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Pornography and Power

When I went to Secondary school in the UK, there was an incident  that remains vivid in my mind.  A popular boy in our class rummaged through the bag of a girl and found a sanitary napkin. He hoisted it up as a prize and tossed to another boy who tossed it to another.  It went around the classroom like this for a minute or two.  The girl who owned it was red with embarrassment. It was as though she was to blame for this.  She desperately tried to reach it, to snatch it from the laughing boys making sport of her menstrual cycle.


This event symbolizes so much about the values of patriarchy - values that have taken fifty years for me to understand.

The first is to blame the victim.  At the time it was clear to me that the embarrassment was not hers to own - it was the boys who shamefully took something from her and threw it around.

In a society where males win medals for killing more children than women can give birth to, life is merely a resource. Giving birth, menstruating, rape, assault, domestic abuse are symbols of male dominance. Hunger, pain, reflection or feelings do not count in patriarchal society. It is the record of crusading warriors and their killing that counts, that defines history and the future.

The world of family, love, nurture, comfort and compassion belongs only to the reality of the conquered and the prey.

This sounds really extreme and men who love and care for others will not agree with this. 

So what is it about the power that drives civilization, the laws and the institutions we rely on to survive that makes our lived experiences irrelevant?  What is it about this time where patriarchy stumbles into mindless brutality, that makes it so difficult to be honest about those feelings we suppress? What is it about victims of bullying and rape that they must be publicly shamed for what others do to them? How have we allowed justice and morality to be so diluted that arguments become contests between two sides fighting to win the argument without fixing the problem?

Zosia Bielski writes that we need "Concrete measures for enacting cultural and institutional change – conversations more complicated than hashtagged confessions. From the ground up, we need to start with schools imparting deeper knowledge to young minds about consent, empathy, entitlement, bodily autonomy and bystander behaviour."  We Owe Sexual Abuse Survivors More Than Me Too. Globe and Mail Opinion, October 17, 2017.




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