Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Excerpt from Gloria Steinem's Revolution from Within

I was assigned to read this book for a "Women's Studies" class in college, and to be honest, I was rather disgusted by it, and felt that it was basically a pathetic trashy pop-psychology book being falsely passed off as a political tract. In fact (with apologies to those of greater PC-ness than me), that's pretty much how I felt about all the books we were assigned to read for that class. Of course, my initial dislike of them was magnified by finding out at the end of the semester when I tried to sell them all back to the college bookstore that they wouldn't buy back a single one of them.

Nonetheless, even trashy pop-psychology books that my college bookstore refused to pay be a single penny for can sometimes contain an occasional interesting page or two, and there were in fact three particular pages in this particular book which did stick in my mind: pages 316 to 318, to be exact. They came to mind today when I was chatting with Kyle of The Myst Collective on AIM, and I dug out the book and started to quote them to him, but then he had to leave, so I was going to email them to him instead, but then I changed my mind and decided to post them here instead for all to see.

So here they are. All emphases are Gloria Steinem's original emphases, except for one which I highlighted in color for its relevance to my favorite political issue. ;-)

Suppose, for instance, that after an internal process measurable in milliseconds and based only on your own desire and the needs of the situation at hand, you could:
  • change your brain's right- or left-hemisphere dominance to the opposite side - and back again - regardless of your biological sex or cultural gender;
  • change handwriting and personal signature for different roles or needs, and also write skillfully and perform other tasks with your nondominant hand;
  • raise or lower your pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature, level of oxygen need, and thresholds of pain and pleasure;
  • eliminate an allergic reaction to an environmental factor that is healthy or inevitable, or create an allergic reaction to a factor you want to avoid;
  • reenter and experience your mind's stored memories of the past as if they were happening in the present;
  • call up your body's somatic memory of everything that has happened to it with such clarity that "ghosts" of past wounds and bruises reappear on your skin in minutes, and then slowly disappear as you leave the memory;
  • activate visions of a past or future state of health so powerful that they can speed the healing of current wounds, measurably strengthen the immune system, and give you access at any time to the superhuman abilities usually reserved for emergencies;
  • adjust your eyesight to nearsighted, farsighted, or normal, depending on your task, with such physical impact on the eye's curvature that an optometrist examining you would write you an entirely different prescription;
  • change voice depth and timbre, mannerisms, grammar, accent, facial-muscle patterns, body language, physical style, and even darken the color of your eyes - so totally that an unwitting observer would assume you to be of a different ethnicity, age, race, class, or gender from one moment to the next;
  • change your response to medication - or achieve that medication's result without taking it - and thus have all the benefits of a tranquilizer, sleeping pill, "upper," or anaesthetic but none of the side effects;
  • heighten or lessen sexual desire, and widen or narrow the range of those people for whom you feel it;
  • adjust your body's response to lunar and diurnal cycles;
  • become maximally effective and "tuned in" to various challenges - work, parenting, dancing, a back rub, your own creativity, a friend's need, your immediate problem, a future dream - by summoning up that part of yourself that contains exactly the appropriate sensitivities and strengths;
  • bring into one true self the strengths of all the selves you have ever been in every setting and situation from infancy to now.

All of these abilities have been demonstrated - and verified through a wide variety of double-blind tests, brain scanning, and other objective techniques - in people who have what is called "multiple personality disorder," or MPD. . . . If such extraordinary abilities can be summoned to help survive the worst of human situations, they are also there to create the best. What if we could harness this unbelievable potential of body and mind?
It's quite common, for example, for women to contain one or more personalities who conceive of themselves as male and behave convincingly as males, and for men to have one or several personalities who seem completely female in every way except the biological one. What if we could each gain access to the full range of human qualities that lie suppressed within us?
Clearly, the list of human abilities with which this discussion of MPD began is only a hint of the real possibilities. People in different alters can change every body movement, perfect a musical or linguistic talent that is concealed to the host personality, have two or even three menstrual cycles on the same body, and handle social and physical tasks of which they literally do not think themselves capable. We need to face one fact squarely: What the future could hold, and what each of us could become, is limited mainly by what we believe.
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