Today, November 25th, is the first day of 2007’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The 16 Days run from November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (International Human Rights Day). Sokari at Black Looks (2007-11-25) has a good run down on the events of the 16 Days, and a powerful statement of what it’s all about:
One fundamental problem is that because gender based violence is so common across the world that it has beennormalised– through actions, language, imagery, pornography – and it is thisnormalisationthat has to be broken. I spoke of my own personal experience of domestic violence. But the violence didn't start there. I have had a life time of it from my child hood, of sexual harassment – touching, misogynist language, presumptions, jokes, looks, homophobia – it becomes a constant battle not to internalise the abuse. As a teenager I used to think it must be my fault – I am to sexual and that's why this is happening. There was also the added racial element which expressed itself differently depending on whether in Africa or in the West. I did not know where to turn or how to deal with any of this. All of us girls were experiencing similar abuse. With my father acting like a – prison guard when it came to boys/men, I was way too scared to talk to my parents about it even too my mother. The strict environment left no doors open in which to try to discuss this with family members for fear of being grounded to the house. Looking back I probably thought it was normal – we girls and women are the one's responsible for arousing men who then cannot help themselves. Unfortunately much of society still believes and accept this ridiculous explanation for acts of violence against women.
All our denials – women, men, parents, families, communities – will certainly not protect us. On the contrary it sustains and even encourages acts of violence against women.........
It is a scourge that preys on women and girls of ALL nations, of ALL cultures. It is gender-based violence – and it continues to grow, encouraged by the silence surrounding the issue and excused by reference to cultural norms. At the dawn of the 21st Century it is a very negative reflection of global society that violence against women is increasing throughout the world. Gender-based violence is the social, psychological and economic subordination of women and occurs in ALL societies. Violence against women is a complex phenomenon deeply rooted in the way society is composed – cultural beliefs, power relations, economic power imbalances, and the masculine ideal of male dominance
And as a blogger, I encourage all others to blog on the topic as much as possible for the next 16 days (and thereafter). Of course, blogging is neither the only nor most effective method of activism, but I also think that it plays an important role. If you read liberal blogs that don't normally covergender issues,strongly encourage them to participate (and demand answers if they won't). If you run a non-feminist blog, or read other non-feminist blogs by writers that you know care about women, let them know and encourage them to blog about the issue, too. The issue of gender violence is an absolutely massive one, considering the many forms that violence can and does take and all of the intersections of race, sexual orientation, age, nationality, class, religion, location, etc. It has more dimensions than I imagine the combined efforts of every feminist blogger working diligently for the entire 16 days could fully cover. And that's why it's so important to say as much as we can. I will be covering the issue of gender violence as much as possible on my own blog for the 16 Days.
I would like to see my fellow libertarians and anarchists, in particular, take up this challenge. Violence against women, when not simply waved off as a fabrication of
p.c. academic feminists, is far too often dismissed or marginalized as if it were an isolated personal problem in a few unusual relationships, or a freakish phenomenon of some benighted and far-away cultures, or among the tragic but perhaps inevitable misfortunes of the female sex. Male violence against women is, in fact, pervasive, systemic, and universal, both abroad and in your own neighborhood. It is the result of the deliberate and systematic practice of men — including individual men who personally commit violence against women, men in positions of political power who order or encourage or permit violence against women under the color of their authority, and also men who cultivate and disseminate a misogynistic culture in the form of jokes, artworks, ads, literature, sermons, journalism, pornography, and overt propaganda. Understanding the nature of the individual violent actions — wife beating, date rape, stalking, groping, rape as a weapon of war, etc. — is of fundamental importance; and so is understanding the backdrop of misogynistic attitudes, practices, and institutions that nurture and sustain this systemic violence through an ideology of male supremacy and men’s right to use harassment, intimidation, and force to control
Libertarianism and anarchism profess to to be a comprehensive theory of human freedom; what
supposedly distinguishes the anti-statist theories of justice is that they concern themselves with violent coercion no matter who is practicing it, no matter what ideological-mystical excuses may be used to cover over the violent domination. What feminists have forced into the public eye over the course of the last 40 years is the fact that we live in a society where one out of every four women faces rape or battery by an intimate partner (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000), and where women are threatened or attacked by men who profess to love them, because the men coercing them believe they have a right to control
their women. Male violence against women is nominally illegal but nevertheless systematic, motivated by the desire for control, culturally excused, and hideously ordinary. For libertarians and anarchists, confronting the full reality of male violence means nothing less than recognizing the existence of a violent political order working alongside, and independently of, the violent political order of statism. As Catharine MacKinnon writes,
Unlike the ways in which men systematically enslave, violate, dehumanise, and exterminate other men, expressing political inequalities among men, men's forms of dominance over women have been accomplished socially as well as economically, prior to the operation of the law, without express state acts, often in intimate contexts, as everyday life (1989, 161). We must recognize the systemic violence and terror of male dominance as a politically coercive order, even though it is usually carried out in
society, independently of the state apparatus, and we must oppose and resist it for precisely the same reasons that we oppose the violence and terror of the State.
Although neither directed nor coordinated by any central authority, male violence against women, and the spontaneous disorder of male supremacy that emerges from these countless acts of violence and intimidation, have their own ideological rationalizations, their own propaganda, their own expropriation, and their own violent enforcement, all of which are made invisible by the same male supremacist culture, and made to pass as sex, love, and daily life between men and women. Although often in league with the male-dominated state, male violence is older, more invasive, closer to home, and harder to escape than most forms of statism. To seriously oppose all political violence, libertarians need to fight, at least, a two-front war, against both statism and male supremacy. I urge my comrades to join me, and to join the many women in every nation of the world who are organizing to expose, to resist, and finally to end systemic male violence against women — immediately, completely, and forever.