Posts Tagged 'intersectionality'

Intersectionality, part V: additional notes on amnesia and springing from Outercourse

When we can’t see men as the oppressors, men’s violence is suppressed in the unconscious realm (or in the “subliminal sea”1) and what remains visible and conscious to us in the foreground2 is the betrayal by puppeted women orchestrated/remote-controlled by the invisible male lords/puppeteers.

Failing to see men’s oppression and turning our anger against women is fundamentally based on amnesia: our forgetting of men’s genocide. The depth of this insight popped up to me with instant clarity as a friend of mine and I were discussing why some women so readily turned against other women even in cases such as having been raped or tortured by their fathers. For months one woman angrily resented her mother for about everything her father had subjected her to, and instead felt sympathy for him. Her mother wasn’t enough this, she had failed to do that, etc. There were vast periods of torture she had forgotten but she remembered the lies her father had told her about her mother and this is what stayed. However when she started recovering memories of what her father had done to her, her anger against her mother abated, she began to see how she too was victimised as a wife to her father and started to express anger against him.

This works on all levels. Our capacity to feel empathy towards women, to reverse the reversals and to make the connections about men’s violence is deeply and directly connected to our uncovering of the suppressed memories of what men have done to us. When we forget the oppressor, there is no other option than to turn against women, because that’s how patriarchy is configured: there is one oppressor class, men, and one oppressed class, women, and if you’re not against men, then it’s mechanically at the expense of women and of ourselves. There is no in-between, or third outlet: women are the only counterpoint to men’s violence. Either we see men as the oppressors and therefore our rage is turned against them, either we have effaced some or all of their role as oppressors and we automatically resent women for one thing or another.

The amnesia is organised both on an individual level and collective level.

It’s individual in that men’s violence and psychic warfare tactics which causes the amnesia happens to each one of us. Individually, we are forced to suppress some awareness and memory of what individual men or institutions have inflicted on us and on our female peers at various points in our lives (violence from our father, husbands, brothers or other males / institutions). The amnesia is organised on this micro level through the lies and reversals of the perpetrators, the denials and terror of our peers and the complicity of surrounding men with the perpetrators. The true stories of rapes against our sisters, mother, aunts, grand-mothers, cousins and daughters will be silenced. We will never understand why our aunt was alcoholic all her life or why our mother had fits of crying and nervous breakdowns every now and then, or why our friend became muted after the age of 8. Men will tell us they are crazy, liars, will instil distrust and contempt in these women. We will never or rarely be told about the women who escaped, the lesbians, feminists or spinsters, whether in school, by our peers or family.

The amnesia is also organised by men collectively: the perpetrators’ lies wouldn’t have so much impact on us if men’s violence wasn’t so absolutely obliterated from discourse everywhere we go – nothing in foreground reality, whether written or spoken, ever confirms the reality and depth of the what we’re subjected to, it is spookily omni-absent. Men have monopolised the power of naming and thereby blocked our capacity to even name our experience and ourselves with their words. We live in this reality of war-zone under male-rule, dying inside and outside, yet all there is to see on the surface are those tantalising fake smiles, “sex”, “marriage” and plastic happiness. For this silence to be maintained, men actively repress our re-calling of the genocide and be-speaking of the truth. They erase all evidence of their crimes, both external historical evidence and in our own psyche, by reprogramming our minds. They erase our culture, our writings, our art, our discoveries, our history of liberation, our presence and love to ourselves. In this context we have forgotten who we are before we could even know who we were.

Amnesia is also a form of dissociation. It’s a coping mechanism to ongoing trauma when the violence is both unescapable and unacknowledged. It is one of the many ways in which the self splinters itself for survival – which is why so many of us suffer various degrees of “multiple personalities” from having to forget event after event, life after life, each time having to distance ourselves farther from who we were and reinvent a new plastic persona in the attempt to add more make-up over our suffering.

It splinters the most traumatic parts from our conscious memory and digs them deep into the unconscious memory, which then only resurfaces in cryptic ways: through flashes, panic attacks, physical and psychic disorders, cancer, etc. Formulating the truth of men’s oppression even in thought being an unthinkable crime, these cryptic ‘symptoms’ or outbursts are messages from ourselves to desperately try to reconnect and awaken our consciousness, to break the spell of dissociation and phallic coding so we reintegrate and get away from the source of harm (men). These messages are there to bring the truth back into our conscious thoughts and direct our rage at men instead of against ourselves. We are saying to ourselves “hello, I’m here”. “Doing this to me is harmful”. “I’ve been hurt.” “These rapes / violations / insults / psychic devastation have hurt me”.

Anyway, all this to say that I recently realised more than ever the importance of seeing and naming the connections, and how this is really the first momentum of liberation because organised amnesia is men’s primary form of psychic – and therefore physical – annihilation of women. Without consciousness there is no doing, and by destroying our knowing/seeing (or pushing it into unconscious, subliminal realms), men paralyse our doing and being.

Amnesia, the obliterating of men’s past and present violence and erasure of our past and present selves, leads to blindly turning against women and more generally, to what Mary Daly calls aphasia, the “inability to Name the Background reality as well as foreground fabrications and the connections among these” and to apraxia, the “inability to act as Radical Feminists” (Outercourse, p. 6 and 195).

Intersectionality, just as any form of anti-feminism, are part of men’s phallic lies and global brainwashing tactics which generate amnesia and the inward-twisting of rage against ourselves and other women. Again, to paraphrase Mary Daly, exorcising amnesia requires acts of unforgetting and be-speaking, of unmasking and breaking through the foreground lies into our background presence. The task of the radical feminist is to actively explicate the connections, to make the reversals, fragmentation, destruction and genocide explicit and overt. (P. 6-11, Outercourse).

“Knowledge [of patriarchal horror] … is compelling and expelling. When a woman really faces the horror she is morally compelled to Act (overcome apraxia) and to begin changing/Be-Witching. She becomes empowered to expel the demonic embedded Self-censor within, who has blocked her from Spinning. She dares to begin Be-Witching.” (P. 197, Outercourse).

1Term by Mary Daly : the Sea of subliminal knowledge, knowledge which is covert, “Background” knowledge that is shared by women in patriarchy (Outercourse p. 13).

Background means “the Realm of Wild Reality; the Homeland of Women’s Selves and of all other Others; the Time/Space where auras of plants, planets, stars, animals and all Other animate beings connect.” (Wickedary, by Mary Daly and Jane Caputi).

2Foreground is defined as “male-centered and monodimensional arena where fabrication, objectification, and alienation takes place; zone of fixed feelings, perceptions, behaviours; the elementary world: FLATLAND”. (Wickedary, by Mary Daly and Jane Caputi).

 

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Intersectionality, part IV: attractive vs. destructive forces, or what can we do

Our task as radical feminists is to undo, unlearn and un-peel the workings of men’s violence – including how men’s patterns are embedded in our psyche – and to reveal them to other women, so to spark our movement towards liberation. We are to revert the reversals, crack through the lies and myths, name the horrors, uncover the truths, dig out the treasures of our past and present being hidden beneath and between the depths of men’s dead grey layers.

As said in the second part, women’s class and status is defined by the class and status of our husband or father. If we leave our male lord, we’re nothing. However we might keep in appearance the traits and habits of those men. For instance white women bear the skin colour of their male oppressors and are assimilated to their male racist culture. As such, women reproduce and embody this male presence – as all women do with the male determinants they grew up with. Their cultural assimilation to white men is a forced-upon mask that men have fitted on women’s bodies and spirits, which does not belong to women. It covers who we really are and separates us from ourselves and from womenkind, deliberately so. Assimilated and tokenised in men’s clubs, non-feminist women afflicted by a sense of superiority towards other women are totaled and totally deluded. They have been whirred by the illusion of exceptionalism, blinded by male worship and frozen by the contempt directed against her sisters who supposedly haven’t ‘made it’.

We have to understand that cultural and social racism or insensitivity from part of women is integral to our colonisation by the men who occupy us. Racism, sexism, classism, any kind of condescension – all are one and tied to the same anti-woman package, they are inseparable. It’s male-identification.

‘Racist feminism’ or ‘classist feminism’ is an oxymoron, in other words. This means we cannot be feminist without wanting to exorcise all forms of male domination and subordination, without seeing them as interlinked and mutually supportive of women’s oppression. We discover empathy and searing rage for the plight of all our sisters and that in spite of differences, we are all subjected to variations of male rapism. We see patriarchy as universal. By identifying ourselves as women we identify to all women as women, embrace each other as our people and reject male blocking of our movement/convergence. When woman-identification fails us, it means we haven’t been fully touched by feminism, maybe we have reached some glimmers of truth such as perceiving some “unequal” treatment between men and women, but conserve our hope in men / ascension in male clubs and haven’t yet dissipated the fog obscuring the big picture.

When I look at intersectional articles, who are they directed against? Women, women, women, women, women, women and women. All of them. It is the primary distinguishing factor of intersectionality. But if women are so oppressive to us, what’s the point of being feminist, may I ask. Either we perceive men to be our oppressors and we’re feminist, or we hate these women who oppress us so much – and we’re misogynist. But we can’t have it both ways.

Women, girls and animals are the only beings we are given license to attack, because it reinforces men’s power. We are very easy targets and scapegoats, because we know deep down that women won’t have any means to fight back. We’d never dare to confront men in the same way since it would be too dangerous. By contrast it is possible to flatten or disintegrate our little self-esteem and sense of self in just a few words. It takes no effort to guilt-trip each other because we already feel guilty for merely taking up space. Woman-punishing is always credible and legitimate in patriarchal sado-society, in fact it’s the only thing men allow us to do.

Targeting women also gives a false sense of power and of activating against our perceived powerlessness. Sonia Johnson said that we get highs from it. Ultimately, doing so is the response of the colonised, we’re still colonised by men’s reversals and woman-hatred because we got the enemy completely wrong. Radical action is to stop blaming women.

I really understand the maddening anger of consistently going through an oppressive situation that some other women are (more) exempt from, and this problem being ignored by them. Even after being told, they refuse to understand or act upon it. It feels like being choked, slammed in the face, stabbed in the heart. Feeling pain and anger is normal because it’s disgustingly unfair. I wish we all had enough money, housing and access to certain resources and that everything would be justly distributed. But men don’t let that happen for a reason – which is why freeing ourselves from men should always be our utmost priority.

If some women have escaped some worst forms of drudgery or torture, well good for them. They’ve been lucky. But wounding or resenting these women won’t make our wounds feel any better. Whether the woman’s ‘fault’ is simply to have it less worse or to actively participate in anti-woman practices – shouting at, blaming and fighting against such women will not change anything to alleviate/eliminate the oppressive setting that causes our pain.

I like these insightful and humorous quotes from Flo Kennedy:

We don’t say a word when Madison Avenue makes millions off us, but we get all resentful and suspicious when somebody in the Movement gets attention or makes a dime. That’s Nigger Nobility. If you have to lose to prove you’re a good person, we won’t get anywhere.

Divide and conquer–that’s what they try to do to any group trying to make social change. I call it D&C. Black people are supposed to turn against Puerto Ricans. Women are supposed to turn against their mothers and mothers-in-law. We’re all supposed to compete with each other for the favors of the ruling class.

In the name of elitism, we do a crabs-in-a-barrel number, and pull down any of our number who get public attention or a small success. As long as we’re into piranha-ism and horizontal hostility, honey, we ain’t going to get nowhere.

Guilt-tripping is wrong because there’s no guilt to be had for being colonised by men or for the atrocities committed by men. As explained in previous parts, it is unfounded since we aren’t responsible for patriarchy. Guilt is corrosive and counter-liberation, and the climate of fear caused by guilt-tripping tactics paralyses women and increases barriers and misunderstanding instead of enhancing connectedness/ deepening insight. Whatever the reason, it is uselessly abusive to punish women for having been groomed into participating into her/our own demise and annihilation. Doing so is reinforcing the cycle of abuse against women instead of helping each other getting out of it. As Adriene Sere says in her article “In Remembrance of Mary Daly- Lessons for the Movement:

The accusation of racism needs to be treated carefully, rather than thrown at people like sticks of dynamite. … The dynamite-throwers, when they are tolerated, or even treated as “leaders” on the issue, manage to generate a climate of fear and disparagement that crushes female-identified empowerment – just as racism itself does. Such a climate also inhibits honest connections between women, allows a sexist disdain to be directed toward women who aren’t oppressed by class or race, and legitimizes a finger-pointing that might coercively yield results but is not necessary to making real and deep change.

In short, the mechanisms of intersectionality are strikingly similar to trans-phonery: setting up women as straw oppressors (especially feminists); putting women in harm’s way as outlets for other women’s (and men’s) anger; use of punishing, silencing and public shaming tactics; requirement to ritualistically confess your guilt before you speak (something pointed out by Janice Raymond in A Passion for Friends).

More fruitful than guilt or punishment in the face of male-identification is to see that we all have the forever-going responsibility to stop and disengage from harmful and necrophilic practices against women and the elements. Each woman has the duty to continually seek to exorcise the maleness and males from her life, whichever male religion, ethnicity, class, group or nation we’re bound to. We are to disrespect all the father-founders, no group is exempt from patriarchal rule.

And if a woman can’t change a destructive behaviour after being told, it’s because this disengagement from patriarchal influence isn’t psychically available to her at present time and the best option I think is to protect ourselves and withdraw from such women if we haven’t found a safe way to engage. Just leave them and do your own thing, craft with the women with whom you can craft and maybe get back in touch when time is rife.

I’ve learned that enforcing change on a woman who is destructive to the ‘movement’ and shows no willingness to change or isn’t ready, is a mistake. It will require using ourselves some amount of coercion or violence which not only is unethical but will fuel more destruction, as she will respond to it by fighting back more and increase her defences against what we’re trying to say. Instead of stopping the destruction it generates more of it – as a friend said to me, this is like reformism. Withdrawing doesn’t mean we’re ok with the harm but it’s simply a choice of focus. We can’t allow ourselves (and I certainly can’t allow myself) to be constantly distracted by and drawn into negativity or the men in women’s heads. Our focus should be on attraction and convergence of those currently willing to make the leap, not running after those who presently can’t – we can trust that they will find their own path at a different time or in a different life. There are three billion women on earth, it’s ridiculous to think that this one woman or small group of women are going to stop us from bonding with women all around, or that these women are our only hope or way of doing feminism. If we look around, there are always women to be met and with whom to spark new paths of liberation. Women are everywhere.

So this is what I mean in my title by attractive force vs. destructive force, which is a concept I drew from Mary Daly in Outercourse. As Mary Daly says, radical feminism should do good, it should be fun, ecstatic, spiraling, lead to new dimensions and deep change, undo the blocks and unleash our splintered selves. What inspires to move is to experience women’s courage to be/to sin. Radical feminism touches women by attraction, not by conflict with women. Conflicts mostly teach us that we need to get away from them, they are repellant. In Outercourse (p.159) she quotes the following passage of hers in Beyond God the Father:

The power of sisterhood is not war-power. There have been and will be conflicts, but the Final Cause causes not by conflict but by attraction. Not by the attraction of a Magnet that is All There, but by the creative drawing power of the Good Who is self-communicating Be-ing. Who is the Verb from whom, in whom, and with whom all true movements move.

Radical feminist movement is indeed self-communicating, I think this is a very important insight. Freeing ourselves will automatically spark women around us to awakening, it happens mechanically and naturally. Feminism can never be completely experienced and understood in conditions of enforcement, punishment or guilt, the effect will be reverse, of repelling and undermining. Enforcement is antinomic to radical feminism. To paraphrase again Mary Daly, the process itself of Seeing and Naming connections and of being present to ourselves and each other is what generates more awakening, kindles more female fire/gynergy, heat and light. This spinning makes possible new leaps, increases the momentum of our movement. (Outercourse, p.198).

This process is true for every form of male sadism. Since all forms of domination such as racism, classism, urban vs. rural domination, adult vs. child, human vs. animal, etc. stem from the same male-rapist root, our attitude to all of them should be the same – in short, only a radical feminist attitude towards male domination can be liberating. It is what we already do: raise awareness, name the workings, lies and reversals of patriarchy and reveal our reality as women in this or that form of patriarchal oppression. Explain how men benefit from this practice and how it’s at the expense of all women. How it deceives and traps women in its net. How it reinforces and is linked to male rapism. Seek to meet, make friends with and listen to as many women across male classes, borders and race, and talk about our respective experiences and lives.

Women will relate to that, it will expand our consciousness, deepen our understanding of how men oppress us. It will give each other the power to see which will spark our ethical rage and rage to be free.

 

Intersectionality, continued: part III, reintroducing the start

I realise that my first part deserved a more in-depth clarification on my perspective on racism and classism beyond the definitions I provided in the first and second posts, lest it gave the impression that I consider racism and classism to be of secondary importance or that it doesn’t really exist compared to sexism, or something… Even if I haven’t said or implied any of these, I have no doubts that such claims might be used against me. Besides, there is always more to say about intersectionality, and as I said in my first post, getting lost in sub-sections was my regular fate whenever I attempted to tackle the subject. Consider this third post to be a reintroduction to the first.

I would like to stress that anti-racism, anti-classism and creating deep bonds with women beyond men’s wounding separations is fundamental in our flight and exorcism from male violence. However since racism and sexism necessarily target women in sexist ways, and that men are the common denominator for all forms of oppression, our anti-racist analysis needs to be precise, focused and above all, feminist. Female anti-racism/classism should always be a potential for deep re-connection with women and for connecting the dots.

Intersectionality is none of these: it’s obscuring, putrescent, leads us astray in a whirl of false directions and bottomless list of oppression-identities, and is poisonous to the women’s movement. It pulls us away from feminism, back into men’s hands, and it’s intentional. I obviously don’t have all the answers as to what we can do to replace intersectionality, and differences between women and class dynamics vary a lot from place to place. I find it all very complex to think about. But I definitely know what doesn’t work, and I know a few things that do work, which I will talk about later.

It is very unfortunate that most anti-racist analyses available in the mainstream or even in more radical spheres are insufferably liberal, individualist and male-centred. Intersectionality is academic, post-modern and Western at its core, very narrowly focused on day-to-day racist situations faced by female university students, women in academia or journalism, and always, always inclusive of men, putting men and women at the same level and assuming men and women benefit in similar ways from whiteness or economic wealth.

It is also insufferably US-centric, being originated in the US or North-America it is primarily a liberal criticism of certain forms of US-based racism, yet this perspective is uncritically propagated and applied in other continents with disastrous effects. For instance it is sadly ironic that feminist groups from non-western regions ardently positioned against white colonialism are colonised by this western, academic pseudo anti-racist theory, where you hear them quoting Audre Lorde in one sentence, and in the next, defending trans and sex-work inclusion and cursing “white feminists”, all in the name of intersectional theory – having themselves learnt this at university and not questioning its philosophical origins: white men, North America, the emperors of the emperors.

I know that some academic women from Canada, Ottawa University I think it was, have claimed the maternity of intersectional theory in the 90s (forgive me if I’ve forgotten their names, though last time I checked it was written on dickipedia), however their theory is not devoid of social context and their influences are very easily traced to post-modernism and lefty liberalism, both of which were the dominant ideologies of that period which had taken over women’s studies and social science departments as a form of backlash against the more radical years of the 70s. A quick look at the curricula in “gender” studies of some major Canadian universities suffices to show that it has completely souled-out to male shite.

On the male lefty strand, intersectionality stems from a very old male habit in (western) civil rights movements of punishing women with slurs of “classism” and “racism” for stepping away from their male peers, for denouncing the sexism of the movement and deciding to focus solely on women. Needless to say that it was very effective in disrupting the second wave of feminists, and no doubt must have been based on some truth, such as snobbery from part of some women, but as far as calling out all white feminists for being actively racist, hm. As far as I know, all of the prominent white radicalfeminist figures of the second wave weren’t racist (forget the liberal faux-feminist ones or women such as Lily Allen and Madonna, who have never represented feminism more that Disneyland has represented true adventure – ok the comparison is flimsy but you get the idea). Ethnocentric, (from their white-western perspective) certainly, but this is different from being racist or classist, as in deliberately ignoring race or class issues or deriding or putting down multiple-oppressed women.

The male-lefty dynamic of targeting white or bourgeois women is very similar to current male animal-liberationists who paint the white, bourgeois woman as the ultimate enemy to be publicly pinned down as traitor to the cause for supposedly wearing animal fur (most middle class women totally wear animal fur!!) and use this as a pretext for the most vile forms of woman-hatred in their campaigns. Yet it is a complete reversal since those who are responsible for such industries and economically benefit from the abominable treatment of animals are men, just as those who design those horrible fur scarves in the first place and decorate women with them like dead dolls: women have no decision-power whatsoever in men’s genocide of animals.

Intersectionality being a branch of post-modernism, it is closely linked to queer theory and as such, both have proved to be deadly weapons of reinforcing male surveilling presence in women’s movements, in the name of anti-discrimination. Notably by persuading women that we could oppress men on the basis of their “trans”sex (cis-shit, etc.). So much has been said on tranny and queer bullshit that I have no insight to add on this matter. You can check Sheila Jeffreys, Janice Raymond, Gallus Mag, Davina Squirrell and many more writers for further information.

Most of the solutions suggested by intersectional proponents are liberal, that is focused on token inclusion of class/race-oppressed women in male grounds, and as means of social change, requiring of white feminists useless individualistic navel-gazing and self-flagelatory behaviours such “privilege-checking”, with little or no mention of the wider structures, as if “internalised stereotypes” were the primary enemy in racism / classism (remember: it’s men).

This logic of tokenism may go as far as complaining about the lack of adequate representation of black women in pornography, advertisement or male media. The implication being that women in general would benefit from sexist dehumanisation, torture and rape once the racist element has been retrieved, and it implies also that white women are class-privileged for being over-represented in sexist imagery. This twisted logic thus promotes the equal dehumanisation and sexual torture of all women in the name of anti-racism. Such ill-logical woman-hatred is the logical consequence of adopting men’s perspective on racism, that is anti-racism without the centralising feminist focus on men’s specific sexual and reproductive harms against women. It leads to complete dissociation from our condition as women and causes us to treat men’s sexual and reproductive violence against women as inexistent non-problems – which is what they are from men’s perspective. See how it works? Adopting a male perspective on anything is necessarily detrimental to all women.

Male media is indeed horribly racist on top of being sexist and it is undeniable that the degree of erasure and violence against women increases along race and class lines, but intersectional theory misses the point that both women of colour as well as white women’s presence are erased in men’s foreground world – that the foreground appearance of white-woman-centredness is an illusion, since misogyny erases and excludes all women.

Not to belittle the harms of racist biases, snide comments and subtle digs, humiliations, exclusion and insults which permeate the wider western racist culture which are absolutely undermining and corrosive to the soul – but by focusing only on this aspect, it’s much easier to lose sight of the primary racist mechanisms which operate on institutional levels: state and institution-enforced acts of violence and control by the men in chargea systematic violence which is completely beyond women’s reach. This can be state decisions that grant secondary status to immigrants and excludes them from certain rights, restricts their movements, opportunities and liberty, persecution of immigrants, second or third-generation migrants or native people by the state and state officials, systematic geographic and economic ghettoing, and on a wider level, continued imperialism, colonialism, military occupation and invasions of global South countries by Western countries, which continually regenerates masses of expropriated, enslaveable, pliable, exploitable, rapeable peoples.

Once we see racist oppression in the big picture, it’s very easy to see how futile privilege-checking of some white feminists is to prevent this. However what privilege-checking is extremely efficient for is stifling women in paralysing guilt, thereby blocking our lucid understanding of both racism and sexism, and for crumbling down collective after collective. It works to undermine our liberation.

Intersectionality treats racism/classism as distinct from patriarchy, as if men weren’t the string holders of it all.

Moreover, by focusing only on the cultural and stereotype aspect of racism, it is far easier to see white women as the primary enemy and vehicle of racism, and to forget how it is the racist patriarchal institutions, the men on the top, who put certain women down and against other women for patriarchal reasons, and how this increases all men’s power over women as a result. This is made clear when we look at prostitution and pornography: not only women don’t benefit from the raping of multiple-oppressed women but widespread pornography and prostitution affects all women, even if in different degrees.

After all, men are the ones using women as vessels for racial reproduction – either for containment or expansion reasons – who are obsessed with the genetic “purity” of their offspring.

 

Cutting through the throes of intersectionality part II: on the structure of men’s interlocking chains

Androcentric view of oppression versus gynocentric view of oppression.

Intersectionality applies the logic of male status on women, which is the second reason why it’s off the ball. One thing I haven’t said in the first part is that what I’m attempting to draw here is a feminist understanding of men’s interlocking oppressive bonds, as opposed to an intra-male-sectarian vision of oppression based on the reversal that women, like men, are always subjects and direct beneficiaries of male status and economic wealth which awards us real power and security. This is true for men, but the same doesn’t work with women. Women’s situation is more complex since we are oppressed by all the different classes of men who are the originators and subjects of patriarchal snooldom. They are the rapists. The multiple violations men put some women into serve a completely different purpose than men’s own class divides – or put in another way, both serve only one class interest: male supremacy. Racism, classism and division of labour between men strengthens men’s global rapist apparatus against women, while from women’s perspective it is a male divide-and-conquer tactic to reinforce our sexual subordination to men.

Even though I’ve been thinking about this for several years now, I haven’t yet come across feminist theories of layered oppression that don’t lose sight of the core (men) and looks at how racism and classism attacks women, specifically as women. This is my first attempt to put it in writing publicly, and since I don’t have that many prior references to rely on or spring from except conversations with friends and a few comments or internet discussions here and there, there will possibly be some things to improve on.(there always is anyway)

For women, racism and classism have sexist intents and purposes, that is to increase our vulnerability to rape and to specific forms of female subordination to men. There is a world of difference between male and female victims of racism/classism: one simple example is the fact that male undocumented migrants and asylum seekers will at worst be enslaved in unethical corporations, whereas the typical route for female undocumented migrants will be prostitution or working as domestic servants, the latter also leading to rape and abuse by employers.

From men’s perspective, racism and classism is what provides male corporations with a continued flow of desperate, pliable male workers to exploit, who seek to escape the misery of their colonised country or impoverished region. It serves a capitalist and patriarchal interest because it supports the accumulation of wealth of a minority of men, which overall strengthens the patriarchal system. When we look at women, racism is what will provide all men with a continued flow of desperate, pliable women to be prostituted, raped and exploited in female subservient tasks. In this sense racism and classism benefits all men as it increases their ability to rape more women. Not to mention that all male economies are largely driven by trafficking in women, pimping, pornography and theft of women’s domestic work.

Men, as a sex-group, are not divided. Men’s borders, countries, classes, divide only women and set women against each other because men will increase their power over women with this system while women will have to treat each other as the enemy, which reinforces our bondage to men. Men fight each other because they want more access to beings to violate and don’t want to be at the bottom of the ladder. They are really at war against women.

Deadly division of women: assigning women to incubator and dick- receptacle functions.

Racism and classism are part of men’s arsenal for dividing women into different rape and reproductive classes. Which means that men arrange women into different reproductive and domestic functions according to their pre-assigned racial and class status. Treating women as machines, this division maximises the efficiency of men’s reproductive control.

Mostly, men distinguish between women belonging to their caste and women belonging to the caste of other men. They use the women of their own group as incubators, and invade other male groups to use their women as prostitutes and domestic servants (second-degree prostitutes). I believe this to be men’s core patriarchal-building method.

1.The in-group women: incubators, or married women

Groomed exclusively for breeding, married women are held captive in the man’s home and are either abducted, sold by the father or, more recently, manipulated or “seduced” into marriage and hetero-imprisonment. Her basic function will be to breed children until she dies from it, and if she doesn’t die after she has accomplished this horrific function, she may be killed, left to starve, or she will be used for domestic chores or to surveil other women’s children, or re-marry. If she’s lucky enough, she might be able to reduce the number of birthed children, survive her husband and enjoy slight freedom as a widow or spinster in the remaining years of her life.

Married women are evenly spread out across all male classes, nations and ethnic groups. All men of all groups conscript a majority of their daughters to marriage and forced procreation. All married women will be raped, forcibly impregnated and tortured to varying degrees according to the whim of their owner and more generally, according to the misogynistic customs of his male group.

Sub-categories of married women:

Married women are typically divided and isolated from other married women, especially from women belonging to other camps of male owners, since their interactions will mostly be limited to people authorised by her owner. The wife is assimilated to her owner’s condition, her self moulded like clay by the man’s identity. Her condition and expected behaviour is determined and tied to the social standing, class and ethnicity of the man who owns her (either father or husband) or by whom she was raised. It will also determine how other men and wider male institutions will treat her. For instance women attached to men of higher class will be exempt from various degrees of external institutional limitations, constraints, scorching poverty, violence and humiliations that will systematically be inflicted to women belonging to men of lower or colonised / genocided status.

Kept on a leash by their husbands, married women have no choice but to be loyal to her owner’s group-belonging and take his side in their useless wars, invasions and social divisions (racism and classism). Women’s autonomous class mobility is very limited if not almost impossible compared to men simply because all men will continue to treat us as property and not as subjects. The appearance of social mobility in women is achieved if a woman of lower class is married to a higher-class man, or if the low-class man she’s married to happens to climb the social ladder over years. But of course she will never be the primary beneficiary and her class belonging will remain that of a woman, underneath all men.

Another distinction between married women according to the social belonging of their owner, will be the amount of work and the type of work required from them inside or outside the man’s house, and the conditions in which they will have to breed and raise the children. While upper-class, wealthy men will hire an army of subordinate females to cook, clean the house, feed and raise the children, lower / midlle-class women will have to do everything by themselves or with little help, and those on the lower end of the class spectrum will have to work or toil outside of the house to earn money on top of her domestic and breeding obligations.

Finally, according to the country or region in which the women are married, degrees and intensity of men’s systematic violence against the women they appropriate may vary greatly, and women’s material and legal possibilities of escape varies also in degree from country to country or from group to group.

Anyway, there’s no way I can be exhaustive about all the different conditions in which men encage married women and what it means since my view is necessarily limited in time and scope. The point isn’t to get lost in details but to pin down the mechanism of oppression and class-division between women.

2. The outer-group women / unmarried women:

Prostituted women: these are the women reserved for men’s leisure rape, a sort of necrotic public service organised by pimps and woman-traders who offer men the possibility to rape women without the bother of having to individually attack, manipulate or capture the woman themselves. This is the fate reserved to loose women, those who weren’t married or those made homeless through invasion, land expropriation, forced exile, child abuse or other.

Unlike married women, prostituted women are systematically othered: they are extorted from outside the dominant group, from colonised lands or oppressed minorities, generally bearing more outlandish traits compared to the local women. Women othered and debased in this way are more likely to be held in contempt or feared by the married women, so it reinforces division and illusion of lucky exemption in the married women. The point of men warring each other is for the male invaders to increase their poole of rapeable women, and to generally have free reign to rape all women since it’s the only time where they can break the rule of having to respect other men’s private property (women), when it comes to colonised men. Which is one reason why colonised men feel so “emasculated” (deprived of their rape host, probably experienced as their dicks being cut off). Of course the colonised men define it as an attack against themselves and their sacred rape-right, and not as an attack to women, since women aren’t considered as subjects. But I digress.

Hence most prostituted women will be found amongst those who were expropriated from their lands, severely impoverished or made homeless and forced into exodus to big towns where their only chance of survival is prostitution; those whose region or country was invaded, and the women systematically raped and sent to brothels, whether for the defending or invading army; those who formed the subsequent generation of women after the occupation or war and who are now so extremely impoverished they are abandoned by their family or have to leave their home to be prostituted in men’s big towns. In such colonised countries, as many as one woman out of two or three may be forced into prostitution at a given time, even many decades after the war has officially ended. Indeed the vast majority of women trafficked for prostitution or forced domestic work come from the global south. Within the group of colonisers or higher-class men, homelessness in women is mostly generated through severe child abuse, incest rape and pimping of their own children for child prostitution rings or pornography. All this appears to be true at the local as well as the global level.

This is my speculation but it is quite possible that the institutionalisation of prostitution and brothels came about through men’s systematic raping of unmarried or homeless women as a way of punishing them for not belonging to a man, to make sure no women escaped rape and male conscription. Collective raping of women is also men’s preferred form of bonding so it might be that men always considered prostitution necessary for holding the cohesion and fabric of men’s society together. Given that they’re obsessed by paternity and furthering their genetic lineage and that it’s considered a crime for another man to sully his reproductive property, they must have decided for the sake of male-peace-keeping and preventing too many fights over ownership to set some women apart for public, collective raping – to make sure that every man could have a go at raping. I guess they would otherwise always want to rape other men’s wives or daughters and it would have disturbed men’s social order or strict reproductive control scheme. I wonder whether the history of prostitution development has been documented anywhere. Someone told me that it first started in Sumerian societies, alongside the practice of veiling married women.

Domestic servants: Same mechanism as for prostituted women except that their acquisition will be reserved to wealthier men who can afford to have slaves and/or servants in his domain. They act as surrogate inferior wives, wet nurses, cooks, cleaners, nannies, completing work that would otherwise be reserved for the married woman. The pater familias usually has right of rape over the domestic servants.

Then of course there are all those wild women who have bravely or luckily escaped male bondage: spinsters, lesbians, witches, hags, and other such revolting women that men have hunted down with all their might.

This is it for now. Stay tuned in for the next part which will focus on what it does when men inflict different degrees of violence between women.

Cutting through the throes of intersectionality: part I

This is one subject that I have been intending to write about for several years and have written a few drafts here and there, scattered around my notepads. The subject is so vast that every time I started writing I simply got lost in a maze of sub-sections, which is why I let it lag behind. But now I’m quite happy to give it another go.

Historically, intersectionality has come from men, in the 80s and 90s, with the purpose of persuading women that they could be oppressed by us too, that women were also oppressors of men and that the oppressed could all oppress each other. It’s an antifeminist mix between liberal male academentia and lefty male activism and forms a deadly weapon designed to undermine bonding of women against men.

In this oppression festival where everyone is considered both oppressed and oppressor, the definition of oppression is of course emptied of all meaning and this is exactly the intent of intersectionality: to erase and divert our eyes from the primary truth and fact that men are the only oppression-organisers of this human world, and that rape and impregnation of women is the fabric and central organising mechanism of men’s system of domination.

All forms of domination stem from and serve this purpose of maintaining men’s sexual access to women, globally: it is the first and final cause. There is no system separate from patriarchy because men are the sole rulers everywhere on the planet, and their tyranny is always and inherently sex-based, based on their sexual domination over women. Power-over is phallic and male, and men treat subordination as female and receptacle-shaped. Men’s dom/sub relationships and interaction with the world follow this male/penetrating vs. female/penetrated syntax, either literally or subliminally/symbolically. Being male, holding the rape-weapon between their legs, is what grants status in patriarchy, power to oppress and the privilege of being considered a subject. That is because at the very basic level, their oppressive power is both achieved and maintained with the use of their penis-weapon, through the raping, impregnation, capture and domestication of women globally. This is fundamentally why women will never share men’s power, but this is off-topic so I will discuss it more another time.

Intersectionality is liberal because it focuses on the particular, on individual agency and on individual perception of one’s condition at the expense of structural analysis and the reality of men’s oppressive structures. This is one major reason why it’s incompatible with radical feminism because our analysis is based on a structural, macroscopic perspective: we look at the structure of male oppression, at how all women, based on their sex, are held captive in a giant patriarchal cage.

So this is what I’m going to do here, I’m first going to look at the structure of men’s system in order to explain how intersectional analysis doesn’t fit the big picture.

Lie number #1: Women may oppress men.

(ie white women may oppress men of colour, etc.)

This configuration is not possible, as all men are oppressors to all women. If A oppresses B; B can’t in turn oppress A – otherwise B wouldn’t be oppressed by A. Oppression, as an institutionalised and organised form of domination by one group over another, isn’t revertible in any way. It’s by definition one-sided and unilateral, at the benefit of the oppressor group and detrimental to the oppressed. Men can’t be oppressed on the basis of sex and therefore can’t be oppressed by the sex class they themselves oppress, even on a racist or classist basis. For women to be able to oppress men in any way, men would have to no longer be our oppressors, but this is not true in patriarchy. Oppression can only go downwards in the hierarchy, that is, A oppresses B and B might oppress a third group beneath them, C. Although only men can be both oppressed and oppressors. Women are never oppressors because women as a group have no control-power whatsoever on whomsoever in male society. We only have token power-over. Which leads to the point #2.

Lie number #2: Some women can oppress other women when it comes to racism and classism or other isms

Sub-title: on the structure and function of difference in status between women, part I.

For the same reasons that women can’t oppress men, women can’t oppress women either. First because women lack the primary weapon of female oppression which is the penis, second because, as said above, women as a group have no autonomous apparatus of power with which to enforce any kind of oppressive system. Women’s status will always be a token one in patriarchy and the token’s only power will never exceed that of a subordinate executing the dirty work of the masters, policing women and undermining the spirit, solidarity and liberation potential of her own kind. Their condition is similar to that of a Kapo in the Nazi concentration camps, except that for women there is no outside world where there are no nazis, to which we can escape.

If some women may be exempt of certain kinds of limitations or violence, or may be individually assigned to dominate other women, this does not make them oppressors. To look at who the oppressors are, you have to step back and look at who is holding the reigns of the system of domination and who benefits from women dominating each other and from all forms of domination in general. It is evidently men. It is not difficult to see that men rule every aspect of this society and that women are excluded from any meaningful decision-making role. Second, it logically follows that the oppression planners are those who benefit from their own system of domination – that is, men. The benefits are intended and men’s oppressive system indeed increases their power over women in order to use them as reproductive hosts.

By contrast, women’s status in patriarchy never exceeds that of being owned or controlled by a privileged man (or its institutional representative). The reduced limitations or minor advantages certain positions might confer don’t benefit women to the extent that in and of itself, it doesn’t give the power to be free from the male owners (husband, father-state, religious institution or any form of male impersonation), nor does it protect us from men’s sexual/sexist violence. Men still conserve their right of ownership and sexual access to the token or assimilated women, it’s the whole point of the deal. It won’t protect her from sexual harassment, psychological conditioning, abuse by her husband, forced impregnation or domestic slavery. Exposure to men’s violence and tight control of our movement or thoughts is the very purpose of being granted pseudo-status in fatherland – it keeps us close to the masters. And the higher up we go in male hierarchy, the stronger their control will be, and the more dissociated and anti-woman we will have to act in order to survive in their midst, which of course is at our expense. If we chose to withdraw from men and men’s violence our pseudo-advantages or statuses would be greatly reduced or taken away. However only by withdrawing from men can we be free.

By submitting to the framework and rules men have dictated, assimilated women or token torturers work against the liberation of her own kind and therefore against their own liberation too – both are inseparable. Her escape from the fate of women is an illusion. Tokenism and assimilation to male institutions are not only useless but a crucial and deliberate strategy of men’s domination.

The analogy can be made between women’s situation and animal husbandry, even though it has its limitations. With domesticated animals, there are differences in degrees of violence inflicted to the animals according to whether they are farm animals, industry and battery farm animals, and domestic pets. According to animal-rights activists, farm animals are by far the most badly treated, especially pigs, but also other animals. Second in line are better-treated farm animals who live outside and are well fed but still destined to be killed and eaten eventually, closely followed by domestic pets, who are more likely to receive better treatment overall, even if most are punished and beaten too. With a stretch of imagination, we could imagine that the domestic pets have been groomed to believe in the superiority of their condition and show contempt or discriminate against their more unfortunate peers, as a way to show allegiance to their masters.

An intersectionalist would say that the domestic pets oppress the farm and industry-bred animals and are privileged traitors. But it’s perfectly clear here that none of the animals have any power to oppress any of their peers because they are all isolated from one another, and all are owned by their masters: they all share the same condition, only some have escaped the worst forms of torture. The only oppressors here are the human masters.

This logic equally applies to women’s  situation. But as opposed to animals, there aren’t vast numbers of undomesticated and uncaptured women living in the wild. All women are domesticated by men and most individually or collectively owned, and subjected to varying degrees of torture according to which male group, individual or institution they belong to.

I made another drawing!

male class system2

This is a very simplified diagram of men’s sex class / oppression system.

You can see that women’s status is aligned to those of the men they are controlled or owned by, which means that the woman who belongs to the man of class 1 will only set her slightly ahead of women from lower male classes, and so on, but it doesn’t put her in the male oppressor camp since she is still owned by a man / men. All women share the same condition albeit in different degrees. As you can see, the women are isolated from each other because they are shut in men’s homes, and are also divided by men’s class strates, but men aren’t – not on a sex class perspective: all men get to fulfill their sex-based right to possess (rape, marry, etc) a woman.

That’s it for now, the next part will continue my thoughts on the structure of hierarchies between women in patriarchy.

 


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