Glosswitch wrote a piece in January called ‘Choosing between misogyny and feminism: A practical guide, where she says;
“Here are some things which will not happen if you speak out on behalf of women as a class: you will not get loads of people listening to your carefully worded, nuanced thoughts and saying “hmm, interesting, let me think about this some more”; you will not get people who disagree with you saying “sure, I think that’s one angle, but perhaps we could discuss it a little more?”; you will not get hordes of women eager to express their support and gratitude in public; you will not find people making connections between the problems you’ve highlighted and the surface-level examples of sexism they’ve noticed elsewhere.
If you expected any of these things to happen, then really you shouldn’t have spoken out in the first place. This is because such things would only happen if the class-based discrimination you are describing didn’t actually exist. If you have failed to consider this rather obvious point, assuming instead that since we’re all “basically in support of equality” it would therefore be fine for you to broadcast your important and valuable thoughts with impunity, then you still don’t get what “being oppressed as a class” actually means.
People don’t want to hear about how women think and feel. They don’t want to picture women as people whom others might actually have to negotiate with. They want “equality” insofar as they want the erasure of all measurable signs of women’s oppression (because let’s face it, these get a bit embarrassing). They do not, however, want this to come at the expense of being allowed to see women as whatever they want them to be at any given moment. We just don’t have space to accommodate the humanity of women as well as that of men.” Posted on her blog.
Our current paradigm of a masculinized culture and rigid gender roles that are imposed on us by sex, are so deeply ingrained along with male violence and male sexual entitlement, that even the media often fail to name male violence when reporting fatal male violence against a woman. We hear ‘domestic incident’ or ‘domestic dispute’ a lot, minimizing this male violence, the same male violence that if perpetrated against another man on the street wouldn’t be reported so lightly.
Responsible reporting of male violence against women by the police and media helps to show the pattern. 47 women have allegedly been murdered by known or suspected male violence in the first 7 months of this year in Australia. 1 woman every 4 and 1/2 days. 2/3 of these women were allegedly murdered by their current or former partner, we need to end the myth that domestic violence is a “gender neutral” phenomenon, This is male pattern violence, it needs to be called what it is so the pattern is clear and we know where to start for implementing solutions. Words have power.
We also have the right to name what has been done to us, at the very least, and not have to pretend, as an Australian writer noted, that these rapes, abuses and murders must have been committed by elves, for fear of saying male violence.
WE hear Not All Men, A lot, it’s a silencing tool, we know not all men. We also know that men kill other men at a higher rate than they kill women, we know. We know 90% of all murderers are male, whether they are killing women, children, or other men. This current paradigm of social “norms”, this masculinized culture, is toxic, and it’s affecting everyone. But when a vulnerable class of humans, half the population, women as a class, are repeated victims of fatal male pattern violence, this is femicide.
“Gender is fundamental and the relationship between gender roles and violent behaviour is obvious in the data. Unless we accept that this is a fact, and that it’s a fact we no longer want to tolerate, we will get nowhere.”
We are females in a world where the default human is male, and male privilege, male sexual entitlement to our bodies and male violence in general is the norm, just turn on the news daily, just talk to a woman. There’s not really anything I can say that hasn’t already been said by many great women, hence my quoting some of them, and I don’t have more statistics and numbers that we don’t already know.
Soraya Chemaly noted;
“More than 40 years ago, anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday, professor of anthropology an extensive cross-cultural study of rape involving more than 150 human societies around the word. She found that 47% of societies she studied had no rape, 36% had some incidence of rape, and 17%, of which we are one, were definitively rape prone. What marked cultures where rape was missing were that women had authority in the community that was not related to reproduction — they were political or religious leaders and made valued economic contributions to society; feminine qualities were valued by communities; the relation- ships between men and women was not defined as hierarchical; boys were taught to respect girls and women (something altogether different from learning to protect them); these societies were stable and peaceful, making reliance on brute male physical dominance less likely; divinities were not uniquely male; and, lastly, these cultures had great respect for their environments and did not destructively exploit them.’
It’s not inevitable, it’s not just the way things are.
We need to Name the problem, that is, male violence. We need institutional education for police and front line services, proper enforcement of DVO’s and the absolute connection of women with the appropriate support services when they need them. We need funding for these support services for women. No more slaps on the wrists for perpetrators of male violence, along with proper rehabilitation services to change these men’s attitudes at the root. And we need to get rid of gender stereotypes and ideals of femininity and masculinity as innate, they aren’t. We need to be aware of the language being used in a default male culture. And we need to challenge the representation of women, everywhere! Ask, ‘how is that woman being represented compared to that man?’ We also need funding for a new form of sexual education for children in schools to help them navigate through a culture that constantly sexualizes, therefore dehumanizes, women while enabling male sexual entitlement and male privilege.
Glosswitch also addressed this recently, writing;
“I am a mother of sons and the thought of them growing up within a culture of rampant male sexual entitlement terrifies me. Right now they are six and seven – still innocent, still able to see their female peers as fellow humans – but as adolescence approaches, I fear that a deluge of misogyny will engulf them as they encounter the adult world and so-called “normal” attitudes to sex. I am very much in favour of them being granted access to as much accurate, open-minded sex education as possible. Nonetheless, I doubt such teaching will ever be effective as long as we are in denial about the real problem: the widespread, culturally sanctioned dehumanisation of women as the price for male sexual gratification.
There is no point in explaining consent to boys, as though it is some peculiarly complex social exchange. It isn’t. What confuses them is the fact that our pornified, misogynist culture treats female bodies as soulless objects. They witness this everywhere: on TV, in the news, online, on the streets, in the words of their peers and elders. They can sit in a classroom and be informed about the rights and wrongs of it. They can be en- couraged to think, in abstract terms, about the Woman as Person. But that is not how they encounter her in the media, nor in the minds of fellow men. Deep down, they know that their “right” to access hardcore pornography and purchase female flesh is inviolable. The Woman as Person narrative is subordinate to the one telling them that the ultimate human right is a “real” man’s right to fuck.” Published in the Newstatesman July 2015
Today we also need to acknowledge the harms of the sex industry. We need to adopt the Nordic model of prostitution in this country and recognize that the sex industry is built on male sexual entitlement, male privilege and male violence, built on the very foundations of gender inequality. As Sheila Jeffreys stated;
“in Norway, Iceland and in Sweden, where brothel prostitution is banned in a violence against women sense, because it’s recognised to be for the degradation of women and affects the status of all women. Iceland interestingly has this year not only banned brothel prostitution and penalised the male clients, because all of these countries penalise the men who can potentially end up in prison as a result. But in Iceland they have banned strip clubs too on the same grounds that it’s about vio- lence against women and degrades women and degrades the equality of women. I think that in Australia this is hard to understand, it’s a very masculinist culture, and I think that prostitution and the sex industry generally and the privileges men have to abuse women in this way is so accepted that people are outraged to think that they’re actually might be other values, but believe me there are, and in fact Australia is quite low, very low in the index of oeCD nations on gender equality, and it’s because there’s a very masculinised culture.” a transcript from an interview on ABC radio Australia.
And we need to let women speak, and really hear what women are saying, Our voices do matter, and our inclusion is fundamental for women’s liberation. We need an equal part of the platform, an equal part in decision making, from business to government. And not just the voices of women who have come from a place of privilege in this hierarchy who have had to conform to the boys club, from the rest of us.
It’s exhausting, and lonely, and it does feel hopeless a lot. But just like the women before us, from the suffragettes, through to all of us who are working towards women’s liberation today, we won’t be silenced, we won’t be shut down, we will keep taking a stand, even in the weariness of ‘are we still really protesting this crap’. And we will place the onus on men in general, men in power and the government, They know how they benefit from this culture. There’s no more playing innocent or holding up your hands and saying not me and going home to watch the latest Hollywood degradation and sexual objectification and vilification of women. As Betty Taylor said yesterday at the Wicked Pickets rally, it’s time to stick your necks out.
It’s been ten years since Andrea Dworkin died, and her work is as vital as ever. On addressing a men’s conference and asking them to work against rape, she said;
“I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because theres a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.”
Robert Jenson wrote that;
“Dworkin wanted to help men claim our humanity, not just for our sake but because she wanted to stop men’s violence against women… she challenged men to take that responsibility:
Dworkins continued in the same speech, saying;
“[Women] do not want to do the work of helping you to believe in your humanity. We cannot do it anymore. We have always tried. We have been repaid with systematic exploitation and systematic abuse. You are going to have to do this yourselves from now on and you know it.”
There are no safe spaces for women from male violence and sexual entitlement in this country; not at home, not at work, not in parks, not walking our dog along a street path. There are no safe spaces for women even when we are not alone, If men want to attack, rape or kill women – being chaperoned doesn’t protect us. There are no safe spaces for women anywhere when media is everywhere, as Julie Bindel states;
Andrea Dworkin also asked this of men.
“What’s involved in doing something about all of this? The men’s movement seems to stay stuck on two points. The first is that men don’t really feel very good about themselves. How could you? The second is that men come to me or to other feminists and say: “What you’re saying about men isn’t true. It isn’t true of me. I don’t feel that way. I’m opposed to all of this.” And I say: don’t tell me. Tell the pornographers. Tell the pimps. Tell the warmakers. Tell the rape apologists and the rape celebrationists and the pro-rape ideologues. Tell the novelists who think that rape is wonderful. Tell Larry Flynt. Tell Hugh Hefner. There’s no point in telling me. I’m only a woman. There’s nothing I can do about it. These men presume to speak for you.They are in the public arena saying that they represent you. If they don’t, then you had better let them know.
Then there is the private world of misogyny: what you know about each other; what you say in private life; the exploitation that you see in the private sphere; the relationships called love, based on exploitation. It’s not enough to find some traveling feminist on the road and go up to her and say: “Gee, I hate it.” Say it to your friends who are doing it. And there are streets out there on which you can say these things loud and dear, so as to affect the actual institutions that maintain these abuses. You don’t like pornography? I wish I could believe it’s true. I will believe it when I see you on the streets. I will believe it when I see an organized political opposition. I will believe it when pimps go out of business because there are no more male consumers. You want to organize men. You don’t have to search for issues. The issues are part of the fabric of your everyday lives.”
So I guess the question right now is this, who do you want to be as a man in this world? Where do you want to stand? What do you want to stand for? And who do you want to stand with? – The everyday men of our culture who justify the exploitation of women as “just the way things are” and “just a bit of fun”, or “mother nature”. Are you going to stand with the men who say “hey not me” while partaking in a culture that exploits and degrades women. Are you that man?
Where do you stand? Who are you in regards to the mass exploitation and degradation, rape, assault and murder of women? what does your masculinity look like? What kind of a man do you want to be for the women in your life and the women, the female human beings of our world?
I know the men I would want to stand with if I were a man in this world, I would proudly and publicly be standing with the Robert Jensons, Jimmy Carters and Tom Meahers.
Many thanks to the Brisbane organizers and speakers:
Fight Like A Girl Brisbane
Prostitution Survivor – Kat Pinder