Seriously, White Europeans should be the last ones to speak, and historically cannot make the claim that if you’re arriving at a place you must adopt (to) its culture. Have the French, English, Spanish or Zionists adopted the local culture to which they arrived in their imperial conquests!? This is really Christan whitedom blindness at its best.
I think I am an average bloke, really. I am not different than you, or about to preach you to position myself as better. I am not better. And I guess that, like many men, when I am exposed to the spontaneous #MeToo movement (not exactly a ‘campaign’), I get at the same time hopeful and inspired and upset, but also reflective and ashamed about certain regrets, immaturities and retrospect stupidities (although I never touched a woman without consent). But what I have to say is not about me, as an individual, but about our society and time.
We might just be living a momentous shift in the appreciation of, and resistance to, the unfair treatment and structural inferiority of women. But because anti-feminist arguments are still common, it is good to start by taking stock of how much we, men, have actually benefited so far from the gender-equality movement: by creating the conditions for fathers to have significantly more meaningful and affective relationships with our children; by having our life-partners shoulder in the house’s responsibility for income; by ridding us of the tedious and violent position of being in a constant cock fight, or being always ‘strong,’ if not by generally liberating us from emotional repression; by allowing men of alternative sexualities to be equally happy, as well as letting us all have a larger variety of sexual and other non-conforming experiences; by making the women and girls we love live up to their potential with confidence and security, and by letting our boys enjoy their lives in more ways than before. Feminism provided/s us with new opportunities, as well as betters our practice of fairness and emancipation from domination, so we benefit both as men and as human beings.
Today, Theresa May has joined trump in accusing Russia in secret programmes for destabilising Nato societies and interfering in free elections. Concerning indeed! But both leaders have refrained from comiting not to do the same in other societies that democratically elect a leadership that the US and the UK disfavors, as they have done in the past.
A brief reminder of historical episodes like Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Brazil, Chile, Guyana, Nicaragua, Libya, and many more, some of which are still concealed under the guise of security and secrecy.
But for now, we can all start educating ourselves here:
UPDATE: The US is also manipulating social media
Watching the disturbing images of the Spanish police violently dispersing peaceful Catalan civilians is an opportunity to draw urgent attention to the quick spread of policemen (and women?) in balaclavas, which appears as a new international norm of riot police units. The dangerous shift of the recent years towards masked policepersons operating against civilians is evident in journalistic photographs from the UK, the US, France, Germany, Israel, Turkey, Russia and many other countries, and necessitates serious public discussion. Presumably a spill over from ‘special’ anti-terror units who operate under the all-encompassing War on Terror, police forces’ new anonymity – and consequently unaccountability – testifies to how any civic unrest is now seen, and treated, as a threat to the nation.
The most obvious effect of masking anti-protest police officers is that they are less accountable and less deterred from wrongdoing, and therefore the masking means world citizens are less safe and more vulnerable to unlawful actions of the law-enforcers. In real time, fearless police officers and fearing protestors share the understanding that visual documentation no longer translates into a public post holder’s accountability. Masked, the police has written itself off potential disciplinary actions, which in turn encourages officers’ misconduct and ab/use of power, and both discourages and disables the complaints of its victims. Police forces took for themselves an unconditional peace of mind guarantee from potential victims, by dis-appearing the identity of officers and shielding it behind the identity of their appearance, so the covering of the face covers the potential cover up and saving face.
With the disabling of identification, not only are the victims of faceless police able to point their grievances to nobody (literally, to no-body), but they are now facing a new body instead, a body of faceless and fearless police officers, a Borg of sorts. Anonymised, the officers are not septate entities, but are experienced as one impersonal agency, a uniformed and uniformised form of force, an army of black robocops swarming like soldier-ants, indefinitely unidentifiable, well defended and highly trained to work as one fighting machine, and exposing the dystopian present, where ‘riot’ police is a hybrid of military special combat units and a civil law-enforcement force. Riot police — whose name already speaks volumes about the counterinsurgency perspective that fosters it and which sees any civil discontent as danger to the current order — is then not only bigger than its sum, but is even exclusive of its (human) components.
Milgram and Zimbardo’s famous experiments have taught us long ago how uniforms, anonymity and official roles strengthen obedience and liberate voluntary brutality of roleplaying humans. Can the balaclavas do anything other than enhance manifold this disembodiment? Than further dehumanise and de-individualise the police officer? Than ease the transcendence of a person from their identity, individuality and humanity?
Finally, perhaps most concerning is the shamelessness that replaced shaming, where yesterday’s fears from obedience and unaccountability to the public became today’s desirable operatives of public repression, in the name of law, order and public security.
I have two very young kids. A boy and a girl. They are both exceptionally stunning and painfully beautiful. Objectively, of course. Now, when other adults see my boy and want to compliment his beauty, many would say that he ‘will break many hearts, when he’ll grow up.’ When others want to say my girl is very beautiful, many would say that I ‘will have a lot of trouble with boyfriends when she will grow up.’
So, boys will break hearts, and fathers will need/try to protect girls from such boys, is what parents learn from society, as socialising and engenderment never end.
By the way, attending to society speaking is not enough, so to the former I answer that I’ll teach him kindness, and to the latter, that I’d be happy if she’ll have many lovers (surely more than if she’ll have none). I do wish both my kids will be kind with others’ hearts, and others with theirs, and that both will have many lovely experiences with whomever make them happy. But, yes, they are very beautiful, I agree. Well observed.
Last week, we watched Rashdash’s award winning show Two Men Show. I cannot recommend this show strongly enough! (Despite a redundant [and inaccurate] opening and various class issues). Its a powerful experience, phenomenal performance and extraordinary text. The show is about gender and [its] language and more, by a duo/trio that calls itself ‘radical feminist,’ but in my view, everything that is feminist today beyond liberalism is quickly titled radical, which is more telling about our misogynous time than about the radicality of the feminists. During most of the show, I was able to enjoy it as a comrade, sharing the criticism that was overall suggested about other types of masculinity. Yet, the feeling that it is not about me did not last to the end of the show (no spoilers), and I have then enjoyed discovering another layer of masculine dominance populating my subjectivity.
Anyway, the reason why I decided to write about the show was not (only) to recommend it and Rashdash generally, but also because of something entirely different. A while ago I wrote a hypothesis about how literacy, prevalence and dominance of numbers and digits have changed and design our ways of thinking. Well, in a discussion after the show, the artists mentioned the book The Alphabet versus The Goddess, as influential to their work. In the the book, anthropologist Leonarad Shlain has made similar – but more gendered – arguments about how alphabetic literacy has changed our thinking from holistic and feminine ways into textual-lexomatic-iconic-linear and masculine thought. So I just wanted to leave an update on this thread.
Notes about transsexuality, Palestinian-hybridity, and subjectivity in liberalism
1) Is transgederism humanist/liberal?
According to one typical narrative of ‘trans people,’ certain individuals ‘have always known that they were a man/woman locked in the wrong body.’ (By the way, the following analysis is equally true for cisgenders, who also, albeit silently, ‘know’ that they are inside the correct body). This narrative is anti-queer in its acceptance of normative definitiveness of categories of sex (men/women) and gender (masculine/feminine), as well as their respective alliance.
More importantly, such narratives assume that a subject can rise above a gender-sex ‘mistake,’ listen to one’s body (neutralisation), ‘know it,’ t and then want to, or demand to, or actually correct it, at ‘will.’ In this way, gender is ‘chosen’ or ‘sensed’ by an individual, and is not a latent social discursive structure (unlike race or class). Put another way, to say that you ‘have always known your true identity’ is a practice that reproduces subjectivity (against the poststructuralist view that subjectivity is created by discourse, and that individuality is a concept that in itself needs to be critically contextualised with socio-political-cultural-historical context(s)). The above narrative is arguably part of the naturalised liberalist zeitgeist that foster it, where individual’s agency is exaggerated.