Y’all, I admit, I’m having a slight leftist crisis of faith here. I’m not going to vote Republican or anything, but I do have to think things through.
Last night, we were sitting around brainstorming about ideas for what to do during Act Like a GRRRL! this year and a lot of the conversation centered around helping the girls become more conscientious about the consumer choices they make–from where they get their clothes to what kinds of foods they eat to what kinds of bags they pick up those foods from the grocery stores in.
And, in theory, I agree that limiting your impact on the world is a good thing.
And, like a good leftist, I believe that it is fucked up that some people have so much when others have so little. I mean, really, not to be trite, but if that Sarah McLaughlin video doesn’t bring you up short about how much money we spend on fleeting crap when that money could be doing real good in the world, I don’t know what will.
But I’m also conscious of a couple of other things.
1. It seems to me like women end up bearing the brunt of the work necessary to really commit to that kind of lifestyle–we have to return to sewing our clothes and making our soap and growing our food and cooking it up just right.
And I’m torn, and I don’t mean that lightly. I’m really torn between wanting to not fuck up the world and not wanting to feel like it’s women’s work to save the world because the alleviation of the burden of women’s work is somehow responsible for ruining it.
Do you see what I’m saying?
The everyday things we do to “save the world” involve remastering labor our foremothers were relieved to leave behind, and for good reason.
If you can do it and want to do it, I say more power to you.
I just think we have to be very aware of the subtle ways these things get gendered and make sure that we’re not trying to make women, specifically, feel guilty that we’re not doing enough to save the world.
2. If I turn off my lights, my power bill goes down. No needy child in Africa gets fed because of that. If I line dry my clothes, my power bill goes down. No toxic dump is less polluted because of my actions.
I still think it’s important to conserve energy. I just think that the primary benefit most consumers see and understand from that is a lessening of the electric bill, not an assurance of reducing the risk of global warming.
3. And maybe this just me showing my roots, but god damn. I thought the point was that we all work hard, bring home money, and provide for our families, try not to go into debt if you can help it, try to get out of debt once you’re there, but you know, earn money, feed family, try to feed family from each of the four food groups or from all the levels of the food pyramid or whatever.
And now come to find out that it’s not enough to be clean and have clean clothes and eat right–you have to wash yourself with the right soap, make your own laundry detergent, hang your stuff out on the dryer, only buy organic foods, and use as much of all of that food as you can.
I don’t know why this upsets me so much, but I’m literally shaking as I type this. It is a hard life to be poor; it sucks to struggle. God damn it sucks. And you know, the Butcher and I have not struggled near as much as some people and our lives have, often, sucked so much I would cry myself to sleep.
And you know what? I’ve had a hard life and I don’t want a hard life any more. I don’t need a lot of luxury, but damn, I need to dry my clothes in the dryer.
I just feel like moving up classes was supposed to make my life easier, but come to find out that, since having an easier life fucks up the planet, I’m supposed to get back to work doing shit I worked hard and got an education so that I wouldn’t have to do and I’m supposed to be glad about it, because I’m saving the planet.
Y’all, that pisses me off.
I’m kind of astonished to realize that it pisses me off, but there you go.
I think that doing anything and everything you can to reduce the impact your life has on the planet is a good thing and if you choose to do that, more power to you.
I’m concerned about how we impart that knowledge to others. It’s a noble cause. I just don’t believe it’s so noble that it excuses making women feel guilty for being here.
We get enough of that.
So, it’s a fine line and one I’m sure the folks at Act Like a GRRRL! will navigate with no problem.
I guess I’m more concerned about how to navigate that line for myself in my day-to-day life.