On Femicide

In real life, and as mirrored in media images, women as a class are targeted for extermination. Women are murdered, disappeared, placed in harm’s way, tortured and raped until we die from it, but this is never addressed as a class issue or as comparable to other acts of deliberate, political genocide, even though it is.

We often encounter media images evocative of femicide by way of the female superhero or witch, who possess supernatural powers but against a historical backdrop of the Burning Times in which millions of allegedly supernaturally-powerful women were persecuted, tortured and murdered.

We are also confronted with images of female rape and murder victims, all of which exist within the broader context of global femicide (and necrophilia), but that context and the political implications of woman-murder are never discussed.

Why? Because…

Femicide supports male power. Males as a class are working very hard to destroy females as a class, and they are succeeding: globally, women are underrepresented due to “gendercide” against females, where female fetuses and babies are literally killed before or at the time of birth. In what the The Economist has dubbed “The Worldwide War on Baby Girls,” the male-supremacist ratio of males to females in many regions simply would not exist in nature: in some places there are over 130 males for every 100 females due to gendercide. In some places at different times in history, according to census takers, no girls were found at all. The result is that males exist in unnatural numbers globally and share power and resources amongst themselves without sharing it with girls and women — power which they actually lord over girls and women and which includes mandatory PIV and rape. And unnatural numbers of males lording sexual power over girls and women, and where female infants are then killed and males aren’t, exacerbates and perpetuates the problem of male global overrepresentation and unequal male political and physical power and resource-hoarding with no end in sight.

Images of “powerful” women often include unnaturally-powerful women, even though historically the female “witch” was not politically powerful and was actually the victim of terrible state-sanctioned persecution including brutal torture — including sexual torture and rape — and murder. Of course, as witches do not exist, and powerful women who were executed as witches were not supernaturally powerful, but exercising completely natural skills such as herbal medicine and midwifery, all women exercising legitimate skills, agency or “power” are doing so within a historical and political context where powerful and skilled women have been literally demonized and subjected to violent interpersonal and state control. And many women persecuted during the Burning Times were not unusually powerful at all and were targeted anyway, for being female and as a result of false confessions exacted under torture. Femicide is actually completely arbitrary, but for the fact that it targets women only: the details and the “whys” of women’s persecution, torture and murder under patriarchy are obfuscations of a political reality whereby women are targeted for execution by men globally, with the intent and effect being to support male power, and this has been the case for a long time.

The psychological effects of femicide generally and the Burning Times specifically on women (and men) are both conscious and unconscious, and the issue of female “power” and the realities of female powerlessness are politically and psychologically complicated and fraught with political and historical meaning which is ignored.  Instead, we see the issues of woman-murder and female power and powerlessness de-politicized and instead being individualized, as in discourses centering female “agency” and empowerment, or blaming individual women for their own powerlessness or dismissing women’s feelings of powerlessness as if they are incorrect. See also Necrophilia; Normalize abuse/neglect; Normalize porn/prostitution; PIV-centric narrative — Rape and rape culture; Reversal; Support patriarchal institutions (medicine/religion/law).

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6 responses to “On Femicide”

  1. witchwind says :

    For those who read French, there’s a post that relates to what’s said here on genocide of women and how it’s promoted by negationist language such as “sex ratio unbalance”, “infanticide”, “foeticide” or “demographic transition” or “preference for boys”. http://www.feministes-radicales.org/2012/04/15/are-women-human-2-2/

    Here’s more or less what she says:
    When male journalists talk about it as a disaster (ie the economist report), the only thing they fear and care about is that there won’t be enough women anymore to produce the next generation of men. They fear for men’s future and howl about their (possible) demise. They fear that men will suffer because they might have no women to enslave (marry) and they’re now having to fight over women.

    This is negationism. They mask what it really is: genocide, that is, organised and planned mass extermination of millions of women and girls and sending the survivors into prostitution, forced marriages, forced pregnancies and slavery.
    they also mask the agent and beneficiairies of this genocide: men. Men benefit from it collectively: they all benefit from “preference for boys”, which means this secures them a far higher economic, psychic and bodily autonomy/safety, with less competition with women for work and status. They benefit from it individually: access to raping women with impunity either through prostitution or forced marriage, free domestic labour, free production of male babies.

    They promote genocidal propaganda: they say it’s women’s fault (“they’re the ones killing and aborting, look how evil they are”), and uncritically reproduce genocidal justifications when explaining the “phenomenon”: “women are killed because women are a burden on the family” > it’s as if we uncritically said jews were killed because they were parasites for society.

    She also criticises the use of words such as “femicide” and “Gynocide”, which is worth a thought: she explains how it’s adopting the social stigma on which the persecutors base their extermination – naming what is done to the victims by the stigma that those persecutors gave them to justify their elimination: it’s failing to recognise full human status to the victims even after their death, because they remain “specific”, non-universal and non-representative of humanity. so it’s not considered a crime against humanity. It’s perpetuating genocidal thought and crime. We don’t say “jewicide”, “Armenicide”, “Bosniacide”, or “parasite hunt”, “raticide”: we say genocide.

    Why would we have to say “femicide”, “foeticide” or “witch hunt” rather than genocide?

  2. FCM says :

    Indeed ww. Thanks for that! Unfortunately everyone draws a blank when speaking about the systematic killing of girls and women, there is no word for it, and if you read the definition of genocide it seems to specifically exclude femicide bc sex is not a race, nationality or religion etc and those are the political groups that can be “genocided” per the definition as written. Ie. The concept specifically and deliberately precludes the possibility of genocide when its women as a class who are targetted, rather than certain women who share political affiliations with men who are also targetted. If we said “genocide” when referring to femicide, not only would it be technically inaccurate (?) one gets the feeling that the listeners would look at each other and say “where is this genocide happening?” When we clarified what we meant, they would say “oh, that” and go on about their business. The only way we can talk about it so that it matters at all, and isn’t confusing and thought terminating is to call it femicide, but you are right that its the same as saying “jewicide” or even “raticide” when referring to the holocaust. No one would do that, nor should they.

  3. FCM says :

    Jesus, what a fucked up situation. It’s better and more meaningful to use the equivalent of raticide when talking about what men do to women, than to suggest we are human beings being killed. It’s thought terminating to present it as if we were humans.

  4. witchwind says :

    Yes, exactly, whenever we state something that takes for granted that women are human, it’s thought terminating. We can’t just point out male violence against women because people won’t understand it, they don’t understand in what way we may feel prejudiced by violence. Nobody can identify to what we experience because we’re not considered human. We first have to explain in what way we’re human and in what way violence prejudices us before we even name the violence.

  5. roaringinside says :

    ”She also criticises the use of words such as “femicide” and “Gynocide”, which is worth a thought: she explains how it’s adopting the social stigma on which the persecutors base their extermination – naming what is done to the victims by the stigma that those persecutors gave them to justify their elimination: it’s failing to recognise full human status to the victims even after their death, because they remain “specific”, non-universal and non-representative of humanity.”

    Yes, it sounds like ”less than” a genocide when it’s called ”femicide/gynocide” because those words imply the concept of ”woman” which features in the collective subconscious as ”less than” in itself. It makes the word bear a stigma, because in the patriarchy, the words used to name women, stigmatize whatever context they’re used in, they take all importance and seriousness away from it because the immediate subconscious association people (including women) make is: ”if it’s about women then it doesn’t matter” which only indicates how much of a lesser being we are considered. And women get brainwashed to want to spend their lives pleasing these beings who care so little for them. A perfectly illustrative example is porn, it’s 100% institutionalised genocide and it’s not that men don’t care about it; they enjoy it and call it ”fun” and ”entertainment”. When genocide against your kind is considered fun and entertaining, is totally mainstream and can’t be named as genocide at all, and the ones doing and perpetuating this are those of the sex who allegedly love yours, it means that what’s called ”love” in patriarchal language, would translate as ”hatred” in female.

  6. witchwind says :

    Yes: the fact that genocide of women is considered sex, love, entertainment and that this is so widespread, is really an aggravating factor, criminally speaking. It makes it worse both in terms of intentionality (because not only it’s intentional but he gets off on it) and for the victim (it increases humiliation, sideration, it makes it almost impossible to name the violence and therefore to escape it).

    No other genocide and oppression than that of women is so systematically used for sexual pleasure, to such an extent. There is no equivalent to it, by very, very far. When Hannah Arendt talks about the “banality of evil” regarding Nazi Camps, this concept applies to women in every day patriarchy.
    If you look at racist extermination, there aren’t millions and millions of images everywhere and every single day on the net, in the media, on tv, in shows, in literature, paintings, portraying and representing demeamed, insulted, dehumanised, tortured, raped and killed coloured people for men to masturbate on, for them to do the same things on the coloured people around them.