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Thanks

Apology

Chapter 1 Where to Start

Chapter 2 Language and Giving

Chapter 3 Reciprocity

Chapter 4 Definitions and Exchange

Chapter 5 The Concept of Man

Chapter 6 'Marksist' Categories

Chapter 7 The Collective Source

Chapter 8 Castration Envy

Chapter 9 Is = $

Chapter 10 Value 157

Chapter 11 Shifting into Exchange

Chapter 12 Giving Value to Exchange

Chapter 13 Market and Gender

Chapter 14 Deserving to Exist

Chapter 15 Pointing and Patriarchy

Chapter 16 The Point of the Ego

Chapter 17 What Does Democracy Re-Present?

Chapter 18 The Unmasculated Agents of Change

Chapter 19 Dreaming and Reality

Chapter 20 Giving and Love

Chapter 21 From the Garden to the Grail

Chapter 22 Cosmological Speculations

Chapter 23 After Words Practicing the Theory

Index of Figures

Selected Bibliography

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Foreword

by Robin Morgan

The book you hold in your hands is a gift--from author to reader, from an individual woman to the Women's Movement (and to men of conscience) everywhere.

In a sense, every work of authentic feminist theory might be said to fit that category. But what Genevieve Vaughan has given us is something unique--a work as impassioned in feeling as it is thoughtful in analysis, one in which scrupulous research and scholarship resonate in synchrony with, not opposition to, the finest impulses of the human heart.

Such a Both/And insistence--to challenge the mind and simultaneously warm the spirit--is not easy in an Either/Or world. It requires a healthy audacity even to attempt both at once. Gen Vaughan correctly notes how feminists are already daring to consider "every academic system suspect," and she goes further, urging us to risk regaining our "naiveté," to dare question everything. But make no mistake. By naiveté, she doesn't mean sentimentality or blurry-minded romanticism, although she does refreshingly let altruism out of the closet and into the streets. I find her "naive" theories highly sophisticated in the best sense: intelligently worked through, ethical, pragmatic, feasible cross-culturally, and as applicable in intimate relationships as in global politics. In other words, effectively transformative.

Different readers will discover different gifts here. Semioticians, linguists, economists, and political scientists will encounter a radical feminist intellectual challenge rare in their rarefied fields. But one needn't know anything about semiotics or other academic disciplines to appreciate this book.

Activists will find an accessible political analysis as applicable to money as to masculation, to anorexia, armaments, or architecture--a theory with implications for closed systems and cosmic ones.

Male readers will find a theory that doesn't blame men simplistically yet doesn't flinch to dissect patriarchy and insist on individual moral responsibility as well as on systemic change.

In general, thoughtful readers as weary of pedantic fads as of popu-babble clichés will find in these pages an approach that cheerfully unsettles many such concepts, including deconstructionism, postmodernism, charity, and codependence (to name only a few).

For me, a language-loving poet, there's real pleasure in Gen Vaughan's wit and wordplay (which should delight Mary Daly aficionados). There are constructs here-- "constrained reciprocity" for instance--that will, I predict, become verbal-watershed phrases comparable to "reproductive rights," "acquaintance rape," or Adrienne Rich's memorable "compulsory heterosexuality." As a feminist, I revel in the "consciousness clicks" throughout this book--so many that some gems are blithely tossed off in footnotes. As an internationalist, I'm deeply grateful for Vaughan's cross-cultural sensitivity that draws examples from all over the world. As a fiction writer, I enjoy her creative appraisal of fairy tales, myths, archetypes, and stereotypes. As a political theorist, I admire her courage in reclaiming "values" from the right wing. As someone interested in metaphysics, I'm fascinated by the implications of the Gift Paradigm--from the latest left-and-right-brain research to alternative views of existence itself. And as a political activist, I appreciate and admire the way in which Gen Vaughan's life is an example of her theory in practice; in fact, she has been so busy for so many years supporting and participating in global feminist energy that it's been difficult to get her to sit down long enough to finish this book.

Her work can now find its audience, and I wish for it a large one. Because this book will not only make you think, but will coax you toward hope, offering a reminder of the human capacity for transformation. And that will make you oddly happy--even surrounded, as you are, by the intensely ungenerous, lethally exploitative spirit of patriarchy. This will offer a third way, in defiance of status quo thinking that posits bifurcated untenable alternatives--selfishness and selflessness, for instance. That possibility, in turn, will give you a sense of your own power--not power over, but power to. If you've ever been a mother, you'll recognize that power: of giving--whether birth, or nurturance, or time, care, attention. If you've ever been in love, you'll recognize that power: of exhilaration, of abundance, of joyous outpouring (Juliet's "the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite"), the celebration of miraculous dailiness.

However you open yourself to this book, you'll encounter a wiser possible self--and society. The transformation of both is up to all of us. These pages are part of a map-in-progress for the journey; this book is one tool for the task.

A gift indeed.

Robin Morgan



Thanks

I thank Susan Bright for her understanding and illuminated editing which have made the reader's burden lighter and mine as well.

I thank Liliana Wilson for her beautiful artwork and her spirit, her readiness to give her time and creativity.

My greatest gratitude goes to Robin Morgan who over many years has given me encouragement from her disinterested feminist revolutionary heart and has read and commented on various versions of the manuscript numerous times.

I especially thank my daughters, Amelia, Beatrice, and Emma Rossi-Landi who have continued to listen to me, and have encouraged and supported me over the many years I have been working on this book.

I thank my brother Ben Vaughan who has given me much material support and, without at all knowing my ideas on the subject, provides a wonderful example of a nurturing father for his and my sister-in-law's sons.

I thank my parents and grandparents who provided me with the resources of exchange that I could use for giving.

I thank all the women of the Foundation for a Compassionate Society and Feminists for a Compassionate Society who have had to tolerate me while I worked on the book, for their sisterhood and support. I am grateful also for their commitment to peace for all through women's values, and their inspired feminist leadership. I am grateful to San Juanita Alcala, Yana Bland, Rose Corrales, Patricia Cuney, Barbara Franco, Sally Jacques, Suze Kemper. Maria Limon, Sue MacNichol, Aina Olomo, Erin Rogers, Angeles Romero, Susan Lee Solar, Frieda Werden, Debbie Winegarten, and Ruthe Winegarten for proof reading and for their suggestions and reviews of the manuscript. Several people read and commented on earlier versions of the book, including Letitia Blalock, Florence Howe, Kam Magor and Doll Mathis, for which I thank them. I thank Margaret Nunley for giving me plenty of free time to write. I am especially grateful to Plain View Press for their feminist commitment and innovative organization. Margo La Gattuta valiantly managed the huge job of technical editing, for which I thank her. I also thank Terry Sherrell of Morgan Printing for her expert corrections. I appreciate all people who are trying to bring about a better world through the gifts of time, money, ideas, imagination, good will, and hard work, which make a paradigm shift possible. I especially appreciate and thank the reader for opening your mind to this book and using its contents. Without your attention, the gift would remain ungiven.

* * *

I have been very fortunate in the things my life has brought me to do. For example, in 1963 I married an Italian philosophy professor and moved to Italy where I was able to participate in a number of intellectual currents. In 1964 a group of professors in Bologna who wanted to start a new philosophical journal asked my husband to help them apply Marx's analysis of the commodity and money to language. The problem and the way they stated it were fascinating to me. I began to think about it then, and in fact have never stopped. Although the journal did not happen after all, my ex-husband did write about the relations between language and exchange. I did not agree with him but it took many years before I was able to understand why. Finally in 1975-76 I stayed for a couple of years in the United States, and was able to devote myself to thinking the problem through. In 1977-78 I wrote a couple of academic essays which were published in the early 80s. They are cited in the bibliography, and I invite readers who are academically inclined to read them. I was able to go into some issues more thoroughly than I have in this book. For instance, in "Saussure and Vigotsky via Marx" I discuss Saussure's concept of linguistic value regarding the analogy he makes with exchange, correcting for the differences Marx would see in his idea of exchange value. In "Communication and Exchange" I introduce the idea of communicative need, identify exchange as Doll Mathis, for which I thank them. I thank Margaret Nunley for giving me plenty of free time to write. I am especially grateful to Plain View Press for their feminist commitment and innovative organization. Margo La Gattuta valiantly managed the huge job of technical editing, for which I thank her. I also thank Terry Sherrell of Morgan Printing for her expert corrections. I appreciate all people who are trying to bring about a better world through the gifts of time, money, ideas, imagination, good will, and hard work, which make a paradigm shift possible. I especially appreciate and thank the reader for opening your mind to this book and using its contents. Without your attention, the gift would remain ungiven.

* * *

I have been very fortunate in the things my life has brought me to do. For example, in 1963 I married an Italian philosophy professor and moved to Italy where I was able to participate in a number of intellectual currents. In 1964 a group of professors in Bologna who wanted to start a new philosophical journal asked my husband to help them apply Marx's analysis of the commodity and money to language. The problem and the way they stated it were fascinating to me. I began to think about it then, and in fact have never stopped. Although the journal did not happen after all, my ex-husband did write about the relations between language and exchange. I did not agree with him but it took many years before I was able to understand why. Finally in 1975-76 I stayed for a couple of years in the United States, and was able to devote myself to thinking the problem through. In 1977-78 I wrote a couple of academic essays which were published in the early 80s. They are cited in the bibliography, and I invite readers who are academically inclined to read them. I was able to go into some issues more thoroughly than I have in this book. For instance, in "Saussure and Vigotsky via Marx" I discuss Saussure's concept of linguistic value regarding the analogy he makes with exchange, correcting for the differences Marx would see in his idea of exchange value. In "Communication and Exchange" I introduce the idea of communicative need, identify exchange as aberrant communication, and analyze money as a 'one word language.' In 1978 I got a divorce and began going to a feminist consciousness raising group. Many of the women in the group worked at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U. N., which was located near my house in Rome. Women came from many places to talk to us about issues ranging from the protests at Greenham Commons to 'jelly babies' caused by radioactivity in the Pacific Islands. Issues of women and development were also at the forefront in the group. Many of the women in our group went to the U.N. Decade for Women Conference in Copenhagen and told the rest of us all about it when they came back.

There was a lot of interesting philosophical discussion going on in the Italian feminist movement at the time. I participated in some courses at the Virginia Woolf Cultural Center, an independent women's university in Rome started by feminist philosopher Alessandra Bochetti. It was during that time that I began to realize that women's free labor in the home was the great unseen element that could be the basis of a new philosophy. I had been doing a lot of giftgiving in my own life, both bringing up my daughters and as a wife. I began to see that my values and those of most women differed from the values and priorities of most of the men I had met whether academics or bureaucrats, laborers or activists. It occurred to me that women's free labor could be understood as the economic base for an alternative superstructure, a system of ideas and values different from prevailing patriarchal ideas and values.

In 1983 I came back to the U.S. to try to put giftgiving values into practice in contexts outside the home. The last chapter of this book discusses that attempt, which is still ongoing. This practice, which was somewhat specific to my personal situation, did not leave much time for theoretical work (giftgiving can be very time consuming, which is what happens also in mothering). I was involved in many women's organizations and discussed the idea of the 'gift economy' with everyone, trying to normalize it. One of the people I discussed it with was Sonia Johnson, who used it (citing me) in her book Wildfire. I think her treatment was caught in the contradictions between ego and other and could not lead to the kind of social change for all that I think is necessary. I think I finally began working on the present book in about 1988, though certainly not full time, and without the advantages and disadvantages of academia. It became very long and then short again. The file in my computer under which this version is kept is 'short book.' I have tried to integrate most of the ideas into the text and footnotes, but many had to be left aside.

During the time in which I was living in Italy, we felt the wind blowing from France where many thinkers were dealing with issues of communication, economics, semiotics and psychoanalysis. The school of Jacques Lacan had broken new ground, and anthropologists like Claude Levi-Strauss and Maurice Godelier had broadened the investigations started by Marcel Mauss and Emile Durkheim. Georges Bataille, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida investigated language, culture, and the unconscious. For me the most interesting of all of these thinkers was Jean Joseph Goux, whose application of Marx's analysis of the commodity and money to various social structures led in directions which were different from mine (among other reasons, because my reading of Marx was different). The feminist thinkers Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva had a difficult patriarchal context in which to operate and sometimes came to Italy to find support among the Italian women philosophers. The Semiotics Summer Institute in Urbino was a place of fine intellectual ferment where many of the French and Italian semioticians and (at the time) ante-postmodernists as well as a few from the U.S. and Eastern Europe gathered to present their theories to the faithful. I heard Jean Baudrillard and Jean-Francois Lyotard there as well as Umberto Eco, Massimo Bonfantini, Augusto Ponzio, Luis Prieto, my ex-husband Ferruccio Rossi-Landi and many others. I wrote a paper on nurturing and communication for the last Summer Institute I attended, but since I neglected to go through the bureaucratic channels to get on the list I presented it only to a small group who got together for the purpose. I also belonged to the Centro Romano di Semiotica and attended many presentations by local and international speakers.

When I moved back to the U.S. in 1983 I encountered Lewis Hyde's book The Gift, Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property. While it was heartening to see giftgiving described with honor I thought that the lack of a theory of language as giftgiving limited the scope of the book to literary criticism (which anyway lingered too long on Ezra Pound's anti-Semitic ravings). I had already read Malinowsky's Argonauts of the Western Pacific in college and later Marcel Mauss's Essay on the Gift. I read in these books about the potlatch practiced by the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest, and since then I have discussed these 'give aways' not only with anthropologists but with the people for whom they are a living traditional economic way. Then books like Jean Baker Miller's Toward a New Psychology of Women, Nancy Chodorow's The Reproduction of Mothering, Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice and later Sara Ruddick's Maternal Thinking showed me how women in the U.S. were dealing with their difference from patriarchy. Already in Italy there had been a wide movement among feminists dealing with sexual difference in a positive way.

The postmodern criticism of 'phallogocentrism' brings up many important issues. However, I believe that the recognition of the fundamental importance of giftgiving can be the antidote to phallogocentrism on the reality plane (with important repercussions on the psychological and verbal planes). I hope also that my use of the model of Vigotsky's experiment in concept formation can clarify how patriarchy comes to be, how men are 'logofied' and women are 'reified.' The advantage of Vigotsky's model is that it presents concept formation as a dynamic process with stages and is not a static picture of similarities and differences. It transfers to the plane of cognitive psychology an issue that has been important for philosophy from Aristotle's one-many problem to Derrida's questions about exemplarity. I look at this problem as a symptom of centuries of patriarchal mis-conceptions.

Vigotsky believed that children were able only to form concepts at puberty. If the concept structure riddles society, as I propose, it alters the context into which children of both genders are born, making it hard for children to understand their own cognitive processes, at least until they are acting them out at another level at puberty. This consideration brings me to a theory of knowledge that I will just mention, which I call 'Nel blu dipinto di blu' ('In the blue, painted blue') from the song 'Volare' by Domenico Modugno. I believe that when we are doing something in our own lives we are more likely to see similar things in the world around us. For example, it was during the rise of 'survival of the fittest' capitalism that 'survival of the fittest' evolutionary theory developed. By this I do not mean to imply that what is seen is not 'true' but only that it might not have been seen at all if people had not been acting in a similar way at a different level. Perhaps it is because men have been embodying the one-many relation in their lives and projecting it into society that it has been important in philosophy. Vigotsky would have been no more exempt from this than anyone else. Moreover, for various reasons connected with the practice of exchange, which I discuss in this book, we are also not recognizing the giftgiving many of us are already doing. I hope that this book will allow women and men not only to practice more giftgiving but to see that they are already doing a great deal of it, to recognize that they are already 'painted blue' and to see the blue of the sky that surrounds them.

I believe that much of the anti-authoritarianism of both women and men can be understood as an appropriate anti-patriarchal attitude. The desire to place heart over head or emotion above reason is a kind of translation of the need to put the gift paradigm above the exchange paradigm. We should do this not just for sentimental reasons (which also have to do with giftgiving) but for practical reasons having to do with the survival of life on the planet. I have written For-Giving in order to understand patriarchy so that we--women and men--can make the deep and far reaching changes that are necessary.

As I was writing the book at a certain point I was wondering whether I would be accused of penis envy and a castrating attitude. As the Goddess would have it, however, just at that moment I received a call from a friend in Germany about the women in former Yugoslavia, and a call from a friend here who is the child of a rape and who was working on that issue. Eighteen thousand babies from the rapes in Bosnia, they said, many of them abandoned. What horror stories. After I hung up and began to write again, I wept and screamed in sorrow, frustration and rage. They said that the men had sometimes been forced to rape to continue in the army. Mothers were raped and killed in front of their daughters, who were also raped. Babies were cut out of their mothers' wombs and dog fetuses put in their place. We could say this is only former Yugoslavia and put it in a context that doesn't belong to the U.S. But I have heard many similar stories from around the world. And in 1991 when the U.S. began the war against Iraq we received information that men in U.S. marine bootcamps sang the refrain: "rape the women, kill the children, it's the only thing to do...." I am sorry, my brothers. Those of you who would desert and risk death to avoid this--perhaps it does not apply to you. I hope for all our sakes it does not. But do you realize how much pain and unspeakable horror this 'high' of yours or of theirs is causing? Let the men who read this learn to give by giving me the leeway to go ahead and try to tell it like it is. If you discount me you are enabling that behavior. And the same to you mothers who want to protect your sons from a blow to their self-esteem. Protect your sons not from me, from the truth, but from the society which turns them into ghouls and vampires, their instrument of love into an instrument of hate. Protect them from the phallic images and resonators that radiate validation to them from the society at large, that cause you to think that I am being 'unrealistic,' and that let you allow them to go ahead and join the army or become arms manufacturers or exploitative capitalists. All rapists and torturers had mothers. What can I say? That I am sorry that I see this clearly? I am sorry for us all. But if we see it we can stop it. Anything we can do to change the situation is worth consideration. Please read this book knowing that is its intention.

Apology

I ask for-giveness for the long time it has taken me to bring these ideas to light. I tried to do it sooner but did not succeed.

I ask for-giveness also for the many inadequacies and inaccuracies that may be found in this book. In my defense I can only offer the consideration that once you stop taking the purveyors of the dominant paradigm seriously, it is hard to remember exactly what they say.

I ask for-giveness of friends who may be surprised at my ideas. A paradigm hangs together and needs to be explained all at once. Though I have expressed my opinions I have often found a lack of comprehension because the wider context of the opinions was invisible. For that reason I did not always try to expose my point of view (though I did try to practice it).

If my anti-patriarchal analysis makes you uncomfortable, dear reader, I want to make it clear that I believe all life is sacred and miraculous--and that means your life too. The problem is a logic and a system, a self-confirming paradigm of dominance, and a dominant paradigm; it is not the individual male or female person. Listen to William Blake's explanation from the poem 'London' in Songs of Experience:

In every cry of every Man,

In every Infants cry of fear,

In every voice: in every ban,

The mind forg'd manacles I hear.

I believe the manacles to be forged not just in the mind but, through a feedback loop, on the material plane also. Perhaps we cannot break the manaclesbecause that would require the violence that confirms patriarchal domination. However, we can unlock them. In this book I try to find a key so small it fits into the mind. Please use it.

"Language is as old as consciousness,
language is practical consciousness that
exists also for other men [sic] and for that
reason alone it really exists personally for
me as well. . . ." ---Karl Marx

"Whom does the Grail serve?"
La Folie Perceval, 1330 A.D.

For-Giving Chapter 1

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