The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.
This increasing empahsis on criminalization redefined domestic violence as an individual crime rather than as a symptom of patriarchal structures. Not only did this redefinition marginalize earlier efforts to treat domestic violence as a political problem, it relied upon the idea that perpetrators were simply criminals and women innocent victims in need of protection from the criminal justice system. This monolithic representation of domestic violence erased the complexity of people’s experiences and institutionalized the “ideal case” of domestic violence within the legal system. The effect of this was to further marginalize women who experienced the criminal justice system as an oppressive force in their lives.
Priya Kandaswamy, “Innocent Victims and Brave New Laws,” in Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (edited by Mattilda, a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore
Abigail Adams, the wife of the second United States president, John Adams, gained the attention of feminist scholars as a result of her memorable ‘Remember the Ladies’ piece of correspondence. This famous memo, dated March 31st 1776, was sent to her husband whilst he was away working on a draft copy of the American Declaration of Independence. In particular, the first lady had pleaded with her husband to give “favourable” consideration to women in the new code of laws by not putting “unlimited power in the hands of Husbands”, since “all Men would be tyrants if they could”. And, in an unmistakably dismissive tone, the future president would reply to his wife, in part, “I cannot but laugh… we know better than to repeal our masculine system”.
One of my UWI students
The fukú is machismo. It took me a long time to realize that. For a long time I was ineffably enamored of the novel. I knew I loved it, but, when faced with criticism – as I was one day by one of my colleagues, an expert in Latino literature, who found Yunior’s voice merely sexist, infuriatingly self-assured and macho – I found myself at a loss to say why. I hadn’t yet worked through the deep irony of the novel. It was on the surface as broken and postmodern as a Ph.D. in English could want, a fractured collection of incomplete narratives, with almost all the characters consumed by the merciless Angel of History; it was stuffed to bursting with references to geek culture that I reveled in seeing in a “legitimate work of literary fiction”; it was funny the way much Latino humor is funny, fast and black and fearless and savage. But what I loved most about it, inarticulately at first, is that it identifies machismo as a soul-crushing fukú for both women and men. Machismo is a curse that must be broken.