Woofer Tweeter by Sally Tatnall

The theory that follows is the result of 18 years of participation in and observation of a feminist-lesbian community.  It is born of an attempt to understand what has happened to the energy of the women’s movement that generated structures to support women in their journey toward power. What happened to the visionary attempts to build a community outside of the patriarchy? After 18 years of radical feminist/lesbian activism why aren’t things more different than this? We believe that women still do not have a working definition of power because the patriarchy has so thoroughly conditioned us to direct all available energy into a closed circuit dynamic. This conditioning turns our sense of passion about our dreams and visions, which we call. arousal, into excitation and excitation pushes us to sex behavior.

Sex behavior is very strictly defined by the limiting stimulus-response closed circuit dynamic, which grounds the energy that would have been available to actualize our vision. We think the link between. excitation -and sexual stimulus response forms the model for all stimulus-response behaviors and that all stimulus response behaviors divert energy from what we might create as a community of women. Our theory exists because we believe in the unlimited power of women and want to see it shaping all of our connections.

Our paper exists as an attempt to pull yet another thread from the tapestry of powerlessness we are all unravelling. We believe that power is a knowing of total self-capability and connection to all, it is the ability to direct one’s own life, the ability to transform thought and desire into action. A powerful woman is a Wild Woman, undomesticated and not amenable to control. A Wild Woman recognizes the energy of arousal as a clear connection to passion and creativity and power.

The Arousal She· had been dreaming, or thought she had been dreaming because there was nothing like it that she knew of–and yet it was so very clear. Like the crystals that were in the great cave of knowing. She could see image/creation with pointed accuracy and color.  And this was not the first time she had this dream. It had first come to her when she was planting with the other women. They had been chanting as they walked along the rows of turned over earth, spreading the seeds that would grow to nurture the community. She looked off in the distance and saw a line of trees, tall, dark leafy, branching out and giving shade. It was odd because she knew there were no trees there, though there was great desire for them.

They had journeyed to barren country. But why was she seeing them now? Was it time to bring trees to this land? The idea startled her. Was this something they could focus the power on? She got up and felt the energy of the idea moving thru her. No question, no criticism, only a heightened state of possibility, an experience of arousal. She knew she was with her creative intention, her true desire, and she began to walk toward the cave. As she walked, she saw other women, moving quietly yet purposefully toward this ancient ritual space of knowing. Once the women had gathered they began the chant that focused their vision. As the focus grew and became clearer, she could see an image of trees hovering just in front of her. Her sense of arousal increased.  She realized they had all chosen a common thought and were applying their collective power. The chanting grew to support the vision they held. She knew it was possible and that the forest was real . Soon the chant softened and in the same way they had gathered to focus their power, they left the great cave of knowing and sang while they walked and  returned to their sleeping quarters. The next morning she went outside to see and there, growing out of this barren ground were trees of all kinds in many stages of youth and maturity. She smiled and stood near a beautiful oak experiencing their connection and honoring the sacred power of women.

The identifiable characteristic of the sexual dynamic is the presence of stimulating behaviors that expect a response and responsive behaviors that expect a stimulus. We carry this model of sexual expectation everywhere and have learned to measure success and so-called power by how effective we are at stimulating others or responding to others. These behaviors, form the s-r dynamic which directs the energy of arousal and creativity, hence power, to the energy of excitation and sex, hence control. We believe that by identifying this dynamic and our participation in it, we can learn to step out, disengage, and access the energy of arousal which we think is the root of our collective power.

The Orgasm She had been carefully taught by her grandmother how to ground her arousal when there was no focus for her creative desire. She had been shown the ritual movement with the earth as she released the energy and it flowed back to the mother. She knew how dangerous it could be for her aroused energy to go undirected and unfocused. Once she had fallen from a great boulder in firefly field because she had forgotten the ritual and had felt so scattered. One year as the women gathered, there were strangers present. These strangers watched the women dance, chant, and focus their vision. They watched the power of creation and the returning of the energy to the earth. Frightened by the energy focusing process, they learned the part that would end it, the part that returned the energy to the earth, the grounding part.

Each time the women gathered, the strangers began to distract them from focusing on their vision to grounding the energy that they raised .. It wasn’t long before the energy was grounded before the intention or vision had formed and the women began to lose sight of why they gathered at all. Energy continued to raise inside of them, but they learned fear from the strangers and sought to ground the energy so quickly that connection to the part of the process of creation and manifestation was lost to consciousness.

As soon as power was linked to orgasm, the separation began and soon the strangers were seen as the source of desire. Now, all that remains is the seed of power, the initial energy of arousal. When it begins to move deep inside, fear of power moves us to ground the energy. The w-t theory states that at the moment of arousal, energy is raised, and as soon as it is raised, it is misdirected from arousal, into excitation. The w-t theory uses the stereophonic sound technology as a model to illustrate the duality of the behavioral choices that are available to us in the patriarchal institution of sex. The anatomy of sound technology is as follows. No matter where in a room a sound occurs a microphone can pick up that sound and channel it into the woofer-tweeter chamber. The sound is then split and sent along the two and seemingly divergent avenues of woofer and tweeter to emerge as a sound that represents the original but clearly maintains audio separation of what is woofer and what is tweeter. The sound is pleasing to listen to, is clear, can be played softly or loudly, can be manipulated with separate knobs to enhance one or subdue the other or sound more like one than the other. It is a sound that began as one, has been separated into two sounds that we are now conditioned to hear as the original sound but it is not the original sound. Likewise, at the point of arousal the microphone-like excitation sucks up the energy raised and feeds it to the patriarchal sexual stimulus-response chamber, thereby keeping its closed circuitry in place. If we were to recognize this conditioning, at the point of arousal, we would have a real choice about power. This movement from arousal and power to excitation and sex we believe is visible in the lives of women today. Why is it that very successful, community-oriented women who demonstrate creativity and production, disappear after getting involved with a lover? Why do projects born of creative thought and action seem to foster fighting among the women who work on them? The woofer-tweeter theory asserts that the original arousal is pulled into the conditioned excitation where the sex stimulus- response closed system prevails. This pattern of excitation evoking sex expectation becomes the model for all stimulus-response behaviors. Whenever the loudest complaint gets our attention, time and energy, we are in stimulus-response and we are doing sex. Whenever we produce the loudest complaint, we are intending to bring another into stimulus-response, and we are doing sex. When we are doing sex we are calling another into excitation or responding with our own excitation. Whenever we withhold approval until another displays a desired behavior, we are in stimulus-response and we are doing sex. And when we are doing sex, we require approval for our behaviors and  one other displays a desired behavior. We suggest that the entire external approval, reward and punishment system of the patriarchy IS based In the sexual stimulus-response dynamic. When sex is not possible as an expression of the stimulus-response dynamic, then other behavioral ·pairs are often substituted. Compulsive production or complaining or appeasement, and bickering and fighting are a few. Whether the result is orgasm or argument, the process was excitation to stimulus/-response, a process we suggest is connected to dominance and submission. Sexual conditioning is so thorough that those particularly well-conditioned to stimulator behaviors that they are most likely will express those and those who have been conditioned as responders carry another set of behaviors that they are most likely  to express. We have observed collected and categorized these as woofer and tweeter behaviors. We say that woofer behaviors are dominant. Tweeter behaviors are responsive, and because they give over or yield to a stimulus, they are submissive. We suggest that the completed stimulus-response circuit be viewed as dominance and submission. We suggest that it is not helpful to view the stimulator as separate from the responder. Both control the dynamic and it is the dynamic that is oppressive to women. It is the dynamic that is promoted by the patriarchy. It is the dynamic we must unlearn. Females, males, homosexuals, heterosexuals and lesbians all display woofer and tweeter behaviors. If two people have coupled together because sex initially defined them as a couple, then there are woofer and tweeter behaviors being expressed by the two in the stimulus-response dynamic. We believe that this is the only option available to us in the sex relationship. It is patriarchal conditioning that determines the ease with which arousal becomes excitation and keeps the sex response in the form of woofer-tweeter behaviors as the structure for all patriarchal control. Sex/stimulus-response is not creative, it is not power, it is not Wild Woman. Since we cannot be expressing w-t behaviors and be Wild Woman at the same time, we believe that we are sometimes Wild Women and sometimes woman as is defined and controlled by the patriarchy. Our task becomes one of trying to increase the frequency of time that Wild Woman emerges. We believe that attention to this theory will evoke the true power of women in community. To do this we must first come to understand for ourselves the _difference between arousal and excitation, when we are powerful and when we are in the woofer- tweeter box. What are the real threats to the sexual stimulus-response, dominant/submissive patriarchal world? They are arousal, power, and creativity. They are Wild Women.

–Sally Tatnall

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