Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Search of the Whole

By Merissa Nathan Gerson

July 24th, 2008

My body, as an invadable entity, is coveted by the wounded. To seek
relief there are people out there who want to rape me, take me, dominate me, and somehow leave feeling satiated. This occurred to me walking home the other night. I was alone and there were two men walking close behind me. I thought about the fear, a womanly fear, of sexual abuse.

What is it, I wondered once they were no longer close behind me, that
makes rape so common? While aware that rape goes both ways, men raping women, women raping men, the fear of a random attack alone late at night in a small mountain town, this fear of rape, for me, is wholly grounded in my female physicality.

To rape a woman, among other things, is to rob her of power. I
imagined women's bodies as holders of the sacred, of immense force, the capacity to create, the embodiment of every rapists very origin. To rape is to return to the place you emerged from. To rape is to angrily take back the womanhood that you left, that you do not contain. This fear of physical invasion is a constructed piece of my identity as woman.

Rape and human trafficking are grounded similarly in their connection
to social constructs of gender and sex. It is not so simple as patriarchy. It is not so clean as a weaker and stronger sex. The sex trade industry is the manifestation of a deeper imbalance in each culture where it is found. It is the manifestation of repression, the embodiment of the unspoken.

I recently went to an all-nude strip club in Boulder and was surprised
by how little it disturbed me. Naked and worshipped, solely for the object form of their bodies, were glistening hairless women. This was a simply reaffirmation of everything I knew to be true in society. On the gendered bodies of men and women we project power roles, dynamics of deprivation, lack of expression, and ultimately, a deep form of idol worship.

I do not condemn the stripper, the john, the rapist. I condemn the
socio-economic and socio-cultural structures that create these small worlds. A strip club is no different than a Facebook advertisement telling me to lose thirty-seven pounds in thirty days. Both are byproducts of a social world that emulates masculinity and represses femininity, leaving both the man and woman at a loss.

In Jungian psychology there is the concept of wholeness via the
incorporation of the anima and the animus. A man, to be a whole man, needs to incorporate the feminine, or anima. Whereas a woman, to be her complete self, needs also to incorporate the male, or animus. The divisive gendered nature of our world, living in binary and black and white, does not permit this "wholeness." Without wholeness the people functioning within and running this country are fragmented.

In raping a woman, a man implies, by default, his own wounded nature.
In damaging another, he exhibits his own inner ruin. Pain is passed between people when unresolved. For this, we have a human trafficking problem. For this there are self-hating women, with a counterpart of self-hating men.

Our sex industry is only the mirror of our social selves, fragmented,
gender biased, the disempowerment of women by disempowered men. It is a ricochet effect; he who oppresses is himself bound. And we, the community around the oppressors and the victims, are equally tied up. The denial of feminine power is a blanket indicator of a social ill affecting every member of our society.

Further reading:

Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

By Bell Hooks

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

By Susan Faludi

Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature

By Donna Haraway


See the Swedish film "Together" and note their treatment of addiction
and abuse. Same with the film "Celebration." Both of these films illustrate the humanity of the oppressor and the devastation caused by unresolved pain.

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