Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a P.R.I.C.K. And he joins a long list of prominent men who have behaved similarly

photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger is from here
I've never had any particular respect for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Perhaps for him as an immigrant to this country. But beyond that, no. He's been a misogynist who has acted out his WHM supremacist entitlements and privileges without regard for any of the women he has hurt, or without enough regard, at least. How he could mistreat Maria Shriver so very hurtfully, so abusively, only shows the calculated cruelty of his heart.

May she feel the support of her friends and loved ones.

Arnold demonstrates what I've been discussing here for a long time--men who are positioned, structurally, to oppress women will generally do so. And the more power individual het men have--and Arnold had about as much as any man--the more exploitive and abusive they often are, because they know they can be, because they have no integrity, because they are immoral and value being immoral, and because they flagrantly act out their power over others with reckless abandon.

Arnold is a P.R.I.C.K. who has been predatory towards many women and has publicly condemned impoverished single women parents while being so sexually irresponsible with his own dick that he brought a child into this world with a woman to whom he wasn't married, at least in part because he was married at the time to Maria Shriver. Such hypocrisy and het male supremacy ought not be overlooked, when men promoting "nuclear family values" behave so outrageously and misogynistically.

photo of Dominique Strauss-Kahn is from here
This week we also have the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, charged with sexual assault against a woman who was working at a hotel where he stayed and preyed. Surprise--his male supremacist attorney claims the assault was consensual. And we have news of Osama bin Laden's pornography collection--I'm not sure if I believe he had this collection or not, but would not be at all surprised if he did. Regardless, bin Laden was not pro-feminist. He was part of a militantly misogynist political group.

This all demonstrates that men with power--the power of manhood at least--will, when the opportunity presents itself, abuse it. The power men have is abusive power; it is exploitive power; it is oppressive power. So as long as men act it out, there will be damage done to women. One, two, or hundreds.

I would prefer if the media called his behavior "male supremacist" rather than "bad" or "naughty" as one man on AC360 termed it. "Bad" and "naughty" doesn't get at what the harm is--or even that there is actual harm, and it also allows us to believe he's a naughty, bad little boy, rather than a very entitled and privileged grown man.

Ex-president Bill Clinton, politicians John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer, TV talk show host David Letterman, US football player Brett Favre, and actors Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen were also male supremacist exploiters and/or sexual abusers of women, as have been and are so many white men in the religious Right--who ought not have any cred as "preachers of morality". "Practice what you preach" is apparently not taught to white het Christian men by other men with the same forms of power and privilege.

Dr. Drew, on AC360, will not name the problem as accurately as he could. He will speak about "celebrities" with "certain character liabilities" as if these are personal problems, individual issues, not structural political and moral issues that have a social and institutional, not a personally historical base. Drew sees the problem as narcissism or sexual addiction--psychological conditions, not a political problem of being placed in society in such a way as to believe one can do whatever one wants because when one does as one wishes, and it hurts people, there's no negative social consequence that is meaningful to the men. At least he named some of his own patients as having a sense of entitlement. But not ever in a context of patriarchy in which all men are positioned to socially and structurally exploit and abuse women with male supremacist entitlements.

Also this week, a king of arrogance, Donald Trump, has announced he won't seek to be president, as if he had a chance in hell. He clearly believes he did, which only proves that if you have enough control over your life, you can live in your own reality.

I hope Dominique Strauss-Kahn is found guilty of what he did. And I hope any other political leaders who are men who abuse and assault women are found similarly guilty in a court of law. Chances are, we'll never really know how many women these doods abuse, and the doods will never be held to account.

Let's support women who believe in human rights for women being the leaders of all social and religious institutions, economic policies, and nation-states. Men should stop abusing and exploiting people, and cease ruling everywhere. For at least a thousand years. Let's see how that works out. Does anyone really think the world wouldn't be better off?

When does it become more than obvious that men behave "badly" in the course of behaving like men, not narcissists, not people with character disorders, not due to having an alcohol or drug problem, not because of depression, not because they had unresolved issues from childhood. But because they are men, in the social-political-structural sense of that word.

An interview with Julian Real about bigotry, whiteness, manhood, geopolitics, oppression, and a wee bit about transgender/radical feminist discussions online

image is from here

I:  I don't really understand how you think the way you use terms like "white" and "het" and "man" is not bigoted. You seem to associate them with mostly or only negative things. Isn't that the definition of "a bigoted viewpoint"?

JR: I realise that's an on-going point of contention, mostly from comments I get that don't end up getting published here to the blog. I want to address this in some detail, to try and clear up what my position is--which I believe and hope will be backed up by the posts here that I've written, not contradicted by them.

I: Please do.

JR: First, let me say that things like "bigotry" are not apolitical or astructural, to me. What that means is that I won't--and don't believe I should or that anyone should--view the ways that whites are viewed by people of color as akin to what whites view and do to people of color. If we're talking about "bigotry" along a hierarchy of gender, sexuality, or race, the views of the dominants, if negative, and also sometimes if positive (as in "all U.S. East Asians are [something white folks see as positive]") is generally in service to white supremacy, not in service to the dissolution of it as a system of terror and control. I want to emphasise this, because without it, critical discussions of whiteness will generally be seen as a matter of bigotry about pale people.

Whiteness is first and foremost a system of power: of oppressive, racist power exercised interpersonally and institutionally over and against people of color. That's what whiteness is, and that's also what manhood is. Before each of those terms refer to anything else, the refer to the forms of power that the identities, the behaviors, the values, the attitudes, the systems of harm, the industries of exploitation, all exist to promote and protect. Secondarily to that, these terms get used to describe some people neutrally, as if the terms are neutral. So the terms get used dishonestly, to promote an idea that whiteness and manhood is ethically neutral in the world, when it never ever has been neutral. Whiteness and manhood has never existed except as a force used against people of color and against women and all people deemed to be effeminate or feminine.

With that as our foundation, "bigotry" isn't the greatest concern, particularly if we're talking about how women think about men--if that thinking is at all critical, or how people of color think about whites--if that thinking is at all critical. We have to keep in mind that the groups oppressed people are supposed to feel negative feelings about, and think negatively about are "ourselves". That's who we direct our negativity, self-hatred, frustrations, and pain towards, usually. Rarely do oppressed people get to direct negativity towards those who are oppressing us. People of color are not only socialised to hate themselves, not whites; and women to hate themselves, not men, but anything short of overt adoration and public respect and regard for that oppressor group will be viewed by the oppressors as gross disdain--venomous hatred. Meanwhile, whites and men destroy--destroy--people of color and women, and this is not allowed to be named as institutionalised hatred, as bigotry-in-action.

I: So you don't think people of color can be or usually are bigoted about white people? And that women are not bigoted about men, usually?

JR: There's tons of evidence that oppressed people value and look up to their oppressors, and seek to emulate them in too many ways, not that oppressed people carry disdain or contempt for those who oppress them. It's a kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which we all learn to adore or respect the people who can and do kill us. We are in awe of their power over us. And we fear it. And awe and fear get fused into a kind of self-abusive regard for those who do harm. Just look at how much people of color look at whites, and how women look at men. Female human beings in patriarchal societies, of all ages--girls and women--are socialised to compete for men's affections and attention. And, they do. People of color are taught to hold whites in deep regard. And, by and large, they do. Meanwhile, men generally hold women either with a kind of visceral disgust, mental disdain, or public denigration. Whatever is needed to keep women down politically, socially, economically, is felt and done by men.

Pornography is mass produced teaching all men that women are wh*res, for example; it teaches it by doing it to women. Economic systems teach us that the work women do is not worth as much as the work men do, or ought not be paid at all--such as work that involves attending to the home and to child-rearing; it teaches it by doing it. Religious institutions, if patriarchal, teach us that women exist to serve men and to serve a male sky-god. Men, not women, are viewed as the humans are closer to such a god, in large part because both the god and the males are seen as men.

And, in a racist-sexist-classist society, you will find that rich whites hire women of color to raise the children of white people and to wash their clothes and clean their homes. Virtually nowhere on Earth is the reverse true: nowhere is society organised for whites to raise the children of people of color, unless it means removing the children permanently from the parents of color--deeming them not fit to raise children, even while they are hired to raise white children. No where do women earn more than men, and get paid what they should to do all of the forms of work they do. Nowhere are women paid to raise children, to wash their male family members' clothes, to keep the home clean. They may be "kept" by men, in a few cases, but not without a very high price for women to pay. That price includes giving up sovereignty over or self-possession of their own bodies. They cannot, for example, keep their bodies, sexually, only for themselves. They must take care of men's emotions, attend to men's needs, interpret and respond caringly to men's feelings and wishes. If they don't, they'll be punished, rejected, or killed.

I: So are you saying that a critical view of whiteness and manhood isn't a critique of people's humanity?

Right. Because whiteness and manhood are unjust and utterly inhumane systems of power distribution designed and meant to harm gender- and race-oppressed people, the critique is of the inhumanity. The critique is of the injustice and the systematic abuses. That whites and men take this as a personal critique only shows how deeply held such systems of abusive power are. The inhumane actions and identities that people adopt as their own, pretending they are not class-based political identities fused to systems of gross harm, ought to be critiqued. So do so isn't "bigotry": it's a call to oppressors to be humane. What men do to women and what whites do to people of color is not to call them to be humane; it's a kind of systematic name-calling designed to further destroy them, in spirit, mind, or body. As a class of people, not primarily or only individually. It harms people individually, of course. But the function of the harm is to have a class-wide impact, not just an interpersonal impact.

The views of whites and men are never "only views", while the viewpoints of people of color and women in  white and male supremacist systems or societies are usually "just views" and are never acted out institutionally and systematically against whites. Supremacist's ideologies-in-action work quite effectively to generally prevent accountability, justice, and liberation for the oppressed from occurring; the ideologies-in-action function to make liberation for the oppressed socially impossible. These ideological actions also punish anything perceived to be retaliation or rebellion organised by oppressed people. And anything other than overt kindness and subordination is assumed to possess a hostile quality.

Should one woman or one person of color do violence to one man, a few men, or one white person or many white people, there will be hell to pay. The perpetrator will be caught and killed. Osama bin Laden could not live out the rest of his life. He had committed a great offence to whites--he killed some of them. No person of color is allowed to do that. Only the government can send many poor whites, and many poor people of color, to their deaths and not be viewed as having committed atrocity. Get this: the US government has killed far more whites and men than has al Qaeda or the Taliban. And it has killed exponentially more people of color and women, right? But they are not to be viewed as dangerous, as terrorists, or as a threat. They are to be viewed as seeking stability, or justice, or appropriate defence.  But how many people can you kill before it isn't defence any more? One thousand? Three thousand? Ten thousand? One hundred thousand? Why is it that a government ordering people to die while killing others isn't considered murder of everyone who ends up dead?

The dominants say that they seek stability. The subordinates do or would be right to seek liberation. But for liberation to happen, rebellion necessarily must occur. Not in the ways that white Leftists or Right-wingers imagine, necessarily, but in some way. And so the whole of the system is set up to immediately crack down on anyone or any group believed to be fomenting rebellion.

What will it take for the US government to be seen as just as dangerous as al Qaeda? What would it have to do: initiate acts of terrorism against innocent people? Done. Commit mass murder? Done. Militarily invade and occupy countries, take hostages, torture people? Done. 

I: Can you go into the globally oppressive forces and how they parallel the socially oppressive forces?

Okay. I'll try and pull a few examples together.

Geopolitically this gets fairly obvious, except that dominant media prevents honest and truthful discourse on the subjects before us. So what's happening that is completely blatant to those terrorised by the US, is made into something that isn't obvious or seen or known by the US masses. As Noam Chomsky and others have noted and as I've begun to articulate above, the U.S. government tells its people it seeks to maintain or create 'stability' in various countries it invades unethically, immorally, with great sadism and callousness to human life that is not seen to be "US human life". To achieve 'stability', the US has invaded scores of nation-states, has colonised and militarily occupied many places over many decades and centuries, including, of course, what is now called the United States.

It continues to occupy this land, and continues to commit genocide against the Indigenous People of this land. It occupies many parts of Asia, has military bases in some of them, and also in others that are not thought to be occupied. If an Asian country decided it didn't want to be occupied by a US military presence, in troops or bases, that decision would be understood to be 'destabilising' of the region, which actually only means "not what the US government wants". Anything the world's people, the world's nations, wish to do that is not what the US government wants, is thought to be hostile and dangerous to the whole world, even while it may well be profoundly stabilising for most of the world's people, against US government and corporate capitalist interests.

So, if the patriarchs who rule Iran want to be well-armed militarily, any actions they take to make that happen will be named by the US government and corporate capitalist media as 'hostile' and probably also 'evil'. And there is quite a horrible conceit that the US media puts forth: that the US cares about the women in those patriarchal countries, and will, invade and occupy them so the women can be freer. This is about as heinous a lie as there is, and every woman raped by US male soldiers, who lives in Afghanistan or Iraq can attest to that. How do you argue you are seeking a gendered group's liberation by raping and terrorising the women and girls? Aren't the women in those countries capable of stating what is in their own best interests? Why doesn't the US government view Yanar Mohammed and Malalai Joya as having the intellectual and moral capital to name what is best for the women of their countries?

I: So the US government will only name things in ways that make it look like it's threatened, never possessing the power to threaten others.

Right. And that's quite a media accomplishment. That's one massive political slight of hand. The world knows that the US is the current Empire-in-charge and that it is the global bully. Not North Korea. Not Iran. Not al Qaeda. Not the Taliban. The most callous and sadistic powers in the world currently are the US government, NATO military forces, and US-born corporations, and Western financial institutions--not only run by Jews, as many non-Jews would have everyone believe. Just look at who is getting rich--it's by and large Christian whites. These political bodies rule ruthlessly, creating so much pain that Westerners have to completely dissociate from that pain and pretend "our" institutions exist to do good. But what if they don't exist to do good? That's a question US media cannot and will not ask, or answer.

Is self-defense hostile and evil? Not necessarily. Actions which seek genuine liberation from oppressive conditions are not evil. Those that reinforce those oppressive systems are evil. So we've got to pay attention to who benefits, on the class level, from what is termed "self-defence"? Whose interests are defended? Whose are threatened? If the inhumane powers that men and white control is threatened, are the actions which attempt to end the inhumanity evil? Not to me. But they will be viewed that way by whites and men. So human rights activists like Andrea Dworkin, Malalai Joya, and Malcolm X will be viewed or stigmatised as dangerous or evil, as if white men don't commit sexist-racist atrocities every hour of every day. Minute by minute, actually. And on the macro, institutional levels as well as on more micro and interpersonal levels.

Do we call the aggressive invasions and actions of the US, which are not occurring as actual 'self-defense'? Why aren't the terms 'hostile' and 'evil' appropriate and accurate?

In many parts of the world the aggressive, sadistic, callous actions of the US government are seen as both. But in this country these actions are called only things that mean "good"--morally, politically, economically, culturally "good". What we do and what the nations do that we support, we will spin to seem "only good", most of the time. What the Israeli government and military does that is hostile, callous, and cruel to Palestinians, will be seen as necessary by many US Christian white folks, who are deeply invested in white supremacy taking hold in that region. US Christian white folks don't give a shit about Jews by and large, however. And it's a mistake to think they do. They'll exploit Jews for their own ends, and always have.

Because US white male supremacists--most of 'em self-identified as Christian and pro-capitalist, want to be able to occupy, invade, control, displace, and murder anyone at all who gets in their way. And "their way" is presumed to be good, or is good because it is "their way". So "manifest destiny" is argued as a moral position, not an economically and politically evil one. Murder is "good" if it serves the interests of rich white het Christian-identified pro-capitalist men. That's the bottom line. Some rich white het male Christian pro-capitalists will position themselves as allies to Israel because they mistakenly view themselves as just as threatened, globally, as Jews inside and outside of Israel are.

But this political demographic of white Christian men are not threatened in reality. They are threatened in their minds. Because in those greedy, selfish minds, they know that they will take from the world as much as they can get; they do and will continue to hoard wealth; they do and will continue to hoard and exploit 'resources' as they define that term. And they will do so actually believing that the price the rest of us play for that to occur is "appropriate", "just", and "good", not "hostile", "immoral", and "evil".

Whatever anyone does to resist, who is not part of that very tiny but powerful demographic, will be seen by the few-in-charge as violent, terrible, threatening, dangerous, and in need of response--almost always a very violent and deadly response. The responses will always be called appropriate, good, and just by the few and by their media--which they own and control completely and without apology.

So, if women want to defend themselves against violence done to them systematically by men, and want to organise resistance that is systematic and not just individualised, that will be responded to by men with gross violence--more of what men already do to women, and perhaps more overtly despicable forms of what is routinely done by men to subordinate and terrorise women. Whatever men do, we know this: it will not be called "domestic and international terrorism" by men's media. Not ever. Unless it is to make believe that women, not men, are the terrorists and pretend as well that men must 'rebel' to maintain order, security, and justice, for men. Men, relative to women, do not have to rebel. They need only maintain the sexist status quo, the institutions of which are already misogynistically violent. Whites do not need to rebel in a white supremacist nation; they need only maintain the status quo, the institutions of which are already racist and genocidal.

Referencing here that famous adage, if you only listen to the hunter, that lion will always be made to seem in need of being shot to death. Right? But what's the white male hunter there for? Self-defense? No. He's on a fucking safari. He's out for pleasure, right? He's there for the thrill of the pursuit and conquest. The same with the incest perpetrator and the domestic terrorist.

I: But are all rich Christian white heterosexual men incest perpetrators and genocidalists?

JR: More are than they'll ever admit, and more are than anyone would believe. And those who are not, interpersonally, are those things institutionally. This means they support the structures that make incest and genocide not only possible, but inevitable and unstoppable. They support those structures, values, and institutions, and many--too many--do the interpersonal dirty work too. If they'd only be honest about what they know they do--if only those who don't do the interpersonal dirty work would expose the dirty work that their more interpersonally violent brothers do. And if only any of them would name what the structural violence is, what the systemic violence is, what the institutional violence is, that none of them wish to take responsibility for. Not any of them.

Your question, to me, puts forth a puzzling moral idea: that unless or until every single white man does something, we ought not accuse them, as a group, of doing anything that is hostile, terroristic, or evil. How many have to do it before we get to name it as a group-based, oppression-maintaining activity? Ten percent? Twenty-five percent? Fifty percent?

If some white men are doing something to maintain the unjust and hostile power whites and men have, against people of color and against women (and here we must note that women of color always pay a higher price for this violence, collectively), why should be pretend it is not done for the benefit of their people?

Rape is done and rapists are protected not just to benefit the lives of rapers. It is protected, legally, religiously, and socially, for the benefit of any and all men who wish to rape anyone female or anyone of any sex or gender deemed to be too feminine. Why do you think it is that men do not, en masse, organise to stop men's rape of women and children--or even, of other men?

I: I think it's because men see rapists as a subset of men. As the sociopaths among men. As the sadists among men.  As the bad men.

JR: Given what we know about rape and about rapists, that view has no location or foundation in reality. It is, primarily, people who are viewed as "good" who rape women and children. Sometimes men who are viewed as "great". And their greatness or goodness isn't even dashed after we find out they raped one or one hundred people. And their goodness is never in question no matter how much they support the status quo which requires rape, incest, and domestic terrorism.

I: So you're saying that one way or another--either interpersonally or institutionally--white men do harm those they oppress. 

JR: How else could the oppression continue for centuries?

I:  Because the oppressed don't want it to end. They like where they are. Or they accept it, or something.

JR: The way people like or accept being slaves? The way people like or accept being raped and assaulted? Which people like or accept it--which people who actually believe there's a chance it can end once and for all?

Look, I accepted being sexually terrorised when I was a child. I accepted it at precisely the point I knew I didn't know how to escape it. When my body froze and I dissociated, I accepted what was happening, in the sense that I didn't rebel against it. In the sense that I didn't speak, and therefore didn't say "no". Consider that we have rape laws that require a victim to say "no" first, as if many forms and conditions of rape aren't threatening enough to render one silent, or acquiescent, or passive. What oppressors do, for their own self-interest, is to read into all behavior coming from the oppressed, and to read it as a sign that the oppressed like or accept or want the conditions they endure and barely survive. Never mind that white men would never endure what women of color endure. Forced invasions of their bodies and minds; enforced colonisation and subordination. How many millions of white men do you know who welcome being oppressed?

I: Poor white men do. They seem to value rich white men more than themselves.

JR: I agree. And, to be clear, poor people of any gender or race don't structurally oppress rich white men--there are no means or mechanisms by which poor people can exploit the rich. But this won't stop rich folks from claiming "their" money is being exploited, misused, and stolen by the poor. This is to take the focus off of the real thieves. If the rich aren't thieves, what are they?

The difference between the rich and the poor isn't only who possesses wealth, or in who controls society with that wealth. It is a difference of status, of stigma, of social dignity. Rich people get to feel entitled, and get to act entitled. If a poor person believes they are entitled, they are called lazy and a thief. How are the men born into family wealth, who never have to work a day in their life doing work they don't want to do, not lazy; how are they not thieves? A very few rich white men have exposed the systems of injustice, of gross theft, that their fathers enjoy and perpetrate. And they'll risk getting cut out of the will, the estate, the family corporation, for doing so.

But poor white men do structurally oppress people--just not rich white Christian het men. Poor white men do protect the systems that allow them to oppress poor white women, poor women of color, and poor men of color. And they do this by not joining the liberation struggles of people of color and of women. They join with the rich white man instead. Why? Because it secures for them the right to oppress some people, even while they suffer economically and in terms of some forms of esteem. White Nationalists are angry with a white male-run government, but still target people of color as "the enemy". Why? How and in what ways do rich white men not threaten the existence of everyone who is poor, or who, even, is not rich?

I: So for you, then, "white" is a matter of structural location, of social position, more than it is a matter of identity?

JR: It is an identity and a location. It is an identity that has social and personal meaning only in terms of its relative political location to oppressed people. It has no meaning without oppressed people of color, or people who are oppressed ethnically who are seen as "not as white", such as European Jews, or Irish or Italian Catholics.

I: And the same then with being a man and being heterosexual?

JR: With being a het man, yes. Heterosexual women give up a lot to get the privileges of heterosexuality. They are like the poor relative to the rich--they'll support the rich in order to believe they might get something of the status and resources hoarded by the rich, by men, but they'll never get the status and power of het men. Het-acting men have lots of power over all women--regardless of their level of perceived or enacted femininity, and over gay men too, and over anyone who is deemed to be "effeminate" or "feminine".

I: Do you honestly think that heterosexual men are only acting?

JR: Not 'acting' in that sense, despite what some Queer Theorists say about gender being performed. I see that as a woefully inadequate and pro-status quo, anti-radical perspective. But if you speak with many het men, as I have, and get them to be honest, they will tell you exactly in what ways they act het in order to be accepted by other het men, who are also acting to be accepted by other, more statused, het men. There's a lot to lose if you're not accepted, after all, and most boys learn this early on in life, from other boys and the men in their young lives who reject them if they're not boyish enough.

Het men behave in ways that are oppressive to women because those ways of behaving are esteemed by other statused men. If they weren't esteemed by some other more statused men, the behavior would cease to be appealing.

I: I assume, then, that you don't think heterosexually active men behave they ways they do to impress women they wish to be with.

JR: Well, that last bit is the key, isn't it? They behave in self-serving ways, to obtain what they want from women. And what men often want from women isn't an experience of sharing humanity; it's an experience of conquest or possession or control over women. Or gaining a sense of self that makes them feel better about who they are.

I: But isn't that what many heterosexual women do?

JR: If heterosexual women do it, it's without the possibility of gaining the full status and power of het men. Het men are jockeying for position among men. Women can't do that--they're going to be portrayed or treated as "only wh*res" or "just b*tches" by at least some men, somewhere. This isn't true of het men.

This gets to the heart of the matter: status and stigma, and the material and other benefits and consequences of each. What we have is a complex system--gendered, raced, sexed, and classed--that infuses into some identities a kind of status or stigma that is very hard to rid oneself of. So even if a white het man has very shitty self-esteem, socially his sense of self will be bolstered. And no matter how much a poor or working class woman of color values herself, there will be men out there who will seek to tear her down, in one way or another, because she's a woman and because she's a person of color. She will have a difficult time not being stigmatised. He'll have a difficult time not being statused. And all the institutions which bolster him will work to exploit him and people structurally like him, or destroy her and people structurally located similarly to her.

I: So are "whites" and "men", to you, all terrorists, behaving in unjust and hostile ways to those they oppress?

JR: Let's take the "to you" out of this for a moment. Let's look at what whites and men do, as white people and as adult male people who are trying very hard to shore up their socially-reinforced whiteness and manhood, to the people they interpersonally and structurally oppress. Is their violence--the harm and injury they do to people's bodies, minds, and spirits, in any way mutual? Is genocide mutual? Is rape, domestic terrorism, and incest by men against girls mutual? No, unless you only listen to the stories the oppressor-terrorists tell, about how seductive and bad those girls are, how abusive and mean those wives and girlfriends are, how uppity and hostile those people of color are.

There's nothing mutual going on. There's no war "between" genders and between races of people. And so it's not mutual self-defence either. One group is trying to survive the actions of the other. Only one of the groups in a social hierarchy is threatened terrorisistically.  Those groups are women, in the gender hierarchy, and people of color in the race hierarchy in the white West.

I: What about trans people? Don't women oppress trans people? 

No. First, most trans people are not transsexual, and are socially positioned as either men or women--not as trans people. Most of us who are trans have the privileges and entitlements or the stigmas and self-hatred handed out and enforced socially. Second, those very few trans people who do physically transition, either grew up with some forms of male privilege, or may come into them if they physically appear to be men; and not all F2M transsexuals will accomplish this level of transition. I doubt, for example, that Chaz Bono will ever be viewed as "a man" by men who were raised as boys. I doubt he will ever have the status and privileges that male-from-birth men have. But trans men, like all men, will be encouraged, socially, to employ sexist practices against women. Trans women, like all women, will be socially encouraged to practice misogyny against themselves and other women. How it is that some queer and non-queer activists think female-from-birth women oppress any other gendered population is one of the more misogynistic and pro-patriarchal ideas put forth in the last twenty years. It needs to be challenged inside and beyond queer communities; it isn't a liberatory political perspective; it's socially oppressive, pro-status quo, anti-radical, and woman-hating.

And it functions to create a divide among people who ought to be working together to fight the most powerful gendered group on Earth--men who are identified and treated as male from birth. There is an old strategy that is very effective that is promoted by oppressors: divide and conquer. I see a few trans people and a few women pretending each group is the other's primary oppressor, and I see Muslims and Jews in the West pretending each is the other's primary oppressor. All you need to notice is who flies under the political radar when we engage in horizontal hostility: it will be men; it will be white Christians. And those two groups possess more collective power to abuse others than Jews and Muslims, trans folks and women, combined. Without anyone even close to being in the second most powerful position.

I: So you aren't that interested in the blogging debate about trans people and radical feminists? 

JR: It's not most trans people or most radical feminists who are participating in the discussion, first of all. Most women doing radical feminist work don't identify as radical or as feminists, let's not forget. So I don't look to radical feminist-identified bloggers as the people who are leading us to a better world which is not to say that I don't appreciate and applaud a lot of what radical feminist-identified women bloggers address on their blogs; I am so happy that over the last five years there have been so many radical feminist-identified women speaking out in their own ways, in their own voices. I hope women who want feminist support online find the support they are seeking from those and other blogs, social networks, and websites. Finally there is a feminist presence of Facebook, too! (For a while it seemed like it would remain a bastion only of male supremacy.)

Generally, though, I look to women activists in the non-cyber world. They may utilise some internet forums to promote their work but they aren't doing their work only or primarily online. Bloggers, often enough, only doing their political work online--and surely there ought to be a place for those of us who find a blog as the best way to express ourselves; I hope feminist and pro-feminist blogs really take root online and stick around for as long as there are blogs. I am conflicted about whether I consider my blog and feminist blogs sites of activism. And if our/their work is to organise discussions about topics that are important to them, that's not something I wish to support, but not do as much as I have--although this could change.

I don't really care what people discuss online as much as I care what people do off-line. It's part of learning to look more to what people do, in their lives, than what they say. The most oppressed people who are human rights and earth rights activists don't have time to blog, usually. And it is to them I turn for the front line of political insight, guidance, and wisdom.

I guess I don't think blogging is radical activism. I think it can support radical activism, but not when it is engaging in misogynistic and transphobic conversations about who oppresses who more: women or trans people. I think that obviously some people, myself included, need to discuss those issues at times. But I don't see that as a significant issue for people offline--I don't know anyone offline who is dealing with the questions and concerns I see some bloggers discussing online. And I hope none of us forget who oppresses and silences us, including by killing us: men who are assigned male from birth, who grow up as boys, who identify and are viewed publicly as men. I hope queer people, feminists, and lesbians can and will organise against the people (men and male supremacist institutions) that oppress the rest of us.

I: Do you think that women should stop discussing trans politics? 

JR: I think women will and should discuss the many diverse issues that are most pressing or important to them. I do not believe women are more threatened by trans people than by men. I don't know any trans people who are more threatened by women than by men. I don't live in a woman-supremacist society, or a trans-supremacist society. The societies I'm aware of who have lots of geopolitical power are all ruled by het men--all of them.

I: Any closing thoughts?

JR: If you want to know who holds the most power in the world, look at who gets away with the most institutional, structural violence, not just the most interpersonal violence. Look at who is socially statused the most and socially stigmatised the least. That'll lead you to who is doing the most harm.