Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Online Abuse Gender Gap

As I was just commenting here, I'm working some overtime hours this week and won't have as much time for posting. But I thought this comment by Hardheaded Liberal at My Left Wing was a good one, and worth a quick front-paging before I go:

Markos probably has heard and accepts that rape, like domestic violence, is about power and domination over women (or vulnerable men in prisons). But in any event he doesn't understand that threats of violence have the same function of "keeping women in their place" and supercharging the belief of the bully (online or other) that he has a "natural right" to do whatever he wants to to keep any woman "in her place."

A lot of education is needed for some progressive bloggers, but those of us who understand the reality should be polite to progressives who still have a lot to learn. Let Markos apologize if he realizes that he should, but let him figure that out himself -- after he has seen the arguments as well as the rants and rhetoric.

The Ku Klux Klan found that threats of violence were very effective in depriving the freedmen of the franchise after the Army was largely withdrawn from occupying the Old Confederate States after the Hayes-Tilden election in 1876. And when threats didn't do the job, the KKK simply burned out the families of local African-American leaders (killing entire families) and/or lynched the leaders.

Online threats, cyber-stalking, physical stalking, domestic abuse, are all forms of violence against women. And these forms of violence have the same purpose as the suppression of freedmen and the suppression of conflicting groups in Iraq -- that is, to establish hierarchy, here to render women subordinate and vulnerable.

Markos is just one of many males who does not recognize clearly enough (if at all), the huge gender gap between women and men in perception of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. It is similar to the huge gap between African-Americans and all other ethnic communities in perception of the state of race relations at any point in time: Many surveys I have seen over the years show that, e.g., when 80% of whites think race relations are good, roughly 80% of African-Americans will report that race relations are poor.

I've been a civil rights lawyer for 35 years. But it has only been in the last 15 years, when sexual harassment cases have became a major feature of employment law/civil rights law practice, that I have seen example after example of predatory males (bullies all) demeaning the women they work with in every conceivable way.

Markos also is apparently not aware of how many women become hyper-vulnerable in childhood or adolescence. Molestation, incest, step-father rape, and other sexual abuse drives large numbers of young women into the world pursued by demons of guilt, shame and self-hatred because they have been victimized by sexual abuse.

Just as many African-Americans were cowed into subservience by all the social constraints of America's proto-apartheid, large numbers of women live on a narrow edge between confidence/self- respect and impotence/self-blame. It does not take an immediate threat to their persons to push them over the edge onto the side of impotence.