Friday, March 27, 2009

An Enduring Act of Political Violence

As we close Women's Month, let us revisit these words by Gerda Lerner: Women have always made history as much as men have, not 'contributed' to it, only they did not know what they had made and had no tools to interpret their own experience. What's new at this time is that women are fully claiming their past and shaping the tools by means of which they can interpret it.

Denial of the right to historical signification is an enduring act of political violence against women, who ironically actually comprise majority of the world's population. It occurs again and again, throughout historic time, with impunity. No one calls authority to account for the crime, because it is more comfortable to be a stand-in woman than a liberated one.

To appreciate the irony, consider that of the 50 persons designated by the Financial Times as framers of the debate on the future of capitalism, 5 (as in FIVE) are women. Meaning women have little or no say at all as to the shape of the future; they should only suffer in silence.

This denial of the right to history loops women's development into repeated beginnings -- because liberation for women is not possible while preserving, at the same time, patriarchal dominance. Hence, women's social and political evolution must be truncated again and again, the knowledge they accumulated through experience declared untenable, "out of line," wrong, etc., so that they can never reach that eureka moment of understanding that oh, liberation is comprehensive -- i.e., not only in terms of production but also reproduction; not only in terms of production relations but also in terms of social, political and gender relations.; that historically, women's experience of class itself has been arbitrated by gender; that there are specific characteristics of women's class oppression.

This act of political violence against women erases their history often at the instant of its making -- all words, all acts washed away upon the dictates of those who have arrogated unto themselves the right to decide what is history and what is not, what is significant and what is not. And their prime weapon in this act of political violence is the stand-in woman.

Remember this, if nothing else, about the 31 days of this month, March, in the year 2009. -- ##


Swanee said...

I think it was Einstein who said that we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them.

Here's hoping that the stand-in women you refer to will take this lesson to heart.

Anonymous said...

Many intellectuals have said the same...I agree with Swanee. I believe bell hooks also said something along the lines of we must first evaluate ourselves and make sure our values coincide with right political action otherwise we are doomed to recreate the system of oppression we are trying to eradicate.

Anonymous said...

It just crushed me when I found out marital rape was legalized in Afghanistan.....and there were some rallying from some Afghani women in support of the law. I haven't seen anyone rally outside the Afghani embassy yet.....