November 17, 2016 Dispatch #4 Day 9 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy and Misogyny (PAWSM)
Today I MUST turn to Misogyny. It is LONG past time in America to stop giving Misogyny a pass, just as we must stop giving White Supremacy a pass. I want to remind readers of my first dispatch:
I am determined to resist every day the normalization of White Supremacy and Misogyny. We must call out White Supremacy and Misogyny. We must call out excuses and superficial analyses. Yes, we must organize and act instead of mourning. But, without proper analyses, there will be few lasting victories.
As an Out-raging and Outrageous woman, resistance demands that Misogyny be understood as the foundational/original oppression. I am revolting against constancy with which liberals, progressives, activists, whatever you all want to be called, refuse to see the toxic fertilizer that Misogyny offers for all forms of hatred and oppression. Without rejuvenated resistance to Misogyny, White Supremacy and other bigotries in America will thrive.
Misogyny cuts (literally) across race, class, religion, ethnicity. Misogyny works to deaden, disable, depress, destroy all women — leaving all of us deprived of our most potent weapon. Do I need to point out that the majority of white women voted for the proud proponent of rape and sexual abuse? That these women also voted to hand over control of their bodies to men?
It DOES MATTER that Misogyny is called out just as it matters that White Supremacy is called out.
Misogyny — from the Greek misein, to hate and gyne, woman — encompasses contempt, disdain, disgust, and revulsion for women as a whole, rather than for specific women. Misogyny is institutionalized oppression of women to maintain the supremacy/power of men. Like White Supremacy, Misogyny is a system, a web of interlocking, reinforcing institutions: economic, military, legal, educational, religious, and cultural affecting every aspect of life.
Unlike White Supremacy, which is only about 450 years old, Misogyny has been poisoning the earth and creating killing fields for women for thousands of years. Consider this:
Misogyny is by no means limited to modern Western civilizations. It occurs in many kinds of societies and at all levels of human social organization, including Stone Age cultures, and at all times in history. As a sexual dogma or prejudice, misogyny appears to be virtually universal. Without specific political ends, misogyny has no formal ideological position other than to denigrate women.
Studies by anthropologists and historians show that misogyny is, and always has been, widespread. In ancient Europe, the Greeks displayed an ingrained misogyny, often describing woman as one of the plagues inflicted upon man by the gods. Some Attic poets proposed that women were the source of kakon (evil) in the world. The ancient world was indeed populated with nefarious she-demons and sorceresses, such as the sinister Circe, who turned men into pigs, not to mention the Furies and the Harpies, foul-smelling half-human hags who persecuted men and boys. Classical antiquity was full of female monsters: sirens, maenads, nymphs, lamias, and the sea viragoes Scylla and Charybdis who drowned sailors off the coast of Sicily. The snake-haired gargoyle Medusa turned men to stone with a look. One of the earliest Greek poems, “Woman” by Semonides (eighth century BCE), reviled females as being as stubborn as mules, as smelly as pigs, and as perilous to men as the untamed sea.. Many organized religions are highly misogynistic. The Christian Bible, the Muslim Koran, the Hebrew Torah, and the sacred Buddhist and Hindu texts frequently criticize women for various moral defects and condemn woman’s body for the lust it inspires in men. Most religions blame woman for licentiousness and depravity and for committing original sin or its theological equivalent. http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/sociology-and-social-reform/sociology-general terms-and-concepts/misogyny
Indeed, death-dealing/brutality-affirming Misogyny allows the flourishing of White Supremacy, fertilizing the political ends of White Supremacy, white nationalism, brutality, bigotry, always the fear and hatred of the other that supports oppression in all forms.
Over the millienia, the basic tool of oppression has involved treating one-half of the world’s human beings as the Other, the less-than-human, the not-as-human. Objectified, sexualized, treated as property, degraded as source of filth, cut-up and mutilated, repository for all male rage, source of everything dangerous, and the (barely) living testimony to the consequences as well as requirements of misogyny. Once this treatment of women is learned/accepted/practiced, how easy it becomes to join with all other atrocities of oppression. Once objectification of another human being is felt and believed as normal, no constraints are too horrible to breach.
Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke truth to White Supremacy in Between the World and Me. “Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/tanehisi-coates-between-the-world-and-me/397619/
Speaking truth to Misogyny, here is what I would like for you to know: In the World, it is traditional to destroy the female body—it is the heritage and the imperative of thousands of years of misogyny.
I return to paraphrasing the powerful unflinching words of Ta-Nehisi Coates: “…….racism [misogyny] is a visceral experience, [that] it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body. And how should one live in such a body?” Yes, how indeed? Coates offers no answers for black bodies. Perhaps there are also no answers for women bodies.
Why the constant state of denial, exclusion, and dismissal about misogyny in America?
Why are women made to feel too sensitive and overreacting when we assert misogyny?
Why are women immediately dismissed by same folks who will eagerly endorse the idea of micro-aggressions by race [even as this term insinuates disdain and resentment by White Supremacy America]?
Have millennia of misogyny simply destroyed the living body’s instinct and drive for evolution and survival? Consider this:
Gerda Lerner‘s 1986 history classic, The Creation of Patriarchy, traces the development of the patriarchy to the second millennium B.C.E. in the middle east, putting gender relations at the center of the story of civilization’s history. “And the reason we find it [misogyny] so hard, and we have found it so hard, to understand it and to combat it, is that it was institutionalized before Western civilization really, as we know it, was, so to speak, invented, and the process of creating patriarchy was really well completed by the time that the idea systems of Western civilization were formed.” http://womenshistory.about.com/od/feminism/a/patriarchal.htm
YUP that’s right, Misogyny inhabits every cell and every synapse. Like White Supremacy, Misogyny is about the structure and system, it is NOT about the misogyny of individuals. Every day we accept without resistance that capitalism uses women’s bodies to sell everything from cars to drugs to vacations to clothing to sports. Here a breast, there a thigh, everywhere the pouting mouth and come hither eyes. Come own me, sell me, violate me, sexualize me, trash me, control me, abuse and kill me.
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.