Someone wondered the other day why I would ever want to identify as an individualist. Unfortunately, “individualism” is a term that today is very misunderstood and sometimes maligned. So what does it mean to me to be an individualist anarchist?
It means that:
Like Benjamin Tucker, I advocate artisanal socialism. I believe in the law of equal liberty, that “interest is theft, rent robbery, and profit only another name for plunder.”
Like Federica Montseny, I advocate the liberation of women in a world dominated by men, and believe that the “emancipation of women would lead to a quicker realization of the social revolution.”
Like Emile Armand, I stand for the right of those whose sexuality and gender identification is outside the established norm to pursue love and happiness in their own way free from the oppression of the state and society.
Like Joseph Labadie, I stand for Labor against capitalist domination and advocate social change through trade and industrial unionism.
Like Enrico Arrigoni, I think there’s a time when you try to pop Fidel Castro, just because he fucked with your friends. There’s a time to say, ‘fuck it, I’m a keep throwin’ rocks!’ And there’s a time when you stroll in like ya own the place, even though you don’t have your “papers”, because you can.
Like Max Stirner, I believe that people only have as much liberty as they are willing to take.
Like Han Ryner, I am an anti-racist, believing that race is “a dangerous idol”, “…especially when it is allied to religion”.
Like Maria Lacerda De Moura, I am an anti-militarist.
My main reason for rejecting state socialism is, as Miguel Giménez Igualada said, “[t]hat which we call capitalism is not something else but a product of the State, within which the only thing that is being pushed forward is profit, good or badly acquired. And so to fight against capitalism is a pointless task, since be it State Capitalism or Enterprise capitalism, as long as Government exists, exploiting capital will exist. The fight, but of consciousness, is against the State.”
Echoing Adeline Champney, I ask, “For who is society but myself and yourself and all selves? And what is human joy but my joy and your joy and the joy of each? And every joy of mine and every joy of yours and every joy that you or I can bring to any, all are so much added joy in the world. For how shall humanity rejoice while you and I are sad? ”
Like Rachel Campbell, I don’t believe in state marriage.
Like Voltairine De Cleyre, “Sometimes I dream of this social change. I get a streak of faith in Evolution, and the good in man. I paint a gradual slipping out of the now, to that beautiful then, where there are neither kings, presidents, landlords, national bankers, stockbrokers, railroad magnates, patent right monopolists, or tax and title collectors; …”
Like Luigi Galleani, I see communism as the final fulfillment of individualism.
And like the countless individualists of yesterday and today, who are out there practicing individual reclamation, smoking pot, breaking “dress codes”, black-blocking, dodging the draft, squatting, hoboing, going topless at the beach as a post-op transwoman, and otherwise thumbing their nose at “The Man”, I know that individual acts of disobedience create political instability, which in turn creates pressure for social change.
That’s what it means to be an individualist.
Don’t hate, appreciate.
I have a feeling a lot of people won’t like this, but I hope it opens up dialogue.
Rape denial is common in a rape culture. Perpetrators are often aided by silence or denial. The victim is kept in hir place by siding with the perpetrator. We side with the perpetrator directly or indirectly. Silence is easy because we do not address the difficult situation of rape. It is a way to side with the perpetrator. Nothing benefits the perpetrator more than silence. Silence is empowering for the perpetrator. It allows the perpetrator to victimize while society responds as if it is not happening.
In the case of Junian Assange I have found that I want this man to be the hero. I am excited when I see what he does and I have chosen to remain silent and not to address the issue of rape that is being brought up. I have chosen the easy path that empowers the rapist. I find that I quickly dismiss any accusations pointing to the state as a villain. I find that I am quick to dismiss the charge of rape. I realize that if this were a senator or a president I would be the first to crucify them and jump on with attacking them and siding with the victim, but when it is someone I respect I have turned a blind eye.
Silence is only one way we empower the perpetrator. The other is outright defending the actions of the perpetrator or denying the claims of rape which is defense. I am quick to side with short denials and have not chosen to further challenge them. I now see that my choice is problematic. We are quick to throw out the claims completely. I see that I am also still being hesitant to claim Assange is a rapist because my resistance is strong in this. All of this is problematic. It all reflects the reality of how we empower rapists and support a rape culture.
Many of us anarchists, socialists, libertarians and radical politicos seem to be responding in a text book manner to rape in this case. We seem to not want to hold someone accountable and we seem to be quick to deny any wrong doing. We are taking the easy way out and avoiding the difficult path that we need to be walking. This needs to be challenged and we need to really look at this much more seriously than we have.
It was easier for us all to say that he’s being persecuted by the state. In the long run we have chosen to not go down the path of looking at sexual assault. I think it’s time we re-examined how we are responding to this situation.
Original Blogpost Here.
The term “objectification” has been used variably by different people. The primary exemplary group that has used the term are gender feminists. However, even within this group it has been used in differing conflicting contexts. There are, of course, the anti-pornography feminists who have demonized porn due to its “objectification” of the female sex. By anti-porn feminists, I of course, refer to feminists against porn on a legal or State-regulatory level (although my criticisms here may apply to feminists who are anti-porn in other cultural senses or forms). In general, forms of sex or sexualization are increasingly being linked, amongst such anti-pornography feminists, with “objectification”; this is particularly blatant when pornography is denied on a broad streak. Hence, it seems to me that anti-porn feminists, while well-intended (if I give them any compliment), end up narrowing the acceptability of female sexuality back to the traditional heteromonoamorous gender constructs.
Thus, while perhaps trying to help women, it seems anti-porn feminists are busier handing out sexual admonitions against certain expressions of female sexuality while turning a blind eye to male sexuality. And even a critique of male sexuality in turn would affect the boundaries of female sexuality as well, since heterosexual sexual expression is interdependent. What we want to do isn’t set boundaries on either sex, as that would simply be reinforcing the concept of gender. We want to destroy social boundaries and liberate both; this liberation in turn means they receive autonomy in determining their own boundaries, and have those boundaries respected in their social network. The same applies to those feminists who take an anti-prostitution stance. Of course, we also cannot ignore the exploitation that occurs or may occur in the respective industries, but these are sociopolitical contingencies to commercial sex, that are due to socioeconomic differences (which is where these gender constructs really do get their hegemony, hence the origin of patriarchy). The State is a male institution, and historical capitalism has also been, consequently, a male institution.
But the purpose of this post isn’t just to discuss either of the two sex industries, or to discuss the sex industry as-it-is and the sex industry as-it-could-be (or the extent of its existence if the exploitation ceases), but to ask one pivotal question that must be addressed throughout feminist discourse:
What is “Objectification”?
The simple, modern answer often received if one asks this question is that objectification is the act of turning someone into an object (“bringing them down to the level of an object”), or otherwise the treatment of someone as an object. This definition does not only remain ambiguous and vague, but is problematic in general even when understood as it is given. Thus, it requires an improvement.
Advertisement is notorious for pushing racist, sexist, heterosexist and oppressive stereotypes. Marginalization and oppression of a people are both reflected and reinforced in the popular media of the day.
These are not just an exception. Since I have gone quite a few years without a television I have grown more sensitive to the images and messages. I find that every time I turn on a T.V. or open a magazine I find sexist, racist, homophobic and ethnocentric images everywhere reflecting a sick society and perpetuating the illness.
Interview in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday Magazine, October 24, 1897 via The Emma Goldman Papers
“What does anarchy hold out to me–a woman?”
“More to woman than to anyone else–everything which she has not–freedom and equality.”
Quickly, earnestly Emma Goldman, the priestess of anarchy, exiled from Russia, feared by police, and now a guest of St. Louis Anarchists,1 gave this answer to my question.
I found her at No. 1722 Oregon avenue, an old-style two-story brick house, the home of a sympathizer2–not a relative as has been stated.
I was received by a good-natured, portly German woman, and taken back to a typical German dining-room–everything clean and neat as soap and water could make them. After carefully dusting a chair for me with her apron, she took my name back to the bold little free-thinker. I was welcome. I found Emma Goldman sipper her coffee and partaking of bread and jelly, as her morning’s repast. She was neatly clad in a percale shirt waist and skirt, with white collar and cuffs, her feet encased in a loose pair of cloth slippers. She doesn’t look like a Russian Nihilist who will be sent to Siberia if she ever crosses the frontier of her native land.
“Do you believe in marriage?” I asked.
“I do not,” amswered the fair little Anarchist, as promptly as before. “I believe that when two people love each other that no judge, minister, or court, or body of people, have anything to do with it. They themselves are the ones to determine the relations which they shall hold with one another. When that relation becomes irksome to either party, or one of the parties, then it can be as quietly terminated as it was formed.”
Miss Goldman gave a little nod of her head to emphasize her words, and quite a pretty head it was, crowned with soft brown heair, combed with a bang and brushed to one side. Her eyes are the honest blue, her complexion clear and white. Her nose though rather broad and of a Teutonic type, was well formed. She is short of stature, with a well-rounded figure. Her whole type is more German than Russian. The only serious physical failing that she has is in her eyes. She is so extremely nearsighted that with glasses she can scarcely distinguish print.
“The alliance should be formed,” she continued, “not as it is now, to give the woman a support and home, but because the love is there, and that state of affairs can only be brought about by an internal revolution, in short, Anarchy.”
She said this as calmly as though she had just expressed an ordinary every-day fact, but the glitter in her eyes showed the “internal revolutions” already at work in her busy brain.
What does Anarchy promise woman?”
It holds everything for woman—freedom, equality–everything that woman has not now.”
“Isn’t woman free?”
“Free! She is the slave of her husband and her children. She should take her part in the business world the same as the man; she should be his equal before the world, as she is in the reality. She is as capable as he, but when she labors she gets less wages. Why? Because she wears skirts instead of trousers.”
“But what is to become of the ideal home life, and all that now surrounds the mother, according to a man’s idea?”
“Ideal home life, indeed! The woman, instead of being the household queen, told about in stroy books, is the servant, the mistress, and the slave of both husband and children. She loses her own individuality entirely, even her name she is not allowed to keep. She is the mistress of John Brown or the mistress of Tom Jones; she is that and nothing else. That is the way I think of her.”
Miss Goldman has a pleasant accent. She rolls her r’s and changes her r’s into v’s and vice-versa, with a truly Russian pronunciation. She gesticulates a great deal. When she becomes exited her hands and feet and shoulders all help to illustrate her meanings.
What would you do with the children of the Anarchistic era?”
“The children would be provided with common homes, big boarding schools, where they will be properly cared for and educated and in every way as good, and in most cases, better care than they would receive in their own homes. Very few mothers know how to take proper care of their children, anyway. It is a science only a very few have learned.”
“But the women that desire a home life and the care of their own children, the domestic woman, what of her?”
Oh, of course, the women that desire could keep their children home and confine themselves as strictly as domestic duties as they desired. But it would give those women who desire something broader, a chance to attain any height they desired. With no poor, and no capitalists, and one common purse, this earth will afford the heaven that the Christians are looking for in another world.”
She gazed contemplatively in the bottom of the empty coffee cup, as though she saw in imagination the ideal State, already an actuality.
“Who will take care of the children?” I asked, breaking in upon her reverie.
“Every one,” she answered, “has tastes and qualifications suiting them to some occupation. I am a trained nurse. I like to care of the sick. So it will be with some women. They will want to care for and teach the children.”
“Won’t the children lose their love for their parents and feel the lack of their companionship?” A thought of the affectionate little darlings being relegated to a sort of orhan asylum crossed my mind.
“The parents will have the same opportunities of gaining their confidences and affections as they have now. They can spend just as much time there as they please of have tehm with them just as often as desired. They will be the children of love–healthy, strong-minded–and not as now, in most cases, born of hate and domestic dissensions.”
“What do you call love?”
“When a man or a woman finds some quality or qualities in another that they admire and has an overweening desire to please that person, even to the sacrificing of personal feeling; when there is that subtle something drawing them together, that those who love recognize, and feel it in the inmost fiber of their being, then I call that love.” She finished speaking and her face was suffused with a rosy blush.
“Can a person love more than one at a time?”
“I don’t see why not–if they find the same lovable qualities in several persons. What should prevent one loving the same things in all of them?”
“If we cease to love the man or woman and find some one else, as I said before, we talk it over and quietly change the mode of living. The private affairs of the family need not then be talked over in the courts and become public property. No one can control the affections, therefore there should be no jealousies.
“Heartaches? Oh, yes,” she said, sadly, “but not hatred because he or she has tired of the relations. The human race will always have heartaches as long as the heart beats in the breast.
“My religion,” she laughingly repeated. “I was of the Hebrew faith when a girl–you know I am a Jewess–but now I am an atheist. No one has been able to prove either the insipiration of the Bible or the existence of a God to my satisfaction. I believe in no hereafter except the hereafter that is found by the physical matter existing in the human body. I think that lives again in some other form, and I don’t think that anything once created over is lost–it goes on and on in first one shape, then another. There is no such thing as a soul–it is all the physical matter.”
Pretty Miss Goldman finished speaking, and a delicate flush mounted to her cheek as I asked her if she intended to marry.
“No; I don’t believe in marriage for others, and I certainly should not preach one thing and practice another.”
She sat in an easy attitude with one leg crossed over the other. She is in every sense a womanly looking woman, with masculine mind and courage.
She laughed as she said there were fifty police at her lecture on Wednesday night, and she added, “If there had been a bomb thrown I surely would have been blamed for it.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday Magazine, 24 October 1897, p. 9; includes three sketches of Goldman based on “photographs taken by the Sunday Post-Dispatch photographer for whome Miss Goldman posed.” Reprinted witb permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
1 EG’s eight days in St. Louis, beginning 16 October 1897, were extensively covered by the local press and drew the keen interest of the authorities. When it was erroneously reported that she planned to speak at an open-air meeting on 19 October in front of the city’s statue of President Ulysses Grant, Mayor Ziegenheim declared such a gathering illegal and ordered police to bar any attempt. Simulatenously, the city’s House of Delegates passed a resolution approving the actions of the mayor and the police department in stifling the “un-American” and “unpatriotic” teachings of a “notorious Anarchist.” Under police surveillance, EG spoke the next night at Walhalla Hall to an overflow audience of hundreds. So successful were her meetings in St. Louis that her stay there the following year garnered no coverage at all since, according to Solidarity: “the dailies found out they were helping the Anarchists in their propaganda.” See St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 20 October 1897, EGP, reel 47; and Solidarity, 1 May 1898, p. 4.
2 EG stayed at the home of August Sendlein, an anarchist and cheesemaker.
“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group”
Through work to bring materials from women’s studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men’s unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to women’s statues, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can’t or won’t support the idea of lessening men’s. Denials that amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages that men gain from women’s disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened, or ended.
Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of while privilege that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.
I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.
Describing white privilege makes one newly accountable. As we in women’s studies work to reveal male privilege and ask men to give up some of their power, so one who writes about having white privilege must ask, “having described it, what will I do to lessen or end it?”
After I realized the extent to which men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive. I began to understand why we are just seen as oppressive, even when we don’t see ourselves that way. I began to count the ways in which I enjoy unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.
My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow “them” to be more like “us.”
I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions.
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
16. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.
17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.
25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.
29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.
30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.
33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.
44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.
45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.
49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.
50. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.
Elusive and fugitive
I repeatedly forgot each of the realizations on this list until I wrote it down. For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one’s life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.
In unpacking this invisible knapsack of white privilege, I have listed conditions of daily experience that I once took for granted. Nor did I think of any of these perquisites as bad for the holder. I now think that we need a more finely differentiated taxonomy of privilege, for some of these varieties are only what one would want for everyone in a just society, and others give license to be ignorant, oblivious, arrogant, and destructive.
I see a pattern running through the matrix of white privilege, a patter of assumptions that were passed on to me as a white person. There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turn, and I was among those who could control the turf. My skin color was an asset for any move I was educated to want to make. I could think of myself as belonging in major ways and of making social systems work for me. I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms. Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely.
In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color.
For this reason, the word “privilege” now seems to me misleading. We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work systematically to over empower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one’s race or sex.
One morning, when I was in eighth grade, I got dressed for school and went outside to wait for my father to drive me. I was wearing a long knit skirt, sweater, and some boots. My outfit would have met the requirements for an orthodox family temple outing. But when my father walked out the door and saw me, he told me I looked like a slut. I was devastated. More than that, I was baffled.
You have to understand that, when I was a kid, my father and I were as close as two people could be. There was nobody on earth that I would rather have spent time with. My father wasn’t some uber-conservative, misogynist douchebag. He was the guy who always made me feel like my opinion was important. He was the one who made me believe that there was nothing I could not do.
There was nothing slutty about what I was wearing (if you believe in that sort of thing). It wasn’t about that. And at some level I knew that. But I still didn’t quite get what the hell was going on. All I knew was that my father’s attitude toward me changed. In fact, all men’s and women’s attitudes toward me changed. One day I was playing with barbies and the next day grown men on the street were trying to fuck me. The really mindboggling part was that somehow their desire was my fault. Somehow that made me dirty and wrong. There was some kind of code that I was missing.
One of my friends at the time had the misfortune of having huge boobs. She would spend hours in a store trying to find exactly the right t-shirt. If it was too big, she would look fat. If it was too tight or the neck was too low, then she would look like a slut. In the hours that she spent trying to find a shirt that fell just perfectly on the spectrum between fat slob and dirty whore, she could have written a novel.
It really didn’t matter if my friend found that perfectly chaste t-shirt. Because if something had happened to her, it would still have been her fault. If she was wearing a t-shirt, someone would say she should have been wearing a turtleneck. If she was wearing a turtleneck, someone would say that she should have been wearing a hijab. If she was wearing a hijab, someone would say the attack was due to some errant hair.
The idea that girls and women are in some way responsible for other people’s action, for the sometimes truly awful things that people want to do to them, is pervasive. It is so pervasive that, when an eleven year old girl was gang raped, the first reaction was to examine her actions. Really? Is there something that an eleven year old can do to bring something like that on herself? What kind of society even lets that thought pass through their heads?
My teen-aged reaction to this bullshit (and a whole lot of other bullshit) was a big, punk rock Fuck You. I was not reading Betty Friedan. I did not have deep thoughts about how all of my personal mini-tragedies fit into a larger context. I knew that it hurt. I knew that trying to conform to social expectations would make me lose my fucking mind. I knew that, if I wanted to survive my teen years, I was going to have to give everyone the finger.
So I did. It didn’t always work out. Sometimes I did some really self destructive shit. I spent way to much time acting in opposition to things and to people. I did not understand that, when you are acting in opposition to people, you are still letting them define you. But it was the road I needed to take.
I’m boring you with this tween years confessional because a couple of people have inquired about my participation in the upcoming DC Slutwalk. For those of you who have been on Mars for the last few weeks, there was an incident in Toronto that set off a firestorm.
“You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here,” the officer said, according to Hoffman. “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
Women in Toronto got pissed. They decided to give that cop, and all the others like him, a big punk rock Fuck You. So the slutwalk was born. And women all over the world have been marching – sometimes scantily clad, sometimes not. Tiara marched with a sign that said,
This is what I wore when I was raped. I still did not ask for it
I think Katherine Feeney and Suzanne Moore were a bit like me as kids. They get the riot grrl attitude behind the slutwalks. But lots of other people don’t like the slutwalks at all. Some people just don’t get the in your face fuckyouedness. Some people think that victim blaming really isn’t a problem anymore. Some think the word “slut” can’t be reclaimed. Some say the slutwalkers are just ruining things for real feminists. There are those who say it is too feminist and those who say it is not feminist enough. Some people think that it isn’t very sophisticated, only showing one side of the madonna/whore dichotomy. Still others say it is racist.
Every day that I open my blog reader there are more articles on the slutwalks. And I was going to respond to the criticisms. I was going to write about how some people just don’t get the attitude. I was going to write about how things don’t always have to be so fucking intellectual. I was going to write about how I thought some of the criticisms were valid. But then I thought….Meh.
The truth is that I am going to participate in the slutwalk because my inner fifteen year old thinks it is …like….totally….fucking… awesome. That’s it. I’m not going to intellectualize it or make excuses for its shortcomings. I’m not going to pretend that it is inclusive or that it is going to solve anything. I don’t believe that suddenly everyone is going to understand how debilitating it can be to be on the receiving end of that hate.
One thing that is certain is that we are talking about this issue in a huge way. I think that is a good thing. I wish that there had been a big public discussion like this when I was a teen. Maybe it would have helped me. Maybe I would have put two and two together a little sooner. Maybe I would have seen how scared shitless and emotionally ill-equipped my father was. Maybe he and I would have found a way to heal our relationship before he died, because we would have understood that what was going on between us was much bigger than just us.
Or maybe not. All I know is that me and my inner fifteen year old are going to put on a completely inappropriate outfit and give a big, cathartic Fuck You to a lot of clueless people. And it is going to feel good.
At what point does an airport search step over the line?
How about when they start going through your checks, and the police call your husband, suspicious you were clearing out the bank account?
That’s the complaint leveled by Kathy Parker, a 43-year-old Elkton, Md., woman, who was flying out of Philadelphia International Airport on Aug. 8.
Read the entire article here. (Full disclosure: This goes to a blog that has reprinted the original article from the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Inky regularly pulls down old articles, so it may not be intact if you are viewing this post in a few months.)
In a nutshell, Parker takes regular flights from PHL down to Charlotte, NC for work. When she went through airport security at PHL, she was subjected to an incredibly thorough search of her luggage. Some highlights of the search are quoted below:
“Everything in my purse was out, including my wallet and my checkbook. I had two prescriptions in there. One was diet pills. This was embarrassing. A TSA officer said, ‘Hey, I’ve always been curious about these. Do they work?’
That same screener started emptying her wallet. “He was taking out the receipts and looking at them,” she said.
In a side pocket she had tucked a deposit slip and seven checks made out to her and her husband, worth about $8,000.
You’re probably horrified thus far. Like many TSA stories that have been hitting the news, it gets even worse:
Two Philadelphia police officers joined at least four TSA officers who had gathered around her. After conferring with the TSA screeners, one of the Philadelphia officers told her he was there because her checks were numbered sequentially, which she says they were not.
“It’s an indication you’ve embezzled these checks,” she says the police officer told her. He also told her she appeared nervous. She hadn’t before that moment, she says.
Okay, so to recap thus far, let’s start ticking off the…erm….problematic portions of this story:
- TSA officer rooting around in a passenger’s bag and getting prescription medication advice based on the contents of it. I’m a pretty open person about things like medications, but I’d be pretty uncomfortable with an acquaintance or family member snooping through my medicine cabinet and grilling me on whether or not my meds work.
- That same officer also feels that it’s his business to scrutinize what clothing or personal items she may have purchased in the past week under the guise that she may have purchased razor blades at some point, despite there being no evidence that she had them on her; even if she had, is it really that odd for a female banker to bring razor blades with her on a business flight? She’s not exactly working at the local Hot Topic, folks!
- TSA & PPD officers acting like Jr. Fraud Specialists, despite the fact that they are completelyunqualified to make that assessment. If a few online exams make you qualified to detect white collar crime, then I should certainly add which Golden Girl I am to my resume. (Blanche, for the record.)
After explaining why she had the checks on her (she and her husband had recently gone on vacation and didn’t have the chance to deposit them before she returned to work), they eventually allowed her to board the plane. (How kind!) As what happens in most of these cases, she got on the plane humiliated, shaken, and probably pounded back several in-flight cocktails. Okay, so maybe I’m the only one who would feel like she earned a drink after getting through that experience without coldcocking a law enforcement official.
It sucks, but she was only out some time and a little dignity, right?
When she got home, her husband of 20 years, John Parker, a self-employed plastics broker, said the police had called and told him that they’d suspected “a divorce situation” and that Kathy Parker was trying to empty their bank account. He set them straight.
Let’s ignore the fact that I’m a bit confused on how Parker could be emptying her bank account by depositing checks into it. Let’s also ignore the subtle misogyny in the PPD & TSA’s actions here; John Parker is not Kathy Parker’s keeper, nor does Kathy Parker belong to John Parker. Let’s think, instead, about this scary concept: without knowing the situation or anything about the couple, PPD & TSA could have inadvertently handed a battered wife back to her abuser.
I’ve known a lot of divorced couples over the years. I know one man who got married and divorced very young and was willing to leave the marriage with only his boxers if it meant he was no longer married to his ex-wife. An old friend has parents who were at one another’s throats the entire time they were married, only to become best friends after their divorce. A third situation was a gigantic mess involving the death of an estranged wife and a bitter next of kin fight with her mother over her funeral arrangements. None of these couples have felt compelled to flee the state in order to avoid their ex. NONE.
The only marriages or dating relationships I’ve known that have ended in getting far out of the area were ones where abuse was a factor; that’s not to say that abuse is the only reason that an ex-spouse might leave the area or that abuse didn’t occur unless the battered spouse gets out of dodge. I’m just saying that it seems pretty logical to me. When you consider that battered women are most likely to be murdered when they are trying to “just leave” their husbands, had the Parkers’ marriage been abusive, Kathy Parker could have very well been facing a death sentence. Thank you, cops and federal government!
Luckily, this wasn’t the case here, and everything panned out as well as could be expected; I am not meaning to imply that the Parkers are in an abusive or otherwise unstable relationship. But what if the situation was a little bit different? Talk about unintended consequences! The invasive search conducted by the TSA and Philadelphia Police and the stupidity employed by those individual officers is infuriating enough, but adding the fugitive slave law-esque handling here makes me even more uncomfortable and more resolved to not fly until these policies are radically changed.
So, people are understandably pissed over Glenn Beck’s assertion that only hookers need Planned Parenthood. Now, the statement is (obviously) really fucked up for a lot of reasons. I don’t have the time or patience to unpack all of the shitty implications about sex workers from a man who claims libertarian cred when convenient. I’m one of those uppity bitches who thinks that sex workers are people, too. In a similar vein, do I really need to tell you that that using “hooker,” “ho,” “slut,” “whore,” as code for “fallen women” is beyond problematic?
My intention is not to defend Planned Parenthood while trashing sex workers; unfortunately, accusations of this kind are typically rebutted with some version of “but good girls go there, too!” (Thanks for feeding into the whole Madonna-Whore thing, y’all!) Rather, it’s just a quick anecdote discussing my only experience as a patient of Planned Parenthood.
A few years ago, I was in a blatantly rebound relationship with a younger guy I met in college through friends. After having a little bit of morning sex, I felt the familiar rubber band snap inside my girly bits. A broken condom was not what I wanted to deal with on that Saturday morning. I got dressed and announced that I would have to make a three block trip to the local Planned Parenthood.
I went to the clinic, told the security guard that I needed to get some Plan B, and he buzzed me in. (For the record, I think that he and all the clinic employees were totally amused by my blunt, upfront handling of the situation. The way I see it, I’m advertising that I just got some. Why would I be shy about that?) I remember waiting in the office while my partner was completely nervous. I probably should have told him to just stay home because he was driving me up a wall. He was entirely too nine-year-old-in-a-bank for my liking.
I went back into the clinical area and a nurse/nurse practitioner ran me through some standard questions. How long ago did you have sex? (No longer than an hour beforehand.) Why are you here for Plan B? (Condom broke.) Are you currently on any medications? (No.)
My memory is a little fuzzy, but IIRC, they asked about a dozen questions or so before handing me a pack of emergency contraception. Honestly, the biggest thing I remember is how out of whack I felt for the next few days. I had some mood swings (mainly anger/annoyance, though I may have gotten teary) and generally felt out of it, but I’m pretty thankful that I knew about emergency contraception and had it readily available to me.
I’m not saying that Planned Parenthood should take tax dollars. I would prefer that they did not have to rely on tax dollars for too many reasons to list; however, when politicians make yanking Planned Parenthood funding a priority over all other more harmful and wasteful spending, it’s hard to not get a little miffed. The drug war and defense budgets eat up way more tax money than Planned Parenthood does, and both the prison and military industrial complexes directly feed into the need for family planning clinics.
Removing Planned Parenthood funding without making systemic changes and making better funding cuts is asinine. As a Facebook friend once snarked, it reeks of only being against “big government” that benefits the poor, and well, I just can’t get behind that.
The evolutionary psych story about humanity is that war, genocide, and the divisive “-isms” that keep humans in a perpetual state of conflict are inevitable expressions of an “us vs. them” tendency that is simply a part of our biological makeup.
It’s indisputable that people can adopt an identity that is essentially oppositional to another nation, race, religion or ethnic group, but how much of this tendency is nature and how much is nurture?
Only one human trait is truly immutable: adaptability. Children learn very quickly what they need to do to ensure their physical safety. In our dominance based society, a major element of required adaptation is siding with proximal agents in society vs. outsiders, real or–primarily–imagined.
In fact, examining the volume of propaganda that is directed at Americans, from the cradle to the grave it’s unsurprising the kinds bizarre and absurd expressions of xenophobia that crop up whenever the “enemies of America” (or of “real” America) come up in conversation.
Take, for example, this stream of . . . just really weird comments that popped about on Facebook and Twitter after the last month’s earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown in Japan. Citing Pearl Harbor (Pearl Harbor? Seriously?) as the counter-balance in some twisted version of karma is really, really fucked up.
Where did this enmity come from? There can’t be more than a dozen people alive on the planet that participated in the fighting at Pearl Harbor. Japan has been a more than cooperative American colonial forward base in East Asia for over 65 years. There are very few who derived their prejudice against the Japanese from lived experience, but a quick glance at “educational material” and popular culture should give a clue about where the animosity comes from.
The facts, which one has to dig a bit to find, paint a different picture. The popular depiction involves a ruthless and brutal empire[ref]no argument there, btw[/ref] that, in an attempt to enslave the entire pacific strikes out at a peaceful merchant republic. This depiction, crafted, as always, by the victors served to put the United States on a war footing. Pearl Harbor was a story meant to ease the resistance to conscription going into the war, and to ease the collective conscience after Japanese cities were incinerated by fire bombings and, finally, annihilated in nuclear blasts.
The truth is less useful. Objectively, two empires, one small and resource starved and the other vast, expanding and reaching the height of its powers met in the western Pacific. A faction of the leadership of the United States, including large parts of the executive branch, wanted to go to war in Europe and intended to do so by drawing Germany’s Pacific ally into a conflict.
This bikecast/post isn’t intended to address this issue in depth. It requires the kind of care and attention to detail that I can’t generally muster. Luckily, the issue has been researched to death by just the kinds of minds by which one wants important issues researched to death. The evidence is overwhelming and the objections, as far as I can find, are few and feeble (and rebutted). This page of links from the Independent Institute has alot of good starting points for the interested.
In any case, the nature of the war, fought thousands of miles from California against an island nation far and away the technological and economic inferior of the United States required an enormous amount of propaganda. In retrospect, as each new generation of Americans confronts the nightmare of history’s only nuclear strikes, the tale requires an arch-enemy so lunatic that no alternative was conceivable but to vaporize hundreds of thousands of people to bring the war to an end.
And that is the legacy that is echoed in the comments about Japan today. Jingoism generated by a ruling class to support their decisions and those of their predecessors three generations ago.
If we have to demonize the Japanese in order to distract from the reality of the war in the Pacific, how much more demonization is required to justify the enslavement of a race?
The answer is, “quite a lot”–11 on a scale of 10 and we see the evidence for this in Western bigotry against blacks. This may be especially true in the United States where racial policy has been an political issue for three hundred years.
How does one justify the perpetual enslavement of a people? They have to be animals, unfit for a place in civilization, unable to control their impulses and desires, a danger to advanced society. If abolition is on the table, a strong and reliable political move is to drive into the public consciousness the most gruesome and horrifying stories of what will happen when the black race is freed.
If integration is on the table, the wise move is to tell these stories again. To create and fund “science” that supports racist conclusions, to integrate racism into every possible aspect of society: education, religion, community organizations, etc. The politician willing to do so and support others in doing so can have a long and prosperous career, since no one pays any heed to the wars he starts and the money he shunts to his supporters and allies.
The legacy of nationalized racial policy is what we see around us today. Racism isn’t a biological inevitability. It’s the result of an explicit policy of centuries of fear mongering for political power and financial gain.
The Entire Non-Christian World and The non-English-speaking Americas
Nowadays, our attention is turned to (at least) two new enemies who, we are told, seek to despoil our country. The muslims (or islamo-fascists) and spanish speaking central/south Americans and carribean islanders (aka mexicans or illegals).
Popular stereotypes of these people differ radically between 1900 and today. I go into some hand-waving detail in the podcast about my perception of these changes. Suffice it to say that the fanatical muslim and job-stealing mexican are inventions of the last 40 years. They were created specifically to allow monstrously inhumane treatment of human beings and vast appropriations of stolen money to the military-industrial-prison-security-congressional-comlex. The amount of energy and effort being put into the new stereotypes assure us that, in 100 years, people will still be clinging blindly to these beliefs.
And why the energy and effort? Greater fear and anger associated with these groups means more power given to the police, military and surveillance state and votes for anyone who promises protection from these “threats.” Nobody can speak against this most destructive of enemy imagery and hope to be taken seriously by the corporate media much less have any chance at political office.
To sum up, the quantity and ferocity of enemy-making propaganda has to be such that virtuous choices like withdrawing western troops from the middle east, allowing free travel over the southern border (or not going to war in 1941 or not owning black persons before 1865) are unthinkable.
We’re still reeling from the propaganda of the past, and new bullshit is being constantly heaped on top of the old. The perpetrators and agitators are those that benefit from hatred–those whose actual crimes: mass theft, kidnapping and murder, necessitate the creation of unfathomably evil foes. Only by projecting their own wrongdoings onto others can the perpetrators escape from scrutiny. Not only can they commit the most horrific crimes against humanity, they can do so in the name of protection people from the harmful other.
In the podcast, I reference Lloyd DeMause who makes a similar argument with regard to enemy imagery historically directed at children. Here’s a page of his online books. I’ve read much of http://www.psychohistory.com/htm/eln00_preface.html The Emotional Life of Nations and listened to some of the Origins of War in Child Abuse. Also, here’s a current example ad hoc ratcheting up of enemy imagery in wartime as various minorities are targeted as foreign mercenaries. Oh, and the movie I was trying to think of was Lawrence of Arabia
Economics is an incredible book. Writer Fanny Howe in a mere 134 pages does what conservatives have wanted to do for decades – lay out the failures, neurosis and narcissism of the Baby Boomer generation. Howe does this with finesse and, through the medium of fiction, is able to show the real life consequences of 1960s liberalism.
Fanny Howe is not a conservative, though I am sure reflexive progressives who came across this book would label her as such. She lays out what she portrays in the book as “the necessary errors” of 1960s liberalism.
A common thread throughout Economics is bad parenting, or a general lack of parenting at all. Howe starts off by telling the story of an elite, university employed white liberal couple in Massachusetts. It’s the late civil rights era and the couple, largely driven by the wife, Carol, whose husband John is detached at best, decide to adopt a black child as an example of their stalwart anti-racism.
They decide to name the child Malcolm, a name the author notes they never would have given to a white child. Malcolm’s gender also brings out a very nasty side in Carol and eventually drives her to abandon the child and her husband as she discovers something about herself in the process of her failed parenting:
Deep down, she didn’t like boys or men. Raised by her mother alone, she was not used to the other sex. Even her husband was, at heart, a stranger, and not fully welcome, as her mother and daughter were, into the heart of her affections.
Carol exports the job of mother to her husband John and only decides to take Malcolm out when attending demonstrations or meetings on the issue of race. She finds that the presence of a black child with her helps strategically to make her look like a caring, liberal woman. She realizes that she is a hypocrite and purges herself to her therapist. In “dealing” with the problem, she ends up deciding to give up Malcolm and leave her husband.
Several things with the child Malcolm end up occurring that only solidify her decision to leave her family and run off with her daughter. Carol begins to harshly bully Malcolm, expelling her failures on an innocent bystander:
“Don’t pretend you like me,” she would snap.
“I hate your smile,” she would hiss.
“Just go away.”
Hoping that her black child would “ward off danger” at racial politics meetings, she instead became reminded of her problematic parenting. Malcolm’s skin had started to peel drastically and during a meeting, a black woman came up to her and said that his skin needed oil. The woman even recommended the brand Johnson’s, but Carol could “only get the energy to oil his limbs twice,” leaving Malcolm’s skin ashy and patchy.
While at school, a teacher reports to Carol, Malcolm’s anxiety over his place in Carol’s family showed. A teacher called Carol and said that he would spend hours in school peeling at his skin. When asked, what he was peeling, he replied that he was peeling off “the black paint.”
When she eventually goes through with abandoning Malcolm, the social worker shows little sympathy at all, saying that he will be passed around from foster home to foster home. The social worker derides her for waiting an entire three years if the arrangement had been so terrible. When asked about the social worker by her husband John, Carol dismisses her concerns by describing her as a “fascist.”
The first story has the most impact, and the rest of the book follows suit. Howe is at her best in the book when race plays a strong role – as with one short story about a young black man living in Boston’s ghetto who develops a relationship with a white woman. The desire on his part to leave the hood is so strong that he ignores what he knows – that the relationship is false and that his girlfriend doesn’t really desire him but desires what he calls “some kind of image” of a black man, one that will uplift her feeling of righteousness on racial issues.
In this book, Fanny Howe opens up a box that has been largely closed: the story of parenting by the Baby Boomer generation. Unlike their parents, Baby Boomers had far higher divorce rates and rates of out of wedlock births. The Sexual Revolution, post-feminism and Roe vs. Wade made acceptable what would have been unacceptable in previous generations. The cultural effects of a large degree of absentee parenting has been felt by popular culture but rarely spelled out explicitly. It’s popped up a bit in film, like in the Jim Carrey film The Cable Guy, in which Jim Carrey plays a crazed cable guy who was driven mad after being placed in front of the television by a busy mother. It’s almost popped up in music, such as with the rapper Eminem, who had a public dispute with his own mother, who he claimed on several occasions suffered from Munchausen’s syndrome and substituted foster homes and prescription medication for direct parenting.
The box Howe opens up is a vast one and quick answers are only so useful. One of our writers at Gonzo wrote a piece called “It’s Not Easy For The Girls,” about how oppressive expectations bombard young girls. Fanny Howe’s work Economics is a good investment for anyone genuinely interested in the role of children in post-industrial American society.
Punk Johnny Cash has asked that I write more about the Alternative Right and their movement. We’ve had several excursions with them here at Gonzo Times, as I have when I written about them elsewhere. This article I hope to be a definitive piece aimed for republication in the Gonzo Times zine and a reference point for anyone who wants to learn more about this movement.
First, a definition for anyone who doesn’t know – the “alternative right” refers to a political category of white supremacists and patriarchalists who are seeking to make their ideology a burgeoning part of conservative politics in the United States, Europe, Canada and elsewhere in the “Anglosphere.” When “Alternative Right” is used with capital letters, it is a reference to the website Alternative Right, founded by Richard Spencer and Alex Kurtagic.
With a black man in the White House, record population of Muslims in Europe and Hispanics in the United States and economic strain on white, middle class America, they seem to view their ideology as having more selling power than any time in eighty years.
Eighty years is not a random number, in that instance. The alternative right is made up precisely of people that follow the ideology of Nazis and fascists of yesteryear. The online journal Alternative Right is filled to the brim with articles like “The Enigma of American Fascism in the 1930s.” In that article, writer Michael Kleen writes fondly of pro-Nazi groups that flowered during the 1930s as some sort of counterweight against Roosevelt’s New Deal:
In the third decade of the Twentieth Century, as the Great Depression dragged on and the unemployment rate climbed above 20 percent, the United States faced a social and political crisis. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was swept to power in the election of 1932, forcing a political realignment that would put the Democratic Party in the majority for decades. In 1933, President Roosevelt proposed a “New Deal” that he claimed would cure the nation of its economic woes. His plan had many detractors, however, and at the fringes of mainstream politics, disaffected Americans increasingly looked elsewhere for inspiration.
I have never seen anything like this before. In an article on the Tea Party movement, the fantastic Christopher Hitchens wrote that people like Fox News host Glenn Beck have been “canalizing old racist and clerical toxic-waste material that a healthy society had mostly flushed out of its system more than a generation ago, and injecting it right back in again.” There have always been fringe groups in American politics, but in recent history they have been limited to groups like The League of the South, groups for old curmudgeons who don’t like their kids attending school with children of color.
What the alternative right is doing, however, is seeking to make mainstream political ideas that were long ago found by both American and European society as beyond the pale. Many figures in the movement, such as Kevin DeAnna of the Youth For Western Civilization (a group I will get to later in this article) and Andrew Yeoman of the Bay Area National Anarchists (BANA) have both written on the Alternative Right website that their movement is doomed to fail. Despite this, they have succeeded in attaining mainstream accolades.
Andrew Yeoman, representing his group BANA, has flipped the script on multicultural victimhood politics and used the rhetoric for “people of European descent.” He has been invited several times on Russia Today, the Kremlin based cable news network, to talk about such issues.
Yeoman is a self-satirizing sort. He obviously takes himself quite seriously but his ideology and group are extremely comical. Videos of Yeoman on YouTube can be seen of him and his group BANA holding a neo-Nazi car wash somewhere in the suburban Bay Area. Another video of him shows him protesting the film Machete for its apparent advocacy of “genocide” against “people of European descent.” The Coen Brothers would be wise to follow his strange antics, as he would make for a great character in one of their comedies.
More formidable than Yeoman is Kevin DeAnna. His group, the Youth for Western Civilization (YWC), was founded in 2008. Like Alternative Right, it’s an overtly racialist group but one that masks itself as a very mainstream organization. In the past few years it has managed to grow its numbers from American University in Washington D.C. to Michigan State University to Washington State University, its latest outpost.
DeAnna, like most everyone at Alternative Right, is a great writer. DeAnna has contributed several articles to that website, all of which were highly readable. His communication skills also translate to in person encounters, as he was very direct, clear and sociable in a video interview with him by Salon.com from the floors of CPAC 2011. Unlike the Alternative Right website, YWC has the endorsement of established politicians, with Colorado U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo being an honorary chairman.
A typical article on the YWC website will be one like “The Left Forum: Mixing Education and Extemism.” Such cliched articles are typical of conservative college groups, who have been bemoaning leftism on campuses for several decades. The really interesting stuff comes from DeAnna himself, who will post articles portraying Hispanic leader Cesar Chavez as an opponent of Mexican immigration. DeAnna knows the language of political Doublespeak quite well, and if left to his own devices, YWC would be able to mask its fascist core more properly.
The mask falls off, however, with YWC member blogs. One writer, William L. Houston of the University of Alabama, regularly shows what the YWC is really about, with his article subjects ranging from League of the South influenced diatribes about assaults on “Anglo-Celtic heritage” to a very revealing piece called “The Politically Incorrect Earthquake.” That article literally made the argument that Haitians suffered greatly in comparison to Japanese because of the natural inferiority of Haitians to Japanese.
What is supremely interesting about the alternative right is its being the real deal when it comes to right wing nationalism. There is no apologetics here or false moderation. In addition to folks like DeAnna, the alternative right is rife with people like Jack Donovan, an openly homosexual masculinist and advocate for a return to patriarchy. Like his more ethnically motivated compatriots on the alternative right, Donovan’s gender wars are motivated by real world changes.
The role of men is no longer clear in our society. Men are unanimously in every culture driven by a need for self-respect and, with no clear paradigm for manhood any longer, men are more at risk of losing that self-respect than ever before. As strange as Donovan is, his extreme approach (and ultimately retrograde, damaging and unsustainable) to this very real issue that many men are feeling to some degree is one of the more piercing points of the alternative right. It has gained him a review in Vice magazine by the controversial writer John Safran, who reviewed his book Blood Brotherhood And Other Rites Of Male Alliance. Safran’s analysis of Donovan is one you have to read to truly experience:
Jack Donovan is a very right wing homosexual. He’s bright, sincere and so idiosyncratic it’s hard to know where to begin. His first book, Androphilia, was subtitled Rejecting the Gay Identity, Reclaiming Masculinity, and railed against rainbow flags and lisps. He’s also a contributing editor to Alternative Right, an online magazine seen by many detractors – and supporters – as white supremacist. For this audience Donovan declares his homosexuality, then argues the case for accepting gays in the military and for welcoming gay workmates (the non-lispy ones, at least).
Now comes Blood Brotherhood, his contribution to the gay marriage debate.
Donovan thinks men, including gay men, are instinctual warriors. They like to fight and build things. To woo a woman, men temporarily suppress this instinct and become romancers. Flowers, snuggles, and white-frosted wedding cake. But this isn’t man’s natural state. So the question is: if two men want to commit, why go through with all this gay woman stuff?
Nevertheless, he likes the idea of a commitment ceremony. It solemnises honour, respect and watching each other’s back.
So if not a wedding, what?
Donovan proposes an alternative rite: a blood pact. Yes, as in opening a vein and mixing blood with your boyfriend.
Read the rest at Vice Magazine: JOHN SAFRAN’S CONTROVERSIAL BOOK REVIEW – Viceland Today
Donovan is a regular at Alternative Right, and fits in next to co-founder Alex Kurtagic. Kurtagic is a straight up neo-Nazi. His website advertises fiction books with premises of “What if Hitler lived?” and his site is adorned with a background of World War II era German military decorations. (Given the diversity of western military history, it should really be noted where someone’s head is at when decided to align themselves with Nazi military iconography.)
Spencer, on the other hand, was a regular contributor at the American Conservative and Taki’s Magazine before founding the Alternative Right website with Kurtagic. Kurtagic’s website features interviews with Spencer, one of which includes the always creepy as hell Spencer reminiscing over a vacation he took wherein his former boss, Taki Theodoracopulos, adorned a Wehrmacht helmet:
Taki is a man who resides in a couple of different worlds. Instinctually, Taki is a “paleoconservative” or “traditionalist” . . . or perhaps I should say “fascist” (I, of course, mean that as a compliment. I always have this image of him wearing a Wehrmacht helmet while skiing in Switzerland, as he related in one of his columns.)
Alternative Right had a pledge drive for $25,000 in order to propel their website forward. The site apparently reached that sum, which should illustrate that this is not a simple bump in the road. What the alternative right is selling is something that has an audience, one that is likely quite large. As controversial as this may sound, the most compelling move may be to address these issues that are crawling out from beneath the carpet of modern life, instead of pretending they do not exist. (John Safran and Christopher Hitchens are among few commentators with the balls to do this so far.) As any doctor can tell you, a tumor unaddressed will only get worse.
NIGHT in a prison cell! A chair, a bed, a small washstand, four blank walls, ghastly in the dim light from the corridor without, a narrow window, barred and sunken in the stone, a grated door! Beyond its hideous iron latticework, within the ghastly walls, -a man! An old man, gray-haired and wrinkled, lame and suffering. There he sits, in his great loneliness, shut in front all the earth. There he walks, to and fro, within his measured space, apart from all he loves! ‘There, for every night in five long years to come, he will walk alone, while the white age-flakes drop upon his head, while the last years of the winter of life gather and pass, and his body draws near the ashes. Every night, for five long years to come, he will sit alone, this chattel slave, whose hard toll is taken by the State, -and without recompense save that the Southern planter gave his Negroes, -every night he will sit there so within those four white walls. Every night, for five long years to come, a suffering woman will he upon her bed, longing, longing for the end of those three thousand days; longing for the kind face, the patient hand, that in so many years had never failed her. Every night, for five long years to come, the proud spirit must rebel, the loving heart must bleed, the broken home must he desecrated. As I am speaking now, as you are listening, there within the cell of that accursed penitentiary whose stones have soaked tip the sufferings of so many victims, murdered, as truly as any outside their walls, by that slow rot which eats away existence. inch-meal, -as I am speaking now, as you are listening, there sits Moses Harman!
Why? Why, when murder now is stalking in your streets, when dens of infamy are so thick within your city that competition has forced down the price of prostitution to the level of the wages Of Your starving shirt makers; when robbers sit in State and national Senate and House, when the boasted “bulwark of our liberties,” the elective franchise, has become a U. S. dice-box, wherewith great gamblers play away your liberties; when debauchees of the worst type hold all your public offices and dine off the food of fools who support them, why, then, sits Moses Harman there within his prison cell? If he is so great a criminal, why is he not with the rest of the spawn of crime, dining at Delmonico’s or enjoying a trip to Europe? If he is so bad a man, why in the name of wonder did he ever get in the penitentiary?
Ah, no; it is not because he has done any evil thing; but because he, a pure enthusiast, searching, searching always for the cause of misery of the kind which he loved with that broad love of which only the pure soul is capable, searched for the data of evil. And searching so he found the vestibule of life to be a prison cell; the hohest and purest part of the temple of the body, if indeed one part can be hoher or purer than another, the altar where the most devotional love in truth should be laid, he found this altar ravished, despoiled, trampled upon. He found little babies, helpless, voiceless little things, generated in lust, cursed with impure moral natures, cursed, prenatally, with the germs of disease, forced into the world to struggle and to suffer, to hate themselves, to hate their mothers for bearing them, to hate society and to be hated by it in return, -a bane upon self and race, draining the lees of crime. And he said, this felon with the stripes upon his body, “Let the mothers of the race go free! Let the little children be pure love children, born of the mutual desire for parentage. Let the manacles be broken from the shackled slave, that no more slaves be born, no more tyrants conceived.”
He looked, this obscenist looked with clear eyes into this ill-got thing you call morality, sealed with the seal of marriage, and saw in it the consummation of immorality, impurity, and injustice. He beheld every married woman what she is, a bonded slave, who takes her master’s name, her master’s bread, her master’s commands, and serves her master’s passion; who passes through the ordeal of pregnancy and the throes of travail at his dictation, not at her desire; who can control no property, not even her own body, without his consent, and from whose straining arms the children she bears may be torn at his pleasure, or willed away while they are yet unborn. It is said the English language has a sweeter word than any other, -home. But Moses Harman looked beneath the word and saw the fact, -a prison more horrible than that where he is sitting now, whose corridors radiate over all the earth, and with so many cells, that none may count them.
Yes, our masters! The earth is a prison, the marriage-bed is a cell, women are the prisoners, and you are the keepers!
He saw, this corruptionist, how in those cells are perpetrated such outrages as are enough to make the cold sweat stand upon the forehead, and the nails clench, and the teeth set, and the lips grow white in agony and hatred. And he saw too how from those cells might none come forth to break her fetters, how no slave dare cry out, how all these murders are done quietly, beneath the shelter-shadow of home, and sanctified by the angelic benediction of a piece of paper, within the silence-shade of a marriage certificate, Adultery and Rape stalk freely and at case.
Yes, for that is adultery where woman submits herself sexually to man, without desire on her part, for the sake of “keeping him virtuous,” “keeping him at home,” the women say. (Well, if a man did not love me and respect himself enough to be “virtuous” without prostituting me, – he might go, and welcome. He has no virtue to keep.) And that is rape, where a man forces himself sexually upon a woman whether he is licensed by the marriage law to do it or not. And that is the vilest of all tyranny where a man compels the woman he says he loves, to endure the agony of bearing children that she does not want, and for whom, as is the rule rather than the exception, they cannot properly provide. It is worse than any other human oppression; it is fairly God-like! To the sexual tyrant there is no parallel upon earth; one must go to the skies to find a fiend who thrusts life upon his children only to starve and curse and outcast and damn them! And only through the marriage law is such tyranny possible. The man who deceives a woman outside of marriage (and mind you, such a man will deceive in marriage too) may deny his own child, if he is mean enough. He cannot tear it from her arms -he cannot touch it! The girl he wronged, thanks to your very pure and tender morality standard, may die in the street for want of food. He cannot force his hated presence upon her again. But his wife, gentlemen, his wife, the woman he respects so much that he consents to let her merge her individuality into his, lose her identity and become his chattel, his wife he may not only force unwelcome children upon, outrage at his own good pleasure, and keep as a general cheap and convenient piece of furniture, but if she does not get a divorce (and she cannot for such cause) he can follow her wherever she goes, come into her house, eat her food, force her into the cell, kill her by virtue of his sexual authority! And she has no redress unless he is indiscreet enough to abuse her in some less brutal but unlicensed manner. I know a case in your city where a woman was followed so for ten years by her husband. I beheve he finally developed grace enough to die: please applaud him for the only decent thing he ever did.
Oh, is it not rare, all this talk about the preservation of morality by marriage law! 0 splendid carefulness to preserve that which you have not got! 0 height and depth of purity, which fears so much that the children will not know who their fathers are, because, forsooth, they must rely upon their mother’s word instead of the hired certification of some priest of the Church, or the Law! I wonder if the children would be improved to know what their fathers have done. I would rather, much rather, not know who my father was than know he had been a tyrant to my mother. I would rather, much rather, be illegitimate according to the statutes of men, than illegitimate according to the unchanging law of Nature. For what is it to be legitimate, born “according to law”? It is to be, nine cases out of ten, the child of a man who acknowledges his fatherhood simply because he is forced to do so, and whose conception of virtue is realized by the statement that 11 a woman’s duty is to keep her husband at home;” to be the child of a woman who cares more for, the benediction of Mrs. Grundy than the simple honor of her lover’s word, and conceives prostitution to be purity and duty when exacted of her by her husband. It is to have Tyranny as your progenitor, and slavery as your prenatal cradle. It is to run the risk of unwelcome birth, “legal” constitutional weakness, morals corrupted before birth, possibly a murder instinct, the inheritance of excessive sexuality or no sexuality, either of which is disease. it is to have the value of a piece of paper, a rag from the tattered garments of the “Social Contract,” set above health, beauty, talent 01′ goodness; for I never yet had difficulty in obtaining the admission that illegitimate children are nearly always prettier and brighter than others, even from conservative women. And how supremely disgusting it is to see them look from their own puny, sickly, lust-born children, Upon whom he the chain-traces of their own terrible servitude, look from these to some healthy, beautiful “natural” child, and say, “What a pity its mother wasn’t virtuous!” Never a word about their children’s fathers’ virtue, they know too much! Virtue! Disease, stupidity, criminality! What an obscene thing “virtue” is!
What is it to be illegitimate? To be despised, or pitied, by those whose spite or whose pity isn’t worth the breath it takes to return it. To be, possibly, the child of some man contemptible enough to deceive a woman; the child of some woman whose chief crime was behef in the man she loved. To be free from the prenatal curse of a stave mother, to come into the world without the permission of any law-making set of tyrants who assume to corner the earth, and say what terms the unborn must make for the privilege of coming into existence. This is legitimacy and illegitimacy! Choose.
The man who walks to and fro in his cell in Lansing penitentiary tonight, this vicious man, said: “The mothers of the race are lifting their dumb eyes to me, their scaled lips to me, their agonizing hearts to me. They are seeking, seeking for a voice! The unborn in their helplessness, are pleading from their prisons, pleading for a voice! The criminals, with the unseen ban upon their souls, that has pushed them, Pushed them to the vortex, out of their whirling hells, are looking, waiting for a voice! I will be their voice. I will unmask the outrages of the marriage-bed. I will make known how criminals are born. I will make one outcry that shall be heard, and let what will be, be!” He cried out through the letter of Dr. Markland, that a young mother lacerated by unskillful surgery in the birth of her babe, but recovering from a subsequent successful operation, had been stabbed, remorselessly, cruelly, brutally stabbed, not with a knife, but with the procreative organ of her husband, stabbed to the doors of death, and yet there was no redress!
And because he called a spade a spade, because he named that organ by its own name, so given in Webster’s dictionary and in every medical journal in the country, because of this Moses Harman walks to and fro in his cell tonight. He gave a concrete example of the effect of sex slavery, and for it he is imprisoned. It remains for us now to carry on the battle, and lift the standard where they struck him down, to scatter broadcast the knowledge of this crime of society against a man and the reason for it; to inquire into this vast system of licensed crime, its cause and its effect, broadly upon the race. ‘The cause! Let Woman ask herself, “Why am I the slave of Man? Why is my brain said not to be the equal of his brain? Why is my work not paid equally with his? Why must my body be controlled by my husband? Why may he take my labor in the household, giving me in exchange what he deems fit? Why may he take my children from me? Will them away while yet unborn?” Let every woman ask.
There are two reasons why, and these ultimately reducible to a single principle: the authoritarian, supreme power, God-idea, and its two instruments, the Church -that is, the priests, -and the State -that is, the legislators).
From the birth of the Church, out of the womb of Fear and the fatherhood of Ignorance, it has taught the inferiority of woman. In one form or another through the various mythical legends of the various mythical creeds, runs the undercurrent of the behef in the fall of man through the persuasion of woman, her subjective condition as punishment, her natural vileness, total depravity, etc.; and from the days of Adam until now the Christian Church, with which we live specially to deal, has made Woman the excuse, the scapegoat for the evil deeds of man. So thoroughly has this idea permeated Society that number”, of those who have utterly repudiated the Church, are nevertheless soaked in this stupefying narcotic to true morality. So pickled is the male creation with the vinegar of Authoritarianism, that even those who have gone further and repudiated tire State still cling to the god, Society as it is, still hug the old theological idea that they are to be “heads of the family” –to that wonderful formula “of simple proportion” that “Man is the ]lead of the Woman even as Christ is the head of the Church.” No longer than a week since, an Anarchist (?) said to me, “I will be boss in my own house” -a “Communist-Anarchist,” if you please, who doesn’t beheve in “my house.” About a year ago a noted libertarian speaker said, in my presence, that his sister, who possessed a fine voice and had joined a concert troupe, should “stay at home with her children; that is her place.” The old Church idea! This man was a Socialist, and since an Anarchist; yet his highest idea for woman was serfhood to husband and children, in the present mockery called “home.” Stay at Ironic, ye malcontents! Be patient, obedient, submissive! Darn our socks, mend our shirts, wash our dishes, get our meals, wait on us and mind the children! Your fine voices are not to delight the public nor yourselves; your inventive genius is not to work, your fine art taste is not to be Cultivated, your business facilities are not to be developed; you made the great mistake of being born with them, suffer for your folly! You are women, therefore housekeepers, servants, waiters, and child’s nurses!
At Macon, in the sixth century, says August Bebel, the fathers of the Church met and proposed the decision of the question, “has Woman a soul?” Having ascertained that the permission to own a nonentity wasn’t going to injure any of their parsnips, a small majority vote decided the momentous question in our favor. Now, holy fathers, it was a tolerably good scheme on your part to offer the reward of your pitiable “salvation or damnation” (odds in favor of the latter) as a bait for the hook of earthly submission; it wasn’t a bad sop in those days of faith and ignorance. But fortunately fourteen hundred years have made it stale. You, tyrant radicals (?), have no heaven to offer, -you have no delightful chimeras in the form of “imerit cards;” you have (save the mark) the respect, the good offices, the smiles –of a slave-holder! ‘This in return for our chains! Thanks!
The question of souls is old -we demand our bodies, now. We are tired of promises, God is deaf, and his church is our worst enemy. Against it we bring the charge of being the moral (or immoral) force which hes behind the tyranny of the State. And the State has divided the loaves and fishes with the Church, the magistrates, like the priests take marriage fees; the two fetters of Authority have gone into partnership in the business of granting patentrights to parents for the privilege of reproducing themselves, and the State cries as the Church cried of old, and cries now: “See how we protect women!” The State has done more. It has often been said to me, by women with decent masters, who had no idea of the outrages practiced on their less fortunate sisters, “Why don’t the wives leave?”
Why don’t you run, when your feet are chained together? Why don’t you cry out when a gag is on your lips? Why don’t you raise your hands above your head when they are pinned fast to your sides? Why don’t you spend thousands of dollars when you haven’t a cent in your pocket? Why don’t you go to the seashore or the mountains, you fools scorching with city heat? If there is one thing more than another in this whole accursed tissue of false society, which makes me angry, it is the asinine stupidity which with the true phlegm of impenetrable dullness says, “Why don’t the women leave!” Will you tell me where they will go and what they shall do? When the State, the legislators, has given to itself, the politicians, the utter and absolute control of the opportunity to live; when, through this precious monopoly, already the market of labor is so overstocked that workmen and workwomen are cutting each others’ throats for the dear privilege of serving their lords; when girls are shipped from Boston to the south and north, shipped in carloads, like cattle, to fill the dives of New Orleans or the lumber-camp hells of my own state (Michigan), when seeing and hearing these things reported every day, the proper prudes exclaim, “Why don’t the women leave?,” they simply beggar the language of contempt.
When America passed the fugitive slave law compelling men to catch their fellows more brutally than runaway dogs, Canada, aristocratic, unrepublican Canada, still stretched her arms to those who might reach tier. But there is no refuge upon earth for the enslaved sex. Right where we are, there we must dig our trenches, and win or die.
This, then, is the tyranny of the State; it denies, to both woman and man, the right to earn a living, and rants it as a privilege to a favored few who for that favor must pay ninety per cent toll to the granters of it. These two things, the mind domination of the Church, and the body domination of the State are the causes of sex slavery.
First of all, it has introduced into the world the constructed crime of obscenity: it has set up such a peculiar standard of morals that to speak the names of the sexual organs is to commit the most brutal outrage. It reminds me that in your city you have a street called “Callowhill.” Once it was called Gallows’ Hill, for the elevation to which it leads, now known as “Cherry Hill,” has been the last touching place on earth for the feet of many a victim murdered by the Law. But the sound of the word became too harsh; so they softened it, though the murders are still done, and the black shadow of the Gallows still hangs on the City of Brotherly Love. Obscenity has done the same; it has placed virtue in the shell of an idea, and labeled all “good” which dwells within the sanction of Law and respectable (?) custom; and all bad which contravenes the usage of the shell. It has lowered the dignity of the human body, below the level of all other animals. Who thinks a dog is impure or obscene because its body is not covered with suffocating and annoying clothes? What would you think of the meanness of a man who would put a skirt upon his, horse and compel it to walk or run with such a thing impeding its limbs? Why, the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” would arrest him, take the beast from him, and he would be sent to a lunatic asylum for treatment on the score of an impure mind. And yet, gentlemen, you expect your wives, the creatures you say you respect and love, to wear the longest skirts and the highest necked clothing, in order to conceal the obscene human body. There is no society for the prevention of cruelty to women. And you, yourselves, though a little better, look at the heat you wear in this roasting weather! How you curse your poor body with the wool you steal from the sheep! How you punish yourselves to sit in a crowded house with coats and vests on, because dead Mme. Grundy is shocked at the “vulgarity” of shirt sleeves, or the naked arm!
Look how the ideal of beauty has been marred by this obscenity notion. Divest yourselves of prejudice for once. Look at some fashionslaved woman her waist surrounded by a high-board fence called a corset, her shoulders and hips angular from the pressure above and below, her feet narrowest where they should be widest, the body fettered by her everlasting prison skirt, her hair fastened tight enough to make her head ache and surmounted by a thing of neither sense nor beauty, called a hat, ten to one a hump upon her back like a dromedary, -look at her, and then imagine such a thing as that carved in marble! Fancy a statue in Fairmount Park with a corset and bustle on. Picture to yourselves the image of the equestrienne. We are permitted to ride, providing we sit in a position ruinous to the horse; providing we wear a riding-habit long enough to hide the obscene human foot, weighed down by ten pounds of gravel to cheat the wind in its free blowing, so running the risk of disabling ourselves completely should accident throw us from the saddle. Think how we swim! We must even wear clothing in the water, and run the gauntlet of derision, if we dare battle in the surf minus stockings! Imagine a fish trying to make headway with a water-soaked flannel garment upon it. Nor are you yet content. The vile standard of obscenity even kills the little babies with clothes. The human race is murdered, horribly, “in the name of” Dress.
And in the name Of Purity what lies are told! What queer morality it has engendered. For fear of it you dare not tell your own children the truth about their birth; the most sacred of all functions, the creation of a human being, is a subject for the most miserable falsehood. When they come to you with a simple, straightforward question, which they have a right to ask, you say, “Don’t ask such questions,” or tell some silly hollowlog story; or you explain the incomprehensibility by another – God! You say “God made you.” You know you are lying when you say it. You know, or you ought to know, that the source of inquiry will not be dammed up so. You know that what you Could explain purely, reverently, rightly (if you have any purity in you), will be learned through many blind gropings, and that around it will be cast the shadowthought of wrong, embryo’d by your denial and nurtured by this social opinion everywhere prevalent. If you do not know this, then you are blind to facts and deaf to Experience.
Think of the double social standard the enslavement of our sex has evolved. Women considering themselves very pure and very moral, will sneer at the street-walker, yet admit to their homes the very men who victimized the street-walker. Men, at their best, will pity the prostitute, while they themselves are the worst kind of prostitutes. Pity yourselves, gentlemen -you need it!
How many times do you see where a man or woman has shot another through jealousy! The standard of purity has decided that it is right, “it shows spirit,” “it is justifiable” to -murder a human being for doing exactly what you did yourself, -love the same woman or same man! Morality! Honor! Virtue! Passing from the moral to the physical phase, take the statistics of any insane asylum, and you will find that, out of the different classes, unmarried women furnish the largest one. To preserve your Cruel, Vicious, indecent standard of purity (?) you drive your daughters insane, while your wives are killed with excess. Such is marriage. Don’t take my word for it; go through the report of any asylum or the annals of any graveyard.
Look how your children grow up. Taught from their earliest infancy to curb their love natures –restrained at every turn! Your blasting lies would even blacken a child’s kiss. Little girls must not be tomboyish, must not go barefoot, must not climb trees, must not learn to swim, must not do anything they desire to do which Madame Grundy has decreed “improper.” Little boys are laughed at as effeminate, silly girl-boys if they want to make patchwork or play with a doll. Then when they grow up, “Oh! Men dont care for home or children as women do!” Why should they, when the deliberate effort of your life has been to crush that nature out of them. “Women can’t rough it like men.” Train any animal, or any plant, as you train your girls, and it wont be able to rough it either. Now will somebody tell me why either sex should hold a corner on athletic sports? Why any child should not have free use of its limbs?
These are the effects of your purity standard, your marriage law. This is your work -look at it! Half your children dying under five years of age, your girls insane, your married women walking corpses, your men so bad that they themselves often admit that Prostitution holds against PURITY a bond of indebtedness. This is the beautiful effect of your god, Marriage, before which Natural Desire must abase and belie itself. Be proud of it!
Now for the remedy. It is in one word, the only word that ever brought equity anywhere –LIBERTY! Centuries upon centuries of liberty is the only thing that will cause the disintegration and decay of these pestiferous ideas. Liberty was all that calmed the bloodwaves of religious persecution! You cannot cure serfhood by any other substitution. Not for you to say “in this way shall the race love.” Let the race alone.
Will there not be atrocious crimes? Certainly. He is a fool who says there will not be. But you can’t stop them by committing the arch-crime and setting a block between the spokes of Progress-wheels. You will never get right until you start right.
As for the final outcome, it matters not one iota. I have my ideal, and it is very pure, and very sacred to me. But yours, equally sacred, may be different and we may both be wrong. But certain am I that with free contract, that form of sexual association will survive which is best adapted to time and place, thus producing the highest evolution of the type. Whether that shall be monogamy, variety, or promiscuity matters naught to us; it is the business of the future, to which we dare not dictate.
For freedom spoke Moses Harman, and for this he received the felon’s brand. For this he sits in his cell to-night. Whether it is possible that his sentence be shortened, we do not know. We can only try. Those who would help us try, let me ask to put your signatures to this simple request for pardon addressed to Benjamin Harrison. To those who desire more fully to inform themselves before signing, I say: Your conscientiousness is praiseworthy -come to me at the close of the meeting and I will quote the exact language of the Markland letter. To those extreme Anarchists who cannot bend their dignity to ask pardon for an offense not committed, and of an authority they cannot recognize, let me say: Moses Harman’s back is bent, low bent, by the brute force of the Law, and though I would never ask anyone to bow for himself, I can ask it, and easily ask it, for him who fights the slave’s battle. Your dignity is criminal; every hour behind the bars is a seal to your partnership with Comstock. No one can hate petitions worse than I, and no one has less faith in them than I. But for my champion I am willing to try any means that invades no other’s right, even though I have little hope in it.
If, beyond these, there are those here to-night who have ever forced sexual servitude from a wife, those who have prostituted themselves in the name of Virtue, those who have brought diseased, immoral or unwelcome children to the light, without the means of provision for them, and yet will go from this ball and say, “Moses Harman is an unclean man -a man rewarded by just punishment,” then to you I say, and may the words ring deep within your ears UNTIL YOU DIE: Go on! Drive your sheep to the shambles! Crush that old, sick, crippled man beneath your juggernaut! In the name of Virtue, Purity and Morality, do it! In the names of God, Home, and Heaven, do it! In the name of the Nazarene who preached the golden rule, do it! In the names of Justice, Principle, and Honor, do it! In the names of Bravery and Magnanimity put yourself on the side of the robber in the government halls, the murderer in the political convention, the libertine in public places, the whole brute force of the police, the constabulary, the court, and the penitentiary, to persecute one poor old man who stood alone against your licensed crime! Do it. And if Moses Harman dies within your “Kansas Hell,” be satisfied when you have murdered him! Kill him! And you hasten the day when the future shall bury you ten thousand fathoms deep beneath its curses. Kill him! And the stripes upon his prison clothes shall lash you like the knout! Kill him! And the insane shall glitter hate at you with their wild eyes, the unborn babes shall cry their blood upon you, and the graves that you have filled in the name of Marriage, shall yield food for a race that will pillory you, until the memory of your atrocity has become a nameless ghost, flitting with the shades of Torquemada, Calvin and Jehovah over the horizon of the World!
Would you smile to see him dead? Would you say, “We are rid of this obscenist?” Fools! The corpse would laugh at you from its cold eyelids! The motionless lips would mock, and the solemn hands, the pulseless, folded hands, in their quietness would write the last indictment, which neither time nor you can efface. Kill him! And you write his glory and your shame! Moses Harman in his felon stripes stands far above you now, and Moses Harman dead will live on, immortal in the race he died to free! Kill him!
By: Jad Davis | Mar 21, 2011 feminismCross posted from my website, jad-davis.com (hence the odd seeming self-reference to Gonzo Times). Below, I’ve combined the Introduction with the follow-up post, Marriage, Monogamy, and Violence to save on page real estate.
The next several posts will (barring sidetracking) be related to a discussion going on at the Gonzo Times. I’ve always liked the Times because they address issues that a number of other anti-authoritarian sites seem to overlook in the name of expediency. One of these issues is gender. As I documented in the previous post/podcast and as is summarized (along with subsequent developments) by Punk Johnny Cash in this recent post, a number of misogynists, some self-described, have predictably sprung up to attack those voicing questions and concerns about the treatment of women in pro-liberty circles.
Of course, there are alot of ins, alot of outs, alot of what-have-yous involved, but I tend to think that this sort of development is “a good thing.” Occasionally, it’s time to introspect and make sure one’s house is in order, both as an individual and, metaphorically, as a collective. On the rare occasions that reactionaries, especially those that are so obviously poisoning the well, pop up, it provides the rest of us a chance to state our position clearly to said reactionaries and to the rest of the world.
In this case, the world clearly needs to hear the liberty perspective spelled out. Virtually all casual observers believe that libertarianism is a post-hoc political conclusion based on anger towards and fear of government takeover by non-white and/or non-male people. This conclusion is based on the media amplification of a few conservative voices that, in fact, hold that position in ways subtle and obvious.*
What we shall look at over the next few posts is a flurry of activity on the Gonzo Times website by one of the bloggers there, Jay Batman (one of the aforementioned self-described misogynists). His case, stated most comprehensively in an initial post can be addressed in a dozen ways that have sprung into my mind. I haven’t even finished reading it. Maybe he ends the entire thing with a retraction, in which case, my bad for not finishing before responding.
In any case, these issues deserve addressing as they will doubtless arise again (and again) in the future. I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep at it until each and every failing is revealed, but I will do my best.
Marriage, Monogamy, and Violence
Jay begins his post with the following premises:
. . . societal conventions that deny a man’s natural and innate inclinations to preach some false idea of domestication as the ideal are the creations of a matriarchal tyranny.
We men are not naturally inclined toward monogamy or marriage. Societies that promote such end results are clearly the product of male hatred on the part of the women who drive such values. Women have appropriated the state and religious institutions to systematically de-masculinize men and relegate us to a less virile, less potent existence.
One would think a libertarian would understand that a tyranny of any sort cannot exist without the use of force. I’m not clear on what, exactly, is preaching the idea of monogamy and marriage as ideal–I guess the Abrahamic religions (why not the Sarahtic religions?) are usually interpreted as endorsing these things–but whatever the source, it’s pretty clearly using non-violent persuasion to get the job done in the western world.
This conflation of verbal pressure with violent aggression seems to be a trend among misogynists. In another, follow-up post, Jay paints the following picture
Think of the man like the Gadsden Flag bearer, and you get the picture: he’s got it in his head that striking back is the way to go, but the female standing in front of him, though half his size, has a mouth like a Gatling Gun and can tear him to shreds with it. It’s emasculating, but it’s what women do.
This echoes a similar sentiment expressed by a commenter on a Punk Johnny Cash article.
Add to this, women who can’t keep their mouths shut, who use their words as surrogate baseball bats to bludgeon their man into submission; or women who stand in doorways to prevent the man from leaving the room/house so as to DE-escalate (caused mainly by the rise of “Feminism,” another statist invention). . . they kind of deserve what they get.
At least Jay pretends to live in a world where a verbal confrontation results in the powerful man gently weeping in response to a discussion with a woman. The second commenter seems more closely connected with reality, where 4 million women apparently can’t keep their mouths shut each year and get what, apparently, they “deserve”.
It’s important to frame a verbal confrontation in physically violent terms so that men who initiate aggression against people can be let off the hook on a pseudo-self-defense clause.
In the good old days, of course, even this nonsensical veneer of legitimacy wasn’t needed, and this brings us back to the topic of marriage.
Until the tyrannical matriarchy appeared on the scene, marriage was simply a legal claim to human property. If a woman was beaten, raped, killed, or forced into labor, the legal question was restricted to which man, typically a father or husband, owned her. If the perpetrator was the owner of the woman, the issue went no further. If, he wasn’t, restitution was owed to the owner and the attacker and often the victim were further punished by the legal authorities.
This arrangement varied slightly from place to place, but was always essentially a transaction among men:fathers and sometimes would-be husbands as part of an often much larger exchange of property.
Women, for their part, were kept by in a dependent state by the inability to own property, conduct business, travel unescorted, etc. The skill set they were consequentially raised to develop was that of a domestic servant, taking care of the children, the sick, the elderly and maintaining the household. They were raised to be obedient and submissive and were therefore amenable to religions, which praise obedience, submission and forgiveness as virtuous–more on this in a future post.
In the last fraction of human history, state capitalism has subsidized the movement of women into the workforce by taking over some of the traditional roles: care of children, the sick and the elderly primary among them. This isn’t, as Jay posits, a result of an emerging and powerful state-feminist alliance–such an idea is laughable when one compares the numbers of men and women among the captains of industry and social engineers that constructed the state welfare system–but as an entirely predictable corporate-state alliance that always seeks to subsidize inexpensive labor for the owners of capital.
Jay’s other point in the passage is that the women force men, through the apparatus of the state, I guess, into monogamous relationships. Again, this is absurd. Men have never been held to a standard of monogamy, certainly not in the modern west. Women on the other hand have always been held to an exacting standard with phenomenally inhumane penalties for adultery.
The fear of raising another man’s child factored into both the control of women’s freedom to move, to associate, and to own property as well as the devastating penalties exacted on women for sex outside of marriage. Men never faced anywhere near the same degree of retribution for non-monogamy.
As to what is “natural” for either sex, the point is moot and largely unknowable. In a few hundred years, when women have absolute and unchallenged control of their reproduction and face no physical threat from partners, it might be possible to determine what sexual behaviors are natural and which are a result of violent institutions. My guess is, nature being what it is, that people will tend towards a wide variety of arrangements that will overrun any modern predictions.
In any case, the current situation is rife with violence and the threat of violence as well as the historical hangovers of sexual repression and institutional dis-empowerment of women–reasoning about the future of human sexuality is like predicting the future course of technology at the point that the catholic church ceased systematic interference in the conduct of science.
Overall, the extraordinary claim that women are secretly controlling the agendas of institutions that have always been overseen and staffed by males and have always relegated women to a “less virile less potent existence” requires a tremendous amount of evidence. While Jay provides a number of anecdotal instances of women who act less than honorably toward men, by any metric and at any time and place in history, men have used their physical superiority and their political privilege to completely dominate women. This isn’t a matter of “reading the right books” as Jay complains he is always asked to do. It’s a recognition of very rudimentary and basic fact of human history.
To blame women for perpetuating the institutions that have always assisted men in maintaining dominance is the height of chutzpah. To pity men that can’t willfully beat their “mouthy women” and then wonder why females avoid one’s ideology of freedom is willful callousness. To blame women in general for the behavior of the women that one chooses to associate with the definition of bigotry.
We’ve got alot more to cover folks, so if you have any desire to direct the conversation, please drop a comment.
* An compelling discussion on how ideology is used to provide psychic cover for prior trauma can be found in Freedomain Radio’s Bomb in the Brain series.
Jay Batman’s articles crystallized for me something I have seen on the rise for the last year or so.
In American society, and to a larger extent Europe, Canada and Australia, you’re seeing the rise of a movement that is best described as the “alternative right.” These guys are radical traditionalists, who through the election of a black president to the presidency in the United States, the rise of Hispanic and Muslim populations in Europe and America, have woken up to see a Western society that is no longer exclusively Western.
These guys may have just made snarky comments when George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan added women to the government or held demonstrations when Bush and Reagan opened the doors for immigrants but Barack Obama’s presidency, complete with a Latina on the Supreme Court and a black woman at the highest echelon of cultural authority telling them that they’re eating a crappy diet was just too much to take. Something had to be done.
That something is what you are seeing with websites like Richard Spencer’s Alternative Right, These guys aren’t prudent conservatives in the mold of Wayeed Ali who seek “organic change” over “forced change.” They’re radicals that want disruptive and forced change back to the past. Jay Batman fits smugly among these cretins, with his language alone fitting him squarely in the midst of these neo-fascists:
The violent torpedo of truth that is anarcho-misogyny continues to detonate in the minds of feminists and left-anarchists who simply can’t handle the reality that their ideology is a pale imitation of statism, less concerned with promoting equality than a standard of exceptionalism for women as a gender or a sex. Let’s take a look at some of the reviews offered up by the other side, shall we?
I’ve read and done research on the people who comprise the Alternative Right and they are the creepiest guys I’ve ever seen. I’m preparing a book on the subject. Richard Spencer has spoken fondly of more than a few things that decent people look at with disgust. Here’s a taste:
Yes. Taki is a man who resides in a couple of different worlds. Instinctually, Taki is a “paleoconservative” or “traditionalist” . . . or perhaps I should say “fascist” (I, of course, mean that as a compliment. I always have this image of him wearing a Wehrmacht helmet while skiing in Switzerland, as he related in one of his columns.) At the same time, he’s also connected with the fashionable New York scene (which is made up of people who are far cooler than I, that’s for sure.) And though in his 70s, he has the energy—and libido—of a 25-year-old. The “Taki legend” is definitely true. I remember in 2008 eating dinner with him at the Waverly Inn alongside a number of his old cronies and various pretty girls. It was definitely not your average night at the movies . . . I digress.
I suggest Jay Batman contact Spencer. Spencer loves publicity so he shouldn’t be hard to get a hold of. Batman will fit in like a glove with him.
Jay Batman’s article flummoxed me a bit. I was actually a little bit surprised to see that this “anarcho-misogynist” had his work published here at Gonzo Times. I suppose it’s good that PJC is open minded and that a debate is going on, but to be present around someone spouting alternative right style propaganda is a bit creepy. Not that I disrespect his right to voice his opinion, but I would honestly suggest that Batman move from here to Richard Spencer’s website Alternative Right, where his right wing “anarchism” would not be attacked as frequently and he could get pat-on-the-head comments instead of angry rebuttals.
One thing I have noticed about people that enjoy making racial and gendered generalizations is that they try to back it up by some sort of real world experience. This experience is usually gross, graphic and over the top, in order to show that the obligueness of life is such that bigotry is an irresistible necessity.
Batman, like a perfect gentleman, tells us publicly about his “dear friend,” saying:
I have a dear friend from high school who has three different fathers for her children. She’s a nice lady in all respects, but to hear her tell it, the men she’s been with are simply pathetic. No self-awareness as to her own choices in the matters emerges in conversation. To give you a rather revealing example of the likely issue that contributed to her current state of existence, her favorite type of pornography is the cream-pie.
Isn’t that special? Geez, Jay, I suggest you grab a tape recorder, repeat that paragraph out loud and then play it back. Maybe then you will be able to realize that you come off creepier than Boris Karloff selling drugs on school property. I can fire back with some stories, lots of them. One of my friends for many years descended into a spurious torrent of self-loathing wherein he slept around with women and contracted an STD.
I lived in northern California in an area with a huge Muslim population. Two family members of mine dated or married men from North Africa, which led to me being open with this group. I dated a girl from Saudi Arabia and befriended a girl from Syria. I can tell you stories of wonderous gentlemanliness in which the girl I dated had been raped, on another occasion kidnapped and harassed to a degree that she didn’t trust men at all. My friend from Syria had also been raped (I portend that rape occurs to one in three women. Not sure what the worldwide statistics would be).
One man I knew in California had just recently converted to Islam and was now seeking a “conservative” woman. For all his wants of modesty in women, he didn’t act that way himself and said many good ole boys comments around me all the time. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it if I hadn’t heard what female friends thought of him. The aforementioned friend from Syria, who in tracksuit, hair dye and ounces of make up was hardly a feminist said, “He slept around for years and now wants a young ‘conservative’ girl who will stay in doors.”
Back to Batman’s original point. Batman seems to find a problem with women choosing their own mates. I hate to break it to him, but that is called freedom. He apparently wants a lingering type of tyranny, one which would benefit him over freedoms that don’t benefit him.
Also, whatever bad choices his “friend” made, he might find that there won’t be the same lurch towards resentment if he listened to other points of view. If anarchists are at war with the “Don’t Tread On Me” crowd, it is because that crowd is so firmly located in its own little prism with no consideration of the desires for freedom and sovereignty on the part of others.
Unlike Jay, I’m also smart enough to know that bad incidents and choices in life shouldn’t lead a thoughtful person toward a prohibitive ideology. I know a few people who have literally smoked their brains out and no longer say anything intelligible, but I firmly support the end of the war on drugs. That may be a bit complicated, I know, but such is life.
A reply to Jay Batman’s Why I Am an Anarcho-Misogynist.
Part of me wonders whether I should even dignify a response. So manywords have been used, explaining why Feminism is important that there’s not really much I can add to explaining the basics. Simply put, Feminism is and always will be an integral part of Anarchism ,and when it’s cut out whatever it is that’s left, is not Anarchism. I’ve got no time for Paleo apologetics. We’ve all probably done this dance, and done it to death. Feminism is just woman’s liberation (though it does not and should not exclude men either).I’m honestly confused why rightly understood, anyone could oppose that. However it seems to me, you don’t understand and that’s where the problems lie. Hopefully I can at least allow you a glimpse of understanding. If not, I think there’s no hope there.
You say, “The welfare state, the nanny state, all of the major advances of the state into social concerns over the past fifty years is undeniably matriarchal in their concerns”. Let’s examine that. It seems your equating concern for others with the feminine – a stereotypically sexist gender role equation. Apparently, men can’t be caring now. It you truly looked at these issues you would see that these institutions in fact mirror the authoritarian parent or family particularly the out-dated patriarchal father of older times.
When you write “societal conventions that deny a man’s natural and innate inclinations to preach some false idea of domestication as the ideal are the creations of a matriarchal tyranny”, I think you have it round the wrong way. This applies more (though not exclusively) to women than to men. No one is( or should be) denying that gender roles oppress both men and women.
With sentences such as “Women have appropriated the state and religious institutions to systematically de-masculinize men and relegate us to a less virile, less potent existence”, you appear to be suggesting there is some sort of inherent thing called ‘masculinity’ which can be eroded or attacked whereas it is really socially constructed and defined. What is ‘masculine’ is determined by cultural norms. It can either be the stereotype of watching sports, as in the west or holding hands with friends as in Middle Eastern cultures. I think you would struggle to define that concept without implying that only men can exhibit that behaviour, that it’s inherent to men or without arbitrarily assigning someone common to all humans as distinctively male. If I were to question what is ‘masculine’, you would answer ‘manly’. I would ask, what is ‘manly’ you could give a list of traits but to claim they are inherently bound to the nature of being a man is to fall into the trap of thinking in gender roles- to say men always do(descriptive) or should( Normative sexism) act in x,y,z ways. I’ve discussed this before in the topic of Dehumanization. Your thinking treats human beings with will and rationality as mere objects.
Essentially it seems you’ve failed to engage with the relevant literature and philosophy and instead ride the bandwagon of a minority of masculists who wrongly see men and women as inherently opposed and thus reject feminism as competition.
“The two are mutually exclusive, because the feminine paradigm of thought is largely concerned with the oppositional, either/or mutually exclusive dichotomy.” fails into the same error that some so called feminists have when they have claimed that men have an exclusive way of thinking such as rationality while women are more emotional suggesting that women should be less rational which is altogether insulting and sexist in of itself. No, it is not true there is ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ ways of thinking. There is merely ways of thinking, common to both. It was Aristotle who first widely propagated the idea of mutual exclusivity. Is he dominated by this way of thinking, even though Feminism as an organized movement did not exist in his time?
Furthermore the schema you are proposing of male vs. female, ‘masculine’ vs. ‘feminine’ is but itself, a false dichotomy based on gender role and out-dated gender binary.
“a life built on the idea of reproductive responsibility for men and reproductive emancipation for women, are indisputably the province and idea of women.” ignores the fact that marriage was to some extent created to allow men to reproduce and claim exclusivity over women and thus control their bodies. We can see this playing out via statism with men allowed ownership of women’s bodies and possessions and in the fact that up until quite recently, rape within marriage was considered acceptable. Marriage can be oppressive for men and women-there is no doubt about this. Anarcha-Feminists have acknowledged this fact for years. Again, ignorance leads you to overextend your points.
“The correct answer is this: a man has a choice, a free choice, and he should be allowed to choose whether or not enter into the child-rearing with a woman”, is of course absolutely true and I think no one should deny the tyranny of things such as enforced child support regardless of which parent of which gender it falls upon. Again this is an issue Anarcha-feminists do not have. The ethics of this however may be a different matter.
In writing “anarcho-misogyny is a new way of viewing antiquated arrangements like family and monogamy, neither of which can be said to be the natural state of males”, you are really making Anarcha-feminist arguments but from a masculist perspective. There is nothing wrong with that provided you understand the worth of feminism and it’s opposition to sexism, gender roles and the like.
To claim “Moreover, a woman within a monogamous relationship has a monopoly over the only asset sufficient to make any man entertain the prolonging of marriage: sex” is a thoroughly cynical reductionist view which excludes love from marriage.
The piece begins to have a personal ring to it when you say “but the simple truth is that he is a man engaged in the fullness of manhood.” I find it difficult to reconcile sleeping around with feminism. Furthermore, I see nothing which indicates that kind of behaviour is more ‘manly’ than not doing it. Again a gender role is assumed.
It’s a whole other debate whether “We are hardwired for polygyny, and our physiological realities prove as much.” but initially it seems this does not hold, current rates of divorce to the contrary. The reasoning of “Typically, human males are 10 percent taller and 20 percent heavier than females. This suggests that, throughout history, humans have been mildly polygynous.” is not immediately obvious neither does it follow from what of it you’ve presented.
“[W]hile powerful men throughout Western history have married monogamously (only one legal wife at a time), they have always mated polygynously (they had lovers, concubines, and female slaves)” speaks more to the use of women as objects of reproduction than as an inherent tendency against monogamy. Remember as biologists are found of reminding us, biology is not destiny.
It was a mistake to say “The answer is female-dominated and defined religion, specifically Catholic sexual mores, with their veneration of virginity ” since this ignores the clear understanding that the belief that women should remain ‘pure’ and virginal until marriage is clearly intended to be a means of control of women through male exclusivity. Remaining a virgin is not a ‘feminine’ value inherently.
It’s not entirely clear what you believe “equality of outcomes and results” involves, but I will say that Feminism is advocacy of equal treatment for women-i.e. that women and men be treated equally well. That’s part of opposition to Dehumanization which is involved in hierarchical relations of which sexism and larger Patriarchy, is a kind.
Unless under the influence of Paleo-libertarians or misguided anti-feminist masculinists, it’s unclear why you’d argue ” The state has been redesigned to care about health, about education, about egalitarian outcomes, and about promoting the universalization of said concerns throughout the globe through NGOs and other institutions” and lay the blame exclusively on women. These measures existed before organized feminism arose throughout globe, throughout history and were more about a political embodiment of the model of authoritarian parenting than women’s interests.
You haven’t defined you the meaning of “doubtful masculinity” and let the door open for a wide array of accusations of homophobia. In the one swipe your paragraph, in which you state “To allow socialism and other communitarian ideals to have their way is execute the Promethean impulse within men that reaches towards fire to achieve greatness on an individual level. Feminization teaches us that individual achievement, and any insistence on reaping the rewards of individual achievement as an individual, is selfish and evil. It denigrates that within ordinary men that might give them the chance to be extraordinary.” has misunderstood Socialism, implied Feminism inherently opposes self-interest with some randianesque rambling and set up Feminism as some sacrificial cult. Quite a feat!
In your mention of Warren Farrell, I would say that while he speaks much true about sexism against men, his philosophy is out of balance in excluding women or at least going on the offensive against Feminism without depth thought.
I think you’re wrong to “reject categorically the idea of sexual harassment” as if it can never occur and there are no ethical concerns involved. What you should have said is rather that it’s complex and beyond Freudian bizarreness, “dedicated to all of the women who covet what a man has ” is a pretty absurd statement.
NB: I consider this the end of the debate on my part.I don’t really have anything more to say.
When the news broke Charlie Sheen’s latest…well, Charlie Sheen moment…I was one of the many people who appreciated sage wisdom like “sorry my life is so much more bitchin’ than yours. I planned it that way.” My boyfriend and I snarked to one another in Google chat while I franticly refreshed Live The Sheen Dream for more coke-addled quotations. Within moments, I stumbled upon a selection from his most unsettling quote: “[a]nd you know, one of my favorite poets is Eminem. One of the smartest cats alive. He’s what inspires me, you know. He inspires me to stay violent.”
Cue record scratch here.
When initially saw the selection, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. Yes, the same Eminem who wrote “Kim” is the same guy Charlie Sheen considers “one of [his] favorite poets….[who] inspires [him] to stay violent.” (Be warned: if you aren’t familiar with the song, it’s about an abusive relationship told from an abuser’s point of view and gives a pretty clear picture of the terror that battered spouses/partners experience.)
I’m not sure that irony is the correct word here, but there’s something a bit off-putting about the Eminem statement, especially in light of Sheen’s prior domestic violence allegations and convictions. Look, I know that a complete lack of self-awareness is not exactly unchartered territory for The World According to Charlie Sheen. But y’know, there is something incredibly disturbing, unsettling, and so absurdly surreal about that quote combined with Sheen’s personal life.
Personally, I’m one of those folks who thinks that art should reflect even the darkest parts of humanity, make us uncomfortable, push our boundaries, all that pretentious nonsense. I want to emphasize this because I realize that by discussing violence in entertainment, I’m opening myself up for accusations of wanting to bring back the PMRC. For the record, I don’t support governmental censorship in any form; part of the reason Sheen’s statement frustrates me so much is because it’s begging to be twisted into an argument supporting censorship. I am also well aware that Sheen has recently given some generic “wife beating is bad” statements to CNN. While it is possible that Sheen may have had a sudden change of heart, I find it very difficult to believe. Keep in mind that his most recent domestic violence case was settled less than a year ago with a plea bargain that would put him into rehab and counseling instead of jail. Given Sheen’s public views on both rehab and therapy, I don’t think you can blame me for assuming the plea was nothing but a ploy to get out of jail.
You may agree with Sheen’s views on rehab, the government, 9/11, or therapy. You know what they say: even a broken Charlie Sheen is right two times a day. The thing is, a changed man who cured himself through “winning” doesn’t gleefully proclaim that a rapper “inspires [him] to stay violent.” How on Earth can he reconcile that quote and his wife beating past with his recent “denouncing” of domestic violence? Furthermore, isn’t it pretty contradictory to treat a guy who regularly violates the NAP as an amazing asset for the liberty movement? Freedom, liberty, and non-aggression should all include an active, aggressive anti-intimate abuse stance.
I have this nagging feeling that beneath Sheen’s aging bad boy veneer, his cliched Hollywood vices, and his erratic yet charismatic behavior, there’s a real life “Kim” waiting to explode. Even if I’m wrong and Sheen isn’t an Ira Einhorn in the making, there’s still a major flaw in the “Charlie Sheen loves freedom” meme. I don’t care how heavily he denounces AA or the government, a man who doesn’t care about his spouse or partner’s personal freedom is no ally of mine. Label me a feminazi if you must — and trust me, I’ll be sure to Tweet you when I decide to invade Poland with copies of The Feminine Mystique — but I’m just a little uppity when it comes to my freedom to not be assaulted.
If you respect Sheen’s views on politics and the mental health system, more power to you. If you think he’s a batshit, but brilliant actor, more power to you. But let’s really not fall into the trap of conflating his acting ability or viewpoints with the man himself. Labeling him a freedom fighter despite mounds of evidence to the contrary is assinine, problematic, downright misogynist, and symptomatic of a lot of problems within the liberty “movement.”
An important principle of anarchism and one that more than any other differentiates it from other types of socialism is its emphasis on freedom and non-hierarchical social relations. Central to anarchism is the rejection of any power hierarchy between men and women. Anarchists believe that the liberty of one is based on the liberty of all and so there can be no true anarchist society without an end to all existing structures of domination and exploitation, including naturally the oppression of women.
As anarchists we believe that the means determines the end. This means that we do not wait for some future revolution to tackle the problems of sexism but instead see that it is important to struggle against it in the here and now. As anarchists we strive to ensure that both our own organisations and also those campaigns we are involved in are free from sexism and power-hierarchies and that all members have equal decision-making power.
GOD’S CHOSEN RULERS
Rulers have always been good at rationalising unfair practices, take for example the idea of the ‘divine right of kings’. Popular for centuries, the church and state argued that kings and queens were appointed by God. The status quo was natural and good, any opposition to it was evil and doomed to eternal hell. These days kings don’t have much power, which is why not many people rush to describe Charles and Di as God’s chosen rulers.
In much the same way, it was necessary to have women inferior to men to ensure inheritance rights. In order to keep women in this position a whole mythology of women as second class humans was developed. It was the accumulation of a surplus and the desire of a minority to monopolise it that lead to the class division of society and to the oppression of women.
WHO MINDS THE CHILDREN
It found that the provision of childcare was one of the impediments preventing women from working. Their conclusion was that “in the absence of changes in mens’ attitudes, or working hours outside the home or in their contribution within the family it seems unlikely that even a greater availability of childcare outside the home would alter domestic arrangements greatly. Without these changes, it is conceivable that many useful forms of work flexibility – that might be offered to women such as job sharing, career breaks, special sick leave or term-time working – might reinforce rather than mitigate the formidable level of occupational segregation based on gender, to women’s longer-term disadvantage.”
The authors of the survey note that as long as responsibility for childcare rests with the women they will remain trapped in the family. They also point out that concessions to women in the world of work often result in women being pidgeon-holed into less well paid job. This already happens in regard to part-time workers who are paid a lower hourly wage than full-time workers. They point out that men have to square up to their responsibility as fathers. The key they emphasise is a change in mens’ attitudes.
CONTROL OF OUR BODIES
Women will remain as second class citizens as long as they are relegated to an inferior position in the work force. They are now in that position because to the bosses they are an unstable workforce, likely to want pregnancy leave, likely to come in late if a child is sick, likely to require a creche or want to work part time. It is because men in society are seen as the breadwinners that they have slightly more secure, slightly more dependable jobs.
It’s a vicious circle, because men are in reality better paid, it makes more sense within the family to assign the role of main earner to the male and the role of carer to the female. The only way to permanently get out out of this circle is to change the system.
Women – still carrying the baby at work and home!!
Over the last 100 years, there is no doubt that women’s situation in most first world countries has improved dramatically. Now that we’ve reached the 21st century, many would say that sexist inequality no longer really exists. However, if we take a brief look at just one aspect of our lives – work – it is clear that there is still a lot left to fight for. Over the last ten to fifteen years there has been a particularly large increase in the number of women working outside the home. The jobs women are filling, however, tend to be low-paid and part-time work. Despite changing attitudes, the ultimate responsibility for childcare and housework generally lies with women which is the main reason why women are much more likely than men to be part-time workers. 30% of female employees work part-time compared with 6% for men.
Mujeres Libres (Free Women) were a group of women anarchists who organised and fought both for women’s liberation and an anarchist revolution during the Spanish Civil War. The work they did is truly inspirational. Their example shows how the struggle against women’s oppression and against capitalism can be combined in one fight for freedom.
As anarchists they rejected any relegation of women to a secondary position within the libertarian movement. In the 1930′s feminism had a narrower meaning than it does now, and they rejected it as a theory which fought for ‘equality of women within an existing system of privileges’. They argued “We are not, and were not then feminists. We were not fighting against men. We did not want to substitute a feminist hierarchy for a masculine one. It’s necessary to work, to struggle, together because if we don’t we’ll never have a social revolution. But we needed our own organisation to struggle for ourselves”.
-via Mujeres Libres
I found a paper I wrote a couple years ago before I was writing regular. My stance on the issue has evolved, but in light of recent discussions here I am posting it. I feel some of the content I still stand by. Some my theories and education in the area has evolved since writing this a couple of years ago. This is from a point where I was not yet looking at womanism. Enjoy…
What is feminism? According to Merriam Webster it is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, or organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. Those simple statements can be dissected to shed a great deal on the subject. What is political equality? What is economic equality? What is social equality? What are a woman’s rights? And what exactly is in the best interest of women?
Despite great advances in politics and society in regards to women there remain many points that seem to still be in need of advancement. Much of culture is founded on the male dominant structure created and paved for ages. This may be intentional or unintentional that point is null. What is relevant is the fact that it does happen and exist. Cultural bias expectations still seem to paint certain roles which men and women have certain places. The primaries and presidential campaign in 2008 can be telling with this in the way candidates and issues were handled, perceived and treated. There is a common misconception that feminism consists of women trying to be like men, or take on male aspects.
Feminism is a logical dedication as well as a political movement seeking justice for women as well as the end to all forms of sexism. However, with feminism branching in so many directions that many disagree on not only what sexism is, but how and what should be done to bring about the equality and social class that gave birth to the cause. Feminists disagree about the implications of what gender roles has to play as well as what social and political rules apply to both men and women. Through the origins of society and culture men have dominated. They have molded society to their benefit and mindset. Even Aristotle placed women in a lower classification with slaves. This mindset was educated and dominant in politics, logic, health, and almost every other topic. The evolution of these thought processes can be seen as something that has been handed down from generation to generation. Little girls see mothers put into these roles and abiding by these cultural concepts. They see fathers falling into the gender roles that were dictated to them, and begin to conceive their purpose for existence as such. They took on these roles such as domestic help, cooking, cleaning, and raising children as their main purpose. Male and female roles have changed in culture over time, but much is still to be done in these areas.
One philosophy is Radical feminism, which emphasizes the deep roots of injustice between the sexes. Radical feminism views the division of privileges; power and rights between the sexes as oppressing women and favoring men. The radical feminists are more aggressive to their method of opposing the existing political and social structure as well as their support for social change.
A single parent household has become commonplace in culture, and men have given up roles of responsibility all too often. Some may ask about a concept such as chivalry. If a woman wishes to be equal why should a man open a door for her? Feminism is not attempting to destroy respect that a woman does receive. Men should not approach it with a mindset that is angered or threatened in a manner to take such respects from a woman. This concept could possibly begin to work both ways with respect to human beings as a whole instead of becoming a point of anger or discourse. Truly opening a door is trivial compared to the larger picture.
Some important concepts in feminist theory are social class, work, human rights, and popular culture. Are women given equal treatment in there areas? Are they dominated by men? Have men traditionally been given the opportunities? Education, work, recognition, and opportunities to excel in most areas seem to have been historically male dominant. This gives us a basis for knowledge, education, art, and most areas of academia that is founded with masculine concepts. Would it not be better for knowledge and education as a whole to begin to infuse concepts with a wider range while not throwing out what we have currently? Feminism is about equality across the board not dominance of one over another. Dominance is in itself a masculine concept, and a historical which reason women were put into a place they are.
Here are some concepts that need to be evaluated in culture. A woman often sees their purpose as being an individual whose children depend upon for care. As time progresses the children grow independent leaving a woman without her purpose in life. Masculine concepts are seen as rational and stable while the feminist perspective is seen as emotional and often unstable irrationality. Perhaps concepts of logic and rationality need to be explored further from the female perspective. This warrants further consideration. Does one gender excel or is one genders perspective accepted while the other is not? The later is the proper perspective on which to further focus. Often from childhood through adulthood women find themselves scaling down goals and desires for life to fit a more acceptable or realistic logical life in culture. This in itself presents a problem (Meyers, 04).
Susan James describes feminism as: “Feminism is grounded on the belief that women are oppressed or disadvantaged by comparison with men, and that their oppression is in some way illegitimate or unjustified. Under the umbrella of this general characterization there are, however, many interpretations of women and their oppression, so that it is a mistake to think of feminism as a single philosophical doctrine, or as implying an agreed political program.” (James 2000, 576)
Often through society this sexism and male dominance was not seen, and not done with intent but driven by an underline prejudice that was not obvious to many. People accepted culture as it was as the way things were and did not see need for change or fault with it. Most were almost incapable of seeing any problem or inequality at all. This is seen in even our language, and wording. Many terms of masculinity have been adopted as slang and proper English in a positive light while many feminine terms have been taken with a negative connotation. Why would a concept of femininity be seen as undesirable compared to a masculine concept? This is a perfect example of this sexism most seem to not see.
Olype de Gouges in 1791 published the Declaration of rights of women and citizens. When she wrote this, she took her inspiration from the 1789 Declaration of the National Assembly, which took the declaration and extended its rights to women. Olype de Gouges both affirmed the women’s competence to both reason as well as deal with moral decisions, taking into account women’s qualities for emotion and empathy, stating that women were not only the same as man but was equally his partner.
Somewhere along the way select men and women have lost sight of the concepts presented by feminist thinking and have been drawn astray. Some see feminism as woman dominating over man and less an equality of all. Some see a concept of a woman taking on male ideas and male life styles throwing away the unique feminism perspectives. The best example of this would be in pornography. Some will say it empowers women. Women have degraded themselves for their exploitation by men. They see liberation to take off clothing and exposing ones self as taking charge, and some women have lost sight of basic morality by taking on the chauvinist concepts and flaws of men (Levey, 06).
To look at a modern example one can turn to the current political arena. In the 2008 elections two women stand in the lime light as candidates that stuck out to most Americans. These women are Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Both have been examined with this male stereotype of what a woman is to be. Their fashion and child rearing have constantly been brought to light as subjects of their qualifications. Why is it one rarely focuses on a male politicians ability to raise children but a woman is automatically assumed to be responsible for this even in current politics?
during a speech of Hilary Clinton guys would have the nerve to shout “Iron my Shirt”, the scary fact is that It didn’t seem to bother the media, women or anyone else for that matter. This show’s disrespect as well as discrimination to all women not just women of power look at the way Sarah Palin has been ridiculed for anything that she says regarding her family her life or her career, society looks at her as though she is some dingy white girl getting buy on her looks, not the accomplishment’s she has achieved. Some people predict that in 2012 could be two women running for president basically plain versus Clinton. Due to fact of the possibility of McCain wins he would be extremely old to want to run for reelection. So that would leave Clinton and Plain as America’s two favorites. However the day men allow women to run the country pigs may fly; women have not gained all the equality from men as well as other women that are one of the reasons Obama beat out Hilary. The only reason Clinton got as far as she did in the election is because of her husband, Mrs. Clinton had four different groups of voter’s first group are dedicated feminists who have been a Clinton follower from the very beginning, the second group look at it as a package deal we get two presidents for the price of one. This meaning if Hillary becomes president bill comes with her, third groups are racist who would do anything to keep a black man out of the white house and then the fourth group doesn’t really care either way they are not pro life or feminist, with saying this the fourth group could easily sway to the plain side because these voters see her as a woman and someone who didn’t have someone so closely connected to the white house, the press believes she appeals to the single mom which is 27 percent of the national vote.
Leroy, Margaret. Pleasure: The Truth about Female Sexuality. London: Harper Collins, 1993.
Levey, Ariel. chauvinist pigs: Women and the rise of raunchy culture New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 2006
Frye, Marilyn. The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory. Berkley, CA:The Crossing Press,1983
Porter, Marilyn. Home, Work and Class Consciousness. Great Britain: Manchester University Press, 1983.
Meyers Diana, (2004). Feminist Perspectives on the Self. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved September 8, 2008, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-self
The issues of race and gender seem to have blown up here at Gonzo Times. This has not been without resistance. The article I posted in October specifically seems to be getting a lot of attention. I have ran into the classic colorblind concepts in response to much of what was written. I thought to myself that I would lay off the subject a while and get to something more along the lines of economics or warfare but then I realized that the amount of resistance to discussing such concepts seems to be an indicator that there is a great deal that needs to be said, and that the problem is real.
We must not fool ourselves into thinking that they are issues we are immune to. I asked why certain people groups are less dominant in the libertarian and anarchist circles. This was often met with defense of what is. The libertarians seem to take an extremely right wing stance on the subject. They regurgitate the Rush Limbaugh take on racism. They wonder why people call them racist. If we are unwilling to discuss the issues how are we any different from the right wing who also refuses to discuss the issues?
The ‘race card’ ‘race baiting’ and other common right wing catch phrases seem to be brought up. Some of this is from an individuals desire to not discuss a problem and some of it is just from people who do not see the problems. Just about any people group is and can be ethnocentric. We are not immune to this. Looking outside and hearing others will help us to break free from this. We don’t see where our problems lie, but it is easy to point out the flaws in others. One of the things that I have done in Gonzo Times is to challenge my beliefs. This has led to much of the writing you read on the site.
Why is it that when the issue of gender is brought up so many libertarians are upset? I see few libertarian publications addressing the issues, they are too busy with their heads in economics as the end all answer to every problem. Are race or gender issues really something that will be solved with economics? If you believe such then you really are clinging to a Utopian belief of libertarianism. Some are offended and call me a communist. Some jump to the conclusion that the only answer is the state. I will say now that the absence of a state is not the answer to racism or sexism. I will also state that currently under the state we see proof that the answer is not the state. It has not been eliminated under the state or outside of the state. When we present real workable solutions to these issues outside of the state maybe then the label of racist and sexist might fall away. As long as the issues are considered non-issues and we look away the labels will stick.
This article is not about racism or sexism specifically but the reaction of the libertarian and some anarchists when the issues are brought up. These are issues deeply ingrained in society and our perspectives of what is and should be. It is in our entertainment, news, media and in our language. I am not implying or stating that libertarians are racist. I am not saying that all white men are racist. I am however stating that there are some reactions to race and gender issues when I bring them up here and other places from libertarians that are counter productive.
I am often attacked or quickly brushed aside when I bring up the issues. The issues of race and gender are met with hostility by many within libertarian circles. Shall these issues continue to go under our radar? The right wing tends to wish them away and pretend there is no issue of race or gender. They often point to the symptoms of the problem as the justification of the problem. Those who cling to the state for an answer and do not wish the state to address this issue I ask why is it you look to the state for justice in other areas of injustice but not this one?
We tend to quickly address issues pertaining to race and gender with one word solutions. For those who are facing such issues one word is not sufficient. Our movement should be listening to those who have been impacted by these problems. The idea that we are just going to accept racism is absurd. The injustices of racism and sexism are the issues we should speak out against. We do not accept the injustice of rape, theft or murder. Why then should we accept these? If this is a movement that embraces oppression then I want nothing to do with it. I would rather join the ranks of the womanists.
Often the issues that come up I do not think are complete racism. They often may come from people with truly good intentions not seeing the barriers that are being put up. This barrier is often one of ethnocentrism. This is not unique to the white man any more than it is exclusive to other people groups. This is one that can throw up barriers and often leads to being blind of the issues that impact another. How myopic is your perspective? I’m certain that mine can be at times but the problem is that we do not see our own blind spots easily.
Many right libertarians spend a great deal of time reading Austrian theories and delving into economic discussions only to get the same redundant sound bytes from Rachel Maddow fans in response. The frustration is there that people have not taken the time to learn about an issue or to truly comprehend what it is you are saying or where you claim the problems lie. They just come back with phrases that they hear recited daily in the news. The issue of race is often met with the same wall. Countless intellectuals have studied these issues and some libertarians almost steal the right wing responses to these issues they have not taken the time to research or learn about. Many libertarians can often become the sound bite replay they so often are frustrated with.
There are libertarians who have addressed these issues. There is often a strong movement towards patriarchal apologetics that seems to attract many. I would dare say that many who I know either see it as a non-issue or are afraid to speak out on this topic for fear of the reactions they will receive. I have met a hostile reception on many occasions in addressing these issues. Then there are those who have also embraced it with open arms or at least without taking a defense. Taking a defense when bringing up certain disparities is indicative of a problem that may be laying under the surface here.
You must choose to deny the issues or confront them. They will not go away and we will not be able to move forward until we have confronted them. The denial will not homogenize society. It will only create greater rifts and support oppressive social norms.
I predict that my calling this subject out will be met with quick uncritical dismissals. I will be called a ‘communist’ or be said to be ‘playing the race card’. These are the common reactions. I also suspect that many will deny that any issues of race or gender exist. I hope that people will open dialogue and seriously begin to discuss issues or race and gender instead of continuing to look the other way.
I want to be clear that many libertarians have done so and are not guilty of trying to quiet the discussion. Many have left insightful comments and have not thrown up a defensive wall when these issues come up. I was not planning on writing on race or gender this week. It just so happened that the beginning of the week it was a topic that many writers here brought up by coincidence. I had issues of the EPA and government footing the bill for corporate PR to discuss, but those took a back seat after the strong reactions I got from what was brought up earlier this week. At first I just considered avoiding race issues but then realized that I was caving and allowing this issue to be shut down. I can not let that happen.
When faced with a question as divisive as “is it harder to grow up male or female in America?” the tendency of most people is to protect their own. A man will more than likely state that it is more difficult growing up male while a woman will state the same in regards to growing up female. The simple explanation for this is that, whether you’re a male or a female, you can only truly see things through your own specific set of eyes. You don’t pay too much attention to what someone else is going through since you have so much going on in your own life. This is especially true in the formative years for both sexes.
So, with that being said, as a boy growing up I always felt like boys got the short end of the stick whenever it came down to anything at all concerning girls. Parents always seemed to side with the girls in any argument, and the teachers in school clearly favored the girls in class. While it may seem like this is an exaggerated account seen through my ‘specific set of eyes’ as I stated above, there have actually been studies done, and articles written on the subject of gender bias against boys in the American educational system. Writer Valerie Hegwood – a contributor to Yahoo.com – writes about the blatant differences in how her daughter is treated in school when compared to the treatment her son receives. Still, a boy is fully capable of gaining a quality education whether or not he will face certain biases within the educational system.
It wasn’t until I was blessed with my beautiful daughters that I was able to see the world through a set of different eyes. As a male, I will never be able to know exactly what my daughters are seeing, interpreting, or feeling. However, when I became a father – and my eyes were opened a bit wider in regards to gender differences – it became absolutely impossible to miss the fact that girls are inundated with unfair imagery and expectations at every turn. The fact that girls have to face near impossible expectations in terms of body image and sexuality from a very young age is why I believe it is much harder to grow up female in America.
Being pressured by these unhealthy expectations fuels not only low self-esteem, but all of the disorders that may come along with a negative self-image, such as eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, between 5% and 10% of females in this country suffer from a variety of eating disorders. This equates to between roughly 5 million and 10 million girls and women that are currently suffering through these disorders. By the time young women reach college, nearly 10% of them will suffer from clinical or sub-clinical eating disorders. And, while it’s nearly impossible to calculate mortality rates for these disorders based on the fact that many who suffer from them also suffer from co-occurring medical conditions, general estimates point towards 10% to 15% of eating disorders proving to be fatal to those affected.
Popular media goes a long way towards contributing to the objectifying of women. Television has become particularly absurd with the onslaught of “reality” shows that hit the airwaves season after season. In 2004, FOX unveiled its latest “reality” effort, The Swan. Each week there were two women who were deemed “ugly” enough to be cast on the show. Throughout each one-hour episode, each “ugly duckling” was transformed – via make-up, wardrobe, and even surgery – into a more “beautiful version” of herself. One woman per episode was chosen to go on to the season-ending pageant whose winner would no longer be considered ugly, but instead a Swan.
As disgusting as I found The Swan, I was appalled by a promotional spot I saw this past September for a new “reality” show on the E! network. The show, which was called Bridalplasty, was set to feature brides-to-be who would compete in numerous wedding-related challenges. That sounds normal enough by today’s “reality” TV standards. However, the brides-to-be in this show would be competing all the while with the goal of winning the ultimate prize of plastic surgery to transform them into the “perfect bride” in time for their wedding day. The fact that this show, which would offer dangerous surgical procedures as its top prize, was actually going to air was proof enough – for me – that society had sunk to a low that we would probably never be able to get out of. Sadly, our daughters will bear much of the brunt of this type of exploitative programming.
Unfortunately, I do not believe that this problem will get dramatically better in the near future. The most logical way of thinking is to hope that women – with an influx of leadership opportunities available to them in every industry across the country – will take a stand against the unrealistic portrayal of their own sex. Sadly, women have been in prominent leadership positions in Hollywood for generations and the movie, television, and music industries have not changed the way they do business. In fact, things have continued to get worse year after year. Take a hard look at some of the examples I’ve given above for proof of that.
Everywhere you look these days there is a half-naked woman pitching some nondescript product to the masses. Many times the product that is being advertised is either buried in the background of the ad or not visible at all. The message is clear; beautiful women with perfect bodies want you to buy something, so buy it. Believe me, as a man – before I became a father to little girls – seeing half-naked women plastered on every magazine cover, television commercial, or billboard didn’t bother me in the least. Now, though, every time I see something so blatantly exploitative I immediately think of my daughters and the unfortunate possibility that they may grow up feeling like they have to compete with that half-naked woman if they want to succeed in life.
One thing that I believe can be effective in combating this perception is actually talking to our youth. Just as there are classes and speeches given regularly at schools across the country about the dangers of domestic abuse, eating disorders, drug addiction, and suicide, there should also be accompanying classes and speeches given to underline the fact that society – and the things that we view as “entertainment” in it – can help to encourage these disorders and tragedies. Hopefully, by opening the eyes of young people, things will change for the better. For the sake of my daughters, I truly hope so.
Also posted on ‘The Altered States of Munley’
Gonzo Times is seeking transgender & woman writers. I am ashamed to say that we have had few articles written by women or transgender individuals. We have mostly had male contributors and a majority of them are white men. I am an advocate for all people groups. I am actively seeking a diverse gender of writers.
I would love to hear from a womanist, marxist, libertarian, feminist, anarcho feminist, libertarian socialist or other perspectives. If you would be interested in writing on Gonzo Times please e-mail me at email@example.com or contact us through the site here. We are non-profit so we are offering mostly a chance to reach and educate an audience.
I have been troubled by the lack of female and transgender voices on the site and am acting on this now due to an e-mail from one of our readers asking about the absence of female voices on Gonzo Times. If you are a woman or transgender interested in writing and reaching others about issues that concern you we would love to hear from you.
As an anarchist I oppose hierarchy and dominance over other human beings. This dominance can be interpersonal as well as through a state or corporation. One common form of dominance I see in the city is street harassment. Street harassment is something much more common in the city and not as much seen in suburban areas.
Every time I go to a corner store or the market I hear it and see it. Men using words, body language and dominant behaviors to objectify and belittle women. This is often called street harassment. I have heard some justify such actions as ‘paying compliments’ which is telling of the sexual dominance in culture. Rape is a sexual violation based on dominance of another human being. Street harassment is along the same line as rape, unwanted sexual advances based on dominance of one person over the other. Like rape it is a form of dominance, it may not be as damaging or violating in most cases, but the same paradigm of dominance and power plays out. In the case of street harassment the man has his way and the woman walks away without much language to express her violation. This lets the woman know her place in society as an object for the man to exploit, own and enjoy and not as an equal human being.
I was at the BP up the street walking from my car at the pump to go inside and get a pack of cigarettes. I saw a man approach a car. Beside the car was a woman who looked scared or concerned. He had blocked her from getting into her car. I did not hear everything, but I heard enough.
“Why don’t you take me home. Keep me warm in your bed.” He was much larger than she, she was uncomfortable. I walked up to him.
“How you doing?” I asked both of them in a confronting manner. He seemed not to want to be bothered. I looked at her, and positioned myself to approach him which made him back off a bit. “Is everything okay here?” I asked her keeping attention on him.
“Yeah it’s okay.” he said, attempting to maintain his control of the situation and his dominance over her voice. Everything was not okay for her, but it was okay for the male who was maintaining power over the woman in the situation. I was able to give her enough room to get into her car so she could get away from the unwanted advances. It was fine for him. He held the power in the situation, and was fine with this. She was obviously not fine with this. This woman wanted back in her car. I was able to distract him by talking to him. He asked me for money. I gave him some change. She was able to get out of the situation.
This behavior is encouraged in our society. The music and movie industry glamorizes the conquest and harassment of females. Women are displayed in magazines like catalogs of merchandise for us to pick out the one we want. They are objectified, meaning they become objects in the minds of many, objects to own like one would own their slave. The popular music re-enforces this mindset. Men see women in the perspective of “she is mine” be it ‘she is my wife’ or ‘my girlfriend’. Speaking in a relationship manner this is fine to have a wife or girlfriend, but the reality is that for many men dominance is an issue and the dominant behavior over women is a possessive one which equates to dominant power over another human being. To see more of how this mindset is perpetuated I suggest watching: Desire, Sex & Power In Music Video. Music videos are not the only area of society we perpetuate this mindset and behavior, but delving further into that is for another article.
Tracy Renee Jones writes about her experiences with street harassment in her article Street Meet: Black Women, Black Men, & Everyday Sexual Harassment:
I am 11 years old wearing a Catholic School uniform. I make a run for the candy store a few blocks away from the school. The men say things to me but I don’t know what some of the words mean. Their stares make me uncomfortable.
I am 15 years old wearing shell toe Adidas and a gold name plate. Backpack on one shoulder, one sock slouched as I make my way to my Catholic high school.
I am 23 years old wearing steel toe boots and dingy, baggy clothes on my way to work the docks at UPS.
I am 30 years old wearing a suit, early in the morning, while making my way to work which I now called a ‘career’.
I am 36 years old wearing the shapeless clothes one does when they get older, my hair is in a ponytail and I’m walking with my adult daughter.
“Good Morn’en”, says the toothless alcoholic who lives on the curb as I make my way to the bus during my morning commute.
“Hey Pretty Lady”, says the dirty day laborer as he rubs his dick, “You got a hus-ban?” I look down my nose at him, making my disgust clear. I refuse to break my gaze until I see the look of humiliation cross his face.
I strongly suggest reading the full article here: Street Meet: Black Women, Black Men, & Everyday Sexual Harassment, as well as the letter in response to her article: We Got Mail: One Reader’s Story of Everyday Street Sexual Harassment
From my experience here in Northeast Kansas City the incidents are not isolated to race. The victims and perpetrators tend to come from many racial and cultural backgrounds in this area. One common thread in the incidents I am told about and witness is that the perpetrators are male and do hold beliefs that are highly patriarchal and male dominant. I will not deny that there may be specific cultural and racial issues involved with this issue as Tracy Renee Jones addresses, but those are not my specific focus of this article. My focus is coming from the experiences I am mostly aware of from my own wife’s experiences that have brought this issue to my attention and our discussions on this issue.
My wife and I were walking our dog one night when the issue met a climax in our life. We were holding hands when a strange voice began to call out lewd and lascivious comments about my wife’s body. My wife is an extremely beautiful woman and this was not her the first experience. The voice was hiding in the dark. She responded which shut the voice up, but the perpetrator was nowhere to be found. He was hiding somewhere in the dark and despite an effort to locate him he was successful in concealing himself. When we returned home she was furious. Which led her to do some online research where she found the website Stop Street Harassment. This also led her to getting the book Back Off! How to confront and stop sexual harassment and harassers, which I would suggest for women and men in dealing with this issue.
We see the problem that exists and this makes me ask if there is an answer to the problem. The answer is where we find the root of the problem it is within the men. The responsibility is theirs, but as the case with most forms of hierarchical abuse we find that our society often places not only blame but responsibility on the victim. “She was asking for it.”
“She just can’t take a compliment.”
And sadly in most cases men are not willing to take the responsibility to do anything to adjust their actions so the responsibility to end this falls on the solders of the victims, the women who have been harassed. We find the fix with these two groups. The first more desirable is in men. We must stop this by ending our harassment and not tolerating such behavior. I say this is most desirable because it puts the blame and responsibility in the hands of the individuals who are the perpetrators. It’s not too far off from the idea of ‘only men can stop rape’ idea. It’s the perpetrators who have the most power in ending their crime. The sad fact is that in many cases it falls on the women who can learn assertive ways to respond and handle the situation. I strongly suggest visiting the resources I have pointed out for all groups and learning not only more about the problem but also in how we can handle it.
- Visit: Stop Street Harassment
- Read: Back off!
- Read: Street Meet: Black Women, Black Men, & Everyday Sexual Harassment
- Read: Street Harassment: The Uncomfortable Walk Home