Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sara and Julian Discuss Trans/Feminist Issues, part 5: On Rape, Domestic Violence, Bigotry, and some Queer and Trans Politics

image of patriarchal domestic violence wheel is from here

Dear readers and visitors,

I have written to Sara that I wish to put this one response of hers from this comments-section discussion in part 2 of the series, *here*, as the focus of its own post. There are so many issues here for me that I'd like to discuss that just adding a few more broken-up comments to the already long list over at the original post site didn't meet my needs to have these issues more widely read and discussed further, by Sara and me, and by you, the reader.

I welcome your feedback, readers. Comment away! I'd prefer it if women, queer people, and trans people commented, especially.

JR wrote:
"And to the extent that lesbian women don't choose to "regularly sleep with men--or one man", they are not putting themselves at the same risk for rape as those women, often heterosexual or bisexual, who do regularly sleep with men--or one man."

Sara responded:
I'm not sure what are the rape statistics amongst lesbian and bisexual women. So I can't say much there.

We would, I think have to include the rape rates of girls who become bisexual and lesbian woman. And we know the sexual assault rates against girls varies from one-in-four girls, in the general population, to one-in-three girls in Indigenous populations and in places where white men live (or live near in the case of reservation land).

So the question then becomes how many of the girls who are raped/incest/molested/assaulted become bi and lesbian? From my experience and friendship circles, the stats are--or ought to be--profoundly alarming and a call to collective action against all forms of heteromale supremacist violence, especially and including those systems, institutions, and industries that promote and require the rape of girls and women.

In the view of this blog, those forms of organised, protected, defended patriarchal violence include all economic systems that require or defend the existence of desperation, poverty, hunger, vulnerability, and slavery; all systems, institutions, and industries that teach men that girls and women are "wh*res-by-nature"; all ideologies and value systems that protect men's self-proclaimed entitlements; all organised practices that promote and protect and defend men's "right wrong of access", such as pornography, prostitution, advertising, dominant media, any and all systems and institutions that foster, reinforce, or glorify racism, classism, heterosexism, and misogyny, such as the military, academics, dominant patriarchal religions, and medicine, among others.

JR wrote: "Heterosexual women are more likely to be battered and abused by a man than by a woman.

Sara responded: That's for sure. The reverse is true also. Heterosexual men are more likely to be battered and abused by a woman than by a man, at home (cause let's not mix in street violence and mugging).

But, Sara, battery of men by women in the home isn't a social problem, it's a false charge claimed by MRAs who wish to pretend that we don't live in a patriarchal society with intimate male supremacist violence against women, by men. Humans who live together in relatively enclosed spaces have a kind of intimate access of proximity and privacy that allows abuses to happen that may be less likely to happen were the spaces not enclosed, or more communal. Not that communal spaces, like school systems, haven't been "breeding grounds" for racist/misogynistic/misopedic abuse, such as in white Christian-ruled boarding schools through most of the 20th century that functioned (and endeavored) to commit a heinous form of "living genocide" by not exactly killing the children who were Indian/Indigenous person, but by attempting to culturally and spiritually killing the Indian/Indigenous person in the children.

Heterosexual men are more likely to be battered by men, period, regardless of where men live; boys are most likely abused physically by male parents/"care"-givers than by female ones. Not by women they live with. So please be careful not to perpetuate MRA myths about domestic violence.

Sara wrote:
While gay men might be more likely to be battered and abused by men, at home.

I don't wish to deny or minimise lesbian- and gay-relationship domestic violence, including battery. But we must keep in mind that of the population of "couples living together in a home", a small percentage of them are lesbian and gay--whether or not there's abuse and violence in those relationships. Most of what's happening in the home is men beating the shit out of women. Period.

And men hunting down women who leave them, and murdering them for leaving them. Period.

Sara continued:
and Men are just less likely to be raped by women, but DV is an equal opportunity crime.

"DV is an equal opportunity crime" might be true in some abstract way, but not in practice. In practice it is almost always misogynistic and misopedic. In practice it is a cornerstone of male supremacist society, not ever a female supremacist one. In practice it is a form of terrorism and brutality against women by men. Period.

Your statement, as do others you've made elsewhere, participate in a kind of liberalism that, when practiced socially, puts most women at great risk for more violence. I hope you will take that to heart before you promote such ideas. Please consider being more responsible with the way you phrase things.

I can see how your point might be that "in any home, there is the possibility of domestic violence, whether the homes are heterosexual, lesbian, gay, or none of the above. But the obfuscation of MEN'S violence against WOMEN, in the home and beyond it, is a North American emergency, as well as in the UK and Australia and many other regions of the world. There's no international emergency of men being beaten and killed by women in the home.

Sara wrote:
I'm pretty sure the rate of DV isn't lower amongst lesbian and bisexual women than amongst any other groups.

Given how male supremacist privileges and entitlements are acted out intimately, women are safer in lesbian relationships, generally speaking, than in relationships with men.

Sara wrote:
It's about mental problems, stress, substance abuse, self-control problems, anger issues, entitlement to attention/sex/money/gifts/kids, revenge, and more.

The "more" that you leave out is the problem, for me. The part left out is "patriarchal custom and common practice". Why do you repeatedly take the focus off of patriarchal/misogynistic abuse as a function of living in a patriarchal/misogynistic society? I'm perplexed why you would seek to do that. Men don't batter the women they live with in the home primarily because of "mental problems, "stress", "substance abuse", "anger issues", or "entitlement to attention/money/gifts/kids", Sara.

I find the mention of "mental problems" to be ablist and insulting to anyone with mental illness, frankly. Battery causes physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological problems for the survivors. Mentally healthy men beat the shit out of women. Normal, mentally healthy men rape women and girls, and molest children of all genders. "Normal" men seek out sex with underage people, as Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" series of programs demonstrated conclusively. "Normal" men use pornography and pornography teaches normal men how to sexualise and traumatically act out misogynistic abuse against girls and women.

If men's issues with substance abuse, anger management, and mental health was the problem, why don't teens with those same problems beat the shit out of their fathers, systematically? Why don't women outside of systems of prostitution, with those same problems, beat the shit out of their husbands and boyfrinds, systematically? Why dont' women in systems of prostitution, with those same problems, beat the shit out of their pimps, systematically? Why don't men, with those problems, beat the shit out of the sources of their stress, such as their bosses, systematically

It's the view of this blog, and by many feminists, that men abuse women in the home because THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT and because THEY WANT TO DO IT. They do it because they can do it and not usually suffer any meaningfully negative consequences, other than destroying the relationships they claim to want.

Sara wrote:
Controlling someone is what happens from it if it continues over a long enough period. And it certainly isn't limited to men, to want to control things.

I find this a completely untenable viewpoint and question how you even arrived at it. As I see it, you'd have to not know about or be in profound denial about men's violence against women, on how many different ways men control women--including how rich white men control women globally through trafficking, slavery, and globalised racist patriarchal capitalism, to conclude what you do. Once again, your political statements are very much in line with that of MRAs.

Why do you align your views with theirs? Do you think their viewpoints on rape and DV are accurate and valid?

Sara:
Feeling more or less entitled things go your way is a rather primal human reaction against things not going your way enough. It's the anti-doormat instinct. A reaction against perceived selfishness. A healthy ego will feel it at a reasonable time.

I'm not sure if I understand what you are saying here. Let me see if I get it. Are you saying that "feeling entitled to make things happen in a way that is considered by the perpetrator/controller as "my way" is a primal/natural/biological/evolutionary reaction/impulse to having things "not go my way"? Are you saying that men being violently controlling, terroristically domineering, and grotesquely violent against children and women is "human" but not also "patriarchally specific" and "patriarchally conditioned"? Are you saying that "we're all selfish sometimes, and so we're all capable of being violent against those we say we love? And, are you saying it is "healthy" for some of us to feel a form of entitlement to harm others some of the time? I'd say it's normal, but not healthy. This is also a way of viewing political terrorism in completely psychological, apolitical, asocial ways. Why do you perpetuate this CRAP-denying mythology about "why we're abusive"? In which acts of violence does CRAP have no controlling role whatsoever?

I'm not saying that any system is completely determining--that because we live in a patriarchal society, that means ALL men will rape and batter ANY women they live with, if they live with women. I'm saying that whenever a man beats or rapes a woman, CRAP is there, white het male supremacy "lives" there. And to pretend that's not the case, and that battery and rape are sometimes "just what some people do" irrespective of the political structure of the society we live in, is a dangerous way to speak about why we behave in controlling and oppressive ways sometimes. Because the actions take on various layers of meaning--the man's fist in the woman's face isn't just physically harmful, for example. It's also part of a larger series of systemic and systematic patriarchal patterns of violence.

This brings us back to another point in another post of our conversation: that you "bigotry", for example, is all the same: it's all "bigotry". I think that's a dangerously abstract way to view things like bigotry. Because it does matter if it is men or if it is women, re: the dualistic gender binary, who are "bigoted". Gay men and queer males being "bigoted" about het men is not the same issue, not the same danger, as het men being bigoted AGAINST gay men and queer males. Black and Brown people being "bigoted" about white folks isn't "the same as" whites being bigoted AGAINST Black and Brown people.

And I'd argue that any woman being bigoted about transgender or transsexual women is not the same threat, the same danger to transgender and transsexual people that men being bigoted against ALL women, trans or not, is. And to pretend all the bigotry is [allegedly] "equally" problematic means that those of us who are trans and intergender can believe that targeting radical feminists is a useful use of our time and energy, while the men go on and on oppressing, violating, and otherwise abusing all of us. This is why it is important for those of us who are marginalised by sex and gender to join with radical feminists in fighting the good fight to challenge and stop all racist heteropatriarchal atrocities and completely compost CRAP.

A problem I have with the underlying and overarching worldview I experience you as presenting, that I also see in a lot of contemporary queer politics, agendas, perspectives, and explanations of social phenomena, that I also see in some versions of trans politics, is that variations on this same worldview and value system are each steeped in what feels to me like an unexamined and irresponsible antifeminist liberalism that is white male supremacist in practice. I don't see how people who are white and Western, or male and/or men--queer and not-queer, trans and non-trans, can be responsible allies with most of the world's women if we embrace and uphold liberal values and practices. I look forward to your reply to this.

16 comments:

Sara said...

"We would, I think have to include the rape rates of girls who become bisexual and lesbian woman. And we know the sexual assault rates against girls varies from one-in-four girls, in the general population, to one-in-three girls in Indigenous populations and in places where white men live (or live near in the case of reservation land)."

I'm pretty sure the rape of boys approaches this rate, and I don't know, I don't think it causes attraction. It might cause repulsion to others, but not attraction, imo.

It's like those who say people in BDSM MUST be victims of childhood abuse. I was only beaten up and psychologically attacked relentlessly, something that seems common enough. No sexual abuse.

And my tendency to be docile when I agree with something (I find it just) is something I had before I was beaten and psychologically attacked.

My personality is basically submissive socially, not dominant at all. I rebel against injustices and am not a doormat, but I also hate leading, or being responsible for other people (employees under me) so I avoid positions where it could happen.

Sara said...

"But, Sara, battery of men by women in the home isn't a social problem, it's a false charge claimed by MRAs who wish to pretend that we don't live in a patriarchal society with intimate male supremacist violence against women, by men. "

Okay, so straight men victims of DV by their girlfriend or spouse, doesn't exist? It's very few isolated incidents...that amount to 800,000 male victims a year just in the US?

"Heterosexual men are more likely to be battered by men, period, regardless of where men live; boys are most likely abused physically by male parents/"care"-givers than by female ones. Not by women they live with."

Yeah, they're more likely to be battered by men overall, like not-at-home (street, work, school). Parental abuse statistics don't say "mostly men" though. Though the custodian rate of mothers probably skews the ratio...85+% being mothers.

Men are not only the majority of violent perpetrators, they're also the majority of recipient of all violent crimes (including murder) save for rape.

Being told to "take it like a man" probably doesn't help in preventing future offenders though. No tailored service to help male victims of violence.

Sara said...

"Most of what's happening in the home is men beating the shit out of women. Period."

What statistics are you using? Police statistics and surveys using the word "crime" are skewed towards people overall (but especially men) underreporting incidents.

Men usually consider no physical deep wound no foul. And short of a stab/shot wound or a concussion, no "crime" occurred to them, especially from their wife or girlfriend. Telling the police about it is license to get laughed in your face, unless you do have a stab/shot wound.

Trans women who got hurt by female partners get similar treatment from police, wether it be DV or rape.

Sara said...

"In practice it is a cornerstone of male supremacist society, not ever a female supremacist one. In practice it is a form of terrorism and brutality against women by men. Period. "

The same society that says a guy or man should never ever hurt a girl or woman? That if he gets attacked, he should stay there and take it without saying a word or retaliating?

It's amazing how the violence against me went from medium to...nothing at all, the moment people understood me as a woman.

Sara said...

"There's no international emergency of men being beaten and killed by women in the home."

They're killed less (3-4 times less), but it's not clear how beaten less they are. You think any CTS studies are not valid, yet feminists often take the stats they want from those same studies. And in 30 years, they refined their methodology a lot. It takes into account self-defense and enduring-controlling type DV (not the most common by far) by now.

And some choose suicide. 4 times the rate of women surely means something. No one cares if men don't feel good psychologically. So a call for help by merely attempting suicide, wouldn't help them.

When I felt very suicidal pre-transition, only my brother cared. And he cared a lot it seems. He threatened all his friends that came at our place that they should be VERY friendly with me, or else he punches them to the Moon. So they didn't even dare be frustrated in front of me (not even about me).

Sara said...

"Given how male supremacist privileges and entitlements are acted out intimately, women are safer in lesbian relationships, generally speaking, than in relationships with men. "

Got statistics that back this up?

An intuition that men are more violent against women than women against women they live with and are equal to, without sharing blood (ie not children, not parents, not sisters), is that, an assumption.

I don't know many people who would beat their own children, or their own mother, but they would beat their equal buddy that shares no blood with them.

Sara said...

"The part left out is "patriarchal custom and common practice""

As I said above, the patriarchal custom and practice is for boys and men to not hit girls and women, ever, under any circumstances except maybe fearing for your life (and even then).

"Men don't batter the women they live with in the home primarily because of "mental problems, "stress", "substance abuse", "anger issues", or "entitlement to attention/money/gifts/kids", Sara.

I find the mention of "mental problems" to be ablist and insulting to anyone with mental illness, frankly. Battery causes physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological problems for the survivors. Mentally healthy men beat the shit out of women. Normal, mentally healthy men rape women and girls, and molest children of all genders. "

Male DV perpetrators have been found to be a large minority affected by mental problems (20% I think).

And lacking empathy even temporarily is a mental problem for certain. A symptom of many. That's misanthropy. Usually caused by heavy cynism. Which cynism is probably the result of previous abuse.

It's a cycle and most bullies and batterers and murderers were abused or neglected. Most of those who were abused don't turn into perpetrators though, thankfully - or we'd be wiped out faster than a zombie invasion.

Stress and substance abuse and others who act the same are triggers. Triggers which make it more likely that past abuse resurfaces and of lashing out as a protection mechanism (at least that makes a lot more psychological sense than "to put them in their place").

Sara said...

"If men's issues with substance abuse, anger management, and mental health was the problem, why don't teens with those same problems beat the shit out of their fathers, systematically? Why don't women outside of systems of prostitution, with those same problems, beat the shit out of their husbands and boyfrinds, systematically? Why dont' women in systems of prostitution, with those same problems, beat the shit out of their pimps, systematically? Why don't men, with those problems, beat the shit out of the sources of their stress, such as their bosses, systematically"

Because most people who are not total psychos (those are long gone) are simply re-enacting abuse that happened against them, and those things (substance abuse etc) merely favor that occurrence. You can lose control more easily when too inhibited.

And unless you feel suicidal, you usually choose your target in relation to the likeliness of you winning the encounter (according to you). Or else your threshold is much higher before you react.

The edict saying men shouldn't hit women makes it less likely that men will retaliate with violence, when either provoked or outright hit, by women. While women have no such thing holding them back.

Weapons (even everyday items like a pen or a nail file, scissors, cooking knives) largely compensate for size, since they can cause concussions and wounds that mere punches and kicks will take a while to make. And those everyday objects are more likely to be inconspicuous (considered safe to be around) already present at home.

Sara said...

"It's the view of this blog, and by many feminists, that men abuse women in the home because THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT and because THEY WANT TO DO IT. They do it because they can do it and not usually suffer any meaningfully negative consequences, other than destroying the relationships they claim to want. "

They typically don't get away with it. If it's reported they get arrested. And the justice system is pretty skewed against them being found innocent absent a false claim or without evidence whatsoever.

Sara said...

"I find this a completely untenable viewpoint and question how you even arrived at it. "

You know of no controlling women? Must be nice thinking that.

I have to consciously not be manipulative, because I hate the thought of being so. Everyone is manipulative to some extent, it's inevitable unless you're a hermit.

Manipulating often involves influencing someone towards doing something for you, that they wouldn't have done, or would be less likely to have done, otherwise.

Controlling behavior is basically manipulative behavior raised to a higher level.

Like Seymour Skinner's mother in the Simpsons (smothering to the n level). Or Mr Burns with Smithers (making him do stuff no employee would do).

The Ur-example in that show is Ned Flanders with his children. Who can't watch anything on TV that isn't extremely-conservative-Christian-approved (so all channels are locked), can't eat any sugar, and are taught to love doing things basically everyone would find utterly boring (like not moving for the longest, removing fun things in games).

That's controlling. And not everyone does it, but it's certainly not just or even mainly men who do so.

Sara said...

"Why do you align your views with theirs? Do you think their viewpoints on rape and DV are accurate and valid? "

I'm not sure what their points on rape is, or even what the majority thinks of DV. I only support the CTS studies as valid, in as much as their data is.

Sara said...

"I'm not sure if I understand what you are saying here. Let me see if I get it. Are you saying that "feeling entitled to make things happen in a way that is considered by the perpetrator/controller as "my way" is a primal/natural/biological/evolutionary reaction/impulse to having things "not go my way"?"

Yes, but not the controller. Just people in general.

If you're giving your 110% at work, and your boss is giving you crap about how you need to give more, while never patting you on the back...you'll reach a threshold where you feel he's unjust and you're entitled to more, encouragements, a promotion, a raise - not blame.

You'll probably tell your friends how your boss is a selfish asshole who doesn't appreciate you at your due.

It's healthy if that threshold is attained when a real injustice actually occurred. It's not healthy when you either let EVERYTHING slide (doormat) or when the slightest thing sets you on fire (diva).

Sara said...

"Are you saying that men being violently controlling, terroristically domineering, and grotesquely violent against children and women is "human" but not also "patriarchally specific" and "patriarchally conditioned"?"

No, that's where I didn't say any of this. It's just a misreading of my argument about the anti-doormat reaction.

If you're doing everything in the house or at work and your partner isn't pulling their weight in any way, you'll be reasonable to grieve your problems to said partner, not be violent.

Violence is never reasonable to me. That's why I never punched or slapped anyone in my life. Even in self-defense.

If you're overwhelmingly blamed for not pulling your weight, when you objectively are, that's also abuse.

Frustration + substance abuse/mental illness/heavy stress + past physical, psychological, sexual abuse = violence. Unless your self-control is extreme. And under those conditions, your self-control is reduced.

That's everyone on the planet. You'd be a saint if not.

There are outlets to evacuate frustration, they're just not *always* there by the ready. It could be talking at the pub, venting on blogs, playing games, or doing a sport activity. It varies by people.

Julian Real said...

Hi Sara,

It appears to me that you are determined to psychologise and pathologise men's violence against women.

And it appears to me that you don't really accept that racist patriarchy is the ruling force in North America, even when women of color are the poorest and most abused and invisibilised population of humans in North America, with all men of color and all women being under white men in any and all social/political/economic hierarchies.

We do not see the North America the same way, or the world. And that, of course, is fine. I don't expect to agree with people I speak with, and don't require agreement when engaging with people.

Given that every woman I know has either endured systematic sexism against her from men, has been raped or incested or molested or all of the above, I'm not in agreement with you about how much peril women are in (or not in, according to some of what you're saying here) because it's a white man's world, increasingly.

All the women I have ever known experienced intimate violence, institutional violence, and every other form of misogyny imaginable. They didn't all experience all of it, but they all experienced some of it, and were traumatised by it.

And much of it isn't interpersonal; it's institutional.

But we disagree on this reality--on what reality is, and when we're both asking each other for statistics, that's my cue to stop engaging, because statistics, as you know, can be pulled from anywhere to prove any point, and rarely do people change their minds based on seeing a well-presented set of statistics.

So that's just such a huge point of disagreement in worldview and values between us; and for me, there's little point in just agreeing to disagree again and again and again.

I thank you for your willingness to participate in this discussion. You've been a tireless debater and I truly appreciate your willingness to discuss these many issues.

I wish you well with being a woman and not experiencing violence from men. You'll be a statistical anomaly if that remains the case, but I surely hope that it does remain the case that you don't experience male supremacist violence, harassment, and discrimination.

Peace to you.

Sara said...

"This is why it is important for those of us who are marginalised by sex and gender to join with radical feminists in fighting the good fight to challenge and stop all racist heteropatriarchal atrocities and completely compost CRAP."

I'll join a gender egalitarian movement, if/when it exists. For now it doesn't.

Feminists doesn't have any kind of focus on issues affecting men. They help women. Fine with me, keep up the good work.

But don't try and disguise it as being for sex equality. It's for advancing the rights of women, wether those rights are currently at a lower, equal or higher point than men's rights.

The counterpart is never measured, so you'll never know when you cross that finish line and the movement becomes obsolete because true equality has been reached.

If I want equal shares in something, I measure the whole and cut in the middle, or count the big pile and split in equal amounts. If I only see the left or the right side pile, without looking at what's on the other side, I'll never know when I end up being really fair.

I've been socially treated as male, then as female. I saw both sides to an extent. Few people can say this. People who've only imagined what the other side is like are more prone to have a 'grass is greener' mindset.

Sara said...

"I thank you for your willingness to participate in this discussion. You've been a tireless debater and I truly appreciate your willingness to discuss these many issues."

That's the Aspie part in me. I like debate even if I don't gain much from it financially or otherwise, and don't rally anyone to my cause.

I'm very patient and thought engaging with you was fun, even if it didn't change any minds.