March 18, 2008

Samizdat and Victimless Crimes

"The "No-Talk Rule" is the foundation upon which all abusive structures are built...It is simple and brilliant. Whatever most needs to be discussed, whatever problem is most urgent, pressing and real, is placed under conversational interdict. We Will Not Speak Of This. 

"...The idea is that as long as people are prohibited from talking about X, their ability to think about X, define it, understand it is severely curtailed. Their ability to actually do anything productive about X, of course, is completely pre-empted, since they can neither think nor talk about it effectively if at all." ~ Stormchild  
Prostitution and Infidelity: 

“Victimless crimes.” So stated by those who benefit from maintenance of the status quo. A status quo built on subordination of those deemed different from and thus, less important than. Perhaps people identify with the powerful and are incapable of identifying with those perceived to be unlike themselves; i.e.: victims. It’s easier to blame a woman for her situation rather than it is to question Eliot Spitzer’s unbridled narcissism and the systems supporting such a man as himself.

Call an obvious crime what it isn't and maybe folks won't think any further than a soundbite.

It was no surprise to read dismissive comments about infidelity & prostitution as being victimless crimes. In my experience, similar distortions of reality occur whenever an existing system is threatened with exposure. Most of us don’t willingly give up our privileges; and many of us don’t even know we have them. But Samizdat will have its way, each person's voice working like a little drop of water to pierce what appears to be immutable.

“I have come to believe over and over again, that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” ~Audre Lorde
I was ruminating on the significance of Samizdat while reading through hundreds of cyber-comments about the Spitzers. I believe the revolutionary impact of self-expression will effectuate change on numerous levels...some changes are predictable, some aren't. Nonetheless, websites, blogs, emails lists, etc. are questioning the Talking Head's pontifications echoing across global mass media. If my experience as a layperson is typical, writing the personal has allowed me to think politically. So Talking Heads can pontificate all they want, the rest of us li’l folks now have a means to expand truth through self-expression.

Until we can think and talk effectively (and yes, this is a learned skill!), there is no hope of changing the course of our lives. Without a means for self-expression, we are ineffective, disorganized and relatively benign. Kinda like annoying gnats--a nuisance but not a threat to anyone's domain of power.

It's a curious thing...

Let me bring up a curious thing about people who discount infidelity/prostitution as victimless. Often enough, they are the first to justify sexual philandering as mankind’s inevitable destiny. (As if we are biologically compelled to spread spermies wherever there’s a willing eggie.) Such a powerful drive as Survival of the Species is likely true for Guernsey cows---as studies suggest by comparing human sexual behavior to research on gall wasps and beavers.

However, I’ve noticed that DNA-spreaders don’t call themselves cannibals while feasting on rib-eye steaks. That’s when, “I am not an animal!” justifies mankind's status on the food chain because of our capacity for self-reflection---the development of moral conscience. This line of reasoning suggests it is permissible for people to eat cows because cows lack the capacity for conscience.

Animals in the lower kiNgdom are instinctual, you see. They know not what they do.

But when it comes to a sensual after-dinner boink…ah...well…that’s when people lack restraint over their biological imperative to procreate. Please ignore the fact that procreation is generally not the goal of an illicit boink. The goal is an instinctual drive for pleasure, requiring no more thought nor conscience, than an after-dinner sneeze. Sprinkle a little pepper up the schnozzle and “Ahchoo!”

Even a dog can do it.

But then again, dogs don’t apologize after blowing snot on a girl’s dress. So I guess that gives mankind one leg up over Schnauzers.

Change never comes from those who hold the keys to the kiNgdom. Change comes from those who question the status quo in our kinship, community, economic and political spheres. I don’t figure any of us wants someone leading our nation who operates on instinct alone---though I daresay Mr. Ed or Lassie might be loyal candidates and at least for me, I wouldn’t freak out as much if they pumped a chair leg in the Oval Office.

Requisite change demands shattering the assumption that human beings, capable of conscious reflection, are powerless over unconscious erections.
“We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.” ~Audrey Lorde
Something many of us have experienced first hand is that we are immobilized by silence. Hopefully, we are breaking the chains of complicity one blog post at a time, one message reply at a time, each frightening decision to speak rather than diminishing our power to that of the powerless bystander.

I hope this message about the Spitzers will inspire people to question the status quo; to question social tolerance for a politician’s egregious behavior; to validate Silda Spitzer by refusing to judge or blame her for however she might have reacted to the mind-breaking experience of betrayal; to inspire each of us to think about organizations and systems that disenfranchise the many while privileging the few; to consider the blatant narcissism of those who lack the capacity to empathize with the ‘otherized.’

Many years ago, I read a passage written by Paulo Freire that led me to where I find myself today: offering forum to people’s suffering as they break the chains of complicity and liberate themselves from narcissistic relationships. He writes:

“The oppressed suffer from the duality which has established itself in their innermost being. They discover that without freedom they cannot exist authentically. Yet, although they desire authentic existence, they fear it. They are at one and the same time themselves and the oppressor whose consciousness they have internalized. 
"The conflict lies in the choice between being wholly themselves or being divided; between ejecting the oppressor within or not ejecting him; between human solidarity or alienation; between following prescriptions or having choices; between being spectators or actors; between acting or having the illusion of acting through the action of the oppressors; between speaking out or being silent, castrated in their power to create and re-create, in their power to transform the world.
"Dehumanization, which marks not only those whose humanity has been stolen but also (though in a different way) those who have stolen it, is a distortion of the vocation of becoming more fully human…"This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.”~Paulo Freire, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"
We know we are being manipulated, lied to, and exploited but what we have lacked is an alternative vision to what we've deemed to be Normal and Expected. This vision will not come from those who benefit from the system but only from those who question whether or not that system is effectively delivering what it promises.

Who better to question systems of power than those who have been betrayed? Those who understand, on a very personal level, what it means to be disrespected, objectified, and dehumanized. Rather than surrender our voice to louder voices, we can rely on our intimate awareness of power differentials to think about, question and ultimately change social inequities.

The first place to Break The Silencing, is in the home.



Gale Warnings


  1. This is an excellent blog. And an excellent post. Keep writing, I enjoy your style and the obvious intelligence and logic with which you write.

    Not to mention that the subject matter is close to my heart.

  2. Hi Meg! I'm still trying to figure out how to reply to comments. hehehe...It's a miracle I managed to post an article for you to even comment on, considering my technical challenges. One thing about it though, I'm determined, relentless and dedicated to the concept of Samizdat.

    I've added two of your links to my blog (hope you are okay with that).

    Current research on abusive relationships suggests their commonality with cults. Learning about cults provides essential understanding of the narcissistic-relationship. So let me return the compliment and say how much I appreciate your determination to 'speak' about what most of us believed to be: unspeakable.

    "Let’s live with courage and integrity knowing that to throw off the tyranny of abuse is an inalienable right and a just cause." ~Meg




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...