SUB-TITLE: Some limits of consciousness-raising and concrete causes for psychic colonisation: why are we colonised? Do we make a ‘choice’ to ‘take men’s side’? Are we ‘just’ brainwashed into submitting to men? (Warning: lots of scare quotes in this post).
**Thoughts from reading Maria Mies (patriarchy: accumulation on a world scale) and reflexions from a friend’s reading notes on Nicole Claude Mathieu (special thanks – the book is entitled Anatomie politique)**
The reality of our oppression is so erased that we tend to forget that real persecution, captivity and torture are what prevents us from freeing ourselves from men, not just the effects it has in our head: even though breaking us down psychically is one of the intended effects of oppression, our freedom lies very concretely in men no longer being able to assail us, not in gaining more self-confidence for instance. Intentional male violence isn’t just something in our head we need to get rid of by becoming feminist, but outside of ourselves, real, something we have to concretely escape and free ourselves from.
PART ONE (another series!): Women don’t share male beliefs about patriarchy. Our consciousness of patriarchy is limited because men withhold information and destroy our access to reality.
Liberal men in modern Western totalitarian regimes (which they call democracies) say we are ‘socialised’, ‘educated’ into subordination ‘patriarchal values’ because they project their own experience of dominance onto us, and conveniently erase the violence it takes them to beat our heads down under their boots. They define our oppression as something imaginary and symmetrical, as if we were equally influenced as them by ‘ideas’ and ‘culture’, as if our subjugation were a shared cultural lag of past patriarchal times and we happened to be on the wrong side of it, to still be persuaded or brainwashed by its ideology — all it would take would be ‘education’, and if that didn’t work, we’d be really dimwitted. We’d thus play a part in ‘reproducing’ our oppression because we’d believe in it and identified to men (not because we’re forced into it).
I know most radfems are on board with the criticism of this. But anyway. Oppression isn’t symmetrical, unwittingly or even consciously ‘reinforced’ by the oppressed. This is a patriarchal reversal. Men take the moment we are already colonised and captive (to our husbands for instance) to say “see, there’s a coresponsibility, she behaves like a subordinate, she lets the man take a position of power over her life” — omitting the decades of carefully planned assassination of her will the husband had to execute in order to obtain this result.
Even if we look at things purely from the perspective of ideas, they aren’t equally shared by men and women, and nor is there the same power in turning beliefs into reality. When men believe in patriarchal ideology, it becomes true. There’s a coherence and integrity between men’s patriarchal beliefs and their actions: they’re the subjects and agents of them. If they believe women should be treated like rape-targets, they will effectively treat women as a target for rape. If men believe women’s vagina is a hole to be brutally pilloried, they will treat our vaginas as holes for their dicks. If they believe women should treat men like gods, they will force women to treat them as gods. That’s because they have the oppressive power to enforce their misogynistic beliefs and turn them into actions, as an oppressor group.
One thing that’s important in free choice is knowledge. You can make free choices only when they’re properly informed. For instance, you wouldn’t choose to eat something if you knew it would poison you. If someone intentionally gave you some poisoned food while telling you it’s good for your health, it can’t be said you chose to poison yourself. The choice you thought you were making was only in eating healthy food. You were forced to eat poison out of deception.
Knowledge is something that the oppressors reserve for themselves and deprive the oppressed of, to maintain their oppressive system. Men know their domination. They know they’re the dominant class and need to exclude women from it, and know how to treat women and men distinctively to maintain this sexual dominance. It’s very clear to them what constitutes an affront to their masterhood and what doesn’t. While they might not know all the ins and outs of the patriarchal system (and don’t need to), they do know perfectly well where their interests lies — in keeping the subordinates underneath them — and know how to go about doing it. And that’s all they need to know. Access to this knowledge is part of their birth-right, and transmitted to them by other males.
This isn’t so for women. We don’t “share” their ideology and reproduce it in turn, against ourselves, as the intents and workings of patriarchy aren’t clear to us at all: we simply don’t have access to the same information as them. Men prevent us from seeing it by excluding us from their institutions, boards, meetings, parties, peer networks, forums, rituals, clubs where they openly exchange about their dominance, where the important decisions are made, where all the crucial knowledge and skills are transmitted and where they bond over sexual degradation of women in the most overt ways (mostly prostituted women).
Men also typically withhold their true intentions, whether on an individual or systemic level. They lie about their intentions. They lie as they breathe to women. They know how to fake love, romance and interest, to fake humane emotions, to fake legitimacy and erudition, they know how to reverse reality, to turn our minds upside down, to blur our perceptions. They have a very clear vision of what they’re subjecting us to and why exactly they’re doing it, while they methodically destroy our consciousness of their own actions against us, as well as all material, written, historical evidence and memory of their organised crimes. They eliminate, publicly smear and silence those of us who might reveal the truth to women.
It takes us a considerable amount of effort, even years or decades to unpick the lies from the truth, to revert the reversals and uncover the perversions, manipulations, gaslighting and mindfucks, whereas it will take a man a split nano-second to react and know what to do (and why he’s doing it) if a woman toes out of line – it’s a second nature to them, they don’t even have to think about it. We simply don’t have the same right of access to reality – to the consciousness of it.
In this condition it can’t be said that women believe in patriarchy and thus won’t choose to get out of it, but that our consciousness of men’s violence and of our reality has been deliberately disintegrated, fragmented, atrophied; which prevents us from even wanting to get out. Our perceptions have been forcefully twisted and deceived, we are cut from the information we need to see the whole picture, to see men’s sinister conspiracy against women. Men know about the oppression and how to oppress, while we are kept in the dark and cloaked with a false reality. In this condition of forced confusion it can’t be said we consent to anything they subject us to.
The game is rigged for women. Men need to lie, omit the truth, manipulate and deceive us, play tricks on our minds, play a role, create false hopes of love, security and inclusion in order keep us obedient and confused. Such covert psychic warfare saves them a great deal of coercive effort.
Men are devious cowards and ethically crapulent, they will never, ever attack us directly and loyally. Imagine if men came up to women and instead of pretending to be ‘attracted’ to us (and breaking down our boundaries stage by stage in order to extort a first “yes” — to having a drink for instance — which they then use as a pact that seals our permanent violability to them) just said outright “my only intention is to use you as a receptacle for my dick, to rape you as much as I feel fit, to slap you in the face, and then use you as an incubator for my sperm. Penetration is the most barbaric thing you can do to a human being and this is what I want to subject you to. I want to enslave you for the rest of your life, I want you to make you as miserable and broken as a human can be. Now let me attack you.” And then pounced. Well, we’d sure try to run away, or put a fight first. All of a sudden the prince wouldn’t appear so charming. It would complicate men’s business of subordinating us, for sure.
Note: I’ll allow comments at the end of the series.