My own recent posts on women, violence and proximity were inspired by Echidne's series on why she is a feminist. If you have not yet read all of them, here are the links:
- The Right to Go Out
- Planet of the Guys
- Our Father Who Art in Heaven
- The Invisible Women
- The Female Body As Property
That women are so integrated on that most primal of levels probably explains why sexism is harder to see than other -isms which oppress people. If women are killed because of their sex it mostly doesn't happen in large public slaughterings but privately, one woman at a time, and in each case we wonder if the cause for the killing might not have been something personal, something unrelated to the gender of the victim. And note that while most racists don't have parents of the race they now hate, all misogynists do. -- It's all too close, too intimate, too hard to see because we lack the necessary distance, the necessary ability to see the possibly oppressed as a separate group.This is crucial for understanding how misogyny can be simultaneously invisible to most people and yet part of the daily routine for millions of men and women. It's the core of what I am trying to get at when I talk about it being privatised and excused. I'm not a rapist, my girlfriend was just playing hard to get. I'm not a wife beater, she was bitching me out and wouldn't shut up. I'm not committing incest, I'm helping her explore her sexuality. I didn't do anything to her, she was asking for it.
When we do come across situations of women being slaughtered in significant numbers, or executed one at a time, or aborted in numbers large enough to skew sex ratios, or perhaps just kept in gulags of prostitution cut off from any source of protection and offered for rent in a booming sex market, we see the violence as the product of a killer with mental problems, or of an exotic society's bizarre customs, or where the women are participants in crime, instead of understanding women as a class systematically subjected to harm in a way that is unique to them and is due to being female.
Every day women must test the proposition that the men we know aren't a danger to us by putting ourselves in harm's way and seeing whether our trust is justified. In most cases, it is, and this is a good thing. In many cases, it is not and too often those violations occur with men whom we have trusted in the past, like a classmate, an intimate partner, a relative, a co-worker, an authority figure, people on whom our well-being depends.
So, I keep returning to the question, who are you? It doesn't matter what you say online or if you say anything at all. It's just words here. What matters is how you answer that question with your actions. I want you to think what you are doing. I cannot do this thinking for you, nor can I act in your stead. Mandos said "By deduction, what Anglachel must want is for men to help end the privatization of misogyny and rape. What form this is supposed to take is what eludes me." It eludes me as well, not because I can't come up with a nice, thorough, egalitarian to-do list of acts and attitudes I would dearly love to see made flesh in this world, but because you (both Mandos and the generic "you" reading these words) must inhabit a form of life that rejects misogyny and you must do this in the same manner in which you currently inhabit one that embraces misogyny; it can't be done by checking off a list of tasks.
It means reconstructing the world we have in common.
Hillary was talking about this thirteen years ago:
These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words. But the voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loudly and clearly:Tell yourself what you are doing to create a form of life where these things do not occur. That will say who you are.It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely -- and the right to be heard.
It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are sold into the
slavery of prostitution.
It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.
It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.
It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes.
It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.