Singularity

Over the past couple of weeks I have experienced a unique consolidation of feminist ideas/issues/critical crises and to be honest, I haven’t posted much here about it because I have been fruitlessly trying to find a way to synthesize all that I’ve seen. Concurrently my bathroom reading has consisted of sections from McKinnon’s chapter on rape from “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State.”

I gotta say, even though a lot of liberal/contemporary feminism sort of ostracizes McKinnon, especially in her critique of sexuality, that particular chapter in her book goes right along with what I have been reading on the blogosphere about rape culture and male supremacy. I just don’t see sex and sexuality as existing as some abstract, monolithic entity apart from violence and male supremacy, and I think a lot of contemporary feminist theory on sexuality tries to frame it in that way. I understand that this comes from a desire to create feminist sexuality, but I feel that women as a whole have been duped into internalizing male supremacist sexuality as that theoretical “objective” sexuality. I don’t think of rape as “violence, not sex.” I think of rape as very violent sex and I think that the way that our legal system treats it – making it difficult to define, and defining it in very male-centric terms- turns it into a valid form of sex. Now, note that I’m not saying that it *should* be valid, but that it *is* valid.

We are expected to internalize the idea that sexuality *has* to look only one way, the way deemed “natural” by white supremacisty, misogynisty, capitalism. We aren’t supposed to question it. It’s supposed to be good an healthy. In all forms.

What I’m saying is that the existence of rape proves that this isn’t true, because rape is a socially-acceptable form of sex that is violent and painful and dehumanizing. I mean, just look at all the folks who came out in support of Roman Polanski. Just look at how hard it is to prove whether or not someone has been raped in a court of law. Just look at how often women don’t report it.

Reading this thread and this one on Shapely Prose was very validating to me, because these did well to illustrate and consolidate thoughts that I have had in respect to sex, male supremacy, rape culture, etc. for a number of years, but the articles were not written by radical feminists- though the analysis therein seemed to mirror a lot of the analysis that I have related to personally and theoretically, and had difficulty expressing. It was just so good to hear liberal feminists come out with this hardcore analysis.

And as I am struggling and scrambling to keep up with all the stuff out there in ‘Sphere-land, I find this on The Rotund, which links back to this at 2 Zaftig Chicks. Needless to say, my head is spinning with all the implications.

I think it all just goes to show that the various forms of oppression can’t be “cured” discretely. It’s a bit meaningless to talk about how fat people should have “equal rights” (whatever that means under the current system of divide/conquer/control/rinse/repeat) without very thorough analysis of the other oppressions that tie into a person’s fatness. I don’t think that my “right” as a fat woman to be considered “hot” or “fuckable” is as important as my right as a Fat Person to  basic human dignity. I have to examine these other ideas and ask myself, is that basic human dignity I’m asking for, or am I asking to be oppressed in a more tolerable way that the way to which I am accustomed? Am I demanding my place at the table or am I saying, hey, it’s better to be a cute pampered poodle than it is to be a mangey stray?

So anyway. Reading comment after comment, I kept stumbling over the word “kyriarchy” and went out looking for definitions for it. This seems to be a pretty good one; but I gotta say. To be honest there are memes floating around this term that I’m not quite sure I’m analytically comfortable with. I am still mulling it over. It seems that the point of the term is to highlight intersectionality of oppression, and as I read more about it I hear people talk about how they use it and “patriarchy” to describe different things. Ok. I get that. And I get that there isn’t any one good word to encompass all forms of hierarchically-derived oppression. From what I am reading about this new terminology, however, I wonder how much it really helps to enrich understanding. I mean, when I see examples that cite BD/SM relationships as places where “patriarchy” isn’t always applicable, I have to question it, because I thoroughly do NOT think that a flipped-script adoption of a particular sexual role by a member of an oppressed class is necessarily an example of “liberation.” Not even momentarily, IMHO.

I think to take the focus off of the ruling class (which in this day and age is a white, male, able-bodied, heterosexual, christian, capitalist class [and feel free to ad-lib if I have left out any pertinent descriptors]) as a “target,” if you will, leads to even more divisiveness and doesn’t foster unity in action, which is what is needed if the world is ever going to look anything like fair and still have human beings roaming around in it alive. Which is what I would like to see, personally. We might fight amongst each other, and that’s an awful thing. We might act as gatekeepers towards one another- again. Awful. I KNOW!

But here’s the thing, and here’s the reason that it’s important to keep the eyes sharply focussed on that sliver of society I mentioned earlier: THEY HAVE ALL OF OUR STUFF. ALL OF IT! And they want to keep it all. So this complex pyramid is incredibly important in so many ways, and must be understood. But a woman whose only income comes from acting like she’s dominating a man (while she’s really carefully playing out what the man has most likely scripted for her) isn’t in actuality holding a position of institutional power over that man.

In our culture all but the most powerful in an institutional sense- and money does equal institutional power when you start talking about the legal system and systemic violence- have to rely on “the Great White Father” to get their “fair shake” or their “day in court.”

So much to think about. And it’s not even Thursday yet. Jeebus.

note- this image is not mine. it comes from mactheory.wordpress.com

note- this image is not mine. it comes from mactheory.wordpress.com

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6 responses to “Singularity

  1. Blissy… I love you.

  2. (Bold type is blog-owner’s response)

    I took five anthropology courses.
    That’s pretty nifty. I have to point out, then, that there are varying theories on the origins of social hierarchy, AND THAT’S JUST AMONG THE HUMAN SPECIES. You probably already knew that though, right? (BTW, I have a B.A. in Anthropology. Nothing that I’ve ever studied has sufficiently justified oppression-based social systems (imperialism, capitalism, etc.) to make me feel like they are just “the way things are” and we should throw our hands up and say we can’t do better.)

    What book would you like cited?
    You can cite whatever book you like. I’ve probably already read it.

    Are you denying that hierarchies exist in nature?
    I’m saying that “hierarchy” is a human construct. Of course it “exists” in “nature.” Human beings aren’t separate from nature. Torture, rape, and murder exist in the human species, and therefore in nature. Are YOU saying that extant oppression is by default justified?

    That would be idiotic of course. Is that what you are denying?
    What I’m denying is the validity of your approach to justifying existing oppression. You list one example of how some kind of vague “pack animal” species would organise itself socially as though this is the only way that vague “pack animal” species organise themselves in nature. That’s why I told you to go read a fucking science book. It’s just not true. And if you’re going to make the intellectual leaps necessary to say that this summary of the behaviour of “pack animals” one way or another dooms homo sapiens to a specific “fate,” then I’d say you’ve pretty much wandered into the idiot forest. Hope you’ve taken a good orienteering course along the way. I’ll see you when you get back to civilisation.

  3. Ack. I am fascinated, but need to think…

  4. (words in bold are replies from blog-owner)

    lol. What makes it “your stuff?”

    What makes property inherently yours more than anyone else’s particularly those with the power to keep it? -What makes “the stuff” ours is that we’re the ones who do the work to make “the stuff”. The ones on top take it and enjoy it after that, and we end up at best slavishly working to keep what little we have or at worst, homeless, hungry and sick. And that’s fucking wrong.

    Do we look at beta males in a pack and say something as asinine as “the pack is rightfully theirs. God/fate/whatever deems it so.” No. The pack belongs to the alpha male. The beta is free to try and take it. Once he succeeds he simply becomes a new alpha male. – WTF are you talking about? This is utter bullshit. Read a science book. To be honest, I would actually be happier with the system if it divided resources the way that most “pack animals” do. But it doesn’t. Like I said, read a fucking science book.

    That’s all you are doing. That’s all collectivism is. An attempt by betas to take what they want. That’s fine. We’re animals and that’s what betas will want to do. Just don’t make an ass of yourself by claiming you have some moral claim to “stuff” somehow superior to anyone else. You don’t. -Again, wtf planet do you live on? CAN you read? You think you’re some kind of “alpha”-creature? Oh, please.

    We can do better than this *looks up*.
    Though it’s apparent that some of us don’t want to try and rely on bullshit social darwinism to justify their privilege. Hmmm.

  5. marcillapalooza

    In response to your invitation, what about US citizen and cisgendered. I’m sure there are more. There are always more.

    Perhaps it is a kyriarchy posing as a patriarchal meritocracy (but acting like a kleptocracy).

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