On women’s culture and positive images

— images by Rezzan. Click on image to visit Rezzan’s DeviantArt page

Why do some women and feminists report enjoying “nature” so much?  Why have some radical feminists identified so deeply with nature and rejected urban and even domesticated or agricultural rural areas on principle, to the point that it has appeared “essentialist” to some observers, as if one is inherently better than the other, or as if one is representative of “woman” and the other isn’t?

One doesn’t have to be particularly fond of floral imagery — or want floral wallpaper in their homes — to appreciate images such as the ones above.  The point is not that one might prefer a floral motif over another, or enjoy “landscapes” or nature-derived images over images of other things as a matter of taste.  The point for feminists is that male-centric imagery debases women and represents a woman-hating perspective that passes as “neutrality” even though it is not neutral — or politically irrelevant — at all.  And everything created by men and endorsed by male-centric institutions — and that includes “fine art” — is created from that place, and that includes patriarchy-endorsed art created by male-identified women.

The only images and indeed “things” that aren’t created from a place of egregious woman-hatred, and are consistently either “positive” or value-neutral, are things that aren’t created or even touched by human hands at all, and that means “nature” by design.  Sometimes, nature is captured and reproduced — or “conserved” — in urban areas or in government or commercially-controlled recreational areas such as parks, and one can appreciate the lines and forms of nature as a stark and comforting contrast to the harsh lines and realities of everyday life.  But this often is not wild nature — it is tamed.  An improvement over not having any green areas at all, certainly, but not anything close to what’s necessary to free one’s mind, even temporarily, or a little bit, from patriarchal values.  For example, trees planted in straight lines or grid patterns that do not exist in nature, areas covered with growth that appears to be all the same age, or obviously manicured areas are suspect, and probably not naturally-occurring, and instead were likely orchestrated and executed by men for a (patriarchy-derived) reason.

It is only in “untamed” nature that we are exposed to value-neutral imagery that does not represent male-centric values that are toxic to women by design.  We call this “positive” but for some of us, that is only because it is in contrast to what we are exposed to every day, which is female-negative, male-centric imagery designed to crush women’s spirits, and to defame and injure girls and women in every way.

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7 responses to “On women’s culture and positive images”

  1. cherryblossomlife says :

    In Japan, the hemp rope that is used to tie trees (in bonsai, for example, or to “protect” large trees from frost in winter by tying the branches together) is exactly the same kind as what they use to tie women in Japanese bondage.
    So yes, if nature has been touched by male hands (and ALL trees in cities have been planted by men) then it doesn’t count, and it’s not value-neutral.

  2. Mary Sunshine says :

    CBL, this is why I want to live feral at the end of my life. Female energy at last. Beauty and freedom.

  3. cherryblossomlife says :

    My 5 yr old daughter has just spent 30 mins squealing with delight at those images FCM.
    [Although I’m a bit ashamed to admit that she was going “Mummy, I want THAT one, no, THAT one, no wait, THAAT one…”
    What can I say, consumer culture *sigh*

  4. FCM says :

    Did she watch the slideshows? 🙂 I want all the flowers too. Haha. Well, I want to go there and be where the flowers are. Ever since I read Quintessence, I knew I would have to return to nature at some point. The sooner the better.

  5. cherryblossomlife says :

    yes, she was giving me directions, “Go back, no BACK to the BLUE one”

  6. Jennifer Stuart says :

    Three things come to mind for me –
    One- that herbalism and other powerful and dirt-wild healing methods were often practiced by women long ago, the powers of healing were in their hands, and then there was the whole witch thing..

    Two- the food that we buy in stores, the natural foods and produce, are so often layered in a fine film of chemicals and grown with genetic engineering…which strikes me as such a male-dominated thing.

    Three- the common instillation of fear for women in walking through manicured nature areas- central park, other city parks- they are notoriously dangerous for the woman, yet you never hear of someone getting raped while spending time in an old-growth forest. I never really thought about that till now.

    I am not super well-versed in radical feminist thinking, but I appreciate this post because it reminds me that within myself, there are wild untamed areas; and areas that are of a manicured-wild nature. I intend to spend more time with the primal ones, untouched by society’s exaggerated men and furiously altered women, and yet comfortably cozy with the masculine parts of myself.

    If i could pull out all the stuff that reeked of society within me, I feel like it would be that glorious feeling of pulling out a loose tooth when you are little, and twist it just the right way to feel that final and permanent break.

  7. FCM says :

    the common instillation of fear for women in walking through manicured nature areas- central park, other city parks- they are notoriously dangerous for the woman,

    what a great point! thanks for that.