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A Tremendous Opportunity

In the recent presidential election, the United States experienced a great moment with regard to sexism and male domination.

A lot of sexism was directed at Hillary Clinton. However, when Donald Trump revealed the extent to which he was associated with sexual violence toward women, we saw a massive shift in people’s perceptions of the issues. People were writing wonderful articles and giving great talks about sexual violence, rape culture, and men’s oppression. Michelle Obama’s speech, with her heartfelt comments about women’s liberation, was a striking example. There were conversations everywhere and countless postings on the Internet.

These voices against sexual assault and rape culture have increased the visibility, scope, and strength of the international women’s movement against sexual violence and the movement on college campuses against sexual assault. An upheaval is challenging male-dominated society and politics. We may be seeing a new day.

All this has happened because one strong woman dared to try to become president of the United States, and found herself opposing a man who is openly wedded to a reactionary male-dominated society.

RAPE CULTURE

I encourage people who saw the final presidential debate to discharge about it. Donald Trump literally “stalked” Hillary Clinton, pacing behind her and looming near her with his rather large male body. He dismissed his behavior toward women as “locker room talk,” as being not as bad as the “real” problems of society. He threatened Clinton by continuously stating that if he were to become president, he would jail her. In the past he has even opened the door to political assassination. (Since he won the presidency, he has been less vocal about these threats, but still they are not far beneath the surface.)

The “locker room” talk that Donald Trump refers to is rape culture. It has a long history in many places and institutions and is often associated with male-dominated sports and with fraternities on college campuses. It legitimizes the dehumanization of women. It legitimizes seduction, rape, and violence.

Rape culture is tied to drugs, alcohol, and the sex industries (including pornography, prostitution, and human trafficking). In addition to sexism, it is tied to Gay oppression and other oppressions, and industries that promote rape culture are making billions of dollars.

The sexual and physical violence aimed at women keep women subservient to men and uphold and maintain the oppressive society. They are integral to the militarization of the planet. Pornography and prostitution, along with liquor and drugs, are used to maintain war, imperialism, and military spending.

REMEMBERING AND ACTING ON OUR LONG-RANGE GOALS

A Hillary Clinton presidency would not have meant the end of sexism or male domination. And the resistance to sexism that showed itself during her campaign has a long history. It is about much more than her. Her defeat does not mean that the battle against sexism and male domination will end. They have been more fully exposed, and the big explosion during the campaign can be used to remind us that women, and male allies, rose up like never before.

We need to remember our long-range goals of re-emergence and liberation, and the difference between these goals and immediate short-term gains.

Politics in the United States (and in most other countries) is generally dominated by opportunism—the seeking of short-term gain at the expense of long-range gain, often sacrificing integrity in the process. This differs sharply from people at the grassroots level educating and organizing each other for fundamental change.

There is a profound difference between challenging systemic sexism and simply focusing on an individual with blatantly oppressive patterns. The immediate electoral victory of Trump should not confuse us about our long-term goal of challenging and eliminating sexism (and the other oppressions). Getting rid of Trump is not the same as eliminating the problem. The underlying problem is economic exploitation, which goes hand in hand with racism, sexism, and the other oppressions. Many women I know cannot believe that we could elect a man as blatantly sexist as Donald Trump. This is not a moment to despair but to realize that we still have a big job ahead of us and that the exposure of the problem can be turned into an asset.

Many people are trying to think about these issues now. This is an impressive development. Women and men are growing from a national, and hopefully international, dialogue. We in RC have an opportunity to contribute bigger principles, useful tools, and fresh thinking. Let’s keep discharging about the real situation and spread important RC ideas (for example, that all women are powerful and all men are good). When humans are united, they are unbeatable. Let’s take this tremendous opportunity and use it well. 

 Diane Balser

International Liberation Reference Person for Women

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change

(Present Time 186, January 2017)


Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00