Nakived has been struggling with the MIM line on gender for some months now. S/he finally said that Marilyn French has the line s/he admires, so we challenged Nakived to write this review. MIM comments come after the Nakived review. We invite readers to review their favorite books on gender, national and class oppression and contrast them with MIM line -ed.
Review by Nakived
Marilyn French goes beyond theory and cites actual, graphic, concrete deeds widely and commonly, as an aspect of their societies, perpetrated on women by men and their female accomplices, often the mothers of their own daughters, in graphic detail, detail that can bring tears to the eyes of anyone who is civil and kind or just plain human.
Such deeds are a direct result of patriarchy and are practiced in the Third World as well as the First and she shows how the Third World, when once it was not a Third World at all, practiced these deeds on women back in history. The deeds can barely be justified as being cultural in any civil meaning of the word "culture" except in the meaning used by the alternate lifestyle crowd: "Sado-Masochistic Culture."
In this sense, some of the most primitive societies, as those found in South America in the Amazon, are civil where some of the most "civilized" peoples are and were outright barbaric. This sadomasochism, as I call it, is seen by French as an outright war against women which she rightly sees is in fact a war against humanity and a threat to humanity.
She does not incorporate dialectic, from what I can see, in her citing of facts. She doesn't theorize. She cites facts. She arrives at some conclusions and sometimes misses the "real thing" going on. For example, she'll quibble about the sexual position if the man is atop the woman. This is not a patriarchal thing and not all patriarchal societies have sex in that position anyway. She also misses what is really going on in India where she gives the facts and details of female infanticide practiced by the wretchedly enslaved women. It is clear, on reading the graphic details, that these women are living in a national concentration camp. Some of her details, accurate as they are, are so gruesome that it leads one to wonder if the entire society where such things go on is a society of madmen, of lunatics, perhaps of would-be serial killers.
The book is powerful. As bad as Christianity was, even in the middle ages during the Inquisition, it doesn't surpass some of the things that go on in hyper-patriarchal-religious societies where such atrocities against women are "the norm." Ms. French rightly says: if such things were done on one race of people by another, the world would clearly call it a crime against humanity. Yet such things go on as normal day-to-day givens, crimes against humanity perpetrated on women by men.
Imperialists or Left-leaning Humanitarians of the First World, when giving aid to such countries, might not realize that the monies go to the men. The men are paid, but the women are slaves, even often set on fire when the men are done with them as pleasure objects. This proves that the analysis by MIM of First World Patriarchy showing the Third World men in a position higher than that of Third World women is correct (see MIM Theory 2/3, p. 85), though perhaps monumentally understated. Further, one gets the idea that Third World Women don't even exist in the consciousness of the First World people who tend to lump them into a category: "the exploited." There are degrees of exploitation. Nazis didn't exactly exploit Jews and humans don't just exploit cows. Nazis killed Jews; humans eat cows. This book is gruesome; it just cites facts without trying to pretty them up with abstract terms that tend to lessen the sheer gore being done to women for the sole purpose of "turning on" their men, madmen, deranged creatures.
Even in the Nazi sense, it would "make Nazi sense" to wipe out another race to make room for your own race, but to do this to your own mothers, sisters, daughters is sheer insanity.
The best Marxist theory with its broad-spanning dialectic tends to bury the intricate details of "the life of the women" in these countries, most of them in the Third World. Neither does the best Marxist theory include data on such societies when they were not The Third World at all, but filthy-rich, ruling and imperialist empires when Europe was barbaric and primitive. The gore went on when these people were The Great Civilizations and it continues to go on now that they are a "Third World" exploited by the First World. No one has ever advanced the idea that, perhaps, these societies became a backward Third World due to what they've done to half of their own nation, the female half, primarily at the instigation of insane male priests of an insane religious mind-set. All the best talk in the world didn't make a dent in the protests against the Vietnam war, but it took one photograph of a mutilated, burned child to turn the public tide. It took naked, concrete truth to spell out what can't be seen in abstract terminology.
When you finish the book, go and read the worst anti-Stalinist propaganda on the Gulag system: you can't help but know that these poor women would be better off in such a Gulag where they'd at least be paid for very hard work. As the women in India say when they kill their female children: "Giving them to the God of Death is preferable to their having to endure being alive." Kinda makes the stupid whinings of the First World "date raped" women seem insignificant.
The book is a "must read," if you can get through it. (Nakived reports it took one acquaintance 4 months to be able to bear reading it. We suspect many would have the same problem reading Sakai's Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat. -ed.)
We agree with most of what Marilyn French writes about wimmin. In particular, there is a "war against wimmin." This is a correct generalization about one fraction of the violence perpetrated by men occurring in our world. Infanticide and starvation of children are far and away the largest patterns of violence in the world. Next in line would be deaths caused by pollution.
Nakived is also correct that much of the book is agitational exposure of facts of life that compel people toward the truth more quickly but in a different way than deliberate effort applied to theoretical work. However, we disagree with Nakived for downplaying the importance of theory and we don't support French's method, which is an example of what Mao called empiricism in much the way many philosophers think of empiricism. Here we shall criticize empiricism as a method that takes individual cases and incorrectly draws generalizations from them. The worst empiricism blithely draws conclusions from individual cases so often that previous generalizations also lightly constructed are repeatedly thrown out, often unconsciously. Not for nothing does Nakived sneer at theory while praising French. Empiricism and subjectivism are strong currents underlying so-called feminism in the imperialist countries.
In actuality, French is among the more theoretical thinkers in the West's problematic feminism, a feminist more solidly put together in opposition to capitalism and imperialism than most. At least French mentions her opposition to the Gulf War and cases where she sides with Black men against wimmin. Those are important starts and causes for MIM optimism.
French defines feminism as "any attempt to improve the lot of any group of women through female solidarity and female perspective" (p. 12). MIM disagrees with this notion from the beginning, both because we are not interested in just "any group" of wimmin and because it is not just a matter of female solidarity and perspective, but an issue of science. In contrast, according to French, Margaret Thatcher "was the most extraordinary world leader of her time!" (p. 47). Hence, French is making no bones about being a bourgeois feminist, if required as a matter of putting wimmin first.
In many ways a typical "leftist," French trots out a common statistic used by proponents of the labor aristocracy: "But by 1987 their average wage, adjusted for inflation, was $19,859, a 19 percent decline [since 1973]" (p. 13). What French left out was that in the same period a declining fraction of male workers were blue-collar and an increasing fraction became white collar, such that in 1980, white-collar workers exceeded 50 percent amongst whites.(1)
Those who attempted to generalize about a class based on French's statistic made severe and sentimental errors. We are not surprised to see French buy into this statistic while also putting forward the view that wimmin in the U.$. are still economically dependent on men for survival (pp. 38, 183-4). It is a case of consistent sentimentalism with regard to the middle-classes of imperialism.
Since French bought into "Marxism" as represented by the numerically-dominant imperialist country chauvinists, we are not surprised that French also has her feminism wrong and sometimes champions groups of people who are not gender oppressed, despite her having a much better overall internationalist perspective than most pseudo-feminists.
French has picked up many of the popular left "factoids," which are either complete inventions or ripped from context. The most important factoid that French does get right is that biological wimmin likely are no longer the world's majority (p. 115) thanks to female infanticide in India, China and other countries. In countries with less female infanticide, wimmin live longer than men and outnumber men, but countries with large populations are more than making up for that trend.
If there was any doubt, the capitalist restoration in China in 1976 removed it by starting a huge trend toward female infanticide. Contrary to Nakived though, the cause of this trend is capitalism and not ancient male-oriented religions, because female infanticide was not the practice in China just prior to 1976.(2) In the case of female infanticide - which by itself is sufficient proof of the war against wimmin - gender oppression is not necessarily caused mainly by something intrinsic to gender. If institutions linked to capitalism and imperialism fell, ages-old female infanticide practices would too. Thus while we agree with Nakived about all of patriarchy's abuses that existed before modern day capitalist-imperialism, it is still the case that at this juncture in history the fastest progress for wimmin internationally comes through anti-imperialist communist-led revolution. China from 1949 to 1976 proved that more than adequately.
For the majority of the world's wimmin, First World pseudo-feminism is an obstacle to liberation much like revisionism and First World oppressor nation chauvinism. White pseudo-feminists in particular strive mightily to divert attention from the principal contradiction between oppressed nations and oppressor nations as part of their denial of a role in oppression; even though resolution of the national question is what will bring the fastest and easiest progress for wimmin globally, especially the 80% in the Third World. Whenever people rise up to change their situations, small corrupted elites of Third World countries backed up with weapons and military training from the U.$. send out the death squads.
Another important question is the distribution of property in the world by sex. Here French cites the famous 1980 United Nations conference which simply invented the figure out of thin air that wimmin receive 10 percent of the world's income and own 1 percent of the property (p. 30). The agenda of this invention is to allow First World wimmin to hide their role in international class oppression and thus bring their baggage into the feminist movement, specifically making wimmin out to be in a hopelessly weak position. See for example how the fact that there are supposedly so few wimmin with money is used as an excuse for why Ms. magazine is such garbage politically speaking (p. 171).
Before MIM was aware this issue of the distribution of wealth by sex existed, Sakai refuted the pseudo-feminist position(3). In the first place, when it comes to income and personal wealth, most white wimmin live with white men. Unlike nations that live apart, the sexes live together and hence statements about the standard of living of one group versus the other tend to be misleading if abused for political agendas.
French seems vaguely aware that the U.N. figure is problematic, because she admits that wimmin own 16% of the property in the U.$. Even that is a tepid admission limited to what are known as "female heads of households" and not counting other female-owned assets. To really know the whole story, we would have to look at real estate wealth, which is half the wealth of the U.$., and who lives in it now - and what happens in divorce court - in order to know who "really owns" the real estate when both men and wimmin appear to live in it. French and pseudo-feminist authors never provide these figures, only anecdotes. The next obvious fact is that there is a huge gender imbalance in pension-holding - in favor of wimmin (primarily married wimmin) who both live much longer than men and inherit their fathers' and husbands' wealth. Those pensions are based in stock assets. For this reason, in the U.$., wimmin actually own more stock than men do. Admittedly we have no complete figures on the value of assets broken down by gender, but we are not the ones trying to pretend white wimmin are not benefiting from imperialism. These facts would be needed by the many sentimental analysts commenting on gender oppression to prove their point.
Nor is the story limited to just the ownership of children, real estate and pensions. In the prime of life, wimmin also have a much larger role in imperialism than the pseudo-feminists of the First World admit: "28 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are now owned by women, and by the end of 1992 women-owned businesses will employ more people than the entire Fortune 500!"(4) Moreover, French would not dispute that wealth is concentrated at the top, and in 1994, data was released on the part in the U.$ owned by wimmin. The figures show the breakdown by biological sex of those holding gross assets of $600,000 or more. They show that 1.4 million biological wimmin within U.S. borders own $2.1 trillion in net worth. Two million biological men own $2.7 trillion in net worth. Hence, in this elite bourgeois category that comprises less than 2% of the U.S. population, wimmin hold over 43% of the wealth.(5) The pseudo-feminists do not provide these statistics precisely because the truth would not support these First World pseudo-feminists looking to pass off the blame for class and national oppression.
French also quotes Maria Mies to the effect that the IMF, World Bank and USAID (p. 36) originated the world's oldest profession. Here there was every good intention of blaming imperialism for patriarchy, but it simply backfires, making anti-imperialists look stupid. Yes, it is interesting that the imperialists support having Third World countries develop sex tourism. No, it is not necessary to exaggerate and create historical myths like, "the sex industry was first planned and supported by the World Bank" (p. 36). There is no need to exaggerate oppression or invent things to fight it. Real knowledge goes into firing real weapons that will destroy the imperialists. Mythology is like handing someone a weapon in battle that will not only not fire, but also will blow up in the users' hands.
Although French has many facts wrong, more often she gets them right. Her method of reasoning is very typical in the "Left" in the U.$. and England. Here is a typical example of her approach: "Black mayor Marion Barry was prosecuted for taking drugs (by white men who coerced a black woman into betraying him), while important white men in the Reagan administration either escaped prosecution or were punished lightly for subverting the Constitution by selling arms and importing drugs" (p. 66). In this case as many others, French takes two individual and correct facts and draws a conclusion from them. In contrast, we at MIM only back this statement of hers, because it is true overall. If the figures did not show that Blacks systematically received biased treatment in the courts, we would not support what French said about Marion Barry and Oliver North. Too often, however, French generalizes about individual facts without the overall context and summation of data.
An example of generalizing from the individual to the general is the many cases of First World wimmin or wimmin heavily exposed to First World culture who come to MIM and proclaim that wimmin do feel sexual pleasure, maybe even more than men. Like many calling themselves feminist, French has bought into the idea that wimmin under patriarchy can experience sexual pleasure and hence certain aspects of the feminist movement against pornography, Hollywood and pop music are wrong. She realizes this often brings her into conflict with Third World wimmin who she perceives as not speaking of or actually experiencing sexual pleasure. In fact, according to French she has been told bluntly by Third World wimmin: "sexual pleasure is male" (p. 114).
Nakived has a similar position, claiming that Asian wimmin seem to see the pleasure of sex as giving pleasure to the man.
We at MIM are agnostic on the question of "natural" sexual pleasure in wimmin and men, because we are not utopians as Marx said. We have no doubt sadism runs deep in our class society, especially imperialist societies. What people "enjoy" is highly suspect. Catharine MacKinnon refers to the "eroticization of dominance" as the gist of the whole matter. For this reason we say: Let's wait till power is abolished before we decide if there is "desire" and "sexual pleasure" of some nearly universal sort. It may turn out that what we used to find pleasurable is no longer.
For a Third World womyn to tell French that she is male reverberates profoundly for MIM. Despite her biology, French has absorbed sexual privilege to a large extent just as all imperialist country wimmin have at the expense of children, wimmin and even men of the Third World. It would not surprise us that a number of First World wimmin are running around saying, "there is sexual pleasure!" as if having discovered the word of God. It is very much parallel to what happens with the labor aristocracy. On the surface, a worker is a worker anywhere in the world, but it is not true, because some workers are "bourgeoisified," which is why Lenin distinguished between proletarians and workers. Now there are a minority of workers in the world running around saying, "yes, capitalism improves living standards," just as we have a gender aristocracy running around so sure that "wimmin experience sexual pleasure too!" In reality, capitalism raises the living standards of the bourgeoisified workers and patriarchy allows some of female biology to enjoy the same oppressive pleasures men do.
We would declare sexual desire and pleasure as completely bankrupt ideas, but the humyn species is also an animal species. What is known about mating, hormones and genetics is going to improve dramatically in the foreseeable future, especially if we can destroy imperialism before it destroys us. Hence, we take an agnostic position and await the future without trying to resolve every question now when we don't have the power to do so.
French too readily generalizes from the individual or the few to the whole. If in fact she believes most Third World wimmin do not experience sexual pleasure, she should conclude that she is in fact male for her position and not try to foist the experience of the minority on the majority. It would appear that biology is no guarantee for sexual pleasure.
Another case in point of empiricism is in connection to court. In the First World, empiricist, sometimes ultraleft, Christian pseudo-feminists and anti-racists commit themselves to a stand on the court system and its individual results. In contrast, we look at statistics on courts in general. We are not surprised that with her method French draws the conclusion that wimmin receive longer sentences than men for the same crimes of passion - based on a court case or two (p. 127) when in fact the exact opposite is the case. "Men receive longer prison sentences. A man convicted of killing his wife receives an average of 17 years. A woman convicted of the same crime receives only six years. Women also benefit from more plea bargains than men. And we never hear that mothers commit twice as much child abuse as fathers."(6)
National Public Radio on April 18, 1997 ran an interview with pseudo-social-scientist James Q. Wilson on crime. Angling for political influence his whole career and never evincing much interest in the truth of his profession in criminology and related fields, Wilson lends a veneer of respectability to the ruling class's prison craze.
On the radio he admitted that one quarter of Black men would face imprisonment or some such discipline from the justice system in their lifetime, and he said, "we can't be satisfied with that" while quickly adding that more resources have to be dedicated to crime prevention including pre-school development. He went on to say, "they [Blacks] really are committing crimes," while defending Mark Fuhrman as a fair cop.
Wilson lent his credentials to the topic of expert witnesses in court and his conclusion was that social scientists cannot predict humyn behavior, so they should not be allowed in the courtroom as experts, or if they are, it should only be a few certified by the National Academy of Sciences - presumably to say they don't know anything just like Wilson says. MIM is not surprised Wilson dumped on his profession, because he has been in the orbit of conservative theology his whole life despite his academic credentials. He even came out at one point in the interview and said he did not care about the evidence concerning gun control, because it would never fly with the public politically. This confirms our image of this demagogue - someone who probably knows better but takes up opportunism almost instinctively as a matter of being "effective." This sort of intellectual is always aiming for some Cabinet job or other kind of influence-peddling job.
Wilson especially spent his time saying that social science should not be used to rationalize crime. When confronted with the idea of causation, he simply rejected the whole idea saying that social scientists cannot predict behavior. Thus, he took everyone back into the pre-Enlightenment era when behavior was seen as essentially a religious matter.
While he was speaking on the radio, people called in to say that there should be an exception to the idea that there is no causation - wimmin. When wimmin commit crime said the callers, it was only because of their violent boyfriends and husbands - and Wilson agreed. One attorney for wimmin murderers called in to say that the two months one womyn served was too long a sentence for being convicted of shooting her lover to death in his sleep. French would have fit right in during this talk with Christopher Lydon, James Q. Wilson and the womyn attorney.
Wilson explained that he had a recent change of heart on mandatory sentences, partially because of the case of wimmin accused of murdering their batterers. He and the attorney calling in agreed that wimmin sometimes have no other recourse.
Having already said that wimmin are economically dependent on men for life and death, French also says battered wimmin live with "almost no recourse" (p. 188). Like the typical pseudo-feminist, French says, "Many men (and women) blame the women whose husbands beat them, asking why they did not leave their abuser. But even if a woman has enough money to leave and someplace to go, there is no escape from a man obsessed. You can move, you can hide, you can change your name, but they follow" (p. 188). If this were true, there would not be many wimmin left, but this common line backed up with the additional factoid, that "75 percent of reported assaults against wives or lovers are committed after separation" - has more to do with Hollywood fantasies of female powerlessness than reality. What portion of that 75% of assaults occurred precisely because wimmin believed they had no recourse and could not leave even sooner?
The fact that so many assaults occur after break-up again shows that it would be impossible to predict which tiny percentage would result in murder. The pseudo-feminists never tally up the number of divorces and break-ups in a year that end successfully for the wimmin, while they are always quick to point to every murder as the trend. In actuality the 75% figure for the portion of assaults that occur after separation is a very significant back-handed admission that millions of people are involved in battering after an attempt to escape. Coupled with the fact that only 4,000 wimmin are murdered a year, we have proof that wimmin manage to separate in millions of cases at a time while a few thousand are killed.
The pseudo-feminists and their paternalist backers never lay out all the facts in a meaningful way. It is simply wrong that wimmin cannot leave their men (without shooting them while they sleep). The same stupid pseudo-feminists and paternalists who make a loose use of the facts know that battering runs into the millions of couples a year in the U.$. Estimates run up to one half of all couples involve battering in a lifetime, and one-sixth or 9 million couples have battering in any given year. Of those, 1 or 2 million involve "kicking, biting and punching" - what is considered more serious violence.(7)
Now what does it mean when the pseudo-feminists say that wimmin cannot leave their batterers? (And some are so opportunist they just say they cannot leave their "men," not just men with history of battering, and of course that number of people is even larger than 9 million.) They are saying 9 million people cannot leave. If we count just the most serious violence, we are talking about 2 million people involved (including the majority of cases where wimmin initiated the violence) who supposedly cannot leave. If we listen to these unprincipled demagogues, wimmin should kill at least two million men a year while they sleep. That's what these wimmin in court are doing - trying to win Oscar nominations and succeeding: witness the Farrah Fawcett movie about the "burning bed" case based on real life. They are saying that because men used severe violence against them, they should shoot them when they are sleeping. In that case, a seven digit figure of men should be shot every year while sleeping. Much as men are the enemy, it would seem to MIM that people should give up the romance culture before they give themselves the right to kill millions of people a year on its account. The romance culture is not worth that much to keep. At the very least, the sexes should cut each other loose. Every persyn an island would be better than rationalizing mass murder for romance.
After all these centuries everyone knows that participating in the romance culture is a risk, like going to a beach with no lifeguard. Some of the same pseudo-feminists complaining about men obsessed as French does are also complaining about men who leave wimmin for younger wimmin and treat each womyn as a sex object, only to move on to the next "conquest." It seems that romance has to walk a fine line or it is called harassment, battering, rape, obsession or conquest. Even more galling, Wilson, the attorney for wimmin murderers and French all deliver the message that romance culture is worth so much that we should take the chance that someone will have to shoot someone while sleeping - then they wonder why men are "obsessed." The people truly obsessed are the ones who don't realize that their love lives should be expendable, not people's lives.
Saying the battered can't leave is clearly a lie. Only 4,000 wimmin die from all family violence every year.(7) That is less than .05% of the total people involved in serious battering violence in a year. So when Wilson said he could not predict humyn behavior, he should not have made an exception for wimmin and battering. To guess who is going to kill out of 2 million serious battering couples, that is impossible. To know that one can escape, that is possible to know, with the vast majority successfully escaping.
And who is to say those 4,000 would not have gotten away if the pseudo-feminists, paternalists and Hollywood weren't telling them they were so powerless their whole lives? If people were more rational about their romance culture facts, and less involved in Amerikan fascist crime hysteria more people would survive. French never connects to the overall truth of battering: wimmin can and do leave. They only think they cannot because of the fear of crime hitting them disproportionately and as part of socialization. The inexorable monsters following and tracking wimmin down to kill them are more common than they should be, but they are closer to the stuff of Hollywood than the ordinary condition of wimmin. The people denying this fact are hysterically fearful of crime and buy into a patriarchal socialization of wimmin. In cases like the intellectual leaders of French's sort, the lie is a desperate diversion from the truth of national oppression in the criminal injustice system.
Another misleading factoid is that lovers account for a higher percentage of murders of wimmin than murders of men. One government statistic showed 30% of murdered wimmin being killed by male lovers, while 6% of murdered men are killed by wimmin lovers.(7) This is a very misleading figure, simply because men are victimized by murder approximately five times more often than wimmin are. So the figure can be 6% compared with 30 percent but the number of murders can be almost the same. In fact, in some cities and demographic groups, wimmin kill more of their male lovers than vice-versa.
No pseudo-feminist ever accounted for the unsolved murder rate of men, approximately 30% of all murders of men. Because men are murdered so often compared with wimmin, if only 10% of all those unsolved murders of men were really perpetrated by wimmin lovers who were never caught or suspected, then the fact would be that wimmin lovers kill more men than vice-versa. That is an image we will never see in Hollywood or pseudo-feminism, but it is something that should be raised by anyone doing a thorough analysis of the facts, including the fact that wimmin are considered less threatening than males, often to the point of being viewed incapable of crime.
In all but one imperialist country second-hand smoke will kill more wimmin than violence by lovers who won't let their wimmin leave. If we count all family violence, 4,000 wimmin die in the U.$ each year, but, comparably, 3,000 people die each year from second-hand smoke inhalation that causes lung cancer.(8) Since the U.$. has the highest murder rate by far in the imperialist countries, in other imperialist countries, more wimmin will die from lung cancer caused by second-hand smoke by far than from romance culture, decadent though it is. Second-hand smoke is now tied to heart disease as well. A study of 32,000 nurses showed that those most constantly exposed to second-hand smoke at home and work had a 91% higher risk of death from heart disease. That translates to 60,000 deaths a year from heart disease caused by second-hand smoke in the U.$.(9) So second-hand smoke dwarfs domestic violence as a cause of death in wimmin, even in the decadent, gun-happy United $tates. Should we champion the people who shoot smokers in their sleep? Escaping second-hand smoke is more difficult than escaping men in the imperialist countries.
The whole fact that this subject turns so readily to guns is part of the decadence of imperialism in its most individualist form. It is not feminism. It is conservative anti-crime mythology and the utmost in rarified romance culture. MIM says it is decadent to get involved in the first place if the result is someone shot in their sleep. No one has such an absolute right to a love life that they have the right to shoot people while sleeping. Again it is Hollywood intertwining violence and romance that way. The priority given to romance culture is the real problem for feminism.
Even when French does generalize correctly, her generalization is out of context of larger ones. She holds that male judges are treating male rapists and harassers lightly, because they throw out the cases where the wimmin knew the men. However, this is not something specific to male judges with female victims. Courts discount conflicts between people who know each other in general.(10) That includes the case where the victim is male and the perpetrator female or the case where there is simply a property dispute between men and wimmin or the case where both parties are male.
In actuality, these examples that French found are highly skewed. Patriarchy rules over wimmin in connection to the court system through paternalism, not discrimination. Despite French's anecdotes, statistically, wimmin are less likely to be arrested, charged and convicted of crimes and once convicted receive lighter sentences than men. This is thanks to the notion that wimmin are in need of protection. If anything, they should be accessible to men, not in prison, according to the patriarchy. Despite the prisons full of drug users, the imprisonment rate of wimmin for drug abuse is a tiny fraction of that of men, mainly because wimmin drug-abusers are not viewed as a threat to society at large. Since the "war on drugs" is an excuse for a crackdown on the oppressed nationalities, this is one of the many reasons there is a shortage of Black men compared with Black wimmin.
The whole problem with wimmin believing the myth that they are discriminated against in prison is that it allows the majority of wimmin within imperialist country borders - white wimmin - to focus on their "own oppression" and deny responsibility for the big picture. Rather than accept the blow to the ego that "yes, my nation oppresses others," pseudo-feminists invent mythologies to avoid responsibility: "Oh, that's just white men doing that!" Carried over into political practice these ideas result in hypocrisy and political burnout, not a sustained movement for change. That is at best, because at worst, the myths invented by pseudo-feminists on the court system prop up the state, encourage fascism and divert attention from the principal contradiction. There is plenty of gender oppression to talk about without inventing it.
The utmost indignities to logic face those who do not consistently confront theory and method. French sees a conspiracy in doctors' resisting lumpectomies to fight breast cancer. In much of the book she is consistent in that she is talking about how religious-oriented men and wimmin mutilate wimmin. On the other hand, we can just see how if doctors preferred lumpectomy over whole breast removal, there would be some who would say doctors were risking the health of wimmin just to preserve their role as sex objects.
The ultimate indignity occurs when French claims that a study of 43 people showing that men metabolize alcohol faster is "skimpy evidence" (p. 144) when she herself draws conclusions throughout the whole book based on individual, media-grabbing court cases! In that same context, French also spreads the mythology of false egalitarianism. She asks why there is more attention to mother's influences on gestation than there are studies of men ruining their sperm with bad lifestyles and environments! (p. 146). This is the same womyn who claims that wimmin do so much more work than men, among other reasons because they emotionally bond with their babies through gestation (she favors the non-biological mother Whitehead rented as an incubator in the surrogate mother custody case, p. 150) and at the same time she holds that when it comes to biological influences on the child, men and wimmin are equal! This is just denial of scientific reality to benefit a mythology. Men and wimmin are equal in that they each provide a genetic seed, but that's where the equality ends when it comes to pregnancy. It's also selfishness to complain about the scrutiny mothers receive for gestation: people's lives and futures are at stake. This selfishness is in fact a kind of patriarchal thought, so common in discounting children, as mere property or less.
In conclusion, we do not agree with Nakived's anti-theory conclusions and his/her distaste for Third World patriarchy relative to First World patriarchy. It is a common matter of national pride for supposed feminists to believe that their society is better than others. Nothing is more obvious than the labor aristocracy which believes it has earned its higher living standard when it fact the wealth was plundered from slaves, colonies and neo-colonies. Likewise, if patriarchy gives some people of female sex sexual privilege in the imperialist countries and turns them into men grateful for their privileges relative to the patriarchy in the Third World, we cannot be surprised. Those in the imperialist countries claiming to truly oppose the genocide against wimmin in the Third World will take responsibility for their share of the problem caused by their governments' support for death-squad regimes and the status quo generally.