A much-needed Jeanette Winterson quote

Arainandagale was asking for something more inspiring and less depressing. This is a quote that I love from a book that I love, although it is fiction. I really need to write a whole post about this book, but here is just a quote from it where she basically writes out my fantasy of overthrowing the capitalist patriarchy.

Without further ado, here is pages 125–127 of Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson.

“I am a woman going mad. I am a woman hallucinating. I imagine I am huge, raw, a giant. When I am a giant I go out with my sleeves rolled up and my skirts swirling round me like a whirlpool. I have a sack such as kittens are drowned in and I stop off all over the world filling it up. Men shoot at me, but I take the bullets out of my cleavage and I chew them up. Then I laugh and laugh and break their guns between my fingers the way you would a wish-bone.

First stop: the World Bank. 
I go straight to the boardroom. There’s a long hardwood table surrounded by comfortable chairs. Men in suits are discussing how to deal with the problem of the Third World. They want to build dams, clear the rain forests, finance huge Coca-Cola plants and exploit the rubber potential.

They say, “This is a private meeting.”
I start at the top end and I pick them up one by one by the scruff of their necks. Their legs wriggle in their Gucci suits; I’ve got nothing against the suits, lovely material. I drop them into my sack, all screaming at once about calling their lawyers and who do I think I am and what about free speech and civil liberties. 

When they’re all in the bag, I leave the room tidy, throw in a few calculators so they won’t be bored, and off we go.

Next stop: the Pentagon.
I smash through the maximum security doors, past the computers, the secrets, the army of secretaries, and burst into a band of generals and lesser lights talking about defence and peace and how to eliminate the nuclear threat by ordering more weapons. I listen carefully while they tell me with all the patience of a mother to a defective child that if we don’t have enough force to blow up the world fifty times over, we’re not safe. If we do, we are.

I say, “Your own statistics show that, if three per cent of the Defence Budget were spent on the poverty problem in the United States over the next ten years, there would be no problem, you’d wipe it out.”

They look at one another and give little indulgent chuckles and turn back to work. I have no choice. I grab them by their medals and drop them in the bag. One of them pokes his head out of the top and says, “You should be arrested. What you’re doing is dangerous!”

And then…
I snatch world leaders from motorcades, from mansion house dinners, from embassies and private parties. I throw them all in the bag and we go on foot to the butter mountains and wine lakes and grain silos and deserts and cracked earth and starving children and arms dealers in guarded palaces.

I force all the fat ones to go on a diet, and all the men line up for compulsory training in feminism and ecology. Then they start on the food surpluses, packing it with their own hands, distributing it in a great human chain of what used to be power and is now co-operation.

We change the world, and on the seventh day we have a party at the wine lake and make pancakes with the butter mountain and the peoples of the earth keep coming in waves and being fed and being clean and being well. And when the rivers sparkle, it’s not with mercury…

That’s how it started, the mercury. That’s where my hallucinations began, checking mercury levels in rivers and lakes and streams. Anywhere that profit might have been. The levels were always too high, the fish were dying, children had strange scaly diseases which the government said had no connection with anything whatsoever.

I started a one-woman campaign, the sort you read about in the papers where the woman is thought to be a bit loopy but harmless enough. They hope you’ll go away, get older, get bored. Time is a great deadener.

I didn’t go away. I wrote articles and pushed fact sheets through front doors. I developed a passion for personal evangelism. I stopped housewives on street corners and working men in caffs. Where women were high-placed I asked for money and help.

The cost to myself was high. Too high, I thought, when I was depressed, which was often. The trouble is that when most people are apathetic ordinary people like me have to go too far, have to ruin their lives and be made an object of scorn just to get the point across. Did they really think I’d rather be camping by a polluted river than sitting in my own flat with my things about me?

People will believe anything.
Except, it seems, the truth.”

Vive la révolution!


3 thoughts on “A much-needed Jeanette Winterson quote

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