Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Smash Tyranny

Racism, sexism, gay bashing, woman abuse are all separate piles of the same old crap. They all have some fundamentals in common. They can all be described as tyranny and their purveyors as tyrants.

To examine the fundamentals of tyranny, let’s examine it on a personal level. Let’s examine the persistent and all too familiar problem of woman bashing. It is a problem that is maintained on government and mass media levels but here we will look at it from a more personal point of view.

If we look at the dynamics between men and women on the issue of woman battering, there are some patterns that are eerily similar from abuser to abuser. Batterers will deny, minimize, rationalize and blame the victim to defend the status quo and to let themselves off the hook psychologically.

The way out of that particular malaise is the acceptance of responsibility for the abuse. For woman abusers to begin the healing process they must first accept responsibility for what they have done. Accepting responsibility fundamentally changes the dynamic between the victim and the abuser.

Accepting responsibility is not the same as self blame. That would simply repeat the punishing approach that the abuser used on the woman he abused. Self flagellation may seem heroic, but it serves no one. The abuser objectified and demeaned his victim and repeating the same habit unto his own psyche may only increase guilt, self loathing, and anger. It is feelings like this that he may have been trying to control in the first place when he took it upon himself to control his partner. As the abuser feels the need to control his emotions, he will control his partner. The trick is to eventually learn to live an emotionally independent life. Control of emotions is also an important aspect to this puzzle. The abuser has the impression that he must control his partner because she has control of his emotions. He may believe that to be the case.

Abuse is always a choice and it is used to secure control and privilege. It is used to maintain an old collective order that the abuser finds beneficial for his particular social position. In this case the status quo is that he is the king of the castle. It is not a matter of ‘losing it’, or, ‘I was drunk’. These are merely excuses and rationalizations to excuse his majesty from guilt.

But here we will focus on the first and most important part of this problem; the acceptance of responsibility.

The acceptance of responsibility means that the tyrant must acknowledge what he has done, that it was his choice, and he must accept his victim’s feelings of betrayal. He must accept his victim’s feelings of hatred for him as a result of the abuse. He must actually see what he has done with what used to be love. He must look inside his victim’s tears and her grief and her loss. And most importantly, he must feel it.

No easy task and any man that completes it is truly a man, in fact, a true hu-man. He will rediscover love and genuine acceptance.

The refusal to take responsibility for woman abuse on a personal level is one thing, but refusing to acknowledge it as a problem (denial), or maintaining that it’s not much of a problem (minimizing), or responding to the discussion with charges that women bring it on themselves, or that women are just as violent as men (blaming), serve to deflect attention away from looking at the beast in the eye. Collectively, this is not about laying guilt at the feet of each individual man. It is accepting the *fact* that we have a problem as a gender. It manifests from sexist jokes to the murder of women because they are women. As men we must confront this reality and do something about it. We must act in solidarity with the women that are in the trenches. We have to look at the power imbalance and the fact that all of us receive favoured treatment and that as a gender we have many privileges.

Collectively, men have to acknowledge woman abuse as a problem that is perpetrated by men and by male cultural norms.

Again, this is not about blame. This is about accepting responsibility as men and that does not mean we have to take on the personal responsibility of singular crimes. There is a system at work and we must acknowledge it.

The tyranny of sexism is one front on the battle for equality. Another is racism. Still another is nationalism. They stem from a perspective, a point of view that favours the privileged – the status quo.

Vertical divisions have their basis in idealism or in this case, idiot idealism. That is, they are notions concocted from arbitrary divisions. The divisions may be race, gender, religion and so on, but they are ultimately arbitrary. There is only one division based on material reality, and that is the division between classes.

If you are a factory worker and you are White, you have a lot more in common with other factory workers, male and female, whether they are Black, Mexican, or Chinese, than you do with the owners of the factory. And it doesn’t matter if they are in Korea, Angola or Canada. And the owners of the factories and the mines and the newspapers have a lot more in common with each other than they have with us, the collective that is the workers of the world. The difference is that they, the owners, recognize that as a fact and live accordingly. We generally don’t and are willing to pick up guns and kill each other because the owners or the owner’s puppets tell us to do it. The Palestinians and the Israelis have no need to kill each other and neither do the Iraqis and the Americans. They have bought the hype of nationalism, racism and hate and it is unmitigated bullshit.

Tyrants of all kinds have to be chased out from behind their homes with the drapes closed shut. They have to be chased out of the classroom and out from the factory floor. Woman abuse is not a private family matter. This is a very public and very political matter. We all must kick those doors down and smash tyranny where it lives. This is an old war and we are all in it. There are not hundreds, not thousands, not millions, but billions of victims of tyrants and we have the power to smash tyranny and reduce it to a nightmare of a collective memory. And at some point, we will be able to forget it.

But before we get there we have to stop bashing women and gays and people with brown skin. We have to stop killing people in nationalistic insanity. And to do that we have to acknowledge our own privilege as White people. We are not followed in stores and we are not discounted by employers because we are White. We have to acknowledge our privilege as men and particularly, heterosexual men. We are not beaten because we are heterosexual and we are not treated like children as a result of our gender; on the contrary.

Donald Rumsfield, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have recently heaped scorn on Amnesty International for NOT keeping within the boundaries of what they consider to be politically correct. They are tyrants and are fundamentally the same as tyrants the world over. They happen to be among the worst.

Most importantly, we have to smash tyranny, not the tyrants. To do so would magically turn us into them.

4 comments:

Archie said...

The following is a rather humbling response from a woman in Portland:

A note from a female abuser 02.Jun.2005 06:33

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making a *new* point link


As far as the sentiment and intention of this piece, as a biological woman who has experienced physical abuse by a man for around 3 years in my younger days...and who has rescued well over a dozen women from their male abusers with very little success, I can agree with much of this description of these methods of breaking the pattern of abuse on the part of the abuser.

As a woman who has physically and psychologically assaulted men throughout my life, I must object to the gender specificity given in this article however. I have exerted power over men as long as I can remember, from my brother to my dad, and on down the line. If men didn't / don't behave in the way that I believe they should behave, I abuse them.

I've been trying to break this pattern of abuse, using many of the techniques described in this article. However, I am not completely out of that pattern. I live alone for this reason. My pattern of domination runs very deep, athough there are a few men who for some reason I don't feel threatened by, and whom I don't try to control... only those who aren't co-dependent seem to escape my wrath.

I have connected with many men who have been the victims of viscious abuse by their female partners over the years. I hear the stories and watch the extreme and very damaging manipulation that is perpetrated by women on men daily. Yes, it's true that it happens more often the other way around. Yes, I've rescued more women from abusive situations than I have men. But the damage is equally felt and perpetrated by both sexes.

The reason I object to the gender-specificity of this article, is the same reason I object to bio-men feeling the need to be recognized as women, but who don't feel the need to actually make a sex change. This bothers me for a couple reasons. (Bio-women that want to be recognized as identifying as male I have this same problem with, but for the sake of continuity I'm going to only detail the former example). The main reason it bothers me, is that these men seem to suddenly exhibit some of the culturally "effeminate" traits of passivity, (often manifesting in passive aggressive behavior), self-victimizing, co-dependence, and other traits that I feel keep the gender-specific roles we claim to want to get rid of at the forefront of defining men and women.

The other reason it bothers me is that this article casts my gender in the role of the eternal victim. This does nothing to equalize gender roles, or to take down the cultural norms of gender division that continue to divide my sisters and brothers from each other. It does nothing to empower me to find ways to break out of the cycle of being a victim. Luckily I have already realized that I am not a victim, despite numerous incidents of rape and violence done to my person, I know within myself that I have the power to stand strong and protect myself, and since I have recognized that strength within myself I have ceased to be the victim of abuse. I have developed a pretty hard shell, this is true. But I no longer look at myself as a victim, and in fact I never did. I learned from each experience and grew from each experience... and became stronger and more resistant to that pattern of abusive behavior, learning to discern that pattern before it started to harm me in the future, and helping abusive men (and myself) look at what the triggers were, and why the controlling others isn't really in anyone's best interest, including our own. Unfortunately, I don't feel that the activist community reinforces these conversations and teachings. Instead the reactions to the patterns of abuse actually serve to reinforce the defensive low self-esteem reactions that trigger abuse of others and of self.

I am working hard to break my pattern of being an abuser of men. I am offended at the lack of attention that is paid to this problem. I think ALL abusers need to be recognizing our patterns of abuse and dealing with them in appropriate ways of taking responsibility, including feeling the victim's pain, and keeping ourselves and our tempers in check as we work through the reasons for our desire to control and oppress others. Because these reasons are systemic, and exist worldwide. We must not only address and recognize our own patterns, but the endemic cultural norms that created these patterns in the first place.

We need to break the pattern of gender-roles as well. This is part of the problem. We are confused about our "roles" and we perpetuate these roles by differentiating between the sexes. Then we lash out when we feel trapped in our roles, or when we see patterns of domination oppressing us. In my opinion, we need to work with each other to work through our pre-conceived perceptions of what we are supposed to be like, and just accept who we are, in order to break the pattern of abuse.

Archie said...

Comment from Sydney, Australia:


Total Agreement.
by Flakk 2:38pm Fri Jun 3 '05 comment#55701



What an excellent article.
You have described the biggest problem that has plagued the human race since we began living in a 'collective society'. Tyranny.......has always been an individual act of volition (choice) to attempt to dominate or control another human being.
We only seem to call it this when it appears in the actions of a government or foreign army for example. But we have lived with exactly the same tyranny on the domestic level since the invention of religion.
Religion has brought us a special kind or tyranny, the Tyranny of mind control, where you are NOT allowed to question a belief system that demands your obedience.
It is this conditioned (enforced) acceptance of Divine Arbitrary Rule through the use of fear tactics (man made tyranny) that has allowed all other forms of tyranny into our lives without question.
"For if MAN is made in Gods image (not Woman's), then man must have the right to rule over all women and thus, over all others of an inferior nature.รข??
But guess who told you that man was made in Gods image.................yes a man, with a vested interest in YOUR belief in his divine right to rule. The only way this tyranny gets to have the power it demands is if you willing surrender your right to think for yourself.
This is why TYRANNY still governs the life of so many people because they have abandoned their minds and surrendered willingly to the Tyranny of Gods law, administered by a MAN....
All forms of tyranny are born of the same little delusional belief of an inherent right (divine or not) to dominate others for their own benefit. However, this delusion is nothing more than a smoke screen to hide the real casue, their lazy, greedy, selfish desire to have more than they are entitled to. That is the essence of tyranny, those who steal the 'power' they were never entitled to.

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