Posts tagged Violence against women

Privilege and patriarchy

<p>Hey Marja,</p>

<p>Thanks for this. I’m sorry I’m late to the discussion. A couple of halting suggestions.</p>

<blockquote><p>Does patriarchy even exist any more? Men die sooner. Men get imprisoned more often.</p></blockquote>

<p>I guess this depends on what group of phenomena “patriarchy” is supposed to be encompassing. The strand of radical feminism I’ve always identified with has seen patriarchy as rooted primarily in men’s violence against women, and especially the sexualized violence of rape, wife-beating, abortion laws, etc. As much has been done to challenge all of these, they are still everywhere and still largely committed with impunity, and I think as long as, e.g., men are raping 1 out of every 4 women, and this has systemic effects on constraining women’s behavior and gender expression, patriarchy as I understand it is still in place.</p>

<p>It’s true that men get imprisoned more often, but as far as I know that’s always been true, as long as there have been prisons. Prison is oppression, but at present it’s almost exclusively form of oppression that some men inflict on other men. (Maybe that will change as more women become police, prison-guards, and political office-holders, but at present all those are still predominantly the province of states-men.) And I think the major causes of, e.g., men’s shorter life expectancies (labor conditions under state capitalism, violence among men, etc.) are also examples of things men do to other men. But hasn’t patriarchy, as a hierarchical structure, has always included internal hierarchy among the patriarchs, and intersected with cross-cutting forms of oppression?</p>

<blockquote><p>Is privilege the best way of thinking about it?</p></blockquote>

<p>I’m inclined to doubt it. But I’m increasingly uncertain that “privilege” is the best way of thinking about much of anything; I’m not sure if we have the same reasons for worrying in this case. I’m worried because I’m worried about how far the all-encompassing use of “privilege” to explain has shifted the focus from what oppressors do to what oppressors have. Of course there were reasons for that — unpacking invisible knapsacks and making privileged people aware of the limitations of their own standpoint and all that — but what we have now is a basically epistemological approach (about becoming aware of, and owning, how much “privilege” you do or don’t have) to the micropolitics of one-to-one or one-to-many power-relationships — an approach which provided a handy conceptual tool for the analysis and criticism of individual beliefs, attitudes, conduct, epistemic standpoints, etc. — but which seems to have been wrenched out of that context and awkwardly repurposed into an all-encompassing framework for viewing all forms of oppression, exploitation, bigotry, ignorance, alienation, interpersonal friction, or abusive behavior. I do think that one effect of this is that it has proved really, extremely awkward for any attempt to talk about power relationships that involve more than two sides, and hence also for horizontal, diagonal, or intersectional power (such as the hierarchies of power among men under male supremacy, for example; or the way in which “cis” women, trans women, trans men, gay men, genderqueer folks, children, etc. are all oppressed — but differently oppressed, in different directions, by patriarchal violence).</p>

<p>Everything else is really interesting and important; I just wish I had something more articulate to say about it.</p>

Re: Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

GT 2008-05-16: Women and the Invisible Fist, in which I try to offer a close reading and sympathetic reconstruction of Susan Brownmiller’s “Myrmidon theory” of stranger-rape (as presented in Against Our Will, and as against the crude but common misrepresentation of her views as some kind of conspiracy theory rather than the radical analysis of sex-class that they are), consider how the specific case illustrates important nuances that need to be incorporated into libertarian and anarchist theories of spontaneous order, and argue that considering the Myrmidon theory and the (nuanced version of the) concept of spontaneous order in light of each other helps illustrate how key parts of radical feminist and anarchist analysis can benefit from and enrich each other’s understanding of social and political power.

GT 2008-05-20: Cops are here to protect you. (#5), in which Officer Christopher Damonte, 250 pound hired thug for the city of San Francisco, keeps public order by screaming at a couple of “suspect” women, who may have been guilty of being drunk in public and perhaps also intent to commit jaywalking in the first degree, and then, when one of them — Kelly Medora, a 118 pound preschool teacher — had the temerity to ask for his name and suggest that his conduct might be out of line, proceeds to call in his posse, arrests her, and wrenches her arm behind her back, breaking one of her bones “with an audible crack.” The city’s lawyer says that “Damonte used an approved method of holding her arm, but she struggled. Then ‘in an effort to escape,’ she squatted down and ‘broke her own arm.'” The city government decided to pay out a settlement of $235,000 to Medora, while Damonte faces, at worst, “potential” administrative discipline from fellow cops — meaning that this violent, domineering control freak of a man will never face any legal consequences for this heinous assault and battery, except possibly a verbal reprimand, a forced vacation from work, or at the very worst losing his job — while a bunch of innocent San Francisco taxpayers, who had nothing to do with it, will get sent the bill for his violent rages.

GT 2008-05-14: Voyage of the S. S. St. Louis, in which I consider the ways in which anti-immigrant border laws condemn innocent people to misery, mutilation or death, in the name of segregating world population by nationality or in the name of an illusory need for control. Particularly when the victims of violence are women and when (therefore) the abuse and terror inflicted on them is categorized as a “personal” or “cultural” but not a “political” problem by the malestream opinions of a bureaucracy legally entitled to pick and choose who does and who does not count as Officially Persecuted for the purposes of the United States federal government.

Re: Shameless self-promotion Sunday

GT 2008-05-10: Rapists in Uniform #3: Six women have come forward in the past four months about being subjected to unnecessary and humiliating strip searches at the hands of the Stark County, Ohio sheriff’s department. The most recent, Elizabeth was coerced into removing her clothes even though she never said she was suicidal, and left locked in her cell, naked, for eight hours. She’s now afraid to give her last name or show her face in press interviews, because she’s afraid of retaliation against herself or her family for speaking out.

Sheriff Tim Swanson says it was all done By The Book, which is apparently supposed to mean that it was O.K. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Stark County sheriff’s deputies are repeatedly using strip searches as a form of retaliation, to control and punish women they find uppity, unruly, or otherwise troublesome, under color of the law, and then, to crown all, to insult their victims by saying they did it all For Her Own Good.

Re: AU Alert used to quell rumor mill

A young woman is shot to death and her car is gutted and set on fire in a campus parking lot. This is not considered reason enough to conclude there’s enough of an “immediate threat” to the campus community to active AU Alert.

Students find out the next day and start to talk about what happened amongst themselves. These rumors, which may affect the University’s P.R. with parents and alumni, are considered reason enough to conclude that there’s an immediate threat to the campus community to activate AU Alert.

And that right there tells you all that you need to know about the Auburn University senior administration’s attitude towards campus safety and violence against women in the Auburn “campus community.”

-AU graduate, class of ’03

Re: Radical Feminism and Ron Paul

Keith wrote: “Also when I read that radical feminist literature the thought that kept going though my head was how similar it was to some KKK propaganda I had seen before. I wonder if you would be so quick to excuse pictures of people with grotesquely large lips being lynched.”

White supremacist caricatures of black men and women were forms of propaganda by the supporters and perpetrators of an actually existing pervasive system of violence (lynch law under white supremacy) that killed, maimed, and terrorized thousands of innocent people. Their purpose was to support and reinforce that system of violent domination in the name of race privilege.

Radical feminist caricatures of men are a response by the VICTIMS of an actually existing pervasive system of violence (male violence against women) that kills, maims, rapes, and otherwise terrorizes millions of innocent women. Their purpose is to PROTEST and UNDERMINE that violence in the name of sex equality.

This facile attempt to equate the two, while completely ignoring their contrary relationships to a context of actually existing violent domination, is grotesque. It also completely glosses over what should be a central issue for libertarians — whether the violence depicted is aggressive, or a defense against prior aggression.

Re: Radical Feminism and Ron Paul

You wrote: “The question is are we going to be concerned about winning a philosophical argument or are we going to be concerned about some American soldier in Iraq being blown up by a roadside bomb in 2010?”

Dude, this is a ridiculous cheap shot and you know it. I could just as easily go around telling those, such as Gordon, who attempt to give philosophical defenses of voting for Ron Paul, “The question is are we going to be concerned about winning a philosophical argument or are we going to be concerned about some woman dying in a back alley in 2010?” or “The question is are we going to be concerned about winning a philosophical argument or are we going to be concerned about some immigrant dying of dehydration in the Arizona desert in 2010?” Your argument cuts as much ice as either of these, which is to say, none at all. All the parties to this debate are arguing over issues that have real and grave human consequences in the near term.

As for radical feminist literature and action, Roderick and I discuss that at length in our essay, so it would be more productive to engage with what we said there. For what it’s worth, there’s nothing inherently unlibertarian about broad sexual harassment policies, free daycare or employer paid maternity leave (or, what radical feminists are more likely to advocate, radical transformation of the economy away from an employer-employee model and towards ownership of the means of production by working women and men). These ideas may be wise or foolish for other reasons, but libertarianism as such only comes up when we turn to the question of whether these kind of measures are to be attained through voluntary means or by means of the State. As Roderick and I explain in the essay, while there are many radical feminists who advocate State action, there are many others who distrust State action for practical reasons or even reject it entirely on principle.

You write: “I also recall prominent radical feminists arguing that sex between a man and a woman in marriage was a form of rape.”

Can you specify which radical feminist(s) you’re referring to and where she or they say this? (If you’re referring to Andrea Dworkin’s discussion of martial rape laws in Right-Wing Women, that’s not actually an accurate statement of her conclusion, but in any case you should know that even if it were, she was discussing the ramifications of a legal context has mercifully ceased to exist since the book was written.)

As for the radical feminist menace to the safety of men’s wing-wangs, the legitimacy of violence depends on whether it is aggressive or defensive. Given the radical feminist emphasis on the prevalence of violence against women, I’d suggest that even if that talk were meant literally rather than rhetorically, that wouldn’t necessarily be an objection to it.

Re: Shameless self-promotion Sunday

GT 2007-11-16: Urban homesteading, on how city governments force poor people into the rental economy against their will, and the people-power actions that can be employed to resist this form of government-backed exploitation.

GT 2007-11-25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.