Dispatch #48 January 15th 2019
Day 800 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 725 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
An August 2018 New York Times article titled “For Female Candidates, Harassment and Threats Come Every Day” began with this:
Four days before the 2016 congressional primary in her Northern California district, Erin Schrode woke up to tens of thousands of messages. They were everywhere: in her email, on her cellphone, on her Facebook and her Twitter and her Instagram. “All would laugh with glee as they gang raped her and then bashed her bagel eating brains in,” one said. “It’d be amusing to see her take twenty or so for 8 or 10 hours,” another said, again suggesting gang-rape.
It has been two years since Ms. Schrode, now 27, lost her Democratic primary and moved on. But the abuse — a toxic sludge of online trolling steeped in misogyny and anti-Semitism that also included photoshopped images of her face stretched into a Nazi lampshade and references to “preheating the ovens” — never stopped. www.nytimes.com/2018/08/24/us/politics/women-harassment-elections.html
The abuse already common in many women’s everyday lives can be amplified in political campaigns, especially if the candidate is also a member of a minority group. So common for women that when it happens they don’t mention or feel they should suck it up. While anyone can be targeted by online harassment, studies reveal that violent, sexualized threats and hate speech disproportionately target women, especially in marginalized groups. That is even more true when women are leaders and seek power. www.womensmediacenter.com/speech-project/nameitchangeit
One of the first things Molly Sheehan did after announcing her candidacy for a congressional seat in southeast Pennsylvania was install a home security alarm. The announcement came in April 2017, and almost immediately after the news broke, her inbox on Twitter began to flood with men calling her “dear” and asking for romantic relationships — spiraling into obsessive, unwanted love letter. The record-breaking wave of women running for Congress in the November midterms is currently learning how to navigate a hostile and oftentimes unsafe online environment. www.teenvogue.com/story/online-harassment-is-a-major-problem-for-women-candidates-and-politicians
While we are acknowledging and celebrating the women who ran for public office in 2018, we cannot take the accomplishments of these women for granted. We MUST recognize the raw courage and strength required of women who seek power in the public space — this space where the terrorism of Misogyny and White Supremacy warns them away.
An August 2017 article in Runners World magazine, “Running While Female. Male runners may be shocked to learn how often women must endure on-the-run harassment. Many female runners have come to just expect it—and that should upset us all,” offers instructive discussion:
Street harassment invades a person’s space and rights, like any form of sexual harassment,” says Debjani Roy, deputy director of New York City–based advocacy group Hollaback! Of the women RW surveyed who have been targeted midrun, 79 percent say it bothers them “a lot” or “somewhat.” And it’s not just annoying or inconvenient—a growing body of research shows chronic harassment can affect a woman’s confidence and exacerbate issues such as depression, anxiety, body-image concerns, and eating disorders. Harassment reminds women that they’re vulnerable, robbing them of a sense of safety.
The public sphere is [still] a male space,” says Michael Kimmel, Ph.D., distinguished professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. That’s why any woman who leaves her home for any reason—to run, to work, to get the mail—could potentially be harassed, and why this is not just a running issue but a societal one. Honks, innuendos, and so on are a man’s way of saying, “You are present in my space and I’m going to let you know it’s my space.” This power play is present in the majority of unsolicited sexual attention, particularly when men are with other men, though not all men are conscious of it. “In a sex-biased culture, street harassment can become ingrained in male behavior,” says Shira Tarrant, Ph.D., a gender studies professor at California State University, Long Beach. www.runnersworld.com/training/a18848270/running-while-female/
A November 12, 2018 article in The Cut/New York Magazine, titled “Women Spend More Than Men on Transit Because the Illusion of Safety Is Expensive,” reports:
New York City’s women, on average, spend up to an additional $50 per month more on transportation than male residents, a new “pink tax” from New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation reports. Those added dollars were, according to participants, spent in the name of safety. (That figure, as noted by Wired, doubles if a woman is a primary caregiver.) Seventy-five percent of female participants said they’d experienced harassment or theft on public transportation. For men, that figure was 47 percent. Only 8 percent of male participants said they avoid public transportation at night, compared to 29 percent of women. www.thecut.com/2018/11/women-spend-more-money-on-transportation-in-nyc-than-men.html
WHY am I talking about this!? Weren’t the midterm results evidence of substantial progress for women?! Yeah, well, let’s recall the claims of post-racism after Obama’s election, and the hyped 1992 as the Year of the Woman. We STILL live in a society founded/structured on White Supremacy and Misogyny. One election/one small step/one strong challenge will provoke backlash. The urgency of calling-out structural Misogyny must be greater in 2019.
For example, using sexual harassment or #MeToo as lazy shorthand must be challenged. Sexual harassment is a deliberately misleading phrase that wrongly insinuates sex and obfuscates the pervasive oppression of women’s lives under institutionalized Misogyny. The patriarchy enables gendered-violence and gendered-abuse of power to dehumanize/ denigrate/disable/deaden women…..from the chilly classroom to the rape on the job.
Being out-raged is absolutely appropriate and healing and strengthening for women. Out-raging women show/share the commitment, courage, knowledge and weapons that will dismantle Misogyny. Organizations that recruit and equip women to run for elected office now include programs to prepare women for misogynist trolling, understanding that the strategy of individual women “just silently toughing it out” is counterproductive.
So training designed to encourage/equip women to run spend time on this, and results suggest that women knowing that other women experience this trolling, being able to talk about these experiences, and getting support helps women keep running. www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/12/how-a-new-wave-of-female-candidates-is-training-to-fight-the-trolls-217350
Soraya Chemaly, prominent writer, social critic, activist and former athlete, authored “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger” (Atria 2018). Chemaly thoroughly documents the public and private abuse and discrimination faced by women as well as the debilitating impacts in making her case for the righteous and necessary power of women’s anger. Indeed, in her review of Chemaly’s book along with two other books on women and anger in The New Yorker titled “The Perils and Possibilities of Anger After centuries of censure, women reconsider the political power of female rage,” Casey Cep observes:
Chemaly deftly balances these statistics with grim stories to illustrate them, so that the cumulative effect of reading her book is not merely to legitimize women’s anger but to render it astonishing that we are not even angrier. www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/15/the-perils-and-possibilities-of-anger (see also www.nytimes.com/2018/09/27/books/review/rebecca-traister-good-and-mad-soraya-chemaly-rage-becomes-her.html?module=inline)
Chemaly and her book are center stage in a New York Times article titled “Serena Williams Is Back at Australian Open, for Tennis and So Much More” considers the controversy surrounding Serena’s protest at the 2018 US Open:
As Soraya Chemaly, a prominent feminist activist and social critic, explained: She fits perfectly in these times, “when so much of what is happening in our world is related to gender and race and power. And right now, you can see it. Serena is sitting at that nexus, at the very intersection of all these important social conversations.” Chemaly, the social critic, noted how, during a tour for her new book, “Rage Becomes Her,” “people kept bringing up Serena.” The book urges women to be unafraid of showing rightful anger. Chemaly said she had been asked: “‘What do you think of Serena Williams?’ ‘What does she mean for this moment?’ ‘How would you compare what happened at the U.S. Open to Brett Kavanaugh’” and the anger he displayed before a Congressional panel? “People really want to think about what it means,” Chemaly said. www.nytimes.com/2019/01/14/sports/serena-williams-australian-open.html
In her Guardian column titled “The year in patriarchy: from Kavanaugh’s fury to Serena Williams’s catsuit,” Arwa Mahdawi, successor to Jessica Valenti as the weekly columnist on the patriarchy, concludes:
From pop culture to politics, 2018 was a year of extraordinary firsts for women. 2018 also had a deeply anti-feminist thread. The row over Serena Williams’s catsuit proved you can be a sporting superstar and still have your clothing policed by the patriarchy. We saw the rise of male supremacist groups. Several US states tightened access to abortion, with Iowa passing one of the strictest abortion laws in the industrialized world. Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right misogynist, was elected president of Brazil. Donald Trump remained misogynist-in-chief of America.
While Ford was calm and collected, Kavanaugh raged with self-pity and entitlement. The hearing wasn’t just about what he did or didn’t do, it was about the prevailing power of the patriarchy. It was about male violence, and female silence. It was about the resentment men like Kavanaugh feel if they are held accountable or have their power questioned. Kavanaugh’s subsequent confirmation as a Supreme Court justice was a visceral reminder that, despite the progress feminism has made, we still very much live in a patriarchy. www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/29/year-in-patriarchy-brett-kavanaugh-serena-williams-metoo