This issue of Under Lock and Key focuses on the topic of gender. Usually when people think about gender oppression they think in the black and white terms of wimmin being oppressed and men being in power. But the reality is a lot more complex. For instance, in prisons, which overwhelmingly house men, gender oppression takes on a special form where men experience gender oppression regularly at the hands of male and female guards and at the hands of other prisoners.
Gender oppression is one component of imperialism, and it is a particularly difficult topic for those living in the First World where the majority enjoy gender privilege but also experience gender oppression. Overall MIM(Prisons) sees First World wimmin and men as mainly oppressors, not oppressed, when it comes to gender. Globally we find gender privilege in the Amerikan men who buy wives/prostitutes in other countries. This leisure time privilege is connected to economics, with men’s greater access to jobs and positions of power around the world. With First World wimmin we see gender privilege in the form of contraceptive testing on Third World wimmin and nannies who allow First World wimmin to raise healthy children while experiencing great leisure time. In addition, gender and economics intersect creating the ho relationship where First World wimmin benefit from their access to rich men thanks to closed borders. Pornography that elevates the white womyn also allows, what we call the “gender aristocracy,” to benefit from leisure time financially through the entertainment industry. While it’s clear that First World men have more gender privilege and power than First World wimmin, overall both are oppressors on a global scale relative to Third World men and wimmin. As a group, the First World of all genders are more united than ever in their exploitation of the rest of the world.
Yet, even within the U.$., there are groups that fall closer to the gender oppressed including those without citizenship, children and prisoners. In prisons, guards use their power to gain sexual access to prisoners (both male and female). And among prisoners there are some, generally sanctioned by the guards, who also enjoy sexual access to other prisoners. This sex between prisoners comes with a significant power differential because of the nature of imprisonment. That’s not to say that sex outside of prison is free of power. MIM(Prisons) upholds the MIM position that no sex under the patriarchy can be fully consensual as long as there are power differentials between people. In other words, all sex is rape under patriarchy. There may be different types of coercion - the overt physical overpowering of someone is a very different kind of rape than the couple who both want to have sex. However, we can not downplay the importance of things like money, looks, education, political power, and other things which lead someone to “consent” to sex. Desire is fucked up under capitalism and we can’t pretend things are equal when they are not.
An article in Under Lock and Key #1 took an in depth look at gender and rape in prisons:
“To help sort out the gender status of biomale prisoners, a recent Department of Justice report gives us the surprising statistics that, “In State and Federal prisons, 65% of inmate victims of staff sexual misconduct and harassment were male, while 58% of staff perpetrators were female”. (Here we are discussing the 52% of reported sexual violence in prisons where the captor assaulted captive. The rest were inmate-on-inmate assaults, addressed more below.) (1) In the general population 97% of sexual violence reports are wimmin victims and the perpetrator is generally male (around 98%). The instance of female perpetrators is actually a higher rate in instances of assaults on males, estimated at around 14%. (2) Much higher than female assaults on wimmin, but nowhere near the 58% of assaults on prisoners of any biology.
“With 93% of the u.$. prison population being male, we would expect a much higher percentage of assaults to be against males than females, even if rates of assault for wimmin was higher. But assuming 97% of victimization is of bio-wimmin as it is on the street, you’d only get 29% of the absolute number of assaults being against men in prison. So we’re seeing a ratio of male to female victims on the order of 2 times the general population. In other words, if wimmin are five times as likely to be assaulted in prison than they are on the street, then men are 10 times as likely.
“Unfortunately, the study does not breakdown the statistics of female on male vs. female on female assaults. But even if we assume that all of the 35% of staff sexual assaults on wimmin in state and federal prisons are perpetrated by wimmin, that leaves another 23% of the perpetrators who are females attacking males (assuming one-to-one incidents, which was the vast majority). Even if you want to argue that no male guards ever sexually assault female prisoners, you see a significantly greater rate of bio-wimmin engaging in sexual violence against males in prison compared to the general population. Since female assaults on males in the general population are much higher than female assaults on females, we would be better off assuming the opposite. If we assume a proportional breakdown you’d be comparing 58% female perpetrators against bio-men in prison against the 14% on the street. If that weren’t bad enough, we must factor in that females are still only a minority of prison staff, accounting for 22% in the federal system. (3) So that 58% of assailants is coming from maybe a quarter of the staff that happen to be bio-wimmin. These are the statistics that back up our line on Lynndie England that it could have been any amerikkkan womyn sexually assaulting Iraqi bio-men. And if we acknowledge that Iraqis under occupation are much more powerless and oppressed than amerikan citizens, then these statistics speak even louder to say that amerikan bio-wimmin are the enemies of the oppressed.”
Just as the labor aristocracy usually outdoes the imperialists in its racist oppression, here we see an extreme example of the gender aristocracy outdoing men in gender oppression.
While discussing how to define gender that same article went on: “.....Prisoners (of both genders) and youth (of both genders) are reporting more sexual assaults than wimmin over all. If being young or incarcerated is really twice as risky as having female genitalia as the report rates suggest, then not only are there other considerations to determine someone’s gender status, but there are factors that are much more important than what genitalia a persyn is born with. Below we will see how age and incarceration intersect to create one of the most gender oppressed groups in the united $tates.
“MIM has established the basis for gender as purely gender in a persyn’s physical development, age and health status. Therefore, when nation and class are not major complicating factors, such as within the amerikan labor aristocracy, these are the basis for gender differences.
“However, the greatest differences in gender are found between the imperialist nations and the Third World people. Therefore when we talk about the spectrum of gender oppression we place most First Worlders on the male end of the spectrum, regardless of biology. We have demonstrated how First World bio-wimmin benefit by the patriarchy elsewhere. (4) The picture of bio-wimmin as sexual assailants in prisons above only adds to this argument....”
The fight against gender oppression must be waged directly in a battle against sexual assault and psycho-sexual warfare, and also as a part of the larger fight against imperialism because the patriarchy is intimately tied up with the capitalist system. In this issue we have an article about pornography in prison and why we oppose its censorship but at the same time we also oppose pornography in general. We take a global view comparing what some called the “feminism” of Sarah Palin with the real world slaughter of children in Gaza this month. We also have several responses to an article on psycho-sexual warfare in prisons that was printed in ULK4. That article inspired a lot of prisoners to write in about their experiences with the various ways that sex is used as an oppressive tool in the context of the prison system: guards paying for access to prisoners sexuality in various ways, guards manipulating prisoners by offering sex, guards using sex to pit prisoners against each other, and guards just using sex to straight up harass prisoners. Some of those stories appear in this issue.
The lumpen get a bad rap when it comes to gender for not fitting into pc-white cultural norms, which is exacerbated by white-owned entertainment companies that make their money selling images of the oppressed nations that exaggerate the negative to white consumers. The experiences of gender oppression faced by millions of oppressed nation men are an educational opportunity that we see far more potential in than a college course in so-called feminism or a “Take back the Night” rally. We welcome further responses and analysis on this topic and encourage our comrades who want to study this issue in depth to get a copy of the MIM Theory 2/3 on Gender and Revolutionary Feminism.
(1) U.S. Department of Justice. Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities, 2006. August 2007. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/svrca06.htm
(2) Whealin Ph.D., Julia M. National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Fact Sheet: Men and Sexual Trauma. http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/ncdocs/fact_shts/fs_male_sexual_assault.html?opm=1&rr=rr88&srt=d&echorr=true
(4) How does the gender aristocracy benefit? http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/gender/garistocracybenefits.html