Malespeak with Radical Feminist Translations
Guest post by:
Mary Daly in her book Quintessence wrote, “Naming the agent is required for an adequate analysis of atrocities.” As linguist Julia Penelope has shown in her book Speaking Freely: Unlearning the Lies of the Fathers’ Tongues, “Agent deletion is a dangerous and common mind-muddying flaw.”
The purpose of “Malespeak” is to avoid naming MALE violence against women and it’s perpetrators (MEN) specifically. After reading Carol Adam’s books (Neither Man Nor Beast, The Sexual Politics of Meat and The Pornography of Meat) about how male violence against animals and women are not named, I watched for more instances of linguistic techniques to avoid naming male violence against women. Here are the kinds I have gathered so far. I’m sure there are more!
•The Absent Referent
This refers to something without actually NAMING it. Carol Adams coined this term in her books linking men’s abuse of women and animals. Animal examples of the absent referent are: “veal” (baby bull flesh) “steak” (cow flesh) “bacon” (pig flesh) etc.
Some examples of the absent referent that don’t name men as the agents of women’s agony are “domestic violence” “gender based violence” “family violence” “sexual violence” “intimate partner violence” or just “violence.” All these timid terms dance around naming male violence, and thus, men as the agents. They also do not name those who men abuse – women.
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.”
•The Passive Voice
The agents (men) are not named.
Malespeak – “The women were raped.”
In this example, women are “doing” the “action” (being raped). This shifts the focus away from the men doing the raping. The absent referent is also used since men are not named. Malespeak can consist of more than one element.
Malespeak: “I refuse to watch as more than a billion women experience violence on the planet.”
Radical Feminist Translation: I refuse to watch as MEN inflict MALE VIOLENCE on more than a billion women on the planet.”
Again, the women are “doing the action” of “experiencing violence.” The absent referent is also used since men are not named. It’s male violence, not “violence.”
• The Active Voice
The perpetrators (men) and their victims are named, so this is not Malespeak.
Radical feminist translation- “Men raped the women.” The focus is on men doing the raping and the absent referent is not used since men are named as the rapists. Men are the subject of the sentence.
• Gender-neutral language
This uses obfuscation (lumping things together to obscure each of them, such as women and men). Gender-neutral language is a type of absent referent that avoids naming male abuses.
Malespeak- “Children are raping children because of seeing porn at a young age.”
Naming the sex of the abuser is necessary to name the agents, males, and the ones they rape, girls:
Radical feminist translation-”Boys are raping girls…”
Gender-neutral language can also be used to make women’s accomplishments invisible: In this case, the terms are “Native Americans” and “they.”
Malespeak- “Native Americans skinned buffalo, deer and other animals. They scraped and pounded the hides until clean and pliable. They sewed tipi covers, clothing, moccasins, and containers to carry their belongings. They adorned their containers and clothes with beautiful designs made from dyed porcupine quills. They were also responsible for childcare, gathering edible vegetables, and cooking all the meals. ”
Radical feminist translation- “Native American WOMEN skinned buffalo, deer and other animals. The WOMEN scraped and pounded the hides until clean and pliable. . . .
•Erasing and/or watering down women’s words
Malespeak- The “women’s movement.”
This is Malespeak for “women’s liberation.” This erases the whole idea of liberation and no longer begs the question of who women need liberating from (men). Worse, “gender studies” (formerly “women’s studies”) erases both women and their need for liberation from men by using gender-neutral language to lump women and men together (obfuscation).
Radical Feminist translation-”women’s liberation.” This both states that women need to be liberated and who they need liberating from, men.
•The False Equivalent
This is a type of obfuscation that blends male violence with female violence. This is to obscure the fact that violence is overwhelmingly male violence by equating it with the far fewer instances of female violence. Mary Daly called this use of language “Universalism.” For example, “violence” is often cast as a sex-neutral human issue, since “women are violent too” “what about Margaret Thatcher” etc.
Below is data from the Bureau of US Justice Statistics
Males were almost 10 times more likely than females to commit murder in 2005.
ALL Homicide Types Listed by Sex (1976-2005)
88% Male, 11.2% Female.”
Eldercide Male 85.2% Female 14.8%
Felony murder Male 93.2% Female 6.8% female
Sex related murder Male 93.6% Female 6.4%
Gang related murder Male 98.3% Female 1.7%
Drug related murder Male 95.5% Female 4.5%
Workplace murders Male 91.3% Female 8.7%
Argument murders Male 85.6 % Female 14.4%
GUN homicide Male 91.3% Female 8.7%
Multiple victims Male 93.5% Female 6.5%
Child murder Of those children killed by someone other than the parent, 81% were killed by MEN.
According to the US Dept of Justice, “Males are reported to be the abusers in 80% to 95% of cases.” Thoriger, D., et al 1988. http://www.yellodyno.com/html/child_molester_stats.html
And last but not least, legal mass serial killings listed by the MILLIONS of people MEN killed in WARS (started by MEN).
1911 – The men who ruled Turkey disarmed its citizens, and between 1915 – 1917 they murdered 1.5 million Armenians.
1929 – The men who ruled Russia disarmed its citizens, and between 1929 – 1953 they murdered 20 million Russians.
1935 – The men who ruled China disarmed its citizens, and between 1948 – 1952 they murdered 20 million Chinese.
1938 – The men who ruled Germany disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1939 – 1945 they murdered 6 million Jews.
1956 – The men who ruled Cambodia disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1975 – 1977 they murdered 1 million Educated people.
1964 – The men who ruled Guatemala disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1964 – 1981 they murdered 100,000 Mayan Indians.
1970 – The men who ruled Uganda disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1971 – 1979 they murdered 300,000 Christians.
• Giving words volition, making words into a person or thing with the power to act.
Words just carry meaning, sounds from vocal cords or combinations of letters. However, Malespeak turns words into actual physical entities with the power to act:
Malespeak- “War broke out.” The word “war” is given the power to “break out.” This is also another use of absent referent that does not name the agents (men) nor their victims.
Radical feminist translation- “MEN decided to wage war to kill (fill in the blank of the ones men want to kill).”
Malespeak-“Israel bombed Palestine” “Israel” is just a word that defines a country, but Malespeak gives it the power to act (bomb Palestine). Again, the absent referent is used to avoid naming the agents (men) nor are their victims named:
Radical feminist translation- “The men who run the government of Israel ordered the bombing of women, children, men, animals, birds, trees, etc).” The agents not named are those who flew the bombers, nor are their victims named.
Male violence against women is one kind of male violence that impacts half the human race. Other forms of male violence include, but are not limited to: racism, colonization, genocide, nationalism and Ecocide, the murder of the Living World (environmental male violence against Mother Earth).
In her book “Come Inside the Circle of Creation,” Elizabeth Dodson said that patriarchy is the fatal need to rank diversity. If we try to rank all the abuses within human society by claiming that “our” abuse is more important and worse than “their” abuse, we also rank the value of its victims. Thus, the hierarchy and all its divisions that keep us separate and fighting with each other are preserved.
However, there is only one type of male violence that must be ranked as the worst of all. This is Ecocide, men’s systematic murder of the Living World upon which humanity and all life depends. It is implemented by capitalist patriarchy.
In ALL of these types of violence, no matter if collaborators help them or not, MEN are the common denominator and are in control of all aspects of male violence.
Male violence is the worst problem in the world.