The Patriarchal Dilemma by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

I was listening to a newscast when it was reported that the Ukraine sent missiles into Russia. My initial thought was “it’s about time they took it to the Russians.” The next moment I was horrified at myself.  I am a pacifist.  I think the proliferation of weapons is one of humankind’s great evils and here I was cheering on an attack.  One that could escalate an already nasty war, lead to nuclear weapons use and possibly even a world war. And yet when I look at what is happening in Ukraine, my mind simply can’t comprehend what the people are going through. The trauma of the children cuts particularly deeply. And I can see no sane reason behind the strikes other than rank cruelty.

There it is in a nutshell, what I have come to call the patriarchal dilemma. It’s a no-win situation with no right answer. While life might place us in such positions all on its own, the patriarchal form of this is created by design. It is nasty, it is cruel, and loss of human life and ecological destruction are not glitches but features.

Continue reading “The Patriarchal Dilemma by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Muslim Men and Toxic Masculinity by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Diseño sin título

Excuse me, but I thought you should know your misogyny is showing.

I have read with deep interest the article written by Ayesha Fakie and Khadija Bawa entitled: Dear Indian Muslim Men: We Need To Talk published by Huffington Post South Africa on March 7th of this year. I would like to add my two cents to this conversation, one that I believe is relevant and very necessary that we address as a community with genuine sincerity and accountability.

Continue reading “Muslim Men and Toxic Masculinity by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Women and the Ethics of Conflict by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Cholitas wrestling

Some time ago, trans-activist F.  was the target of bullying and harassment via social networks that lasted months and included defamation on Twitter and Facebook, articles in feminist blogs and web sites, and letters to women’s organizations and public institutions to request they ban the presence of F. from feminists spaces. Who did this? Feminists who had been F. friends. Why? For a disagreement with F.

In fact, F. was obliterated from women’s movements and even lost job opportunities. The most serious, perhaps, was the deep depression that affected her and the loneliness in which she had to live this experience.

Cases like these are examples of a behavior that is not strange, but instead is pitiful and very harmful — the destructive socialization of females to please patriarchy and to reproduce patriarchy and oppression at the expense of our integrity as women.

Women fight with the guns of patriarchy

We have been domesticated, trained to obtain the approval of a man and of the patriarchal system at any cost, to do whatever it takes to have a place at his side. We are the result of centuries of pedagogy that creates mistrust between women, and the validation and reproduction of our oppression and conditioning towards mutual competition. This is the root of our inability to deal with conflicts between us in a constructive and non-dehumanizing way. We can only give of what we have and as long as we have an identity as objects instead of individual people, women will be expert agents of misogyny.

Being a feminist, an scholar in gender studies doesn’t excuse or free anyone from this, at all. Continue reading “Women and the Ethics of Conflict by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Patriarchy is Killing Us by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


And not softly..

More than 2000 died by feminicide … More than 700 disappeared in Argentina … And more in Latin America and the world.

A few days ago they found Micaela dead. Her family, friends and my fellow activists searched for her for days, campaigned on social networks, shouted her name everywhere, without quitting and  accepting her death—totally avoidable. Micaela Garcia, a 21-year-old girl, raped and murdered by a repeat sexual offender who was questionably released by Judge Carlos Alfredo Rossi in Argentina. Micaela is one more victim of the depredation with which colonial and capitalist patriarchy attacks the lives of women in Latin America.

I just completed my first six months in South Africa. I live in Cape Town. I love this city, I am delighted by its colors and flavors. I am studying a Master’s in Women and Gender Studies—a goal I had longed struggled for.

In my trip from my home to the university, I think of Micaela Garcia and also of Stasha Arend and Tracy Roman—two girls killed in Cape Town recently. Their lives were violently interrupted while they were returning home. At the end of each of my days, 27 women will be raped, likely by someone they know. Some of them will be killed and thrown in the garbage or into a soccer field, or half-buried in an abandoned house; even in death it seems that we have no right to some dignity.

No matter where, death is my guest and part of my landscape; the scenario of its violence has as background the Andean Cord or Table Mountain. It is the same, because it is the same indolence when it comes to the life of a woman, here or there. And I think: I can move my city and even change the country, and start a new life, even with another name, and my life will remain insignificant because I am a woman—a woman of color, from the south, with all the oppression surrounding me in the air.

How to deal with that pain? Well, I have enrolled as a Rape Crisis facilitator. It is not only for solidarity; it is for survival. Do you see what I see? How could I just watch?

The body of a murdered woman is becoming something so common that daily dead had to receive their own name to describe this horror: FEMICIDE. In Mexico, Susana Chavez coined the slogan “Ni Una Más” (Not One More) to lead the fight against femicides. The writer and activist was herself found murdered in 2011.

About two years ago, women from all over Latin America got together to claim “Ni Una Menos, Vivas nos Queremos” (Not One More, We Want Us Alive). And I wonder why this clamor is not yet worldwide, if everywhere patriarchy is killing us, one by one, on our way home and in broad daylight, with no shame or remorse.

Patriarchy is killing us and many murders only matter while selling magazines and newspapers. Then, the rest is silence, as the silenced femicides of indigenous women whose bodies oppose the last stronghold in territorial conflicts against agro-business or mining corporations, as silenced as those women murdered in the “tranquility of their houses” in the name of love for their jealous partners, as silenced as the girls kidnapped on the way to school to appear later killed with their hands and feet tied, with signs of having been raped.

It is no longer just about reporting and visibilizing, but also about counting them: 57 femicides in the first 43 days of 2017 in Argentina, 3 this week in Chile, 27 rapes per day in Cape Town, all of those lost in the trafficking networks. The hunting of women is systematic. Human beings have bad memories, and who has no memory tends to repeat the horrors. As Karina Bridaseca says:

We must check the systematicity. The bodies, found, disappeared, the bones in the desert, are claimed today and always. Our strength is to have managed to gather them all, to alter the regime of the invisible. This feeds the hope of making the account closed. What is important is that today we all share the same language and demand that the account closes.

Patriarchy is killing us … and not softly. Every time the news reports another woman or girl dead, I check my mother, my sister, my daughter, my friends in Chile. I double check my close friends in Cape Town, to know that they are as I saw them last time: OK. And then I can sleep, knowing that they have returned home.

In Santiago de Chile and in Cape Town we must count, dead or alive. Hope for the figthers and memory for those who are no longer here. We won’t stop asking about all of you. We want to know you have returned home. Our lives must matter.

Vanessa Rivera de la FuenteVanessa Rivera de la Fuente works in community development, gender equality and communication for social change. She has led initiatives for women’s empowerment in Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Morocco and South Africa. As a Gender Justice advocates with a broad scope of interests, she is a social and digital entrepreneur committed with the strengthening of grass roots organizations and the developing of an independent pathway of thinking, research and academic writing around Gender, Politics and Religion. Loyal lover of books, cats and spicy chai.

Photo: Artivism installation. Crosses represent the women dead and shoes, the gender bias of femicide. Shoes are one of the first things found at the site of a murder.

Deadly in Love: No Flowers, Dignity and Rights by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

“We don’t want flowers, we want rights.” Kollectiva La Calle (The Street Collective)

Vanessa Vazquez Laba, a scholar feminist and researcher in gender studies in Argentina, with whom I share a first name, activism, and intellectual interests, hits me on Valentine’s Day with the following message:

There have been 57 femicides in the first 43 days of 2017 in the country, and the government has suspended the funding of universities for research on gender based violence.

57 femicides in 43 days…

A heartbreaking message to receive in Valentine’s day, isn´t it?

What does this mean? According to the definition accepted by the majority of women’s rights activists and scholars, “Femicide is a sex-based crime, generally understood to involve intentional murder of women because they are women.” . The World Health Organization states that a Femicide is:

Usually perpetrated by men. Most cases of femicide in the world are committed by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.

57 women in 43 days… It means 57 human beings were murdered, most of them in the hands of someone they trusted and shared an intimate relationship with, after a painful process that included different types of violence to deplete their sense of value and personhood.

One woman murdered every 18 hours.

57 women most of whom were abused for one they loved. Continue reading “Deadly in Love: No Flowers, Dignity and Rights by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Why Is The Abuser Still Among Us? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

They say that men cannot control themselves.

So, when they see a woman, the body overcomes the mind. If you have to rape, you rape. I have heard it many times, the same argument to justify cheating. “I am a man, I can’t control it, I HAD to do it, I DID NOT KNOW what I was doing”. Sure, they can control themselves. Sure, they DO KNOW what they are doing. Because they control themselves with other men. They can and know how to maintain alliances with other men so none of them will reveal their secrets. Secrets called women abuse. They are so updated in what they do, that if you call their machismo out, they organize a cold strategy to silence you. They will have a Masters in mind games and gaslighting to leave you full of bumps without touching you, and you will have to put up with the wall of silence from his friends defending the abuser. Continue reading “Why Is The Abuser Still Among Us? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Who’s to Blame for Patriarchy? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la FuenteA 16 year old girl was drugged and then gang raped by 33 men in Brazil. The police arrested the boyfriend as a suspect. A 30-second video recording the suffering of the girl was uploaded to social networks, as a display of the “omnipotent” power of patriarchy on women’s bodies; a power that not only destroys wombs or bladders but also unbearably wounds the soul.

A woman was attacked in Chile by her ex-husband. Her name is Nabila. He raped her and then ripped out her eyes, in a jealous rage, because she attended a party. Months after they broke up, she dared to have fun without him.

Each day the body of a murdered woman appears somewhere in Latin America. They appear in the middle of the road, in garbage dumps, wrapped in plastic bags, among the woods or on the shore, cut into pieces, impaled with brooms, burned with acid. And as outrage grows, so violence rages with women.

Who’s to blame for Patriarchy? Continue reading “Who’s to Blame for Patriarchy? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Breaking The Silence About Sexual Violence by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Rape CultureMy last article for Feminism and Religion had a very brief reference to an episode of sexual violence; since its publication I have received emails from women who decided to tell me their experiences with rape and abuse.

I am deeply grateful, ladies. I read each one of your stories. I am honored by the trust you placed in me to open your heart and let me go in to see your sorrow and hopes. My soul found solidarity in your words and I recognized myself in your struggle with physical and emotional scars, with your courage to pick up the pieces and coming back from the ashes to pursue justice, inner peace and build new self confidence.

Breaking the silence is not easy. We live in a culture where “women are prettier the more they remain quiet.” We’re taught rather to accept violence without complaints; if we talk, we will be blamed and vilified, isolated, ashamed or mocked. Rape is frequent topic of jokes and the medicine many males recommend for disciplining women who don’t behave “as a woman should.” Continue reading “Breaking The Silence About Sexual Violence by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Patriarchy as a System of Male Dominance Created at the Intersection of the Control of Women, Private Property, and War, Part 2 by Carol P. Christ

carol p. christ 2002 colorPatriarchy is a system of male dominance, rooted in the ethos of war which legitimates violence, sanctified by religious symbols, in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality, with the intent of passing property to male heirs, and in which men who are heroes of war are told to kill men, and are permitted to rape women, to seize land and treasures, to exploit resources, and to own or otherwise dominate conquered people.*

In last week’s blog, I explained patriarchy as a system in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality with the intent of passing property to male heirs. How did a system that identifies a man’s essence with his property and the ability to pass it on to sons come about? I suggest that the answer to this question is war and the confiscation of “property” by warriors in war. Patriarchy is rooted in the ethos of war which legitimates violence, and in which men who are heroes of war are told to kill men, and are permitted to rape women, seize land and treasures, to exploit resources, and to own or otherwise dominate conquered people.

My argument is that the origin of “private” property, defined as property owned by a single (male) individual, and as that which defines the “essence” of that individual, is the “spoils” of war, which are divided up by victorious warriors.  The “spoils” of war are the tangible treasures “looted” or taken by the victors from the conquered, such as jewelry and sacred objects.  The “spoils” of war include land “taken” as the result of warfare, along with the right to exploit resources, directly or through taxes and levies. The “spoils” of war also includes the right to “take” the women of the defeated enemy and to confirm ownership of them (and humiliate their fathers or husbands) by raping them.  The “spoils” of war also include the right to “take” these raped women and their young children home to serve as slaves and concubines. Continue reading “Patriarchy as a System of Male Dominance Created at the Intersection of the Control of Women, Private Property, and War, Part 2 by Carol P. Christ”

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