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And what you learn is that the oppressor is yourself. Your guilt, your fear, your anger, your sense of impotence. Your self-pity.
I don’t like to see myself, feel myself, or experience myself as a victim, in the Church, or anywhere else. Which is why I have never called myself a feminist. I don't want to wait around until someone else treats me a certain way to feel good about myself. I want to be happy, joyous, and free no matter how people are thinking about or treating me. The more I feel that way, the more respect and honor I seem to get from everyone around me: men, women, children...
I think men are afraid of women and I think women rabid to "even the score" have made them more afraid. That men so often shoot women is a sign of their fear. It would stand to reason that more women, who are physically weaker, would shoot men, who are stronger, but no—it’s the men who shoot women. In fact, I wonder if our whole national fetishization of guns is not based on the underlying fear of men toward women. A desperate desire/need to appear manly, to defend themselves against their own loneliness, their own fear of appearing weak in the eyes of women and of each other.
Between 1982 and mid-2013, there, were 67 mass shootings (defined by Mother Jones as the killing of four or more people, not including the killer) in the United States. 66 of the murderers were men.
From an article by Jeffrey Nall entitled “The Perils of Patriarchy for Men as well as Women: Another Mass Shooting, another Reason to Begin Discussing Violence and Gender” in Truthout:
“Men are responsible for the majority of violence in this nation. According to the FBI's 2010 statistics on crime, men made up 90 percent of the 11,000 murder offenderswhose gender was known. Men also were responsible for 77 percent of aggravated assaults, 84 percent of burglaries, 82 percent of arsons, 74 percent of offenses against the family and children, and 99 percent of rapes. According to Futures without Violence, while three-quarters of those who commit family violence are men, women make up 84 percent of spousal-abuse victims and 86 percent of those abused by a romantic partner. Considering that men make up just 49.2 percent of the U.S. population, these statistics should be alarming.”
That’s not to say men are monsters; it’s to say men are afraid.
From the same article:
“Violence has long been the weapon of choice to assert one's self-worth within patriarchal culture and is often motivated to overcome perceived "dignity-denial" or dehumanization - denying one's moral status. Drawing on his research and direct experience with perpetrators of violence, psychiatrist James Gilligan notes that "the basic psychological motive, or cause, of violent behavior is the wish to ward off or eliminate the feeling of shame and humiliation ... and replace it with its opposite, the feeling of pride. In addition to feelings of profound shame, triggers for violence include a variety of factors including the feeling that nonviolent alternatives to restoring one's dignity are unavailable and the failure to feel "empathy, love and concern for others"...These violence-abating feelings are linked to femininity, and men who embrace them are often chastised for weakness. And the devaluation of "feminine feelings" such as empathy increasingly marks broader social and governmental practices. As Henry Giroux has pointed out, Americans are increasingly encouraged to limit their compassion and to adopt such "masculine" hardness...This phenomenon is growing not only in terms of interpersonal relations, but also in social policy."
No accident that the Bible begins with the story of the Garden of Eden, where the split between men and women began. One tactic of frightened men is to refuse to respond. Silence as a form of control, withholding as a form of violence. This can occur in the world of Catholic publishing, in a landlord-tenant situation, in a friendship, in a marriage.
Patriarchy is not the problem.
The problem is our shame--everyone's shame--our guilt, our sense that we are unworthy, and our fear of letting our desire go to the stars.
Feminism isn’t the solution. Love, wonder, and mystery are the solution.
I don’t want to be more like a man.
I want to be more like myself.
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