When I woke up this morning and logged on to my computer, I was relieved to find a radical feminist analysis of the Pussy Riot posted at the Radical Hub.
When the malestream media pays any attention to feminists it is important to ask why. Chances are it’s not because they’re interested in feminism.
Invisibility is the order of the day when it comes to political women. Women’s voices are censored and disappeared, unless they serve men in some way. The Hub article points out the reason why these particular women have gained so much attention: it is because their movement revels in, thrives on, and is indeed based on the degradation, pornification and subordination of women. This is the way that “anarchists” and the “state” –two groups of men– communicate with each other i.e via their mutual contempt of women. The hatred that anarchist men play out on women’s bodies (their wives and girlifriends) is fully sanctioned by the state because the latter legitimizes the use of pornography.
I have lived and worked in Russia and let me tell you a little bit about it. If the government doesn’t like your politics, or is threatened by you in any way, you don’t end up in jail with the world’s media watching your every move. Other… things happen to you instead. And if you’re lucky a few people might pay attention to the incident.
In 2006 Anna Politovskaya, writer, journalist and human rights activists was found shot dead in the elevator of her appartment. At the age of 48, she had been assassinated. Poiltkovskaya is known for her incredibly brave writing on Chechnya, but what is often overlooked is that the basis of her work was feminism. On the back cover of her book “A Dirty War” she lays out her motivations for her activism, which was her desire to “excoriate male stupidity and brutality“, and to ease women’s suffering.
“In these courageous reports, Politkovskaya excoriates male stupidity and brutality on both sides of the conflict and interviews the civilians whose homes and communities have been laid waste, leaving them nowhere to live and nothing and no one to believe in.” [A Dirty War, 2002]
Excoriate male stupidity and brutality.
These are the type of words that enrage, and indeed frighten, men, and governments. And Politkovskaya was going about her task very efficiently, and possibly even effectively.
The focus of her book, A Dirty War, is mothers. Or at least it read that way to me. She details the contempt with which the Russian government treats the mothers of the sons that have been ground up by the war.
“The regime couldn’t solve the conflict itself so it decided to go to war. Now we must hand over our children to correct other peoples’ mistakes…my eldest boy was bullied quite unmercifully in the army and returned home not entirely in his right mind.. So now they want my next son? Not for anything in this world.” Lydia Burmistrova, Moscow
She researches in painstaking detail how the state deals with the dead bodies of both the civilians and the soldiers, because their mothers are waiting, every day, for news of what has happened to their children. She reveals that the government cannot even be bothered to exhume the corpses from the mass graves in order to let the waiting women know that, “Yes, your child is indeed dead.”
And, being a woman, she was able to empathize with the Chechens. The Russian state propaganda machine depicts Chechens as little more than rats, Muslim rats to boot– and that Chechen women are deserving of rape. To write a book about war without taking sides requires extraordinary empathy. Not many of such books exist, as far as I have seen.
Politkovskaya’s death was recognized because she had received international awards. The deaths of many others, such has her friend and colleague Natalia Estemirova, who was found shot dead in 2009, are merely footnoted, if they are reported at all.
An investigation took place in 2007:
Before the trial ended, Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer who had investigated many of the abuses documented by Politkovskaya, was assassinated in Moscow on 19 January 2009 Journalist Anastasia Baburova, who was with Markelov at the time, died later of injuries sustained while trying to intervene. Baburova was a freelance contributor to Novaya gazeta, and Markelov represented the newspaper on many occasions. In November 2009, the first public results of the investigation into the double shooting suggested that the murders had no immediate connection to the Politkovskaya assassination.
More closely related to Politkovskaya’s work as a journalist was the 15 July 2009 murder of Natalia Estemirova. A board member of the Memorial human rights society and one of Politkovskaya’s key informants, guides, and colleagues in Chechnya, Estemirova was abducted in Grozny and found dead, several hours later, in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia.“
And back to the Pussy Riot. Never in all my life have I come across a country so awash with pornography as Russia. It is a frightening place to be a woman. When I lived there ( 2001-2002) if you walked into police station, or police “box” porn would be playing on the TV screen in the background. Pornographic images were seen on posters on buses and coaches. Russian MTV was nothing like US or Japanese music channels; it was riddled with necrophiliac images that would not have been acceptable in Europe. Not only Russian bands, but also Western bands (such as Rammstein) had found a market for their extreme misogyny . Even the most innocuous-looking restaurant or bar would inevitably have “stripper time” at 9:oo pm and you would find a young woman girating naked next to you as you ate your soup.
I spoke with female Russian students, who casually told me about their experiences of being attacked and raped. A girl I had befriended was attacked on her way home from having coffee with me until her attacker was scared off by a passer-by. I was flashed at many times. One flasher, after standing next to us on the subway with his erect penis in my face, followed my friend and I out onto our stop and began chasing us, shouting, “Girls, Girls, Stop. Come here.” I would say it was a monthly occurence. The regularity with which these incidents took place was like nothing I had experienced– before or since.
I don’t enjoy stereotyping a country, and I always try to avoid doing so. There is so much about Russia that I loved. But it is impossible to deny the fact that the war on women is in full throttle over there–or at least it was when I left.
Pussy Riot women are conformist–so conformist. Because they’re frightened.