Perhaps the most significant mitigating factor of these conditions is Power. Both the power a survivor holds in the community as well as the corresponding power of a perpetrator are key to shaping that community’s response. When a perpetrator holds very little power in comparison to a survivor, or when the perpetrator is not even part of the community, a token show of support costs little and helps maintain the benevolent veneer of Rape Culture. Of course, this is rarely the case. It has commonly been urged that support of a survivor should not be hindered by a perpetrator’s position of power in the community, but the position of power itself receives little scrutiny, as does any possible correlation between that position of power and interpersonal violence (which is itself a brutal expression of power). The failure to establish this link is like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg, and then insisting that the chicken and the egg have nothing to do with each other. This blind spot is especially curious amongst anarchists, who claim to oppose all forms of hierarchical power.
It follows that a genuine analysis of the functioning of Rape Culture must also include an analysis of the relationships of Power that govern our lives. This implicates not only the hierarchies, formal or otherwise, which persist even in anarchist spaces, but also the larger systems of power which inform them, such as Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Colonialism, Ableism and so on. We must acknowledge Rape Culture’s rightful place within Capitalist society. Through this we can recognize Rape Culture as a mechanism for social control, as it reinforces these systems of Power and domination which in turn reproduce it as well. It then becomes necessary to undermine the hierarchical divisions which serve to both facilitate interpersonal violence itself as well as shape the interests of those in a position to respond to it. Many anarchists rightly reject the navel gazing of identity politics, but a sharp analysis of systems of Power, the ways in which these systems offer privilege to some of us, yet oppression to others, and the ways in which our experiences of these systems of Power influence the ways we fight against them, is crucial to genuine resistance. To successfully attack a Culture of Rape, we must strike at the roots of this Power.
March 29, 2016
Exploitation and Power