Understanding and translating patriarchy-speak…

On Sisterhoodispowerful, Elaine Charkowski has written a great entry on how to look at stuff written with a patriarchal mindset (or as she calls it, malespeak) and translate what it means in real terms. In connection to that, she also points out the hypocrisy of casting violence in neutral terms given that men commit most violent crimes.

Here is an extreme use of the absent referent by lawyers defending a school district in which an adult male teacher raped a twelve-year-old girl:

Malespeak: “Carelessness and negligence on her part, proximately, contributed to the happenings of the incident.”

Neither the perpetrator (the adult male teacher), his victim (the girl he raped), nor the crime of rape (“the happenings of the incident”) was mentioned. In addition, the lawyers blamed the girl for “causing” the man to rape her because of where she was (her “proximately”).

Radical feminist translation: “An adult male teacher raped a twelve-year-old girl. The lawyers said it was her fault because of where she was.”


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