Monday, March 15, 2010

Wishing Enough WAS Enough: A Message for Men to STOP the Misogyny!

THANK YOU, to Ms. Phylicia Oppelt for what follows. The article is from *here*.

Malema: 'Enough is enough'

Judge nails youth league leader over sexist outbursts

Mar 15, 2010 10:51 PM | By Phylicia Oppelt

Phylicia Oppelt: Today, I write this column with the faintest glimmer of hope that things are not all that bad.

Phylicia Oppelt
Phylicia Oppelt
quote Hatred of and violence against women is unacceptable quote

I write it not because there has been a massive shift in South Africa and our leaders toward the realisation of our Constitution.

I write it not because the service delivery protests are over and that all children are safe.
I write it because a woman judge stood up and said "enough is enough".

She didn't say it in those words, but her judgment in the equality court said it for her.

Yesterday, Magistrate Colleen Collis fined ANC Youth League president and South Africa's chief rabble-rouser Julius Malema R50000 and ordered that he issue an apology for comments made last January when he spoke of President Jacob Zuma's rape accuser.

Malema said: "When a woman didn't enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money."

That hope was strengthened with the knowledge that the person who took Malema to court is African and male.

Moreover, it is someone who found himself called upon to do what the elders of the ANC (for all of their historical "revolutionary" zeal and bravery) have not the courage to do - to publicly contradict and go against Malema.

Mbuyiselo Botha's court action speaks of activism, of action. It speaks of someone not cowed by the invective spewed by Malema.

Instead, Botha's action says, we will hold you accountable; we will make you accept responsibility for holding others in contempt.

But we need more than one court action and we need more than one man's convictions that hatred of and violence against women is unacceptable.

In 1983, late feminist Andrea Dworkin asked for a [twenty-]four-hour truce during which there was no rape.

She spoke to a room of mainly politically active men when she asked this, saying that there was nothing difficult or complex about the reason why men rape.

They raped, Dworkin said, because of the kind of power that men have over women.

"That power is real, concrete, exercised from one body to another body, exercised by someone who feels he has a right to exercise it, exercised in public and exercised in private. It is the sum and substance of women's oppression."

She also said women were no longer going to do men's work, helping them believe in their own humanity. "We cannot do it anymore. We have tried."

Malema's outbursts against women prove her point. When he calls ID leader Patricia de Lille "not a real woman" or the DA's Helen Zille a "little girl", he understands full well the power relations in our country; that as a man, however intellectually bereft, he can get away with it.

His behaviour makes a mockery of the leader for whom he sings, dances and insults.

In this context, of having a chief supporter who is a woman-hater, how can I take my president seriously when he speaks out against rape?

How much credence must I lend to his statement that the men who raped the female paramedic last week in Roodepoort's Durban Deep - after she and her colleagues went to treat a two-year-old burn victim - are animals?

How must I deal with President Jacob Zuma's statement: "The government is distressed. These people are animals. All you need is a bit of fur and these people are animals"?

How can I be sure my president is listening to the distress that I and my fellow countrywomen suffer when we think of our personal safety and the reality that we might end up victims of rape?

My hope in Botha's courage will be replaced with fear and trepidation tonight when I approach my driveway, peering across the steering wheel into the dark recesses between houses to ensure no one is waiting who wants to do harm.

I have learnt to keep the car's engine running until the automated gate has shut and I'm sure no one has followed me in.

Who else will stand up for us in our moments of fear?

Botha's courage might have influenced a court to pronounce Malema culpable of hate speech against women - but Malema's pronouncements are able to convert young men into haters of women.

And it is in that realisation that my hope dies a rapid death.

[Julian's note: Here is that speech.]

Radical Feminist Audre Lorde's Famous Essay: "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House"

[graphic image of Audre Lorde is from here]

From Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, The Crossing Press Feminist Series (1984)

I found a copy of it *here*.

The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House

by Audre Lorde

I agreed to take part in a New York University Institute for the Humanities conference a year ago, with the understanding that I would be commenting upon papers dealing with the role of difference within the lives of American women: difference of race, sexuality, class, and age. The absence of these considerations weakens any feminist discussion of the personal and the political.

It is a particular academic arrogance to assume any discussion of feminist theory without examining our many differences, and without a significant input from poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians. And yet, I stand here as a Black lesbian feminist, having been invited to comment within the only panel at this conference where the input of Black feminists and lesbians is represented. What this says about the vision of this conference is sad, in a country where racism, sexism, and homophobia are inseparable. To read this program is to assume that lesbian and Black women have nothing to say about existentialism, the erotic, women's culture and silence, developing feminist theory, or heterosexuality and power. And what does it mean in personal and political terms when even the two Black women who did present here were literally found at the last hour? What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow perimeters of change are possible and allowable.

The absence of any consideration of lesbian consciousness or the consciousness of Third World women leaves a serious gap within this conference and within the papers presented here. For example, in a paper on material relationships between women, I was conscious of an either/or model of nurturing which totally dismissed my knowledge as a Black lesbian. In this paper there was no examination of mutuality between women, no systems of shared support, no interdependence as exists between lesbians and women-identified women. Yet it is only in the patriarchal model of nurturance that women "who attempt to emancipate themselves pay perhaps too high a price for the results," as this paper states.

For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered. It is this real connection which is so feared by a patriarchal world. Only within a patriarchal structure is maternity the only social power open to women.

Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom which allows the I to be, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. This is a difference between the passive be and the active being.

Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. It is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters.

Within the interdependence of mutual (nondominant) differences lies that security which enables us to descend into the chaos of knowledge and return with true visions of our future, along with the concomitant power to effect those changes which can bring that future into being. Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged.

As women, we have been taught either to ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.

Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference -- those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older -- know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support.

Poor women and women of Color know there is a difference between the daily manifestations of marital slavery and prostitution because it is our daughters who line 42nd Street. If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism?

In a world of possibility for us all, our personal visions help lay the groundwork for political action. The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.

Why weren't other women of Color found to participate in this conference? Why were two phone calls to me considered a consultation? Am I the only possible source of names of Black feminists? And although the Black panelist's paper ends on an important and powerful connection of love between women, what about interracial cooperation between feminists who don't love each other?

In academic feminist circles, the answer to these questions is often, "We did not know who to ask." But that is the same evasion of responsibility, the same cop-out, that keeps Black women's art out of women's exhibitions, Black women's work out of most feminist publications except for the occasional "Special Third World Women's Issue," and Black women's texts off your reading lists. But as Adrienne Rich pointed out in a recent talk, white feminists have educated themselves about such an enormous amount over the past ten years, how come you haven't also educated yourselves about Black women and the differences between us -- white and Black -- when it is key to our survival as a movement?

Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master's concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women -- in the face of tremendous resistance -- as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought.

Simone de Beauvoir once said: "It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for acting."

Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.