Filed under: Analysis, Anti-fascist, Anti-Patriarchy, Featured, The State, US, White Supremacy
Amidst controversy surrounding would-be Supreme Court appointee, Brett Kavanaugh, following his exposure as a sexual assaulter by a former classmate Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and several others, we hope to gather some thoughts and reflections on the broader context leading to this moment.
In the following article, we discuss issues facing women, but we don’t do this to exclude in any way trans and genderqueer people. We also believe that boys and men have a real stake in struggles against sexism and patriarchy.
Content warning, this includes discussion of rape and sexual assault.
“Primitive accumulation, then, was not simply an accumulation and concentration of exploitable workers and capital. It was also an accumulation of differences and divisions within the working class, whereby hierarchies built upon gender, as well as ‘race’ and age, became constitutive of class rule and the formation of the modern proletariat.” – Silvia Federici
“Those who own the country ought to govern it.” – John Jay, First Justice of the Supreme Court
Weeks before the midterms, Trump and the Republicans have sought to push through a far-Right, anti-labor, and anti-choice Supreme Court Justice pick, Brett Kavanaugh. This appointment, which would be the second under Trump’s Presidency, will signal the culmination of a 40 year project by the GOP to stack the Supreme Court, a body wherein appointees rule until death, with far-Right Judges.
When first brought before the American people, Brett Kavanaugh went out of his way to bow and kiss Trump’s rings, praising him with accolades of his supposedly vast ability to pick a ‘fair and imbalanced reader of the law,’ while also reassuring his base that he would in fact play for the home team. In reality, this is all spectacle. Supreme Court judges are not voted into office, nor can they be recalled. Like employers and police, the real essence of capitalist democracy is that the most influential authorities in our lives are completely unaccountable to those of us on the receiving end of their rule. While the law dictates that we must elect “representatives” to govern the nation; and the State uses this mobilization to re-solidify its logic inside the minds of its subjects, the vast amount of important decisions that shape our lives are made behind closed doors and without any thought to the concerns of the everyday person. When decisions are made publicly, they occur outside of politics altogether, in the areas of our actual lives: at work, in the streets, and at home.
The Alt-Right has advanced the talking point that rape and sexual violence are not an everyday facet of life within so-called Western Civilization, but instead, an ever growing threat caused only by those outside of it; thus creating the need for powerful leaders to protect us and wage war within this clash. Photo from The Rebel Media
Brett Kavanaugh is one of those specialists that will make decisions that will affect the lives of millions. But he did not simply come out of nowhere, he was produced by a larger world, which manufactures and grooms elitist specialists such as himself. And Kavanaugh’s nomination comes at a time when the elites are responding to and feeding off of rising reactionary violence and misogyny. The Alt-Right, which helped grease the wheels of Trumpism, was borne out of “Gamergate”; a violent rejection of feminist voices critiquing the mainstream of gaming culture. Meanwhile, outlets like Breitbart weaponized the fears of reactionary white men by arguing that “their” women would be raped by immigrants and refugees, while far-Right trolls like Milo Yiannapoulos and Lauren Southern proudly proclaimed that on college campuses rape was in fact, like “Harry Potter, both fantasy.”
The Alt-Right reaction, financed in part by billionaires like the Mercer family, took aim at self-organized social movements revolting against racism, sexism, environmental destruction, and stagnant wages. In doing so, it firmly made the argument that when white, upper class men raped, it wasn’t rape. But when it came to Muslims, black people, and Latin-American immigrants – the so-called “enemies” of “western civilization” – rape and anti-white violence are simply a guarantee. This in itself is a fundamental rewriting of the reality of patriarchy: sexual violence is a central pillar of Western Civilization, not something foreign too it.
Stepping into this groundswell of resentful right-wing reaction was Trump himself; presented by his followers and fashwave meme enthusiasts as a strong man that would return “traditional values” to the United States, which of course meant a return to the old patriarchal order, challenged by everything from pronouns to transgender people using bathrooms. Time and time again, we heard from Trump supporters and evangelicals that the cost of Trump’s “immoral behavior” was worth the return he was about to bring about, and through his advancing of an agenda that sought to roll back reproductive freedoms and civil rights.
THE RAPIST IN THE OVAL OFFICE
Like many men in power, Trump over the decades has used his position as a wealthy businessman with connections in organized crime and politics to solicit sex, often using the threat of violence and payouts to cover his tracks.
Trump has a long history of being accused of sexual assault, misogyny, and has personally been accused of rape a total of three times. Once against a former ex-wife, once against a business associate at his Mar-a-Lago resort, and again, with a 13 year old girl in 1994, while Trump was partying with another billionaire, a horrific sex predator, Jeffrey Epstein. According to Newsweek:
In 1994, Trump went to a party with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire who was a notorious registered sex offender, and raped a 13-year-old girl that night in what was a “savage sexual attack,” according to a lawsuit filed in June 2016 by “Jane Doe.” The account was corroborated by a witness in the suit, who claimed to have watched as the child performed various sexual acts on Trump and Epstein even after the two were advised she was a minor.
Immediately following this rape Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump’s sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I would be physically harmed if not killed,” Jane Doe wrote in the lawsuit, filed in New York.
The lawsuit was dropped in November 2016, just four days before the election, with Jane Doe’s attorneys citing “numerous threats” against her.
This behavior was seen again in Trump’s attempts to threaten Stormy Daniels and her child with potential violence, if Daniels came forward with her story that she had an affair with Trump in the run up to him taking Presidential power.
With the rise of Trumpism, we have in turn seen a culture of rape and abuse carried out by powerful men against women and girls, coupled with the threat of violence being used if they spoke out. These are the same “leaders” who promote the “return” of “Western civilization” to “traditional values,” at the center of which is patriarchy itself.
PATRIARCHY, A PILLAR OF THIS CIVILIZATION
Class society relies on patriarchy to prop up the existence of this civilization. The process of bringing human beings under this regime has always been violent. Patriarchy seeks to be a productive force, to mold everyone under its regime of gender; into both the producers of children, and to thus then produce new workers, citizens, and soldiers.
Through the conquest of “barbarian” tribes and the femicide and murder of hundreds of thousands of women, patriarchal Christianity was able to solidify itself as one of the building blocks of the “Western civilization” we are told by the political class that we are all supposedly beneficiaries of.
By solidifying the sanctity of these ideas within the origin myths of “our” civilization, the elites have created a perfect good/evil binary. Foreigners, black people, criminals, queers, insurgents, spies, women, and the mad and unruly are incorporated, neutralized, or killed. And then of course there are the “good Americans,” who are painted as the victims of a never ending attack from those below them on the social hierarchy. But Trumpism has also relied on another part to the story, that of an orchestrated global conspiracy playing out within the ruling circles of society, led by shadowy forces.
Just as the powerful and privileged clamor for “law and order,” the bureaucrats and rich continuously indulge in heinous criminality and wrongdoing, as more and more, society is governed by conspiracy theories and outright lies. Thus, on one hand we witness declassed Trump supporters animated by conspiracy theories, such as Pizzagate and Qanon, which at their heart deal with child rape and sacrifice, yet brush aside on the other the very coming to fruition their fears in the elites they support.
As the system crumbles under its own contradictions, it seems it doesn’t matter what anyone believes in anymore, just insofar as they continue to believe in the State at all.
WHAT THE STATE CANNOT ADDRESS
A rift is continuing to deepen between the idiots in Washington desperate to maintain their small little world, and the masses of angry people clamoring for a big break. Even Trump has understood this basic fact. But the peril of a world in decline cannot be bandaged by those who administer the current delirium. The police cannot stop police brutality, the capitalists cannot stop destroying the planet, your boss cannot remedy your dizzying isolation, and journalists cannot stop producing poorly-written lies.
As a whole, the State cannot simply do away with patriarchy. Already, politicians and talking heads have made this point clear: “if Kavanaugh cannot be appointed because of his actions, then no one can.” No disagreement from us.
THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES
So now, the hearing. Millions of people watched as Dr. Christine Ford explained in painful detail the memory of her trauma at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh. Dr. Blasey is brave for coming forward to directly expose the patriarchal machinizations and norms of the powerful and the culture that normalizes rape just as it protects and insulates the rich and powerful from any sort of consequences. Kavanaugh was beside himself with resentful rage, eventually shedding tears for his shattered reputation. Bureaucrats like Kavanaugh live a life free from risk, free from harm, free from consequences, despite imposing all of those conditions on the rest of us.
“Rape culture goes far beyond party affiliation or ideology, because patriarchy is not a temperament or discourse, but a way of organizing class-based reality.”
Within the hour, Lindsey Graham was on the news screaming and pitching a fit. Dr. Blasey makes a fine witness, he argues, but her story doesn’t matter. She is a pawn for the Democrats. The fanatical tribalism and Republican populism can bury the damning testimony of Dr. Blasey, he hopes. Smart move for a former Never-Trumper, desperate to maintain his influence after the recent death of John McCain, his guardian angel.
Happily, following this temper tantrum, Kavanaugh enthusiast Jeff Flake was confronted in an elevator by two women. The two women break down in tears as they scream at him, holding the elevator doors open, about their own survival stories, and demand that he not invalidate their experience by supporting Kavenaugh. This video instantly went viral. Jeff Flake calls for an FBI investigation, just hours after declaring his support for the appointee. At this moment, both parties know the situation could explode, which is why the kangaroo proceeding will last only one week.
The Democratic Party is already play-acting as radicals in order to stay ahead of the rage. They do not have enough power to stop the appointment and they know that millions of women and other working class people might take direct action to resist this callous appointment. During the proceedings around H.W. Bush appointee Clarence Thomas, who was sexually harassing his assistant Anita Hill, it was Joe Biden, former Obama VP, who ended up calling a rush vote in order to insulate the judge from the testimony of two witnesses. Rape culture goes far beyond party affiliation or ideology, because patriarchy is not a temperament or discourse, but a way of organizing class-based reality.
PROLETARIAN REJECTION OF SEXISM AROUND THE GLOBE
In the last year, the #MeToo movement has catalyzed scandal after scandal as politicians, directors, CEOs, and popular figures of all kinds have been exposed for sexual violence and harassment. Not least of all has been Donald Trump, who openly brags about leveraging his fame against women in his now-famous “grab ’em by the pussy” rant. While the movement has inspired millions of survivors of sexual violence to come forward to expose their own tormentors, or to simply acknowledge their own suffering publicly on social media (thus the slogan “me too”), it has also remained the initiative of celebrity and upper-class women. But scandals alone cannot dislodge the global patriarchal leviathan. Across the world, angry women are already engaged in insurrectional experiments against the patriarchy. It is these concrete actions and more that are needed to correct the colossal errors of the last 5,000 years.
McDonald’s Workers Strike
On September 18th, hundreds of workers demonstrated outside of the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago as workers declared strikes and work stoppages in 10 states against sexual harassment in the workplace. This kind of action is unprecedented in recent US history. “I’m not on the menu!” says one worker, perfectly capturing the intricate relationship between patriarchy and capitalism in one pithy phrase.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by Hart Research Associates, roughly 40 percent of women in the US fast food industry are sexually harassed on the job. This is more than an outlying figure and reveals a broader function of workplace disciplinary practices to subdivide the workplace into gender roles by demanding constant, invisible, immaterial and libidinal labor from all women by men. Anyone who has worked in the tip-based service industries is more than aware of the function of implied sexual availability and sensual service in securing a sufficient income. For women and feminine people by an large, this type of availability is also a precondition for employability in general, and not just for making extra tips. If the Me Too framework can take root in the struggles of proletarian women, the explosion is bound to come, and soon.
Rojava Revolution and Jineology
Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, an outcome of the mass uprisng against Russia-backed dictator Bashar al-Assad during the so-called Arab Spring, a large swath of northern Syria has initiated secessionist and revolutionary experiments in the predominantly Kurdish cantons. Together, these experiments and territories are referred to, in Kurdish, as the Rojava revolution. A fundamental tenet of this process has been the communal administration of “Jineological” principles, a specifically Kurdish feminist discourse developed in part by imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
In assemblies, fighting gyms, civic associations, militias, and political parties across the territory, women constitute a mandatory 40% of the leadership roles, and also convene their own autonomous assemblies and militia formations. While these formations work alongside the integrated formations and groups, women claim the powers to overrule decisions or initiatives which will negatively impact women as a specific group. This is an important subversion in the region, where conservative and violent misogynist practices are still very widespread. This strategy has created conditions of gender and sexual equality at times greater than in allegedly progressive Western forces, such as the United States or the UK.
On May 3, 2017, Lesvy Berlin Rivera Osorio was found strangled to death on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. Her death was followed by another murder two days later. Protests exploded on campus and around the city, as demonstrators and women across the country mobilized around the slogan “Si me matan” (If they kill me…)
Following the brutal murder of an Argentinian woman named Lucia Perez on October 8th of last year, protests exploded across south America under the slogan “ni una menos.” In Buenos Aires, universities were occupied and masked demonstrators blocked the streets while protests reignited in Mexico City, and a womens strike was organized in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Young women in Santiago, Chile marched behind a hand painted sign reading simply “la unica muerte que queremos es la de partiarcado” (“the one death that we want is of the patriarchy”).
PREPARING FOR THE STRUGGLES AHEAD
It is clear that millions of women and feminine people are going to continue to face attacks under the present system, and that those attacks will continue to complexify under the Trump administration. With Kavanaugh looking like a shoe in for the Supreme Court, it is a strong possibility that Roe v. Wade will come under renewed hostility by so-called “pro-life” movements and the far-Right. We have to remember that most of these forces actually believe that abortion is murder, and that they will fight tooth and nail to end this process should come as no surprise. It is up to us to illustrate that reproductive autonomy is a non-negotiable element of social life and that society – in the streets, in the workplace, and at home – will cease to function if the bodies of women come under new controls and restrictions.
The Democratic Party will attempt, in the coming period as they have in the past, to utilize non-profit organizations and “woke” talking points to control, recuperate, and steer efforts against a Kavqnaugh appointment and against any feminist or anti-sexist organizing that seeks to push the control of struggles outside the confines of electoral politics. We are already a powerful force in this situation and the politicians know it. They will use moments of misogynist excess to blackmail us into electoral strategies that are bound to fail. But they cannot save us because they are disgusting, because they survive on the same lifeblood as all bureaucrats: the submission of the poor under the yoke of Capital.
What is needed is a renewed commitment to autonomous subversive efforts against the patriarchy. Self-organized spaces, projects, and infrastructures should not lose themselves in linguistic and discursive traps, in internet games, or struggles for influence over irrelevant groups and resources, nor should we wait for approval from misogynists or sexually reactionary elements in society or even within social movement themselves. Women, femmes, queers, and men must work with urgency to develop new targets and methods of struggle adequate to the situation we are entering.
The myth central to patriarchy as to Western Civilization, is a total and complete lie. The idea that society is better off by being organized along the lines of a gendered and racial caste system is false, as is the idea that women should trade agency and control over their lives in return for protection from outside forces. In reality, it is the violence inherit within patriarchy that needs to come down, and come down now.
Before they convince us to wait, before another life is ruined, before we lose our nerve, everything must be brought to a halt.
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