In a recent New York Timescolumn, Jennifer Weiner plumbed the depths of her fury at the lifetime of patriarchal insult and injury faced by her and all women. But rather than aim her fury at ending sexual assault, violence against women, and the system that gives rise to it, she plunges headlong into a gruesome, small-minded vision of revenge.
Weiner revels in hideous fantasies of tossing rapists out of helicopters and--dare anyone lay a finger on her own daughters--"hunting down the man who hurt them and dismembering him with my fingernails and burning the whole world down." She glorifies the lust for "revenge ... power ... money ..." and the ability "to be loved and not love in return."
If Weiner hoped to provoke disgust and fear, she succeeded. I am terrified of the world she yearns for--and disgusted by it. We should all be. Because the only thing worse than allowing patriarchy to continue to diminish and torment all women's humanity, would be for women to completely abandon their own humanity by becoming like their oppressors.
The problem is not that Weiner is angry. For good reason women harbor deep and righteous fury. It flows from thousands of years of female enslavement. It comes from one in three women being raped or beaten in her lifetime. It comes from women super-exploited in sweatshops from Bangladesh to Brazil and women raped in war zones from Congo and Bosnia to right inside the U.S. military. It comes from stalking, abuse, sexual slavery, and sexual shaming. It comes from the bombing of abortion clinics and the killing of doctors. It comes from pornography that is increasingly violent, degrading, and mainstream. It comes from the reality that after generations of marching, going to jail, hunger-striking, writing, and speaking against all this, a boastful sexual predator sits in the White House and the Supreme Court is on the verge of slamming women, LGBTQ people, and many others violently backwards.
If you are not furious, then wake the hell up. Men, too.
But fury is not enough. Like a fire, fury can be harnessed for good--or can destroy everything.
Should our fury drive us to lust for the chance to make men suffer the way women have? For the "right" of women to behave like depraved death squads, hurling human beings to dreadful deaths? For the squalid "satisfaction" of inflicting such terror on another person that the light never returns to their eyes because that's what has been done for thousands of years to women?
Or, should our fury drive us to fight against and abolish the system and world that is held in place through that kind of terror--through centuries of white people terrorizing Black people, through murderous wars of imperialist aggression, through global networks of grinding exploitation, and through a culture that socializes men and boys from an extremely young age--through pornography, through scripture, and in countless other ways--to view and treat women as objects of sexual plunder or mere breeders of children?
Should our fury propel us into the ideological straight jacket of "me" and "my people"--a punier, perverse replica of "Bros before Hoes" or Trump's chauvinist "USA! USA!"--that reduces us to seeking vengeance if something happens to our own daughter (yet another expression of patriarchal property relations)?
Or should our fury compel us to broaden our horizons to the fight to end all forms of oppression? To grasp, as Bob Avakian has emphasized in speaking about the new communism he has developed, that what we need is, "A Whole New World and the Emancipation of All Humanity--Not 'The Last Shall Be First, and The First Shall Be Last'"? To fight with all we've got to beat back these horrors right now while building up the strength to make an actual revolution so that, as one expression of real liberation, one day no girl or woman anywhere ever again knows what it is to fear the sound of footsteps behind her?
Should our fury drive women to harden themselves, to extinguish their ability to feel and to love so that they can better claw their way to the top of this dung heap, where the only way to get ahead is by pummeling others to the bottom, where everything--even women's bodies and sexualized degradation--is turned into a commodity to be bought and sold or bartered for advantage?
Or should we fight for a world not divided into oppressors and oppressed, exploiters and exploited, masters and slaves? A world where opening oneself up is not an invitation for predation, where all children of all genders are taught to respect the full humanity of others, and to forge friendships and intimate relationships based on mutual respect, shared affection, equality and--where it develops--genuine love and tenderness?
We have to choose.
It may seem like all rage is the same and that--after centuries of rape, brutality, oppression, and enslavement--all rage is justified. It is not. Revenge leads rapidly and inexcusably deeper into the nightmare. In contrast, ending this nightmare requires breaking decisively and fully with revenge, lifting our sights, and fighting for an actual revolution aimed at human emancipation. This means taking up and being guided by a morality consistent with that future every step of the way.