C is for Censorship
Get ready for a fun topic. It is complex. It can be looked at from different angles. And it can affect women in a variety of ways all at the same time!
That’s right. C is for censorship, ladies, and you don’t have to have spent the better part of a decade living and working in a communist dictatorship like I did to have experienced a form of censorship personally.
I’m going to consider briefly what censorship means in the publicly accepted sense, and then I’ll discuss other forms of censorship that are especially relevant to women, but that are seldom considered to be censorship or are taken seriously for one reason or another.
First, what is censorship as is defined by the world who cares about such things?
The suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.
Okay, thank you scrotals of the Oxford dictionary. Let me just jump in and say this: censorship is about power and control no matter what kind of spin you put on it. All of the reasons men give for censorship are usually spun as some sort of protection, but seldom of those who truly need protection (women and children, mostly). If protection of actual vulnerable groups were the true goals of the censoring bodies, there are more effective and respectful ways of doing it. So, no. It is all about power and control and the only protection is of the ones who wield the power and control. And who are these controlling bodies? Most often, they have been governments and religious institutions, but increasingly today, they are companies/corporations (e.g., publishing groups, media outlets, social media giants), large organizations (e.g., the Boy Scouts, Planned Parenthood, Pride), schools (at any level), and even social groups (just look around you at the local level). The important thing to note is that censorship is dictated by men and often helped along by handmaidens of the patriarchy.
Protection can often be called ‘cultural sensitivity’, ‘public security’, ‘obscenity safeguards’ and the like and is worded in such a way to discourage opposition by blackening or questioning the morality of or implying paranoia or conspiracy theorist tendencies in anyone who suggests that the reasons are actually more about control than doing right. There are occasional instances where there is a legitimate attempt to protect the vulnerable or to quell legitimately violent groups through censorship, but as mentioned above, whether this is the correct way to ‘protect’ is up for debate. But the ethics and morality game can be highly personal for most people and the decision about who is allowed to speak and be heard often comes down to very biased decision-making.
So let’s talk a little about recognized censorship and then about other manifestations of censorship that happen, more often than not, to women.
1 Recognized Censorship
I’ll tell you from experience that it is a serious mindfuck living in a dictatorship as a person who didn’t grow up in one. If you have read anything by Kafka, anything by the various absurdist writers, ‘1984’, etc., then you have had glimpses into some of the situations you might find yourself encountering in communist or fascist countries. Lots of rules that don’t make sense, with a complementary and necessary underground system of ways to get around all the rules. Lots of contradictory nonsense and red tape that prohibits people from getting shit done or even bothering to pursue things. Lots of threats of consequences that aren’t quite articulated or clear, but that are universally understood to exist. Serious, multi-multi-level heirarchies and knowledge/skill silos such that you can never find the right person for your question or need, and no one seems to be able to solve a problem without 50 other people being involved. And constant non-answers or very circular-logic answers to very simple questions, especially ‘why’ questions. You have to learn to go with the flow, or you leave, or you stay and go mad. Those are the options as an outsider.
Dictatorships are very weak systems. This applies equally to political dictatorships as to small unofficial dictatorships like traditional hetero marriages. And no matter the size, all are dependent upon the absolute control of and power over all the lesser members by the dictator (or husband, in the case of marriage). Because the systems are so weak, the dictator needs dependent members to be voiceless, powerless, ignorant, subservient, and with limited freedoms. Dependent members are mired in mindfuckery and rules, require permission for basic things, and are limited in the information they can access and generate and how much they are allowed to communicate, and the scope of their communications. Many topics are off-limits, especially those that call into question the power of the dictator or make them lose face or even appear the slightest bit weak. And this censorship coupled with serious repercussions for over-stepping are necessary to keep members in line and the weak system appearing unassailable and functioning better than a ‘free’ (or what one might call a democratic) system. Give power to the dependent members, and the system cracks and falls apart. Guess why the divorce rate is so high in Western countries… (hint, marriage wasn’t a female invention!)
In political dictatorships, whether left- or right-wing, the most censored groups are always the ones who have the potential to do the most damage because of their sheer numbers (e.g., women, the poor), they threaten traditional values (e.g., gays and lesbians; minority religious/cultural groups), or they aren’t ignorant and can’t be brainwashed (e.g., academics or educated professionals). So you see these groups frequently threatened, silenced, disappeared, and used as scapegoats. Nevertheless, in a political dictatorship, ALL people are at risk or punishment if they say something that falls within the set of taboo topics. And for those who think that the US is a political dictatorship, get fucking real. The sheer amount of material that is publicly generated and individual- or group-attributable that insults, criticizes, humiliates, and borderline-threatens the President (the supposed dictator) and that is NOT censored or punished is proof positive that Americans live in a ‘free’ society. Censorship exists, but it is highly population-selective. And btw, corporations are fast becoming the censors, not the government (e.g., think the recent censorship of Trump by Twitter – that was corporation-driven, not governmental). So that is something to think about.
Religious Influence and Obscenity
Religious people spend a shitload of time thinking about sex and trying to control every aspect of people’s existence that is remotely tied to sex. Religious people have been some of the most amoral people in history, ironically, while trying to enforce their own ‘moral’ systems. And censorship is the name of the game coupled with a very heavy system of punishment, including rape, torture and murder. And this applies to every established religion out there. It is not a surprise then that the favourite power and control masked as ‘protection’ has fallen under the auspices censorship on the basis of ‘obscenity’. The prohibition of the teaching of sexual education in schools, forced conversions of gays and lesbians, the banning of all manner of books and art from libraries, galleries, museums, and school curricula, to name a few practices, are common manifestations of censorship falling uner the auspices of protection on the basis of obsenity.
It is actually interesting when considering ends and means that serious feminists and some religious groups may on the surface oppose certain manifestations of ‘art’ while completely disagreeing about why they oppose it. The former oppose ‘obscenity’ on the grounds that it supports and normalizes a patriarchy system that embraces rape, female slavery, poverty, drug addiction, and child abuse, while the religious are just woman-haters that think depictions of the female body, etc. are filthy and are a prime example of why women (not men) should be controlled. And the hoi polloi ignorantly and eroneously groups feminists with religious fanatics, which probably partially explains why many feminists who oppose pornography and prostitution are incorrectly called ‘prudes’, a term that originally was used to describe ‘sexually repressed’ religious people. Being opposed to rape and forced sexuality has nothing to do with prudery or repression; quite the opposite, in fact.
2. Censorship No One Cares About
There is no country or major organization where some form of censorship doesn’t occur. But there is a difference between the censorship that the free-thinking world accepts as a human rights abuse and the censorship that is ignored or just plain old accepted as “the way things are and is it really a big deal anyway…?” One thing you’ll notice about recognized and pooh-poohed censorship is that the former is usually applied to the entire population without egregious prejudice (i.e., in China, censorship applies to all people on all the taboo topics), whereas unrecognized censorship most often occurs in hypocritical First World countries that typically tell the world that they value freedom and honesty while erasing targeted, ‘dangerous’ populations. This is likely why so much Western censorship is dismissed/ignored – if it doesn’t apply to you, you don’t think it is a problem. And guess who is less censored than everyone else in Western societies? Men. So if censorship isn’t happening to men – the shot-callers and reality-definers in every country – then it doesn’t exist (and we say misogyny is less serious or doesn’t exist in Western countries…) Also note that all freedom-loving countries typically have small, but extremely loud, groups of people who complain incessantly about having their rights taken away, but who are usually the most privileged/entitled members of the entire population (males, trannies, religious right-wingers, etc). The actual censored are not loud because they are actually being censored so that no one ever has to hear from them, duh. And if they do make it to public awareness, other tactics, such as painting them as ‘crazy’ are employed. So let’s look at some examples of censorship in ‘free’ countries that people typically don’t acknowledge, accept or are even aware of because it is so effective.
Patriarchy and HIStory
Despite the fact that every civilization throughout time was built and maintained and expanded (if it survived invasion by more aggressive males) using female slave labour, women seldom appear in history books or history curricula in schools. Strangely, growing up and going to school in Canada, I learned more about the short-term oppressions of aboriginals in Canada and Australia, black slaves in the US, and and persecuted Jews in Europe during WWII than I learned about the lives, experiences and history of my own foremothers in Canada, let alone the women who were my foremothers in Ireland and Scotland. I certainly wasn’t taught about Western homosexual oppression either. Why do I know more about the suffering of blacks in a foreign country than I do about the women from whom I actually descended who suffered and survived so that I, myself, exist today? Why is my history as a woman so much less important than basically everyone else on the planet who is not a white female? And why the fuck does no other woman question this? Why is this not strange to women? Why in historical records do we know how many sheep and horses a European male owned, but we don’t even know the name of the wife who slaved for him and suffered his dick and often his fists every day of her life? This is systematic and long-term censorship of female existence. It exists in other cultures as well, but I am speaking for my own. And it is completely unacknowledged.
Speaking solely of my European-descended sisters, why aren’t girls taught about rape and the laws surrounding it historically? Why aren’t we taught about the origins of marriage and why it is the only legal form of slavery left on the planet? Why aren’t we taught about the things men were allowed to do to their wives and get away with it? Why aren’t we taught about the witch trials in Europe and why they targeted women primarily, and about other witchy persecution of women on other continents (the US, various locations in Africa, etc) and why these things happen separately in other places in time, but look eerily similar? Why is the only thing we learn about women the date we got the right to vote in our own country – and why is this presented as the sum total of female achievement in history? Why don’t I know what daily life was like for women of different classes? Why is there this overwhelming assumption no matter where you are in the world that women’s lives have never really been that bad (the implication and ‘evidence’ being that if it was so bad, why didn’t women do anything about it???), that half the world’s population just barely existed with nothing to contribute, nothing to say and were perfectly happy to have it that way, as if it were meant to be?
There is no cultural or historical female pride that is fostered in the school system or in society that is encouraged, promoted, admired and valued in the way that every single ethnic, racial and religious group out there gets (in Western cultures). Girls and women don’t seem to see the big deal in being completely ignorant of their herstory, the herstory of their people, and there is no actual concern that they are not represented in history books, the day-to-day narrative of the human race.
Coming from Canada, where there is a strong tradition of female writing and where the female writers are much more impressive and prolific than the males, why were there no Canadian female writers (let alone female writers from other countries) in my English curricula? Seriously. English was the only subject Canadian children had to take every single year of their formal education, including in high school (grades 9 to 13, which were specific to my province at that time). No female writers taught in a country rich with award-winning female writers. Censorship. Erasure.
When you are not exposed to the works, thoughts, contributions, and history of your people (in my case, white women of Canadian, Irish and Scottish descent), how can you strive to be something? How can you know where you came from? How can you know who and what you are? How can you appreciate what your foremothers did and struggled through? How can you know how little progress has been made – and perhaps that last question gives me the answer as to why girls aren’t taught about their history. We’d see how little we’ve progressed as a sex in the so-called ‘advanced’ First World.
If girls and women are censored, there is nothing to compare their current conditions to, and nothing to blame their oppressors for. Hell you can’t call them oppressors if there is no record of female oppression!
Trans Tyranny: Censoring Lesbians, Scientific Women, Feminists
There are a lot of ways to tell that male trannies are men. One of them is their use of censorship to bolster their very, very weak power base. Like in any dictatorship, their claims are not logical or proveable, are rooted in serious mental illness and personality disorders, and are all about power and control, which is what all males pursue on some level. Like typical dictators, they attack those with less power than themselves (women) rather than go after those presenting legitimate threats (straight men), which confirms that they are seeking power rather than pursuing anything real.
These men have been very successful in getting other powerful bodies (governments, legal, educational, and social organizations, etc) on their side in the censorship of the little opposition there has been to their nonsense, and I suspect that the only reasons they have been so successful is a) because they are men, and b) the opponents being censored are considered politically and socially unacceptable to everyone. Who is being censored? Women who uphold the scientific / biological facts of how sex (not gender!) works. Women, especially women with daughters, who believe women and girls have a right to private space away from biological males with male socialization. Women who know the facts about male violence against women, who know the data concerning male trans violence against women, and who know the psychological literature on why males gravitate towards transing, and who have read extensively the social media masturbation of male trans talking about the things they do and want to do to women and girls. Lesbians who are no longer welcome in the LG groups they were fundamental in establishing and maintaining, and who are vilified for not wanting to be raped by male trans who insist that their cocks are magically ‘female’. Women who acknowledge how little legal control they have over every aspect of their bodies and female status and who oppose the further erasure of their rights and status and the censorships of important words like ‘woman’, ‘vagina’, menstruation, and vocabulary that cannot be separated from the female experience.
And on and on I go. Not many women speak out. The censorship is swift and because of the violent nature of trans and their supporters, can be accompanied by violence. Women can lose their jobs for speaking up, which is censorship. Women can have their blogs shut down, which is censorship. Women are no-platformed at speaking events, which is censorship. Women are destroyed and banned in social media, which is censorship.
And no one acknowledges this in our awesome ‘free’ democracies run on male supremacy. In many ways, in my opinion, I think dictatorships are better than what we have in the West simply because the lies and hypocrisy and selective (but unacknowledged) censorship are much, much worse in the West.
The Rise of Liberalism, Political Correctness, and Selective Censorship
Speaking of hypocrisy, we come to the liberals. Liberalism has been a building political movement in many Western countries for a while. Forget political party names for now. A Liberal party member in the US is not the same as a Liberal party member in Canada, for example. Likely, your country has among its choices, some religious, right-wing group, and some hypocritical, equally nutso, science-abusing, faux-human-rightsy, identity-politicking, left-wing group. Both come from a place of woman-hate (although they pretend they don’t – the former talks about ‘respect’ and ‘tradition’ while the latter talks about women’s ‘freedom’ – all bullshit). So let’s just talk about political leanings, rather than affiliation.
Liberal groups protect themselves from criticism by cloaking their bullshit in superficial human rights jargon. To criticize them immediately makes a person look like a misanthropic, sadistic, murdering, Nazi-type, even when the latter is an actual human rights activist pointing out a hypocritical liberal talking point. These folks fool many by their gung-ho-ness and superficial, at-the-ready mantras and slogans, but they are arguably quite a bit more dangerous than a typical conservative, who puts considerably less effort into trying to appear other than what they are (usually insular, narrow-minded bigots who don’t truly believe in evidence or science). Bascially, you have to work more to figure out what is really going on when a liberal speaks or acts.
Liberals are typically anti-racism warriors, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, except that they do it only when it doesn’t threaten their lifestyles, and they do it at other people’s expense. What does that mean? First, they paint everything as a racist issue in order to censor legitimate criticism, even when there is nothing racist taking place. Second, they don’t really understand what racism is or why it exists, so they censor certain groups of people (for example, white women, who do experience inseparable racism-sexism both in their home countries and abroad) and actually make it impossible for these groups to have a voice when it comes to reporting racist-sexist crime. And think about the language they do censor in various media – American television will bleep out ‘fuck’, but not ‘cunt’ or ‘bitch’. And you never hear the word ‘nigger’ or ‘spic’ in American or Canadian television, while female slurs are a given on most episodes of most series out now. I’ve also noticed the new (and increasing) occurrence of male children calling adult women ‘bitch’. Selective censorship meant to denigrate women and empower males of all races. Third, liberals are possibly worse racists than the purported racists they attack, using groups for political gains rather than to help them (think of all the times liberals trot out the poorly understood plight of Muslim women they don’t even know personally in order to censor the speech of white feminists – ‘at least you’re not a Muslim woman’ is almost a cliché now).
One of the most digusting things liberal Americans have done recently is sexist, racist and a massive, but unacknowledged act of censorship. Planned Parenthood decided to remove Margaret Sanger’s name – the FOUNDER of Planned Parenthood – from the NY clinic. They’ve decided she is racist and a eugenics mastermind. This woman made it possible for today’s women of all races and ages to get an abortion and access to birth control. Planned Parenthood would NOT exist if not for this woman’s bravery and selflessness. I mean think about this. She was born in the fucking 1800’s and fought for women’s right to have the tiniest bit of control over the consequences of their marital, incestuous, workplace, acquaintance, and stranger rapes. This, at a time when women really had little choice about getting married and raped and being forced to breed for their entire lives. And fucking PP decides this heroine has to be erased, shunned, CENSORED. Fuck you Planned Parenthood, you ungrateful, disgusting, woman-hating cunts. My rage when I read about this recently could have set a city block on fire. I don’t give a shit what Sanger believed in the early 1900’s. Her contributions to the world outweigh any personal beliefs about anything. She was still a breeder, which I don’t agree with, but I won’t censor her contribution to female well-being because of that. Liberals are worse censors than conservatives, and represent the hypocrisy of ‘free’ democratic countries in the same way that conservatives represent dictatorships. Both are garbage, male-defined systems, but if I had to choose, dictatorships are so much easier to navigate and threaten everyone equally and without pretense.
Self-Censorship Resulting from Narcisstic Abuse
On a different note, but equally important on the topic of censorship, especially for women is something we’ll call ‘self-censorship’. Very basically, this just means that you prohibit yourself from having a voice. This is one of the major outcomes for people who have survived years of narcissistic abuse, especially as a child. It can also be a specific outcome for women who have been outspoken on EXTREMELY unpopular topics, such as women’s rights, rape, etc. and who have not protected themselves from online public assault. One thing I will say is that all men as well as women who haven’t experienced this kind of abuse will immediately dismiss self-censorship as something that is ‘all in one’s head’ or ‘issues’, the implication being one of weakness, the crime of victimhood leading to a victim mentality, or some other misogynistic bullshit that is uniformly applied to women who have beeen abused and who haven’t ‘bounced back’ with vim and positivity, etc. Ignore those assholes. Psychological abuse is the least acknowledged, but one of the most brutal forms of abuse and can literally destroy self-identity and the ability to properly take care of oneself.
Imagine being a child with a narcissistic (NPD) parent and you grow up in an environment where you are constantly antagonized; everything you say and your very reality are doubted and questioned and negated; you are punished for the most bizarre of things without warning; you are humiliated publicly and/or within family/friend circles; you are given the silent treatment or had love withheld for reasons you can’t discern for days, weeks or longer; you are blamed for things you didn’t do; you are guilted, manipulated, accused of lying or being cruel when you are not; and more. And defending yourself ALWAYS makes things worse. Imagine what that does to a child’s sense of self. One of the things the child learns to do is to make themselves as invisible as possible, to avoid saying anything definitive, to do anything possible not to be a target or rock the boat. This can happen to adults in adult relationships too, but for a child, we are talking about the crucial identity formation experiences that are necessary to grow into a functioning healthy adult with a solid sense of self. As an adult, having gone through all of what I described, you have no confidence in what you believe, often can’t make decisions, and usually avoid saying anything resembling an opinion if you even have one at all. Sometimes, you do have an opinion, but the idea of expressing it is quickly quelled as you start doubting whether it is real, valid or valuable. This is self-censorship.
There is a ton of other forms of selective and unacknowledged censorship that I could discuss here. For example, male language traditions (mankind, Man, manpower, chairman, name change for women in marriage, etc.) is a large topic that is designed to exclude women from every aspect of life, while pretending to include them and that it isn’t really a big deal. Censorship and erasure are very big deals, especially when you consider flipping the situation to favour women. Then you find out what men really think about censorship.
But I won’t get into more here as this topic is truly massive. What people don’t really realize is that the censorship of women on so many levels is so enduring, relentless, and pervasive that it isn’t noticeable. People accept things that, if they thought about it and paid attention, just aren’t right, and that wouldn’t be accepted by racial, ethnic or religious groups or by men. As a lone woman, you cannot change this system, but you can allow a woman her voice in your daily life by reading female authors, upvoting or supporting women’s comments on articles or in social media, listening to female speakers, and giving the little girls in your life the chance to be heard.
Previous posts in the series: