I am bereft.
Philosophy is as war. Philosophers I know, respect, love are battling it out. Not the familiar ugly clashes that heighten the discomfort of ill-fitting furnishings in the cloisters of academia, but on Twitter.
I care deeply about the issue at hand. It cuts to the core of who we are and how we understand ourselves, and it appears to be carving up feminism to do so. I have nothing to say about the issue, except to express my grief. Here, instead, I wish to offer proper care to the way that the issue is being played out.
This is war. There are sides. They have been given names. The sort that bludgeon and lacerate when you call them out. Especially with the dually blunt and barbed weapon that is a tweet. The aim is to win. The blind striving to be named on the right side of (popular?) history.
‘Too right,’ you say, ‘the sakes are high.’ To this I say, ‘yes they are, but, way too high for war.’
In war the only option is to defend your side at all costs against the enemy. Where your side is necessarily fixed, lest you be a traitor; and set hard against enemy lines, lest you be thrown into no-man’s land. You are your allegiance, the name that you have been given, ’til death.
In this — a war of words, ideology, dogma, tweets — the loudest, the sharpest, and the fiercest advance. Uncompromising consistency and savage wit fortify. You live or die by your un-editable mis-speak. There is no territory to make mistakes, to be mistaken, nor to learn from it. There is no listening, no imagining, no love. There is no UNDERSTANDING.
‘No wonder,’ you repeat ‘the stakes are so high.’ Again I say, ‘indeed, but the sakes are way too high for all this.’
For these stakes are women. And we deserve so much more than war. We deserve to think, to question, to bend, to breathe, to falter, to be fully human, to be heard, to be seen. Not as history repeats immemorial that we be reduced to our given name.
So for this International Women’s Day I ask you (all people) to take the time to recall your own deep wounds (we all have them), the stultifying pain, the explosive rage. Then imagine those same feelings are the ones that are being felt and expressed by your so-called enemies. Your imagination lit with these empathetic feelings, seek out the women in your life (friend or foe, close and distant) and offer them the greatest and hardest of all things, that is, to listen with an open heart. Not to placate, not to vindicate, but to really see, to love.