Oppression and Subordination

Oppression is not an attitude, it’s about systems of power.

by Lierre Keith / Deep Green Resistance.

At this moment, the liberal basis of most progressive movements is impeding our ability, individually and collectively, to take action. The individualism of liberalism, and of American society generally, renders too many of us unable to think clearly about our dire situation. Individual action is not an effective response to power because human society is political; by definition it is built from groups, not from individuals. That is not to say that individual acts of physical and intellectual courage can’t spearhead movements. But Rosa Parks didn’t end segregation on the Montgomery, Alabama, bus system. Rosa Parks plus the stalwart determination and strategic savvy of the entire black community did.

Liberalism also diverges from a radical analysis on the question of the nature of social reality. Liberalism is idealist. This is the belief that reality is a mental activity. Oppression, therefore, consists of attitudes and ideas, and social change happens through rational argument and education. Materialism, in contrast, is the understanding that society is organized by concrete systems of power, not by thoughts and ideas, and that the solution to oppression is to take those systems apart brick by brick. This in no way implies that individuals are exempt from examining their privilege and behaving honorably. It does mean that antiracism workshops will never end racism: only political struggle to rearrange the fundamentals of power will.

There are three other key differences between liberals and radicals. Because liberalism erases power, it can only explain the subordinate position of oppressed groups through biology or some other claim to naturalism. A radical analysis of race understands that differences in skin tone are a continuum, not a distinction: race as biology doesn’t exist. Writes Audrey Smedley in Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview,

Race originated as the imposition of an arbitrary value system on the facts of biological (phenotypic) variations in the human species.… The meanings had social value but no intrinsic relationship to the biological diversity itself. Race … was fabricated as an existential reality out of a combination of recognizable physical differences and some incontrovertible social facts: the conquest of indigenous peoples, their domination and exploitation, and the importation of a vulnerable and controllable population from Africa to service the insatiable greed of some European entrepreneurs. The physical differences were a major tool by which the dominant whites constructed and maintained social barriers and economic inequalities; that is, they consciously sought to create social stratification based on these visible differences.3

Her point is that race is about power, not physical differences. Racializing ideology was a tool of the English against the Irish and the Nazis against the Jews, groups that could not be distinguished by phenotypic differences—indeed, that was why the Jews were forced to wear yellow stars.

Conservatives actively embrace biological explanations for race and gender oppression. White liberals usually know better than to claim that people of color are naturally inferior, but without the systematic analysis of radicalism, they are stuck with vaguely uncomfortable notions that people of color are just … different, a difference that is often fetishized or sexualized, or that results in patronizing attitudes.

Gender is probably the ultimate example of power disguised as biology. There are sociobiological explanations for everything from male spending patterns to rape, all based on the idea that differences between men and women are biological, not, as radicals believe, socially created. This naturalizing of political categories makes them almost impossible to question; there’s no point in challenging nature or four million years of evolution. It’s as useless as confronting God, the right-wing bulwark of misogyny and social stratification.

The primary purpose of all this rationalization is to try to remove power from the equation. If God ordained slavery or rape, then this is what shall happen. Victimization becomes naturalized. When these forms of “naturalization” are shown to be self-serving rationalizations the fall-back position is often that the victimization somehow is a benefit to the victims. Today, many of capitalism’s most vocal defenders argue that indigenous people and subsistence farmers want to “develop” (oddly enough, at the point of a gun); many men argue that women “want it” (oddly enough, at the point of a gun); foresters argue that forests (who existed on their own for thousands of years) benefit from their management.

With power removed from the equation, victimization looks voluntary, which erases the fact that it is, in fact, social subordination. What liberals don’t understand is that 90 percent of oppression is consensual. As Florynce Kennedy wrote, “There can be no really pervasive system of oppression … without the consent of the oppressed.”4 This does not mean that it is our fault, that the system will crumble if we withdraw consent, or that the oppressed are responsible for their oppression. All it means is that the powerful—capitalists, white supremacists, colonialists, masculinists—can’t stand over vast numbers of people twenty-four hours a day with guns. Luckily for them and depressingly for the rest of us, they don’t have to.

People withstand oppression using three psychological methods: denial, accommodation, and consent. Anyone on the receiving end of domination learns early in life to stay in line or risk the consequences. Those consequences only have to be applied once in a while to be effective: the traumatized psyche will then police itself. In the battered women’s movement, it’s generally acknowledged that one beating a year will keep a woman down.

While liberals consider it an insult to be identified with a class or group, they further believe that such an identity renders one a victim. I realize that identity is a complex experience. It’s certainly possible to claim membership in an oppressed group but still hold a liberal perspective on one’s experience. This was brought home to me while I was stuck watching television in a doctor’s waiting room. The show was (supposedly) a comedy about people working in an office. One of the black characters found out that he might have been hired because of an affirmative action policy. He was so depressed and humiliated that he quit. Then the female manager found out that she also might have been ultimately advanced to her position because of affirmative action. She collapsed into depression as well. The emotional narrative was almost impossible for me to follow. Considering what men of color and all women are up against—violence, poverty, daily social derision—affirmative action is the least this society can do to rectify systematic injustice. But the fact that these middle-class professionals got where they were because of the successful strategy of social justice movements was self-evidently understood broadly by the audience to be an insult, rather than an instance of both individual and movement success.

Note that within this liberal mind-set it’s not the actual material conditions that victimize—it’s naming those unjust conditions in an attempt to do something about them that brings the charge of victimization. But radicals are not the victimizers. We are the people who believe that unjust systems can change—that the oppressed can have real agency and fight to gain control of the material conditions of their lives. We don’t accept versions of God or nature that defend our domination, and we insist on naming the man behind the curtain, on analyzing who is doing what to whom as the first step to resistance.

The final difference between liberals and radicals is in their approaches to justice. Since power is rendered invisible in the liberal schema, justice is served by adhering to abstract principles. For instance, in the United States, First Amendment absolutism means that hate groups can actively recruit and organize since hate speech is perfectly legal. The principle of free speech outweighs the material reality of what hate groups do to real human people.

For the radicals, justice cannot be blind; concrete conditions must be recognized and addressed for anything to change. Domination will only be dismantled by taking away the rights of the powerful and redistributing social power to the rest of us. People sometimes say that we will know feminism has done its job when half the CEOs are women. That’s not feminism; to quote Catharine MacKinnon, it’s liberalism applied to women. Feminism will have won not when a few women get an equal piece of the oppression pie, served up in our sisters’ sweat, but when all dominating hierarchies—including economic ones—are dismantled.

oppression

There is no better definition of oppression than Marilyn Frye’s, from her book The Politics of Reality. She writes, “Oppression is a system of interrelated barriers and forces which reduce, immobilize and mold people who belong to a certain group, and effect their subordination to another group.”5 This is radicalism in one elegant sentence. Oppression is not an attitude, it’s about systems of power. One of the harms of subordination is that it creates not only injustice, exploitation, and abuse, but also consent.

Subordination has also been defined for us. Andrea Dworkin lists its four elements:6

1. Hierarchy

Hierarchy means there is “a group on top and a group on the bottom.” The “bottom” group has fewer rights, fewer resources, and is “held to be inferior.”7

2. Objectification

“Objectification occurs when a human being, through social means, is made less than human, turned into a thing or commodity, bought and sold … those who can be used as if they are not fully human are no longer fully human in social terms.”8

3. Submission

“In a condition of inferiority and objectification, submission is usually essential for survival … The submission forced on inferior, objectified groups precisely by hierarchy and objectification is taken to be the proof of inherent inferiority and subhuman capacities.”9

4. Violence

Committed by members of the group on top, violence is “systematic, endemic enough to be unremarkable and normative, usually taken as an implicit right of the one committing the violence.”10

All four of these elements work together to create an almost hermetically sealed world, psychologically and politically, where oppression is as normal and necessary as air. Any show of resistance is met with a continuum that starts with derision and ends in violent force. Yet resistance happens, somehow. Despite everything, people will insist on their humanity.

Coming to a political consciousness is not a painless task. To overcome denial means facing the everyday, normative cruelty of a whole society, a society made up of millions of people who are participating in that cruelty, and if not directly, then as bystanders with benefits. A friend of mine who grew up in extreme poverty recalled becoming politicized during her first year in college, a year of anguish over the simple fact that “there were rich people and there were poor people, and there was a relationship between the two.” You may have to face full-on the painful experiences you denied in order to survive, and even the humiliation of your own collusion. But knowledge of oppression starts from the bedrock that subordination is wrong and resistance is possible. The acquired skill of analysis can be psychologically and even spiritually freeing.

Once some understanding of oppression is gained, most people are called to action.

Read more from the Deep Green Resistance book online.

Food Culture

by Lierre Keith / Deep Green Resistance.

The food culture across the environmental movement is ideologically attached to a plant-based diet. That attachment is seriously obstructing our ability to name the problem and start working on the obvious solutions. Transition Town originator Rob Hopkins writes, “Reducing the amount of livestock will also be inevitable, as large-scale meat production is an absurd and unsustainable waste of resources.”22  Raising animals in factory farms—concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)—and stuffing them with corn is absurd and cruel. But animals are necessary participants in biotic communities, helping to create the only sustainable food systems that have ever worked: they’re called forests, prairies, wetlands. In the aggregate, a living planet.

That same ideological attachment is the only excuse for the blindness to Cuban suffering and for the comments that 30 percent of Cubans are “still obese.” That figure is supposed to reassure us: see, nobody starves in this regime. What such comments betray is a frank ignorance about human biology. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates will make a large percentage of the population gain weight. Eating any sugar provokes a surge of insulin, to control the glucose levels in the bloodstream. The brain can only function within a narrow range of glucose levels. Insulin is an emergency response, sweeping sugar out of the blood and into the cells for storage. Insulin has been dubbed “the fat storage hormone” because this is one of its main functions. Its corresponding hormone, glucagon, is what unlocks that stored energy. But in the presence of insulin, glucagon can’t get to that energy. This is why poor people the world over tend to be fat: all they have to eat is cheap carbohydrate, which trigger fat storage. If the plant diet defenders knew the basics of human biology, that weight gain would be an obvious symptom of nutritional deficiencies, not evidence of their absence. Fat people are probably the most exhausted humans on the planet, as minute to minute their bodies cannot access the energy they need to function. Instead of understanding, they are faced with moral judgment and social disapproval across the political spectrum.

I don’t want any part of a culture that inflicts that kind of cruelty and humiliation on anyone. Shaun Chamberlin writes, “The perception of heavy meat eaters could be set to change in much the same way that the perception of [SUV] drivers has done.”23 Even if he was right that meat is inherently a problem, this attitude of shaming people for their simple animal hunger is repugnant. Half the population—the female half—already feels self-loathing over every mouthful, no matter what, and how little, is on their plates. Food is not an appropriate arena for that kind of negative social pressure, especially not in an image-based culture saturated in misogyny. Food should be a nourishing and nurturing part of our culture, including our culture of resistance. If Chamberlin wants an appropriate target for social shaming, he can start with men who rape and batter, and then move on to men who refuse to get vasectomies—that would be a better use of his moral approbation.

Getting past that ideological attachment would also bring clarity to the bewildered attitude that underlies many of these “radical” writers’ observations about dietary behavior. Accepting that humans have a biological need for nutrient-dense food, it’s no longer a surprise that when poor people get more money, they will buy more meat. They’re not actually satisfied on the nutritional wonders of a plant-based diet. Ideology is a thin gruel and imposing it on people who are chronically malnourished is not only morally suspect, it won’t work. The human animal will be fed. And if we had stuck to our original food, we would not have devoured the planet.

Restoring agricultural land to grasslands with appropriate ruminants has multiple benefits beyond carbon sequestration. It spells the end of feedlots and factory farming. It’s healthier for humans. It would eliminate essentially all fertilizer and pesticides, which would eliminate the dead zones at the mouths of rivers around globe. The one in the Gulf of Mexico, for instance, is the size of New Jersey. It would stop the catastrophic flooding that results from annual monocrops, flooding being the obvious outcome of destroying wetlands.

It also scales up instantly. Farmers can turn a profit the first year of grass-based farming. This is in dramatic contrast to growing corn, soy, and wheat, in which they can never make a profit. Right now six corporations, including Monsanto and Cargill, control the world food supply. Because of their monopoly, they can drive prices down below the cost of production. The only reason farmers stay in business is because the federal government—that would be the US taxpayers—make up the difference, which comes to billions of dollars a year. The farmers are essentially serfs to the grain cartels, and dependent on handouts from the federal government. But grass-fed beef and bison can liberate them in one year. We don’t even need government policy to get started on the most basic repair of our planet. We just need to create the demand and set up the infrastructure one town, one region at a time.

Land with appropriate rainfall can grow two steers per acre. But those steers can be raised in two ways. You can destroy the grasses, plant corn, and feed that corn to CAFO steers, making them and their human consumers sick in the process. Or you can skip the fossil fuels and the torture, the habitat destruction, the dead zones that used to be bays and oceans, and let those steer eat grass. Either method produces the same amount of food for humans, but one destroys the cycle of life while the other participates in it. I can tell you with certainty which food the red-legged frogs and the black-footed ferrets are voting for: let them eat grass.

Repairing those grasslands will also profoundly restore wildlife habitat to the animals that need a home. Even if the rest of the above reasons weren’t true, that repair would still be necessary. The acronym HANPP stands for “human appropriation of net primary production.” It’s a measure of how much of the biomass produced annually on earth is used by humans. Right now, 83 percent of the terrestrial biosphere is under direct human influence, and 36 percent of the earth’s bioproductive surface is completely dominated by humans.24  By any measure, that is vastly more than our share. Humans have no right to destroy everyone else’s home, 200 species at a time. It is our responsibility not just to stop it, but to fix it. Civilizations are, in the end, cultures of human entitlement, and they’ve taken all there is to take.

Read more from the Deep Green Resistance book online.

Featured image from the Permaculture, Perennial Polycultures & Resistance blog

Advocating for the Nordic Model

Advocating for the Nordic Model is important work to change the culture of violence and exploitation of women.

Here is a quote from Sabrinna Valisce, sex trade survivor and former volunteer activist for the NZPC (New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective), who eloquently explains why she is now a Nordic Model advocate:

I worked pre- and post-law reform. The Prostitution Reform Bill passed into law to become The Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) in 2003. The good part of it was that the threat of a criminal record was removed. This would happen under The Nordic Model also. I volunteered at the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC), so I was [able to compare our decriminalization] goal … to the results. I, and others who were agitating for decriminalization in New Zealand, we always wanted the power to be placed firmly in the hands of the prostituted person/sex worker. Decriminalization didn’t do that. The power went to the brothel owners, escort agency owners and johns. Immediately following the PRA, the pimps became legitimate businessmen. They introduced “All-Inclusive.” An “All-Inclusive” is a single fee paid by the john to the brothel/escort agency via the receptionist. This means that the prostituted person/sex worker has no power of negotiation. It also means that the pimp decides her earnings (most are women). The pimps gained the power to decide what a “service” would be paid and how much of that belonged to them. They also gained the power to withhold the woman’s earnings or even deny any existence of those earnings. Prior to law reform we negotiated our own money and decided our own services.

In NZ, prostituted persons are considered Independent Contractors; yet in practice women are, in fact, employees without any benefits of being employees. They are told when shifts start and finish, what the rates are, what to wear, and what to do. Some places even have a minimum amount of shifts per/week. There can be any number of fees and fines; shift fee, advertising fees (without receipts I might add), late fines, room fines, presentation fines, drivers fees for out-calls, fines for being sick and missing a shift and even laundry fees. All brothels and agencies say they are drug-free. I’ve yet to see one where this is true. I could get any drug I wanted on any day of the year in every place I ever worked.

Decriminalization also saw a 400% increase in “service providers”/prostituted persons. This wasn’t solely in response to increased demand. It was also in response to the pushing of the image of sex-work as empowering, luxurious and glamorous, through TV shows like “Secret Diary of a Call-girl.” Brothel owners and escort agency owners also increased the amount of ‘their girls’ on shift. Where once it had been 4-8 [girls], it was suddenly 15-28 per night shift. This was fueled by the johns wanting a lot of choice. Johns wanted the cheapest service, with the most extras, with the most amount of girls to choose from: the younger and newer, the better. So the pimps drove down the prices to get their patronage. This, of course, had a roll-on effect of lowering prices on the streets and in private sole contractors. It also saw girls competing by offering more and more to get the jobs.

The PRA was meant to make it safer and enforce safe sex practices. In reality, it’s done the opposite. “Passionate” is code for kissing, including deep tongue kissing. Prior to the PRA this was an absolute taboo in the trade. No one did it. After the PRA, nearly everyone does, despite the huge risk of cold sores, which is herpes simplex. I saw, for the first time, oral sex being performed without barriers. The code for this is NBJ, which stands for Natural Blow Job. CBJ is the code for Covered. We had no terms for these things before [decriminalization] because we considered it a betrayal of the sisterhood. Safe sex had been rigidly internally policed. All that has gone by the wayside since high competition and lowered rates. Girls are also now expected to let men cum as many times as they can within the booked time. It was never that way before. They paid once and received one service.

Porn has changed the trade dramatically. More johns expect a kind of violence to be acceptable. I’m not talking about punching and beating, though that can and does happen now, just as it always has. I’m talking more about gagging, throttling, spanking, and hard pounding. The rise of gonzo porn has normalized sexual violence. Under the Nordic Model, prostituted persons/sex workers would command far more power to draw boundaries because johns could be criminalized with a phone call. Under the circumstances in NZ right now, prostituted persons/sex workers are putting up with it because they desperately need the money.

So, I repeat, the power went to the pimps and johns despite that never being the goal. I respect and adore the people I worked with at NZPC because I know [that] they, like me, wanted everyone in the sex trade to have legal protections, power of conditions and negotiation, and a way to be as safe as possible. It’s been very hard to admit we failed, but I feel morally obligated to do so. I still want the original goal and I believe the Nordic Model offers the best chance of making that happen.

 

Quote from The Evidence About Prostitution That The New York Times Ignored by Rachel Moran.

Distinguishing Categories of Violence

by Lierre Keith, an excerpt from the book Deep Green Resistance, Chapter Three: Liberals and Radicals

Distinguishing Categories of Violence

It’s understandable that people who care about justice want to reject violence; many of us are survivors of it, and we know all too well the entitled psychology of the men who used it against us. And whatever our personal experiences, we can all see that the violence of imperialism, racism, and misogyny has created useless destruction and trauma over endless, exhausting millennia. There are good reasons that many thoughtful people embrace a nonviolent ethic.

Violence can be used destructively or wisely: by hierarchy or for self-defense, against people or property, for self-actualization or political resistance.

“Violence” is a broad category and we need to be clear what we’re talking about so that we can talk about it as a movement. I would urge the following distinctions: the violence of hierarchy vs. the violence of self-defense, violence against people vs. violence against property, and the violence as self-actualization vs. the violence for political resistance. It is difficult to find someone who is against all of these. When clarified in context, the abstract concept of “violence” breaks down into distinct and concrete actions that need to be judged on their own merits. It may be that in the end some people will still reject all categories of violence; that is a prerogative we all have as moral agents. But solidarity is still possible, and is indeed a necessity given the seriousness of the situation and the lateness of the hour. Wherever you personally fall on the issue of violence, it is vital to understand and accept its potential usefulness in achieving our collective radical and feminist goals.

Violence of Hierarchy vs. Violence of Self-Defense

The violence of hierarchy is the violence that the powerful use against the dispossessed to keep them subordinated. As an example, the violence committed for wealth is socially invisible or committed at enough of a distance that its beneficiaries don’t have to be aware of it. This type of violence has defined every imperialist war in the history of the US that has been fought to get access to “natural resources” for corporations to turn into the cheap consumer goods that form the basis of the American way of life. People who fight back to defend themselves and their land are killed. No one much notices. The powerful have armies, courts, prisons, and taxation on their side. They also own the global media, thus controlling not just the information but the entire discourse. The privileged have the “comforts or elegancies” (as one defender of slavery put it) to which they feel God, more or less, has entitled them, and the luxury to remain ignorant. The entire structure of global capitalism runs on violence (Violence: The Other Fossil Fuel?). The violence used by the powerful to keep their hierarchy in place is one manifestation that we can probably agree is wrong.

In contrast stands the violence of self-defense, a range of actions taken up by people being hurt by an aggressor. Everyone has the right to defend her or his life or person against an attacker. Many leftists extend this concept of self-defense to the right to collective defense as a people. For example, many political activists supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, even taking personal risks in solidarity work like building schools and harvesting coffee. Indeed some people refuse to call this collective self-defense “violence,” defining violence as only those brutal acts that support hierarchy. I believe it is more honest to call this violence, and accept that not all violence is equal, or equally bad.

Violence against Property vs. Violence against People

Again, some people reject that violence is the correct word to describe property destruction. Because physical objects cannot feel pain, they argue, tools like spray paint and accelerants can’t be considered weapons and their use is not violent. I think the distinction between sensate beings and insensate objects is crucial. So is property destruction violent or nonviolent? This question is both pragmatic—we do need to call it something—and experiential. Destroying property can be done without harming a single sentient being and with great effect to stop an unjust system. Can anyone really argue against the French resistance blowing up railroad tracks and bridges to stop the Nazis?

But violence against property can also be an act meant to intimidate. This is the source of the unease that many progressives and radicals may feel toward property destruction. If you have been a person so threatened, you know how effective it is. Indeed, if violence against property were an ineffective approach to instilling fear and compliance, no one would ever use it. Burning a cross on someone’s lawn is meant to traumatize and terrorize. So is smashing all the dinner plates to the floor. A friend who survived a right-wing terrorist attack on the building where she worked was later hospitalized with severe PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder). Property destruction can have a crippling effect on sentient beings.

Whatever we decide to call property destruction, we need to weigh the consequences and strategic benefits and make our decisions from there. Again, “violence” is not a bad word, only a descriptive one. Obviously, many more people can accept an attack against a window, a wall, or an empty building than can accept violence against a person, and that’s as it should be. But wherever you stand personally on this issue, basic respect for each other and for our movement as a whole demands that we acknowledge the distinction between people and property when we discuss violence.

Violence as Self-Actualization vs. Violence for Political Resistance

Male socialization is basic training for life in a military hierarchy. The psychology of masculinity is the psychology required of soldiers, demanding control, emotional distance, and a willingness and ability to dominate. The subject of that domination is a negative reference group, an “Other” that is objectified as subhuman. In patriarchy, the first group that boys learn to despise is girls. Franz Fanon quotes (uncritically, of course) a young Algerian militant who repeatedly chanted, “I am not a coward, I am not a woman, I am not a traitor.” No insult is worse than some version of “girl,” usually a part of female anatomy warped into hate speech.

With male entitlement comes a violation imperative: men become men by breaking boundaries, whether it’s the sexual boundaries of women, the cultural boundaries of other peoples, the physical boundaries of other nations, the genetic boundaries of species, or the biological boundaries of ecosystems. For the entitled psyche, the only reason “No” exists is because it’s a sexual thrill to force past it. As Robin Morgan poignantly describes the situation of Tamil women,

To the women, the guerillas and the army bring disaster. They complain that both sets of men steal, loot, and molest women and girls. They hate the government army for doing this, but they’re terrified as well of the insurgent forces ostensibly fighting to free them. Of their own Tamil men, one says wearily, “If the boys come back, we will have the same experience all over again. We want to be left in peace.”

Eldridge Cleaver announced, “We shall have our manhood or the earth will be leveled by our attempts to gain it.” This is a lose-lose proposition for the planet, of course, and for the women and children who stand in the way of such masculine necessity. Or as the Vietnamese say, when the elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.

As we can see from these examples, whether from a feminist understanding or from a peace perspective, the concern that taking up violence could potentially be individually and culturally dangerous is a valid one. Many soldiers are permanently marked by war. Homeless shelters are peopled by vets too traumatized to function. Life-threatening situations leave scars, as do both committing and surviving atrocities.

But violence is a broad category of action; it can be wielded destructively or wisely. We can decide when property destruction is acceptable, against which physical targets, and with what risks to civilians. We can decide whether direct violence against people is appropriate. We can build a resistance movement and a supporting culture in which atrocities are always unacceptable; in which penalties for committing them are swift and severe; in which violence is not glorified as a concept but instead understood as a specific set of actions that we may have to take up, but that we will also set down to return to our communities. Those are lines we can inscribe in our culture of resistance. That culture will have to include a feminist critique of masculinity, a good grounding in the basics of abuse dynamics, and an understanding of posttraumatic stress disorder. We will have to have behavioral norms that shun abusers instead of empowering them, support networks for prisoners, aid for combatants struggling with PTSD, and an agreement that anyone who has a history of violent or abusive behavior needs to be kept far away from serious underground action. Underground groups should do an “emotional background check” on potential recruits. Like substance abuse, personal or relational violence should disqualify that recruit. First and foremost, we need a movement made of people of character where abusers have no place. Second, the attitudes that create an abuser are at their most basic level about entitlement. A recruit with that personality structure will almost certainly cause problems when the actionists need sacrifice, discipline, and dependability. Men who are that entitled are able to justify almost any action. If they’re comfortable committing atrocities against their intimates and families, it will be all too easy for them to behave badly when armed or otherwise in a position of power, committing rape, torture, or theft. We need our combatants to be of impeccable character for our public image, for the efficacy of our underground cells, and for the new society we’re trying to build. “Ours is not a war for robbery, not to satisfy our passions, it is a struggle for freedom,” Nat Turner told his recruits, who committed no atrocities and stole only the supplies that they needed.

Only people with a distaste for violence should be allowed to use it. Empowering psychopaths or reinscribing the dominating masculinity of global patriarchy are mistakes we must avoid.

A very simple question to ask as we collectively and individually consider serious actions like property destruction is, is this action tactically sound? Does it advance our goal of saving the planet? Or does it simply answer an emotional need to do something, to feel something? I have been at demonstrations where young men smashed windows of mom and pop grocery stores and set fire to random cars in the neighborhood. This is essentially violence as a form of self-expression—for a very entitled self. Such random acts of destruction against people who are not the enemy have no place in our strategy or in our culture. It’s especially the job of men to educate other men about our collective rejection of masculinist violence.

Editors Note: The organization DGR is founded on the ideas and analysis laid out in the book by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Aric McBay. To increase the book’s accessibility, especially to international audiences, we’re now making it available for free in two ways:

Counting Dead Women 2016

by Karen Ingala Smith

In 2016, at least 117 UK women killed by men, or where a man is the principal suspect. 117 women in 365 days is one woman dead every 3.1 days.

  1. 7 January 2016: Katrina O’Hara, 44, was stabbed to death by her ex-partner, Stuart Thomas, 49.
  2. 13 January 2016: Georgina Symonds, 25, was strangled with a rope/ligature by Peter Morgan, 53.
  3. 23 January 2016: Lisa Lyttle, 49, was strangled to death with a mobile phone charger. Her husband, Warren Lyttle, 50, has been charged with her murder.
  4. 29 January 2016: Andrea Lewis, 51, died suffering a fractured skull, broken ribs and 41 separate areas of bruising, inflicted by Rhys Hobbs 43.
  5. 30 January 2016: India Chipchase, 20, was found dead after having been declared missing. Edward Tenniswood, 51, has been convicted of her murder and rape. She died as a result of ‘blunt force trauma’ and ‘pressure on the neck’, 33 separate injuries were found on her body including haemorrhaging across her face, consistent with having been strangled.
  6. 31 January 2016: Guida Rufino, 38, was found dead with neck injuries. Her partner Anthony Roberts, is suspected of killing her before killing himself.
  7. 31 January 2016: Elidona Demiraj, 25, was stabbed/slashed in the throat. Arben Rexha, 31, has been charged with her murder.
  8. 2 February 2016: Geraldine Newman, 51, was killed by head injuries, her two children, Shannon, 12, and Shane, 6, were also stabbed to death. Her husband, and the father of the two children Paul Newman, 42, killed himself after killing his family.
  9. 3 February 2016: Bethany Hill, 20, was killed by a blade wound to the neck. Jack Williams, 21,  and Kayleigh Woods, 23, are on trial for her murder.
  10. 4 February 2016: Caroline Andrews, 52, was strangled to death by her husband, Stuart Andrews, 54.
  11. 6 February 2016: Sheila Jefferson, 73, and her husband Dennis, Jefferson, were killed due to head and neck injuries before their home was set on fire. Norman Williams, 70, who was Sheila Jefferson’s brother-in-law, was suspected of killing them and died of injuries sustained in the fire.
  12. 7 February 2016: Maylyn Couperthwaite, 52, was stabbed to death by her neighbour Oliver Faughey, 62. Her mother, Audrey Couperthwaite, who was also hurt in the attack said her had subjected them to a campaign of harassment for 6-years
  13. 8 February 2016: Kerry Gascoigne, 43, died of “pressure to the neck”. Her partner, Stephen Fretwell, 44, has been charged with her murder.
  14. 12 February 2016: Leanne Wall, 36, was head-butted them strangled. Her (ex) partner, William Mack, 39, has been charged with her murder.
  15. 12 February 2016: Jessica McGraa, 37, was found dead. Bala Chinda, 25, was charged with her murder.
  16. 13 February 2016: Maria Byrne, 35, was found dead. Her husband, Darren Byrne, has been charged with her murder.
  17. 21 February 2016: Lisa Reynolds, 31, was killed by multiple stab wounds. Her partner, Barry Knapper, 31, has been charged with her murder.
  18. 22 February 2016: Natasha Bradbury, 28, was found dead. Luke Jones, 33, has been charged with her murder.
  19. 26 February 2016: Julie Hill, 51, was found dead alongside her mother, Rose Hill, 75. Christopher Whelan, 20, has been charged with their murders.
  20. 26 February 2016: Rose Hill, 75, was found dead alongside her daughter, Julie Hill, 51. Christopher Whelan, 20, has been charged with their murders.
  21. 26 February 2016: Christine James, 65, was murdered by Kris Wade, 36, who slit her throat in a sexually motivated attack. He had been sacked from previous jobs due to reports of him carrying out sexual assaults but police action had not been taken.
  22. 29 February 2016: Julie Archer, 49, died a number of days after being doused with petrol and set alight. Her brother, Stephen Archer, 50, has been charged with her murder.
  23. 2 March 2016: Dawn Green, 69, was found dead along with her husband Malcolm Green, 70. Police said they were treating her death as suspicious but were not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths.
  24. 3 March 2016: Gemma Stevens, 32, was found dead in a house fire in the early hours of the morning. Gary Tyson, 35, has been charged with her murder, arson and attempted wounding. He had also been accused of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to her on February 26.
  25. 11 March 2016: Lyndsay Smith, 42, was stabbed to death. Gavin Wilson, 41, of the same address, was charged with her murder.
  26. 14 March 2016: Robyn Mercer, 50, was found dead outside her home. Her head had been beaten so severely the police who found her ‘thought she had been shot’.
  27. 19 March 2016: Paige Doherty, 15, was killed through stab wounds to her neck. John Leathem, 31, has been charged with her murder.
  28. 21 March 2015: Carrie Ann Izzard, 47, was stabbed to death. She had split up with her boyfriend, Gerry Palmer, 50, only days before. He has been charged with her murder.
  29. 23 March 2016: Lynne Freeman, 46, was stabbed to death by her partner Alan Bennett, 34, he also murdered his ex-partner Jodie Betteridge, 30.
  30. 23 March 2016: Jodie Betteridge, 30, was stabbed to death by her ex-partner Alan Bennett, 34, who also murdered his partner, Lynne Freeman, 46.
  31. 23 March 2016: Joanna Trojniak, 29, was stabbed in the chest. Her partner, Pawel Sroka, 33, has been charged with her murder.
  32. 24 March 2016: Amina Begum, 47, was found outside her home with multiple stab wounds. Her son, Javid Ahmed, has been charged with her murder.
  33. 29 March 2016: Natasha Sadler, 40, was stabbed. Foster Christian, 53, has been charged with her murder and that of Simon Gorecki, 47, as well as two counts of GBH.
  34. 30 March – 3 April 2016: Laura Marshall, 31, was found dead on 4th Her partner, Gary O’Dowd had a long history of subjecting her to abuse and had threatened to kill her. He is currently on bail.
  35. 31 March 2016: Elizabeth MacKay, 60, was killed in what has been described by police as a “sustained and brutal assault”. Michael Taylor, 70, has been charged with her murder.
  36. 2 April 2016: Marie Johnston, 44, was found dead. Matthew Dean, 34, has been charged with wounding with intent and sexual assault.
  37. 2 April 2016: Norma Bell, 79, was found dead after a fire at her home, she had been killed before the fire started. Gareth Dack, 32, has been charged with her murder.
  38. 10 April 2016: Tracy Cockrell, 51, who had moved to a new area was found dead alongside Nigel McGrath. Police said that they were treating Tracy’s death as murder and were not looking for anyone else.
  39. 11 April 2016: Helen Bailey, 51, was last seen alive. Her body was found three months later in a sceptic tank in the grounds of her home. Her partner Ian Stewart, who had reported her missing, has been charged with her murder and perverting the course of justice.
  40. 12 April 2016: Leigh-Ann Mahachi, 22, was killed with multiple stab wounds. Tapiwa Furusa, 37, has been charged with her murder.
  41. 13 April 2016: Jean Ryan, 67, was stabbed to death. Her husband, Shaun Ryan, 61, has been charged with her murder.
  42. 17 April 2016: Coleen Westlake, 48, died of blunt force trauma and strangulation. Craig Bird, 31, has been charged with her murder.
  43. 18 April 2016: Nasreen Khan, 39, was killed with multiple stab wounds inflicted by her husband Imran Khan, 39.
  44. 24 April  2016: Laraine Rayner, 53, was killed by a stab wound to the neck.  Steven Stocks, 43, has been charged with her murder.
  45. 24 April 24: Faye Daniels, 30, was killed by multiple stab wounds. Phillip Barlow, 36, was charged with her murder.
  46. 26 April 2016: Xin Xin Liu, 39, was stabbed to death. Her husband Robert Kerr, 38, has been charged with her murder.
  47. 28 April 2016: Louise O’Brien, 36, was found dead and wrapped up in a carpet after having been strangled between 24 and 28 April. Her partner, David Anderson, 41, has been charged with her murder.
  48. 1 May 2016: Natalie Hemming, 31, was last seen. Her family reported her missing on 3 May. Her husband Paul Hemming, 42, was arrested on 4 May and later charged with her murder. Her body was found on 22 May.
  49. 1 May 2016: Becky Morgan, 17, was pulled dead from the sea. Michael Bowditch, 21, was found guilty of manslaughter for not helping her or summoning help as she drowned.
  50. 3 May 2016: Iris Owens, 75, was found dead. Her son, Robert Owens, 47, has been charged with her murder.
  51. 4 May 2016: Julie Cook, 44, died in hospital a day after sustaining a head injury. Daniel Bragg, 36, has been charged with manslaughter.
  52. 7 May 2016: Khabi Abrey, 30, was killed as a result of a fire in the flats where she liked. Lillo Toisi, 47, has been charged with her murder, plus arson with intent to endanger life, and arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
  53. 8 May 2016: Anne-Marie Nield, 44, was found dead with multiple injuries. Richard Howarth, 41, has been charged with her murder.
  54. 19 May 2016: Maria Mbombo, 46, was stabbed to death. Her husband Jose Leonardo, also known as Jeff Mbombo, has been charged with her murder.
  55. 20 May2016: Marina Erte, 33, was found dead. Her ex-husband, Gytis Griskevicius, 32, has been charged with murder.
  56. 21 May 2016: Sonita Nijhawan, 38 was stabbed 124 times with an axe and a knife by her husband Sanjay Nijhawan, 38. He was found guilty of manslaughter.
  57. 2 June 2016: Dawn Rhodes, 38, was found dead. Her husband, Robert Rhodes, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  58. 3 June 2016: Sylvia Stewart, 69, and her husband Peter Stewart,73 were reported missing. Peter Stewart was later found stabbed to death. Ali Qazimaj, 42, fled the country and was arrested in Luxemburg in relation to the Stuarts’ death. Police have indicated that they have no expectation of finding Sylvia Stewart alive.
  59. 9 June 2016: Andrena Douglas, 53, was found dead when police went to her home to inform her that her partner, Henry Galbraith, 50, had been found badly injured in a caravan fire. Her death is being treated as murder. Police are said to be ‘not looking for anyone else’.
  60. 13 June 2016: Karen Hales, 53, and her daughter Jade Hales, 28, were killed by blunt force trauma injuries to the head. Anthony Showers, 42, has been charged with their murders.
  61. 13 June 2016: Jade Hales, 28, and her mother Karen Hales, 53, were killed by blunt force trauma injuries to the head. Anthony Showers, 42, has been charged with their murders.
  62. 16 June 2016: Jo Cox, 38, Labour MP, was shot and stabbed multiple times following a constituency meeting. Thomas Mair, 52, has been charged in relation to her death.
  63. 20 June 2016: Helen Fraser, 50, was stabbed to death. Her partner Stephen Bernard, 50, was also found dead with a self-inflicted stab wound. Police are not looking for anyone else.
  64. 20th June 2016: Jean Irwin, 83, was strangled to death. Her husband John Irwin, 77, was found hanged. Police are treating Jean’s death as murder and are not looking for anyone else in relations to the crime.
  65. 21 June 2016: A 61-year-old woman who has not yet been named was stabbed to death. Vaclovas Liubavicius, 61, who is believed to have been her partner, has been charged with her murder.
  66. 23 June 2016: Agnieszka Szmura, 30, was stabbed to death. Toryino Williams, 22, has been charged with her murder.
  67. 23 June 2016: Sarah Nash, 37, was strangled and beaten by her partner Lee Guntrip, 25. He had  attended a Building Better Relations Programme and a Domestic Abuse Programme after pleading guilty to charges of actual bodily harm and assault by beating. Guntrip also killed himself.
  68. 6 July 2016: Albertina Choules, 81, died of a head injury before her body was set alight. Tautuydas Narbutas, 23, has been charged with her murder.
  69. 12 July 2016: Allison Muncaster, 48, was shot dead. Her husband Stephen Muncaster, 47, is believed to have killed her then shot himself dead.
  70. 15 July 2016: Fiona Southwell, 60, was found dead. Daniel Edwards, 21, has been charged with her murder.
  71. 18 July 2016: Aimee Spencer, 27, died of her injuries after having been reported pushed/thrown to her death.
  72. 18 July 2016: Emma Baum, 22, died from severe head injuries after a “sustained attack”. David Davies, 25, has been charged with her murder.
  73. 18 July 2016: Claire Hart, 50, was shot dead, alongside her daughter Charlotte Hart, 19, by her husband Lance Hart,57, who then shot himself dead.
  74. 18 July 2016: Charlotte Hart, 19, as shot dead, alongside her mother Claire Hart, 50, by her father Lance Hart,57, who then shot himself dead.
  75. 19 July 2016: Tracy Gabriel, 40, was stabbed to death. Her ex-partner, Hugh Gallacher, 57, is thought to have killed her and a friend, before jumping to his death.
  76. 20 July 2016: Samia Shahid, 28, is believed to have been raped by her ex-husband Choudhry Shakeel and then strangled by Shakeel and her father Mohammed Shahid.
  77. 22 July 2016: Nicola Haworth, 33, was strangled to death. Gary Fletcher, 34, has been charged with her murder.
  78. 19-22 July 2016: Lenuta Haidemac, 28, was found dead. Casey Scott, 28, has been charged with her murder.
  79. 24 July 2016: Hannah Pearson, 16, was pronounced dead shortly after having been taken to hospital by emergency services. James Morton, 23, has been charged with her murder.
  80. 28 July 2016: Margaret Mayer, 85, was found dead after her husband Angus Mayer, had tried to throw himself under a train. He was later arrested and detained in relation to her death.
  81. 3 August 2016: Darlene Horton, 64, an American tourist visiting London, was stabbed to death by Zakaria Bulhan, 19.
  82. 4 August 2016: Gregana Prodanova, 38, was last seen alive. She was reported missing on 8th August and ‘human remains’ now confirmed to be hers, were found on 16 August. Her ex-partner Kostadin Kostov, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  83. 4 August 2016: Lynne Braund, 54, died of critical injuries after being taken to hospital with severe burns. Raymond O’Connell, 63, has been charged with her murder.
  84. 12 August 2016: Donna Williamson, 44, was stabbed to death. Her partner, Kevin O’Regan, 37, has been charged with her murder.
  85. 19 August 2016: Xixi Bi, 24, was found dead after being reported to police as ‘experiencing breathing difficulties’. Her boyfriend Jordan Matthews, 23, has been charged with her murder.
  86. 23 August 2016: Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, was stabbed to death whilst backpacking in Australia. Smail Ayad, 29, has been charged with her murder and that of Tom Jackson, 30, who died of injuries sustained when trying to save her.
  87. 25 August 2016: Shana Grice, 18, was found dead at home after failing to arrive at work. Michael Lane, 27, has been charged with her murder.
  88. 13 September 2016: Alison Farr-Davies, 42, was found dead. Dean Jones, 37, has been charged with her murder.
  89. 15 September 2016: Melinda Korosi, 33, died of her injuries shortly after police were called to her home. Miklos Verebes, 29, has been charged with her murder in  what was described by police as a ‘domestic related’ incident.
  90. 16 September 2016: Hayley Dean, 38, was killed through blunt force trauma injury to her head. James D’Arcy, 50, has been charged with her murder.
  91. 17 September 2016: Annie Besala Ekofo, 53, and her nephew Bervil Ekofo, 21, were shot dead. Obina Ezeoke, 24, has been charged with their murders.
  92. 19 September 2016: Zofia Sadowska, 20, was found dead. Ashan Hassan, 28, has been charged with her murder.
  93. 24 September 2016L Nasreem Buksh, 43, is believed to have been killed through a head injury. A 54-year-old man, believed to be her husband Asghar Buksh, is being held in custody in relation to her death.
  94. 28 September 2016: Zoe Morgan, 21, and Lee Simmons, 33, were stabbed to death. Andrew Saunders, 20, has been charged with their murders.
  95. 2 October 2016: Jackie Pattenden, 53, was stabbed in the chest. Her partner Michael Rough, 55, has been charged with her murder.
  96. 2 October 2016: Natasha Wake, 26, was stabbed to death. Jay Nava, 26, with who she had recently ended a relationship, has been charged with her murder.
  97. 6 October 2016: Mandy Gallear, 42, was stabbed to death. Her husband Stuart Gallear, 41, has been charged with her murder.
  98. 8 October 2016: Lucy Jones, 35, suffered multiple injuries in a prolonged attack. Liam Fletcher, 29, has been charged with her murder.
  99. 9 October 2016: Vicky Bance, 37, died in hospital after being stabbed multiple times. Robert Bamce, 53, has been charged with her murder.
  100. 12 October 2016: Alice Ruggles, 24, was found at home with serious injuries and declared dead on the scene. Trimaan Dhillon,27, has been charged with her murder.
  101. 14 October 2016: Sophie Smith, 17, was subjected to a sustained attack and died of her injuries. Her partner Morgan Banks, 18, has been charged with her murder.
  102. 17 October 2016: Jodie Wilkinson, 27, was stabbed to death. David Waterston has been charged with her murder.
  103. 17 October 2016: Pardeep Kaur, 30, was reported missing. Her body was found 5 days later. It is believed that she was attacked as she walked home from work. Vadims Ruskuls, 24, has been charged with her murder.
  104. 29 October 2016: Ellia Arathoun, 29, was last seen alive. Her remains were found on 3 October. Andrew Proctor, 39, has been charged with her murder.
  105. 15 November 2016: Belen Tripp, 52, was stabbed to death. Her husband Peter Tripp, 70, has been charged with her murder.
  106. 20 November 2016: Natasha Wild, 23, was stabbed to death. A 31-year-old man was being held in police custody.
  107. 22 November 2016: Deeqa Ibrahim, 41, was stabbed to death. Bashir Ali,  41, said to be known to her,  has been charged with her murder.
  108. 23 November 2016: Lisa Skidmore, 37, was found dead after a fire in her home. Her post-mortem found she had been strangled before the fire started. Her 80-year-old mother told police she had  disturbed an intruder who had then assaulted her.  Police are looking for a man in his 20s.
  109. 3 December 2016: Rebecca Johnson, 26, was stabbed to death. Her boyfriend Radec Kovac, 36, has been charged with her murder.
  110. 8 December 2016: Linda Ordinans, 61, was found dead at home after being alerted by her husband Nigel Ordinans, 63, who told them that he had killed her. He killed himself shortly afterwards.
  111. 8 December 2016: Holly Alexander, 37, was stabbed to death along with Ronnie Kidd, 40. Krzysztof Gadecki, 37, has been charged with their murders.
  112. 10 December 2016: Andraya Webb, 39, was killed in a house fire that had been deliberately started. Anthony Porter, 32, has been charged with her murder.
  113. 12 December 2016: Umida Eshboboeva, 29, died after a suspected assault in her home. Adkhamjon Tovasharov, 34, has been charged with her murder.
  114. 15 December 2016: Angela Best, 51, was found unresponsive after a call to police and medics and was later declared dead. A man who was taken to hospital is being treated as a suspect.
  115. 16 December 2016: Clare Paton/Nagle, 38, was killed through ‘pressure on the neck’. Her husband, Vincent Nagle, 44, who died shortly afterwards in a car crash, is suspected to have killed her.
  116. 22 December 2016: Hayley Wall, 25, died 9 days after being assaulted.  Christoper Wall, 58, has been charged with her murder.
  117. 26 December 2016: Nicola Woodman, 39, was stabbed to death. James Hutchinson, 42, has been charged with her murder.

Awaiting information regarding the deaths of Gurpreet Kaur,  Tanussum Winning,  and an as-yet-unnamed woman from West Bridgford, Nottingham, Sandra Gill, Michelle Wright, Jean Constant, Debbie Wilkinson, Linda Harding, Kelly Machin, Tracy McPartland and Stacey Tierney. Any updates on these women or others missing from the list gratefully received.

 

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Can we please stop talking about rape like it’s an accident?

by Alicen Grey / The Fifth Column

Washington, DC (TFC) – A topless female at a Slutwalk with Still not asking for it scrawled on her skin. Facebook-ready memes that declare, My little black dress does not mean yes! A never-ending array of fun slogans like, “Consent is sexy!” “Ask first!” and “Fuck rape!”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: the liberal feminist approach to solving rape culture.

Rape culture, as you probably know, is the term used to describe the way society normalizes sexual violence, blames victims, and makes excuses for sexual predators.

“Consent culture” is its counter-concept, intended to override rape culture by teaching people 1) what consensual sex is, 2) how it’s different from rape, 3) how to consent, and  4) how to ask for consent. The implication of the consent culture movement seems to be that if rapists were simply informed that “yes means yes” and “no means no,” they would suddenly realize the horrors of their rapey-ness and not-rape anymore. Problem solved!

No, for real, this is an actual quote from an actual website: “Some ways you can generate consent culture are by… not raping people.”

Seriously? This suggestion is tantamount to shouting “Swiper, no swiping!” three times at a potential assailant and expecting them to slouch away while groaning, “Oh, maaaaaan!”

While this campaign to state the obvious may stop like, .002% of rapes (and I’m being generous here), what are we to do about soldiers who use rape as a weapon of terror in war? How are we to approach the man at the bar who buys an excess of drinks for his target with the conscious intention of making it harder for her to say no? What are we to tell the rapist father or the rapist uncle who believe their diapered babygirls to somehow be asking for it?

I’d wager a fortune that most rapists already know what “no” means. But apparently we need to be reminded that sexual predators are, um, predators.

Rapists are strategic in picking their victims. They test your boundaries, stepping too close during conversation, putting their hand on your arm or knee to see if you’ll be bold enough to say “stop touching me,” and in their twisted mind, your obviously nervous response (or lack thereof) is their signal to keep going. They get aroused by your discomfort, your shrinking, your silence. Even if you pretend to be interested, they can tell you’re only pretending because you’re too afraid to say “no.” And that’s exactly what they’re aiming for. Rapists don’t want your consent, or your enthusiasm, or your desire. Those things turn them off.

Most rape is not driven by an ignorance of what healthy, consensual sex looks like, but by sadism. And considering the severely gendered nature of this sexual crime, we must acknowledge that this sadism is generally a male phenomenon. We’re talking men hating women. Men wanting to own and dominate and punish women. When men rape women, it’s not an oopsie-daisy or a my-bad. When men rape women, it is a taking-of-pleasure in female pain. It is fear-mongering, it is woman-hating, it is a reminder to stay in your place.

Image Source: roga muffin, Flickr, Creative Commons slutwalk

And when rapists claim “b-b-but I didn’t know her little black dress didn’t mean yes!” or that they “didn’t know she was too drunk for sex,” they’re taking advantage of your gullibility and exploiting your empathy to cast themselves as oblivious victims. In harsher terms, they’re lying to you. By creating educational campaigns supported by thought-stopping slogans in lieu of critical analysis, in the hopes that next time they’ll behave themselves, you’re falling for it. Rapists don’t need it spelled out for them. Stop catering to their bullshit. Stop empathizing with predators. Stop.

If the push for consent culture accomplishes anything, it’s validating the pain of rape survivors. Too many victims don’t know that the “sex” they experienced was, in fact, assault, and that they do, indeed, have the right to feel victimized by it. The consent culture movement may provide them with a linguistic and conceptual framework in which to make sense of their emotions and trauma. Plus, it never hurts to learn to communicate more clearly and assertively in an intimate context. And I’m sure events like Slutwalk give survivors a sense of safety and community of which our system otherwise starves them.

But my concern remains, that mainstream feminism has become too comfortable with its non-strategy — so much so, that it’s practically an anti-strategy. Consent culture, as it currently operates, unintentionally enables rape culture by oversimplifying it, gender-neutralizing it and hyperfocusing on semantics rather than examining sex-based power dynamics. (For more on this, please see Freya B.’s excellent article, Let’s Talk About Consent.)

What we’re doing might have some vague benefits for a handful of people, but it sure as hell isn’t stopping rapists from raping — which should be our goal. It’s time to go back to the drawing board:

For starters, we know that teaching women self-defense significantly reduces their chance of being sexually assaulted. There are also a handful of women’s groups taking matters into their own hands, like India’s all-women police force, Charlie’s Angels. In an ideal world, of course, we’d figure out how to stop rapists from wanting to rape in the first place, so that the burden of preventing rape didn’t fall on women’s shoulders. Perhaps that part would require an overhaul in how we raise our children altogether.

The sheer volume of women and girls who live in constant fear of sexual violence is a global emergency. So we need to consider our options. We need to formulate actual strategies. We need to optimize results. But before we can do any of that, we need to stop talking about rape like it’s an accident.

 

Read more about rape culture on the Deep Green Resistance News Service.

What is radical feminism?

There are many branches of feminism. Radical feminism takes aim at the root cause of the crisis facing women: the system of violence that keeps people divided by sex with a dominant class (men) and an oppressed class (women).

This system of violence is called patriarchy, and over the past two thousand years it has come to rule most of the world. Patriarchal civilization is based on exploiting and consuming women, living communities, and the earth itself.

Radical feminists seek to liberate all women from oppression. We side with women resisting male violence in all its forms, including rape, pornography, prostitution, female infanticide, and forced birth. We are dismantling misogyny (hatred of women), biophobia (fear and hatred of nature), and lesbophobia (fear and hatred of lesbians).

Radical feminists in Deep Green Resistance are committed to overturning this brutal patriarchal culture in defense of the earth, the source of life; and our sisters, women around the world.

The Ignored Reality of Male Violence

The accounts of rape, wife beating, forced childbearing, medical butchering, sex-motivated murder, forced prostitution, physical mutilation, sadistic psychological abuse, and other commonplaces of female experience that are excavated from the past or given by contemporary survivors should leave the heart seared, the mind in anguish, the conscience in upheaval. But they do not. No matter how often these stories are told, with whatever clarity or eloquence, bitterness or sorrow, they might as well have been whispered in wind or written in sand: they disappear, as if they were nothing. The tellers and the stories are ignored or ridiculed, threatened back into silence or destroyed, and the experience of female suffering is buried in cultural invisibility and contempt. Because women’s testimony is not and cannot be validated by the witness of men who have experienced the same events and given them the same value, the very reality of abuse sustained by women, despite its overwhelming pervasiveness and constancy, is negated. It is negated in the transactions of everyday life, and it is negated in the history books, left out, and it is negated by those who claim to care about suffering but are blind to this suffering.

Andrea Dworkin

(Quote from Right Wing Woman page 20)

What is the Nordic Model?

by Nordic Model Now!

What is the Nordic Model?

The Nordic Model approach to prostitution (also known as the Sex Buyer Law) decriminalises all those who are prostituted, provides support services to help them exit, and makes buying people for sex a criminal offence, in order to reduce the demand that drives sex trafficking.

How did this approach come about?

The Nordic Model was pioneered in Sweden after extensive research. One of the researchers was Cecilie Høigård. Here she describes what happened (translated by Daisy Elizabeth Sjursø and edited slightly for length):

“We spent several years doing fieldwork and we developed close relationships with the prostituted women. We heard about their experiences of past abuse, extreme poverty and violence. We were prepared for these stories, because of our previous studies on outcasts and marginalized people. But what the women told us of their concrete experiences of prostitution was unexpected and shocking.

They told us what it was like to use their bodies and vaginas as rental apartments for unknown men to invade, and how this made it necessary to separate their body from their self: ‘Me and my body are two separate parts. It is not me, my feelings or my soul he fucks. I am not for sale.’

The women had numerous strategies to maintain this separation. To be agents in their own lives they showed great ingenuity and vigour within the little space for manoeuvre they had. However, over time it became more difficult for them to maintain the separation between their body and self. After the punter was done, it became increasingly difficult to bring the self back. Eventually the women came to feel worthless, dirty and disgusting.

These stories were very similar to accounts we’d heard from victims of other sexual violence, such as incest, rape and domestic violence.

The research group disagreed about many things, but we shared the same feelings of despair about the women’s pain and the punters’ lack of understanding of the consequences of their actions.

Then the idea of one-sided criminalisation of the punter struck me like lightning. The idea increased my heart rate, and gave me a sense of everything falling into place.

There was huge opposition to the proposal at first but after some years opponents in the working group changed their point of view.

The debate that followed served as a large-scale educational campaign. In Sweden, the attitudes towards the law changed rapidly in a positive direction, and the proportion of Swedish men buying women’s bodies has decreased.”

What is the aim of the Nordic Model?

Criminal legislation has the primary purpose of making it clear what we as a society consider unacceptable and discouraging people from doing those things.

I suspect that there is not a single one of us who has not wanted to punch someone on the nose, at least once in our life. But that thought is followed rapidly by the image of being arrested and maybe imprisoned, and so we move on to considering other more positive solutions.

The Nordic Model is no different. It makes it clear that buying people for sex is wrong and it has sanctions that discourage people from doing it.

Society’s values do change over time and some things that used to be considered acceptable are now considered unacceptable, and vice versa.

For example, we used to think that smoking was harmless and so smoking in workplaces  was not considered an issue. Then we learnt that smoking, even passive smoking, is harmful and the case was made that it is wrong for people to be exposed to passive smoking at work. Eventually we changed the law to ban smoking in workplaces.

In the run up to the introduction of the legislation, there was huge resistance. I resisted it myself. How dare the bloody nannying state tell me where I can smoke, I said. And then my young adult daughter said she thought that if the law had been in place over the previous years some of her friends wouldn’t have taken up smoking. This and my knowledge of my own decades-long struggle with nicotine addiction made me change my mind. If the new law saved even one young person from a life of nicotine addiction, then my inconvenience was worth it.

July 1, 2007 came and everyone who wanted to smoke in the pub moved outside. By the end of the week, everyone, even smokers, said how much nicer it was that the pub was no longer full of smoke and we wondered why we didn’t change the law sooner.

Prostitution causes damage to those in it and it can never be made safe and its existence makes women’s human right to equality with men a distant pipe dream. Vast sums of money are made from the heinous trade in (mostly) women’s and children’s bodies and this leads inexorably to sex trafficking.

It is time to make it clear that buying human beings for sex is unacceptable and to create criminal sanctions that discourage people from doing it.

We do not want to criminalise people. We want to change behaviour. And for those who are in it, we want to provide support to help them make a new life outside it.

What we are campaigning for in the UK

Each country that has introduced the Nordic Model approach has implemented it a little differently. It has been most successful in Sweden where it was introduced as part of a raft of legislative measures to tackle male violence against women and girls and to address sex inequality.

We believe we must learn from the experience in other countries and introduce the Nordic Model as part of a raft of measures.

1. The full decriminalisation of those who are prostituted

The evidence suggests that the majority of women and children enter prostitution as a result of childhood abuse, poverty and misfortune, grooming, coercion, and/or betrayal, rather than as a free choice between a number of viable options. And the evidence is clear that prostitution is inherently violent and damages those in it and that getting out of it is much harder than getting into it. And a criminal record makes getting out even harder.

We therefore call for the repeal of all the laws that target those who are prostituted and the clearing of their criminal records of any previous convictions for offences related to their own prostitution.

2. High-quality services for those in prostitution

We call for ring-fenced funding for high-quality services for those in prostitution. These must be non-judgemental and cover harm reduction as well as exiting support, including housing, legal advice, addiction services, long-term emotional and psychological support, education and training, and childcare.

Because punters are almost entirely men, services for women should be female-only and services for men and transgendered people should be separate.

3. Buying sex to be made a criminal offence

We call for the purchase and attempted purchase of human beings for sex to be made a criminal offence, regardless of where in the world it takes place. We do not believe British men should be free to cause damage in other countries. As explained earlier, the aim is to change behaviour rather than to criminalise people. We recommend a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

4. The procuring, pimping and sex trafficking legislation to be strengthened

We believe that the UK’s pimping and sex trafficking legislation is not fit for purpose and we call for it to be replaced with stronger legislation that recognises procuring, pimping and sex trafficking as the human rights abuses that they are and for penalties that reflect this. The policing of these crimes must be fully resourced and prioritised.

5. All the factors that drive people into prostitution to be addressed

We do not accept prostitution as the answer for the poor and disadvantaged, for recent migrants, for single mothers, for women and children. Or indeed for anyone.

We therefore call for a fairer and more equal society with a guaranteed minimum income for all, the elimination of the pay gap between women and men, better resources and support for parents and “looked after” children, an end to student fees and zero-hour contracts, and the tackling of all the other factors that trap people in poverty.

6. A holistic approach

  • Public information campaign

To be effective, the Nordic Model must be accompanied by a widespread public information campaign (like the one that accompanied the change in the smoking laws).

  • Education programmes in schools

That explain honestly the damage that prostitution causes.

  • Training for police and others

Experience in other countries has shown that for the Nordic Model to be effective, it needs to be accompanied by in-depth training for the police, judiciary, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and frontline workers in education, social services, local government, the NHS, etc.

  • The law to be prioritised and coordinated nationally

For the Nordic Model approach to be effective, it needs to be prioritised and implemented consistently across the country, otherwise pimps and punters will simply move to areas where it is not enforced. Similarly services for those who are prostituted must be coordinated nationally and not be left to the localism agenda.

We do not accept that women and children should ever be for sale.

Further reading

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Prostitution isn’t a Choice

My experiences show that a woman doesn’t choose prostitution. She is choosing survival. Prostitution isn’t a choice. It is the absence of choice. Nobody makes the choice to be poor, low caste, or female. Society and individuals take advantage of this lack of choice.

Language is politics. I use the term ‘prostituted woman.’ People wonder, ‘Who prostituted her?’ The system of inequality is what prostitutes women and girls.

–Rachira Gupta

 

Ruchira Gupta is the Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide – a grassroots organization in India working to end sex trafficking by increasing choices for at-risk girls and women. She has striven over her 25 year career to highlight the link between trafficking and prostitution laws, and to lobby policy makers to shift blame from victims to perpetrators.

 

Read more about our views on prostitution on the Deep Green Resistance News Service.