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misogyny

          “When men were free.”  — Rick Santorum

We can’t talk seriously about social problems and justice anywhere in the world without talking about the war on women.  Sexism is an underlying system.  No woman (or man) is truly free until every woman is free.
I   “misogyny:  hatred of women, defined as a sexual group”
II  What about men who don’t hate?
III  The complicit society.
IV  Occupy that.
I  Defining a person as a group is stereotyping, the same in sexism and racism.  Hatred indicates negative stereotyping and thus negative prejudice, and the hatred drives discrimination against that person.  With color racism, the complex is triggered by a monomaniacal perception(actually a conceptualization) of color, eg a categorical black, brown, red, yellow—the racist then denying prejudice by claiming that it’s all purple to him.

With misogynists (preponderantly heterosexual males) the trigger is the appearance of being female in gender, reduced to sexuality because that is his association with pleasure, but also an area of life in which he feels frightened, where the female can withhold pleasure but is innately powerful because of her ability to conceive and give birth to a new human, and where she is potentially the most vulnerable to psychologically crippling assault.

To paraphrase temporary Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain (with a nod to Justice Clarence Thomas):  If you just can’t feel no satisfaction with your life, Blame Yo’ Victim!

Before racism, there was sexism.  The biggest questions for fearful, power-hunger men are how to keep women in their possession and how to keep their women under their control.  Possession of a woman is the most power of all.

And indeed, for men such as these (and they are legion), control of women helps answer another of their major questions in life, how to dominate other men.

Women are wealth, sources of wealth, and depositories of wealth.  The world’s oldest profession, as they say, began when a man sold his sister (or maybe it was his daughter) into prostitution.

It’s the pleasures of predation.

Foreign Policy Magazine article on hatred of women in the Middle East.

II Men who don’t hate.  [more to come]

III  The complicit society.

From time to time in America, there is an outburst of resistance to misogyny.  Our present outcry again the Republican “war on women” was prompted by the Rightwing’s threat to women’s control of their own bodies.

But often, although misogyny permeates American society, it is forced into subtlety, by the fact that women, although the dominated group, are the numerical majority, and by the fact that all the misogynists were born of mothers and many wish to participate in nominally positive relationships with women (son, brother, lover, mate, father, and/or friend).  How can it function in spite of these weighty factors, and even to such a degree that some women side with their own oppressors?

Some ideas in Vaclav Havel’s essay, “The Power of the Powerless,” on how oppression functioned in Eastern Europe ca. 1978, seem to me to help us see our problem.  He offers a fictive greengrocer, who puts a sign in his store window:  “Workers of the world, unite!”  He doesn’t give it any thought, nor does anybody else.  What would cause thought (and more) would be NOT putting it there, because then he would be disobeying the powerful, unthought expectation of an entire, lying population.  Everybody says that workers should unite.  But people don’t care whether workers have power, or whether they are enchained, or about the state’s claim to be a workers’ paradise, or about the fact that nobody has power and everybody knows it.  What everybody cares about—what unites them, is to get along in a relatively tranquil life.  For individuals, Havel explains, “need not accept the lie.  It is enough for them to have accepted their life with it and in it.  For by this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system.”

The essence of the problem is the insistent, conformist, expectation of the people.  So it is in America, IMHO, with the lie that women are inferior, and etc etc the source of all evil.  Not everybody consciously knows it’s a lie, but many do, who then choose to live their lives tranquilly within it.It keeps both women and men in lockstep control

To read Havel’s description of his Soviet bloc society (moving, as we now know, toward its end), which he calls “post-totalitarian,” is to see the remarkable differences between that society and our democracy, but also the worrisome similarities.  As Havel continues his fictive example:  “Thus the sign helps the greengrocer conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of power.” Not to display the sign, not to obey, not to conform to the tranquil pattern, (or in America, at least the dream of a tranquil pattern) would be to “live within the truth” and would immediately expose the pervasive “life within the lie.”

IMHO misogyny is America’s pervasive system.  It keeps both women and men, both boys and girls, of all colors, creeds, ancestries, and sexual orientations in lockstep control.  To quote Havel, with a substitution of terms:  “Between the aims of  [America’s misogynist system] and the aims of life there is a yawning abyss:  while life, in its essence, moves toward plurality, diversity, independent self-constitution, and self-organization, in short toward the fulfillment of its own freedom, [America’s misogynist system] demands conformity, uniformity, and discipline.  While life ever strives to create new and improbable structures, [America’s misogynist system] contrives to force life into its most probable states.”

Our misogynist Rightwing works with eternal vigilance to ensure that those states, of “life within the lie,” continue to seem most probable, normative, sacred.  Havel suspected that the consumerism of the West would prevent Western democracy from being a solution to the problems of the Eastern bloc.  We should ask ourselves whether too many of our people prefer the tranquility of consumerism to action for a “life within truth.”

Re. the Republican Party’s attitude toward women (article by Frank Rich in New York magazine).

Friends, there is nothing in America more revolutionary than to eliminate sexism.  We must do it.  In each thing that we are doing we must also be doing that.

IV   Occupy that.  It’s about wealth and power being used by a few, at the expense of many, to damage the lives of millions.  So, for instance,…

from Center for American Progress article:

Women in America are more likely to be poor than men. Over half of the 37 million Americans living in poverty today are women. And women in America are further behind than women in other countries—the gap in poverty rates between men and women is wider in America than anywhere else in the Western world. Consider the following facts:

Poverty rates are higher for women than men. In 2007,13.8 percent of females were poor compared to 11.1 percent of men.

Women are poorer than men in all racial and ethnic groups. Recent data shows that 26.5 percent of African American women are poor compared to 22.3 percent of African American men; 23.6 percent of Hispanic women are poor compared to 19.6 percent of Hispanic men; 10.7 percent of Asian women are poor compared to 9.7 percent of Asian men; and 11.6 percent of white women are poor compared to 9.4 percent of white men.

“Women:  The Invisible Poor” article from census data; anotheranother.

Homelessness articleanotheranother

Violence articles

Abortion rate and poverty, article

Prostitution articleanother

Even on Wall St, men are paid significantly more than women.  And what about America’s wealthy women? (Forbes list and comment):

“Christy Walton (#11 world’s richest, #4 US), estim net: $25.3B  Why she’s rich: She’s the widow of John T.

Walton, the son of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Alice Walton (#17 world, 9 US)  $23.3B  Daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Jacqueline Mars (#52, 22)  $13.8B  Granddaughter of Frank C. Mars, the founder of the candy company Mars, Inc.

Anne Cox Chambers (#61, 25)  $12.5B   Primary owner of the media empire Cox Enterprises, founded by her

father James M. Cox.

Abigail Johnson (#85, 33)  $10.3B   Owns and runs Fidelity Investments with her father, Edward Johnson III.

Laurene Powell Jobs (#100, 36)  $9B   Widow of Steve Jobs.

Where do these fortunes come from? Uniformly, these top six women have shrewdly managed the companies and fortunes handed to them by husbands and fathers. But most of these women have put in their own hard work into these companies to grow them, especially the woman who is now president of Fidelity Investments. (Because women do make better investors!)”

“Banter Bigotry:  It’s only a joke, love” by Nicky Clark

[more to come]

Other Topics:  99%OCCUPYnutshellnonviolentpowerhistorymisogynyracismmoneywealth gap 1wealth gap 2republican partynamescapitalismfascismother ismspathologiessocial justice 1social justice 2social justice 3soulbody and soulthingsanarchyactionsbtwbib

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