Translation: Is the [French] Anarchist Federation revealing its masculinist discourse in broad daylight?

[The following is a translation of an article published by anarcha-feminists on Paris indymedia and disseminated on many French anarchist news sites. This translation was made without having access to the Monde Libertaire article (if anyone could send it to me, that would be great). I do not wish to jump on any band-wagon of any witch-hunt, but this article is sadly believable, which in itself is a concern. I did not reproduce the names of the women which were in the original text because of my personal choice, and use their initials instead. This article is quite upsetting. Pics are from the original authors. Please pay attention to the comments, where floaker posted the reaction of a group from the AF.]

Trigger warning: depiction of rape, eroticization of rape, rape culture, picture of self-defence move, picture of torture implement.

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Translation: Is the [French] Anarchist Federation revealing its masculinist discourse in broad daylight?

The March/April 2013 special issue of the Monde Libertaire on Education hides in its pages a pearl of French Musculinism. Roger Dadoun, an emeritus university professor who teaches at Paris-7, offers us a crypto-Freudian analysis of DSK’s rape of [ND].

With the help of many obscure but meaningless theories and words that only people with 12 years at uni can understand, he puts into question the rape which DSK committed. His ideas are clear: not only was this rape not rape, but only a “libidinal escapade”, but he re-tells this horrific act with the crude words of a porn movie. With nothing to envy Eric Zemmour or Alain Soral, he explains and justifies rape by a so-called feminisation of society and of men (which he calls “hysterization”). Men would experience moments of “hysteria” which they seem unable to control…

Rape: Eroticization and Denial

“It is not rape, it is a libidinal escapade” Roger Dadoun manages something quite remarkable when he talks about DSK’s rape of [ND]. He starts his article by claiming that what happened on that day is as concrete and precise as can be: it was a “consumed act of fellatio” between a client and a chamber-maid. During all his development, the words “rape, rapist, forced relation, male domination, assault, victim, lack of consent, violence…” do not appear anywhere in the article. The sexual assault is even (re)defined as “consumed relation, gesture, unexpected meeting or circumstance, incidental fellatio, so-called sexual assault, libidinal escapade…”; while the rapist and his victim are called “protagonists” or “client” for DSK, allowing doubt between client of a hotel or of a prostitute. In this stinking atmosphere, why talk about rape without naming it? In order to show that it does not exist.

The fantasy of (fake) rape Rape is described as the fantasy of a bad porn movie. The background of the hotel room is set, “a place of transition: where tricks are turned”. The words ‘tricks’ and ‘client’ clearly belong to the vocabulary of prostitution. The staff, male and female, have “a permanent carnal indirect contact with the client”. In Roger Dadoun’s movie, “the client comes out of the shower, naked and in a light mood, more or less aroused by his shower” and the member of staff then “penetrates” the room (the doubt is cast that it could be a prostitute/member of staff role-playing a sexy maid). And then, it is no longer two people, but two bodies, according to the writer, who are going to meet. He wonders about their concording motivations, what their hands, heads, mouths do. The “the woman sucks the male cock”, a few drops of semen come out. It lasted a few minutes.

In his unhealthy fantasy, he eroticizes rape. He makes it an event that one can tell with no consequence, apart from causing arousal. The man comes out of the shower, he seems surprised by the situation. The woman is active, she enters and provokes the scene by her presence. The victim becomes guilty and the rapist is a passive figure. Roles are reversed: rape becomes a lovely erotic scene in which the man is surprised by a woman who plays an ambiguous part of maid/prostitute.

A rape is not a lovely erotic scene

Make people believe it is lovely, is to trivialise and accept it

If she is a prostitute, it is not rape” DSK is seen as a client, we do not know whether it is of a hotel or of a prostitute. And if DSK is a client, isn’t [ND] a voluntarily ambiguous employee/prostitute? Was it not her job? Let’s remind the writer that reality is not a bad fantasy from a porn channel and that a hotel employee is nothing more and nothing less than what she appears to be: a hotel employee. Let’s remind him even more importantly that whether an employee or a prostitute, rape is not characterized by the victim’s occupation, but by the act of the rapist.

When a woman does not say yes, it means no.

When a woman says no, it means no.

She could have defended herself” The writer even dares pretend that, given her size, [ND] could have pushed DSK away (and therefore prevent what he calls her “so-called assault”). She is presented as a “strong woman”, used to forced labour and “able to resist”. Worse than that, he wonders about her weight, which could then have been compared to DSK’s, to establish whether or not she could have fended him off… The absolute zero of reflexion is reached. [ND] is presented as a racist stereotype of a Black woman made sturdy by domestic labour and “perhaps illiterate”. This question about her weight is misogynistic and anti-fat people; if she is too thin, she cannot resist, but if she has enough weight, she gains a position of strength to push off her attacker. All is resumed to an issue of physical domination, voluntarily negating patriarchal conditioning which is imposed on women around the issue of consent.

From a precise act to the affirmation of doubt Whereas the start of his article claims that this act is “concrete and precise”, that has changed in the last few lines. In a sudden twist, the writer claims now that “only a well-ordered reenactment could have allowed us to appreciate the probability and adequation of the versions and lived experiences of both subjects”. Of course, let’s organise reenactments with the rapist and his victim, so that she can live through her rape all over again. How come we hadn’t thought of that…

Finally, this act which “is no longer a rape” but simply a “sexual act between two bodies”, is put in a broader context: must we remind people that on a global scale, it is torrents of sperm and other secretions that the hotel industry throws into its bidets, sinks and laundry-rooms? Yes, to Roger Dadoun, the context is not one of a serial rapist which has been denounced several times (by [TB] and a prostitute from the Carlton hotel in Lille, to name the most famous ones) but is drowned among all sexual acts regularly taking place in hotels (whether rapes or consented relations, the writer does not even ask).

Did she really mean no?” But the real question the writer asks is this: did the victim really mean no? According to the writer, if she had, she could have, given her mass, pushed away a man who would undoubtedly not have dared run after her in the hotel corridors half naked. He describes the rape as an isolated and spontaneous act, as the chance encounter of two bodies in space. He empties it of its content. He denies the difficulty of saying ‘no’ when attacked. He denies the other assaults committed by DSK.

Rape is a patriarchal act in all its horror, which takes away from women their autonomy and their bodies, mentally and physically. It is a man who thinks a woman cannot refuse him. And that even if she refuses, she still wants him. She just has to be forced a little to make her want it. Desire does not have to be reciprocal. Appetite comes with eating, as the saying goes. And if she does not say anything, it must mean that she consents, who abstains consents. If not, she would have made it stop.

Masculinist Discourse

After a first eroticizing part, Roger Dadoun reveals his Masculinist theory, which has already been expressed by Alain Soral or Eric Zemmour. If society is going wrong, if men can commit “libidinal escapades” (also known as rapes), it stems from a reason: the feminization (or hysterization) of society.

Under the guise of an obscure, hardly-understable psychiatrizing and neo-Freudian pseudo-theory, he develops the idea that men are nowadays more often subjects to “hysterisation of reactions”, “unpredictable and not lasting” which they cannot control. And if they do not control these moments of “hysteria”, they cannot be condemned or guilty. This theory has already been defended by the Masculinist [female] journalist Marcela Iacub. Blaming women, defending the patriarchal order and its privileges, Roger Dadoun is examplary in his reactionary ideology.

Neu-freudianism and the feminization of society The writer recycles the idea of hysteria. Strongly evocative, this notion literally means related to the uterus, and remains in collective representations an aggressive furor, purely feminine in origin. Do we not call feminists hysterical sexually-frustrated women?

And this psychological state (which, according to Freud, affects men as well as women), would today affect “men more than women, because of contemporary social evolution”. But the writer does not expand on what this so called social evolution is, nor about why it would affect men more than women. The mystery remains…

On the other hand, he tells us a lot about how it is manifested: by behaviours such as expressions, gestures, lapsus, explosions, lies, and even “asthma-attacks of libidinal energy” (admire the vocabulary and the lyrical image). Once again, we have no clue as to why it would affect men more than women, nor where this theory comes from and how it is demonstrated.

But the fact is there: Roger Dadoun plays on the representation of hysteria as a female trait which would today be mainly a male characteristic. According to him, there is an inversion of behaviours between men and women. Men are losing their marks and developing “universal” behaviours “characterized by permanent displacements of libido”, unexpected, sudden and limited reactions. There is there a justification of DSK who could not control “a sudden sexual urge” but also a justification of all forms of rape, since it is a “universal” and “generalized psycho-social phenomenon”. It is not only DSK who could not contain his “hysteria”, it is also all the other rapists which could not refrain from raping.

But where does it come from? Why do men suffer from it? Roger Dadoun hardly articulates it: from this famous social evolution which places men in situations in which they can no longer control themselves. Like in the macho idea that women are unstable because they cannot control themselves, especially during their periods, men have become women suffering from “hysteria”. The feminization of behaviors prevents them from controlling themselves and pushes them to rape. The “simple, fugitive moment of hysteria from the man DSK” is then just an escapade taking over his body and that his reason could not control. In a word, he recycles the macho cliché according to which men cannot contain their sexual urges.

Justifying rape and denying a patriarchal act Nowhere in the article is rape placed in context: as a purely patriarchal act. Roger Dadoun only talks at length about the pseudo-suffering of the rapist and silences integrally the victim’s suffering. Only the man, his feelings, his experience and his suffering count.

He also tries to show us that rape is not the rapist’s fault, as we are not certain of what happened (Roger Dadoun must not have read the medical report), because if the victim really meant no, she would have done so (he never had to say no to sexual assault) and even if there was a rape, DSK was the victim of his emotions, he did not realise what he did and he cannot be condemned. Worse, if men commit such acts, it is because they become women, women are therefore the real culprits.

The success of Masculinist discourse Already very well-known in Québec, the Masculinist movement is embodied in France sometimes by literary figures such as Michel Houellebecq, sometimes by political ones like Alain Soral or Eric Zemmour.

The last two present themselves as anti-conformist, damned figures (the taboos of society silence them) but are actually largely made popular by the media (Internet, newspapers, TV, radio, …) and are, in that regard, tolerated by the powers that be. They revendicate being “guilt-free machos”

Éric Zemmour Éric Zemmour is the representant of a conservative right opposed to neo-liberalism. His book, The First Sex, is an essay on the so-called feminization of society. He makes a living from his anti-68, reactionary ideology.

According to him, women have revendicated the sexual revolution to become men, in their behaviors and lifestyles. But, as they failed, they want to change men into women, which leads to the fantasy of the feminization of society (we apparently live in an almost-matriarchal world). You can add to this a powerful homophobic discourse in which he considers the “gay ideology” one of the main factors of transformation in men and women.

According to him, the biological differences between men and women are unbridgeable and we cannot speak of equality, but of complementarity. He advocates the return to a purely patriarchal society, where man is the dominating, all-powerful figure whose aggressive sexuality is revendicated, and women are limited to their role as mothers and domestic workers. He therefore rejects all feminism, which would only have caused men harm and them to forget traditional manly values.

Alain Soral Alain Soral also talks about a feminization of society, but with a pseudo-Marxist analysis. First a member of the French Communist Party, then the National Front, he finally created Égalité et Réconciliation (“Equality and Reconciliation”), a National Left organisation with an anti-Semitic and negationist discourse. He calls himself a sociologist without having ever studied sociology or having any qualification in it, but he thinks this title gives him intellectual credentials.

According to him, bourgeois feminism stole the discourse of working-class women. He uses false class distinctions to make people believe they are distinct revendications, denying the existence of specific issues such as contraception, abortion, rape, domestic violence, division of labour…

(Bourgeois) feminists take part in building a feminized society and, like for Zemmour, biological differences are the basis for the men/women categorization (denial of social conditioning). Men are naturally more muscular and strong, therefore inclined towards violence, action, hunting whereas women are born to be domestic workers.

He adds that rape is a pathology which is characterised by great violence (armed with a knife, in a group of 6, in a parking lot) but that everything else is an ambiguous act, which relates to the “specificity of female desire, which moves under disguises and lies to itself” (women do not know what they want, the majority of rapes are exaggerated or desires they don’t assume).

Roger Dadoun Roger Dadoun is part of a different logic, the logic of “fake-friends”. By his Libertarian friendships and his status as a university lecturer, all leads us to believe he is a “friend” of women and feminists. But he uses his pseudo-credentials as an intellectual Leftist to spread his revolting masculinist ideology.

In order to do this, he pretends to move under disguises, as his analysis does not claim to be masculinist, contrary to Soral or Zemmour. But his article about DSK is clearly the occasion to develop the theory of his masculinist ideology. He does not limit himself to defending rapists anymore, but makes the same point as the other two: society is more and more feminised (because of women, of course).

Anarcho-patriarchy

The problem of such an article in the most largely-available Libertarian newspaper, which you can buy almost every day from your newsagent, is not a problem of editing. Very simply because Roger Dadoun is not a first offender.

On his website as in the Monde Libertaire, he already wrote terrible articles. In three articles about the DSK and Polanski affairs, he never calls the facts rape, but “sexual act or relation”. He writes a lot about everything (always with porn vocabulary), but never about rape itself. To deny it, but also because he has, actually, nothing to say about it. According to him, there was no rape, so he might as well write about something else (like his article Libertarian Anthropology Of Fellatio)

His thought is developed with every passing article. For Polanski, he had ‘only’ defended a tormented artist, marked by Nazism and the Krakow ghetto, and then accused for an old case of statutory rape. With the DSK affair, his revolting ideas have developed: he does not only defend a rapist, he theorizes and justifies rape by a so-called feminisation of society.

Such an article in the columns of Le Figaro (conservative newspaper) would be problematic but unsurprising. In the pages of Le Monde Libertaire, this raises questions about the place of feminism within the [French] Anarchist Federation and more largely in the libertarian movement, but also the issue of the diffusion of masculinist ideas, and therefore of Anarcho-Patriarchy.

Such an article is not an isolated incident. Not only because Roger Dadoun has already published his shit in the Monde Libertaire, but also because in the anarchist movement, in organisations, groups or collectives, feminism (just like anti-specism) is still not considered as a central and fundamental struggle. Theoroisation and justification of masculinism cannot be accepted.

Patriarchy is still considered not only like a system of domination less important than capitalism or the fascist movement, but above all, this domination is of little interest to Anarchists or Libertarians. They would be an extra-ordinary category of men, who were not affected by sexist conditioning (neither in their childhood nor now) and whose gender was deconstructed by divine intervention.

It is systematically easier to fight the sexism of the right, of the cops, of the bosses, of religion, than to reflect on our own socially oppressive behaviours and positions. A persisting idea (although rarely theorised) is the idea of the collapse of patriarchy along with capitalism. It is not only considering feminism as a second-rate struggle, but also that it needs to be part of the class-struggle and the anti-capitalist struggle, denying the specificity of anarcha-feminism.

It is also considering that capitalism and patriarchy are two dominations which function according to the same system and with the same mechanisms and that their imbrication are inter-dependent (you only have to destroy capitalism to destroy patriarchy, and every fight against capitalism is a fight against patriarchy).

Patriarchy does not need capitalism to exist.

Feminism is not recognized as a specific struggle, nor taken seriously by bureaucratic organisations and the whole (so-called) anti-authoritarian milieu. Feminist tools are systematically forgotten or rejected, be it the feminisation of words, the necessity of non-mixed meetings, the issues of violence (physical, verbal, rape, harassment from “comrades”) in self-managed spaces or contraception and abortion.

Patriarchy exists in all spaces, even if the ones called the most autonomous, and its destruction must be a priority. Be it in behaviours, texts, or ideology. We cannot be Anarchists without being feminist and fighting patriarchy, since denying it, refusing it or forgetting it, is to perpetuate its existence and therefore its domination.

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One necessity: non-mixity and feminist self-defence

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Anarcho-patriarchy will not collapse on its own, let’s get our scissors!

A review of Quiet Rumours: An Anarcha-Feminist Reader, by the Dark Star Collective

When I received this book, I was quite excited, as it is something that was missing in my library. An international anarcha-feminist congress is planned for 2014, and to make it happen and make it as good as it can be, we need to publish and read this kind of anthologies. The texts chosen are of varying relevance and quality, to be honest, and I get the impression that, in the successive reeditions of this book, members of the Collective were more inclined to add to it than maybe drop or replace articles, the politics of which can be sometimes slightly cringe-worthy: Peggy Kornegger’s “Anarchism: The Feminist Connection” presents a vision of Spain 36 and France 68 that fails to show any criticism (even about talking about the maintenance of wages and money) which belongs more to enthusiastic propaganda than to anarchist theory. She also writes gems like:

“As women, we are particularly well-suited for participation in this process. Underground for ages, we have learnt to be covert, subtle, sly, silent, tenacious, acutely sensitive, and expert at communication skills.”

I must have missed that memo about the women’s underground training-sessions, because I must say I lack some of these qualities. And uniting feminism and anarchism is a necessary undertaking, but one which can also lead to statements about “structure (in the old male up/down sense of the word)” if not careful. Fortunately, human groups, even males, even in olden days, have been able to think up and establish horizontal social relationships. This article does present some interesting points, but maybe would require a more hands-on approach to editing, with some disclaimer/introduction, so that people do not associate anarcha-feminism with these rather anecdotic quotes which stand out from the article by their sheer weirdness. However, I also understand the point of view that people who would pick on this to strawman anarcha-feminism as a whole are probably not the kind of people we should be spending much time and effort into taking on board to develop any kind of theory. However, when you compare it to Queering Anarchism, which has a lot in parallel to this anthology, it is hard not to feel underwhelmed by such discordant ‘details’ (but then I would say that I found the first half of Queering Anarchism suspiciously homogeneous, so you can’t win with me…)

It is not a matter of ‘dropping the old texts’ at all, as some of the oldest contributions are among the best, in my humble opinion. Emma Goldmann got many things right (as a side note, for fans of Emma Goldmann, she makes an appearance in J. Edgar, an otherwise quite boring movie).