Dispatch #60 February 18th 2020
Day 1194 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 1122 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
Coverage of the Weinstein trial promotes the limited lens established by the #MeToo social media phenomenon. Acts/Behaviors of misogynist-driven violence wreaked by the powerful upon the less powerful are sequestered into the sexual harassment arena. (Gee, if men could just be taught about consent and how to communicate their attractions benignly…) These horrific stories also draw attention away from the pervasively pernicious, everyday/casual misogyny that ensures women will largely police themselves. The sanctions and punishment for nonconforming women enshrined by structural misogyny are essential to the patriarchal order.
Even as public discourse about the toxic consequences of structural white supremacy expands, albeit micro-step by micro-step, misogyny remains sidelined in the arena of personal behavior and victims of sexual abuse. We must seize every opportunity to create public discourse (AKA out-rage) about the smothering fabric of structural misogyny that shackles women, enervating our spirit, and strangling our souls.
In her essay in The Guardian titled “What Happens When We Don’t Believe Women”, Jaclyn Friedman discusses major themes from her forthcoming book Believe: How Trusting Women Can Change the World (28 January 2020, Seal Press), an anthology edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. Friedman summarizes the book’s main message – the consequences of structural misogyny demonstrably result in not just the erasure of ½ of humankind, but, in grievous incalculable losses to all of humankind. Using the lens ‘public health crisis’, the anthology documents these consequences ranging from lead poisoning in children to families entrenched in poverty to economic inequities. The emergence of full-blown fascism in America is laid at misogyny’s bound feet.
And of course, any discussion of the public health costs of disbelieving women must address itself to Hillary Clinton. It was so hard for voters – including white women – to believe in Clinton as a leader that we are all now suffering through the age of Trump. We don’t need science to tell us that it was more believable to almost 63 million US voters that Trump, a man who had never held a single public office, who had been sued almost 1,500 times, whose businesses had filed for bankruptcy six times and who had driven Atlantic City into decades-long depression, a race-baiting misogynist leech of a man who was credibly accused of not only of sexual violence but also of defrauding veterans and teachers out of millions of dollars via Trump University, would be a good president than it was to imagine that Clinton, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state and arguably the most qualified person to ever run, would be a better leader.
It is not an exaggeration to suggest that every public health impact the Trump administration is having on us – and the list is long and includes making quality healthcare access less accessible for millions, enabling rapists to roam free of consequences on American campuses, and literally speeding up catastrophic climate change by pulling out of the Paris accords – can be linked to our stubborn unwillingness to believe a woman about her own competence, or even just her assertion that a man is dangerous.
Beyond the confines of the current moment in 21st Century Post-Industrial America, we bow our head in mourning for what has been lost.
Some of the losses are literally immeasurable. I know of no woman who doesn’t house inside her the nagging feeling that maybe what she has to say is not that important, or will cause too much trouble, or will put her in danger. I know of no woman who has not at least some of the time allowed that feeling to prevail, to smother her impulse to speak. I am haunted by the losses to humanity those infinite silences represent.
What inventions and innovations are we suffering without? What tragedies proceeded un-prevented? What kindness and community are we starving for that we could be sustained by, had women not silenced ourselves? For that matter, what offerings could we be benefiting from if women simply didn’t have to work so hard to prove our credibility to ourselves and others? How many hours of our lives have been stolen from us in this way? http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jan/21/what-happens-when-we-dont-believe-women
In her Washington Post essay titled “The issue isn’t whether Sanders is sexist. The whole system is.”, Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger (Atria Books 2019), discusses how the treatment of Elizabeth Warren shows once again how highly ambitious women are sanctioned for seeking power in a society built on structural misogyny.
Misogyny isn’t about individual sexism but how women experience the world, as philosophy professor Kate Manne argued in her groundbreaking book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny. We need to understand misogyny as systemic hostility that includes punishing women for “not conforming to gendered roles and expectations…”. The penalties women face are seamlessly part of the culture — resident in social habits and gender roles, economic incentives, traditional mores, and more. So are the rewards that accrue to men who, conversely, experience misogyny as patriarchal entitlement. No critique of the establishment is genuine without an explicit call to dismantle systemic patriarchy. While Democratic candidates across the board are now more comfortable calling out white supremacy, they are not at ease combining those ideas and saying white male supremacy when referring to their own field. http://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/bernie-sanders-isnt-sexist-the-whole-system-is/2020/01/23/9eaaee36-3d63-11ea-baca-eb7ace0a3455_story.html