For me International Women's Day is more personal than political. But seeing all the women with disabilities releasing statements makes me want to try. If everything is connected, then my thoughts should find some connection with madness politics.
I'd like to share something I posted on Facebook (slightly adapted).
Some context: U.S. right wing bigot Rush Limbaugh had the misfortune to call a woman a "slut" for testifying to the Congress about contraception. This happened about a week before International Women's Day, which also coincides with Purim this year.
Purim is many things, a tale of reversal, a Jewish Mardi Gras, a mixing of dark and light, and an exploration of women's sexual power. Esther, a Jewish woman who becomes queen of Persia after Queen Vashti is killed for refusing to show herself to the king's guests, is sometimes an uncomfortable figure by modern feminists, 1) because she used sexual power instrumentally to induce the king to save the Jewish people from (another) attempted genocide, and 2) because she was a "scab" who appeased the king's desire for obedience to his sexual commands which Vashti rightfully resisted.
The "Slut Walks" which started in 2011 (before the Rush Limbaugh stupidity) took me by surprise, expressing women's anger at rape and misogynist violence and fly-swatting away the shaming tactics by saying "Yes we are sluts and what of it? We can wear S&M gear, frilly negligees, the most sexy get-ups we can because we want to, we enjoy it - and WE STILL HAVE A RIGHT TO NOT BE RAPED." A friend, Andrea Parra in Colombia, who had also shared news about Colombia's recent "Marcha de las Putas", had suggested on Facebook that we shouldn't be defending ourselves against the word "slut," we should reclaim it like we did with "queer". This is what I wrote:
"Slut" shouldn't be received as an insult any more than "queer" is now. What is it about "slut" - prostitute - that makes it something men can use to keep women down the same as they have used "lesbian"? It's that women are controlling access to our own bodies, to sex, despite the working conditions of prostitutes which patriarchal society has made as difficult as possible in order to negate this female power over sexuality. It's also the economic empowerment - for many women prostitution makes better money than a lot of standard female jobs. One of my great aunts was reportedly a prostitute and she used to give my mother treats (when my mother was a girl) and was very kind, she was an independent woman. One thing about Purim, let's throw all this empowerment back in the face of Rush and his scared boy cohorts. Solidarity with prostitutes, sex workers and everyone who chooses to own her or his sexuality and say yes and no by their own free choices.
Madness also has a connection with Purim. The place "beyond right action and wrong action, I'll meet you there." The place of mystery where reversal can happen and where healing takes place. The door opening to spiritual crisis and opportunity. Mad people like prostitutes are treated as outcasts in patriarchal society when they should be honored for their spiritual gifts and power. Like lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people we exist in that twilight world where things are not what they appear and can change at any moment, shapeshifting, fluid, a place that takes some getting used to, a "medicine" you have to grow into.
For International Women's Day 2012 let's make a pact to celebrate sexuality, magic, mystery, reversal, holy jokers, court jesters, prostitutes who sabotage the plans for genocide and evil, queens who insist on their own sovereignty, goddesses who descend to the underworld and rise again splitting the vault of the earth and sky that dared to imprison them. Madness and mad law making a space for change, for healing and for love that is cognizant of its weight and more than a valentine's day card, for truth that can set us free. Our people will free ourselves, we are doing it.