Stop Violence Against Women discussion

A Feminist Ethical Perspective

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message 1: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:43PM) (new)

Héctor The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.
- President Harry Truman, August 9, 1945

I heard her voice calling “Mother, Mother.” I went towards the sound. She was completely burned. The skin had come off her head altogether, leaving a twisted knot at the top. My daughter said, “Mother, you’re late, please take me back quickly.” She said it was hurting a lot. But there were no doctors. There was nothing I could do. So I covered up her naked body and held her in my arms for nine hours. At about eleven o’clock that night she cried out again “Mother,” and put her hand around my neck. It was already ice-cold. I said, “Please say Mother again.” But that was the last time.
- A Hiroshima survivor

We are reporting on a feminist tradition which we label anti-war feminism. We consider ourselves inheritors of this tradition and draw on it to formulate a position on weapons of mass destruction. To put our position briefly: anti-war feminism rejects both the military and political use of weapons of mass destruction in warfare or for deterrence. It is also deeply critical of the discourses which have framed public discussion of weapons of mass destruction. It calls for ways of thinking that reveal the complicated effects on possessor societies of developing and deploying these weapons, that portray the terror and potential suffering of target societies, and
that grapple with the moral implications of the willingness to risk such massive destruction.

A Feminist Ethical Perspective on Weapons of Mass Destruction by Carol Cohn and Sara Ruddick in:

message 2: by Rosemary (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:58PM) (new)

Rosemary I was very moved by your post. Could anti-war perhaps be changed to pro-peace?

message 3: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:58PM) (new)

Héctor It is implicit, Rosemary...

message 4: by Ann (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:58PM) (new)

Ann | 5 comments I agree with Rosemary on both counts. Hector writes a beautifully moving piece. And certainly the notion of anti-war implictly conveys pro-peace, but there is a true distinction between the labels. If we as a people seek to redefine our relationships and thinking, we must also take care to redefine the negativity of our speech. Why say anti-war, when what you trully wish to imply is a sense of peace and freedom of awareness? At one level it may seem trite to attach so much energy to this. But language and thought are so inextricably connected...and I believe it is important to not mention war (or anti anything for that matter) when you can more powerfully express intent with words like peace (and anything positive, ie. pro vs. anti). I imagine this may sound like politically correct jargon, but that is most certainly not my intent.

message 5: by Rosemary (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:59PM) (new)

Rosemary Thank you, Anne, for putting my thoughts into eloquent words. Didn't Mother Teresa say something to the effect that she wouldn't attend an anti-war rally, but she'd be glad to attend a pro-peace rally. And thank you, too, Hector, for speaking up for an ethical perspective.

message 6: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:59PM) (new)

Héctor Ann and Rosemary:

Carol Cohn and Sara Ruddick say: "Anti-war feminism rejects the conception of war as a discrete event, with clear locations, and a
beginning and an end. It is not that we fail to distinguish between war and peace, or make
distinctions between kinds of violence; but in our vision, and in contrast to much just war theory, it is crucial to not separate war from either the preparations made for it (preparations taken in the widest possible, including the social costs of maintaining large standing armies and the machinery of deterrence), or from its long term physical, psychological, socio-economic, environmental, and gendered effects. This conception of war is sometimes explicit in feminist writings, typically implied by the rhetoric and symbols of feminist movements (...) Women’s war and post-war stories underline the unboundedness of war in at least two different dimensions: cultural and practical. Culturally, war is understood as a creation and creator of the culture in which it thrives. War’s violence is not understood as separate and apart from other social practices. There is a continuum of violence running from bedroom, to boardroom, factory, stadium, classroom and battlefield, “traversing our bodies and our sense of self.” Weapons of violence, and representations of those weapons, travel through interlocking institutions –economic, political, familial, technological and ideological. These institutions prepare some people but not others to believe in the effectiveness of violence, to imagine and acquire weapons, to use and justify using force to work their will. They prepare some but not others to renounce, denounce or passively submit to force, to resist or accept the war plans put before them."

It´s clear that this feminist movement is denouncing to the war like culture (the American culture?) and system. I think that the Mother Teresa collaborates (collaborated) with the perpetuation of that system...

message 7: by Ann (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:59PM) (new)

Ann | 5 comments Hector -

I've read your most recent post twice, and fear that I don't understand it exactly.

I do believe that you're not understanding the intention of my post: which was not to imply that the movement labeled "anti-war feminism" needs to be somehow justified, but rather that the actual choice of words would be more potent if they were about something, rather than against it's converse.

For said reasons, I feel better about the label: Pro-Peace Feminism.

But this point may very well be lost.

Also...I was unclear - to which system was Mother Teresa collaborating perpetuation?

message 8: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:59PM) (new)

Héctor Dear Ann: I think that it is important to specify against what we fight. About Mother Teresa, read Christopher Hitchens On Mother Theresa (Interview) by Matt Cherry in:

message 9: by Ann (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:02PM) (new)

Ann | 5 comments Fascinating article about Mother Teresa. Highly disturbing. I certainly have fallen to the practice of seeing her in a light based on legend. Thank you for sharing. Both love and hate those kind of revealations :)

Think M.T. was being illustrated as an iconoclastic figure of good in Rosemary's example. I believe her example was to show terms of pertepuating what consumes you - so if you're always fighting and anti and consummed with war, you shall never be able to exist in a world free from those elements (even if you're against those things). Where if one's focus is trully upon peace and positivity, one helps to put into action a reality in which positivity and peace are possible.

Again thanks for sharing the Christopher Hitchens interview. Fascinating stuff.

message 10: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new)

Héctor "Peace" "Freedom" "Democracy" said Mr. President about Irak. These beautiful words caused this:
Stuff?. No, it´s a rhetorical combat.

message 11: by Ann (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

Ann | 5 comments Simply placing nice language on an invasion won't convert intention. In my eyes, President Bush has never been about anything beyond corporate greed and the vulgar, brazen abuse of power. That is consistently the intention behind every single action he takes. It has always been rather transparent to many of us. And if I think about his reign for too long, a deep rage consumes me.

However, I believe that rage is counter productive when it crushes the positive energy from me. Because as a person that energy is all I really possess - my will to share life and make a profound human connection with all those that I may. If I can affect change in people due to my own clarity of kindness and care, I am creating a less violent world. In time, I believe that translates into huge, profound change.

Based upon your responses I sense my view point may seem rather "cum-bi-ya", but I hold certain that a true revolution of thought starts on the interior. And the only way to stop violence is to reprogram the way we think about stopping it. One doesn't fight against war or even fight for peace - those are ridiculous oxy morons. One creates peace. In this way the language matches the intention. And one may only trully create peace once s/he finds that balance in his or her being.

message 12: by Héctor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

Héctor If a government starts a war and you object it and express this objection, you inevitably creates a conflict with that government. The conflict is the factor of social change.

message 13: by Phillip (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Phillip I am assuming this is not a Monty Python sketch about naming the group. I write anti-war books. And anti-gender bias books. But I also like John Stuart Mill. To wit:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.JSM

Armed, dangerous, evil men kill in Sudan every day.Rights? What rights do women and children have in a country where their life is measured in the law of chance?
Men must act. It is cowardly and (just to make sure i am universally dismissed) un-Christian to not help people such as those in Africa.
I thought this group was about Stopping Violence Against Women. It appears its about Giving Peace a Chance, semantics, and what a jerk Mother Teresa might have been. In the real world, there is Sudan, a sexual assault epedimic in the US, and a 70% illigitimacy rate among Afro American women. There's plenty of violence out there to work with. Let me know if you decide its pro-peace or anti-war. My apologies for butting in. But I wasted my time reading what i thought was a blog concering VAW and I thought I deserved a rant.
And another reason I'm cranky: in asking about 100 women (on goodreads) for a minute of help in writing the story of my daughters gang rape, i got four responses. Guess most of the gang was out marching for peace.
God Bless you anyway. :)

message 14: by Robert (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) Well said, Phillip. Well, you ARE a bit cranky at the end there (for good reason, apparently, I'm truly sorry to say). Of course everybody sane is opposed to war because it is bad for everyone -- men, women, children, of all gender combinations including gay and lesbian and undecided and neuter -- because it kills and maims the innocent and guilty alike and because it tends to be fought, ultimately, to advance one group's interest over another's. Similarly it would be easy to co-opt this groups theme into discussions about not smoking (smoking kills countless women each year), controlling guns (guns kill lots of women), and getting lots of exercise. But that's not the point.

Violence against women is an international theme. There is plenty of it in the United States, as the sad story of Phillip's daughter makes clear. Some of it even here is semi-institutionalized -- husbands beating their wives, prostitution, archaic laws, the subtle but pervasive "violence" that prevents women from making the same money for the same work as a man and hence keeps her dependent on men and more easily controlled as a politican and moral force. In other countries -- India or China -- it can be far worse, as young Indian wives are tortured and murdered for their dowries by their husbands and in-laws.

I was fortunate enough to be raised by a mother who was a strong woman -- she had a bachelor's degree from a University back in a time when that was truly rare -- and with a sister who was also a strong, extremely intelligent woman. My wife is a physician and in all respects my equal (well, she actually makes twice as much money as I do, but that is small redress for the 99% of all marriages where it is the other way around:-). My mother helped support a shelter for battered wives trying to leave their abusive husbands for the last fifteen years of her life.

I also (like Phillip) write, and this is something I have written about. My fictional novel, The Book of Lilith, is basically the mythical story of the first human being, who turns out not to be Adam but rather Lilith (this is from a midrash that attempts to explain an apparent inconsistency in the Book of Genesis). Lilith is very much a modern woman, for all that she lives at the beginning of civilization. She (as Adam's first wife) becomes the first beaten wife when she fails to submit to his will, and it is this sin that brings about the destruction of Eden.

The book is written in a lighthearted way for all the violence and message it contains, resorting to black humor and satire to get those messages across relatively gently, but it clearly portrays both Lilith, and Eve, as being strong women who will accept nothing less than equality with any man.


message 15: by Ann (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Ann | 5 comments It's rather stunning to me that - as a woman - I need somehow to express that I understand about violence against women. Yet I feel compelled to do so by these previous posts. I believe in the ultimate goodness of humanity - that does not mean I wouldn't and don't protect all that I hold dear on a daily basis. I have know pain - as a woman - that has brought me to the ground. My determination to serve myself and those in my life with love carries me forward.

My novel Element of Blank depicts a brutal world of domestic violence because I wish to stimulate conversation about that reality (I pray it may actually help one woman from violence). I have seen abused women (both dead and after their attack) here in the United States - so please do not begin to think that stopping violence against women is simply a slogan for me! It is a life's work for me.

I am both interested and excited to learn more about what we can do to: help the women of Sudan (and India and world-wide), educate lower income women about birth control, work to have women receive equal pay for equal labor, stop all violence against women (back in college my dear friend shared this statistic with me: In the U.S. 1 in 10 men is a rapist, 1 in 4 women will be rapped). Basically I invite everyone to be an active force of positive action.

Now I've had my rant, too.

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