On Kyriarchy

(Minor edits made on May 27, 2012)

Instead of working myself into an incoherent rage over the latest wave of assaults on the human dignity of uterus-having people (In the US: South Dakota considered a bill to make it legal to murder the one abortion provider who visits the state, Ohio wants to ban abortion after a “heartbeat” is detected and Iowa wants to ban it entirely; federally, there’s a push to ban grants to provide health care from going to Planned Parenthood), I thought I’d step back a bit to explain something to people who are ostensibly on the same side as we are and yet don’t get it.

Progressives, liberals, socialists, syndicalists, Marxists, radicals, Keynesians, reformers, and other assorted leftists: The class war is not the only front the enemy cares about. It’s not about money to them, it’s about power. They want to have power over us, as much power over as many people as possible. They want to control us. They want to be able to starve us, to throw us out on the street, to control our bodies.

Their goal is not to hoard capital, or to gather the world’s resources under their control, except as a means to an end. Their goal is to protect and reinforce their own privilege. Their goal is to defend the kyriarchy.

Now, is the huge push by various legislatures in this country to outlaw abortion a distraction from their inaction on economics, or were their promised economic plans a trojan horse to get them into office so that they could allow domestic abusers to prevent their victims from getting abortions through ways up to and including murder? Yes, on both counts. They came in promising to fix the economy through Hoovernomics. Hoovernomics is literally the easiest policy in the world to implement; all you need to do is stand by and do absolutely nothing in the face of an emergent economic crisis. The difficulty comes in when you have to justify why you’re doing absolutely nothing in the face of an emergent economic crisis. So of course they’re going after abortion rights.

But, equally, they got into office fully planning to do this. Abortion rights isn’t a third-tier issue (warning: linked page uses “women” to mean “people who can get pregnant” freely) to them. Denying access to safe and legal abortion is a primary priority for them, because their thing is about maintaining the kyriarchy. Patriarchy is as integral a part of the kyriarchy as plutocracy is. They aren’t cynically attacking reproductive rights (let’s be clear: this affects the right to reproduce. If I could get pregnant, I would not risk a pregnancy developing under the kind of legal regime they are pushing, and I want kids) to distract while they enact plutocracy, they are attacking reproductive rights because they want to attack reproductive rights.

This could have been any of us. The climate was good for a panic over reproductive rights, so they ran with that. They could have just as easily stirred up a panic over immigration. If political hay could be made by chipping away at LGB rights, then they might do that. Likewise for gender transitioner rights, or womens’ anti-discrimination laws, or a religious minority (Muslims are frequently targeted here), or whatnot. But this isn’t because there are some cynical leaders who don’t really believe this shit and peddle it to an uneducated base that’s easy to get riled up. The leaders of this movement are cis, rich, het, white, Christian men. They benefit more than anyone else from the kyriarchy, and not just the class part. Why would they not believe that it is a good thing? More importantly, what do you gain by arguing that they aren’t personally bigoted? In fact, that entire argument is more than a little classist, since it implies a division among the right: the enlightened but cynical rich leaders, and the bigoted ignorant poor masses.

The people responsible for this really believe it just as much as their base does. You don’t have to be working-class or uneducated to be bigoted; in fact, that assumption is really terribly classist. Being rich and educated just means you can dress it up nicer. Conserving the kyriarchy on every front is the core conservative issue, and the focus on class that many (middle-class, cis, white, male) liberals like to take is a distraction.

If you actually want to be part of the movement to overturn this thing, stand against everything. It’s not a distraction from the real issues just because it can’t affect you. Stand with all of us or get out of the way.


4 Responses to On Kyriarchy

  1. Jeanne says:

    I would argue that all of those things you mentioned: immigrants rights, GLB rights, gender transitioners, womens (and race-based) anti-descrimination laws *are* all actively under attack at the moment as well.

    There’s clearly a much more united front and concentrated effort at the federal level bent on taking down uterus havers, but multiple states are also revoking the legitimacy of the most commonly held immigration documents, trying to remove anti-discrimination legislation, and banning marriage and civil union/domestic partnerships left and right.

  2. Jeanne says:

    I should probably clarify that I’m in total agreement with you, and really really appreciate this post!
    It’s totally true that this isn’t about moneygrubbing, it’s about preserving privileged, exercising power, and inflicting real damage.
    I only think that rather than it *could* be any of us it *is* all of us.
    Which only adds more fuel to your point about needing to stand together on all fronts, and not just sweep everything under the blanket of class war.

  3. TAL9000 says:

    multiple states are also revoking the legitimacy of the most commonly held immigration documents, trying to remove anti-discrimination legislation, and banning marriage and civil union/domestic partnerships left and right. . . I only think that rather than it *could* be any of us it *is* all of us.

    I agree, it is all of us that they’re pushing on. But their main effort, and the big attention-getting one, is on reproductive rights. That, as the state-by-state campaigns they have along every other axis shows, could have been any of us. They have countless smaller campaigns, and can push any of them to center stage when they need to. This level of attention and hate-stirring could have been turned to any of their campaigns; that’s what I meant when I said “this could have been any of us”.

  4. TAL9000 says:

    Case in point on the immigration thing: Arizona is trying to pass a law requiring emergency rooms to report the immigration status of their patients. Where some other state governments press with sexism, the right in AZ is ratcheting up their campaign of racism. Same damn shit.

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