The latest Carnival of Feminists is up, and it's amazing. I'm going to try and quickly write about a couple of things tonight (and I've only read about half a dozen articles).
The most challenging (that's a very loaded word, isn't it), of the ones I've read is from Feminist Reprise. She makes the links between rape and lesbian seperatism in a really straight up way.
So you already know I’m sick of sexual assault. I created those antirape designs and it was good, satisfying work, but even as I was doing it I was aware that underneath all the messages I could think of, there’s still the assumption that men care. That they care that they’re hurting us, or would if they only knew. That they care if we consent. And then I read Pinko Feminist Hellcat’s posts on the OC rape case, or I read some of the graphic stories of sexual abuse on Femivist’s Survivors’ Voices, and I realize, there’s a whole segment of the male population out there that doesn’t give a shit. When a 30-year-old man forces his penis into the mouth of a child, it’s not date rape, it’s not some necking that got out of hand. He’s not thinking she’s consenting; he doesn’t care. When three college students viciously beat and rape a woman in a houseful of people, it wasn’t because she didn’t say “no” loudly enough. When three 18-year-olds purposely drug the drink of a 16-year-old woman and violate her in every way possible with penises and objects while she’s passed out, and make a video of it, it’s not a misunderstanding. She’s an object to them, a thing to be used, and the damage to her doesn’t even matter because there will be more where she came from.Although I could nitpick in all sorts of places in many ways that's hard to argue with. I don't agree with her solution, she argues for the creation of communities without men. I really do think that is a personal solution, and there's nothing wrong with it, as a personal solution, but it won't stop rape. But I kind of feel like I do about the Temperance movement last century - I don't think that response to violence against women would work, but I certainly haven't got any better ideas.
And I get to thinking how feminists have been telling these stories for more than 30 years now.* For more than 30 years we’ve been detailing the abuse that men have heaped upon us, in every fashion they’ve been able to imagine. We’ve been analyzing power structures and locating oppressions and decontextualizing sexualities, and you know what? The stories aren’t changing. For the most part, these bloggers are women of my generation, women in our 30s or younger, and we’re still being dumped on and sat on and shat on by men. None of this is women’s fault, but it seems to me we’ve managed to identify damn few alternatives. Men ought to change, clearly. Their behavior is inhumane and inhuman and unjust and unacceptable. Rape, battering, war, capitalist exploitation—they should stop doing all of this immediately.
But it doesn’t seem to me that we’re getting very far by saying, “Stop raping us! Stop it! I mean it! Stop raping us!” We know that most rapists target women they know, but we still befriend them, we still drink with them, we still let our teenagers date them, we still leave our little girls alone with them. The last time I publically suggested letting young women know the real odds**, giving them a chance to learn from our experiences and make better decisions about their own safety, I got jumped all the heck over by another feminist, accusing me of blaming women for being raped. Of course men’s violence isn’t our fault, of course they should change, of course we deserve to be safe—but has the sex class men shown any indication that they’re going to change anytime soon?
What Amy wrote made me think about my list of CDs for jail. In NZ prisons you're allowed 12 CDs and 12 tapes (my making this list has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact there's no maximum penalty for contempt of court - really), and I was trying to figure out what I would take. I'm quite into 40s and 50s folk music, but I decided I wouldn't take Woody Guthrie. There's this passage in Joe Klein's book, the point of the story is that Woody Guthrie was hassling a woman who had terminated a pregnancy, but in his biography of Woody Guthrie Joe Klein introduces this story by describing her as a woman who had been unsuccessful in trying to fend off Woody at a party and had an abortion. He's a folk hero, and he rapes a woman, and the point of the story wasn't even the rape, it was the fact that he was hassling her for not bringing the resulting pregnancy to term.
How come I decide I wouldn't take stuff like that with me to jail, but I listen to it now? How come just a few hours ago I was singing along to Union Maid?
But those are just my first thoughts, I'll try to post more. Go, read the whole thing. I'd also recommend Biting Bever's continuum of rape and sex, which Amy links to. I'm not sure if I agree with her use of the word 'benefit', but I think what she's saying is extremely important.