Monday, 10 October 2011

The violence of the oppressed...

...is not the same as the violence of the oppressor.

This phrase conjures images such as the slave revolt that liberated Haiti, the Storming of the Bastille that set off the French Revolution, or of rugged, battle-hardened Mujahideen soldiers harrying the Soviet occupation force in 1980s Afghanistan.

Or...well, if you were a radical feminist, it might conjure images of Lorena Bobbitt, Catherine Kieu Becker, and any number of women who've enacted horrific, sometimes sexual, violence upon men.

This philosophy--that the violence of the oppressed is not the same as the violence of the oppressor--is what led to feminist suppression and dismissal of the almost 300 studies on domestic violence published since the early 80s, studies that demonstrate women are as aggressive, if not more aggressive, in their relationships as men are. It is the philosophy that causes feminists to emphasize the importance of "context" (something many of those almost 300 studies explicitly address), and then twist those contextualizations completely out of shape. It is what led women's advocates to conclude that the mandatory arrest policies enacted in the 1980s had resulted in "victims" being arrested alongside or even in place of their abusers when arrests of women in California rose by 446% and men's by just 37%, and to enact predominant aggressor policies to remedy this "problem".

It is what leads them to assign empirically groundless motivations to female abusers that fall in line with "men's and women's relative positions in society", and therefore characterize husband-battering as a "reaching upward" for empowerment, rather than a "stomping downward" act of anger, jealousy, domination, and, yes, oppression. It is what allows ordinary people and feminists alike to consider women's violence against men not only understandable but a justified and even admirable resistance to "patriarchal norms", while male violence against women has become even more universally condemned than it has always been.

It is what leads the general public to conclude, against all the glaring, neon-colored, sequin-and-road-flare-festooned evidence to the contrary--PSA ad campaigns, VAWA, mandatory arrest policies, crisis lines, battered women's shelters, easily obtained restraining orders, primary aggressor policies, Joe Biden, rape shield protections, campus sexual assault committees, billions of taxpayer dollars' worth of funding, sporadic vigilante harassment, shootings and beatings, and lessons every boy learns from toddlerhood that "it is NEVER okay to hit a girl"--that society does not take violence against women seriously enough. 

That's right. In a world where female on male domestic violence is fodder for hilarity on Bugs Bunny cartoons, where FGM is abhorred and legally banned while infant male circumcision evokes shrugs of indifference, where hitting a woman back can land a man in the hospital while an hours-long public assault on a man by a woman is no big deal to passers by, it is violence against women we do not take seriously enough.

When the simple fact that this could be our collective perception in the face of the billions of dollars we spend on the problem, the millions of words' worth of legislation we've enacted to address it, and the thousands upon thousands of hours of media time devoted to it...all this tells me is that society, on the whole, takes violence against women SO seriously it will stop at nothing to put an end to it.

And why? I mean, it's not as if society hasn't always taken this issue seriously--men used to fight to the death over women who'd been harmed, leap in front of bullets to protect them, and even married women have almost always had some form of legal recourse against battering husbands. The protection of women from physical and sexual harm has always been in society's best interest, because women are inherently and individually important to the functioning of society. But now? It's as if we've all collectively gone nuts in our drive to protect women, to the point where we will happily recast female batterers as victims, jail the men they've assaulted, and cram every instance of violence within a relationship into a narrative of dominant, angry, controlling man and victimized, cowed woman--even when it's obvious that the roles are the exact inverse.

Because a single instance of violence by an "oppressor", no matter how mild or or how justified, is horrible enough to overshadow a thousand such offenses on the part of a member of an "oppressed class". If women are believed to be, or to have been, an oppressed class, and beneath men in society, then female violence against men is a righteous uprising, while male violence can be cast as all that is ugly and evil in a tyrant, the boot-heel of oppression.

This is how feminism has taken our already healthy desire--whether innate or socialized or a little of both--to protect women from violence, and turned it into a steroid-enhanced, mutant, logic-defying impulse to not only protect women from harm, but to take as many men down, innocent or guilty, as we can, even if in doing so we put children at risk. Because if women are and have always been an oppressed class, their violence against their oppressors isn't abhorrent. Every penis severed and shoved down a disposal is a metaphorical triumph against tyranny and oppression.

It is this philosophy that allowed an audience of women to laugh and gloat over the barbaric castration of a man who'd committed the dire offense of asking his wife for a divorce, and to lead many people to speculate, without any other details, that she was probably a battered woman. It is what led women all over North America to view Catherine Becker's atrocity as not just excusable, but "quite fabulous", because even though all we knew (or now know) about Mr. Becker is that he was a man, any man, every man, well, you know how men are...you know he had to have done something to deserve it.

This philosophy is what leads many feminists--from academics to manboobz--to characterize MRAs' attempts to bring domestic and sexual violence against males into the public eye (and the governments' budgets) as "zero-sum thinking", anti-feminist, misogynistic, and an agenda to dismantle existing protections for women. It is this view of oppressor (male) and oppressed (female) that views any outreach toward assisting male victims of female violence as a threat to women that borders on violence itself, a heartless revictimization of an "oppressed class".

And none of it...I mean, none of it, is based on reality. The reality is, women's and men's relative positions in society, throughout history, have always been balanced. Were they equal? Not by a long shot. Were they equitable? Absolutely. And the oppression feminists insist was a one-way street in patriarchal societies, well, this just isn't the way it was. Women were elevated above men in many respects--most notably in the motivation of society to protect them from harm.

And before anyone goes off on some bullshit diatribe concerning benevolent sexism and how women were protected because you protected what you owned, or because they were seen as children, or because the were useful to men as sexual objects, or because they weren't considered full human beings and they had no power in society relative to men, I will direct you to Exhibit A.

The White Feather Girls didn't entice men to enlist with a promise of sex or favor. Those young women went in for the kill, striking men at the very heart of their masculine identities, the bestowing of a feather telling them, "If you don't go off to be maimed or die, you are no longer a man in the eyes of some brassy chit you've never even met before and will probably never see again." And many men went, because a woman's censure--ANY woman's censure--had the power to drive them straight into the teeth of death.

Many feminists will attempt to tell you that Patriarchy (or men, depending on who you talk to) constructed femininity in such a way as to benefit men, thus Othering women. But masculinity and femininity evolved together, so that each would benefit the other, and women had, and still have, a strong hand in shaping what is socially acceptable in men and what is not.

That skillet-wielding Victorian harpy chasing her husband out the door and off to work with shrieks of "lazy, good for nothing layabout!" was wielding the "Hulk SMASH!!!" version of a power all women had, have always had, and still have, over men.

That feminism managed to convince the world that the oppression of patriarchal societies placed women at the bottom in every single facet of life (even areas where they were elevated), in a position where they were utterly powerless and incapable of inflicting oppression, or where their only avenue to power and agency was through their usefulness as brood mares, domestic slaves and receptacles for male ejaculate, while men alone had the power necessary to oppress anyone, is a feat of sociopolitical chicanery worthy of Charles Ponzi.

And until western societies open their eyes and start seeing reality, instead of continuing to believe what they are told, we will continue to see women's violence as what it is not--excusable, justifiable, less harmful, a righteous rebellion against tyranny, and a reaching upward for empowerment--rather than what it actually is.

And until we, as a society, come to terms with this divergence between what we have been told to believe, and what is actually real, we will continue to enable, excuse and even reward female violence, and sweep all those inconvenient male victims who challenge our ideas of what society actually looks like, under the carpet where we don't have to see them, or worse, recast them as abusers themselves--a whole underclass of people whose crime was bruising women's knuckles with their faces.

13 comments:

  1. Awesome....just fucking awesome.

    This philosophy is what leads many feminists--from academics to manboobz--to characterize MRAs' attempts to bring domestic and sexual violence against males into the public eye (and the governments' budgets) as "zero-sum thinking", anti-feminist, misogynistic, and an agenda to dismantle existing protections for women. It is this view of oppressor (male) and oppressed (female) that views any outreach toward assisting male victims of female violence as a threat to women that borders on violence itself, a heartless revictimization of an "oppressed class".

    This right here is where you won. What I find odd about the accusations that MRAs are engaging in zero sum thinking is that when they respond in that manner at best they are engaging in it as well or at worst they are hypocrits.

    Impressive ma'am!

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  2. And until we, as a society, come to terms with this divergence between what we have been told to believe, and what is actually real, we will continue to enable, excuse and even reward..........

    (lots of stuff.) and as a society we are far away from that. Good post.

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  3. You write so well, am really impressed with your informed, enlightening and entertaining offerings. Writings like yours have the ability to influence world discourse on gender issues and I hope a big audience finds you.

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  4. Good post. I await more with interest.

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  5. Great article!

    First time I understand the un-understandable. How women can be violent and still feel like victims. How women can be totally insensitive to abuse and mutilation heaped unto men. And still feel justified. And how they think that the slightest alleged offense by a man (request divorce) is reason enough to take justified actions like cutting off his dick.

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  6. This is really fantastic stuff. Everything I would bother to say on the subject (and put so much more articulately than I could ever hope to manage) if I didn't know for fact that, out of my mouth, its substance would be ignored and I'd be drowned out by a mocking chorus of "OH NOES! WHAT ABOUT TEH MEN!?" and chalked up as just another example of a privileged man mansplaining, another vindication of the idea that "the job's not done; we must redouble our efforts!".

    Thank you.

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  7. This should be required reading in many circles.

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  8. Should be required reading in many circles.

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  9. Scary to think that daytime TV like the one cited on the article, are the 'realities' of stay-at-home women. I'd love to believe that the viewers of these shows are mindless dolts with no chance at influencing or shaping society. BUT they are the mothers and wives of western culture. This makes it all the more insanely irresponsible and an egregious fault on behalf of those in charge of airing such morally destructive nonsense. It makes me want to puke.

    But, the article is remarkable. Both one of a kind, and brilliant. THANK YOU.

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  10. Brilliant article, as always.

    That video and the half-assed apology that followed, and the reaction of women everywhere on internet (I'm not from North America so that's probably why I never had to witness a reaction in real life) make me physically sick.
    I even read a woman saying she couldn't relate because she didn't have a penis, and of course men would react more.
    I don't have breasts but I can imagine and cringe at the thought of a woman having hers severed, and find that horrifying.

    I try to tell myself that this was one woman lacking empathy and not a trait of all women. I try to tell myself that despite being something of a representative sample, the audience in that talk show does not represent all women.

    But it's freaking hard to do so, it's hard to fight the feelings of mistrust that are creeping in my daily life interaction.
    Reading women like GWW and the few women who stand up against this kind of reactions gives me some hope for man-woman relationships in general, and those in my life as well.

    A big round of applause for you, GWW.

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  11. The whole article was amazing, and I loved it. Thank you.

    In particular, though, it was the last line of it that really made me cheer, since I have actually, literally been put in handcuffs because my (now ex-)wife broke her hand punching me in the face. There were no injuries that had not been caused by her striking me, I did not so much as duck my head or raise a hand to block the blows. I took it until she injured her hand, and then she called the police to come beat me some more.

    This is a real thing. It has real victims. My case is not unique, and is not that uncommon. Thank you for helping to stand up for me and others.

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  12. " And until western societies open their eyes and start seeing reality, instead of continuing to believe what they are told, we will continue to see women's violence as what it is not--excusable, justifiable, less harmful, a righteous rebellion against tyranny, and a reaching upward for empowerment--rather than what it actually is.

    And until we, as a society, come to terms with this divergence between what we have been told to believe, and what is actually real, we will continue to enable, excuse and even reward female violence, and sweep all those inconvenient male victims who challenge our ideas of what society actually looks like, under the carpet where we don't have to see them, or worse, recast them as abusers themselves--a whole underclass of people whose crime was bruising women's knuckles with their faces. "

    WOW !!!! But unfortunately I think most people accept the very opposite as the gospel truth. What's astounding is that there are many men among them.
    This 'enslavement of women by the Patriarchy' myth is primarily the creation of white,privileged women who had too much leisure time and the inevitable boredom that filled their lives.

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Have at you!