This blog exists to support liberatory collectivist activism that is anti-patriarchy, anti-colonialism, and anti-capitalism. It also seeks to center the experiences, theories, and agendas of radical and feminist women of color.
As The Independent and other media have reported, David Schwimmer and David Arquette, among other male celebs, have put forth a new campaign in response to #MeToo* and #TimesUp. It is called #AskMoreOfHim.
I find the moniker and actions the hashtag calls forth to be seriously problematic for several reasons:
It doesn't identify whose responsibility it is to ask more of men.
"Asking more" of men is not what is needed. Women have asked more of men and demanded better for centuries. That's about as watered down and spineless a call to action as I can imagine.
There's no accountability or acknowledgement of the problem being men not holding one another accountable or that men, alone, are responsible for male supremacist violence.
I cannot imagine how it makes women safer anywhere for men to (only) ask more of men. More than what? Quite tragically, that bar is so low that more might mean getting closer to the bottom edge of the gutter. That's written without snark.
To Hollywood men and other wealthy prominent men:
Put forth an overtly activist and "money where your mouth is" campaign. It may be called, #MenCallMenOut, or #MenNameHim, or #MenDemandMenStop or #MenPayUp, donating money to grassroots organisations that seek to end men's violence against women and girls across class and race. With the unfair advantage celebrity men have in accumulating wealth, it's time such men publicly call one another and other men out, name names, and fund women's efforts to assist and empower one another, with full accountability to disenfranchised and more enfranchised women.
An argument in opposition to First Amendment absolutists is that hate speech is antithetical to free speech: the first exists to prevent or silence the second. I agree. Speech acts seeking the continued oppression or destruction of marginalized or subordinated peoples are oppressive and destructive.
My issue in this post is with the terms such as "Hate Speech" and "Hate Crime". Specifically, what the terms imply about how we understand and act to end oppression.
A crucial tool of White Male Supremacy--the straight kind especially--is the use of individualism to misname structural and systemic problems. One key aspect of individualism, as you may well know, is that oppression is reduced to how people feel about each other in the interpersonal realm. So, if only we loved one another; if only we treated each other as we'd have ourselves treated; if only there was no more hate... then we'd have world peace, or lack of conflict, justice. The problem is presented as "prejudice" or "lack of empathy": emotional or psychological dysfunction, problems of upbringing. We were raised with the wrong values. We had bigoted parents. Even if discussed in a more social way, we hear the problem is "bias" and "intolerance". How watered down and drowned is the language that far more accurately describes the maintenance of oppression as essentially political?
It's not that hate isn't present; it's that it is sometimes in service to class-based subordination--and not always. To whatever absurd level whites fear Black hatred aimed up, any speech used to communicate that 'hate' is not a systemic or institutional problem in the least. Political translation: there is no such thing as Black supremacy in the West. The same with an alleged preponderance of "man-hating" by women, particularly feminists.
The co-called good Christian whites who operated Boarding Schools thought they were being loving, as do many white colonialist Christian proselytisers--however ineffectively. Historically, so-called better treatment or a belief in moral motive is one tool of white male supremacy. One way white male supremacy thrives is by giving an appearance of treating people better on the individual front. The perversely over-quoted passage by King about children holding hands. In such a linguistic and social world, we assume a problem is over--or getting better--if oppressors are treating the oppressed in less overtly subordinating ways. In fact, looking at the systemic problem of het husbands and boyfriends battering women, when he moves into a stage of being remorseful and sorrowful, that is the precursor to another period of physical and emotional violence.
Calling someone a threatening and racist name ought not be framed only or primarily as a hate crime. It is an act of white supremacist subordination and destruction, rarely prosecuted as criminal. Rape is also normal, not 'mean-spirited' in the sense that many men would argue they have great affection for the women they rape. Missed is the comprehension, let alone the alleviation, of the structural-political nature of rape. And in fact, their committed rape(s), self-perceived and self-named as "love-making" are not, strictly speaking, acts of 'hate' as much as they are acts of subordination. This is to say, men lovingly rape. That's only a contradiction in terms if we make emotional states a prerequisite to or component of oppressive acts.
Even terms like 'crime' are misleading. The State uses the term 'crime' as an excuse to arrest and kill oppressed people disproportionately. What the status quo has never adequately understood or appreciated is how 'criminal' the criminal justice system is. That is to say, the system is grievously attached to political and economic hierarchies and won't function otherwise. 'Crime' is a political term in service to the status quo. Routinely, what is considered 'criminal' is effectively 'by definition' in practice, 'regular everyday acts by Black people' that wouldn't be 'criminal' if whites did them. Rape and men's sexual violence against women is not even considered a hate crime!
Stopping sexual harassment and other forms of work site threat and violence is an endemic problem requiring a structural solution. Ending capitalism is part of that. Some call it a need for 'culture change' and I'd agree it is that too, but it is also and far more importantly a permanent political rearrangement. The solution is not only an end to the interpersonal abuse.
Even terms like 'misogyny' and 'homophobia' make it sound like hate, fear, and bigotry are the problem. The corporate media will now occasionally use the term 'misogyny' but avoid the term 'male supremacy.' That says it all. If 'white supremacy' replaces 'racism' as the term used by such media, we may be that much closer to eradicating it. Not that such media has any interest in moving that effort along.
The heinous problems before us are not individualistic, or necessarily hateful or criminal. I support using language that reflects the systemic, historic, structural nature of oppression as the foundation of law-making and efforts to radically change society.
From here: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/mbpm9y/black-lives-matter-cofounder-patrisse-khan-cullors-is-only-getting-started
One of the most striking things I read in the book was how your pre-teenage brothers didn’t complain that it was unfair police had harassed and abused them for doing absolutely nothing. You write, “By the time they hit puberty, neither will my brothers have expected that things could be another way.” They internalized the devaluation of their lives at such a young age. Can you talk a bit about other ways in which young black children receive this message?
For many marginalized communities, we are told from birth that our lives are valueless. We are told that we don’t deserve things. That poverty is our fault. That our parents’ addictions and prison and inability to feed us is our fault. So if you internalize that, if you internalize the ways in which the world has literally shoved you out, then of course as you get older, you’re not going to believe in yourself. And that translates into not being able to do the things that are the most important and most healthy. We have to talk about changing systems first. We live in a culture that wants to talk about individual first, that tells people they need to take personal responsibility for their hardships. Let’s not do that. Let’s change the system that creates the hardships. That’s the work of Black Lives Matter, that’s the work of #MeToo, #TimesUp, the Women’s March, so many other important organizations that have come together in the past few years. [emphasis mine] -- Co-founder of BLM, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, in an interview about her brand new book, When They Call You a Terrorist
A common opposition to First Amendment absolutists is that hate speech is antithetical to free speech: the first exists to prevent or silence the second. I agree. Speech acts seeking the continued oppression or destruction of marginalized or subordinated peoples is... oppressive and destructive.
My issue in this post is with the terms: "Hate Speech" and "Hate Crime".
A crucial tool of White Male Supremacy--the straight kind especially--is the use of individualism to misname structural and systemic problems. One key aspect of individualism, as you may well know, is that oppression is reduced to how people feel about each other in the interpersonal realm. So, if only we loved one another; if only we treated each other as we'd have ourselves treated; if only there was no more hate... then we'd have world peace, or lack of conflict, justice. The problem is presented as intolerance, or "prejudice" or "lack of empathy": emotional or psychological dysfunction, problems of upbringing. Even if discussed in a more social way, we hear the problem is "bias". How watered down and drowned is the language that maintains oppression as essentially political?
It's not that hate isn't present; it's that it is sometimes in service to class-based subordination--and not always. To whatever absurdly overblown level whites fear Black hatred of us, any speech used to communicate that 'hate' is not a systemic or institutional problem in the least. The same with an alleged preponderance of "man-hating" by women. The co-called good Christian whites who operated Boarding Schools thought they were being loving, as do many white colonialist Christian proselytisers--however delusionally. But so-called better treatment or a belief in more moral motive is, historically, one tool of white and male supremacy. One way white supremacy thrives is by giving an appearance of treating people better on the individual front (and not even close to always). In fact, looking at husband and boyfriend battering of women, is defined as having a stage of being remorseful and sorrowful. That is, better treatment with an allegedly more moral intention.
Calling someone a threatening and white supremacist name is not essentially or primarily a hate crime. It is a crime of white supremacist subordination and destruction. Rape is also normal and many men would argue they love the women they rape, often enough not comprehending how their committed rape(s), self-perceived and self-named as "love-making" could be considered otherwise.
Stopping sexual harassment and other forms of work site misogynist threat and violence is an endemic problem requiring an endemic and structural solution. Some call it a need for 'culture change' and I'd agree it is that, but it is also and far more importantly a permanent political rearrangement.
Even terms like 'misogyny' and 'homophobia' make it sound like prejudice and bigotry are the problem. The corporate media will now occasionally use the term 'misogyny' but none use the term male supremacy. That says it all.
But even terms like 'crime' are misleading. The State uses the term 'crime' to arrest oppressed people disproportionately and has never adequately understood or appreciated how criminal the criminal justice system is. That is to say, 'crime' is a political term in service to the status quo. Routinely, what is considered 'criminal' is effectively 'by definition' in practice, 'regular everyday acts by Black people' that wouldn't be 'criminal' if whites did them.
The heinous problems before us are not individualistic. I support using language that reflects the systemic, historic, structural nature of oppression.
I sincerely hope anyone able to send $10 or more dollars will generously support this excellent effort! Almost one half of $1500 has been raised! This is direct care to girls in need by hands-on activists, with trauma counseling and leadership training!
"I have heard in the last several years a great deal about the suffering of men over sexism.
Of course, I have heard a great deal about the suffering of men all my life.
Needless to say, I have read Hamlet.
I have read King Lear.
I am an educated woman.
I know that men suffer.
This is a new wrinkle.
Implicit in the idea that this is a different kind of suffering is the claim, I think, that in part you are actually suffering because of something that you know happens to someone else.
That would indeed be new."
"I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape"
(1983, Letters From a War Zone)
Across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook this week, I've seen the courageous effort by women to come out to other women, and men, as yet another women who has experienced predation via sexual harassment by men, often men in positions of power above and beyond standard, run-of-the-mill male supremacist power. Whether in the workplace or home front, school or street, or anywhere else, sexual harassment of women is something men are learning is profoundly widespread and devastating. The women I know find the sharing of the hashtag as a public notice that, yes, "me too"--it happened to me also, it happened again, here, to me, and to you, and you and you and you. No surprise. At all. Have not most women been harassed sexually at least once, if not dozens of times?
I heard today a story of a 14 year-old girl harassed by a boy in her grade at school. I will spare you the details, but what I also noticed was how 'normal' the whole thing was for her, like walking or talking. Oh, yeah, and by the way, he ..." Scary and disgusting. I see this happening as it has ages due to capitalist colonialist patriarchal norms and entitlements and privilege bestowed upon men. In part due to pornography--one of the most normalized forms of misogyny being passed off as what women and girls want. And in part due to men's refusal to see the world from women's point of view, however varied that is. And in part because it serves men well, on the collective political front, to keep quiet about the whole thing: what men do to women that is invasive and violating.
So what is deeply troubling to me is the fact that men are joining in posting or tweeting #me too. This infuriates me and I've already gotten into some heated arguments with guys about this--about how fucked up it is that men are turning this into a "Men's Lives Matter" kind of thing. Yeah, we get it. When did we not get that? As Andrea so clearly states: we know you suffer, men.
You inflict that suffering on women all the time.
I told one guy, #me too, when posted by a man, means only one thing: #men too. And at a groundbreaking--hopefully groundbreaking--time when women are coming out about this trauma, this utterly ubiquitous trauma, men want their/our pain to be front and center. There are so many things wrong with this but I'll identify two for now.
1. We know what the effect off this is: Men expect to be congratulated and empathised with far more energy than will women. Men expect to be told how brave they/we are and are eager to hear: "thank you for joining women, for standing with women" in the struggle for visibility about this form of predation. But honestly, that's not what I see men coming out about. I see men speaking of being sexually abused in other ways, thereby taking the focus off the issue at hand in yet another way. This week the story on the news is about a Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, a producer with extraordinary power within one industry acting like all the other men with structural power in the industry. He got called out for his blatantly criminal acts by enough women to get the public to believe he really did all these vile things. See two links below for more. We all have learned what Harvey Weinstein did to them, against them, terrorising and/or seeking their further subordination to him, the prick. We learned it is still going on, rampantly and without stop. I hope this is more than a pause, but we know these fuckheads are doing it as I type this and later today and tomorrow ad nauseam.
2. What is amazing to me is that this becomes a moment, a week, perhaps a much longer period of time, in which women are publicly supporting other women as they continue to come out with these horror stories, these utterly predictable and persistent horror stories. So men getting in on the act means they/we are leeching away from women that potential bonding and camaraderie through the various levels of pain, disgust, and/or triggering when revealing something so shameful--with all the shame belonging to the men.
I am saying NO. No men, DO NOT DO THIS. Do not make this about you too, again, as you/we always do. Do not egocentrically detract from the power of what is going on by throwing yourself into it as a victim no less! Why not post #I did it too on your walls and in your tweets? Now that would be courageous, potentially revolutionary, if you did so and then made sure you and your friends and colleagues and family members and men on the street never did it again.
which also contains extensive biographical information
I will leave it to one of the feminists I most admire to describe the impact of Kate Millett, who died today. Above, within the caption to the image, is a link to a wiki page on her life and work.
Here is the opening paragraph of an article linked to just below:
The world was sleeping and Kate Millett woke it up. Betty Friedan had written about the problem that had no name. Kate Millett named it, illustrated it, exposed it, analysed it. In 1970 Kate Millett published the book Sexual Politics. The words were new. What was "sexual politics"? The concept was new. Millett meant to "prove that sex is a status category with political implications". She pointed to male dominance in sex, including intercourse. In challenging the status quo, she maintained: "However muted its present appearance may be, sexual domination obtains nevertheless as perhaps the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides its most fundamental concept of power."