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The Connection Between War & Violence Against Women

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From Anonymes 14 - Destruction du quartier autour du fort de HAM (France) - Prise de Ham, 19/03/1917 - plaque de verre stereo positive
Anonymes 14 - Destruction du quartier autour du fort de HAM (France) - Prise de Ham, 19/03/1917 - plaque de verre stereo positive by Vasnic64

On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Violence Against Women Act. Originally passed in 1994, this legislation was amended to add protections and services for Gays and Lesbians, as well as for Native American and immigrant women.

How can it be that we live in a society that is either unable or unwilling to provide security from assaults of all kinds to more than half its population?

Thanks to the Women's Liberation Movement that got underway more than forty years ago, the issue of protecting women against violent men became a national concern. The 1969 Redstockings Manifesto explained women's circumstances in the starkest of terms. In the excerpts that follow, it also offered a context for understanding why violence against women has proven to be so difficult to alleviate:

I. "After centuries of individual and preliminary political struggle, women are uniting to achieve their final liberation from male supremacy. Redstockings is dedicated to building this unity and winning our freedom."

II. "Women are an oppressed class. Our oppression is total, affecting every facet of our lives. We are exploited as sex objects, breeders, domestic servants, and cheap labor. We are considered inferior beings, whose only purpose is to enhance men's lives. Our humanity is denied. Our prescribed behavior is enforced by the threat of physical violence.

"Because we live so intimately with our oppressors, in isolation from each other, we have been kept from seeing our personal suffering as a political condition. This creates the illusion that a woman's relationship with her man is a matter of interplay between two unique personalities, and can be worked out individually. In reality, every such relationship is a class relationship, and the conflicts between individual men and women are political conflicts that can only be solved collectively."

III. "We identify the agents of our oppression as men. Male supremacy is the oldest, most basic form of domination. All other forms of exploitation and oppression (racism, capitalism, imperialism, etc.) are extensions of male supremacy: men dominate women, a few men dominate the rest. All power structures throughout history have been male-dominated and male-oriented. Men have controlled all political, economic and cultural institutions and backed up this control with physical force. They have used their power to keep women in an inferior position. All men receive economic, sexual, and psychological benefits from male supremacy. All men have oppressed women." [1]

Today, Patriarchy is Coming Back.

The system described above is called patriarchy. Over the last thirty years, there have been significant setbacks to this system, especially in the West, but it remains powerful in the U.S. and throughout the world.  

Now there is a backlash by patriarchal forces in the United States. Since it serves their interests, they are moving to insure that women, especially married women, are once again completely subject to the legal and physical domination of men.

Central to women's struggle to control their lives is the right to decide under what circumstances they will continue a pregnancy and to have access to a safe and legal means to terminate it if they choose to do so. Forcing women to continue unwanted pregnancies is another form of violence against women.

In 1994, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortions, commented that the decision had been necessary "for the full emancipation of women." [2]

But state after state is whittling away at the conditions under which women may exercise their legal right to choose an abortion. That right is also continuously undermined by religious zealots who congregate outside clinics and call clients names and curse them, by the burning and bombing of clinics, and by the murders of doctors who perform abortions.

A significant reason why there is so much resistance to change is that patriarchs at the top of the social order need more from the males they dominate than simply keeping women in their place. In order to achieve their goals of increased wealth and power, top patriarchs need men to be warriors. To achieve that end, they socialize males from an early age to be violent, to be willing to fight, torture, and kill.

In fact, women in the military have come face to face with the success of this socialization. A larger percentage of them are subject to sexual assaults than are women in civilian life: one in three as compared to one in six. And they meet with the same reluctance on the part of the military command to punish rapists as women have experienced with civil authorities.

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Now retired and a writer, I am a feminist and political activist, a radical Democrat (have come to dislike the term "progressive"), and a blogger. Have done political tours of Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, West and East (way back when)Germany, China, (more...)

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Why do you dislike the term "progressive"?... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 7:53:28 AM
For a couple of reasons. One is that the term has ... by Mary Wentworth on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 8:57:08 AM
How do you understand capitalism?... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 9:40:19 AM
Capitalism is an economic system whereby people se... by Mary Wentworth on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 11:06:53 AM
 I asked since it seems to me that many here ... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 1:08:52 PM
Finally, the connection has been made... by Earl Smith on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 8:26:41 AM
Nice piece. Make the connections we have been maki... by Earl Smith on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 8:29:30 AM
Thanks for tweeting this article, Earl. And for re... by Mary Wentworth on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 9:01:41 AM
As long as we live in a corporate culture that glo... by Jill (Julia) Dalton on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 12:20:59 PM
The cause of this male dominated culture is a lack... by Patricia Gray on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 1:26:04 PM
The Women's Liberation Movement was about giving w... by Mary Wentworth on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 2:43:46 PM
WOMEN ARE OPPRESSED CLASS - Women's Liberation Mov... by Klaudio Vinkerlić on Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013 at 3:32:56 PM
What you say is completely true and excellently wr... by Kathleen O'Grady on Wednesday, Apr 3, 2013 at 7:32:26 PM
I appreciate your taking the time to let me know t... by Mary Wentworth on Wednesday, Apr 3, 2013 at 9:23:43 PM
In the US military, primarily the US marines, they... by Justice Day on Saturday, Apr 6, 2013 at 8:42:42 AM
The point of my article is that men who are being ... by Mary Wentworth on Saturday, Apr 6, 2013 at 9:52:38 AM