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?

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.