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

August Archives of the A.R.P.: White Male Supremacy and Profeminism

image is from here
The first two months of this blog saw posts primarily challenging the racism of profeminism and articulating what WHM supremacy is. It also contained several posts on a white het male pro-feminist sexual assaulter of a young woman. His name was and remains Kyle Payne, and he proved himself to be completely unaccountable to women, and even to this white male blogger. What is clear from the start is that this blogger and this blog do not stand for hate, for bigotry, or for any form of genocide. That was the case and remains the case, despite what defenders and protectors of WHM supremacy say about what exists here.

Below are excerpts from three posts from that period, with titles of each post containing the link back to each in its entirety.

4 August 2008:
White Male Supremacy: What It Is and What It Does
[excerpts below]

I am a white man, which means I can be (and have been), at any time, in any place, a white male supremacist. This is not a revelation about my genetic code, or an indictment of my own soul. This is a statement about structural political reality.

Every time I side with a white person who is being racist, against a person of color who is challenging that racism, I become a white male supremacist. Every time I do not see how my actions, as a white man, silence, disrespect, invade, or threaten a woman of color, I am being a white male supremacist. Every time I project a racist-sexist meme onto a woman of color, and treat her as if she were my (our) projection, I am a white male supremacist.

White Male Liberalism would have us believe that white men are only white male supremacists when we wear white hoods and burn crosses on the yards of African-Americans. White Conservatism would have us believe that the time of white supremacy has passed, and now the real threat to all humanity (which, as defined by white male supremacists, means any threat specifically to white men as a group, or to our political status, privileges, and interests) is people of color: including poor Black people, poor Mexican immigrants, and other non-European U.S. Latina/os, angry or non-deferential Central and South Americans of color, angry or non-submissive Middle Eastern people, angry or non-obedient Asians.

White Conservatism has never acknowledged the unethical existence of male supremacy. White Liberalism doesn’t either: on a good day it says there is something called “racism” and “sexism” but immediately adds that those suddenly apolitical realities can “work both ways”. It claims a level playing field—an as yet fully illusory land of equality—whenever a white man speaks or acts in ways that are harmful and dangerous to women, especially to women of color. It claims to be brutally honest, bravely politically incorrect, necessarily truthful, and boldly noble as it does this. It is either ignorant or arrogant in these claims, except the part about being brutal.

Men of Northern, Western, and Southern European descent have, for centuries, claimed the power to name reality, to decide what it true and what is false, to construct the meaning of intelligence and the parameters of insanity, to make laws and gods which most serve white men and oppress everyone else, to distinguish what is respectable religion from what is delusional cult or irrational myth, to declare, with white male state authority, the qualities and standards of what it means to be human, which somehow, not accidentally, leaves out the humanity of those who are not white, wealthy, or male.

It claims to value peace when it is warring, to love when it is hating, and, especially if liberal, to value free speech while it swiftly silences those who speak directly about the atrocities white male supremacists commit deliberately or unconsciously, or, in either case, unconscionably.

Those unprivileged “others” who must know it and name it, viscerally or verbally, in order to have a chance to survive with any degree of dignity or esteem, will be defamed or destroyed for doing so, if they are seen as human at all, which is not a given in white male supremacist societies. This means white male supremacy usually ignores all voices that don’t speak in its domination-driven dialect, with a Euro-American accent.

When the politics of reality are spoken by a woman of color, her voice will be distorted in the ears of white male supremacists. They will not acknowledge this voice as humanitarian. They will call it all manner of sexist-racist names, and treat it according to how enemies of white men’s supposedly sacred (self-centered) reality are to be treated. White male supremacy cannot acknowledge the full humanity of the woman who owns that voice, because she is being so corruptly and systematically denied human status by those with the unjust authority to give it.

White male supremacy is death to humanity and non-human life forms: suicidal, genocidal, and ecocidal. When it is radically and successfully challenged and transformed, humanity can rise again, sustainably, including the humanity of those who are pale and male.

White women and men of color sometimes support but do not control white male supremacy. Only white men control it. Not all white men need to enforce it for it to thrive, but if all white men spoke our truths—against the interests of white male supremacy—about what we have done to women of color, to white women, to men of color, the other Life, and to ourselves in order to be white male supremacists, then at least and at last the white elephant in the room would be named by those with the privilege and power to name it.

White men know our history well (we wrote the books, after all, from our perspective). We banish anyone else’s history, calling it invalid, biased, or unscientific. We, white men, do not take the time to seek out the knowledge and truths that threaten to decenter and destabilize us, let alone wrest unjust power from our blood-stained fists.

White men, please, in the meantime, tell the truth about what we have done and are doing to maintain white male supremacy.

Break the bonds of the white supremacist brotherhood. Politically, and radically, betray every white man you know who values the well-being of his white brothers over his Black sisters and other sisters of color.

Understand: this betrayal is a tremendous act of love.

Stop apologizing for and excusing white men’s oppressive behavior. Nurture a conscience and a heart that sees all people as people. Actively support and be accountable to those we oppress who are working to sustain dignity and to institutionalize justice infused with empathy for humans raped, sold, enslaved, starved, and silenced. In these acts of compassionate rebellion, we will be nurturing, with the rest of humanity, societies free of organized, systematic harm, as communities of color self-direct their liberation from white male supremacy.

31 July 2008:
White Supremacy and Profeminism

[excerpts below]

The most immediate issue I want to address is what does it mean for women's liberation that Western profeminism is white-dominated and eurocentric?

To me it means this: our Western white supremacy will remain unchallenged in this movement, if this is, indeed, a movement.

A discussion among feminist bloggers about the degree to which radical feminism is white supremacist has been happening for some time. I do not recall this discussion ever happening among profeminist men: why?

If white men in the West control and dominate everything from media to the study of philosophy, how are radical women of color's voices and white feminist voices to be heard, let alone be responded to responsibly?

To which radical women of color and white women, feminist identified or not, is any white man fully accountable? To have politically active progressive to radical white men centralize the struggles of, and speak to the issues which most greatly impact women of color and white women worldwide--what would it take for that to happen?

14 August 2008:
Reality-check, part 1: We Live In A White Male Supremacist Society

[mildly edited version below]

How is it that so many men in the U.S., especially those with class, race, and education privilege, can be so completely ignorant of ubiquitous social phenomena like misogyny, anti-Black racism, genocidal anti-Indigenism, and heterosexism? (To name but four expressions of the dominant ideology-in-practice.)

Part of the answer is that the privilege itself is a distancing mechanism from experiencing what most people (women) in the world experience. But even when we know what's going down, though study and empathic connection to women in our lives, we are generally reluctant to adequately or accurately name (out loud) the harm we do to women. Part of the answer is also that we never radically and sustainably challenge the systems of harm we live in and benefit from substantively because we benefit so much.

Given the choices we have created, living as a white man is a significantly less degrading and difficult human experience than living the life of a woman, of any color. Men suffer, including white men, including rich white men: we get depressed, we get cancer, we suffer great losses of loved ones. But we don't know how or to what degree people who are not us suffer and endure and assume it is more or less like what we experience. It isn't. We also don't wish to recognize that those we oppress are generally less dehumanized than we are. The dehumanization is a prerequisite and a part of being a white man, socially speaking. (I here use the terms "white" and "man" only as social-political categories of humans, not as biological or "natural" terms.)

Our silence and apathy, in a world that rewards us while others generate our rewards, is a powerful and central cause and consequence of white male supremacy. It might be less problematic for us to claim we "see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil." It might be convenient to claim we are "the Good Germans" who didn't know what was happening to Jews and other ethnic, cultural, and political groups cattle-carred into showering rooms and ovens, gassed then burned to ash or buried. The dishonesty of such claims is that we know what we do; we simply refuse to tell others about it, especially ourselves. We speak evil, we hear evil, we see evil, assuming we have those senses. We do the evil, but call it "natural", "inevitable", "inconsequential", or "not my fault".

The U.S. is cluster of social systems of hierarchically arranged gendered, raced, classed, and sexed power has many regional differences and permutations, shifting over time. Within the last two hundred years, or more, there is and has been an overarching ideology from its inception crafted by the "Founding Fathers". As soon as was possible, institutions were established to protect the gross entitlements and unjust privileges of those who created the institutions: wealthy white men. The values and principles infused in these institutions were appropriated and esteemed inside a social context where only white men were deemed fully human: "heterosexuality" as such, was not a lifestyle choice that was fully formed, while the racism and misogyny of homophobia and heterosexism were part of the bloody concrete slab this country was built on.

I refer to this ideology as white male supremacy: not "white supremacy" or "male supremacy". In this country, in my experience and the experience of the women of color I know, neither of those terms is inadequate to explain what we are living in, enduring, benefitting from, and practicing, to varying degrees, depending on our social location or station. This doesn't make "white male supremacy" the profeminist "politically correct" term. This makes the fusion of racism and sexism apparent from the start, as was the case here when european colonizers came and took root, like a foreign weed forever ecocidally and radically disrupting the civilizations that were here first. This "disruption" might be best termed ecocical genocide.

In the U.S. white male supremacy is also currently bound to an grotesquely inhumane and wildly savage form of corporate capitalism. Class divisions here, though, have always been infused with white male supremacist markers: to have money is to make one more white and more a man. To be rich is to participate, with greater agency and freedom, in the atrocities which are required for the system to "work". That it doesn't really "work" in any ethical, sustainable way is not supposed to be discussed in polite elitist social circles. Even the Academy is bound up in this mess, becoming increasingly corporatized with increasing control over what is considered to be " useful learnable knowledge".

Our corporate white male supremacist society (which is to say, people, engaged in social activity) destructively promotes,always with force and the threat of violence--a range of violent practices that accomplish the task of maintaining the elite's "interests" by any means necessary. The maintainance of the system requires people too oblivious, to callous, or too oppressed, to maintain it. It is never controlled by the oppressed, however, a point which white liberals fail to grasp, along with many other basics about the political reality of the U.S.

Many of the ideals and institutions of Western liberal societies are modified in the U.S. by specific forms of white social conservatism rooted in white Christian fundamentalist values and practices. Among the matters we must not dispute are the "natural, inherent" goodness of the allegedly nuclear family, the "natural, inherent" goodness of the allegedly heterosexual marriage, women constrained by raising children (however joyful an experiene it sometimes can be), and white male supremacist sex for men-on-demand, especially for white

To call this society only capitalist, or only white supremacist, or only male supremacist or patriarchal, is to willfully or ignorantly not grasp the depth of who is being harmed and why.

"Profeminist men" typically ignore some significant facet of what oppresses the women who live in the U.S. and Canada, to speak only of two highly white-populated countries. We either pretend "patriarchy" is the enemy, and sometimes grasp that white supremacy and capitalism are problematic as well, if not well integrated into our theories.

What is most often left out of our analysis, in my experience, is the ecocidal/genocidal dimensions of our racist patriarchy. While profeminism in the U.S. remains grossly anglo- and eurocentric in its worldviews and methods of discerning "what reality is", it is especially determined to keep from its center the perspectives and experiences of the Indigenous women of what is now called North America.

Until profeminism centralizes the experiences and concerns of women of color, including Indigenous women, it will fail to be, even in the imagination, let alone in social practice, a profeminist movement. A movement which invisibilizes and marginalizes women of color, or holds whiteness as a standard of human being, is not profeminist, it is white male supremacist, at and to its core.

Radical profeminism, in this view, is organized (effectively, with built-in systems of accountability to feminists and other radical women activists) to dismantle and radically transform those practices, policies, and philosophies which harm women of color, centralizing the hurtful-to-lethal experiences women endure and die from, disproportionately because they are women not men. This profeminism is inclusive of, but not organized around, the experiences and agendas of white women only.

White supremacist profeminists, as I'll term them, are committed to an understanding of the world, to a practice of activism, that is usually not fully accountable to feminist white women, and is rarely-to-never accountable to feminist women of color.

What this means is that white male supremacy is unchallenged at its roots.

What this means is that the majority of women--women of color, are not respected let alone consulted, are not read let alone studied, and are not seen as leaders let alone the founders of feminism.