Friday, May 21, 2010

From The Oppressor's Handbook, for Dummies: The Rights of the Abused Must Never Exceed or Approximate the Rights of the Abuser

[image of book cover is from here]

The reason feminists are hated by men is because feminists tell the truth about them. The reason anarchists are hated by corporate thugs is because anarchists tell the truth about them. The reason whistle-blowers are sometimes killed, or paid to be silent before whistle reaches lips, is because whistle-blowers tell the truth.

Here are a couple of very simple premises, which I hope you will consider deeply: sexist and racist violence would end if there weren't so many laws protecting the white male supremacist perpetrators. And oppressive status quo society is set up so that when people with less status, privilege, entitlements, and institutionalised power speak out accurately against the abuses of those with more power and privileges, it will be assumed that the ones with less power are lying. Of course. Children lie after all. (And adults do not?) Women are vengeful after all. (And men are not?) People of color are not to be trusted. (And white folks are?) Muslims of color can be sooooo fundamentalist! (And white Christians cannot? TERRORISTICALLY and historically so? HORRIFICALLY and systematically so?)

Cue the anti-radical libertarians, the civil liberties fundamentalists, the defenders of some bullshit notion called "free speech" and the perpetrators the ACLU defends, as well as the ACLUnatics, to get all antsy and upset. Palms may, in fact, be sweating. This is the moment for the arrogant and egotistical, the privileged and the entitled perps of the world to wonder: Where is this guy going with this post, anyway?! He's not going to mention anything I'VE done, is he??

But even if you're upset and feeling defensive, please read on and reserve judgment until you're done reading this post.

The next very few lines only are the beginning of a blog post from The Curvature, by Cara. For the rest of her post, please visit *here*. The rest is me blathering on about a little something called governmental, social, and interpersonal "accountability" or lack thereof.

England and Wales Move to Grant Anonymity to Rape Defendants

by Cara on May 21, 2010
In England and Wales, there’s a plan underway to grant anonymity to those who are accused of rape but have not been convicted.

Yes, under this plan, the name of the alleged victim would not be the only one withheld from public knowledge for reasons of safety and privacy.

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The Oppressor's Handbook

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that in a conservative to liberal white supremacist and misogynistic country that police-protects and militarily defends the rights of oppressors over and against the rights of the oppressed, "civil liberties" is an ineffective tool to bring about radical social change, and "libertarianism" functions to shield the oppressors from challenges to their rights to privacy to perpetrate abuse while strengthening their entitlements to do harm.

When a child names their incest perpetrating parent as their rapist, they are socially castigated and made into the classic Western "bad guy". Witness so many stories, too many to mention here, but I'll direct you to the case of Mackenzie Phillips, whose own perpetrator's ex-spouse rushed to defend his memory. The message from many who had far less emotional investment in the memory of John that does Michelle, was, to put it crudely, this: "Screw [over] Mackenzie." Again. "I don't want to believe her truth. Her truth is ugly." Well, no. Her truth is beautiful. The story is ugly. There's a difference and please note it. The public doesn't like its own dirty laundry aired out. For so much of what happened to Mackenzie is happening to so many girls and young women, but, really, we'd rather just all talk about Jesse James and what a bastard he was to Sandra Bullock. And isn't that oil spill awful?! This is the deal, the plan, the way speaking out honestly in ways that make one vulnerable is made into a criminal act, effectively if not also legally. And, like any good sadistic country, any sign of vulnerability will be vultured, turned, if possible, into carrion. Pick, pick, pick until all that remains are those immobile and mute bones. Mackenzie is a strong woman. You can't live through what she lived through, face it, write it out which means facing it much more deeply, then allow it to be in the public domain, and be both alive and not strong. G-d bless her honesty, integrity, and courage.

Whenever a raped person speaks out against their rapist or rapists, the victim is immediately cast into the role of the perpetrator while the rapist is immediately seen as the one who is defamed, "destroyed", and innocent until proven guilty. Let's be clear about one thing: if he raped her, he isn't innocent, regardless of what a white male supremacist courtroom concludes. And women, often enough, if allowed to be conscious during the act by the rapist, do know when they've been raped. And it is "a presumption of innocence" which the Liberal and quasi-Libertarian State grants perps, not "innocence". A rapist is not ever "innocent until proven guilty" folks. Got it?

Whatever else they were, the white very class-privileged male students from Duke who rented or purchased one or two women of color (preferring white women but oh well, they wanted their entertainment THAT NIGHT, and whitemalesky-god forbid any normal whiteboy doesn't get what he somewhat sociopathically believes his penis or testicles are telling him he must have right away). 

I was once part of a really fucked up pyramid scheme (no, not the one my ancestors were involved in making for the King of Egypt, although that was rather fucked up too). This one was didn't involve slavery, but it did involve unethical economics and was making the rounds in various working to middle class communities a couple of decades ago or so. After speaking to my feminist mentor at the time, welcoming her to join in, she told me she wasn't interested in doing so because the whole thing seemed, to her, to be based on an ungrounded vision of hopeful [and exploitive] prosperity rather than an ethic rooted in a vision and practice of economic justice. I was annoyed she was going to let a little thing like ethics and social responsibility get in the way of "this really great opportunity!" Ah well, that's integrity for you. She didn't buy in and almost all of us who did lost a lot of money. I'd put in money for myself and a female relative who needed a car to find employment. She never got that car.

As I pondered what my mentor said, and after seeing a local news report warning people of this "scheme" (BAH! What does the press know!!, I thought), I did some math calculations and figured out in how many weeks we would need approximately a million people to be part of our local economic plan to help each other do good. I brought these calculations to one of our weekly meetings, where it was assumed that "bad energy" would ruin our chances. This was a New Age version of schemes that have been going around and around like bowl water in a broken toilet. So my news was seen as "not feeding the good energy" we all needed for this to happen. I was chided: "Who will want to join with someone like you thinking this can't work?" Yes, well, that was rather the point of me speaking out. They didn't seem to appreciate that. What I saw was the middle class folks like me who got in early got their dough--well, I didn't actually as I got in a bit too late. And the more this rippled out, a more economically desperate class of people were being told about it and coerced into joining. I'm not one to intervene much when I'm the only one being harmed--this is the legacy of being a survivor of familial or non-group sexual abuse. But when people with less privilege than me are being exploited, I'm not one to stay silent for long. As, um, you might have gathered from one or two of my blog posts. ;)

I once worked in a place where there was administrative corruption. Which is another way of saying "in a place where people were over-worked that valued having a rigidly hierarchical structure". I reported the corruption and was fired, and was made to feel by administrators as if I'd done something horribly wrong.

I once tried to get an alcoholic woman's husband to wake up and smell the alcohol on her breath; she was a surrogate mom figure in my life and I loved her and feared a very negative health impact from her daily drinking to drunkenness. She was a deeply caring person, and felt everything so much, and I think the alcohol was being used to try to wash away some of her pain. But when drunk it caused others pain, and I'm sure on some level she knew this, and it only tortured her more. For doing so he immediately told her what I'd "accused her of being"--I had, for the record, only expressed concerns about how alcohol and some of her prescription medications might be having an adverse effect on her. What I'd "accused her of being" was "possibly in danger", not "definitively a drunk". The next thing that happened was that she, not he, promptly ended our relationship and forbade either her husband or anyone else in her family from having any contact with me. Never get between an addict an their drug of choice. (I've since gone to Al-Anon meetings and have learned a thing or twelve. I stopped going when I couldn't tolerate hearing people thank a "Him" for helping them. He clearly isn't paying attention to "Us" because millions of Us are dying dreadful deaths in poverty and extreme illness; do the prayers of the most poor and the most ill go unanswered because relatively comfortable white USers get priority treatment because English is the language He believes everyone should be speaking?)

I once outed someone who harmed other people in ways he denied was harmful, and for that the harmer was said to be me. There are no whistle-blower-protection laws in social spaces outside of some workplace environments, and even then retaliation against the messenger of bad news is commonplace, hence "witness protection programs". I was the one declared guilty of committing a grievous offense, yet was without the means (sufficient social support) to adequately confront the liar on his lies, cross-examine his acts of slander, or adequately hold him to account for his grievous "mistakes" and grossly improper conduct. (To be clear, it's "a mistake" if you're doing something wrong that you had no idea was wrong. Getting drunk the first time might be a mistake. The twentieth time: not a mistake. And if you've been told by people you know have integrity that what you're doing is fucked up and wrong and harmful--explained carefully to you in terms you fully understand, and you keep on doing it, you don't get to call your continuation of the behavior "a mistake".)

This is how male and white supremacy works:

If someone who is marginalised and destatused inside a  family or social system speaks out against those who are statused and empowered and entitled and protected, the burden of proof--too often beyond a shadow of a doubt--will fall on the shoulders of the accuser, because, to be clear, we live in a society that doesn't really want anything bad to happen to abusers. Let the abused accusers drop off the Earth ASAP, but let us take precious care of our perpetrators until they die with all the people they fucked over sitting around them weeping at their passing--because, I'm sure deep down, they really were a good person. Or, well, they had some good traits. Or, at least, they were, you know, "troubled".

Consider this: we go out of our way to demonstrate how the next-door rapists, pimps, and procurers (I mean "sex addicts") are "troubled" and in need of whatever care it takes to rehabilitate them so they can be contributing members to society, but the raped and battered, the pimped and procured--well, get over being such a victim, would you? That abuse happened, what?, ten years ago? Get a life!! Note the disparity of compassion.

What the status quo (read: dominant society and its apologists and protectors) wants and needs is for the abuses to continue. The systems require the abuses, you see. They aren't extraneous mishaps. The harm, quite horrifically, is indispensable. So doing all that are necessary for these systems of harm to operate relatively smoothly, if secretly, or off the major radar screens, is precisely what MUST happen. The U.S. has a rather willful if habituated propensity for engaging in covert military operations, claiming that if the public knew what they were doing we'd call them out on being fucking genocidalists we'd put U.S. security at risk. Indeed. It's not "the people" who matter. It's the collectors of military intelligence. If "security of the citizenry" was what this government cared about, how could it come to pass that so many people are without jobs and homes? The answer is that the intelligence being collected is to protect us from something "out there" (psssst: I don't want to say this out loud, but the "intelligence" is telling me it rhymes with ooslims and possibly north sporeans). Please don't look behind the curtain at the people who are infecting collecting the intelligence, ruining running the financial industry, or profiting off of  presiding over the multinationals. They've got important work to do--ignoring your suffering and insecurity.

In the U.S. those systems include gynocidal male supremacy, genocidal white supremacy, corporate capitalism, Western imperialism, rampant military terrorism, and the unfathomably callous and violent destruction of the Earth and its non-human animal inhabitants and non-white human residents.

BP will never be held to account for the harm it has done, nor will the U.S. government which basically paved the way for this environmental disaster to happen by dropping so many regulations on oil companies (and on mega-corporations generally) who have decided its environmentally sound to drill into sea floors and plumb up the oil. This was, to dredge up the ol' catch-phrase, a disaster waiting to happen. (And that's a big ol' Thank You, to Bill Clinton.) Once disasters happen--especially if the companies aren't ours, we get to see U.S. senators and Anderson Cooper rage against the white man-chinery of corporate greed, never quite being told what role the press and government have in ensuring these cycles of economic and environmental disaster don't end until The End.

A government CAN ensure that fucked up shit like this isn't inevitable. Really, it can. But it won't in a plutocracy or a kyriarchy (my two new favorite words, so get used to seeing them). A federal government such as the military and corporate-owned one in the U.S. cannot stop atrocity as long as rich white doods rule. And atrocities cannot be stopped in a country where corporations are given the status of an individual citizen, but with many more tax write-offs and considerably more permissions and incentives to be psychopathic. See the movie The Corporation for a grim tale of what this means for us all.

The U.S. government is to blame (I know "blame" is an unkind and "emotionally incorrect" word) for virtually all of the deaths following Hurricane Katrina, and had a steady hand in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Haitians following the earthquake centered a few miles west of Port au Prince earlier this year. Why "to blame"? Because they've had a hand in destroying the environments of both places, of ruining ecosystems designed to withstand and rebound from things like hurricanes and earthquakes. You don't get mudslides unless you strip hills and mountains of their trees. And you don't get flooded cities if you leave wetlands in place to absorb the flooding waters. And if you think U.S-driven corporate greed isn't behind all that, you're either sorely mistaken or have already perished.

But rather than own up, like big grown adult boys to what the U.S. government has done, did recently, and still does that is inevitably and repeatedly catastrophic for humans, animals, plants, and other life, the mass media and its government will pretend these things are "terribly unfortunate natural disasters" or "flukes" or anything other than something they made sure COULD AND WOULD happen.

So the next time you hear a report about protecting the rights of the accused, be assured those laws aren't doing shit to help out the raped and are most certainly not ever intended to. And also be assured that harming a harmer is evil, but being harmed by a harmer is your own tough fucking luck. Oh, and shut up if you're thinking of speaking out. The corporate, militarised WHM supremacist status quo is deeply invested in not knowing what you have to say.

But you can talk about how AWFUL those "natural disasters" are. All day long and into the night. And how UNFORTUNATE it was that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time (like at home alone in her bed sleeping soundly when the "troubled" rapist climbed in through her unlocked window--you see, it really was her fault for wanting some of that predatory fresh air while she slept). Or how she's "to blame" for her own unconsciousness because she was in a bar and went to pee and came back and drank and danced and doesn't remember what happened next.

The questions I'll leave you with are these:
What if we stopped blaming the people who are preyed upon and systemically harmed? What if we didn't try and silence or discredit those who also speak out against injustice and atrocity? What if we stopped telling the oppressed folks who speak with anger and rage "to say it nicely next time and maybe they'll listen"? What if we stopped calling the whistle-blowers traitors and troublemakers, and stopped shooting the messengers? What would happen then?


Johnny said...

This is a hard-hitting, excellent post, Julian!

Julian Real said...

Thank you so much, Johnny. That means more to me that you now know. Or, well, maybe you do know. :)