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“Yes, I’d say female socialisation (since this whole thing mostly targets and hurts women anyway) that has taught us fear and what we can do to reduce that fear (apologise, silence ourselves and other women, submit, placate men at all costs).”

Fear cements this system together. Fear is the adhesive that holds each part in its place. […] What is fear then? What are its characteristics? What is it about fear that is so effective in compelling women to be good soldiers on the side of the enemy?
Fear, as women experience it, has three main characteristics: it is isolating; it is confusing; and it is debilitating. When a woman violates a rule which spells out her proper behavior as a female, she is singled out by men, their agents, and their culture as a troublemaker. The rebel’s isolation is real in that she is avoided, or ignored, or chastised, or denounced. Acceptance back into the community of men, which is the only viable and sanctioned community, is contingent on her renunciation and repudiation of her deviant behavior. Every girl as she is growing up experiences this form and fact of isolation. She learns that it is an inevitable consequence of any rebellion, however small. By the time she is a woman, fear and isolation are tangled into a hard, internal knot so that she cannot experience one without the other. […]
Confusion, too, is an integral part of fear. It is confusing to be punished for succeeding—for climbing a tree, or excelling in mathematics. It is impossible to answer the question, “What did I do wrong?” As a result of the punishment which is inevitable when she succeeds, a girl learns to identify fear with confusion and confusion with fear. By the time she is a woman, fear and confusion are triggered simultaneously by the same stimuli and they cannot be separated from each other.
Fear, for women, is isolating and confusing. It is also consistently and progressively debilitating. Each act outside a woman’s allowable sphere provokes punishment— and this punishment is as inevitable as nightfall. Each punishment inculcates fear. Like a rat, a woman will try to avoid those high-voltage electric shocks which seem to mine the maze. […] This interplay of the memory of pain, the anticipation of pain, and the reality of pain in a given circumstance makes it virtually impossible for a woman to perceive the daily indignities to which she is subjected, much less to assert herself against them or to develop and stand for values which undermine or oppose male supremacy. The effects of this cumulative, progressive, debilitating aspect of fear are mutilating, and male culture provides only one possible resolution: complete and abject submission.

Andrea Dworkin, Our Blood

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February 2017


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