Scotland makes tampons free, taxpayer pays. “The males who have something to object should not forget that in Nepal, until very recently, there was the millenary practice of chhaupadi, the confinement of menstruating women in isolated huts where they could neither eat nor drink, but could be bitten by snakes”. When issues related to the relationship between the sexes, their behaviour, their positions and social roles are treated or even just touched upon, ‘we must not forget’ is a locution, a sentence that has been systematically enunciated for decades, in a nagging manner, now spontaneous and unreflective. It is on the lips of female philosophers as well as high school girls (and of course the male-pentitled lackeys).
It is an instrument of exceptional power. Whether it is a question of redirecting a “deviant” discourse or of opposing an observation that casts doubt, even if only remotely, on a dogma of the feminist narrative, or of silencing those who advance timid objections to some old privilege and some new robbery being implemented against men, that imperious, peremptory and conclusive call never fails. It is the whip that leads the heretic back to orthodoxy, the doubter to canonical faith, the interlocutor to silence: “We must not forget”. What, then, must not be forgotten? Not a single paragraph of the Great Feminist Narrative must be forgotten, not a single detail of that narrative which speaks of the universal evil suffered by females in all places, times, modes and forms.
If the past disappears the debt disappears.
Everything must be remembered and indelibly recorded in individual and collective memory. Everything, but in particular “we must not forget” the fire in the Cotton factory, the vote in 1946 in Italy, the entry into the judiciary in 1963, clandestine abortion, rape as a crime against morality, the crime of honour. The Indian satee, the Chinese guajo, the Arab vladh. Paygap, body shaming, stalking, mansplaining, manspreading, manterrupting, catcalling, unpaid caretaking. The jus primae noctis, the chastity belt. Household exploitation, domestic servitude, domestic seclusion. Infibulation, clitoridectomy, harassment, physical, bodily, psychological, moral, emotional, sexual, mental, material and economic violence. Stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, penalisation, exclusion, foreclosure, intimidation, sexual, emotional and economic blackmail. The glass ceiling. Paternal abuse, marital rape, feminicide. The stigma of menstruation, sexualisation, the woman-object, social constructs, gender roles. The massacre of the Bacchae, the Rape of the Sabine Women, the stoning of adulteresses, the reparatory marriage, the levirate, the sororate. The stretch marks of pregnancy, the lacerations of childbirth, the imposition of depilation, the induction to shopping. The exclusion from STEM faculties. The control of the male chauvinist panopticon.
On time! It will be objected that the Cotton factory fire is a lie (unmasked by two feminists…), the jus primae noctis a fake (ridiculed by the Italian historician Alessandro Barbero), the levirate an institution in favour of the same widow! And what is this Arab vladh, what did this unheard-of violence consist of? Don’t ask me, I have been searching for its meaning for years, in vain. But is it really important to know its nature? No. What is important is that it is a male crime that adds up to all the others, true, verisimilar, improbable, false, invented, absurd and with the good erased or distorted or overturned. Everything serves the same purpose. Why, then, must we not forget? The obsession with compulsory remembrance, with ‘not forgetting’, is indeed suspicious, as if forgetting had deleterious, perhaps catastrophic, effects. And it is true: if the debtor forgets the debt, he will not pay it. Elementary. The basis of debt is an accounting entry that records the past. If the past disappears, the debt disappears.
A past that must not pass.
Now, what is the feminist narrative if not the universal account of the planetary evil suffered by women over the millennia (present included)? For what purpose has it been constructed if not to transform it into a bill of exchange to be cashed without end? It is true that here the debt changes its name and becomes a guilt because it is transferred to the ethical level and therefore the obliged changes its qualification and becomes guilty, thus obliged to pay not only on the economic side, but first and foremost on the psychological, behavioural and moral side. On all levels of existence. What is the point of building up, with so much effort, a debtor’s past if the culprit then forgets it? If you forget Nepal, you don’t agree to pay for tampons. With the memory of the past and the present lost, guilt, debt and compensation would disappear. It would be too convenient to forget, that is why forgetting is taboo and therefore that refrain never ends, it must never end because that past, true but above all false, must never pass.