metro: Tirso de Molina.

La sugerencia para el orden del día de esta segunda reunión es analizar las propuestas que se sugirieron en la anterior reunión.

  • Realizar una campaña con todos los grupos posibles sobre objeción fiscal como forma de lucha política. Coordinarnos y generalizar esta forma de lucha. (Propuesta colaborativa: http://titanpad.com/1ZcMmYWXiK)
  • Guía práctica TRANSFORMACIÓN SOCIAL MEDIANTE LOS IMPUESTOS. (Propuesta colaborativa:http://titanpad.com/ULsalMNKTF)
  • Formar una plataforma con páginas en FaceBook y Twitter. Se sugiere el nombre ALTERNATIVA NOVIOLENTA.
  • Se propone un taller sobre machismo y violencia. El mejor antídoto contra el nacismo es el feminismo.
  • Recogida de firmas entre personas de la cultura apoyando un manifiesto para que la constitución prescinda del ejército como instrumento de la defensa nacional. (Propuesta colaborativa: http://titanpad.com/A5Ozs7LLce)
  • Realizar una campaña coordinada con otros grupos contra los Gastos Militares.
  • Trabajar contra la criminalización de la protesta.
  • Trabajar la autogestión.
  • Taller de comunicación noviolenta.
  • Apoyar consultas ciudadanas incluyendo las consultas digitales por internet.

Aquí está el acta del pasada reunión: http://titanpad.com/X5l0PFTMlh

Contacta con nosotras en noviolencia15msol@gmail.com
Actas de nuestras reuniones: http://actasmadrid.tomalaplaza.net/?cat=342
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Noviolencia15msol/118537784958307, Twitter: #noviolencia15ms, N-1: https://n-1.cc/pg/groups/1408214/noviolencia-15m-sol/, Blog: http://www.noviolencia15msol.blogspot.com.es

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On Social activism and Achievement

March 12, 2013

Today Rubén (Avanzado 2 Martes) asked me what had we achieved when I was volunteering as a pacifist in a project in a country at war. This question is complex and deserves and analysis I have no time or mind to make just now! And the answer is as complex!! It’s like a few galaxies put together!

So I’d like to hint at possible answers with an analogy: what does a teacher achieve in a school year? Do we measure their achievement in terms of number of students who pass their finals? The teaching-learning experience is like an amazing journey. Wouldn’t this kind of measurement be far too poor? The teacher-student relationship is a very particular and amazing kind of relationship, when it actually has chances of developing. Do you believe that people passing exams would mirror achievement?

Helping people pass an exam if a very small part in my work as a teacher. My work is precious, far more complex, and this does not mean I ignore “the problem” (exams), and it doesn’t mean either all I do is well done. So I cannot measure my achievement as a teacher just by thinking of how many students passed their finals. If you ask me, as a teacher, I mean, I have to say I don’t know how to measure it because teaching is a very complex activity. But I do have a guiding star — I always try to offer the best of what I’m capable of, and this does not exclude paying attention, interacting, listening, and making mistakes, for mistakes are opportunities for discovery and exploration — and therefore for unexpected learning! When the year comes to an end, as a teacher, I’m exhausted and heartbroken because all of those very rich connections you have enjoyed throughout the year end. But then, a new stage begins: the new learning that holidays bring about, and this time you’re not in charge! And next, a new exciting school year, full of people to meet, to work with!

As a social activist, the first area of my achievement is myself. I profit from all my work for society, because I dissent and give myself the chance to grow, to pursue ideals and learn to live inspired by them! And how can I measure the rest? Should I say, “In Guatemala, our work helped many people not be kidnapped by death squads, tortured and murdered, and these people in turn, worked their lives out to bring a betterment to their society.” As you can see it’s getting harder to nail down… I could also say, “In Guatemala I learned about how to work through nonviolence for the betterment of society in the face of Low Intensity Warfare.” Hard to nail down, right? I could say, “X is alive because we helped,” much more specific, but — is this a self-contained description of my (our) achievement? Is this it? No, it isn’t. There is so much more! But I simply cannot explain comprehensively!

Here there is / was my first attempt to think in terms of achievement, and as I can see, I totally failed anyway! (oh, and here is Asking Questions in Church, btw!)

In a nutshell, I am my only “achievement,” a human being in interaction with other human beings, and the struggle never ends! 🙂

AFTERTHOUGHT: Perhaps, the deep reason is that actions in social activism are not about “convincing people to follow a certain ideology”, but “helping us all to build a less violent and unfair world”!

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Thank you for rocking the world!

February 22, 2013

ilovefeminismThe Biggest Mass Global Action To End Violence Against Women & Girls In The History Of Humankind

One Billion Rising is the beginning of the new world ignited by a new energy. It is not the end of a struggle but the escalation of it. NOW is the time to enact change. This is NOT an annual holiday, we are not waiting until 14 February 2014. NOW is the time to harness the power of your activism to change the world! We celebrate these victories, and we hope you do too. Now ask yourself WHAT CAN I DO IMMEDIATELY TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS – and then go out and DO IT!

One Billion Rising was always conceived to be a catalyst and a wind rather than a new organization. So use it to fuel your next activities. Plan local actions for International Women’s Day, 8 March. Stay tuned for tips and actions!! If you want to know where to direct your energies right now, you can stage a V-Day benefit in your community – visit vday.org/our-work/college-community-campaigns today!

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Brought together people across movements and causes – mobilizing communities such as migrants, women in prison, domestic workers, urban poor, LGBTQI, farm workers, the disabled, and many more.
  • Created the opportunity for councils of indigenous women to participate in global problem solving.
  • Created global solidarity and strength cutting across borders, races, class, religions, sexual orientation, ages, genders. Reignited solidarity between women’s organizations in various countries. Rekindled the ethos of sisterhood amongst women on a global scale.
  • Brought to the surface the intersection of issues both causing and affecting violence against women: patriarchy, poverty, corporate greed, environmental plunder, imperialist policies, religion, militarization, interventions of outside countries, immigration, labor export policies, nationalization of industries, political repression.
  • Engaged masses on a deeper, more embodied level through dancing, poetry, singing, and art.
  • Produced massive media exposure, discourse, and advocacy on violence against women issues. It also created or was the catalyst for the development of millions of women citizen social media journalists telling their own narratives by picking up cameras.
  • Created solidarity and safe and free space, through our creativity and numbers, for violated women to tell their stories, many for the first time, and heal their trauma by dancing in public, communal open spaces.
  • Inspired millions of men to stand and rise as our allies, deconstructing patriarchy alongside us.
  • Galvanized and empowered legislators to generate legislation in support of ending violence against women and girls globally. Created an opportunity for globally linked women’s councils to lobby at all levels of government and UN.
  • Made violence against women impossible to ignore and never to be marginalized again. Reminded the world that women united will never be defeated.
  • Generated the best collection of worldwide dance videos ever!

GO TO ONE BILLION RISING 

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Stories for Feb 14: A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery (in 2 pages)

February 3, 2013

Foto 132Here is one of the stories in I Am an Emotional Creature, inspired in girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And this is one of the stories we can read in class on Feb 13 & 14. In case you are afraid to read it, please consider this: we need to listen to the people who know about violence and are never listened to, not only to the people who tell about “the victims” (and keep in mind this book is informed by girls). The difference is clear: when you listen to people who were subject to violence, you not only learn about violence — you learn how to survive violence, and with this lesson you become more human, so to say, and you also become more aware of what to do about it all.

The minimum respect people who have always been ignored by HiStory is to listen to the direct source, and here is a 2-page story, a good chance!

A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery, 2 Word pages: LessonPlan14Feb2013

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Nonviolent Resistance (edited on the next day – in italics)

January 16, 2013

(Written with a feminist intelligence, this is, not like Gandhi or Martin Luther King would have.)

In the Avanzado 2 textbook, unit 4 is devoted to Warfare. Being a pacifist feminist, I suppose I should try to balance things a bit, posting here about nonviolent resistance, because History books, until the 20th century, like Science, and so many other areas of knowledge, have always been populated by men and wars, and men’s wars against other men. To make matters worse, they have always silenced Man’s war against women, for instance, never including in the description of casualties in war the fact that women were always raped – trophies or rubber dolls for the men that prevailed.

Humankind has been much kinder, throughout its History, but not until the 20th century did we start trying to find out evidence of this. Universities started setting up Women Studies and Peace Studies, both doing research to restore what was obliterated by men in power – kings, people with tons of money or richess, warriors, the clergy or religious reps. And then, we got the Internet, where zillions of people are leaving track of their existence, which makes it harder for manipulators to keep tricking us all. Consumerism is the new war to divert our attention from real life and real people, but it is obvious we have options, we have innumerable sources of information. We, the Jane Doe’s and the John Doe’s in/on the planet, have access to information and means of communication that allow us to travel around the world.

Nonviolent resistance is a method of social change that employs strategies such as strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and civil disobedience. In unit 4 we find some info on famous movie scenes and Spartacus is mentioned. This is an example of one of the most empowering and powerful actions human beings can undertake together without replicating the violence that tries to annihilate them. In class, I mentioned a similar example, much closer to our times: nonviolent resistance against the nazi occupation in Western Europe. People are so beautiful and powerful when they use their imagination and kindness, which is to say their intelligence, to learn to solve conflicts without generating more violence and more injustice!

Women have used nonviolent resistance constantly. But women have always been invisible in patriarchy, so they have not been acknowledged as rolemodels (and certainly not as “people who struggle”). (I don’t believe women are “natural” pacifists. The fact that women cannot use violence is part of the patriarchal rationale. I believe that if we overcome the patriarchal gender role system, we’ll develop our intelligence more, in a good way, and any kind of person will then tend to use nonviolence.)

Fortunately, the time has come when we are finally realizing that any human being is capable of using their intelligence, and that any of them should be treated with respect. Human rights is as new a notion as 1945, so it’s taken us far too long to get to this good idea. But we made it. And if we uproot the patriarchal dogmas that we have been brought up in, if we overcome them, we’ll have a chance of developing more civilized societies.

Here’s a video, “Women, War and Peace,” linked to in this Peaceful Protest Lesson Proposal. It’s just an example of all the nonviolent struggle going on that is not considered “struggle”, because patriarchy has taught us that only violent struggle is struggle, and honorable. And this is false.

564393_289129831196530_26175878_n(1)With our social movement on the streets in Spain, which we call 15M (mostly, I suppose, because “indignados” yet again just made men visible and this was unfair and feminist women and also less machista men protested — not necessary feminist, but some starting to understand or develop a feminist intelligence), and which is called the Occupy movement in English speaking countries, we have a very clear example of how good it feels, how right it feels, how intelligent it is, to use nonviolent struggle. The means should be an example of what we strive for, of the ends. Nonviolent struggle is non-hierarchical, every one can take part, from kids to the elderly, men, women, intersex people, hets, homos, bis, trans, all kinds of people, believers and people who do not believe in any kind of god (it’s not only believers like Gandhi or Luther King the ones fighting for justice through nonviolence)… not only what happens in armies around the world, right? Haven’t you seen how many things are happening where people are helping each other to protest home evictions, and also using nonviolent direct action?, this is, occupying the house, to defend the people being evicted? Or the street markets set in many neighbourhoods, where people are going back / rescuing “trueque”, bartering!

There’s the Arab Spring, too — and I know women were raped in some demos in Egypt, for instance, and we have to denounce that, but women were there fighting, too, they were taking part in this revolution, called nowadays social change, or the social movement.

On TV, have you noticed that when the demonstrations are just by young men, they’re full of violence and that when there are women, and other kinds of men (not only the Brute Force type), and all kinds of ages, from kids to old people, demonstrations are very definitely nonviolent, in spite of provocation?

Do you think there has ever been a time before where so many millions of people are demanding a better world, with less violence and injustice, to “their leaders”?

And there are people in Africa devoting their lives to nonviolent struggle, in the midst of brutal poverty and terrifying violence. And we should all learn to appreciate that, the best options we have if we want to survive as a species.

There’s much to learn from nonviolent struggle and I encourage you all to look for information, to discuss it on/in the street, at home, in bars, anywhere you can! The Franquist dictatorship taught people that we should never talk about politics or religion, and that is still operating, in spite of the fact that it is a crazy idea for democracies. It’s in our cultural unconcious memory, and we have to fight it, because it is not right. Politics is about us people living together and that should be built in cooperation, and via nonviolent struggle.

More hints:

  • Lysistrata
  • The nonviolent theory was developed by Henry David Thoreau in his essay, Civil Disobedience (1849). Thoreau’s argument that it was morally justified to peacefully resist unjust laws inspired Americans involved in the struggle against slavery and the fight for trade union rights and women’s suffrage (see also third wave feminism).
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the USA, with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, thousands of students doing Nonviolent Direct Action, NVDA).
  • Gandhi and the Salt March. (If you are interested in more ideas about nonviolent struggle and today, you might want to read Por qué no soy gandhiana (Why I’m not a Gandhian), written from an anarchist pacifist feminist approach.)
  • The movement of Insumisión (by MOC people, who openly rejected violent action because they were/are pacifists — thought they call themselves “antimilitarists” because the term “pacifist” is not cool.
  • Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and other pacifist feminist groups or networks, like Women in Black.
  • Indians in America (which is a continent, and not a country) have also used nonviolent struggle, against acculturization, too. And Mayan people were incredibly creative since the European invasions.
  • People’s demonstrations all over the world against the Iraq war in 2003. People all over telling their leaders: we don’t want more wars; solve conflicts differently!

There’s so much, people! Just look around you and learn to see it as valuable, empowering, powerful, intelligent! Because we’re extremely lucky to live in this extraordinary time, when people traditionally pushed to slavery and harship, like most women and a lot of men, have finally the chance to lead their own lives.

Oh my! I can’t possibly keep writing this! There are so many experiences, books, handbooks (how to do this and that), people, peoples… and I really got to relax now a bit! So mull over it! And if you’re interested, some other day I can keep posting on this! 😀

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At last! – A little present! CO Women / Objetoras

December 28, 2012

Today I got wonderful news from London! My translation of CO Women is finally downloadable in a pdf file — check out the link to the wri-irg website (War Resisters’ International – Internacional de Resistentes a la Guerra). Before you could just read it online.

Of course, my adorable students should read it in English (just click “English”) — not in Spanish! 😀 Anyway, we appreciate you spread the word on the existence of this book, because it’s probably the only book devoted and dedicated to CO Women!!! Isn’t it sad? And we had so very much trouble getting it published!!! (plus — considering we all worked for free! Who said volunteers get paid? Whereabouts is that Where?!)

http://wri-irg.org/pubs/objetoras-antologia

Whenever we get a bit for building our Herstory, so Mankind can become Humankind, I always sing this beautiful song by Drexler included in a movie on Che Guevara’s youth, when he journeyed with a fellow university student all over America (latin, indigenous) on a motorbike… 🙂 Hope you like it!

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Greenham Common Wimmin’s Peace Camp

October 16, 2012

Today in the Avanzado 2 Tuesday group I was trying to explain that in order to be good listeners — to develop your aural skill — we need to work in different ways, and that not being a gifted listener does not imply one can never be a good one. I said I was not a gifted listener myself, and found a good contrast mentioning Nathalie’s case. Nathalie is a francophone Canadian friend (or “sister”, she’s an activist and we met in an activist location) who I met at camp (Greenham Common’s). This peace camp was in England, I was a bilingual Spanish/English, Nathalie’s English was not great, but from the start, she managed to understand all the very many different accents other women had (England is full of different accents!!, just England, not to say Britain!) and I simply couldn’t! Well, suddenly my topic was shifting to Greenham because people had never heard of this peace camp and were interested. But I realized that if I started to explain, we wouldn’t be able to meet the day’s lesson plan, so I promised that if students organized an OP (Oral Presentation) for December, I could do one myself, on Greenham.

I’d like to clarify what I clarified in class because society’s mainstream ideas about social activists are kind of wrong. I’m a pacifist, and this does not mean I despise people in the military. Actually, I believe some people in the military join this body because they want to protect people. And this we share, I mean, pacifists also want to protect people. The thing is we do so using totally opposing means — the military believes in the use of violence and pacifists believe in the use of nonviolence.

Going back to my little story, now, on second thoughts, I don’t think we would have the time for an OP on Greenham. I can speak about things I’ve been involved in for hours!! But we need to do one textbook unit a month, and the textbook is full of activities and/plus I would like people to do oral activities in the Exam Area (mons & dials, or OPs on your TV series), and also discuss our first book, Sherman Alexie’s novel, and read “useful language” and passages, and perhaps watch one of the documentaries I think people would enjoy — all of this before January!!

SO — here is a link to a project I’m involved in. Bringing life at Blue Gate (Greenham Common Wimmin’s Peace Camp) to the Internet for this last period at camp is not very documented. For the past 10 years wenever seem to get time to work on it (finish it)! BUT — it’d be also helpful for us to know what you think. I mean, you could read about Greenham in your free time, and tell me if the site is clear or confusing!! 😀 OR… YOU could prepare an OP on Greenham for December! 😀 http://www.mujerpalabra.net/activismo/greehamcommon/bloogate_eng.htm

Just a little tip: if you read the books that are recommended on this site what you will learn about Greenham is not the exactly the same as what Greenham was in its last years — for one thing, numbers dropped dramatically in terms of the actual number of women living there, and not in terms of the total number of people supporting the project and also visiting camp.

If you like, post your comments here, so we don’t have to use time in class to talk about this! 🙂

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