THE DISSEMBLY OF EXORCISM*
(From the book Gyn/Ecology, The Metaethics of Radical Feminism by Mary Daly)
(* The word dissembly, according to Merriam-Webster, is an “obsolete” term meaning “assembly”)
At our Un-Conventions, Crones cackle at the crude Deceptions of the Demons who persist in trying to blend their voices into our Hearings. A-musing Amazons unravel the twisted tales of androcratic “argonauts” who allegedly sailed with Jason on a ship named Argo in quest of the Golden Fleece. Furies fume at the fact that these misnamed imposters tried to kill Amazons. Crone-ographers crack up reading that the term argonaut is used specifically to name those men “who went to California in 1849 in search of gold.” The whole gathering of Gyn/Ecologists agrees that the Processions of deceptive demons must be woven into disposable tapestries to be made visible/tangible. Once distinguishable, they will be extinguishable, and can be consumed in the Flames of our Fury. As the convocation unweaves more deceptions, the Procession of demons comes ever more glaringly into view. We recognize them, having encountered all of them numerous times in the course of our Voyage. We perceive ever more distinctly that they are ghostly personifications (masks) of the Deadly Sins of the Fathers. (*) Since we are ready for them now, we invoke them by weaving their previously hidden presences into visibility/audibility.
We contain our cackles as more demon wardens appear in our labyrinthine conference chamber. More than once the Chaircrone finds it imperative to call the dissembled Hags back into Dis-order, since many are tempted to tweak the noses and twist the tails of the dissembling demons. Some of the more spirited Harpies have to be hindered from clawing the invoked visitors before the latter have had ample opportunity to expose themselves. A few Furies must be restrained from setting fire to the costumes and uniforms of the ghastly guests. As the Amazonian Dissembly is hushed into readiness, the final contingent of infernal infiltrators materializes in the filled chamber. Suddenly seeing where they are, the demons react with routinized reflexes. Pompously approaching the Chaircrone in groups, they offer to address and advise the Dissembly. The calculating Crone accepts the entertaining offer of the unsuspecting spooks. Each group is allotted three moments of Crone-time.
It is noticeable that the Infernal Imposters wear a variety of uniforms, but that each group includes some wearing business suits and/or casual sportswear. The first group to address the convocation are the Professionals, the personifications of Deadly Pride. Some wear black robes, some red robes and ermine capes. Others wear white coats, and among these, some have masks and rubber gloves and some have adorned themselves with stethoscopes and speculums. Still others wear the gowns and hoods of academia. Their spokesperson (as he calls himself) offers various kinds of Help to the crowd of Voyagers. Speaking for his colleagues, he offers an array of Aids for Amazons: rest-cures for the haggard ones; religion and psychotherapy for the psychic ones; hormones for the healthy ones; affirmative action for the Self-affirming ones; equal rights for the superior ones (ie, all the ones); course in re-search and re-covery of women’s history for the wise ones. When he finishes there is thunderous silence. Then some of the younger Hags begin hooting. The Chaircrone remarks that there are some owls in the eaves of the chamber and calls for Dis-order.
The second group to approach the Chair are the Possessors, the personifications of Avarice. Their spokesperson proposes various health insurance plans, family insurance plans, social security plans, retirement plans, life insurance plans, and afterlife insurance plans. The latter take the form of memberships in a variety of religious groups, tailored to match a variety of personalities. A Harpy snarls; a few Crones snore.
He has barely finished when he is pushed off the platform by the next group, the Aggressors. The Aggressors, the personifications of virile violence, “explain” to the crowd that the the labrys is obsolete. They offer what they describe as a modernized improvement: the “protection racket”. They proclaim that Amazons need no longer possess weapons of our own and they offer their special services. It is noticeable that some demons in this group wear police uniforms and some wear military uniforms, whereas others wear plainclothes. Before they are finished a labrys flies through the air and grazes the horns of their chief spokesperson, which had been hidden by a policeman’s hat. The Chaircrone explains that it must have dropped from the ceiling and calls for Dis-order.
The fourth group, the Obsessors, approach the platform carrying a variety of objects which they flash before the crowd. Among their articles are footwear (tiny shoes, nylons, and spiked heels), cosmetics (such as vaginal deodorants and “Placenta” hair conditioner), jewelry (such as gold crosses on chains, “chokers” and earrings), magazines for swinging singles (including Cosmopolitan, Penthouse, and Playgirl), girdles (Free Spirit), and The Pill. It is noted that some members of this group wear T-shirts and buttons which proclaim: “I like dykes”. It is also noted that among this faction there are some who appear to be eunuchs. One is carrying a placard which reads: “I am a lesbian-feminist male-to-female transsexual. Take me in.” As they begin to file off the platform two Harpies swoop down into their midst, causing them to stumble and stagger in all directions. The Chaircrone comments that there are a few bats living in the chamber who must have been awakened by the speechmaking. She again calls for Dis-order.
The fifth demonic delegation appears more sophisticated than the preceding Processors. These are the Assimilators, the specialists in gynocidal gluttony and vampirism. They offer what they call Job Opportunities for Assertive Women. Their spokesperson describes their auxiliary organization: “Athena’s Associates”. He announces that the time has come for unselfconscious inclusion of women and minorities in business and in the professions. He advertises career-counseling conferences. While he is talking, a Black Widow who has been spinning a web just above the platform swings down and bites his throat. He collapses suddenly and is carried off by his cohorts. Next come the demonic Eliminators of Hags, whom the crowd knows to be specialists in the Deadly Sin of Envy. The audience, many of whom have suffered acutely from the vicious tactics of these demons, listen intensely and with a sense of irony, as the Eliminators make their pitch. Pretending to offer salvation for the “desperate situation” of feminism, they point out some pseudoproblems. They suggest, for example, that there is a scarcity of talented feminist writers. They point out that most feminist publications are “embarrassingly mediocre”, and that even “feminist” critics are obliged in honesty to give them bad reviews. Attempting to appear sympathetic, they suggest a more gradualist approach, which will give women “more time to prove themselves in their fields.”
Crone-ographers, acutely aware of the fantastic abundance of creativity among Crones, whose greatest works are erased by these Erasers, groan audibly. Hags begin a long steady hissing which assumes the proportions of a gale. The Eliminators cling to each other to prevent being blown off the platform. The Chaircrone announces that the chamber is too drafty and requests that the doors and windows be shut. Reluctantly, the Revolting Hags stop hissing and wait for the last delegation. The Fragmenters – experts and practitioners in the Deadly Sin of Sloth – are as arrogant and obtuse as the other members of the Infernal Fraternity. Unaware of the hostility of their hearers, they suggest that Spinning is a waste of energy. They advise the listening Spinsters to “divide and conquer”. “First,” they say, “divide into fields; divide into classes; do not lump unrelated concerns together.” Their second rule is: “Be sure not to confuse work and play: lose yourself in your work and lose yourself in recreation.” Their third axiom is: “Divide the personal from the political.” Finally, they drone: “Face the fact that this is a competitive world, in which there is a scarcity of commodities and a scarcity of ideas. Find your own niche and learn to play the game.” They suggest seeking out robots as Self-replacements.
While this infernal babble has been taking place, a number of Spinsters have been energetically joining the Black Widow hanging from the ceiling who had finished off the Assimilators’ spokesperson. Together they furiously spin several strong nets. As the Fragmenters begin to file off stage they walk into an enormous sticky cobweb which closes itself around them. The last words they are able to shriek are: “Stop Spinning.” Since the webs muffle their voices, however, they seem to be gasping: “Stop Sinning.” The entire Dissembly, unable to contain mirth any longer, begins to roar. Some roll in the aisles. Some fly around. Having seen the fate of the Fragmenters, the members of the other demonic delegations attempt a quick escape, but the roaring of the Revolted Hags engulfs them, stopping them dead. Instead of running, they begin to unravel. The black and red robes, the white coats, the academic gowns, the police uniforms, the business suits – all unravel rapidly. The demons try to cling to each other for support, but each is more unsolid than the next; each has Nothing to hang on to. The Un-Convention gazes in a-mazement, noticing that the unraveling costumes contain Nothing.
The Watching Witches and Hearing Hags realize that the demons will re-materialize. But no one present will ever forget this scene. We will tell it on the mountains and in the valleys. We will tell it to the Daughters of the Daughters of Crones, who will re-member our history and how the spell of the Demons is broken. In the times of storms and earthquakes we will remember the story of The Great Unraveling. THE CELEBRATION OF ECSTASY Having seen, heard, and understood the Rite of Unraveling, the Gyn/Ecologists re-gather gynergies. Furies rush forth and collect the shreds of the deadly deceivers’ costumes. We throw the threads and shreds into a heap. We toss onto the pile the combustible samples displayed by the Obsessors, such as magazines and bras. We set the pile afire with the flames of our combined Fury. Harpies fan the fire with our great wings. The fire crackles and roars. In the Background of its roaring can be heard the voice of Fore-Crone Woolf howling: “Let it blaze, Daughters! Let it blaze!” In the light of the fire Amazons gather the pieces of jewelry from the display cases of the Obsessors – the gold crosses and chains, wedding rings, S and M “chokers”, and earrings. We melt them in the great fire and mold the molten metal into a labrys. We say: “Let this be the symbol of our Amazon powers of alchemy. Let this double-edged weapon signify our invincible wildness.” Grasping it and holding it high as she Spins on her heel a Spinster cries: “Let this be the symbol of our whirling movement of creation.” Sounds of joy echo through the chamber, and reverberate through other and deeper chambers of the labyrinth. The Voyagers glimpse our Paradise that is beyond the boundaries of patriarchal paradise, the Playboys’ Playground. We hear the call of our wild. We play games to end their games. Those who have been called bitches bark; pussies purr; cows moo; old bats squeal; squirrels chatter; nags whinny; chicks chirp; cats growl; old crows screech. Foxy ladies chase clucking biddies around in circles.
The play is part of our work of unweaving and of our weaving work. It whirls us into another frame of reference. We use the visitation of demons to come more deeply into touch with our own powers/virtues. Unweaving their deceptions, we name our Truth. Defying their processions we dis-cover our Female Pride, our Sinister Wisdom. (55) Escaping their possession we find our Enspiriting Selves. Overcoming their aggression we uncover our Creative Anger and Brilliant Bravery. (56) Demystifying/demythifying their obsessions we re-member our Woman-loving Love. Refusing their assimilation we experience our Autonomy and Strength. Avoiding their elimination we find our Original Be-ing. Mending their imposed fragmentation we Spin our Original Integrity. As we feel the empowerment of our own Naming we hear more deeply our call of the wild. Raising pairs of arms into the air we expand them into shells, sails. Splashing our legs in the water we move our oars. Our beautiful, spiral-like designs are the designs/purposes of our bodies/minds. We communicate these through our force-fields, our auras, our O-Zones. We move backward over the water, toward the Background. We gain speed. Argonauts move apart and together, forming and re-forming our Amazon Argosy. In the rising and setting of our sister the sun, we seek the gold of our hearts’ desire. In the light of our sisters the moon and stars we rekindle the Fore-Crones’ fire. In its searing light we see through the fathers’ lies of genesis and demise; we burn through the snarls of the Nothing-lovers. In the beginning was not the word. In the beginning is the hearing. Spinsters spin deeper into the listening deep. We can spin only what we hear, because we hear, and as well as we hear. We can weave and unweave, knot and unknot, only because we hear, what we hear, and as well as we hear. Spinning is celebration/cerebration. Spinsters Spin all ways, always. Gyn/Ecology is UnCreation; Gyn/Ecology is Creation.