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A Red Umbrella for Visual Impact September 10, 2012

Posted by FCM in gender roles, logic, pop culture, porn, radical concepts, rape.
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i previously wrote about the intent and effect of “the obliterating false equivalence” here, where false equivalences are used as a linguistic and literary weapon against women to erase proof of mens misogyny and criminality as well as our response and resistance to them.  this is a fairly complicated use of the device, which renders it unobvious — for example, when women respond to misogyny and personal misogynist attacks with righteous anger, deserved ad hominems, or completely accurate class-based observations or policies regarding violent and predatory males, our response is said to be as bad the same as whatever the men did to deserve the response.  thus, radical feminism is framed as a “hateful ideology” rather than a personal or political response to mens hateful ideology of misogyny.

in online spaces, a feminist response to misogyny may be violative of the terms of service so that both the woman and the man/men she was responding to are punished “equally” by suspension or termination from the online space.  the effect is that the rape- and death-threats (and more!) are deleted, so the proof of what men are doing and saying is erased from history.  and the feminist voices and resistance are erased — feminist material and context which often contains theory, quotes, citations, and new ideas, or fresh expressions of old ideas that name the agent and resonate with women and (therefore) have the potential to create feminist change.  its as if none of it ever happened, which benefits men both coming and going.

interestingly, the false equivalence has many anti-feminist uses, and we see it again and again in “equality” discourse, where men are said to be the same as women and women the same as men.  this is a very basic use of the false equivalence…interestingly, it is again rendered unobvious.  here is a perfect expression of this, seriously, i couldnt have come up with a better example if i knitted it myself:

[I do not] believe that testosterone at normal male levels must needs result in brutes who rape, dominate and enslave women and children — no more than I believe that hormones at normal female levels results in women as a class being “naturally” passive, submissive little crumpets of femininity who like to be hemmed in, controlled and dictated to from cradle to grave by their fathers, husbands and adult sons.

in other words: i dont believe that females are naturally victims; therefore i also cannot believe that males are naturally victimizers.  as comforting as warm oatmeal to “feminist” women who love men, unfortunately, this position fails to stand up to even basic scrutiny.  to wit, i believe this proof would be expressed like this:

A = B; B = C; therefore A = C.

where A = “men” and B = “women” and C = “doesnt exist in their natural state”.

if men and women are the same, and women do not currently exist in our natural state, then men do not currently exist in their natural state either.  the problem is that A = B (men = women) is, in fact, demonstrably false.  radical feminists, at least, normally do not have trouble making this distinction.

the rest of it — B = C, or women do not exist in their natural state — is probably true.  exploring how and why women are so damagingly twisted and removed from our natural state by patriarchy, along with a pinch of background about design and function generally, also tends to reveal an uncomfortable truth — that men very likely do, in fact, live in their natural state, under patriarchy.  and that patriarchy was and is specifically designed to make men both comfortable and likely to succeed as they really are, which is — as demonstrated every second of every day, in every city and town in the world, by the men themselves — violent, destructive, and dominant.

i mean really.  in general, given the choice and power to do it, who the hell would design and maintain something that wasnt functional to themselves?  observe:

the umbrella.

who would imagine, design, build, and implement this and think it was a good idea for keeping the rain off?  no one, thats who.   because this object is not functional for that purpose.  it doesnt do what we want it to do.  thats why umbrellas actually look like this:

this design is functional, and it does what its supposed to.  that is, there was a problem or need identified (im getting wet); criteria developed (i have to be able to manage the water), and a solution was created (a handheld device that deflects rain).  voila!  a functional design.

or, consider the wheel:

same idea.  the square wheel is a bad design.  it will not function the way anyone probably wants it to function, so in reality, wheels are round.  it just works better.   interestingly, the square wheel can be made to work if the ground is changed in a specific way, and this solution has been calculated, designed, built and shown to be functional, although highly context-specific:

of course, if a round wheel was big enough, i think that would work perfectly well on this kind of surface too wouldnt it?  but anyway, it works.  men have made it work.  because they can.  even to the point of changing the ground — they can twist, bend and shape anything to meet their own needs.  they have the time, energy, resources and motivation to do this.

it cannot be a controversial point to say that men generally imagine, design, build and implement objects and systems to be functional, to serve themselves.  we all do this, to whatever extent we can.  its not a stretch to imagine that men have twisted, bent and shaped women to meet their needs, and that this is what “femininity” is — like pornography, womens “role” has nothing to do with women being women, and everything to do with men being men.

and women propose and build solutions for ourselves to the best of our abilities too, but therein lies the rub: under patriarchy, women do not have the power or resources to imagine, design, build and implement real solutions to our problems.  frequently our harm reduction strategies twist and harm us more or differently than the original threat — like being clever (or grossly “feminine”) to avoid negative outcomes, including male violence.  but you know who does have the power and resources to make real solutions for themselves that really work and solve problems at a fundamental level?  males, as a sexual class, around the world.

so being that this is the case, why the hell would anyone assume that patriarchy isnt the perfect solution for men?  they were and are the designers, afterall — they have the power and resources to do whatever they want, and this is what they have chosen.  its pretty likely, isnt it, that men have created the system we currently live in — patriarchy — and everything it entails, including all the interacting, overlapping systems that tolerate and perpetuate male violence for the same reasons that pants have 2 legholes instead of 4, and gloves have 5 finger-holes and arent generally made with inflexible materials, or with bees.  because it works for them.  because it fits.  them.  them, not us.

clearly, in reality, whether women under patriarchy exist in our natural state actually has nothing whatsoever to do with whether men are naturally violent, destructive and dominant.  nothing at all.

of course, i have not proven that men *are* naturally anything, ive just presented evidence.  so in that spirit, does anyone have an actual reason to believe that in the case of patriarchy, it is more likely than not that men imagined, designed, built and implemented a system that went against their natures, made them less comfortable, seriously damaged them, or did not serve their needs?  like an actual evidence-based reason?  if so, please note that in the comments.  and while youre at it, kindly note at least three other examples of any designer/builder with the power and resources to do whatever he wanted, actually undermining his own interests or going against his own nature in other contexts.  and please provide explanations as to why.  as always, the comments will remain open for three days.  thank you.

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1. MarySunshine - September 10, 2012

Waiting … waiting … ;-)

2. karmarad - September 10, 2012

Thank you for spelling this out, fcm. I only came to this realization myself recently. I especially like the umbrella!

If I can keep going here, this is a pretty-much irrefutable analysis – that men having had complete power to build and shape this society, made it optionally functional for themselves – and that women, having no power, and having differentiated biology, have had to deform themselves to fit into the narrow roles they were permitted (sexual object, caretaker, and laborer).

This has a huge logical consequence in terms of theory – global society reflects male biology, and male gender/social roles express male nature somewhat accurately. But female gender/social roles do not express what women are in essence (I use that word with due care, referring only to biological sex and its direct expressions in behavior).

The society that men created for themselves has had some positive and some severely negative impacts on humanity. The biggest negative impact, a true scourge of human beings, is the male glorification of violence, its valorization of death in war, its tolerance of predatory behavior against those who are powerless (conspicuously, women, but including other classes that vary with the place and time). Based on the near-universality of blood-lust and war in this society constructed by men according to their nature, I think it is hard to argue that blood-lust is not closely linked to the sex drive and hierarchical and dominatory predispositions and basic to male biology. It is so ingrained that even when feminists talk about stopping violence, they sometimes don’t include war. Once I start looking at the world figures of the number of people in the world subject to crimes of violence as well as war violence each year, the figure quickly becomes stupendous and I can only recoil in horror and think, but this is utterly intolerable! (One can add in the valorization of violence against other species of living things as well as the earth itself, but that is simply too huge a violence for me to write about here).

And herein lies a pitfall for feminist theory. If, as many thoughtful feminists over the years have observed, blood-lust is a feature of male biology, then it would seem at first that we cannot get rid of it entirely no matter how much society matures and attempts to regulate it. This dreadful conclusion has led many of us to take the untenable position that there is little or no masculine biology, so that we could say that something can be done, that masculinity is socially-constructed and therefore modifiable. That in turn required us to say that “gender roles” are all there are.

But if gender roles constitute men and women, then anyone can be whatever gender they want, and no recourse to biology will be allowed. That is the current position of most transactivists, and forces us to return to reality and the truth of our biological differentness from the other sex in many important respects.

To me, the solution to these and other problems is to emphasize that maybe we can get rid of violence even if it is biologically-based in men. Let’s not dismiss that idea out of hand. Let’s look at it clearly.

And then, we are conceptually free to look at women as a sex, not just a gender, too. We find a great unknown. Would our literature vastly different, as Helene Cixous maintained, if we were able to extricate ourselves from the masculine system? Would the institution of marriage fade away? I think our culture would turn out to have very different priorities. I don’t mean that we would be passive caretakers or people who live entirely in relationship to men, as we are “encouraged” to be now. I don’t know what we are, underneath, but there is room for some excitement and hopeful thinking there for the future of our planet.

How would we coexist? I don’t know. Good question.

Anyway, the idea is to face reality and forget political expedience – the expedience of the idea of the entirely socially-constructed woman has had its day. As I’ve said elsewhere, of course we will still have social roles to play, and some of them may be gender-based – but they won’t be hierarchical, and they will reflect our nature.

Just me following up on your excellent work, fcm, and maybe going places I can’t quite justify yet. But I hope I’m adding something useful to the discussion.

3. karmarad - September 11, 2012

Sorry, I meant “optimally”, not optionally.

FCM - September 11, 2012

i actually think the greatest scourge of humanity is PIV, and the PIV-as-sex paradigm. traditional (read: can happen to men too) violence is a close second, including war. for women of course, war means PIV and rape. due to PIV, 500,000 women continue to die every year globally from pregnancy-related complications. it is a gruesome way to die. many more are permanently disfigured due to birthing injuries and fistulae. this is a gruesome way to live. the violence of “mating” behaviors which is dangerous to female animals across species having been eroticized — even when it is inevitable and would happen anyway — means that rape is erotic. violence against women is erotic. that is utterly intolerable, and overwhelming in its horror. but most people refer to PIV as “making love.” love! omg. war is terrible, but at least there are no mindfucks and reversals involved. except when they say its done to keep the peace….

but i do believe that we are on the same page (regardless of whether PIV or war is the most damaging violence) regarding the gist, and that feminists are very far off the mark and are engaging in magical or wishful thinking when they deny that male biology is relevant, or reflected back to us via culture. just because its too horrifying to comfortably deal with, does that mean its not true? just because there might not be a solution to the problem, we say there isnt a problem or hide the ball? since when? radical feminists have made the very good point that sex-essentialism and gender-essentialism are not the same thing, and that gender-essentialism — that womens (WOMENS!) damaging “gender role” is innate to women — is what feminists have been talking about this whole time, when we railed against it. gender essentialism is damaging to women. denying that biology — including reproductive biology — is highly relevant is also damaging to women. its unsurprising that these have been made into the same thing, so that if we get rid of one, we are left with the absence of the other and women are still being actively damaged, and living in a male-defined world. saying that men = women still drives us as it leads to these terrible logic fails, even though radical feminists SAY they dont believe that men = women. that false equivalence still informs their thinking, if they are going to say that just bc WOMENS role isnt innate, it means that MENS isnt either.

4. karmarad - September 11, 2012

Regarding that false equivalence of men=women, that the whole concept of “equality” between men and women is misleading and problematic. In the 20th century there were many unjust laws that discriminated against women and the notion that there must be equal legal treatment was a very important goal. However, as we have achieved most of the same rights as male citizens, as we have achieved “equality” in matters of legal principle, we have moved to a much deeper discrimination, that of achieving freedom from the control of men in practice.

In other words, legal equality must be accompanied by social autonomy, that is, the practical freedom to exercise these legal rights. “Equality” means little when women are still in practice “covenanted” to individual men, when men are in the abrahamic and other religions “head of the family”, when women are pressured in the ways Adrienne Rich described so well, when good art and music and behavior and literature and social life itself are still defined by men. Autonomy must be the focus of women in this century.

You raise big questions about the most ingrained practice of all, traditional sexual intercourse. Besides the physical injuries which come with that territory, as you point out so well, there are the social trappings that come with it of domination, seclusion, war rape, perversion, coercion…and as long as women are subject to these practices we will not be free. Or “equal”. It’s like the proverbial iceberg, the part we can see is legal equality (in certain places). What lies below is the bigger problem. Afghanistan guarantees legal equality for women in its Constitution. Legal equality does not a revolution complete.

FCM - September 11, 2012

equality discourse has also had the unintended — but completely foreseeable — effect of criminalizing female-only space as discriminatory against men. we have seen this play out in real life. so yes, the foundation cannot be “equality” the foundation must be that women arent losing all the time because of what men do to us. that must be the reasoning behind any change that occurs. or as you say, female autonomy, i think that works too. if either of these were the foundation, we would still be able to gather in female-only spaces while simultaneously criminalizing male discrimination against women. one would be perfectly consistent with the other bc both support female autonomy. currently, under equality rhetoric, these outcomes are inconsistent and the result in the UK is the only one that makes sense if the goal is equality.

heads men win, tails women lose is standard patriarchy, i dont know why anyone thinks that they can change this fundamental rule. or at the very least, why they think they will get favorable outcomes for women considering that this *is* the fundamental rule we are all working with.

5. Recommended Reading: Marilyn French « failure is impossible! - September 13, 2012

[...] On a related note, I once again find myself recommending a wonderful post by femonade: “A Red Umbrella for Visual Impact:” [...]

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