January 13 2017 Dispatch #13 Day 68 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
The January 21st Women’s March on Washington (WMW) and in sister cities across the country (www.womensmarch.com ) will launch our collective disgust, disdain and rejection of the White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-PEOTUS and his collaborators and quislings on the first full day of their regime.
My Fourth Dispatch 17 November argues that Misogyny must be wielded as a universal word/thought weapon in resistance and concludes:
Right now we women must support each other in our demand that calling out Misogyny be foundational to the strategic analyses that will inform resistance and action. We will NOT apologize for this non-negotiable demand. If you believe that you “get” White Supremacy, then you cannot fail to “get” Misogyny.
So yeah, when considering the grievously poisonous environment nourished by Misogyny that women must struggle to survive every minute of every day, we can see how feminism and sexism have been intentionally “enfeebled” by institutionalized Misogyny. Oh and let’s not forget the latest insult to human intelligence and rights everywhere: identity politics! WTF?! Wielding Misogyny means we insist on analyses and language that are powerful and incendiary when we talk about the status of women in America. Consider these inspirational and enraging/out-raging observations for starters:
Andrea Dworkin: “Being female in this world means having been robbed of the potential for human choice by men who love to hate us. One does not make choices in freedom. Instead, one conforms in body type and behavior and values to become an object of male sexual desire, which requires an abandonment of a wide-ranging capacity for choice…”
Ursula Le Guin: “Civilized Man says: I am Self, I am Master, all the rest is other–outside, below, underneath, subservient. I own, I use, I explore, I exploit, I control. What I do is what matters. What I want is what matter is for. I am that I am, and the rest is women & wilderness, to be used as I see fit.”
Mary Daly: “This universal religion of Phallocracy is the basis of the sexual cast system, and under its rapist reign women of all nations, races, and classes on this planet are touchable”
Adrienne Rich: “The repossession by women of our bodies will bring far more essential change to human society than the seizing of the means of production by workers.”
Yvonne Aburrow: “The patriarchal/kyriarchal/hegemonic culture seeks to regulate and control the body – especially women’s bodies, and especially black women’s bodies – because women, especially black women, are constructed as the Other, the site of resistance to the kyriarchy. Because our existence provokes fear of the Other, fear of wildness, fear of sexuality, fear of controlled, groomed, reduced, covered, suppressed.”
Kyriarchy — What a Fabulous Thought Instigator and Word Weapon!!
Kyriarchy is a social system or set of connecting social systems built around domination, oppression, and submission. The word was coined by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza in 1992 to describe her theory of interconnected, interacting, and self-extending systems of domination and submission, in which a single individual might be oppressed in some relationships and privileged in others. It is an intersectional extension of the idea of patriarchy beyond gender. Kyriarchy encompasses sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, economic injustice, colonialism, militarism, ethnocentrism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of dominating hierarchies in which the subordination of one person or group to another is internalized and institutionalized.
Explaining and identifying the omnipresence of institutionalized Misogyny means that freeing and celebrating women’s lives must be the core of resistance; when one-half of the population is shackled, denigrated, and disabled, oppression thrives unrestrained.
To begin to uproot Misogyny and start to define and implement Equity (not equality) for women, what is the starting point? What are we for? What are we against? Who controls our bodies? What are our choices? How do we stand with our sisters and allies?
We White Women, have a particular responsibility to educate ourselves about White Supremacy and Misogyny in America. We need to understand how these institutionalized frameworks of oppression worked to 1) promote divisions between white women and women of color due to white women’s ignorance about White Supremacy, 2) define and patronize women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s as primarily sexual liberation – this led to much greater sexual access by men with no responsibility and the prevalence of sexualized images of women, and 3) confound and short-cut efforts to find common collaborative ground between white women and women of color. We need to understand how women of color must struggle with White Supremacy and Misogyny, and how mainstream feminism has failed/fails to account for White Supremacy and Misogyny. (Yup this is how intersecting systems of oppression work.)
Audre Lorde Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.
Pauli Murray: “Black women, historically, have been doubly victimized by the twin immoralities of Jim Crow and Jane Crow. … Black women, faced with these dual barriers, have often found that sex bias is more formidable than racial bias.”
Shirley Chisholm “Of my two handicaps, being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black….. The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.”
Angela Davis: “Black women have had to develop a larger vision of our society than perhaps any other group. They have had to understand white men, white women, and black men. And they have had to understand themselves. When black women win victories, it is a boost for virtually every segment of society.
In a January 4th 2017 post, Ashley Farmer reviews the history of black women’s exclusion in marches in Washington and concludes:
The upcoming women’s march is largely a response to the recent election, contentious in no small part due to the fact that white women tipped the scales in favor of Trump. The WMW has the potential to be a unifying event if organizers and participants fully recognize that calls for solidarity often ring hollow for black women and that many black women see the recent election as the latest iteration of white feminists’ betrayal. Balanced representation is an important step in the right direction, but it must be followed up by concrete efforts to hear and address the concerns of all women. After all, true representation requires more than simply a prominent seat on the stage.
Controversy about the inclusiveness (aka the whiteness) of the WMW has been noted in the press and by opinionistas. Sadly, this familiar dynamic is often attached to activism on women’s rights, and the apparent/perceived disconnect between how white women and women of color identify gender-related issues. (Do check-out the WMW Mission/Vision and Unity Principles (www.womensmarch.com), the language is impressive and inspiring.)
Our particular American brand of misogyny does not involve imprisoning women at home, making women invisible in their dress, making physical and sexual women slaves, giving girls to men for their pleasure. No, in our slightly more civilized misogynist world, women simply know that they are in danger of being sexualized and sexually attacked, being forced to bear/raise children in economically inequitable circumstances, being made available as the repository for male rage/denigration and oppression, constantly intimidated in the public square, being always aware of the threat of male aggression and violence, must always be worried about appearance, and always self-conscious about how much space.
Despite the mounting evidence that women are targets of sex-based discrimination and abuse online, the narrative that there is no issue of gender here persists in some quarters, as does the refrain that this is all just a bit of a laugh. But as law Professor Danielle Keats Citron argues:
The trivialization of phenomena that profoundly impact women’s basic freedoms is nothing new. No term even existed to describe sexual harassment of women in the workplace until the 1970s. The refusal to recognize harms uniquely impacting women has an important social meaning – it conveys the message that abusive behavior towards women is acceptable and should be tolerated.
The online abuse of women may be a 21st Century issue but it has its roots in much older forms of sex-based harassment and misogyny. Labelling the problem as one of trolling overlooks and trivialises the harm it causes. Let’s just call it what it is – vilification – however and wherever it occurs. www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-14/tyler-the-perils-of-being-a-woman-online/4369562
We can also consider Madonna’s recent statement about living through 34 years of misogyny. http://jezebel.com/watch-madonna-open-up-about-facing-relentless-sexism-an-1789975195
Adrienne Rich: “The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet… We need to imagine a world in which every woman is the presiding genius of her own body. In such a world women will truly create new life, bringing forth not only children if and as we choose but the visions, and the thinking, necessary to sustain, console and alter human existence-a new relationship to the universe. Sexuality, politics, intelligence, power, motherhood, work, community, intimacy will develop new meanings; thinking itself will be transformed. This is where we have to begin.”
Dispatch #14 will conclude this meditation on Misogyny and Resistance in the Time of Early 21st Century Fascism.