Saturday, May 31, 2014

Misogynist Rants and Murder in Santa Barbara, Honour Killing in Pakistan, Rapes of Teenage Girls in India and Malaysia

South African women protest at trial of Oscar Pistorius
by Wendy Forrest in Toronto

This writer is sick and tired of writing about women and young girls being raped and murdered because they are women. It is not just anger and rage but exhaustion and the absolute disgust that wears women down, but the expectation that we as women are responsible for talking and writing and exposing the hatred that exists towards us because we are women.

It is the disbelief that these crimes against us still go on – crimes against our bodies and our minds. The sexual, physical, psychological and emotional crippling damage that ravages women through history, promoted, condoned and institutionalized by condoned and promoted by and in patriarchal economic, political, social and religious institutions world wide is the most enduring and unspeakably vicious human phenomenon.

For anyone with even the most basic intellectual capacity the question has to arise- what is so evil and so ugly about this unique form of violence and why does it prevail.

What is so unique about sex and gender that the sexual expression of violence   ensures that hundreds of thousands of women are raped, beaten, harassed, humiliated and kept down and in our place because we are women?

What kind of thinking, what perverted ideas and notions prevail in all societies that legitimize and nurture this kind of violence?

How do sexuality and ideas about gender become so messed up that they become one and the same thing in most people’s minds? How does sexuality turn into   violence?

Violence against women is the basis of all gender- based violence, including homophobic hatred abuse and killing. Where and how did we ever learn to hate, harass, injure and kill those who challenge the rigid dual notions of gender, who demand equal rights to live, thrive and flourish.
What causes emotions to flare up into hatred, rage and a determination to inflict pain and fear when we see transgendered men and women challenge these rigid dual social categories?

Misogyny and hatred against all who challenge prevailing and rigid constructions of gender is constant and pervasive. The abuse, blood letting, rape and killing that follows upon such distorted thinking is unthinkable and criminal.

It goes without questioning that any form of violence rooted in gender discrimination and oppression is to be condemned absolutely. But underlying all of this is an equally essential question. What is there about sexuality that it becomes a site of violence?

Why rape? It goes without saying that any form of violence is based in some sort of assessment of the vulnerabilities of the victim(s) and once assessed acted out on those perceived as individually or collectively weaker than the perpetrator. In a general sense violence is meant to disempower, disable, maim and kill perceived enemies. It is genuinely a psychotic or self- hating act to physically take on someone stronger and more able. It goes against any kind of life preserving judgment, unless one is suicidal, to try to throw someone stronger and more capable to the ground and penetrate her/his body with your body parts.

Another question arises. When we rape a woman or a woman identified individual, when we attack any individual who does not subscribe to distorted dualistic representations of gender- what/who are we beating and raping?

Most non- psychotic violent offenders require some sort of intellectual justification as dismal and small as that may be, for their acts of rage and violence. As well a sense of entitlement is necessary to act out any form of violence including sexual violence.

So we can assume two things here. The first is that the offender- lets just say the rapist has to objectify the victim. This means the victim becomes pure material stuff-pure flesh-pure object. To allow any kind of perception of the victim as “subject”, as a thinking, feeling human gets in the way of the violent sexual act.

Secondly underlying the objectification is a sense of entitlement that makes it ok to violently act out on the “victim” object. The victim becomes no more than a tree to be felled, clay to pounded, a rock to be split and reduced to powder. Is it because the victim is weaker and physically more vulnerable? Is it also because rigid dualistic notions of sexuality and gender contribute to a different kind of social, psychological and emotional vulnerability?

The constant here is perceived vulnerability. Violent male attackers hit and pound women and women identified victims as well as anyone who transgresses regressive rigid notions of gender and sexual choice because they can? Do they commit atrocities based in gender and sexuality because society generally legitimizes these acts?

I think the answer is an unqualified yes.

I could not listen to the woman hating rants of the young male in …..partially because it makes me physically ill and realistically his rant was not that unusual.

To pretend that the vile and ranting of this man is exceptional is to be deaf and blind to the everyday treatment of women. Certainly his murderous acts are viewed as extreme and exceptional – but is this really the case or was it merely a spectacle of the sort of violence that hundreds of thousands of women, worldwide experience everyday-when you realize that the massive numbers of women and children are raped, sexually assaulted and beaten and murdered by men, fathers, husbands, partners, uncles and grandfathers. It is commonplace actually –tantamount to an epidemic.

But in the same week that the misogynous male in …. blamed his rage and his killing on women  who in his twisted mind are apparently born and live to satisfy in his case his need for sex we heard about the rapes of very young and vulnerable women in India and Indonesia as well Farzina Parveen ,the young pregnant Pakistani woman murdered by her father and brother and vile associates supposedly because she married a man of her own choosing rather than the man chosen by her family.

Take your choice – west or east, whatever country you choose, whatever economic system you have, whatever religion subscribed to, whatever socio-economic level of the victim and violent perpetrator

It is erroneous and misleading to label some forms of violence as extreme, moderate and mild. This misses the point entirely. All acts are embedded in social context. No woman beater, rapist, child molester, murderer of women acts in a vacuum. The   same social context legitimizes, condones and sometimes justifies gender -based violence. The same social context minimizes and denies the extent and seriousness of gender based assault sexual or other wise. Violent acts against women are a continuum and the roots and causes are the same.

Maybe it is the rants of misogynist males railing at women who offend or reject them and their dictates, individual and social, calling us bitches and sluts, cunts and whores at the slightest instance of our defiance, rejection, resistance and refusal to do and be, to meet the demands of patriarchal role definitions and expectations.

Or perhaps it is “just” a push or a slap, or a perhaps a punch or a more sustained beating designed and calculated to beating to “teach” the victim “a lesson”  - conform to my needs, the expectations of family, church and society or pay.

What is the source of rage and anger against transgender, gay, lesbian and any individual or group that does not conform to the dualistic norms of male and female? And oh yes it is genuine foaming at the mouth, teeth bared rage and ridicule, humiliation and violence directed at any individual or group that dares to be what they are and to dare publicly express their sexual identity and preference.
At the simplest and most basic level we have to ask why of all ways we have to express our fears and our confusion, our beliefs and our choices etc. anyone would choose rape and assault, to beat, humiliate, maim and murder.

An article in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Saturday June 1st, 2014 addresses the gang rape of 2 teenage girls ages 15 and 17 on May 20th in Malaysia. Arrested were 13 males including the father and two brothers of the victims.

The article continues to mention the gang rape of 2 more teenage girls who were found hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh, India earlier the same week. Included among the men arrested for multiple these sexual assaults on these 2 young girls is a police constable.

The article following this speaks to the murder of pregnant Farzana Parveen, beaten by her family including her father and brothers in a so-called “honour killing.”

This young woman was bludgeoned to death because she married a man of her choosing rather than the man the family chose for her to marry. According to the writer of this article, human rights groups report,  “about 900 women died in similar circumstances in 2013, many beaten, stabbed, burned or shot.” We can be certain that many more incidents of beaten and murdered women go unreported.

This writer has to ask why is it that suddenly in the last while reports are hitting the media when we know that for centuries and decades these atrocities against women and children have been committed. Why the concern and what is the source of this concern? I will not say that it is wrong to bring these atrocities to the attention of the broader public. But something is seriously amiss when as another article I read this week in the same newspaper speculates that harsh economic realities, unemployment and poverty are the cause of increasing violence against women and children.
I don’t know about other readers but I am sick to death of this bogus argument.

While capitalism and neoliberalism may be the cause of increasing poverty, unemployment and the destruction of social welfare infrastructure of every kind it does not explain why this would lead to an increase in gender based violence. Frustration and rage, feelings of hopelessness and despair may lead to increased violence  - but this explanation goes nowhere to explain violence against women and children, the weak and the vulnerable it does not contribute anything to explain sexual violence against women and children.

It seems the question is always being begged and in the absence of genuine concern, and concerted efforts to analyze and confront violence against women and children, gays and lesbians, transgendered individuals and groups among the layers of oppressed victims and survivors of violence.

This blog is not meant to be a systematic analysis or even a broad overview of this most concerning and serious of crimes against humanity. It is for me a necessary expression of rage and despair – something that keeps me from just retreating from the world entirely and giving up. Women and women identified human beings make up more than half of the world’s population across race and ethnicity, class and ability.

Gender based violence then should and can be viewed and the most pervasive and damaging of any form of systematic oppression. It is way past the time that we address it and fight back to combat it.
Personally I do not think this will happen because we write about it and debate it.

I believe that women must organize collectively across racial, ethnic and national difference and divisions, in the streets in our communities in very aggressive and concrete ways.

We must use social media and every tool at hand to expose every instance of gender based abuse, physical and sexual violence and have each others backs in all situations private and public where the ugly and monstrous evil that is male violence raises its fist against our flesh and our minds and spirits-wherever and whenever a  woman’s body is touched against our will, intruded upon against our will, invaded against our will.

We must organize collectively in action to denounce violence against women and women identified individuals and groups, against transgender hatred and homophobia at every opportunity in very concrete ways. 

1 comment:

risingofthewomen said...

Thank you Wendy for this posting. It has helped my thoughts on this matter. I have shared it to facebook and quoted it in an article I am writing for Left Unity in the UK