"Why has it been difficult for feminists to imagine violence as a viable strategy for political…"

“Why has it been difficult for feminists to imagine violence as a viable strategy for political transformation? Why, despite a documented history of women’s violent struggle, have women tended to disavow their capacity for violence? Part of the answer can be found in the representational habit of positing resistance as the logical negation of the thing being resisted. In the case of violence, this means that - since men wield violence against women in an effort to maintain relations of domination - the use of violence by women would only serve to strengthen the logic of domination itself. Rachel Neumann confirms this tendency when she describes the feelings that some anti-globalization activists had with respect to the Black Bloc riot. In her account, protester violence seems to reiterate existing power imbalances. “Property destruction,” she notes, “has often been linked with larger uses of violence […] Because of the way that men in particular are taught to repress and vent their anger, it often comes out as an exaggerated representation of masculinity, reproducing instead of contradicting the existing power structure.”

According to this logic, by using violence to smash the violent system, activists end by reinforcing the system itself. Here, violence is construed as a logical quantity, a sign that can only be negated by siding with its representational antithesis. But Neumann’s formulation says more about the state of our current political impoverishment (where everything is subsumed within the representational sphere) than it does about violence itself. And while it can be easily transposed into the field of representation, violence itself is not merely a representational act. Its political effects can’t be measured on a balance sheet of stable significations. By abstracting violence from its social context, by distilling it into a representational essence and disconnecting it from the world of lived experience, activists run the risk of foreclosing the possibility of even contemplating the political use of violence.”

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Black Bloc, White Riot: Anti-Globalization and the Genealogy of Dissent (via combat—wombat)

If you had asked me 2 years ago how I felt about “violence” (and/or destruction) as a tactic, I would have made some quip about violence being the status quo and how everyone needs to be less violent, especially “men.” But I thought about how I was often punished for violently lashing back at other kids who spoke a word against me in grade school, whereas men in my family would beat women like it was a standard procedure. I resented it a lot, and eventually had taken to the idea that I might as well denounce all violence in order to deal with that resentment. But one can only sit with such resentment for so long, before fantasizing about, even realizing some kind of retribution or destruction of that which strengthens resentment. Deep in my heart I’d love for a world in which everyone to be “less violent,” but I no longer believe in that world, like I no longer believe male-socialized people have a monopoly on “violence” or destruction.

(via suzy-x)

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