Chapter 4: Cleaning the Slate: Terror Does its Work
In her post outlining Chapter 4 of The Shock Doctrine, Sarah highlighted the rush to conformity and, especially, normative gender roles in post-counterrevolutionary Chile, noting that “Men could be arrested for having long hair, while women were arrested for wearing pants.” Rather than providing a detailed outline of what Klein covers in this chapter (because, really, you all are supposed to be reading along, right?) I’m instead going to take a brief look at The Terror Dream by Susan Faludi, another recent text that explores the other 9/11. Faludi looks at how the US, in a state of shock following the fall of the towers and the attack on the Pentagon, tried to embrace a false retro-patriarchal-paradigm of men-as-saviour/protector and women as helpless waifs in need of rescue.
In an interview with TIME Magazine, Faludi explores how women in the US were repressed in the dream-like aftermath of the assault:
You had a 40% drop of women guests on the important Sunday morning talk shows. You had dramatic declines on all the Op-Ed pages of all the important newspapers, and even women who would seem like obvious guests for the Sunday morning talk shows, like Diane Feinstein or Barbara Boxer who are both chairpersons of subcommittees on terrorism, there was this feeling that this was the time for men and women should take a back seat. There was one place where there were plenty of women’s faces on TV, and that was the 9/11 widows, as long as they played the role of helpless homemaker victims. In the absence of female victims in the planes or rescued from the events of 9/11, the TV shows trotted out 9/11 widows as the substitute victims. Then, the Larry Kings and Bill O’Reillys acted like daddy saviors towards them…There was this need to assert the protective authority role of men, particularly after a trauma in which every aspect of the male protective system failed. Our government ignored warnings that we were about to come under attack. Our 9/11 dispatch system did not warn people properly. Our military did not protect our skies.
The trauma perpetuated by Pinochet and his backers greatly differs from the 9/11 assault in many ways, especially in that the overthrow of Allende was, by and large, an internal matter rather than an external breach of security (CIA complicity in Santiago notwithstanding). Still, it’s still interesting to note in both instances how gender roles were impacted by the shock of political instability and insecurity. Embracing ‘tradition’ following drastic upheaval was almost a means of centering, reunifying a fractured nation–even if the return to ‘old’ values are largely a fictional construct.
As Sarah notes, “we see [Friedmanite markets] again and again coupled with militarism and cultural conservatism, coming in on a wave of torture, death, terror, and strictly enforced gender roles.”
Indeed, who could forget Bush’s infamous ham-fisted attempt to sooth a shattered nation’s fragile collective psyche:
On September 20, in his first lengthy national address after the attacks, Bush told the citizens of the United States what they personally could do: “Live your lives and hug your children,” he said. Be patient with FBI investigations and travel delays, and “your continued participation and confidence in the American economy” would be greatly appreciated.
Apparently the terror dream is one that recurs.
Sunday–Chapter 5: “Entirely Unrelated” How an Ideology Was Cleansed of Its Crimes
Renee brings the awesome with this passionate, inspiring must-read post on patriarchy, culture, and ‘the cycle of victimology’:
While I am certainly not in the position to judge another on the coping mechanisms which they employ to survive our racist, patriarchal culture, I do know that we need to be conscious of why we take on certain labels and how the interpretations of others impacts our decisions. Allowing another to discern and control what the issues that effect our lives entail is nothing more than a form of submission in the guise of owning victimology.
We are more than what someone does to us. Each day when we wake, we make small decisions that have the potential to lead to great change. It is because we have been understood as powerless that these actions continually fail to merit the respect that they deserve. We can actively choose not to participate in conversations in which we have been declared unwelcome, or we can kick the door down and demand our voices be heard. This is not the action of a militant, but the actions of a person that refuses to be the eternal victim so that others may patronize our struggle. To be active is the difference between freedom and submission.
We are more than what someone does to us.
As they say, read the whole damn thing.
Go on, read it.
The most recent edition of openDemocracy’s 50/50 quarterly features an interview with Dr. Yakin Erturk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, on how the global economic crisis is affecting women. Dr. Erturk also notes the import of ‘political economy’ in the pursuit of women’s rights, especially during a time of financial upheaval.
We refer to human rights as if they were confined to civil and political rights; this is also reflected in the twin covenants which have divided rights into civil and political on the one hand, and economic and social on the other. The latter is generally seen as inspirational and the first one as the real thing. But we know from women’s lives that unless we have a holistic approach to women’s rights, whereby women can achieve economic independence or are at least empowered socially and politically, the rights they may read about in books do not reach them. So my final report to the council this year is taking up this challenge: I have argued that underneath the surface of many of the things that we talk about as being cultural, there is a solid, material basis which feeds certain concrete interests and relationships; and that unless we dig down into that base we are talking at a very abstract level. Culture can take on a life of its own, so that we assume that that is the reality, when half the time nobody really understands its true impact.
We are all cultural beings: it is very hard to attack cultures. What I wanted to do in my culture report was to connect this to a more profound analysis of concrete interests, real power – hence political economy. Particularly in the neo-liberal era, it is political economy which is creating new challenges for women’s rights, while at the same time, of course, creating some new opportunities.
As they say, read the whole damn thing.
I rather adore the willy. In fact, when these long, drawn-out discussions about sex happen on radical feminist sites, I sometimes find the urge to hop in, scream “I LIKE DICK!” and run away, giggling like a third-grader. The fact that I haven’t done so is a testament to my general self-restraint and, uh, amazing level of maturity. Or something.
– Natalia Antonova, who, btw, is made of pure, undiluted WIN (and infinite maturity. Or something.)
h/t Sarah J via email
Over at Global Comment, Sarah Jaffe, in a devastatingly on-target critique, utterly eviscerates yesterday’s head-pattingly patronizing L.A. Times article/future-bird-cage-liner (where the credentials of Dr. Jill Biden were examined [and dismissed] in a manner that was maddeningly glib, highly gendered–and entirely sexist).
Jaffe’s point about the underlying (and intersecting) double standards at play is especially sharp:
I have to wonder, if we were discussing a male academic who taught at a prestigious Ivy League university, the reporter would feel the need to spend the entire piece debating whether he deserved the prefix “Dr.”
The article’s dismissive tone is symptomatic of the way the media treats women, particularly accomplished women in the public eye. Jill Biden has several advanced degrees, and yet chooses to teach in a community college, helping students who often cannot afford to attend school full-time. This is worthy of respect, not a quibble over whether she deserves the title as much as someone who stitches up wounds, treats skin conditions, or performs nose jobs.
Highly recommended reading–the whole damn thing, goddammit.
Well, isn’t this lovely:
The Utah House of Representatives will hear a controversial proposal that could hold physicians responsible for homicide if they perform abortions deemed illegal by the state.
Under current state law, abortion is allowed only in cases of rape or incest, if the fetus cannot survive outside the womb or is unlikely to survive, or to save the mother’s life or preserve her health.
Abortions that don’t meet any of those standards can result in third-degree felony charges.
Under House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, physicians who perform illegal abortions could be charged with second-degree felony criminal homicide.
“In my opinion, illegal abortion is the same as murder,” Ray said. “This is the right step for Utah to take to protect the lives of unborn children, because they don’t have a voice.”
Note how it’s the doctors who performed the “illegal” abortions potentially facing charges under this proposed new law, not the women who ‘contracted’ the “killing”. In a (perverse) sense, it’s almost gratifying to see the fetus fetishists explicitly affirm their belief that women are merely empty vessels that bear teh innocent baybees over to this mortal coil–boxes on a biological assembly line, if you will.
Which perhaps answers the question posed via IM by Sylvia/M (h/t):
“Will women be accomplices, then? Or scenes of the crime?”
If you live in Utah or you want to send some strongly-worded letters to the Democrats in their House of Representatives about this bill, here’s the UT House website. Tell these representatives that doctors protecting women’s health is not an air quotation myth.
Update: Jill Miller Zimon has compiled a plethora of info on this proposed anti-woman legislation. Go.
I realize that in today’s struggling dead tree media market you gotta do what you can to pop flagging newsstand sales. Still, I think the fine folks at Ms. might be just slightly reaching here:
As Liss (h/t) notes:
That Obama has not regularly and unapologetically identified himself as a feminist makes this image problematic—as does the reality that, while Obama is clearly better on women’s issues than the retrofuck lunkhead and his band of misogybag miscreants who’ve been leading the country the last eight years, he’s not been what might fairly be deemed a leader on feminist issues.
Something tells me that as long as Obama’s image remains untarnished we’ll continue to see it opportunistically appropriated [link added — h/t Sarah in comments] by those looking to profit from projected idealism–regardless of pesky considerations such as, er, his actual record and/or opinions.
On that note, am quite eager to see how the first annual American Renaissance swimsuit issue, featuring Obama on the cover in Stars ‘n’ Bars board shorts, turns out.
“I love to play strippers and to imitate them… . I love using that idea for comedy, but the idea of actually going there? I feel like we all need to be better than that. That industry needs to die, by all of us being a little bit better than that.“
Tina Fey, from the January issue of Vanity Fair
There’s a top-rated diary on Daily Kos right now entitled Dennis Prager Endorses Marital Rape. Somebody explain to me how the CIA isn’t doing functionally the same thing.
Also make sure to check out Echidne and my CFLF co-blogger Kathy for more on the women whose concerns (which, it should be noted, were not broached even in a cursory manner by the Washington Post) have almost been universally silenced by the disturbingly jovial snickering (in hindsight, yours truly is, unfortunately, not innocent in this regard, either).