Words and Music by Marg Herder, Performed and Recorded by Marg Herder
Featuring Dr. Alena Ruggerio
What you like me to be? Sum it up so we all can see.
Let's just call it a name. Let's just make it a righteous game.
So you can know me better.
So you can know me well.
“Patriarchy has had control over discursive expression. So it has been a misogynist culture that has determined what words get entered in the dictionaries.”
“... as she who controls the language controls the politics.”*
Now that you've got me down you can start trying to turn me 'round.
Now you've figured me out you can help me to learn what it's all about.
So I can fit in better.
So I can fit in well.
* From Dr. Ruggerio's talk, Theapalooza. presented at the 2008 EEWC-CFT conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Hear the complete presentation at http://www.eewc.com.
So what does it mean?
It's all in the language, and the language was created by patriarchy.
Want to be fascinated? Read about language. How it works. How words came to be in common usage. What words have been created and what words haven't. How different languages emphasize different aspects of life, different ways of being. We use language constantly, but never really think about it.
Think it doesn't matter that God is referred to almost exclusively as He? Sure, you're enlightened enough to think of God as a force, or a presence, or as Spirit. But when you need a pronoun, what pronoun do you reach for? It matters. It is huge. Try calling God by female pronouns in almost any Christian church sometime. See how that goes over. Try referring to God as She in your own speech. Feel weird? Feel kinda like you are breaking a rule, being bad?
If you were raised in mainstream culture here in the US or any other western country, you were socialized to think of God as He. Where does that leave all us female people? With the prevailing consensus that God is other. Men are "made in the image of God." Women, well, we're just the afterthought. A helper for the people who were created by God to be just like Him. Think this through for a while, let it extend out into everything, and you'll understand a little more about patriarchy and feminism.
New words are constantly being created. Have been all along. But until about 100 years ago only men were deciding what words made it into common usage, and what words made it into the dictionary.
This is a rich field of study, and well worth looking into.
So to a lot of people I'm a lesbian, a feminist, a liberal. And because they label me that way it means they don't have to listen to anything I say, they don't have to empathize with me, they don't have to think of me as equal to them. Because of those labels I become other and less-than. They don't have to investigate my existence, learn about me as an individual. Because they have named me. And once I am named as other, all that remains is for society to induce me to change so I become more acceptable, standardized. If I refuse to change, I am punished by exclusion from mainstream society. And that's better than it used to be, just a few hundred years ago those who were other were burned at the stake or otherwise victimized and violated.
Lyrics (c) 2011 by Marg Herder, quotations (c) 2008 by Dr. Alena Ruggerio, used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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