Editorial note: A satirical piece which made reference to gender politics in our movement has been postponed in favour of this rant by one of the authors of the former piece in light of current events in Ireland. This piece makes no pretension to humour and reflects the unironic views of the entire editorial staff including all remaining writers and, we should hope, reflects on some level the sentiment of at least the majority of our readers. Should readers not be aware of the case, a content warning is due for rape.
They were acquitted! They were acquitted by a court of law after hearing all the evidence! You don’t simply get to decide who’s guilty and who’s innocent based on your feelings, no matter how popular they are! This is why we have police, this is why we have courts, this is why we have the state!
These “arguments”, applied to republicans found “guilty” of republican “crimes”, should be all to familiar to men reading this who might not ordinarily be predisposed to paying particularly attention to women’s rights and struggle, a characterisation which tragically applies to many, many men in the dissident republican movement, a fact reflected in the Provos’ ability to dominate the LGBT and feminist discourses while dissident organisations are generally quieter. Perhaps the leadership are afraid of upsetting “traditional” people (or to be more blunt: patriarchal, macho, cissexist, homophobic men)?
Whenever we choose to pay attention to this fact, the state and the media are never actually objective actors meting out fair treatment to all. Under British occupation, this should be obvious even to middle-of-the-road liberals because the British state is still a monarchy, putting one family ahead of all others by divine mandate. But the facts are hardly different in the south, or indeed, anywhere else.
The patriarchy is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is the state. Here we should give Öcalan his due for reviving a discussion long lay dormant among Marxists (although it was for a period a fixation of Marx’s and Engels’s), the question of the co-emergence of class society, civilisation, and gender roles, or as we now call it, “the patriarchy”. How do we see that there is value in an investigation of this question? We see it in Wednesday’s acquittal.
We know and we see, and we hope all reading this agree, that the patriarchal “rape culture” constitutes the universal material conditions in which a rugby “lad” might commit his particular act of rape. But it was not just the culture which created these men and encouraged them to become what they became and do what they did. It was the state which presides over this culture which acquitted them despite all evidence. Yes, despite all evidence, it was not enough to prove guilt because of the “presumption of innocence”. But in doing so, this same court, which made sure that she spent more time being questioned than all of the men put together, has presumed guilt: they have presumed this woman is guilty of libel, and Paddy Jackson is now proceeding with libel charges against those who defend her.
Who has rushed to the defence of the downtrodden woman, whose sexuality and character were humiliatingly put on trial? The heroic toiling masses, ordinary people, in the streets, across Ireland.
The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is not a concept which we limit to taxes and tariffs and employment and trade unionism. The dominant bourgeoisie and its state see their reflection in one another and shape and are shaped by each other. All of social life, from the market to the courts, is under their domination, and any exceptions are the result of determined struggle against them. So it should not surprise us that the dominant bourgeoisie’s national character correlates with those of state institutions. But as the bourgeoisie inherits the patriarchal economic and cultural practices from the various historically dominant classes it has sublated in itself (the slavemaster, the feudal lord, etc.), the state inherits their patriarchal laws.
So it is with the control of women’s bodies. From the perspective of the patriarchy, we are accused of trying to police men’s sexuality, but they themselves are blind to how violently they wish to possess women’s bodies and sexuality. The slut-shaming and the hunter metaphors for pursuing women sexually, this is the overt sexual reflection of the dominance of men over women extended back more or less to the beginning of civilisation. When a woman questions this, asserts her control of her own body, she is vilified not only by the men who violated her, but by the state. We must ask, why is this? The state has an interest in protecting these men, not because they individually are so special or unique, but precisely because they are not.
The patriarchy which lies below bourgeois society and all class society, which has recreated itself through and atop bourgeois society, knows and sees that the recreation of the oppressor man identity is essential for its own continuation. The patriarchy knows and sees that rebellion against this order, through the feminist and LGBT movements, has an anti-systemic character. It protects itself against these threats in two key ways:
Firstly, as we have seen in all its ugliness in Wednesday’s acquittal, by protecting rapists at all costs; a stern reminder to women to stay in their place and accept their subservience, a pat on the back to rapist manhood.
Secondly, through the more covert violence of appropriation. Let us not forget that the occupational authorities are presided over by the Queen and the woman Prime Minister of Britain. This concept of “woman leadership” is not just an exception to the rule: it is the exception which proves the rule. These individual women are allowed privileges in exchange for presenting themselves to women as proof of their own liberation, to put trust in the patriarchy to save them from itself.
The capitalist class is the patriarchy, the patriarchy is the capitalist class. Women are the proletariat, the proletariat are women. The violence against the working class around the world, who anyway are in their majority women and the gender oppressed, in their majority oppressed nationalities, seems so obvious to our readers as to occasionally provoke the question: how has this state of affairs survived? The answer is in the covert violence of appropriation. The labour aristocracy, the occasional worker who rises in class position, these are the reflection of the oppressor class in the oppressed. The union officials who betray the labourers, particularly the unorganised labourers, the workers who refuse to join the struggle because they want to protect their current or perhaps future position, these are one and the same phenomenon as those women, in “power” or not, who defend the man-state’s assault on womanhood.
There is no neutrality in this: the media is not neutral, the state is not neutral, and you cannot remain neutral. The state presumes you guilty of insubordination until you prove yourself subordinate. The state is guilty of oppression. The media, guilty of concealing this. All of this, bought and sold by the bourgeois patriarchy.
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