Hierarchical Feminism: #metoo?
Since actress, Rose McGowan, came forth with rape allegations against producer (predator), Harvey Weinstein, the conversation of rape, sexual abuse and harassment in hollywood exploded, literally catastrophically exploded. This ignited widespread transparency of victims across the map to come forth, from every industry to every girl, boy, man and woman in your Facebook newsfeed, solidarity formed into a hashtag — #metoo.
While this conversation is a pivotal turning point in opening the dialogue for rape and sexual abuse, the question of power and voice becomes the paradox. While celebrity and power-elite figures are now speaking their truths, and the general public are sharing their stories over social media, it must be recognised that power is voice. To be silenced to what degree is based within a structural hierarchical complex.
Rose and her army have achieved in bringing solidarity to sexual assault victims, but whose solidarity is this? McGowan speaks of ‘systemic misogyny’, yet this conceptualisation of ‘systemic’ is not universal, nor is sexual abuse and violence. To be brave and speak up in Hollywood is not universally applicable to be brave and speak up in militant controlled states. Here becomes the issue where hierarchical feminism brings about a silencing effect. This is not to take away the suffering and pain each victim of sexual abuse, harassment and violence endures, but it is important to understand the complexities that arise out of current mobilisations. Rose McGowan faced backlash regarding a tweet, that now has been deleted, drawing comparisons to the struggles of ‘women’ with that of African Americans. McGowan has also tweeted she is being ‘silenced’ in response to her arrest warrant for drug possession. No, Rose, you have a voice and it has been heard. It’s with this kind of rhetoric silencing is reinforced, as the conversation is circulated from and to a specific group.
An article recently published by The Guardian, titled, ‘Women and men are speaking out about abuse — is this the end of the patriarchy?’. Honestly? Whose patriarchy? Again, this is where feminism really becomes hierarchical, as this is limited to a Eurocentric patriarchal narrative. For the female, universally power and voice is positioned on an axis of race and class. What I mean to say is that white-elite-women are hierarchically positioned higher than Black-lower socio-economic-women, in their mobility to exercise power and voice. And let us not forget, this is just in a western context. The peripheral and semi-peripheral world face far greater degrees of silencing. Voice is contained and constrained by invisible boarders that are rooted and structural, where they always have been, and this further opens pandora’s box of power and voice. Behind the shadows of these invisible walls are voices silenced, these are the voices of subaltern women, marginalised women, women living under religious or military regimes.
To the 200 million women and girls who face genital mutilation, who hears your voice? To the 750 million women and girls who are married before age 18, who hears your voice? To the women who face stoning when reporting rape in militia controlled areas, who hears your voice? To the women and child brides who face legally permitted marital rape, who hears your voice? To the women who have no technological capital, who sees your hashtag?
Rose McGowan might be the heroine hollywood needed — that we needed — in the fight against sexual abuse and violence, but who will fight for the rest, for those who are truly silenced?