BEHIND IDEAS AND WORDS, THERE IS THE USE OF FORCE. MEN’S WORDS ARE PRECEDED AND FOLLOWED BY ACTION. PATRIARCHY ISN’T ABSTRACT, MERELY A CULTURAL OR IDEOLOGICAL OPPRESSION.
Why am I writing this series? Because I hear and read, again and again, feminists treating women as if we had the same access to freedom, knowledge and consciousness as men, expecting women to act as knowledgeable and conscious beings when we “tell them so” and being impatient and angry at them when they don’t meet these expectations because they submit to men’s distortions and reversals of feminism.
Expecting women to act as already free when we aren’t, and being angry at them when, in effect, they can’t throw their mindbindings and shackles off when “we tell them so”, is misogynistic. It denies the reality, effects and intent of domestication of women by men.
As said in the previous post, we don’t have the same access to knowledge as men, especially knowledge and consciousness of patriarchy. Men attack our psyche and awareness though intellectual deprivation, by playing tricks on our mind, and do everything in their power to prevent our access to feminism. They destroy, erase feminist theory and replace it with woman-hating propaganda in women’s studies, women’s refuges, lesbian centres, women’s collectives and wherever feminist theory and practice has emerged. Men repulse women from feminism by turning well-known radical, lesbian feminists into foils and repellents through public ridicule, slandering and demonisation, using the words feminist and lesbian as an insult against women.
We know this. If women don’t know it’s because in this condition we can’t, in fact, know better.
However, intellectual deprivation and mindfucks aren’t the only cause for mental colonisation, which is why educating women about patriarchy is rarely enough on its own to break the effects of mindbindings (when it is sufficient, we do notice it: the effects are immediate), and why simply explaining things may give so poor results. That’s because mental colonisation is always rooted in direct violence, and without addressing this violence there’s no way we can address the effects it has on a woman.
Male ideas are backed by action: they are enforced with the use of violence and torture. Women are not merely colonised by ideas but by men.
The following situation might seem familiar: we see a woman infatuated with male woman-hating ideas so we confront her “ideas” with ours, radical feminist. And take this as an ideological opposition, an argument that we hope we will win. We expose the fallacies of her “positions”. We hope to “convince” her with our truth, we hope to get men’s lies out of her head. We think she has “just” been brainwashed and it’s just a case of exposing the facts to her. But she doesn’t seem to understand. We keep repeating until we get angry at her. If she doesn’t listen, she must be stupid, ungrateful and ageist. And she must be really privileged to deny women’s reality in this way, cut from women’s reality.
Except things don’t work this way. This is both an inappropriate reaction and an incorrect understanding of colonisation (on top of lack of empathy for women as oppressed). The meaning and weight of ideas aren’t the same for each woman in this case. Radical feminist ideas have no or little weight against the misogynist ideas here because it isn’t a matter of replacing one with the other in our head, of getting rid of some wrong theory we’ve read in a book once. The misogynist ideas are implanted in our minds with the use of force, through a process of breaking down, violating our physical and mental boundaries — through a process of torture.
Men’s distortions of the truth, lies, reversals and woman-hating propaganda work because they are sustained, expressed in repressive, destructive action by every single man and every single institution: it permeates every aspect of our life. Men don’t only say women are subordinate, women are sluts, intercourse is sexy, feminism is vile, lesbianism is monstrous. They enforce it. They force us to serve them as girls and wives, they forcefully use us as receptacles for their brutal penetrations, they effectively punish us when we resist or try to escape. They make their words match reality and make sure we don’t experience any other reality than this. What makes brainwashing so effective is that it’s accompanied, preceded and followed by sexual and physical violation — that is, brainwashing in a context of torture. Once the violation is total, the mind — the final barrier to any kind of violation — breaks down.
Psychological colonisation is not a mirror outcome of mere psychic attack or proof that we’re so “privileged” as to be deluded about women’s reality, but quite the opposite: it’s a direct manifestation of men’s combined sexual, physical and psychic torture, always all three together. Repeated, prolonged sexual invasion and surrendering of self to a man in a context where it is socially defined as love-making causes the most severe form of psychic invasion and trauma-bonding in the human being. If a woman is mindbound, you can be sure that the violence was total: that physical and sexual invasion are or were equal to the level of psychic abuse.
The more a woman has assimilated the will of her oppressor, the more she is in danger with him and the higher the degree of his violence. Domestication and captivity to our torturers/oppressors combined with societal persecution is what causes mental colonisation, not absence of it. As women we live with our oppressors 24/7, we are forced to share the same bed with them, and they have right of access to our minds and bodies at all times. We are born in men’s prisons which are their homes, brothels or “asylums” and often die in one of their prisons, never having known any form of autonomy. If a minority of women do manage to escape this level of appropriation by men as adults, all women are or have been individually tortured by at least one man in a prolonged and repeated way, and cultural propaganda was enacted in this backdrop of torture and servitude since girlhood. Never, ever assume that a woman hasn’t been tortured. Even the positive effects of escaping husbandry or prostitution (as lesbians or spinsters) may be mediated by men who continue to control our minds and actions in many ways — as psychiatrists, doctors, male “friends”, “dates”, lawyers, teachers, colleagues, brothers, father, male activists, media, etc. Not to forget that the effects of torture on the mind can persist well beyond the worst of torture has ended, and may stay until death so long as they’re not treated.
If a woman rejects feminism, refuses to go further or makes back and forth movements from and to feminism (apparent advancements in lucidity followed by recessions), we should always ask ourselves: which man or men are very concretely acting as a screen between her and her reality, between her and feminism, her and other women. Some men are necessarily behind this chronic blockage, imposing real constraints and limits to her physical and mental liberation. They notice immediately when her behaviour presents a threat to their authority over her, and know how to readjust their strategies accordingly. (More seldomly, in the case the woman is a separatist, this job might be done by women who are themselves colonised, however precedence in torture from men is always a precondition). When our psyche is invaded by male ideas, we are very literally invaded by men, sexually, physically and psychically all at once.
So in the case of mental colonisation, it’s not just with male ideas but with this torture and the oppressor himself we have to deal with: we have to attack them directly, identify these particular men or male institutions in her life, their access to her. We are dealing with victims of torture who are often still exposed to their torturers or still live with them, and/or live with the effects of prolonged torture on the mind — that is, being forced to experience ourselves and our reality through the eyes of our oppressor.
We can’t counter it, make this violence and its effects vanish just by link dumping or explaining the definition of radical feminism when we already have evidence it hasn’t worked. If we do want our words to have some positive effect, we have to take into account the concrete, material situation of the woman, the ways in which men (individually and collectively) methodically destroy her will and consciousness. Our words have to be backed by actions and support which help her get out of this situation, protect herself from the men who persecute her or get her own oppressors out of her mind (and bed). It means taking her side against those of her oppressors, helping her identify their particular strategies and plan her escape without their notice, and never urging her to do things she can’t do, or being angry at her when these men manage to block her progress or regain control.
We have to remember that to each misogynist idea implanted in women, there is its pendant in male violence. The kind of justifications a woman will tell you to men’s predatory behaviour, to prostitution, to sexual violence or any aspect of patriarchy, reveal the kind of violence she herself is or has been subjected to — they cryptically reveal the procedure by which she is being destroyed and broken, the particular ideology her own oppressor(s) uses against her. The link, the cause-to-effect is linear. If she asserts that “anal sex is erotic” you can be almost certain that she herself is being subjected to anal penetration by her male partner, and that she has absorbed his version in this condition of brutal violation. If she says pornography is liberating, chances are that her own boyfriend or a male acquaintance films the sexual humiliations inflicted on her, who tell her this is about liberating her own boundaries. If she shouts at you accusing you of racism because you denounce prostitution (this happens) it’s very likely men frequently use this method against women in her activist surrounding. If she defends her father or husband who is known to be abusive to other women, she’s necessarily one of his primary victims. Etc, etc.