Monday's Vital Conversation

8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT

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We are delighted to welcome back Stephanie Van Hook, executive director of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, for this conversation on the intersections of feminism, Occupy and non-violence.

Please post your thoughts here in advance of, during and after our Cafe Call.  

In her recent piece "Waging Feminism,"  Stephanie quotes Betty Reardon:

"There is still insufficient understanding of the depth of both the psycho-social and structural holds that patriarchy has on our culture and politics. " 

What do YOU think might be one leverage point for addressing the challenge of patriarchy in our culture and politics? 

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I'm loving the synchronicity of this conversation, as it builds on the blog post we have been commenting furiously on for weeks now here, as well as much that is moving in the Occupy movement as we head for Philadelphia.  (Ben)

Occupy Patriarchy is also a website in its own right.  Here's an excerpt from the most recent post there  (by Ciana-Marie Pegus, I believe), taken from a webinar they just held:

The Occupy website of which I am the primary author, was begun last October as a forum for fostering a feminist informed discussion of the Occupy agenda and has focused on 2 key issues–sexism and misogyny within Occupy and secondly, why feminist analysis is so crucial to achieving the goals of the Occupy movement.

When the Occupy Patriarchy website ramped up, the intention was to really focus on that second point, but it didn’t take very long to realize that we weren’t going to be able to do that until we addressed the very problematic atmosphere of misogyny that was being reported at Occupy camps in numerous locations both in the U.S. and other countries...

It is encouraging that there will be a Feminist General Assembly on July 1rst when the Occupy National General Assembly is held in Philadelphia, the symbolic birthplace of American democracy.  As the Occupy movement continues, I think that there is a real opportunity to develop a broader commitment from progressives to work on issues such as those that I have discussed here from the understanding of a feminist lens.

But that opportunity will not be easily realized and must be predicated on the understanding that Wall Street is a manifestation of the problems we face, not the root cause, and real change must also include confronting misogyny in the movement itself.


I'm not sure what leverage points might exist, but it appears to me that as women become more involved with government, the military, the police (and also smaller non-governmental gangs), women become more violent. In the historic past, most violence was done by men. I would have to assume that as the US tries to grow the prison-industrial complex, it needs to encourage female violence in order to have more bodies to cage.

One strikingly memorable scene from Michael Moore's film, "Bowling for Columbine," was when a father, interveiwed at his workplace posing proudly in front of one of the deadly missiles they manufacture, said something like, 'I don't understand where kids these days got the idea that anything could be solved through violence.'

Patriarchy began with and can only be maintained by means of violence, as there is no other way to subjugate people. Despite more than 5,000 years of patriarchy, the domestic violence rates in the US demonstrate clearly that it is not a natural state of affairs and cannot ever be normalized.

The commodification of people, animals, and land is based on the patriarchal assumption that there is a natural or deity-ordained heirarchy. Direct democracy, as proposed by some radicals within the Occupy movement, is not hierarchical, but it is vehemently opposed by those who support politics as usual and wish to perpetuate the state and its power to wage wars that benefit the rich by devastating the poor.

My topic on the misuse of Nonviolent Communications points out that NVC cannot be used as a conflict resolution tool unless all parties to the conflict participate, and that it only promotes more violence to counsel battered wives and Occupiers subject to police brutality, to be more considerate, compassionate, and mindful of the needs of their abusers.

I was thoroughly disgusted when some women associated with Women Occupy San Diego (but also associated with the Democratic Party) took advantage of the 100th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement here to stand in the same spot where Emma Goldman had told people, "If voting could change anything, they'd make it illegal," to tout the achievement of the Suffragettes in enabling women to be able to cast the same uncounted, unverifiable votes for warmongering corporate-funded puppets that men can cast. It was also disgusting to see the results of a recent survey finding that Democrats, many of whom are women, who were vehemently opposed to wars and drone bombs under a Republican administration, are in favor of wars and drone bombs now that they have a Democratic administration.

Progressives are reformists and would like a bit less evil and more benefits for themselves, not realizing that their benefits derive from the violent global injustice perpetrated by the US military on behalf of the 1%. Radicals are the people who want to get to the root of the problem, and who support global economic and social justice for all.

As an anarchist, I view statists as people who favor hierarchy, an inequitable distribution of power, and basing the status and value of people on their classification within racist, sexist, and capitalist systems. The situation of women in Occupy differs little from the situation of women in the US military or in any other statist and hierarchical system. It is the systems that shape human behavior, as Philip Zimbardo explains in his book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Bad, and if behavior is going to change, we have to first change the systems that shape it. As long as we tolerate a violent, hierarchical, capitalist imperialist system of government, we delegate our power to change things to a system that opposes change and we give the system more power to shape behavior than we have. That is a formula for perpetuating patriarchal violence.

I personally, tend to be intolerant (I'm working on it, but can't report much progress as of yet). As much as I respect and admire women like Anna Harris who oppose violence, I cannot respect women who say they oppose violence yet continue to vote for and thereby grant their consent of the governed to the most violent government in the world. I may not know how to bring about an end to patriarchy and violence, but I know that voting within a system based on patriarchal violence, even with the unrealistic dream that doing so might possibly bring about change within a few hundred more years, is counterproductive. Here's my little essay on why, when it comes to politics, it is important to just say no: Consensual Political Intercourse It isn't just a matter of self-respect, it is a matter of survival.

Mark this is the comment I referenced via private message that I felt to be insensitive, particularly your linked essay minimimizing rape etc..   There's lots to touch on here, and as we discussed many of these items deserve thier own thread but let me say quickly that I find many of your assertions to be terribley far off the mark.  

I have a hard time seeing how you really have any concrete plans to dismantle patriarchy with no feminist analysis.  More on this later. 

As so much feminist analysis to dismantle patriarchy seems to involve voting for representatives within a patriarchal system of government, I'd suggest that while it may be a concrete plan, it is a plan that can only perpetuate patriarchy. Electing more females hasn't seemed to have changed the system.

If my essay offends you because it uses the analogy of rape, and you don't think it is proper to discuss rape, then we'd have to eliminate rape kits, rape laws, rape counselors, and rape shelters, as they all use the word rape.

If feminists succeed in getting Congress to extend the Violence Against Women Act, there will still be the little matter of enforcement. While it is important to fund women's shelters, the need for them ought to be decreasing rather than increasing. Of course the government cannot install cameras in every home to prevent domestic violence, but there is one place that the government does have full control of every individual's every waking moment, and that is the military where the rape rate is even higher than in segments of society where the government does not yet have full authoritarian control, and existing laws and regulations are not enforced.

Saying that the word rape is offensive, even when used in an analogy intended to educate about and hopefully prevent rape, is like saying that sex shouldn't be taught in schools because the word is offensive. I'm talking about human rights and rape is a direct violation of human rights, so I believe that education as to how the US government and its enablers violate our rights, using the analogy of rape, is perfectly appropriate.

For example, if I want there to be less rape, I would do everything I could to empower females and disempower males, and to explain to females and to those males who oppose rape, that delegating the power to make and enforce laws about rape to representatives who cannot be held accountable, has never and will never accomplish that aim, as it is a negligent, irresponsible, apathetic failure to take responsibility for things that we care deeply about, and it instead empowers others, a majority of whom do not care and who operate within a system that doesn't care, to make and enforce the laws.

I could introduce you to feminist females who think that essay is a feminist analysis, but since it would be online you'd have no way to strip them down and verify that they were actually female and you'd be unlikely to believe them if they disagreed with you.

My concrete plan to dismantle patriarchy is to stop supporting it, to stop granting it our consent by voting in elections held by patriarchal governments (particularly when such governments often don't bother to count the votes or "count" the votes in ways that nobody can verify), and to construct alternative systems not based on sex or gender roles where everyone has a voice and every voice counts.

Simply to calmly be assertive without being aggressive, stand up as an individual and be counted - sex should not matter, we are only victims if we agree to be!

Yes, Gael, "sex should not matter." In patriarchal or matriarchal systems, sex not only matters, it is the most important factor of all and nothing can be done or even discussed without knowing the sex of each individual involved.

Rally at Capitol(In D.C): Stand Up for VAWA on Tuesday

Stand with NOW to demand reauthorization of VAWA!

All women need legal protection from domestic violence, without regard to race, citizenship status, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Senate version of VAWA guarantees protection for all women, including protection for immigrants, Native Americans and members of the LGBT community.

Join us this Tuesday, June 26, to demand that Congress immediately reauthorize the Senate version of VAWA and legally protect all women.

What: Rally for VAWA

Who: National Organization for Women, National Task Force to End Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Against Women, and Allies

When: Tuesday, June 26

Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Where: United States Capitol at the intersection of 1st Street and Constitution Ave.

Hello All,  I just posted info about an event that might be on interest happening in D.C.  However, I'm in Oregon, and will not be there.  

As far as the prompt question, i believe we need to make more visible the links/integrated nature of capitalist exploitation, racism, the industrial military complex, and Patriarchy, and help more men, and women, to understand how Patriarchy hurts us all and is bad for the planet in general.  

Does the Violence Against Women Act apply to the foreign women being drone-bombed by the US government, or only to women within the United States?

Is NOW aware that the United States government is killing women in other countries and is a human rights abuser that is committing crimes against humanity by killing innocent women? Does NOW think that it is okay to kill foreign women, or that as long as Congress protects US women, it is tolerable to kill foreign women? Does NOW always appeal to greater abusers to protect women from lesser abusers?

And, as for demanding that Congress do something, what does NOW intend to do if Congress should not comply with that demand? Continue to vote in corporate-funded rigged elections that, like reproductive rights, can be decided by the Supreme Court, or by Congress itself in the case of disputed or stolen Congressional elections, instead of by the voters? Have big protests where large numbers of people get arrrested, have their lives disrupted, and feed the prison-industrial complex? Throw a temper tantrum? Cry?

You can't make demands unless you have a credible "or else." My boss can demand that I get to work on time and do my job or else I'll be fired. My spouse can demand that I shoulder my share of domestic responsibilities or else they'll divorce me. My kids can demand that I allow them to stay up late and eat more candy, but they don't have a credible "or else," so they're going to have to go to bed at bedtime and eat less candy whether they like it or not.

That's one of many reasons that a lot of people are opposed to Occupy making demands.

Men supporting and mentoring other men into a softer persona, sensitive intuition, and nurturing vitality, i.e., awakening the divine feminine within them, living the mythic journey of the male becoming fully integrated, whole, and spirit-led. I'm guessing the same would be true for the women, to awaken their divine male counterpart within and become the leaders by example. I know I'm not speaking of a specific mechanical leverage point, yet posing a frame for the discussion which might be useful.

Very useful David, we are all a balance of both male and female, usually falling to one side or the other some falling right in the middle, we are all whole covering a wide spectrum. acceptance and acknowledgement of both within each of us should be possible embracing both aspects. I think that needs to start with child rearing, not pushing in any direction but allowing natural inclinations to flower. as I encouraged my children..  A man is no less masculine if he can nurture and bake a cake and a woman is no less feminine if she can take an enginne apart and weild a screw driver. Some have both male and feminine attributes, all should be respected and valued.for their talents and natural attributes.


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