Friday, August 6, 2010

Logical Phallusy: The Patriarchal Practice of Dismissing Perspectives and Political Views that are Not Understood

image is from here
Men sometimes claim their testicles do the directing of their actions when objectifying or harassing women, or that their brains are in their the head of their penis. I disagree. John Mayer proclaimed that his penis is a white supremacist, even while other parts of him--his butt-cheeks, perhaps--are not. I again disagree. I think all men are fully humane, even while many humans do horribly inhumane things. I love humanity and I hate inhumanity. This means that the more someone proclaims atrocity as "good" or "in need of protection" or "inevitable", the more I question the depth of the humanity of the person speaking.

I believe rape is an atrocity, not an accident. I believe genocide is organised, not an oops! I believe misogyny is part of the fabric of patriarchal societies, not the attitude problem of a few rare men who got their hearts broken by a mean, mean woman. For this, men make fun of me. Or, they try to deride and degrade me, not my views. Their arguments, to them, are logical.

I publish writing by women who do not respect the violations and degradations that rapists, batterers, pornographers, pimps, and slavers enact against female human beings. I publish the writings of women who despise what men do in the name of being men, or the misogynistic acts that men commit in order to be more manly as their male supremacist culture defines the term.

I publish my own views that men who do not work to stop misogynistic violence and discrimination are complicit with that abuse. With a few publicly known and notable exceptions, men will not challenge other men on matters of sexual violence against women. Many of the men who do intervene do so not out of respect for women's humanity, but rather out of disdain that another man has corrupted their female property.

Some men will act from the anti-patriarchal view that women are human, and as such ought to experience the depth and breadth of full human rights. Women, globally, do not, as yet. And it is men who stand in the way, more than any other group of people.

Some men turn away from men who start joking about raping women or counting up the number of "hot" women in view. Some men interrupt these men, call them out, explain that such behavior is inhumane, no less so for being shared only among men. The men, eager to bond with each other over putting down women--physically and verbally, will often shun the men who call them out, dismiss them, call them a f*gg*t and continue on with their deeply homosocial bonding. What men fear is the rejection of other men. What men want is to be respected by other men. And so they will bond over practically anything, no matter how horrendous, atrocious, or inhumane. Some men commit gang rape to witness each other behave in ways that bond them to each other as buddies. Men share their pornographic images and stories of domination and degradation of women, to arouse in each other the desire to be physically and emotionally close not to women, but to men.

Within this social context, many such men believe is that they--as a group, mind you--are more logical than another group--women. I've heard men state this. Many famous men have written extensively on the subject, as if what they were saying was worthwhile. Men believe their sexism, their put-downs of women, is "a logical conclusion" based on "objective" and irrefutable facts. And they think they are intelligent for arriving at this conclusion.

There are several forms of dismissal of radical feminist and profeminist arguments. One is to cast aspersions on the authors. This is so common as to appear practically natural among men (and some women) who are male supremacist but proclaim themselves to be anti-misandrist. This manipulation of language is yet another strategy. There is currently an effort underway to flood the mental marketplace of ideas with this term: misandry, and to pretend it references a social problem: women hating men. The problem, however, is woman-hating men. Men do not only hate women. Men also hate men and a case has been made that the term "misandry" ought to be used to describe men's endemic and prolific hatred of each other. I concur.

So we hear tales of "man-hating" feminists from woman-hating men, and what is these men's evidence: a quote or two from one or two books by a half-dozen feminists, often misquoted, or quoted out of context, or quoted from works of fiction but not noted as such by those casting aspersions. I call this logical phallusy.

I welcome any man to present to me a thoughtful, well-articulated, intelligent review of a radical feminist book--all of it. All the chapters. Whether a book by Malalai Joya, Nawal El Saadawi, Marimba Ani, Andrea Smith, bell hooks, Alice Walker, Andrea Dworkin, Catharine A. MacKinnon, or Patricia Hill Collins, or the essays of Audre Lorde. There's an extensive list of authors to choose from. But as I am most familiar with the work of the authors above, I will ask any man to present a cogent, sincere argument against these writings, as long as the review is of an entire volume of writing.

Let's see if there is an anti-feminist man who can do this. I know many men are intellectually capable of it, but I haven't seen it happen yet. And this raises a question: why do they prefer to offer up sound-bite quotes than actually engage with a full text. I think it is because the arguments anti-feminists make about these and other authors cannot hold up to a complete reading of any womanist or feminist book.

For much more on the problem of logical phallusy, white phallusy specifically, please read this book, Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, by Dr. Marimba Ani, in its entirety, carefully and thoughtfully.

From this website, I reprint the following discussion of this important book.

YURUGU is by no means "light reading." It is a very thorough study of a
great amount of source material in European and African intellectual thought
and the result of what Dr. Ani refers to as "a 20 year sojourn through the
bowels of European thought." YURUGU definitely requires a careful and
considered approach in order to understand and digest the new information
and revelations therein. It is, however, must reading for all serious
minded Africans.

The study begins with a discussion of European thought and discusses the
uniqueness of European thought in its use of cultural thought in the
assertion of political interest. Dr. Ani says "intellectual decolonization"
is a must and we must create "cultural reconstruction strategies."

In Chapter 2 she differentiates between religion and spirituality. Dr. Ani
states that "spirituality rests on the conception of a sacred cosmos that
transcends physical reality in terms of significance and meaning." It
enables us to apprehend the sacred in our natural, ordinary surroundings.
And religion refers to the formalization of ritual, dogma, and belief, and
may or may not issue from a spiritual conception of the universe. She shows
how religion functions to sacralize a nationalistic ideology and discusses
how institutionalized Christianity and European imperialism are inseparable.

Chapter 3 discusses aesthetics as an expression of value. As Dr. Kariamu
Welsh Asante has said, "all aesthetics have their origin in resemblance" and
Dr. Ani shows how the myth of a "universal aesthetic" is created and used
by Europeans as a tool of imperialism.

In chapters 4 & 5 she examines the images and concepts of self and other
and how Europeans justify their treatment of "the cultural other."

Chapters 6, 7, and 8 discuss the relationship between what Europeans want
others to believe they are doing and what actually happens. Dr. Ani calls this
breach between word and deed "the rhetorical ethic." She shows how this
built-in hypocrisy catches Africans and others off guard because this
hypocritical component is missing from other cultures and concludes that
Native Americans were correct and prophetic when they remarked that
"paleface speaks with heap forked tongue."

Chapters 9 & 10 closely examine the themes of "progress" and
"universalism" in European ideology. And Professor Ani concludes her study
by "offering an interpretation of European culture that relates its
devaluation of spirit and extreme rationalism to its intensely imperialistic
behavior towards others.

"Secularization and desacralization are by-products of the process of
rational ordering." And since formalized Eurpoean religion has itself been
secularized there is no source of conflict with this process from "religious
" quarters. Dr. Ani says, "The difference between the militarists and the
missionary is only one of modus operandi; the blows of one are more
physically apparent; those of the other leave battered souls and cultures in
their wake."

By creating the concept of the "cultural other" Europeans have declared
most things primitive that they could not understand. Through misuse of the
Bible and racial religious imagery, they taught people to laugh at the gods
of their ancestors and accept the gods of their conqueror.

image of book cover of Yurugu, with image of author Dr. Ani on it, is from here

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