28 October 2006

update on nicaragua, and thoughts on anti-oppression politics

[cross-posted to the livejournal.]

well, the nicaragua bill to ban all abortions, bar none, was passed unanimously in the legislature. it'll probably be signed into law soon. i am really upset that this is what reality is like.

this blogger has a disturbing take on it. her analysis chalks this up to using religion as a cover for plain old misogyny -- which sounds about right -- but also throws in something i'd never thought of, or even heard of:
I don't believe for a moment that people in Nicaragua are so pious as to need to have a theocratic government in place. It's more like this is the way they defend the institutional mysogyny that allowed them to laugh-off one of the biggest scandals to come out of the underbelly of the Sandinista revolution : Zoilamérica Narváez, stepdaughter of Daniel Ortega, the former sandinista president of Nicaragua, accused him of making her his sexual slave from the age of 11.
narvaez alleges that ortega abused and intimidated her sexually for years. leftist leaders in the country, and in the region, have said little to nothing about it. that's the spirit of emancipation for you. it's distressing, and so is ortega's strong support for the abortion ban, which appears to be in the service of his electoral interests; but i guess finally i'm also not surprised. i've done a little reading about the sandinista movement and the revolution years and it seems that women contributed a great deal to the fsln, in both support and combat positions, and in return were excluded from the leadership and were told time and again that "women's issues" were not an immediate concern, were a distraction from the revolution, were divisive or counterproductive for solidarity within the movement, and would be dealt with after the revolution had succeeded. women were fine to have along as long as they wanted to help, but their interests did not count in party decisionmaking. this may have been because the leadership genuinely were willing to step over anybody to reach their political goals, or it could be that the narrowly-defined definition of "the goals of the revolution" were simply an excuse for continuing the sexism. the sandinistas are certainly not alone in this; this has happened in lots of leftist revolutionary movements. we should not make the mistake of assuming that all those who fight for equality mean the same thing.

in the same vein, i often see liberal boys and anarchist boys get a free pass on their misogyny, or give themselves one, because they "really care" about progressive politics. this happens a ton in high school and even college but of course the interwubs is filled with assholes too, and it's hard to know if they are prevalent in the general population as well. if you follow Democratic political blogs, you might know about one called DailyKos, considered one of the biggest players in the "netroots" and run by a guy who does campaign consulting for Democrats. i saw the exact same dynamic play out there, repeatedly, when Kos essentially told readers concerned with women's rights in politics or with sexism on the blog itself to go fuck themselves because he "[didn't] care" about dissenting opinions (i find it hard to believe he acts that way professionally) and thought the "bitching" was the same kind of "divisive" shit that loses elections for liberals. i had to paraphrase most of it because i can't remember all the details, but that was the sentiment.

anyway, i just wanted to update the abortion ban post, but while i'm at it i think i'll reiterate: we shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that all those who fight for equality mean the same thing. fighting class oppression is worthy and brave; but if you have to use sexism to assert your masculinity in this fight, your fight is wrong. fighting sex and gender oppression is worthy and brave; but if you argue that allowing the "feminine vote" will help counter the "pauperism, ignorance and degradation" of immigrants and former slaves*, your fight is wrong. fighting racism is worthy and brave; but if you resort to religious scapegoating to prove it's not you who is the enemy, your fight is wrong. and so on. i strongly believe that feminism, at its best, impels us to care about the rights of all people, and to stand against all kinds of oppression.

liberation is not a zero-sum game. i wish people would think on this more often. when we treat it like a zero-sum game, we end up politicking against one another for social advantage and polarizing potential allies, instead of supporting one another in opposition to all oppression. it's truly sad to me that members of all groups seem to want someone left underneath them to shit on, or alternately feel they need to shit on someone to get ahead.

*which one group of women's suffragists did do, i read, after being disappointed by their abolitionist allies' supporting the fourteenth and fifteenth amendment's giving the franchise to blacks and not to women. those words were elizabeth cady stanton's. she and susan b. anthony had both been close with abolitionist men like frederick douglass and took the decision quite bitterly. by the same token, of course, their abolition-movement friends had sold them out, too, accepting the feminists' help but not reciprocating in the clutch. same story.



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