Category: Authoritarianism

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Feminism. Victims. Patriarchy. Rape Culture.

Powerful words, with powerful ideas behind them. The world we live in as westerners is, in many ways, defined and shaped by these words. Patriarchy is one of the many intersecting regions that unfortunately forms the Venn diagram of our society. While I’ve spent much time learning the intricacies of America’s economic, racial, and class issues – I haven’t afforded the same to feminism. A personal failing, I think, especially when coupled with the fact that I consider myself a feminist. So with that in mind, let me give my personal (and possibly incomplete) definition of feminism:

I see feminism as a philosophy that destroys the culture of gender division and raises members of all genders to a plane of equality by acknowledging the failings of the current system and working together to undo them.

It seems a little too neat and tidy, doesn’t it? I’m sure as I learn more about it, I will make this a bit more nuanced. But let’s move on. I think I am going to need to create some concepts as I articulate myself. First, victim, will follow a dictionary definition of the word (“Anyone who is harmed by another”). Second, Victim, is a party who, upon being harmed by another, is emotionally or physically incapacitated and is left (or decides to be) powerless to help themselves. Some victims are Victims, but not all victims are Victims – yes?

Many who wrap themselves in Victimhood, use it as an identity – often twisting the minutia of life into a Victim-fetish (see much of the tumblr community [I don't include you in this, Source]). These people are seeking attention and we need not worry about them for the sake of our discussion.

Source, when you quote me as saying, “women, by nature, are victims of the patriarchy, and in turn, of men,” I was wrong. I should have included men in this statement as well. A man who falls victim to the lies of patriarchy is very much a victim of that system as well as his female peer. By becoming a part of the lie, he is at the same disadvantage that he wastes his life projecting onto women. How many amazing people does he miss out on romantically, socially, professionally, politically because he can’t see his sisters in humanity as equals? He most likely doesn’t seek medical help unless immediately necessary. He feels the need to constantly prove his “toughness” which may be harmful or fatal. In fact, he is a victim of patriarchy in many ways. So I was wrong to use a separator to further the separation and not include men in the pool of victims.

I think the crux of our disagreement, however lies in our definitions of victim. I feel strongly enough to start this article by defining what it means for me.

“[T]he term ‘victim’ has connotations of weakness, subjugation, inability to overcome.” “Connotations” is a tricky word. It goes beyond what a word’s definition is and adds an interpretation that might not always be fair. Those connotations absolutely do exist, but do they necessarily? I would say no.

This difference in interpretation creates a divide when I say that we are all victims of this system. When you write that “the idea of being labeled a victim without my consent” bother you, I believe that it is these connotations you listed that you are actually taking issue with. Very often, if not always, it is not up to a person as to whether they become a victim, as much of our lives are beyond our personal control. But what is within your control is whether or not you become a Victim. You can choose whether your situation requires you to be unable or weak. Do we shrink from the injustice we are met with or do we destroy it? So when I call you (and by definition, myself) victims of the patriarchal system, I do not mean that we are necessarily Victims of it, that we are not weak or unable. We can rise above. For us, identifying our victimhood can be empowering because by recognizing our victimhood, we have identified that the problem exists. The next step is coming together to undo it.

Of your article, that is the sole idea I take issue with. With literally everything else you write, I am there next to you, cheering you on.

The problem here isn’t that one group is more powerful than the other. The way I see it, one group has been afforded more power and is misusing it to the detriment of everyone involved.

Beautiful. Exactly. It reinforces the idea that it is not the job of men to end feminism. It is the job of humanity. Men and women working together to form a more just society where not just women, but men as well, are treated with respect. It also brings to mind the quote by a personal hero, Eugene Debbs,

Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

While there is a patriarchy, I am a victim of it. When one of us suffers, we all do. This is the heart of my world view, and I think you have encompassed it rather well.

Yes, there are terrible crimes perpetrated against women every day. But they do not come from a place of power. They come from fear, misunderstanding, a lack of insight. Rape, itself, is about assertion of power.

Another wonderful conceptualization. Humanity has a nasty habit of fearing what it doesn’t understand. We do not often attack or destroy that which we understand or identify with. This is the heart of the divide between genders, the lack of understanding and the pervasive myths that surround that divide. Because you are a much more talented writer than myself, I will close this article with a paragraph from yours, it strikes a special place in my heart and I feel that it should be read by everyone. Readers, enjoy:

If we want to have any hope of harmony between the sexes, we must communicate, and realize that the principle of tearing someone down for one’s own benefit damages both parties. I believe openness and honesty between the sexes is the only way to abolish the guilt, fear, anger and frustration I see on both sides. I read articles blaming victims, articles rebutting victim blaming, and the scores of blurbs they spawn. We are all victims of our own ignorance and unwillingness to cross lines and inhabit someone else’s mindset. When we blame someone, we make them the other. We have drawn a line separating “us” from “them.” What hope do we have of understanding if we keep drawing lines?

 

Jan 20

It Happens Already

by fwoan | 4 Comments »
Metal Chris via flickr
Metal Chris via flickr

With the massive protest against SOPA/PIPA comes the states response in the form of the takedown of filesharing site MegaUpload.com. It serves as yet another example that the state can and will do anything they want whether or not their actions are codified in some legalese passed by old men in a congressional chamber. The codification of their acts only acts as a way of removing any doubt of their ability – a metaphorical smearing in our face of their power. Like the NDAA before this, these proposed laws are actions that the state already commits. It really doesn’t matter if they pass or not. It. Is. Already. Happening.
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mikecogh via flickr
mikecogh via flickr

If you couldn’t predict the turn of events concerning the National Defense Authorization Act and Obama’s “threat” to veto it, calling you naive would be an understatement. The man has basically caved on every plank of his campaign, embraced every reactionary idea, and sacrificed no expansion of his power. This is the same man who has already killed Americans without trial and held them indefinitely without charges. Why then, would he have vetoed what he is already doing? That’s not the behavior of power!

So yeah, the White House is backing down on its veto threat, in a move that has become so tired we can barely even pay attention. When it passes, and it will, we’ll have been thrown onto the next in vogue faux outrage. Much like the SOPA bill, that again, simply codifies already occurring acts committed by those in power. It never mattered if we defeated this bill.

Indeed, if reports are to be believed, it was never our lord and savior Obama who was trying to save us by threatening to veto the bill for further destroying the rights of Americans, but rather it was he who demanded the ability to do so! He wants to hold you forever, trial or not. He wants these things, and his threat to veto it was a complete lie. It only furthers the concept that you can never rely on a savior to give you your victory.

aMixedmedia via flickr
aMixedmedia via flickr

As often happens when tyrants get a taste for blood, American leadership wants to codify its recent behavior against American citizens. They want to be able point to a document and explain that they are simply following the law, not acting out their dominance fantasies. While a few new outlets (very few actually, I hardly see coverage of this in most corporate media outlets) are freaking out, it needs to be explained that even if the National Defense Authorization Act passes and becomes the law of the land – it wont change the status quo of life in modern America. It simply codifies what has been happening for years. It makes the treatment of José Padilla, Bradley Manning, and Anwar al-Awlaki the law.
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Oct 10

Go Team, GO!

by fwoan | 5 Comments »
Luther College Photos via flickr
Luther College Photos via flickr

I was raised in a sports family. My childhood bedroom had an entire wall painted with the logo of the family’s favorite college football team, done by my father. I was taken to games for hockey, football, baseball, et al. One summer I remember, I was sent to a tennis camp. The only problem was that I have never had any interest in sports. It kind of made things awkward with my family because they didn’t really understand it (I remember being in the car once with my father in my early teens and being asked if I was gay). In fact I’ve never had much of an interest in team based competition, and the team based politics of American government is one game that still eludes me. Team R versus Team D, locked in perpetual “struggle” while you and I suffer their consequences.
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Sep 11

Crocodile Tears

by fwoan | Comments Off
Thomas Hawk via flickr
Thomas Hawk via flickr

Ten years have passed since 9/11, what do we get to mourn this? We’ll get lots and lots of flag waving I’m sure. Probably some mosques will be vandalized. Solemn speeches reminding us to “never forget” what happened. We’ll get romanticized images of soldiers fighting. We’re also going to get scared. I’m writing this before going on vacation, but I’m sure there will be “credible threats” coming from everywhere this weekend. We’ll need to be panicked to believe that anything that has occurred these past 10 years was done to make anyone besides the already powerful any safer.
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habeebee via flickr
habeebee via flickr

The current debt ceiling crisis is just camouflage for a further enforcement of austerity measures against the workers of this country. Raising this country’s debt-ceiling, an action that has been done nearly 100 times since the 1960′s – seven times within the previous president’s tenure – has now been turned into a giant controversy and a strategy for which the austerity agenda is being pushed forward. The panic inducing threats surrounding the present situation reminds one of the days leading up to the bank bailouts of 2008, where Americans were encouraged only to ogle the looming spectre of the collapse of their way of life, and not to think over the billions of dollars being handed to the very people that created the crisis. While the panic sets in, our rulers will sign away every measure the working classes have fought for in the last century, while continuing the budget draining policies that created the situation. Where does this leave us? As leftists, we work for the emancipation of all women and men while simultaneously working to dismantle the system that creates such crises, but what about when one task interferes with the other?
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May 20

Wherein He Demands the Return of Profligate Sons

by fwoan | Comments Off
Cau Napoli via flickr
Cau Napoli via flickr

The Middle-East governments long empowered by the U.S. government in order to maintain a carefully orchestrated status-quo are being clawed at and in several wonderful instances, have been torn down. Obama, now wants to give Tunisia and Egypt a shit-ton of money because they are the “best positioned countries to serve as role models for democratic reform in the area.” Since when has the U.S. government felt this way and why were they so cozy with the previous regimes? Why then, did Obama alone refuse to call for Mubarak to step down? Why then, did the U.S. government tacitly allow thugs to attack and kill nonviolent protests in Egypt, not to mention using weapons made by the U.S. government (or its industrious contractors)? No, this money is being handed out in order to water-down and dilute revolutionary forces by funding reactionaries that will return the region to a U.S. colony. To think otherwise is intellectually dishonest.
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TalkMediaNews via flickr
TalkMediaNews via flickr

While millions starve, we analyze birth certificates. While bombs rip the limbs from children, we broadcast reality-show conspiracy theories about where some asshole was born. While our planet’s ecosystem is being strangled, we are blinded by fantasies straight out of some spy novel. “Was Obama born in Kenya?” Of course not, but who the fuck cares if he was?! He’s still managing to wage wars, plunder our wealth, and diminish our self-actualization despite whatever latitude and longitude he managed to fall out of a vagina at. To anyone who has given this issue more than the 10 minutes of smirk-and-forget that this deserves, you are being distracted while the empowered steal and kill.
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sierragoddess via flickr
sierragoddess via flickr

I saw this article on one of the tech blogs I read. Turns out the State Department is working on a way to basically wipe your phone of its contacts’ information and be able to send out communications as if they are from your phone, you know, to “help” democracy advocates. I gave a guffaw at the notion that something like this could possibly be developed in order to help those that would topple the U.S. government’s favorite torture houses in the Middle-East. Imagine, all the U.S. government would presumably need to know is the identity of high profile revolutionaries, wipe their phone remotely so that any contacts they may need to communicate with are gone and finally they can send out fake texts to those contacts. Misinformation at its best is what it seems like.
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