Sunday, December 27, 2009

In the days of those days

Julie Bindel is a long time crusader on the front lines of sexual violence. Sexual violence is a pervasive part of almost every woman's imaginary world, even those who have never expereinced more than the most mild forms of it, because I don't think any of us can say we've never experienced any of it. This is because the threat of it is all around us, and it is a fear that pierces into the core of our most hard won possession. That is, namely, our sense of personal bodily control. Autonomy is won in slow hard steps, and sexual violence, the threat of it, and the imagination of it, destroy hat autonomy.

There is also the other part, and that is that pregnancy and reproduction necessarily involve the loss of this very same thing. As a result, sexual violence stares back at us from our fantasy life. Where and how to draw the line of the push in, is no easy thing.

Bindel writes in the guardian as follows:

It started about 10 years ago: prior to this I had no male friends. There were certainly men in my life whom I liked and respected, but no one I would meet up with for a drink and a heart-to-heart. Why? Not, dear readers, because I am a man-hater. As I have written before, I only hate those who rape and abuse women and children, and those who do nothing to stop other men doing so.

The bunker mentality is easy to come by, but I can only imagine what it was like to be part of radical feminism in that time. But the bunker sensation, that sensation where it seems that there are wolves with teeth and fangs in every direction, is common to every time and place I think. Little Red Riding Hood survives as a story, because there are so many woods to travel through.

I am sorry for her that she did not have the ability to have friendships with men until late in life. I am also even more sorry for a world where I understand how it happened.

And could happen tomorrow to a young woman trying to be herself.

And is probably happening now.


  1. In the early nineties I spent some time taking women's studies courses at the local university. The combination of fear and rage was palpable. If taken in and internalized, and some did, I can certainly see how friendship with men would become impossible.

  2. And life was ferocious for "unescorted" women back when the original radical feminists wrote their most incendiary work. For instance when I was a kid, sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s it became a bit of an on-campus "fad" for men to corner and rape students from the nearby nursing school. It went on for nearly a month, helped in very large part by an almost party-like "those whacky college kids" attitude in the press and even among cops.

    At least in our (major university) town that seriously radicalized feminism.

    Anyway, I completely get what you mean when you say sexual violence is part of every woman's imaginary world, a.k.a. mental map of the world.