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