In this country where everything has to be psychologized, and also used by sociologists, we don’t talk about oppression as a political reality. Instead we talk about people being victims. We say so-and-so was victimized. So-and-so is a victim of rape. And it’s an alright word, it’s a true word. If you were raped, you were victimized, you damn well were. You were a victim, it doesn’t mean you metaphysically in your state of being, are a victim, but it means somebody hurt you, they injured you. And if it happens to you systematically, because you’re born a woman, it means that you have a political system that uses rape to control you.
Now one of the things that has happened to us is that a whole bunch of people have said, not that we are victims, but that we feel victimized. We feel it, it’s a state of mind, it’s a state of emotional overreaction. We feel it. Not something happened to us, but we have a state of mind that’s bad. And feminists are responsible for this state of mind because we make women feel victimized. When we point out that there’s a rape every three minutes, that a woman is beaten every eighteen seconds in this country, that’s very bad for women because it makes them feel victimized. And we’re not supposed to be bad and make women feel bad. It’s the ultimate mind-fuck. It takes away all the ground that we can stand on and say, we have a political problem, we are going to find a political solution, and we are going to have to change the society we live in to find it.
Exploitation is real and identifiable and fighting it makes you strong, not weak. Sexual violation is real and it is intolerable and fighting it makes you strong, not weak. And woman hating is real and it’s systematized in pornography and in acts of sexual violence against women and fighting it makes you strong, not weak.
And the right and the left both, whether it’s Phyllis Schafly who’s lecturing on how if you had been virtuous you wouldn’t have been sexually harassed, or the left that’s explaining to you that you should celebrate your sexuality and forget about rape, forget about it, don’t have a bad attitude, don’t feel like a victim, they both want women to accept the status quo, to live in the status quo, and not to organize political resistance.”
Men who refuse to acknowledge that they are part of the oppressor class and insist on being treated like special snowflakes who don’t oppress anyone because they think they’re good guys who haven’t personally raped or beaten a woman, are a big part of the problem. Their head-in-the-sand refusal to acknowledge their own passive role in perpetuating injustice only leads to more injustice. Their friends and colleagues rape and batter women, while these “good” men do nothing. And they pat themselves on the back for it.
When men say, “Shut up about what men have done to you, or else you’re wallowing in victimhood when you should be doing something more positive”.
A few years ago now I was working in an office which had a poster on the wall saying “women are talking”. It was an inspirational message-ey one, like the “Keep Calm and Carry On” mugs. At the time, I loved it. I thought it was true. I thought we’d broken the silence and that was it. Patriarchy had just said “oh fuck, they won that one” and gone home.
More and more these days I get a chill running down my spine as I realise quite how limited the space is where we’re allowed to ‘talk’. (By ‘talk’ here I mean talk about men’s violence against us. There’s another chill there about how that’s obvious before you even specify, most of the time.)
For a start, we can’t ‘talk’ or ‘speak’ any more. We have to ‘disclose’, ‘share’, ‘confess’. Even the act of naming what men do to us…
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Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors. While American culture might be socializing people into becoming more individualistic rather than empathic, research has uncovered the existence of “mirror neurons,” which react to emotions expressed by others and then reproduce them.
A person who has empathy for another cannot hurt that person without feeling the hurt as if it is happening to themselves.
Empathy makes us want to help others, not hurt them.
Those who suffer from a lack of empathy are unable to step outside themselves to experience what other people experience, especially those who feel, think and believe differently from themselves. They have an adversarial attitude towards groups of people who differ from themselves in their beliefs, traditions or ways of life.
A lack of empathy makes us not care when we hurt others, because we don’t feel their pain.
A lack of empathy for another human implies that we perceive that human as less than human.
Hating feminism is hating women. Full stop. There’s no way to hate feminism without hating women.
Those who oppose feminism are generally privileged men who have it pretty good and don’t want to rock the boat, and women who oppose feminism have aligned themselves with those men in order to get the short-term rewards of male attention, social approval, and access to male-controlled resources. And then there are the women who have feminist sympathies but have been scared off from feminism because they are afraid of being called ugly man-haters.
There are also a contingent of white lower-class males commonly described as “losers” who hate feminism because their lives are shitty and they want to take it out on people more marginalized than they are. Hence why they also tend to be virulently racist and homophobic. These men are unwilling to recognize that despite their shitty lives, they still wield privilege. They falsely believe that to be privileged means to be rich and leading a great life. They’re conflating economic privilege with sex- and race-based privilege, when all the latter means is that as bad as these men’s lives are, women and nonwhite people of their socioeconomic class have it even worse. They don’t want to recognize this, because the toxic masculinity they are steeping in has robbed them of empathy.