Sunday, February 3, 2008


Collaborators are a heartbreaking and sometimes maddening aspect of oppression.

NoPornNorthampton reports the following:

Once the Mexican traffickers abduct or seduce the women and young girls, it's not other men who first indoctrinate them into sexual slavery but other women. The victims and officials I spoke to all emphasized this fact as crucial to the trafficking rings' success. ''Women are the principals,'' Caballero, the Mexican federal preventive police officer, told me. ''The victims are put under the influence of the mothers, who handle them and beat them. Then they give the girls to the men to beat and rape into submission.'' Traffickers understand that because women can more easily gain the trust of young girls, they can more easily crush them. ''Men are the customers and controllers, but within most trafficking organizations themselves, women are the operators,'' Haugen says. ''Women are the ones who exert violent force and psychological torture...'' more

We know that where female genital mutilation is practiced, the procedure is almost always carried out by a woman (of course, we are told this is a sign that women want it done, believe in it - never mind the fact that marriage is the only available path to security for women in these cultures and that mutilated female genitals are the only genitals acceptable to prospective husbands).


Then there's this woman. The article is from 2006, but I'm writing about it because there is so much material like this out there and it reminded me of the trafficking quote (above). Her name is Naomi Schaefer Riley. She's white, college educated, privileged, and writing for the Wall Street Journal. She says that the case of the New York City woman who went out drinking and was raped and killed by a bouncer shows that feminism has it wrong. We feminists are wrong to insist that women should be able to go where they want to, as men do, even alone. We're wrong to drink alcohol without a designated bodyguard, and if we do so, then our rapes or murders are our own damn fault. Feminists, she says, place emphasis only on trying to get men to quit raping (imagine!), rather than on getting women to "use their common sense" (translation: know your place and stay there - either at home or guarded by a man, and preferably both).

Now, readers may well assume that this advice is obvious and that no Duke coed would ever do what the stripper, by her own account, did: Upon finding 40 men at the party instead of the four for whom she agreed to "dance," she stayed and performed anyway. When the partygoers began shouting what she described as racial epithets and violent threats, she left but returned after an apology from a team member. A stripper with street smarts is apparently a Hollywood myth.

First of all, her insistence that "strippers" don't have street smarts shows how little she knows about the world of sexually exploited women. To paraphrase Riley, a woman hired by the WSJ with enough research smarts to learn about her subject before commenting is apparently a journalistic myth.

Second, Riley, like the boys in the mainstream media, refers to the woman as a "stripper." The woman was, in fact, a student, a student who was accepting payment for letting men use her body for entertainment so she could afford to stay in college. I'm sure that's why she stuck around even in a roomful of forty drunk white frat boys - not because she lacked street smarts but because she needed the cash and couldn't risk losing her job. As one might expect from a token woman columnist at the Wall Street Journal, her analysis of the (then alleged) Duke rape follows carefully the capitalist patriarchy's script, putting all burdens on the individual woman (even for her own harm!) and assuming a full and free range of choices without any analysis of how circumstances may restrict choice.

Feminists are always accused of hating men. Riley assumes that some men will always rape and insists that women adjust and limit our lives accordingly. Radical feminists, on the other hand, like men enough to insist that they can do better. We like men enough to demand their accountability because, as Andrea Dworkin said, we continue to have faith in their humanity.

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