Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What to do about Rape and White Het Male Supremacy: Discussion with Jennifer Drew

[image is from here]

Hi Jennifer Drew,

[I have mildly revised some of this since your first reading and wanted to alert you to that.]

A few responses to your latest comment. (The original, unedited and not annoyingly broken up with my responses, can be found here.)

Here in the UK we have legislation making it a criminal offence to promote racism and/or homophobia but all too often public outrage is expressed only when a celebrity white male publicly makes a racist comment about a coloured male.

One problem I have with such laws--which is not to say I don't wish we had such a law in the U.S.!--is that they tend to assume two things about the majority of racism and homophobia:

--An assumption is too often made that racism is a matter of [morally] "bad" interpersonal behavior ("bad" in the liberal sense, which behavior is bad but we're not really going to stop it at its roots, because, well, our dominant society depends on it continuing, especially institutionally.

--An assumption is too often made that racism and homophobia aren't intricately woven in with misogyny; that racism and homophobia only negatively impact men and don't impact women of color in particularly harmful ways. It's not exactly that, for example, a lesbian woman of color is treated oppressively on three scores, although that's true enough. But it's also the case that there are particular forms of misogyny that are leveled at lesbian women of color that other women don't experience. So, as I see it, white heterosexual women know sexism well. White women know sexual violence intimately. And there are other forms of misogyny reserved for various women of color--depending on so much, like where one lives, for example, and one's class status, sexual orientation, appearance, upbringing, and personal history.

In fact--in the real social world, when a woman is not white or not heterosexual, her quality of life, in terms of being seen as a person deserving of full human rights, doesn't ever increase.

In the U.S., as a classic feminist text says, "All the women are white, all the Blacks are men, but some of us are brave".

And all the queers are white as well, and middle class. (Wrong. Most, in fact, are not. This is "provable" simply by noting that most people in the U.S. are not white middle class folks.)

So the realities of the lives of queer women of color are so invisibilised as to not even register in the dominant cultural imagination, unless as some allegedly bizarre aberration, or small niche or "fetish" in pornography. Hence dominants can believe such human beings don't really exist at all as real people. Wanda Sykes is the only Black "out" lesbian woman I know of who is due to have her own television program and I hope her corporate employers let her fully speak her mind.

Thank you for sharing what you did about how U.S. and UK societies do and do not differ in terms of law and society.

Misogynistic comments made by so-called celebrity male comedians are dismissed as 'just humour' rather than deliberate women-hating.

We have had one incident to date, where Black women in the U.S. were named by a prominent WHM supremacist TV and radio "personality" in misogynistic-racist ways. (Not that he's a comedian by trade. It appears he's an asshole by trade.) While he was fired from that job, he was hired again by another media empire. Various media were confused about what to do: is this just a racist incident? Just a misogynist incident? So invisible are women of color as targets of racist misogyny and misogynist racism that most dominant media didn't even know how to appropriately cover the story. Meaning, in part, Don Imus was never called a WHM supremacist. And the women he targeted for his m-r vitriol was never fully understood as the crime it was. And THE story became whether or not he should be/have been fired. That is, the mass concern was for his well-being (and the preservation of WHM's rights to fully speak their minds, which is the only protected "free speech" we've ever had in this country.

I'm not trying to trivialise racism/homophobia rather what I see here in the UK is the continued male-centered and male-dominated focus on males and invisibility of females - unless of course they are portrayed as white men's dehumanised sexualised objects.

I agree with you to a point. Yes, in whiteboyland white women are dehumanised in grotesque ways too innumerable to mention here, overwhelmingly by white men. But men of color, and women of color, are marginalised and stereotyped, oppressed and turned into things, including sexual things, by white men and white women. And there's a dynamic when men of color put down women of any color that is different than when white men do it. Two things happen when men of color insult and degrade women of color:

--It is a non-event, in the sense that "nothing wrong is happening here", in the WHM supremacist media and imagination. This is partly because the WHMS media fund and fuel such racist misogyny and benefit from men of color's misogyny against women of color.

--If men of color also target white women, whites take this to mean that only men of color are misogynists. Or that men of color are misogynistic in ways that have never occurred to white men to treat white women, even while white men have spent the last 500 years teaching men of color how to commit despicable, harmful gynocidal atrocities to women of color worldwide, as well as to white women, by example. Even though white men oppress women of color more than men of color do in the U.S. To hold such a view means not ignoring the harm to WOC by WHMS institutions and industries.

Women of colour living in the UK are subjected to racism but all too commonly their experiences are invisibilised because the focus continues to be on coloured men's experiences of racism. Similarily women living in the UK and who identify as lesbian or are 'considered to be lesbian' and then subjected to homophobic comments and verbal attacks are also invisibilised because as always men are centre stage and women are marginalised.

Here in the U.S., non-heterosexual women of color are not considered period, by dominant media or dominant society. Butch white women are also rendered completely invisible.

Alan Johnson in his book The Gender Knot makes a similar statement, wherein he says medals are awarded to soldiers for the 'brave deeds they have committed in battle' but where are the medals and memorials to the innumerable women and children slaughted in men's wars?

That is a chilling thought. Imagine the land mass it would take to appropriately bury and honor every woman and girl harmed by men misogynistically, due to male privileges and entitlements, or through WHMS systems of harm? With woman-symbols as gravestones. I can barely imagine it. But it could be Photoshopped using the image above, and I think it ought to be made, with a political statement about how many women men kill annually.

What is to be done? I personally do not believe all men are rapists but certainly all men learn as they grow up that being white and male gives them automatic entitlements and privileges including the pseudo male sex right to unlimited sexual access to women and girls.

I agree that not all men are rapists, although the white woman Anonymous who is pro-separatist who comments here regularly gives me pause to think about how I can know that. Depending on how we define rape, how can I know there are men who do not rape women? I've only made the case to her that there are men who are so immobilised through injury as children or from birth that they wouldn't have the physical means to injure a woman, but still might be able to violate a woman visually, if sighted. (And what percent of men are totally immobilised and not sighted?)

And I do know gay men who have never had any sexual contact with a woman, nor any violent contact with a woman. (And what percentage of gay men is that?)

So we do not want to make the assumption that "all the men are heterosexual". MRAs and their kind will likely look on this post (stupidly) as an example of me saying "All men are rapists". Well, I didn't. What I believe is what many here have said: all men participate in systems of rapism and gynocide, directly and interpersonally, or institutionally and systemically.

I must also note that in my experience it alarms and upsets men, across sexualities and races, that any woman might "hate all men" or think "all men are rapists" than it does that many men do hate women and many men do rape women. And it certainly bothers most men more that women might feel disdain for men, when disdain for women is one of the bedrocks of many so many male supremacist societies. Where's men's collective outrage about that? (I'm listening... and all I hear are crickets chirping.)

And yes, what can be done, given white class-privileged men's entitlements, privileges, unjust power, unjust access to resources with which to defend themselves. What can be done to wipe male supremacy and white supremacy off the Earth, short of global nuclear holocaust? I welcome people posting answers to this question here at this blog. Jennifer, there needs to be a website that exists just for women to post their ideas and successes with how to stop misogyny and male supremacy from flourishing, and from existing at all. Something along the lines of holla back, but more comprehensive. Stories of successfully ending male violence against women and girls. Stories of how to approach doing so. Documentation of efforts of women in the past who have waged such campaigns. Is there such a website? Such an online network? And it would have to move past the pacifist position, no? Women's acts of self-defence need to be expanded and protected by law. Women shouldn't have to kill a man while he's raping her to be found not guilty of murder due to self-defence. She ought to be able to track his rapist ass down and shoot him dead. That's "self-defence". That's women looking out for one another, in my view. (And I'm fine with women organising groups of profeminist men to do just this, so women don't have to risk being traumatised or jailed for the act, or, if a parent, losing her children because she blew the brains out of her daughter's rapist.)

Challenging individual men on their behaviour is a step but more much more needs to be done and radical feminists have been saying for years that we need to change how our society teaches men as boys what being a man is all about. Going to the root of the problem directly challenges male entitlement and pseudo male sex right which is why I personally was not surprised on reading reports of approximately 20 males, some adults others boys who rushed to view the spectacle of males engaged in group raping a young woman. To me this demonstrates what happens when our so-called liberal society refuses to even begin to understand how and why so many men cannot even begin the long, long task of challenging their indoctrination of masculinity and supposedly innate male superiority over women and girls.

It's stunning to me how a program of socialising boys differently is met with consternation by men, yet when radical feminists argue that it is this male supremacist socialisation that teaches males to be rapists, those women are accused of being "biological essentialists" and man-haters. To any pro-patriarchal man reading this: if women really were man-haters to the degrees and depths some men claim, and if such women knew how to direct that hatred towards men, instead of against themselves and other women, you would have good reason to fear for your life.

I agree that raising boys radically differently, to not be male supremacists and girl-haters and woman-haters, needs to be a major component. But so too does the permanent removal of misogynist men from society. (And I don't mean more prisons.) And the dismantling of white men's industries, institutions, and systems of harm and exploitation. Misogynist ways doing economics, criminal justice, law, religion, academics, and medicine must also be challenged. And I saw more of that challenging going on twenty years ago than I do now. The pornography is more vicious, more degrading, more violent (if that's possible), and society as a whole is far more pornographic.

Regarding the horrific atrocities white men have committed and continue to commit against indigenous women and girls is appalling. But given white males are taught almost from birth their biological maleness supposedly automatically makes them human compared to women of colour and particularly indigenous women and girls because they are 'non-human' it is not surprising such atrocities continue to be committed. But whilst I am not surprised that doesn't mean I'm not angry at the atrocities committed by white men against white women, women of colour and indigenous women and girls.

Yes. It is no surprise and it is an outrage. And I fully support Indigenous people keeping white men off their land by any and all means necessary. I wish there was a chip in white men's heads, such that when they thought to go and rape a woman, his head would implode (keeping clean-up to a minimum).

I see a continuum of male violence wherein white male violence is even more excused and justified if the women are not white and yes racism and xenophobia plays a huge part in male hatred of women.

As I see it, the misogyny of xenophobia, of racism, needs to be understood more. That any genocide means gynocide, for example.

I'd like to see this latest atrocity as a 'wakeup call' but unfortunately I think it will be quickly forgotten and dismissed as 'just another individualised case wherein some boys just got carried away!' Or else the focus will once again be on the young woman, with minute analysis as to how and why she didn't take more precautions with regards to her safety. Because women are supposed to have built-in antenna which automatically alerts them to potential male violence being committed against them.

I agree with you, Jennifer. That is likely how this will go. And the school system, as yolandac has noted on this blog, will never be held responsible. As for women having such antennae, this would necessitate forming women's nations ASAP with well guarded borders. And then what?




Hi, Julian, a most interesting discussion and given differing time differences I will reply later. Just wanted to acknowledge your post.

Christina said...

Educating white boys unfortunately is not going to help much. They see all the privileges that their white fathers are enjoying and want them as well. Not forgetting that white men want these privileges for their sons.

We can never rely on WHMs to end white male supremacy as they have absolutely no interest in doing so. They are more concerned with upholding it.

If women want to end WHM supremacy we will have to do it ourselves. But this is going to require women and girls to start standing together and stop accepting WHM sexism and racism as been part of life but rather something to be destroyed.

I believe the best way to do this is to ensure that every woman and girl fully understands WHM supremacy and the importance of destroying it.

We need to start pushing our government to introduce women’s studies into the school system. And this subject must be compulsory for all girls.

Girls as young as six must start learning the horrors of WHM supremacy and why it is so important for us all to remove it.

Young girls will be encouraged to form political parties and those who don’t will be encouraged to support those who do.

By standing together women will be able to successfully vote in an all female feminist government.

With the entire female population behind the feminist government they will be able to systematically destroy all the sexist racist white boy clubs.

I know some feminists advocate a separatist policy, but this basically means women have to move out of their homes into a new community. Why must the women have to be the ones to move when we are not the ones who did anything wrong.

Here is a totally crazy idea, as the vast majority of British WHMs are sexist, racist, homophobic criminals, why not just round them all up. And sell them to Africa so that they can be used to fix up everything that they destroyed.

With all the British WHMs either completely under the control of a feminist government or shipped off to Africa, Britain will finally be liberated from the oppressors and we will all finally be free.

Educating women and girls about the evils of WHM supremacy is therefore vitally important