I had been listening to “Why is this happening?” a podcast by Chris Hayes. In this episode, he featured Mariame Kaba, a transformative justice advocate and prison abolitionist. One of the striking moments of the podcast was when Mariame opened up about her own sexual abuse trauma. In it, she explains that people’s traumas are valid and they are important for us to consider, however, society cannot be governed by how to address things mainly by people’s traumas and their fears. She goes on to explain that she is a survivor of rape and that she was what she terms a reactionary survivor. Mariame explains that she did not have an analysis of what had happened to her. That she was an incredibly hurt and harmed individual, who wanted nothing but violence against the person who had harmed her. That ultimately what she wanted was revenge.
She points out that had she been put on a panel of sexual assault survivors, without processing the trauma she had experienced, she would have advocated for the death penalty for all rapists. She points out that that is no way to govern a society.
The answer cannot be to go around and use capital punishment against everyone who has harmed us.
I highly recommend listening to the entire podcast which has been linked to in the opening paragraph.
I bring this up because there is a movement within bicycle advocacy to weaponize the trauma experienced by bicyclists and use their trauma to make broad and sweeping laws to “protect” bicyclists. These people are living in trauma. I know because I used to be one of them. I commuted by bicycle daily, 32 miles round trip, and experienced wave after wave of cruelty and harm from people operating cars around me.
The trauma I experienced was real and I’m still processing through it. But I’ve come far enough in my personal growth to recognize that what we are fighting against is not individuals behind steering wheels. No. What we, as bicyclists are up against is a society that has built a system of White Supremacy into the very roads we operate on.
Justice, for us, is not stricter laws, it is not segregation, and it is not education as a stand-alone response to the trauma that we experience on public roads. What we need, as a community, is transformative justice. We need a society that prioritizes people over speed, communities over roads, and our humanity over infrastructure. We need to be treated as equal members of society, deserving of the same respect automatically granted to people operating motor vehicles.
And often, when we advocate for stricter laws, there is a rebound effect in which the police then use those laws, which were intended to protect us, to harm us.
We need to hold our elected officials accountable and we each need to process through our trauma, so that we can run for office and make the changes that we know to be just and fair to a society focused on equality.
People should not have to drive to get a gallon of milk. Kids should not grow up with glorified cartoons of automobiles as their introduction to our roads. Teenagers and young adults should not be wooed by slick films glorifying dangerous speeds and irresponsible driving. Does that mean that we banish these things or outlaw them? No!
It means that we educate parents to raise socially responsible children, school programs, high school volunteer programs and public PSA’s about the realities of speed and what happens to the human body, even when it is surrounded by a seat belt and steel, in a high-speed crash. We build walkable communities and we educate our police to be good examples, at least until we can abolish them altogether. Because a society that is ruled by the police is a society that is ruled by fear and fear is trauma.
We need programs for people who have transgressed basic laws to experience life on a bicycle. There should be training programs by certified bicycling instructors that allow motorists to travel their roads on a bike or a trike. We can implement stricter licensing requirements and require drivers to pass a bicycle operating equivalency test.
We can build up community and support for those who are harmed. City financed trauma counseling and recovery from harm programs, which center the needs of the victims. Allowing them to heal and return to society as whole people.
Our country was founded on the myth of white supremacy and it is this myth which frames our way of thinking. We need a fresh outlook and a new way of understanding the world around us. One of the ways to achieve these results will be to center victims of auto violence and find out what justice really looks like to them after they’ve had healing space to process through their trauma.
Men will tell you that voting for a woman, because she is a woman, is wrong headed and biased. He’ll tell you that men understand the issues surrounding Americans just as well as a woman does. That beyond their ability to bear children, women are just like men. So vote for the better man.
A woman’s lived experience is not the same as that of men.
Nuanced interactions lead to nuanced thoughts, which the average man will never experience, in any meaningful way. If you have, then you’re not average and this statement doesn’t apply to you.
Can men listen?
Do men listen?
I appreciate and value those men who center the marginalized people in their lives. They are few and far inbetween.
Who you center is more important than who you value.
You can value black lives and you can value women, but if you are not centering them, you aren’t putting your hand to the plow. Words and good intentions don’t mean anything in a society run by men, bound up in the power of whiteness.
What is the power of whiteness?
The power of whiteness is the structure of patriarchy. It is a power which centers men and men only. The men of color and the women who support these men are side shows. Though they can often be portrayed as features. The proof is in their willingness to stand on their own. To advocate for the people in their community. Watch what is done to them when and if they do. What you’ll see is the men of color and the women upholding patriarchy removed from the spotlight.
Their power lies in the one who gave it to them. Not in the communities they represent.
Which is why it is your job to educate yourself on the differences in power structures. To know whiteness when you see it. Even if it is presented to you by the face of a black man, a white woman, and even a black woman. Whiteness is a structure in the house of patriarchy.
These men and women are chosen to deliver the message of whiteness. To plant the seeds which will take root in shallow minds, run deep, and break down barriers to their intended path. Yes, this powerful messaging system works for good and evil.
Though the structures it builds, from the ruins it created, are fragile and easily damaged by the witness of moral justice.
The shallowest mind can see that locking children in cages is morally repugnant. Their witness is not a victory, it’s a small light which needs to be fed, until it is a scourging fire in the souls of all who witness it. When a Republican representative shows horror at children in cages, don’t be aghast, when they turn around and vote for an equally brutal policy, but with better window dressing. Keep fighting and holding them accountable.
Our country lacks accountability.
We are told that there is nothing we can do. It is all shrugs and well wishes when a black woman is run out of political office in Vermont. A white man ran her out of office but it is we who are collectively to blame. We gave him power, we gave him agency, we gave him voice. You did this. It is your fault. You need to make it right. I need to make it right.
“If federal programs were not, even to this day, reinforcing racial isolation by disproportionately directing low-income African Americans who receive housing assistance into the segregated neighborhoods that government had previously established, we might see many more inclusive communities. Undoing the effects of de jure segregation will be incomparably difficult. To make a start, we will first have to contemplate what we have collectively done and, on behalf of our government, accept responsibility.”
― Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Accepting responsibility for the actions or inactions of others has traditionally been woman’s work. Women have more experience when it comes to cleaning up the mess men leave behind. We’ve seen the steadfast leadership of Nancy Pelosi. We’ve witnessed the misogynistic attacks on her femaleness and her age.
Anyone suggesting that voting for a woman is biased, is someone with an agenda. A hidden thing they don’t want you to see.
Women are carrying the anger of men on their shoulders. It’s not their responsibility, it’s not their job. But we’ve been told it is a woman’s job and we’ve been told that it is our fault, if/when hate comes in.
Ms Morris says friends and colleagues tried to convince her to change her mind. After her announcement, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, offered to support her re-election, warning that her resignation would allow the forces of hate to win.
That, according to Ms Morris, is victim-blaming.
“The systems need to change to support individuals in office so that they do not have to live in fear and terror,” she says. “These are incredibly violent times, and I do not feel any need to martyr myself or my family.”
It can’t fall on her, she says – or on any one person – to try to fix a broken system. It takes a “chorus of people”. via BBC
The same men who could have centered her, did not. The same women who could have called their local police department and demand accountability, did not.
We are the reason she left. This is our fault. This is your fault. This is my fault.
“We did everything that we were told to do, reported everything, held nothing back and trusted in a system that, in the end, was insufficient and inept at addressing and repairing the harm done… we were told there was nothing to be done.” via Raw Story
There is something we can do.
We can work at local levels, state levels, federal levels to make sure that marginalized people are centered in policy.
You do me proud, people of social media. Your steadfast, no bullshit approach to the conservative funded PR blast was spectacular.
You give me hope for a better future.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about Nick Sandmann smirking and menacing Native American Nathan Phillips.
You will also have witnessed the rapid ascent of a conservative PR firm “script flipping” the narrative, surrounding the events that occured.
You can read some really good accounts of it here and here.
A really good narrative can cast doubts in the minds of average people.
Average people don’t question the narrative, they don’t research, they don’t question their own internal biases, they don’t even examine if they do have internal biases.
How do you get around people like that?
In a world where average people hold sway over the lives of those in vulnerable positions. A world where those average people are told what to think, how to think, when to think. Like a mass army of minions, a sleeper cell of bots, ready to turn on marginalized people at any moment. Sometimes even against each other.
For me, I’ve found standing my ground, standing firm, has helped. But it has not been a perfect solution. Because they are always writing, scripting, a narrative that benefits them and causes you harm.
So again, how do we get around people like this. All those average people who think they’re so smart. Looking at the world through their own warped lense. Gleaning the information which only reconfirms their own internal dialogue.
Walls are more than a metaphor, a wall is a real blood brain barrier, a cognitive barrier that is viciously guarded. Like any wall, there are weak points and there are strong points. We can’t know what or where those weak points are and we can guess at the strong points. But we’d only be guessing.
The reality is that our messaging isn’t for the protagonist, it’s for their followers.
We aren’t tearing down walls. We are planting seeds. These seeds will take hold, their roots will run deep and search out those weak spots on their own. Our only job is to spread the message, work with legislators, and activist groups to get the message out.
We know this method works because it’s been used for decades. It was used to change public opinion surrounding women’s right to vote, the right of slaves to be free, and the right for people to marry whom they love. It’s a system of messaging that creates a shift in public consciousness.
I am looking for people to help me flip the script, tear down the patriarchal narrative which surrounds and intertwines itself throughout our everyday lives.
*Authors note: Through out this blog, there are blue hyper links. To get the most out of this article, you’ll need to click on and read them.
In the course of a week, I have seen a mediocre white man gain a popularity of re-tweets over a question.
Which was later changed to:
One of the first things that struck me about these tweets was the sexist nature of the question. I was also struck by the ignorance of the author. What would lead a man to believe that women were to blame for trump?
The majority of Republican voters is comprised of men. So why are we blaming women? As though all the woes of the world can be reduced to allowing women the vote. I may have just answered my own question. 🙂
But assuming that the author of the tweets isn’t subtly bemoaning the rights of women to vote, I want to share what I’ve learned about why women, even some black women, vote Republican.
It starts and ends with power, given to women, by men, under the construct of patriarchy.
The creation of Patriarchy.
Gerda Lerner wrote a book titled “The Creation of Patriarchy” and I came across this book via a YouTube channel titled “The Black Ponderer.” I had been researching the phenomenon which has become known as the “White Woman Vote,” and how it was being used to marginalize and downgrade women, as the source of our current woes.
Never mind the fact that the gender which overwhelmingly voted for trump was in fact the male.
So how are women being blamed for a majority of male votes?
How trump uses the KGB’s “Divide and Conquer” tactic’s on Americans.
Basically we got trump trolled.
“Women!” he yelled. “Women, we love you. We love you.
“Hey, didn’t we surprise them with women during the election? Remember? ‘Women won’t like Donald Trump,’ ” he said, mimicking cable news pundits. “I said, ‘Have I really had that kind of a problem? I don‘t think so.’ But: ‘Women won’t like Donald Trump. It will be a rough night for Donald Trump because the women won’t come out.’ We got 52 percent. Right? Fifty-two.
“And I’m running against a woman! You know it’s not that easy,” Trump said.
And it was so easy to believe. Thanks to decades of white women using patriarchy to manipulate black people in their community.
The KGB has used divide and conquer tactics since its inception. I am not an expert or even a novice in the methods of the KGB, so I can’t go into great detail here. But I can explain a few things I’ve learned on a surface level.
The first thing that the KGB has been very effective with is their use of information. Or rather their use of disinformation.
In today’s society, the average person believes that we live in an egalitarian society and that our laws, such as divorce laws, greatly favor women. Speaking to the average person in my small social circle. I find that the greater portion of men and women have a hard time understanding the pay gap. After all, they were hired in at the same pay rate as their fellow man. So to their mind, the pay gap is just one of those made up feminist issues that hysterical women like to complain about. After all, in their minds, feminist equals man hater.
Russian intelligence knows American culture and they understand the way the average American thinks.
We are raised on television and popular media. Most of which have overtones, if not out right, patriarchal themes. It is those man made boundaries that the trump administration seeks to exploit. With the help of divide and conquer disinformation campaigns.
First this phenomenon rolled out as black women against white women. Then it moved to all black people who are picked on by white women. (This is an actual phenomenon and it is not my intention to make light of it.) Then it was white men who supported black women but had no problem being misogynistic pricks to white women because these men will use black women to police the behavior of other women. It’s a dirty misogynistic trick and plays beautifully into the KGB’s divide and conquer subversion.
The roll that our media plays.
I never saw so many journalists dig into the women vote, which later became known as the white women vote, with such glee. Never mind the millions of men who voted for trump, they were excused from having to be held accountable for their actions. As is often the case with men, we are quick to forgive them there transgressions, after all “Boys will be boys.”
Where are all the mainstream media articles admonishing the white man and the 13% of black men, who voted for trump? Even when I do find articles about the non-white and non-hetero normative male vote for trump, I find these articles are often full of empathy, or rather #Himpathy, for these people.
There is an interesting phenomenon in the GOP. This was studied by the UCLA, which has an impeccable track record in studies. What they found is that the GOP was made up by normative women. Not just white women, but “Normative” women from all racial backgrounds.
Remember Gerda Lerner and “The Creation of Patriarchy?”
“Female politicians with stereotypically feminine facial features are more likely to be Republican than Democrat, and the correlation increases the more conservative the lawmaker’s voting record,” said lead author Colleen M. Carpinella, a UCLA graduate student in psychology.
Women who conform to patriarchal standards of attractiveness to men, make up the bulk of females in the GOP.
But it’s not just women in the GOP who can be described as having these attributes. The average female representative of the majority white evangelical movement, is made up of women that men find innately “doable.”
As is noted in the book “Splintered Sisterhood” by Susan Marshall
Anti-suffragists countered demands for women’s enfranchisement by contending that political participation would coarsen the gentle female character and endanger the family, the bulwark of society. They repeatedly disclaimed any interest in politics and often delegated to men the front-stage management of referendum campaigns while continuing their work behind the scenes. They differentiated themselves from suffragists through an exaggerated discourse of femininity, defending their “birthright of beauty, of serenity, of faith” and entreating male voters for protection from “the life of manifold activities our modern sister would have us assume.”
This doesn’t mean that every attractive woman, by male standards, is a member of Evangelical Christianity or that their preferred political party is the GOP. But rather, these are the women that they are actively trying to recruit into their fold.
Hot women attract more men.
In the construct of patriarchy, if you’re feminine enough, men will do whatever it takes to “protect” you from those man hating feminists.
The policing of women.
52% of of men voted for trump and we don’t hear the media talk about our male voter problem.
Women who voted for trump, apart from their male counterparts, are zeroed in on, with laser like focus. As though patriarchy was a thing which only exists in the imaginations of feminists.
This article is limited in scope and won’t delve into how women support patriarchy. Instead, I want to talk about why there are women who support the patriarchy.
It is a problem which begins and ends with men. Namely the power they still command in society.
There is an interesting aspect to all of this, which when siloed, makes very little sense. When we put those parts together, we see a bigger picture.
If you follow Chris Stroop or if you’ve read any of his published work on Evangelicals, you’ll know that the Republican party has been reduced to a cult. A party which once stood for independence, freedom, and economic success for small business’ has now become a party of misogynistic racists bent on destroying anyone who isn’t a normative cisheteropatriarchy person.
In short, this is a hetero normative male problem. But how do women participate in that hetero normativity? First we’ll have to go back in history a bit.
Once nomadic man began to settle down and cast aside their hunter gatherer ways, they found it beneficial to have a system which allowed them to amass their wealth. This system was beneficial for women too. The women enjoyed the privilege of living in a society as revered mother of… and the wife of… Both of which are societal distinctions.
Now I’m not suggesting that they had it easy or that they were treated with great care or respect. No. What I am saying is that a system of protections were put into place, which allowed women to thrive, albeit within a narrow margin of space. One which was and still is, set by men.
All through the history of society, we see men dominating the fields of science, writing, and art. But! If we dig a little deeper, we see that there are women who have been granted higher status in society. Women who have made scientific breakthroughs, created masterpieces, and written powerful books. What is often looked over is that these women, these trail blazers, are predominately white married women, who enjoy luxuries afforded to them by the men in their lives. Whether it be a doting father or a benevolent husband. These women would not have created their works without the patriarchal assistance of men. And they needed this assistance because men put them in a position of needing it in the first place.
These women were the beginning of feminism, albeit a feminism that didn’t push too hard on the boundaries created by a patriarchal construct.
Fast forward to women’s suffrage and we find that the anti-suffrage movement was not a movement of men, but rather a movement of upper class white women, who enjoyed the privileges granted to them by a patriarchal system.
Beginning in the 1870s and continuing even after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, antisuffrage served the “”gendered class interests”” of its members, notably the upper-class founders, who already possessed excellent, albeit informal, access to power via family connections. Not merely a front for men, it was a dynamic movement that changed its attitudes and tactics over time, and was effective enough that suffragists reformulated their own arguments to counter those of their opponents. Book Review
Galloping forward to the exoneration of men.
Women are not giving tree’s as noted by feminist philosopher and author Kate Manne.
“The Giving Tree gives everything she has to her beloved boy, and he never says thank you,” Manne said. “In the end she is an amputated stump, and people still think this is a beautiful story. If nothing else, maybe just switch the genders. If you must tell the story, just switch it up.”
Manne believes this story reveals a greater culture that takes advantage of women and absolves men. She sees the boy’s behavior as indicative of male entitlement, while the tree’s generosity symbolizes female obligation.
It is through the male construct, that we have women who are voting against their own best interests and the best interests of their daughters. Voting for a future which will oppress and possibly even kill their daughters.
But they’re doing it because voting GOP gives their sons the best possible future in a male dominate society. Sacrificing their women children for their male children. The proverbial giving tree.
The construct of marriage is the foundation.
Married women enjoy a higher social standing in society, as compared to their unmarried counterparts. This is but one example and it is not intended to be a whole summarization on the wrongs of patriarchy. Many a feminist man and woman enjoy a healthy relationship. The problem isn’t in the act of being married, but rather the unspoken and often tangible social benefits given to women who are married. A married woman has nearly the same societal benefits as an unmarried man.
The class system which she operates in, has benefits that her unmarried contemporaries do not enjoy.
I’m fully aware of the pitfalls of marriage, especially to an ill suited spouse. What I’m talking about are the subtle and not so subtle societal privileges granted to married women that unmarried women do not have the benefit of. Much like the societal benefits granted to individuals who claim Christianity as their religion. These people enjoy privileges which are not reflected in their counterparts, such as compared to someone who is an Atheist or of a different religion. Our society still presumes that a married woman is more trustworthy and dependable than an unmarried woman.
And I’m not even talking about marriage itself. Because these same privileges granted to a hetero normative couple are not enjoyed by an LGBTQ married couple.
I’m talking about the elevation of status that being associated with a hetero normative man brings. These men are still the dominant class in society and they are the ones that we worry and fawn over.
Women who are enjoined with a hetero normative man have higher class privileges than women who are not.
Power is a seductive drug. Men and women will do whatever it takes to keep that power.
Which is exactly what we saw in the 2016 election.
Men and their female counterparts were horrified at the idea of a strong woman in the highest office of the U.S. Government. And the jokes by men and women about what we would call Bill Clinton, were Hillary to win, were sexist and demeaning. Though I am certain that a lot of people were genuinely scratching their heads. (Google search on the subject.)
The societal norms that women, enjoined to a man, enjoy under a patriarchy, while not great, absolutely beat trying to make it on your own.
Life for single moms is rough. I mean down and dirty rough.
We still live in a society which greatly favors men. But not just any men. No. Those men most revered are the white hetero normative Christian. And those are the men who gave trump the vote. With full-throated support from their wives.
We are talking about women who buy into the construct of patriarchy, not because it suites them to punish feminists, but because they enjoy the privileges that patriarchy has given them through out the millennia.
This patriarchy has never been richer than in Westernized Judeo-Christianity and the Eastern Orthodox church. As well as the misogyny in eastern religions. Religion holds marriage as sanctimonious and elevates women in these societies.
The women who voted for trump, the evangelicals who voted for trump, and the conservatives from all backgrounds who voted for trump, all have one unifying commonality. That is their belief in patriarchy as the normal order of society.
Patriarchy ushered trump into office and it is normative men who are to blame.
Just because an article is written by a woman, doesn’t mean that the author is a feminist, familiar with feminist theory, or is aware of her own misogynistic slant.
Yes, women are misogynists too. It is these women who voted trump.
If you found the above thought provoking. I have listed below, some articles that you will find enlightening.
As I was making my way home, I passed through White-Marts overly expansive auto squatting lot.
I scanned my way through welfare for auto’s and yielded to foot traffic as appropriate. Upon completing my turn into the home stretch lane, I scanned for male centrist autos driven by any person behind the wheel.
As I approached the stop sign, I witnessed a white pick up truck careening off the main road, his white truck bouncing over the curb, the rear end fishtailing as he hit the gas.
Visually calculating the distance, I knew there wouldn’t be time to make it through the squatting lot intersection and avoid the large white man who occupied the large white truck.
None of the rules applied to him.
He was normal.
I was not.
He gave me a white, shit eating grin, from behind the white whiskers framing his white face, as he sat behind the wheel of his white truck. His large white thumb sticking up in the oppressive air which surrounded him.
“Thank you for following the rules of the road,” his actions screamed, as he himself broke several.
Pedaling off from my power position, pedal up, as my weight propelled me forward.
I looked over my shoulder and signaled to him that he was indeed number one.
Normative male centrist society, from which sprung forth the auto, has classified rules which dominate all others. By default, you and I are ‘other’.
The culture around “Those rule breaking bicyclists,” perfectly sums up a micro view of normative white culture.
My two disadvantages are being a woman on a bicycle. It irks me to no end when white men co-opt rape culture to ‘prove’ their victimization. Which isn’t to say that they can’t be victims of a crime. But they will never be a black man, woman, LGBTQ, and a victim of a crime
For that white man, he momentarily becomes other(ized) as he climbs on his bicycle. This other(ing) is brief and surface deep. Like dipping a toe in to test the temperature of the otherness water.
These men, who also invented the bicycle, before rapidly tossing it for the much more exclusionary auto, can not be the voice of bicycle advocacy.
They are, as a whole, crushing any forward momentum we have obtained.
Only recently have I found a few men, who have grasped the concept that you can not rationalize with the irrational and male culture is irrational, full stop.
People who drive, break as many “rules of the road” as anyone else who doesn’t drive. But Pedestrians and Bicyclists bear the brunt of being labeled a wanton rule breaker.
Any motorist, no matter their race or gender identity, is participating in, propping up, and re-establishing white normative culture as the default culture when they ‘other’ anyone traveling on foot or using alternative transportation, such as a bicycle.