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Riots and gender

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 12 years ago, in 2011, on the World Wide Web.

From Suzie at Echnidne of the Snakes. Reposted without further comment, to elicit thought and conversation.

Riots & gender

Large-scale violence rarely triggers a public discussion of gender, even though men and boys are the majority of perpetrators. Consider last week’s mayhem in Britain: Although some women participated, most of those involved have been young men from poor areas, the Guardian reported.

The civil liberties of male suspects are being discussed, and for good reason — some sentences sound absurd. But what about the rights of women who wanted to go about their business, without ending up in a mob of angry men? The threat of male violence restricts the lives of women, but people have become so accustomed to it that it often goes unquestioned.

Concepts of masculinity play a large role. A man may get respect through violence, or with the right consumer goods. After all, marketing tells us how men should look and what stuff they need. But it does the same for women, and we’re not nearly as likely to break a store window to get what we want or to gain respect. . . .

A 15-year-old boy has been charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in Woolwich. But the Guardian points out that it happened after the riots there, not during, as had been first reported. Now we are free to ignore it, just like most rapes, which get no political analysis.

Next time a girl or woman gets raped, why don’t women take to the streets and smash any business that caters to men? Oh, never mind, men would strike back harder, just like British authorities are upping the sentences for the rioters.

Most conservatives consider those who stole and/or destroyed property as criminals. In response, Naomi Klein writes about the riots as political. When people in politics and business loot their own countries and others, Klein says, you can expect those hit hardest to hit back. She calls this physics, but it appears to be a physics of men, since the highest authorities are predominantly men. How do we change society so that men aren’t hurting us from above and below?

. . . Unlike gender, there has been much discussion of race and ethnicity in regard to the riots. The Guardian reported that people of all races and ethnicities participated, while some white conservatives are blaming blacks and/or Muslims. There needs to be an examination of culture as it intersects with gender. For example, will street crime lead to greater restrictions for some women?

Why is it so easy to see class, race and ethnicity but not gender?

— Suzie, Riots and Gender, at Echidne of the Snakes

3 replies to Riots and gender Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Wonks Anonymous

    Yes, rioters are fighting back. It was those Pakistani & Indian shops which caused all the problems, with some assistance from the retailers of fashionable electronics and clothing.

    • Rad Geek

      Well, again, you know, there may be something of a distinction to be made between what started the riots (fighting back against police after police attacked a teenager at a peaceful protest against a recent police murder of an alleged drug dealer; mostly occupied at first with torching cop cars and fighting for control of the streets), and the course the riots eventually took, and the (no doubt large) number of opportunists who simply came along at the first opportunity to engage in a bit of smash & grab. No doubt it’s wrong to describe a great deal of the looting as fighting back; but it is also of course quite right to describe torching a cop car as fighting back when the whole thing was started by police shooting a man dead and then threatening and attacking protesters afterwards. But in any case if you think that the main point of the passage I quoted above was to romanticize the rioters, I have to wonder what it is that you read, because it doesn’t seem to be the article I linked to.

Anticopyright. This was written in 2011 by Rad Geek. Feel free to reprint if you like it. This machine kills intellectual monopolists.