Opinion: Collective Consciousness and Women

violenceagainstwomencollage

I blame it on music. Video games. Movies. The male-centric master narrative. The fibres that enable such violence against women to be so easily transmittable is the English language—the English sentence, actually. Our thoughts are organized by the sentence structure because it is how we fit in with the collective consciousness. It goes like this: man (subject) objectifies (verb) women (object). This is the most common formula in the English Language that organizes our thoughts. It’s a formula that allows the many permutations of violence against women.

There’s a verb my friend likes to shout at the most mundane situations. After defeating a boss in a Video Game, my friend will shout, “I raped them hard”. I was walking down centre street the other day—rain getting into my shoes—and I was discussing with another friend my problem with the abundant use of the verb rape. “It takes away from its meaning,” I said. “I’m not big on words being monolithic but, man, some have to have that potency, and if you think about it, it’s the only words with that specific meaning. Why take away from its power by giving it other connotative meanings?” My walking-buddy agreed and said: “Yeah…and then when someone says they were raped then everyone else wont take them seriously”.

Of course, I spend about one-third of my life meandering around the internet. Elbow on desk. Cheek resting in palm, and eyes crusting. A few years ago I used words like rape and pussy and gay to interact with fellow Internet-folk, but specifically to smash their masculinity into bits. I’ve changed—maybe because I have been reading. The Internet hasn’t changed. And it’s worse than the racism and homophobia found on green bathroom stall doors.

I’ve collected the subtle and not-so-subtle comments about women on the Internet. It’s a growing brain tumour I’m considering pasting onto my wall for a reminder. Many of them are unsettling, and some are ignorance personified.

Perhaps the most unsettling is when we discuss women we discuss them as if in pieces, which leads me to believe that our culture’s collective consciousness is that of a sociopath. When we talk about women only by the size of their boobs or how exposed their body is we perpetuate the sub-conscious misconception that women are only pieces scattered about like a broken doll. And we descend into an event horizon when we essentialize these parts as something inherently sexual. Women simultaneously lose control over their bodies, and men (and society) is handed an excuse for committing crimes against women. It’s as if the collective conciseness is saying to all women, “you have boobs, arms, legs, stomach, and if they are exposed then you’re giving up those parts to the world”. It’s a sick contract—with no transparency—women are forced to abide by.

Violence against women isn’t limited to objectification. I had this friend once who started dating a girl. An intimate relationship for him was something new and it was something new for her as well. Whenever this friend would rearrange plans to accommodate their relationship, his friends—and me—would tell him that he is being whipped. We stripped him of his masculinity on the basis that he didn’t dominate her: as one friend said: “put her in her place, dude. Put her in the kitchen to make you sandwich”. Yep: everyone laughed, naturally.

Demasculinating someone or something is probably the most common response to unfavourable someones or somethings. I’m reiterating that noun pussy. Friends on Facebook like to use it when discussing politics, or events in their lives, or the military. They relate an obviously feminine word with negative objects, which reaffirms the position that femininity is something not to be and something inferior to masculinity. 

The synapses in the collective consciousness are malleable—this is a fact, or else there would never be social change. In the meantime, women are being objectified. They are being sexually assaulted. They are a measurement. A tool for both gratification and abuse, still, because it’s embedded in the everyday thought structure.

Further Reading:

The ‘science’ of gender roles from The Maddow Blog

Feminisms” are Plural: how mainstream media (and defensive men) misuse the F-word from Truth is Cool

Why I am not a Feminist from FreeThoughts Blog

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