By Beth Porter
There are two seemingly unrelated topics jousting for UK headline room, in print, online, and broadcast outlets. But their relationship is undeniable, not to mention unsurprising.
Jabs and Shots
First is the tendency to turn reports about vaccine production, distribution and efficacy into a competition. The implications of this approach, whatever your political affiliation, fit snugly into a news agenda of who’s in control. BoJo? Ursula? Kim? Vlad? The people?
The world has been adjusting to the presence of a corona virus for just over a year. For months the pandemic, with accompanying mutations and allegedly unpredictable variations, has allowed policy-makers to play games with public perception. The focus has been on controlling a drip-feed of information about vaccination itself. Smuggled into official reports are political and medical conclusions and guidelines which are meant to lead the public into peace of mind.
Yet today’s revelations about the manufacture, procurement, and distribution of various vaccines demonstrate the exercise of power over truth. Those setting high level and covert deals have been making assumptions about their relationship with the law of the land. This has been true within the UK, throughout the EU, and with global companies increasingly answerable to no one. Peace of mind? More like our minds are blown into pieces!
Public grassroots demos around Britain claim power over social restrictions, primarily citing the economic effects. And when these crowds are infiltrated by agents provacateurs, the police respond as best they can. Proportionate actions as quoted by senior law enforcement chiefs allow officers on the ground to use their shields as weapons to clear people from the streets. Press witnesses have also recorded gunshots fired randomly.
NB: The US stands apart because each state endorses and enforces its own laws. Biden would need to sign an uncontested Executive Order to mandate a national vaccine policy. Given the still white-hot Republican denial of his election victory, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.
Not All Men?
The other current topic of social discussion concerns gender inequality throughout all aspects of our lives; these include pay differentials, and political representation at local, regional, and national levels. The third player in this obscene game are agents of the corporate world as it collectively lobbies to protect itself from populist challenges.
I admit, as a self-defined Caucasian heterosexual, I may have opinions about ethnic inequalities as well as those affecting sexual preferences, but I’d never in good conscience choose to speak on behalf of them. Just as I’m disturbed to learn of men who pontificate about women’s reproductive rights, under whatever cultural, quasi-legal, or religious agenda. Keep yer mitts outta my uterus, buster, unless you want me to invade your urethra, and not in a good way!
The Power Grid
What unites these two topics is the assumption of power.
Peer-reviwed reports as recent as July 2019 [including by academics from Bristol University and the University of the West of England], reveal a historical reluctance by the police and other judicial functionairies to investigate complaints by survivors of domestic violence and rape against women and children within households of the very wealthy.
Police investigations have been biased toward the centuries-old perception that such treatment of women is far more likely in lower middle-class and poor families, as well as a tendency to look for attacks by strangers. These latter are far easier to investigate and result more often in trial, if not always conviction.
It’s headline stuff, bringing kudos to the cops, and stoking the fires of op ed columns. The resulting shouts of ‘Hanging’s too good for’em,’ and ‘Chop off their dicks,’ inevitably serves to perpetuate the false association of gender violence with depravity, moving focus away from class as well as the pursuit of sexual gratification.
Against a backgound of droits de seigneur it’s not only western societies that foment class divisions. A potent example was recently reported in journals around India. Carrying on its avowedly far-right agenda the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh para-military and political organisation as led by its head honcho Mohan Bhagwat, claims the movement is all about bringing peace to India.
His quasi-fascist rabble-rousing speeches continue to blame rape victims for inciting men, dressing provocatively, straying out after dark, promoting themselves as prostitutes.
“What’s a man to do?” Bhagwat implores his all-male audience. Women, he claims, are born liars. No one can believe them. Asked about sexual violence by high-caste landowners [part of his electoral base], he refutes such charges, claiming it’s a yagya, a time honoured shastric ritual that might leave their wives with body bruising and black eyes. Boo-hoo!
But these male-based excuses and justifications have little if anything to do with sexual gratification. So what explains the act of rape by men to women? And why are the women so unlikely to be believed? The act of sex is not just required to balance the world’s population, but it also feels good… that is, if it’s consensual with mutually agreed boundaries.
Who’s Driving the Sex Car?
Both media and judicial focus have concentrated on the victim/survivor. Not much highlights why men seek release by abusing women. Yes, there have been studies relating socio-economic factors of rapists to their choices of women, but I’m not aware of any being conclusive.
When probing causation, it’s easier for authorities to question convicted men, or those corraled in hostels, or attending voluntary or compulsory therapy sessions, rather than heads of households, even heads of state who regularly abuse women. On examination, though, both classes act from a real or imagined loss of power.
This is truly a systemic matter with a cultural origin, and certainly not any indication of a gender ‘need.’ Both men and women experience very similar sexual urges. Societies for millennia have evolved ways of mutual satisfaction without resorting to rape or violence. A few disparate cases exemplify the point.
Inuit women, both Yupik and Inupiaq are increasingly reluctant to report rape, especially by men unknown to them. A recent report, written up by an investigating officer in a typcial Alaskan force comprising all non-Native members, shut down a smear test by an authorised nurse on the grounds that he’d interviewed the suspect who claimed the rape victim consented to sex with him. She’d since been terrified to return to the city where the rape occured, certain the rapist was at lodge and might attack her again.
Thousands of miles away, The Oranga Tamarkik Evidence Centre seeks to improve life for children and young people in their extended families and communities throughout New Zealand. Their exhaustive report published in 2020 includes proof that there were no incidences of rape or domestic violence before colonisation, first by the Dutch in 1642, then more extensively by the British which formally annexed the islands in 1840.
Back to Class
Boys who grow up in financially-privileged households are traditionally sent away to residential schools, interacting only on special occasions with their parents and relatives. They have no power, but are subject to physical, even sexual abuse by adults. They learn to equate punishment with intense feelings of unexplained shame and humiliation. It’s a cycle, considered ‘the order of things.’ Once they’re able, they transfer their abuse to younger, equally powerless boys. The result is the sense of entitlement with which the elite class regards those who may be used and abused at will.
We might assume that the working class would collectively rebel against such treatment, try to claim back the power of their very existence as human beings. But such is the power of a divide-and-rule system that the so-called working class has been accepting its own feelings of inadequacy. This is mostly felt by women, finding themselves at the very bottom rung of most ladders of opportunity. Sadly, it’s only in recent years, that the protests against female inequality appear to be acceptable only when they emulate the structure of male cohorts. The military. Former so-called men’s sports, such as football and boxing. Broadcast CEOs. And the still appalling lack of decision makers in the corporate world.
There is absolutely no genetic reason why women cannot fulfill societal roles without recourse to gender barriers. One of the unexpected outcomes of the current pandemic, is the surge of start-ups by single women, defining their own terms. Could this be the power to change the system?
No wonder Rishi Sunak and the Treasury are hiding under cover of vaccine competition.
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This post was written by LPJAdmin