Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What's Owed - NOTHING

Every time women take time to care for themselves, to foster sisterhood, we are assaulted by pleas for our attention.

Feminists have for years created safe spaces for women, expanded the rights of women, and decried male violence. Women stand forefront to expand the protection for victims of male violence. In improving the lives of women, women allow each other to give more to our communities. Men may even gain some periphery benefits; destroying the toxicity of gender hierarchy would cure many ills for male and female victims of male violence. But our women's work, energy, is our own and hard won at that. 

Consider for example male violence in terms of rape: Women created our definitions of marital rape, statutory rape, date rape, and expand definitions to include more forms of non consensual sex as rape. Women continue to expand these definitions in order to offer protection to victims of male violence. Feminists do this to protect each other from male violence as the threat of rape is a prevalent form of political terror men use over women; women incidentally created a protection for male victims of male rapists.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with trying to improve the conditions in which battered women live,” Meyer argues, “but when putative efforts to just 'make it better' become the end goal, the political vision and motivation to address the real exegesis of male violence becomes sublimated... The political disappears and domestic violence becomes a naturalized part of what appears to be an unchanging or unchangeable social landscape.” (Meyer 2001, p. 23). (via disloyal)

Feminist action is political action; the personal is political. Preventing and penalizing male rapists is part of a coherent political strategy taken on with women's time and energy. Men continue to rape despite women's work. 

When women speak out regarding men raping women, we are told to care about male victims. Of course we already do and provide significant resources to male victims. Biophilic, we give support to all life by existing, by combating the necrophallic, by creating networks of life and growth. We created legal protections, crisis lines, shelters, and support for those battered and abused by men. It is because of our women's work that they have any claim to legal protections and do not face assault for 'buggery/sodomy' - yes, male victims coming forward have been convicted with buggery. And yes, feminists are doing the work of undermining this homophobic violence perpetuated by men and the male justice-penal system.

What this does is conflate rape with consensual relations and conflate the sexual abuse of a child with sex between adults. Ultimately it sends the message that it is the homosexual nature of the act that is offensive/egregious/illegal rather than the rape of a child. (via Feminist Conversation)

Women are already taking on so much to fight against male violence, putting ourselves at risk to protect ourselves. The energy we already give to male victims is never enough. Our critics tell us that feminists must fix the problem of male rapists, that we are not focusing enough on male victims.

This argument/critique relies on a few premises:

  • Women must fix the problem of men raping men

  • Women must engage with men

  • Women have power to engage with and change male systems of violence

  • Women, having limited resources, must give those resources to men

  • Women must limit the resources we give to women in order to attend to men

  • Men are not being called on to act or change their behavior

  • Men are currently neutral in regard to male rapists

Laying out these premises, I hope that to a feminist the flaws are obvious. Women are systemically disenfranchised from systems of patriarchal power; women's energy is sapped and the labor-value produced devalued and stolen by men; men are responsible for their own violence. Men value male rapists; masculinity values violence and dominance especially over women; rape culture is pervasive and encouraged in male-only spheres.  It becomes obvious that our critics are seeking to undermine our political power by diverting our energy back to men. Women in no way required to attend to men, clean male messes, or even speak to men. We do not owe them our polite smiles or our spiraling energy. 

When we look closer at our critics we find that male victims reap privileges of their maleness even as they face homophobia. (Remember: lesbians are the victims of sexist homophobia; men are still men.) Really, go read this whole article for the take down on the lies told about male victims. Being the victim of rape is terrible and deserving of sympathy and support. No feminist doubts this. So. Why do critics feel the need to exaggerate and outright lie about male victims?
‘It’s harder for men to report, there’s much more of a taboo for men’

Exactly the opposite:

    • men are more – not less – likely to call the police

    • men are more likely – not less – to press charges

    • men are less likely – not more – to drop charges (Kimmel 2002)

Another way to get round the issue of unrepresentative reporting is to look at who gets killed, dead people don’t get the choice of whether or not to inform the police. UK Homicide records between 2001/2 and 2011/12 (11 years) show that on average 5.7% (296 total) of male homicide victims and 44.2%(1066) of female homicide victims are killed by a partner or ex-partner. Expressed as an average of those killed by a partner or former partner over 11 years, 22% were men, 78% were women.

Note, the domestic homicide figures do not tell us the sex of the perpetrator, nor is the sex of the perpetrator revealed for all other types of homicide. Men are overwhelmingly killed by other men – regardless of the relationship between victim and perpetrator. Women are overwhelmingly killed by men – regardless of the relationship between victim and perpetrator (via feminist current)

I would take this moment to point out another example: the theft of black women's energy in both the civil rights movement for the black vote and the female vote. I hope to write a more extensive post on this to give it the due attention deserved. Black women, and women of color, do not owe men or white women our energy. 

Remember freedom before femininity. Imagine our Amazonian future. Enjoy your vision, visage, victories. Know that loving yourself as a woman - connecting with our history - exploring our witches' strength and creativity - know that this like all women's work is real. You don't have to justify your work or yourself. You have value inherit, not because what you give or give up. That worth is not tied to men.

Anything less than everything from women will never be enough for men. Give them nothing.