Polywog

November 22, 2007

mis-conceptions

Filed under: free love/ radical love — polywog @ 11:13 p11

When most people, including feminists, think of “free love,” they think of 1960s and ’70s men coercing women into sex because it was the “liberated” thing to do. I was talking to my friend Claudia about this and we both expressed frustration that this sentiment–practically the only thing we ever hear about free love– serves to discredit the actual movement and ignore the women who claimed their agency, empowerment, and sexuality through it. It is ironic that this one-dimensional cultural memory (that free love=liberal male sexual coercion) has taken the place of what is in many ways opposite and contradictory to the tenets of the actual movement. It might be more accurately characterized as a nineteenth century movement against marital rape; an upsurge of radical male feminists; a historical moment in which women and men traded economic and political agency for personal and spiritual agency; an intellectual perspective in which exploitation in public and private spheres were understood as parallel and mutually enforcing; and a movement for women to take back their bodies. Perhaps free love ideas were distorted into a call for sexual obligation, but the core of the movement rested on the very opposite–a woman’s right to her own body, including the right to say no to sex even in marriage and the right to voluntary rather than coerced pregnancy and motherhood.

Advertisements

1 Comment »

  1. Great post Natty. Your opinion is very well articulated.

    Taking what you wrote and applying a slightly different tack; I think that one of the tactics used by abusers, especially on a large scale is the ability and desire to take what victim is saying, in this case women as a whole group, and twist it into something perverse and destructive. This can be seen on many levels from the private sphere, to the global sphere.

    You have clearly illustrated the problem with what has happened to the term “free love” when you wrote, “the only thing we ever hear about free love– serves to discredit the actual movement and ignore the women who claimed their agency, empowerment, and sexuality through it. It is ironic that this one-dimensional cultural memory (that free love=liberal male sexual coercion) has taken the place of what is in many ways opposite and contradictory to the tenets of the actual movement.” This phenomenon of taking a term and turning it around into the opposite of it’s original meaning is very effective in stopping movements, to the extent of even reversing the effect of the original word of phrase.

    In popular culture this phenomenon is especially becoming commonplace and prevalent with the advent of so many “trade names”, copywrites, and web addresses, not to mention names of cars etc. One of the most despicable cases of this phenomenon is the naming of places for what was there but has since been destroyed. Examples such as the naming of streets and towns for the native peoples who were displaced and slaughtered so that development could continue, subdivisions named “Elk Ridge” or “The Meadows”. On a slightly different angle naming cars things such as “Pathfinder”, serve to generally replace the image of a plant leaf with the image of a car, this I believe obscures the view of the original meaning and causes an amnesia of a societal scale.

    I think that the commonality of this phenomenon, and the acceptance of it, lead people not to think about what they are losing, but to lose without even noticing it. This happens quickly, and is difficult to recover from, because once the meaning of a word of phrase has been changed, one first has to realize that it has been changed and then put effort forth to find out the original meaning if they are to understand what truly has happened in history. This amount of literary digging becomes impossible as the meaning of too many words are altered.

    Comment by Eug — December 6, 2007 @ 11:13 p12 | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: