Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Macho culture and feminist men

Afghan women victims of 'widespread' rape: UN
Vancouver Sun: Preliminary data 'suggests that rape is a widespread occurrence in all parts of Afghanistan and in all communities, and all social groups.'... Victims seeking help and justice are often further victimised by the culture of impunity, while police and prosecutors are often unaware or unconvinced that rape is a serious crime... Women are also the victims of so-called 'honor' killings, trafficking and abduction, as well as early and forced marriages and domestic violence. Girls and women are exchanged to resolve disputes over land and property.

Vancouver Sun: South Africa must end a culture of male dominance to fight one of the world's highest rates of rape, according to the author of a study in which 28 per cent of men interviewed admitted they had raped someone... Rachel Jewkes, of the South African Medical Research Council: 'Fundamentally, rape is a problem that stems from ideas of manhood... The position of men is superior to women in a patriarchal society and legitimates men's behaviours towards women, predicated on ideas of sexual entitlement and behaviours that demonstrate men being in control over women.'

Stan Goff, Energy War: Feminism is the precondition of any lasting social transformation, because patriarchy as both the political and metaphorical model for all relations of domination is the most long-standing, persistent, and intractable cultural form of oppressive power... There is no ideology that is experienced with the same personal and emotional force, that is perceived more like a law of nature, that is imprinted earlier or with more relentlessness during the socialization of individual human beings, than gender -- and in the actually-existing world, that means male and female as masculinity and femininity, in a hierarchical relation.

In Sex and War: Men remain reluctant to acknowledge the centrality of gender as a system of material, ideological, and psychological power because that acknowledgment puts their own entitlements and their own pretensions and insecurities under the bright light of criticism.

Utah Phillips, Democracy Now! (May 27, 2008): I tell you, the great struggles, the wars that you're talking about... the thing they all have in common is that it's young men with guns going it to everybody else. Women aren't doing it. Kids aren't doing it. Old people aren't doing it. Disabled people aren't doing it. It's young men with guns that are doing it to everybody else. We don't have a problem with violence in the world; we've got a male problem. I bought into it, so I know. And I'm buying myself out of it, you see. The most important movement in the world is the feminist movement. If we can really figure out what's going on between men and women, the other problems will take care of themselves, I'm sure of it.

Robert Jensen, 'Masculine, Feminine, or Human?': After thousands of years of patriarchy in which men have defined themselves as superior to women in most aspects of life, leading to a claim that male dominance is natural and inevitable, we should be skeptical about claims about these allegedly inherent differences between men and women. Human biology is pretty clear: People are born male or female, with a small percentage born intersexed. But how we should make sense of those differences outside reproduction is not clear. And if we are able to make sense of it in a fashion that is consistent with justice -- that it, in a feminist context -- then we would benefit from a critical evaluation of the categories themselves, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.
Image source here.