» Darren manages to speedily source a story about the latest Andrea Dworkin controversy at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Quoting from the article:
Dworkin said women and children were not protected by the law as it stood from "men who rape, rape, rape" and would themselves have to take the law into their own hands if justice was ever to be done. Because "men abuse prostitutes and rape women" laws had to be written which would allow women to "defend a larger space around them. Women should get guns and should be allowed to use them to defend themselves." ...Dworkin claimed that women had to learn from the experience of other "oppressed peoples" and carve out a homeland for themselves like the Jews in Israel where they could be "safe from men".
My ears get hot just reading this. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Guns and vigilante violence do not make for a safer society for women, kids, men, OAPs, anyone. Peace cannot be established on the basis of the bomb and the bullet. Fighting for an end to violence is like fucking for virginity. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Lumping men together as one massive evil bogeyman is not constructive. It's self-ghettoisation, isn't it? Teaching kids that men are inherantly evil is as wrong as teaching them that the world contains no bad whatsoever - a false picture, a false sense of security. Some men rape. Some men abuse. Some men kill. Some men say they're going to call and never do. And some women make unfair generalisations.
Perhaps this is not the place to go into this. Too late, I've started writing.
Dworkin's ideas about carving out a homeland where women can be "safe from men" worries me. It seems to propogate the victim mentality - the idea that you can change things to make yourself suddenly immune from danger. There are some things that can be done to protect yourself, but, but, but. Victims of assault and rape cannot, should not be made (by anyone, hardline feminists included) to feel that they could have avoided the attack if they had done things differently. If only...they had dressed differently. Not worn makeup. Not been drinking. Not smiled. Not taken that route home. Not lived in the city. Not gone out at night. If only. Safer for women to lock themselves away in a safe enclave, where their bodies cannot be invaded? I don't think so. Rape is a social phenomenon, enacted by individuals, on individuals. It's an invasion of the body, a crime like no other. But I don't want to blame the male population in general for the few who rape.
I hate generalisations - they're the laziest form of argument, and rarely accurate, and they generally (ho ho) cause more harm than good.
I don't think the world will be safer if women get guns. I think there will just be more guns in the world. That's not a good thing. In a philosophy class, years ago, I had to write an essay with the title "Is there such a thing as women's rights?" dealing with whether there are any rights for women which cannot also be classified as basic human rights. I can't help feeling that affording special legal freedoms to women is not going to make the problem of rape and assault go away. It's going to lead to greater violence, greater emphasis on the individual to rectify their own situation. Will the law (nebulous object that it is) make an extra effort to dispense justice to rapists in a future which allows women to dispense justice (AK-47 style) themselves? Seems like a huge shift in responsibility to me, a huge, hypocritical paradigm shift, a massive shrug - "we don't want to deal with this, so you can, if you want to".
I don't want to live in a place like that. I want society (again with the nebulousness) to deal with problems involving the whole community. Am I a woman (in a cosmic kind a sense) or just a human with a specific set of sexual add-on equipment? Am I first a woman and then a member of my society, community, world, or vice versa? Which takes precedence? And what about men's rights? What about violence against men, sexual and otherwise? Where do those men go? And victims of homophobia? Race attacks?
Hmmm. I've waffled on way too long. In short: Violence begets violence. Scapegoating doesn't work. Generalisations are lazy and destructive.<climbing down off soapbox> Thoughts?