Posts Tagged ‘ bigotry

The Straw Man of Collective Guilt

In response to a previous post:


“Women are oppressed by men” is so large and grandiose and vague as to be useless.

That may be true, but then so are: “taxation is theft,” “The police have always been thugs who protect the moneyed,” or “Any unarmed people are slaves, or are subject to slavery at any given moment.”

Most taxpayers self-report as willing; most police want to serve the public and very few unarmed people (in the United States) feel like slaves. To note the abstract relationship isn’t to express a universal as expressed by each and every individual, it’s to highlight the fundamental dynamic. The core truth of taxation is that, if one were to resist it, one would find oneself mugged. Any policeman who wants to be a thug won’t likely be stopped and anyone who attacks the infrastructure of wealth will find themselves fighting police. Unarmed people every day find themselves fighting heavily armed state agents and are forced into an obedient role (or find themselves dead).

Most men don’t rape women, many men may not ever use their physical presence to dominate a woman. The fundamental reality of sex, however, is that almost any man can physically overwhelm almost any woman at any time. Importantly to the day-to-day reality of women, that worst-case scenario plays out more frequently than the federal take-down of tax resisters, instances of police brutality, or the rounding up of disarmed civilians.

Show indicia of THIS MAN oppressing THAT WOMAN and you begin to show clarity.
I’m not shouldering blame for what some other man did to a woman I don’t know.

Indicia? You have furthered my education with your comment, sir! This is, I think, the crux of the issue. The conversation about the realities of existing power dynamics does not damn or entitle any individual. We’ve been conditioned to believe:

Wherever human beings engage in direct discourse with one another about their mutual rights and responsibilities, there is a politics. I mean politics in the sense of the public sphere in which discourse over rights and responsibilities is carried on, much in the way Hannah Arendt discusses it. …. The force of public opinion, like that of markets, is not best conceived as a concentrated will representing the public, but as the distributed influence of political discourses throughout society.
Johnson and Long, Libertarian Feminism: Can This Marriage Be Saved?

That refusal doesn’t make me a co-oppressor.
It merely makes me someone who will accept blame when it is accurately placed

.

Certainly no one should be blamed for the actions of a third party and refusing to “shoulder the blame for what some man did to a woman I don’t know” is absurd. In discussions about the crimes of government, kindergarten teachers aren’t widely considered to be co-oppressors. The state can be the object of critique without everyone who is in some way connected to state power feeling the need to come screaming in to stop the discussion. The same should be true of critiques of other power disparities.

At issue is not the need for collective guilt, but rather to honor the subjective experience of people giving their account of oppression. To return to the parallel, anarchists bristle when their subjective accounts of state oppression are dismissed and when they are chided to remain within the cultural confines of “their place in society” in order to remain unmolested by state agents. We, of all people, should stand in solidarity with others whose experiences are similarly dismissed–those who are told to fit sex, gender, and any other social norm in order to remain unmolested by whoever claims the authority to trespass against them. That solidarity should be extended no matter who the claimed oppressor is, even if it’s not the state.

Takedown of an Anarcho-Misogynist: Religion

Here’s the introduction to this series. I followed up with a post on marriage, monogamy and violence and another on abortion. The time has come to dismantle Jay Batman’s spectacularly indefensible argument that women control religious institutions. Don’t laugh–okay you can laugh. Here’s what he says:

Consider the following from the article The Feminization of Christianity by Leon Podles, which finds church membership ratios overwhelming dominated by women: Roman Catholics, 1.09 to one; Lutherans, 1.04-1.23 to one; Mennonites, 1.44-1.16 to one; Friends, 1.40 to one; Methodists, 1.33-1.47 to one; Baptists, 1.35 to one; Assembly of God, 1.71 to one; Pentecostals, 1.71-2.09 to one; and Christian Scientists, 3.19 to one. Podles notes that when men do attend church, it is usually only because they are pressured into doing so by women.

Ah, so the members of the world’s religions–at least the western ones–are mostly females. They’ve used their dominant position in the church to take leadership positions and direct the police and military apparatus to enforce their will on manly men. Led by the heads of the catholic church Pope Clementine VII (successor of long-time Pope Johanna Pauline II) they . . . what’s that you say? All the Popes are male? All the clergy are male? The leaders and priest class of virtually every world religion are all males? And no army? No police? Well how do they force men to marry and inseminate women?

To be fair Jay and Podles do cover the clergy:

Podles goes on to critique the clergy, and what he notes is informative: “Because Christianity is now seen as a part of the sphere of life proper to women rather than to men, it sometimes attracts men whose own masculinity is somewhat doubtful. By this I do not mean homosexuals, although a certain type of homosexual is included. Rather, religion is seen as a safe field, a refuge from the challenges of life, and therefore attracts men who are fearful of making the break with the secure world of childhood dominated by women.

Lewis M. Terman and Catherine Cox Miles measured masculinity among men involved in religion, and their findings were even more striking: “Most masculine of all are still the men who have little or no interest in religion. Very masculine men showed little interest in religion, very feminine men great interest. Women who have highly feminine scores were also especially religious, while women who had more masculine scores were neutral or adverse to religion. The difference was clearly not physical sex, but attitude, or gender, as the term is now used.”

Let’s try to decode this. People of all genders with masculine traits tend not to be religious. Let’s assume Podles is also a misogynist. I wonder what he considers masculine traits . . . I’ll bet independently minded is on the list. Free thinking, willing to challenge authority, probably strong willed make the roll. Proud, self-interested, assertive–I think we’ve got a good picture here.

What do these things have in common . . . hmmmm. Well, for one thing, they’ll get a slave killed. Sure as shit if you can be legitimately aggressed against by a physical superior with the law on his side, you will radically shorten your life–or at least make it alot less bearable–by exhibiting Podles’ masculine traits.

Oh, something else in common, they are anti-virtues in almost all world religions. Some of them are even deadly sins! In religious “teachings,” the virtues are humility, obedience, submission, forgiveness, and an annihilation of free thinking, reason and evidence in favor of faith in that which cannot be demonstrated.

I’m not a expert in things Nietzsche–I need spell check to get his name right–but he seemed to have pretty much nailed the purpose of religion, which is to create virtues out of being small, passive and doormat-like–the survival strategies for people who are owned. It really reduces the incidents of rebellion and escape when you are not only physically dominated, but also convinced that submitting to domination is “the right thing to do.”

We live in a society based on violence, domination and physical superiority–that’s a basic analysis of anarchism. Religion provides shelter, validation and comfort (of a sort) to people who are physically and socially dominated. It also provides a very inexpensive and historically reliable method of control for people who own or control the people who go to church. Again, this isn’t a strange, new or radical claim, it’s sort of an axiom of revolutionary thought. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t stand scrutiny, but pointing out that churches are attended by women and staffed by “non-masculine” men sort of reinforces the argument.

Takedown of an Anarcho-Misogynist: Marriage, Monogamy and Violence

See here for an introduction to this series of posts.

Jay begins his post with the following premises:

. . . societal conventions that deny a man’s natural and innate inclinations to preach some false idea of domestication as the ideal are the creations of a matriarchal tyranny.
We men are not naturally inclined toward monogamy or marriage. Societies that promote such end results are clearly the product of male hatred on the part of the women who drive such values. Women have appropriated the state and religious institutions to systematically de-masculinize men and relegate us to a less virile, less potent existence.

One would think a libertarian would understand that a tyranny of any sort cannot exist without the use of force. I’m not clear on what, exactly, is preaching the idea of monogamy and marriage as ideal–I guess the Abrahamic religions (why not the Sarahtic religions?) are usually interpreted as endorsing these things–but whatever the source, it’s pretty clearly using non-violent persuasion to get the job done in the western world.

This conflation of verbal pressure with violent aggression seems to be a trend among misogynists. In another, follow-up post, Jay paints the following picture

Think of the man like the Gadsden Flag bearer, and you get the picture: he’s got it in his head that striking back is the way to go, but the female standing in front of him, though half his size, has a mouth like a Gatling Gun and can tear him to shreds with it. It’s emasculating, but it’s what women do.

This echoes a similar sentiment expressed by a commenter on a Punk Johnny Cash article.

Add to this, women who can’t keep their mouths shut, who use their words as surrogate baseball bats to bludgeon their man into submission; or women who stand in doorways to prevent the man from leaving the room/house so as to DE-escalate (caused mainly by the rise of “Feminism,” another statist invention). . . they kind of deserve what they get.

At least Jay pretends to live in a world where a verbal confrontation results in the powerful man gently weeping in response to a discussion with a woman. The second commenter seems more closely connected with reality, where 4 million women apparently can’t keep their mouths shut each year and get what, apparently, they “deserve”.

It’s important to frame a verbal confrontation in physically violent terms so that men who initiate aggression against people can be let off the hook on a pseudo-self-defense clause.

In the good old days, of course, even this nonsensical veneer of legitimacy wasn’t needed, and this brings us back to the topic of marriage.

Until the tyrannical matriarchy appeared on the scene, marriage was simply a legal claim to human property. If a woman was beaten, raped, killed, or forced into labor, the legal question was restricted to which man, typically a father or husband, owned her. If the perpetrator was the owner of the woman, the issue went no further. If, he wasn’t, restitution was owed to the owner and the attacker and often the victim were further punished by the legal authorities.

This arrangement varied slightly from place to place, but was always essentially a transaction among men:fathers and sometimes would-be husbands as part of an often much larger exchange of property.

Women, for their part, were kept by in a dependent state by the inability to own property, conduct business, travel unescorted, etc. The skill set they were consequentially raised to develop was that of a domestic servant, taking care of the children, the sick, the elderly and maintaining the household. They were raised to be obedient and submissive and were therefore amenable to religions, which praise obedience, submission and forgiveness as virtuous–more on this in a future post.

In the last fraction of human history, state capitalism has subsidized the movement of women into the workforce by taking over some of the traditional roles: care of children, the sick and the elderly primary among them. This isn’t, as Jay posits, a result of an emerging and powerful state-feminist alliance–such an idea is laughable when one compares the numbers of men and women among the captains of industry and social engineers that constructed the state welfare system–but as an entirely predictable corporate-state alliance that always seeks to subsidize inexpensive labor for the owners of capital.

Jay’s other point in the passage is that the women force men, through the apparatus of the state, I guess, into monogamous relationships. Again, this is absurd. Men have never been held to a standard of monogamy, certainly not in the modern west. Women on the other hand have always been held to an exacting standard with phenomenally inhumane penalties for adultery.

The fear of raising another man’s child factored into both the control of women’s freedom to move, to associate, and to own property as well as the devastating penalties exacted on women for sex outside of marriage. Men never faced anywhere near the same degree of retribution for non-monogamy.

As to what is “natural” for either sex, the point is moot and largely unknowable. In a few hundred years, when women have absolute and unchallenged control of their reproduction and face no physical threat from partners, it might be possible to determine what sexual behaviors are natural and which are a result of violent institutions. My guess is, nature being what it is, that people will tend towards a wide variety of arrangements that will overrun any modern predictions.

In any case, the current situation is rife with violence and the threat of violence as well as the historical hangovers of sexual repression and institutional dis-empowerment of women–reasoning about the future of human sexuality is like predicting the future course of technology at the point that the catholic church ceased systematic interference in the conduct of science.

Overall, the extraordinary claim that women are secretly controlling the agendas of institutions that have always been overseen and staffed by males and have always relegated women to a “less virile less potent existence” requires a tremendous amount of evidence. While Jay provides a number of anecdotal instances of women who act less than honorably toward men, by any metric and at any time and place in history, men have used their physical superiority and their political privilege to completely dominate women. This isn’t a matter of “reading the right books” as Jay complains he is always asked to do. It’s a recognition of very rudimentary and basic fact of human history.

To blame women for perpetuating the institutions that have always assisted men in maintaining dominance is the height of chutzpah. To pity men that can’t willfully beat their “mouthy women” and then wonder why females avoid one’s ideology of freedom is willful callousness. To blame women in general for the behavior of the women that one chooses to associate with the definition of bigotry.

We’ve got alot more to cover folks, so if you have any desire to direct the conversation, please drop a comment.

Takedown of an Anarcho-Misogynist: Introduction

The next several posts will (barring sidetracking) be related to a discussion going on at the Gonzo Times. I’ve always liked the Times because they address issues that a number of other anti-authoritarian sites seem to overlook in the name of expediency. One of these issues is gender. As I documented in the previous post/podcast and as is summarized (along with subsequent developments) by Punk Johnny Cash in this recent post, a number of misogynists, some self-described, have predictably sprung up to attack those voicing questions and concerns about the treatment of women in pro-liberty circles.

Of course, there are alot of ins, alot of outs, alot of what-have-yous involved, but I tend to think that this sort of development is “a good thing.” Occasionally, it’s time to introspect and make sure one’s house is in order, both as an individual and, metaphorically, as a collective. On the rare occasions that reactionaries, especially those that are so obviously poisoning the well, pop up, it provides the rest of us a chance to state our position clearly to said reactionaries and to the rest of the world.

In this case, the world clearly needs to hear the liberty perspective spelled out. Virtually all casual observers believe that libertarianism is a post-hoc political conclusion based on anger towards and fear of government takeover by non-white and/or non-male people. This conclusion is based on the media amplification of a few conservative voices that, in fact, hold that position in ways subtle and obvious[1]

What we shall look at over the next few posts is a flurry of activity on the Gonzo Times website by one of the bloggers there, Jay Batman (one of the aforementioned self-described misogynists). His case, stated most comprehensively in an initial post can be addressed in a dozen ways that have sprung into my mind. I haven’t even finished reading it. Maybe he ends the entire thing with a retraction, in which case, my bad for not finishing before responding.

In any case, these issues deserve addressing as they will doubtless arise again (and again) in the future. I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep at it until each and every failing is revealed, but I will do my best.

  1. [1] An compelling discussion on how ideology is used to provide psychic cover for prior trauma can be found in Freedomain Radio’s Bomb in the Brain series.

The Bikecast Episode #52: Race, Gender, and Anarchism

The status of women as 2nd (3rd? 9th?) class members of the societal hierarchy receives stunningly little attention from male libertarians and anarchists–the folks that claim the greatest desire to eliminate institutional hierarchies of all types and to live in a society of equals.

This incongruity fits a larger pattern. The most strikingly barbaric and absurd social norms are all but invisible to the majority of people and are certainly never spoken of except in the most trusted of conversations. Anarchists know this because barbaric state power is one such social norm. Shrieking rage-filled prophesies of doom fill the air (at least eventually) anytime the dissolution of government is discussed in a public forum, thus indicating that someone has begun to question things that should not be questioned.

Multiply the viciousness and sensitivity of this reaction by a few orders of magnitude and you’ll have arrived at the vitriol that is aimed at those who criticize society’s treatment of women. God forbid the critic is herself a woman.


Download this episode of the Bikecast

As with many bikecasts, the “show notes” and the audio sort of diverge and end up covering different facets of the topic. This is compounded by the double recording session in the podcast. I still think it has alot of value, but it ends up trying to cover alot of material perhaps a bit too thinly. I appreciate feedback :)

An Illustrative Example at the Gonzo Times

Case in point, an article by Gonzo Times journalist Punk Johnny Cash titled A Problem Of White Male Anarchism and Libertarianism We Must Confront.
It’s an excellent read that dares wonder why it is that liberation movements–anarchism and libertarianism specifically–are so radically devoid of non-white and non-male participants.

As interesting as the article, though–at least from the perspective of this post–are
the comments. They are very civil compared to what we’ll see further along in the post, and consist of two categories of response. The first is a thoughtful, interactive dialogue among a fairly diverse group of people, many of whom are (or seem to be, it is the internet after all) non-male/non-white/non-straight. Here are a couple examples:

  • I’ve talked to several other anarchist women who won’t participate in anarchist groups any more because of their general hostility and emphasis on destruction. So they work outside of explicitly anarchist venues.
  • I’ve had “libertarian” men post the nastiest comments to me when I point out the sexism in their commentaries. Part of the reason I’m selective about where I post, which people I e-associate with, etc., is because I’m sick of having misogynist slurs hurled at me,sick of the defensive crap that occurs whenever you ask someone to check their privilege
  • Maybe it’s not the beliefs, but the behavior of many of those who hold them. The libertarian movement could use a drastic reduction in assholery.
  • The online anarchist community has quite a few trolls and jerks, and after I connected with other anarchists I liked, I chose to spend less time online because it’s more fun and productive to spend time with people in person.
  • In my experience, however, some of the most anti-queer and gender-fascist remarks I’ve heard have come out of the mouths of straight white cis male anarchists

The second category of comment is entirely divorced from the thread of the first. It claims international fabian socialism, historically rooted cultural differences, and, believe it or not, the incredible benefits that women and minorities receive from the state as reasons for the dominance of white male voices in anarchist spaces[1] That’s not to say that this category of comment is devoid of any truth or value to the discussion, but nowhere are the clearly stated and repeated reasons given by the other commenters addressed.

Let me jump in here and add a note related to the podcast and the rest of this post. I ended up, because I’m riding my bike and babbling from the top of my head, inadvertently focusing on the issue of women. I will sort of mirror that here. The issues of race, gender identity, sexual preference, etc. have many clear parallels, but I don’t address them to the same degree.

In the last week, a facebook discussion took place with a slightly escalated tone. Again, voices speaking about being shut out, shouted down, and verbally attacked were ignored (or countered) with commenters claiming that race and gender weren’t issues that required their attention. The discussion was started by a woman and the first three to five dismissive posts were white men. Again, largely civil, though maybe slightly more agitated, and though there were reasonable points among the comments, the crux of the matter, again, was ignored.

Punk Johnny Cash followed up this week with another good gonzotimes piece
This time, for some reason, the comments start with

Feminism is essentially Big Brother with a vagina.

proceed to

What the hell is so wrong with patriarchy, anyway? People assume that dominance is wrong, but if you like being dominated, why shouldn’t you be able to cede control?

and end up with

The “issues” of race and gender are really non-issues. . . except from a statist or wannabe-statist point of view.
“Abuse” is a statist creation, brought about mostly by economic meddling which forces a man to work overtime or take a second (or even third) job to support his family.Add to this, women who can’t keep their mouths shut, who use their words as surrogate baseball bats to bludgeon their man into submission; or women who stand in doorways to prevent the man from leaving the room/house so as to DE-escalate (caused mainly by the rise of “Feminism,” another statist invention). . . they kind of deserve what they get.
Stress someone enough, and eventually they’ll break.

And other than a heroic effort from PJC and Scott F (another gonzotimes journalist) to bring some semblance of sanity to the comments, there are no other voices present.

And yet even this is unicorns and rainbows compared with much of the shit directed at women on the internetz.

A Brief Reexamination of the the Historical Relationship between the Sexes

As a brief interlude, let’s reexamine the history of the sexes[2]. For something between 10,000 and a few hundred thousand years, women were property. They were bought, sold, traded, captured raped, killed, and otherwise disposed of without consequence[3].

It’s only been in the last 100 years, something less than 1% of human history,that any women at all were anything but man’s possession. I, having a finite life, can only grasp the enormity of this fact in the abstract, but we move around in a reality saturated by this history. And just as would happen if one’s car or microwave oven gained sentience and started making demands for equality, when one-time property began attempting to assert independence, men went (and most are still going) apeshit.

Perhaps the freshest modern example of this development in the middle east where women are routinely beaten, sexually assaulted and killed for having the temerity to learn to read, travel without escort, drive a car, or leave the house at all without complete physical cover. This isn’t some distant and bizarre alien culture. These conditions prevailed throughout the west until the last hundred years or so (minus the cars).

In the west, when conditions of near anonymity prevail, men will let their bigotry flag fly high, as we’ve already seen. When we move out of the realm of internet forums based around the premises of non-aggression and human equality, shit gets ugly(er) real goddamn fast.

Obviously this is just scratching the very privileged internet surface of the all encompassing poisonous atmosphere that is bigotry against women. From rape apologia to physical and sexual assault to just about any topic or by any metric conceivable, it fucking sucks to be a woman society.

At the root of it is the physical, violent domination that is a constant threat and pervasive reality for every woman. That this isn’t constantly acknowledged and constantly opposed by the folks who want a hierarchy, dominance-free, stateless society shows just how far we have to go.

Oh yeah, and it’s even worse for children.

Notes:
I made mention in the podcast, for those who justdon’tbelieve this shit exists–by the metric shit-ton–that I’d post some good starting points on the blog. If you’re a woman, I gently recommend not visiting them. They are certainly triggering in any case.

While looking around, I found that someone is actually cataloging this stuff as a blog. Rather than link directly to the shit, I’ll just point to a couple pages where the analysis might take some of the edge off
http://www.manboobz.com/2010/11/further-reading-worst-of-mens-rights.html
http://www.manboobz.com/2011/02/new-low-in-victim-blaming-part-2-in.html”>http://www.manboobz.com/2011/02/new-low-in-victim-blaming-part-2-in.html
http://www.manboobz.com/2010/12/rapists-are-apparently-being-oppressed.html

http://www.manboobz.com/2010/11/ladies-stop-assaulting-us-by-dressing.html

http://www.manboobz.com/search/label/violence%20against%20men%2Fwomen

In my last minute audio edits, I realize that I specifically talked about citing examples of women being attacked for “stepping out of line” in forums and advocating for themselves. I’ll try to get back to digging some of that particular type of gross up and adding it to the post, but I don’t want to delay publishing. Sorry for the shoddy quality of the research around here.

  1. [1] I’m treading a thin line here, but I want to contrast the simple claim that women benefit from the state with the more nuanced claim that women, as the societally constructed care providing gender, are “stuck with” the state.
  2. [2] Again, there are clear and strong parallels with other oppressed populations.
  3. [3] Although in some of the more enlightened cultures, if a rapist was caught, he had to marry his victim–so that’s a big win (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT).

The Bikecast Episode #6: Seeing the Forest for the Trees

The United States government may not be Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, but to overlook the fact that the state has racked up 10s of millions of victims in just the last several decades is an amazing feat, yet that is what virtually every state apologist does and continually so.

Download this episode of the bikecast

The Slate article that is the focus of the first 1/3rd of the bikecast: http://www.slate.com/id/2251669/

This is a mock-the-teabagger/fear-the-teabagger piece. The issue I have isn’t with his complaints about the teabagger’s limited political vocabulary and crude art skills. I’d like to see a realization that the United States government is murdering/disppearing/caging/torturing enormous numbers of people and that it doesn’t goddamn well matter what you want to call it. Mocking people for mismatching the ideologies of the worlds most terrifyingly evil states while voicing support and apology for one of those states is . . . well, poor prioritization to say the least.

I had a similar subjective experience reading this post. While it wasn’t the point of the piece (the point was, again, mocking someone for being . . . actually, I’m not sure in this case), he mocks a third writer for comparing the American army to the wehrmacht (as a good thing). Of course, the American army is quite comparable to the wehrmacht, an argument I make here. But Thers cannot conceive of this–cannot allow into his mind a model in which two armies each killing untold stacks of people have equal fucking moral standing (see the comments for supporting evidence).

To be fair, it was kindof ambushy because I was writing tangentially to his original post. He’s still wrong. I extend the same apology to Ron Rosenbaum, but christ can we please at least acknowledge reality while making fun of the goofball right-wing?

I hypothesize that, were McCain to have been elected, there would be no tea party. There would also not be angry leftists threatening revolution and secession. To put it another way, the tea party is threatening armed insurrection in opposition to the welfare state (painting with a broad brush), but the left will happily (more or less) go along with a regime that is raining down death and human misery on much of the rest of the globe. I want to see more Vermonts. Leftists, come on now!

If we strip away the concepts of race, religion, and nation, that activities and atrocities of all the powers and super-powers of the last 200 years are largely identical. The notable exception is that only one of those powers has an unbroken “winning” streak with more bodies in the grave and in prison, a greater claim to absolute power of life and death over every inhabitant of the planet, and more complete control of the finances and governments of the other nation states of the world–a superlative in everything rotten and evil about hierarchy, violence, and dominance. And that outstanding state is the government of the United States.