Women and the Invisible Fist

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Because of … the way in which that pervasive, diffuse threat of violence constrains the liberty of women in everyday life to move and act and live as they want, libertarians and anarchists must recognize patriarchy as a system of violent political oppression older, no less invasive, and no less powerful, than the violence of the police state or the warfare state. But unlike the kinds of State violence to which male anarchists and libertarians are accustomed to discuss — violent restrictions of freedom handed down according to explicit State policies, ratified through political processes, promulgated from the top down and consciously carried out by officially appointed or deputized agents of the State — patriarchy expresses itself in attitudes, behaviors, and coercive restrictions that are largely produced by bottom-up, decentralized forms of violence … without conscious collaboration or conspiracy, sometimes in conflict with the explicit provisions of the law…. It’s important to recognize that the coercive social order that arises from this kind of diffuse gender violence, both as a direct consequence and as social, psychological, or economic ripple effects from the direct consequences — is no less real, no less effective, no less important, and no less evil, for being undesigned, for battering women into the social position they currently occupy as if by an invisible fist….

Introduced October 2008.

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