Too Damned Many

As usual I’ve been reading my favorite blogs and they’ve struck home with me this week. You see, when I started writing here at The Den it was simply a place where I could go and speak freely and anonymously about the world as I see it.

I never would have believed that the-world-as-I-see-it would inspire so much hatred and fear but it did. I remember when I first started getting comments; I was excited that someone out there was hearing me. But the first thing I noted was that yes, they were hearing me, but they fucking hated what I was saying. I’m not sure why, but I kept writing, often I look back and wonder why I kept going. Hell, I often look around me and wonder why I’m still writing.

*sigh*, my thoughts are becoming muddled and I’ve lost my direction. Let me try this again.

This week we’ve lost yet another blogger, one more voice silenced in a string of courageous women who have gone before her. When I read the news I shook my head sadly and fought the wave of emotion that swept over me. Sadness and despair took me for a moment. In the short time I’ve been doing this I’ve watched as woman after woman has taken a big breath and decided to start blogs. The circle of radical feminist bloggers is too small, so very, very small, but their spirit and their fight is big. They start blogs, one small voice that has decided to speak out, and then it begins. The trolls invade, the ‘pro-sex’ bloggers take notice, hell sometimes even other radicals argue with them. The point is that oftentimes they will just sort of disappear one day.

I’ve watched them come and go, I’ve watched radical voices crumple and disappear and I feel angry and I feel sad and I feel despair and all of these things I feel at the same time. I’ve come close several times to walking away from this project and goddess knows how many times I’ve read yet another article and shook my head in anguish at the unfairness of it all. So when I read that we’ve lost another voice it hits me like a personal H-bomb exploding in all of its dismal glory and it occurs to me as I shake my head sadly while holding back tears of rage that I will have to update my blogroll once more.

When I began doing this I never could have believed just how big this blog would become. I never would have believed just how many words of support I would have gotten but there’s another side to it as well, a side that radical bloggers everywhere experience. There is the sting of hate from both women and men and gods, don’t ever underestimate that sting.

I don’t know, perhaps it’s just me, maybe I’m speaking in generalities when I have no proof of anything but I think it happens to all of us, or most of us, or a large portion of us. We start blogging, wanting a ‘safe’ space where we can speak. I think in the beginning we all hope to have positive comments directed our way. We all hope that people will show up and say, “Hey! That’s exactly it!” I think we are also looking for confirmation that we’re on the right track, that we’re not freaks, that there are others who believe like we do.

Soon though the trolls come, I think that all blogs are found first by the trolls. I’ve sometimes posited that they have Nextel radios that they communicate with and when a new radical blog opens they call in to each other and report it. Regardless, the trolls seem to be able to sniff out a radical site quicker than fleas can sniff out a new puppy.

The trolls come and we realize that we are being condemned and hated. And then the other radicals show up and I think that we feel relief at first. We finally feel as though we’re not alone. Our blogrolls widen and we march on, the trolls don’t sting quite as badly because we have a circle of supporters and we go to each others blogs and we fight the trolls and we feel like we’re not alone.

Somewhere though, something shifts, perhaps it happens one day when we’re looking at yet another story of a woman being beaten and raped and left for dead in a dumpster, maybe it happens when we decide to stop shaving and we are rebuffed harshly in public and in private. Perhaps some ‘pro-sex’ blog finds us and begins to obsess over us, posting every day about what a big piece of shit we are, or maybe we pick up our first cyber stalker, the impetus changes but I think the effect is the same.

Suddenly that blogroll seems too small and abruptly it’s as if we are transported into a satellite view and we see that all around us there is this vile misogyny and hatred. We find that our co-workers, friends and family refer to us as ‘man haters’ we find that we are but one small person standing on a beach and scooping teaspoons of water out of the ocean one at a time. We look at the vastness of the ocean and it occurs to us:

We will die in the same world that we were born into.

All of our fighting and screaming, all of our defending and begging and frustration, all of our anger and sadness will die, impotent and ineffective for we are battling an army, the likes of which we never could have comprehended. We are, for all intents and purposes, trying to empty oceans with teaspoons.

And then we get it, we’re not fighting because we have any hope of any real change in our lifetimes. Hell, we’re not even fighting because we have any hope of change in our grandchildren’s lifetimes; many of us have given up hope at all and are certain that the situation will never really change. So why are we fighting? We’re fighting because what else can we do?

I know for me there was a moment when my bright eyed optimism failed and I saw the truth of what I’m doing in the harsh light of cynical despair. In the beginning I had hoped for real social change, I had hoped that speaking out; writing about it, trying to raise consciousness would beat back the tsunami that women live with.

I had hoped that a few well crafted posts about “What women have to do to ‘prevent’ rape” outlining how we walk to our cars with keys clutched between our fingers or how we forgo hiking and camping alone or how we always wonder whether or not our new boyfriend really would have stopped the other night after he nagged us for three hours to have sex with him.

I naively assumed that all it would take is to just let people know what was happening. I assumed that it was a matter of speaking out, of letting people hear it.

I didn’t understand how very far off base I really was. I didn’t account for, nor understand, the depths to which misogyny had been embedded in the very fabric of our lives. In short, I didn’t realize that I was trying to do the impossible. I looked at that ocean and thought it to be a lake and I looked around me and saw the other voices on my blogroll and assumed that the entire shore was dotted with them. I didn’t realize that there were only a handful of us and that the lake was an ocean and that the twenty or thirty of us were trying to do something that was impossible.

Gods, when that hit me I was devastated. I vividly remember sobbing huge tears in the shower, collapsing on the floor while the hot water ran in rivulets over my skin. I remember crying until there were no more tears to cry and my skin was pruney and wrinkled from the water. I remember looking down at my hands and understanding, fully and completely that this would be a battle that I would fight until I was old, until my hands really did look like the water soaked hands I was looking at now.

I realized that I would be fighting this battle until I died, an old woman with pruney hands, and I would hand my spoon over to the next young, naive woman and let her continue to try and empty an ocean.

There are days when I understand that this battle will not be won in my lifetime, and the sadness that envelopes me is too much to bear.

I will never walk free down the street, unafraid, unconcerned, as a human being walking amid other human beings.

I will never walk to my car without that niggling fear that we feel, without shifting my bags in my hand or wondering if my bag would be heavy enough to act as an effective weapon.

I will never feel confident enough to camp alone in the woods, unafraid and unconcerned.

I will never experience a day when I can fish at 2:00 am and when a man approaches me I can smile at him with no fear or misgivings in my heart and say, “Hi! How are you doing tonight?”

I will never experience a time when I can, without fear, without reservation, bring a man to my house and not have it even cross my mind that he would rape me.

These are only a scant few things that I will never experience. Other women have more of them, different than mine perhaps, but regardless for me there came a time when I understood completely that I will not change the world. That this world doesn’t wish to change and indeed, that it will actively resist any and all attempts I make to the contrary. No amount of anger, begging, sobbing or pleading will change it for me. It’s too entrenched. It will not happen in my lifetime.

When that realization hit me I was in a pool of despair, sobbing upon my shower floor and then sobbing some more until I was so dehydrated that crying anymore was not physically possible. When I got out of the shower Dubhe was worried and concerned and he said to me, “Oh BB, what you are doing is important” and he said it the way that a man, who has never felt the raw heart stabbing pain in their gut when they read of another woman who has been brutalized at the hands of men, says such things.

Despite his intentions his surety came from that place that men can afford to inhabit. After all, it was very easy for him to tell me to go on when he didn’t, and never would, feel the gut wrenching pain of reading that a woman was dragged to death by her abusive boyfriend, leaving a blood trail a mile long and that the residents were primarily concerned with the removal of the bloodstain.

He would never feel the raw fear, the edge that is felt when we find ourselves face to face with a stranger in the park. He would never feel the rumbling in the guts when your boyfriend gets mad in front of you for the first time and you become painfully aware of each and every single woman you’ve known who has been beaten, raped, groped, assaulted, slapped, hit, abused, fondled, ogled, catcalled, bullied and scared by men.

Of course he could easily tell me to keep going. Of course he could tell me to keep writing. Of course he could have hope when he didn’t feel each and every violation upon his own body. When he wasn’t forced to relive his own attacks each and every single time he wrote. Of course he could be courageous when it wasn’t his people who were being systematically enslaved, degraded, dehumanized, bred to death, outcast, mutilated and murdered.

But I couldn’t be so optimistic. When the death threats start coming and the rape threats start coming and yet another man writes you an email telling you that, “If I ever find out who you are I’ll fucking rape you to death you stupid cunt”,

When even other women wage a war on you, talking about you, screaming about how awful and stupid you are,

When perfect strangers feel entitled to create images of you being raped by animals,

When men feel entitled to stalk you and harass you for the crime of speaking,

When your mother tells you that you’re a ‘man hater’ while simultaneously believing and approving of everything you write,

When men use your story of abuse, rape and degradation as pornography and then write to you telling you that they orgasmed when you described your rape at the hands of men,

When friends, family and coworkers turn from you,

When your children tell you you’re ‘gross’ because you stopped shaving your armpits,

When people set up blogs designed for the sole purpose of telling everyone what an evil person you are,

When you see the influx of trolls coming and telling you that you’re stupid and worthless and crazy,

When you see the search terms that men are using, “Raped sluts”, “Beaten and raped whores”, “Bleeding ass fuck”,

You start to feel not so optimistic.

So, when I find out that we’ve lost another voice I sob silent tears that nobody will ever see but me. But what can I do? I feel torn. I sure as hell can’t tell them to stand back up and fight for a war that we will never win, or at least, one that we will never win in our own lifetimes. I’ve seen too much shit to believe that anymore. What do I do? When we’re fighting a battle we will never win? When society views us with generalized scorn and hatred? When our emotions, feelings, experiences are wiped away with a dismissive wave accompanied by the old refrain, “Well you’ve been abused but you have no right to be wary of all men”, or better yet, “You should let go of your anger, I know plenty of women who have been abused and they’re not angry”. When all of it can be dismissed with a wave of the hand and a pat on the head from some asshole man or some sex-pos woman then we realize that we’re fighting for the sake of fighting.

I cannot look any woman in the eye who has chosen to lay down and stop fighting and tell her to stand back up again. I cannot condemn them for they have reached that moment when they realize that they will be fighting their entire lives, sobbing all the time, begging men to stop, explaining themselves over and over again and they will never understand why they are so hated and maligned, until they die without the freedom of ever having lived without fear.

And when they express this notion they are greeted with such things as, “Well, men have to be afraid too!” or, “You know, you risk your life driving to the store in your car” and so on and so forth until they’ve explained it a dozens of times and they’ve heard analogies comparing rape to getting the flu or being in a car accident.

 

These are women who have come to understand that our own lifetimes are but drops in the bucket for we are fighting against ideologies that are thousands of years strong. Thousands of years of embedded ownership, oppression and humiliation, an entire society built upon the degradation of females in any and every way possible.

The news that schoolgirls were systematically separated from boys and murdered is not a point of interest. Men, on this very blog, continue to deny that women are even raped. In the face of statistics, studies and so forth they wave it away with a shake of their entitled hands and in so doing they ensure that their undeserved privilege will remain intact.

Some of us, myself included, moderate comments on our blogs to keep out the most vile and hateful filth that would be inflicted upon the women who post with us. But make no mistake, we still see those comments, and we still see the trackbacks and we still see the filth that is spoken of us. And after awhile we grow tired, as so many bloggers before me have done and they decide to lie down and be done with the whole nasty business.

Sometimes they just stop posting, I those ones on my blogroll as long as I can, always hoping and praying that they will come back, but unable to bring myself to beg them to stand with me once more. I will not beg them to subject themselves to the same vile hatred that so many of us experience.

How can I, a woman who feels the despair daily, a woman who has heard the same stuff that is directed at them, a woman who is certain that the screaming and begging and yelling will never bring about real change in my lifetime, ask another woman to stand in the face of it? How can I ask another woman to willing take the abuse that will invariably be meted out to her when I know, only too well, how awful that abuse is?

Just today I received yet another threat against my person in my inbox, another man who hates me and feels that he is entitled to write to me and threaten me with bodily harm. I am reminded sometimes of that scene from The Return of the King, when the forces of Gondor are amassed at the black gates and they’re calling Sauron out. At one point the camera pans up and we see Gondor’s forces standing in the middle of a huge wave of opposing forces. We know, as do the characters, that they have no way of winning, there is no hope.

How can I tell a woman to go into that battle knowing that there is no hope of victory?

In real life there is never a ring of power which will balance the scales. There is never a small hero who emerges to overcome the awesome forces of the opposite side. Indeed, in real life there is a certain failure that radical bloggers learn to deal with, there is knowledge that the oppression and degradation of women will not be overcome in our lifetimes.

So yes, I am deeply troubled when we lose another important voice, it cuts through all of the false bravado, all of the courageous words, and it reminds me that there are real, live women out there who are speaking this truth and dealing with a very real, systematic hatred and wave of violence for nothing more than speaking their minds. Do not be fooled by our tough words and our almost mocking tones, I think it’s safe to say that all of us are affected by the violence. We deal with it differently, but that doesn’t mean that the affect is any less real.

There are times when I am enveloped with a hopelessness so vast and so large that I hope for an apocalypse and no, that’s not an exaggeration. I have often heard bloggers stating that they must take time off, they must have a hiatus from all of it. Gods, I understand that feeling all too well, there are days when you read another story and everything just sort of leaks out of you. Days come when you don’t think you can bear to live another day in this world, when you wonder and daydream of a world where women are safe, where children aren’t prey and where men aren’t monsters.

On those days, when you read another article or see another story or look at another study or statistic you feel your heart sink and you realize that you are completely, 100% stuck. And no matter how loudly you scream, no matter how angry you get, that tomorrow another woman will have experienced the life altering event of rape and that your voice will do little to stop that ocean from consuming yet another of your sisters and it feels as if you simply cannot go on.

You feel as if your voice, your anger, your experiences, thoughts and emotions are impotent and useless. There is no escape from this world save death, no escape from the worry and the fear that men will never experience. There is no way out, no magic portal that we can escape through; we are well and truly stuck.

In those moments everything seems to close around me and my breath sticks in my chest and I need to hide. I need to walk away, to lay down for awhile and hand my spoon to my sister who will not condemn me for my exhaustion. And I shut down the computer and I don’t look at my email and I stop looking at comments and I just hide and pretend that today no woman will be raped. And I spend a day imagining a day in which a woman isn’t killed for the crime of being raped, and I imagine a day in which no woman has to submit to having a man scream “Nice ASS!” to her as she is walking down the street and I imagine that perhaps today is the day where no woman is beaten by her husband.

And then I think to myself, “BB, maybe today is the day that you should pack up your stuff and just go camping for the weekend?” and then I remember that I’m a woman, and to go camping alone and unprotected by a male is fraught with fear and difficulty.

And then I realize that saying such a thing aloud will most likely bring more condemnation my way and I realize that as I’m pondering these things a woman is being beaten so I go to my garden and I understand that as I’m pulling a weed out that a woman is being raped somewhere just because she is female. And so I come into the house and I turn on the radio and I understand that somewhere a woman is being enslaved for the purposes of being used sexually by men and that people would support this practice instead of condemn it. So I decide to turn on the TV and I watch as another pretty white woman is paraded across my television screen as another victim of rape, but of course I understand that I will never see the face of a black woman or a fat woman because they still don’t count as human beings.

And so it goes until I can take no more of it and my anger grows larger than my exhaustion and I pick up the laptop and find myself writing once more.

I’m sorry that this post seems so full of despair and so full of sadness and defeatism. I’m sorry that this isn’t a happy, jolly, optimistic post that promises everyone that if we only keep fighting we can make it stop. I apologize that I have succumbed to my own anger and sadness and despair and spread it onto my blog, the one place I have always tried to show a strong front, but right now I don’t feel very strong. Right now I feel anger but it is a useless anger for the 2000 people who will read this today are but a small drop of water in an endless sea, even with 20,000 or 200,000 thousand or 2 million or even 2 billion we are ineffective because right now, as I am typing this, there are 6,662,822,662 billion people on this earth, and now, …663, 754, 766, and so on. Every second I type the population soars and it continues to do so, it continues to rise; now there are 6,662,822,870, in the scant 30 seconds it took me to type this it has jumped again.

Even if 2 BILLION people agreed with me and fought with me and were busy spooning out this ocean out with their teaspoons we would still be woefully unequipped.

It is in these moments that I feel the most despair, when I think of the bloggers we have lost. When I look at my blogroll and see that there are those who haven’t updated in months and I think, My gods, this will never change.

But for some reason I am compelled to stand once more, as I hear the voices of my sisters screaming and begging and I know their fears and I feel their sobs and I am wrenched from my daydreams of equality and peace and a world in which we’re allowed to live in peace, unfettered and unafraid of the violence of men. I am pulled back to my feet and I continue to write and to speak and to delete the hate mail, rape threats and insulting comments from my screen even as I understand that I cannot delete them from my mind.
This is why bloggers quit. This is why brilliant voices are silenced. This is what happens when we stand back and look at the bigger picture and despair enters our hearts and we look to our sisters with tears in our eyes and say, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I can’t do it. I just can’t do it anymore” and other women will hug those of us who simply can’t continue and we’ll embrace them either physically or spiritually in our writings and we’ll say, “It’s ok my friend. I understand and I’ll take your spoon for you”. And we do this with tears in our eyes and we wonder if perhaps we would be better off if we left with them, if we laid down on the beach and just let the ocean take us as well.

And some of us are able to see the ocean and we feel it lapping at our feet and we decide that even though we cannot empty it, even though we will never know a day when we will see results from what we’re doing, that we can’t stop. We try, gods, there have been days that I have begged to be released from this knowing. This awful, terrifying, horrible knowing. There have been days that I wished, with everything inside of me, that I could reverse that knowing. That I could go back to when I didn’t see it, back to when the ocean was invisible to me, just as the women standing on the beach were invisible.

But I can’t. And I keep trying to lay down but as soon as the waves lap at my feet I realize that I can’t just let it take me. And so I listen to the words of my brave sisters and I look up at them from the sand and I take their words and use them to lift myself back up because damnit, I don’t want to be swallowed whole.

To my sisters, to all the women who write, and speak and talk and fight. To all of you holding your spoons right now and looking at the vastness of what we’re doing. To those of you who have watched others lay down and feel frustration and sadness and who are fighting back tears.

I feel your pain.

Your words are treasured jewels to me. They are the hope that I can cling to and the fire under my ass and damnit, sometimes I hate you for speaking out. Sometimes I hate you for continuing to show me this ocean when all I want to do is lay back and let the waves wash over me. But somehow you always manage to inspire those few remaining words I have and your words and bravery and dedication manage to pull me to my feet once more even though I feel so tired and I’m still so very young.

 

You are all beautiful. You are all intense and amazing and brilliant. And Heart, while I read your words and see the stories about more women being devoured by the ocean and I grow angry at you for reminding me of it and pulling me to my feet once more, I love you for the inspiration that you give to me.

All of you are wonderful. All of you are incredible. Stormy, Sparkle, Spotted Elephant, Breatheinspirt, Lost Clown, OAG, Sam, all of you and so many more that I can’t name you all, thank you for making me mad. Thank you for enraging me in those moments when all I want to do is run into the ocean and let it consume me. Your words, your stories, your articles are inspiration to me.

There may come a day when I throw it in completely, when I am consumed by misery and sadness and despair and I lay down and I don’t stand back up, sometimes I hope that the day will come soon. Looking at the threads of my life that are spreading before me and knowing that as long as I am in this world, as long as I am alive and breathing and typing that I will be facing the raw hatred and condemnation that I have received thus far makes me terrified for what the remainder of my life holds.

When I feel the pain of another woman cutting deeply into my own soul I look out towards the future and know that there will be so many more moments like this one. So many more times when my heart feels as if it shall bleed all over my keyboard and I think to myself, “I’m sorry my darling sister. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t stop it for you.” And fuck, I’m not looking forward to a lifetime of those moments, yet, there is no other choice for me right now.

No, this post is far from happy. It’s far from optimistic, it’s far from anything even remotely resembling hope. This is a post of desolation and despondency, of fear and anger and the overarching feeling of being entirely helpless yet, perhaps it is also a peek into what others feel on those days that they post one line,

 

“I need a break.”

Before disappearing for weeks.

~BB

P.S.- I wanted to add that I am NOT going to stop writing. This is not a ‘goodbye’ letter but rather a letter of frustration. I’m not ready to lie down just yet 🙂

Also, some of you will have noticed that I opened comments on this post for the express purpose of showing everyone what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ on some blogs. These are the comments that we keep off the blog for obvious reasons. I think they’ll go a very long way towards proving my point once again.

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Privilege, Man Hating and History

Since I began this blog I have received plenty of trollish comments, abusive emails and so forth. By and large the biggest thing I am accused of is ‘man hating’. Of course, every feminist has most likely been the target of this accusation more times than they can count so it comes as no surprise that a very vocal feminist gets this accusation leveled at her more than any other.

I’ve noted that most of the vitriol tends to come on the heels of those posts in which I refer to ‘men’ or ‘mankind’ or some such collective term that refers to groups of men or men as a whole. A little more recently this post brought me some staunch criticism. Indeed, most people were fine with the post in which I speak about how badly I was made to feel over the EC thing. Most people had no problems with me beating myself up and questioning myself. However, at the end of the post I outlined ways in which mankind has collectively caused so many problems in this big old world.

At the end of that post I purposefully bolded the man part of ‘mankind’ in an effort to make a point. Of course, this was a perfect formula for people (namely men, although I think there may have been a few women involved as well) to complain and send me emails. Time after time the emails said:

“Sure, I know that men may not have been the greatest in the past but your present use of the word is just wrong. We have changed the laws and now women have just as many rights as men do!”

Or some twist on this theme, indeed, I tackled this issue a little bit in the comments on the individual post but, as usual, I want to explore this a bit further. In the comments I was accused several times of going into an ‘anti-male rant’, I allowed a few of the comments through moderation but most I simply held back.

The consensus among those who disagreed seemed to be this (paraphrased):

“Women also denied you EC on that day. Therefore women are just as much to blame as men and the history of the world really has very little to do with it.”

To be blunt I’m calling bullshit on this and I’ll try to explain why. Societies, whether they are global, national or local, are not based upon an individual day. Rather, societies tend to evolve, they grow upon foundations that were laid out at the beginning of the society.

Now, changes can and do come to societies but because they are generally built upon tradition rather than a snapshot of an individual day that change will likely come slower. As a general rule the longer a given tradition has been coveted and held as truth the longer it will take to change a particular mindset.

Take for example the way this society views homosexuals. Sure, laws are on the books but just because a law has been created doesn’t mean that it will protect homosexuals. The true change will come when we have dug up the foundations upon which homophobia is built.

It is ludicrous as well as deceptive to take a snapshot of a given incident and not put it into a larger perspective. This tendency to do just that allows for a skewed picture of the actual problem. Feminism is an area in which we absolutely must look at the history beneath all incidents.

Now, I will not argue when someone says that a woman denied me EC when I needed it, this is a fact. My doctor (who is female) was the first in a long chain of people who treated me like shit. However, it’s important that we look at history, as well as the foundations upon which her decision was based. The individual doctor was at fault and I am in the process of finding another doctor. But to lay the blame solely upon her shoulders is also a cop out to neglect the role that society has played in her decision is also misleading. We must look a bit deeper to determine what her actions were based upon and it is there that we find the unsettling truth that I alluded to in the second post (linked above).

 

When we begin to look at her actions within a frame of reference we find that it’s likely she acted as she did out of moral compunctions. Indeed, most of these folks are of a decidedly religious bent and here in America that is code for Christian. Christianity is a religion made by and for men and its ideals are much the same as the woman-hating ideals of nearly every large, institutionalized religion.

It is imperative that we understand that women’s decisions are not made in a vacuum. Does this mean that we give them a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card? Hell no, what means is that we must remember the history of women in this society when we decide just how much blame she should receive.

Societies are not built in a day, they are built over a long period of time and they are built on traditions. This society (as nearly every society in the world) was built upon the traditions that men found important. Women had little say in the traditions that men found to be important but it’s critical to understand that women also do not live separate and apart from those traditions. Was my doctor wrong? You bet your ass she was and I’ll be finding a new doctor as well as spreading the word about what she will and won’t prescribe. However, her decision to prescribe medication or not was not made in a vacuum. It was a decision that she came to after many years of living in this society and absorbing its traditions, expectations and so forth.

To suddenly say that women are just as responsible as men is a hollow argument. To suddenly say that women are suddenly, after thousands of years of living as second class citizens, just as responsible as those who created those traditions and beliefs is ridiculous almost beyond belief.

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a good example. In most of the places that practice this horrific tradition it is women who are actually performing the brutal procedure on girl children. Women are the ones who are wielding the knife and chopping up the genitalia of other women. However, I can’t think of any feminist who would hold the women who are engaging in this practice up to the same standard of responsibility as the men of that culture.

“But BB,” you say, “it’s the WOMEN who are doing it!”

Yes, you’re right. But why are they doing it? Why are they upholding this barbaric practice so faithfully?

And it is there that we find the problem, the practice is what men want and the women in these areas have been exposed to systematic abuse for thousands of years. Indeed, in some areas a woman who hasn’t had the procedure done will be outcast by all the males around her. She will be seen as dirty or promiscuous and no man will want to marry her, at the worst she can be cast from the village because she is seen as dangerous.

So while men themselves are not doing the actual cutting they are the driving force behind the procedure. When we step back and look at the history of these cultures we see a very clear picture emerge. The women are little more than the foot soldiers of the powerful males, and while their actions are individually wrong they are simply the vehicle by which men continue to exert their power and control over the women in the area.

In short when we see an individual woman acting in a despicable way we must, must, must look at the big picture and ask ourselves ‘why?’ It is at this point that I start to lose men and they start getting angry because the answers to the question of ‘why’ implicate them in something so large and awful that individual men wish to distance themselves as far as possible from it.

When we start asking ‘why’ we start seeing the foundations that men have built for this and almost every other society on the planet. Saying that men have been the instrumental force in the woman hating that happens in this country is no more dishonest than saying that white people are an instrumental force in the slavery of people of color.

When we look at racism we cannot get a clear picture until we look at the history of this country. By that reasoning when we look at sexism and the role that women play in it, we cannot get a clear picture without looking at the people who built, legislated for and actively promoted the culture of misogyny we now live in. To do anything but is to ignore history and the role that was played by the given sexes.

Feminists aren’t trying to excuse behavior of women who do shitty things; instead what they are attempting to do is show folks the basis of many of the behaviors that women may be engaging in. Only then can we begin to see the severe and I dare say, institutionalized phenomenon of the oppression of women. We must look at the entire picture to see the entire picture. And to do that, we must look at who wields the power.

Worldwide men have been at the helm; for the most part it is men who built the institutions and the laws upon which so many injustices have been committed. Historically speaking men have been at the forefront of the wars, death and destruction of this natural world, as well as at the forefront of woman hating, rape and rampant misogyny.

If we ignore that then we ignore the thousands of years of history that men have, by and large, controlled and created. These institutions do not die easily, particularly when there are still many who wish for them to be upheld and many more who derive very real benefit from them. When we have folks blaming prostitutes for prostitution rather than Johns we will never right the huge injustices before us.

 

The beauty of this worldwide system of oppression of women is that women have been recruited as being the ‘bad guys’. Women are often used as the foot soldiers of the men in power; they are used as the tools by which men can continue to live with unquestioned privilege and authority. Society grooms these women from birth, depending on where they live, it tells them that their genitalia is shameful, that they are worthless, that their importance lay in how many sons they can produce or how well they fake an orgasm. Are these women responsible for their deeds? Yes, of course they are, but so are the men in power who are pulling the strings behind all of it.

It’s a dirty truth to hear your gender be fingered for the state of affairs we have here but just because it’s painful to hear doesn’t mean that it’s not true. The urge to distance oneself from this macabre movie is strong but to do so is to deny the facts of history.

When I am accused of white privilege it’s frightening and the first thing I want to say is “No, not ME!” and become defensive. But the truth of the matter is that this accusation doesn’t come from an alternate dimension, it doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. When I look at the destruction that white people have foisted upon people of color around the world I am sickened to belong to that group. When I see the destruction we have wrought in Iraq and I look back to the destruction upon so many races throughout history I am sick to my stomach but to deny that history exists is pompous beyond anything I can even articulate.

Saying that actions and events of today have nothing to do with history is to deny that the history even existed. We cannot minimize the roles we have played even if it makes us feel like shit to own them. This lens works across the board. It does no good to take a singular incident and analyze it without also analyzing the culture and history that the incident was born in.

It’s very easy for a privileged class to look at the deeds of their forefathers and say, “Well, it wasn’t me who did that!” and then dismiss everything out of hand and accuse someone of just hating them for no reason. Privilege has a way of blinding one to the role that one has played and this also has the affect of alienating the oppressed class even further. It also renders the defensive person’s personal privilege and the benefits that come with that, completely invisible.

 

When we look at someone and level an accusation of ‘man hating’ at them because they are saying things that make us feel bad we also allow ourselves to not notice or forget the privilege that we are engaging in. Hell, the act of nullifying thousands of years of oppression is the HEIGHT of privilege. You don’t have to give it any weight because it’s not important to YOU.

Do any of you believe that women are happy about effectively being written out of the history books? Do any of you believe that women are thrilled about being kept out of lawmaking and politics? When someone levels a valid complaint against the powerful class they are seeking recognition to the harms done to their people, to deny that is to exist in a state of privilege that has never been afforded to the oppressed class. This same truth applies across the board; wherever oppression rears its head. Whether we’re talking about racism, sexism or homophobia this understanding is crucial.

So the next time I begin talking about the fact that women were written out of history, literature, politics, sciences (and many other fields!) I’m not ‘ranting against men’ I’m noting that there is a very real history of misogyny, fear and oppression that this society was built upon. To understand feminist theory we must also understand the roots of oppression that it is built upon.

Am I angry at the way men have kept women out of almost every powerful role? You bet your ass I am. Am I angry that women have been forced to be passive observers, their voices and protestations rendered invisible while men destroyed this planet, waged wars and committed atrocities that go beyond anything I can even imagine? Yes I am. What I want is this: I want for men to recognize their privilege and the roles that they and their forefathers played in creating this society, only then will we be able to attack the foundations of it and eradicate it.

Look behind the veil and understand that people don’t act in a vacuum. People act and react based upon roles, institutions and beliefs that are often ingrained for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Understanding is the key to making it stop; sticking your head in the sand and looking at one piece of a puzzle will simply allow the cycles to continue undimmed.

~BB

The Rapist Checklist (repost)

Ok, I was going to post something new and original today but I noted something in the comments. One of my old posts, entitled The Rapist Checklist has been paleoposted somewhere else once more.

Every now and then someone stumbles onto an old post and posts a link somewhere else. Now this post in particular really pissed off a bunch of people at the time and it continues to do so. I re-read it again this morning trying to see if I saw it in a different light now so many months after the original posting. It read the same as it did the day I posted it and made just as much sense to me.

However, you all would be amazed if you saw the sheer number of men who get ragingly pissed off by this post. For that reason alone I thought that it was worth reposting so today I’m copying it to this new post, just because I think it’ll be alot of fun to visit memory lane.

 

The Rapist Checklist

Some things to remember…

1. You are a rapist if you get a girl drunk and have sex with her.

2. You are a rapist if you find a drunk girl and have sex with her.

3. You are a rapist if you get yourself drunk and have sex with her. Your drunkeness is no excuse.

4. If you are BOTH drunk you may still be a rapist.

5. If she’s alternating between puking her guts out and passing out in the bed then you’re a rapist.

6. If she’s sleeping and you have sex with her you’re a rapist.

7. If she’s unconscious and you have sex with her then you’re a rapist.

8. If she’s taking sleeping pills and doesn’t wake up when you have sex with her then you’re a rapist.

9. If she is incapacitated in any way and unable to say ‘Yes’ then you’re a rapist.

10. If you drug her then you’re a rapist.

11. If you find a drugged girl and have sex with her then you’re a rapist.

12. If you don’t bother to ask her permission and she says neither ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ then you could be a rapist.

13. You are a rapist if you ‘nag’ her for sex. Because you manage to ply an eventual ‘yes’ from a weary victim doesn’t mean it’s not rape. You are a rapist.

14. You are a rapist if you try to circumvent her “No” by talking her into it. She’s not playing hard to get, and, even if she IS it’s not YOUR responsibility to ‘get’ her. You’re still a rapist.

15. You are a rapist if you manipulate her into sex when she doesn’t otherwise want it. If you say, “If you loved me you’d do X” then you’re a rapist. If you say, “All the other kids are doing it!” then you’re a rapist.

16. If you threaten her, or act in a way that SHE thinks you’re threatening her then you’re a rapist. If you puff up and get loud and frustrated while trying to ‘talk’ her into sex then you’re a rapist.

17. You are a rapist if you don’t immediately get your hands off of her when she says ‘no’. You are a rapist if you take your hands off of her and then put them back ON her after 10 minutes and she eventually ‘gives in’ to this tactic.

18. You are a rapist if you won’t let her sleep peacefully without waking her every 15 minutes asking her for sex. Sleep depravation is a form of torture and YOU are a rapist.

19. If you’re necking with her and you’re naked and you’ve already gone down on her and she says ‘No’ to sex with you and you have sex with her anyway then you’re a rapist.

20. If you’re engaged in intercourse and she says ‘No’ at ANY point and you don’t immediately stop then you’re a rapist.

21. If she said “Yes” to sex with a condom and that condom breaks and you proceed anyway then you’re a rapist.

22. If she picked you up at a bar looking for sex and then decides that she doesn’t WANT sex and you continue then you’re a rapist.

23. If she changes her mind at ANY point for ANY reason and you don’t immediately back off or you try to talk her into it and get sex anyway then you’re a rapist.

24. If you don’t hit her and she says ‘No’ you’re still a rapist.

25. If you don’t have a knife or a gun or a garrote and she says ‘No’ then you’re still a rapist.

26. If you’re a friend of hers you can still be a rapist.

27. If you had sex with her the night before but she doesn’t want morning sex and you pressure her for it anyway then you’re a rapist.

28. If you’re her husband you can still be a rapist.

29. If it’s your wedding night and she doesn’t WANT to have sex with you and you force or coerce her anyway then you’re a rapist.

30. If she’s had sex with you hundreds of times before but doesn’t want to on the 101st time then you’re a rapist.

31. If you penetrate her anally, orally or digitally against her will then YOU my friend, are ALSO a rapist.

32. Women do not owe you sex.

33. Buying her dinner does not entitle you to sex.

34. Paying her mortgage does not entitle you to sex.

35. Buying her clothing does not entitle you to sex.

36. Buying her lingerie does not entitle you to sex. It also doesn’t mean that she has any obligation to wear that lingerie around you.

37. Spending any amount of money on her does not, ever, entitle you to sex.

38. Seeing her legs or cleavage does not entitle you to sex.

39. If she ‘turns you on’ you’re not entitled to sex.

40. If she has fucked every man in a 10 square mile radius and she doesn’t want to fuck you and you have sex with her anyway, then you’re a rapist.

41. Her clothing is not a reason for you to rape her. Her LACK of clothing is no reason to rape her. If she’s wearing a thong and pasties you STILL have no right to rape her.

42. If she’s a prostitute and she says “No” then you’re a rapist.

43. If she’s a stripper and she says “No” then you’re a rapist. Likewise, if she’s a stripper and she’s been rubbing against your dick all night long and you follow her to her car and have sex with her against her will then you are ALSO a rapist.

44. If you watch a woman being raped without calling the authorities then you’re as bad as a rapist and you may also be a rapist yourself.

45. If you don’t fight rape then you accept rape.

46. If you don’t believe a woman when she says she was raped then you’re encouraging rape.

47. If you choose to remain friends with a man who raped a woman you are encouraging rape.

48. If you confess to the authorities that you raped a woman it does not exonerate you. You are not suddenly a model of good behavior.

49. If you ‘only’ raped one woman, you’re STILL a rapist.

50. You cannot tell who is a rapist by the way they look. Rapists are your friends, your brothers, your fathers and you won’t know it.

51. Do not get frustrated with a woman if she doesn’t trust you. SHE already knows that rapists don’t wear signs on their foreheads. Something you think is innocuous SHE may find terrifying.

Hmmm…I think that about covers it. Any questions? Good.

Oh, and feel free to add new ones in the comments and I’ll edit the post and put them up here for reference.

~BB

Published in: on May 31, 2008 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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