“The political Right in the United States today makes certain metaphysical and material promises to women that both exploit and quiet some of women’s deepest fears. These fears originate in the perception that male violence against women is uncontrollable and unpredictable. Dependent on and subservient to men, women are always subject to this violence. The Right promises to put enforceable restraints on male aggression, thus simplifying survival for women—to make the world slightly more habitable, in other words—by offering the following:
Form. Women experience the world as mystery. Kept ignorant of technology, economics, most of the practical skills required to function autonomously, kept ignorant of the real social and sexual demands made on women, deprived of physical strength, excluded from forums for the development of intellectual acuity and public self-confidence, women are lost and mystified by the savage momentum of an ordinary life. Sounds, signs, promises, threats, wildly crisscross, but what do they mean? The Right offers women a simple, fixed, predetermined social, biological, and sexual order. Form conquers chaos. Form banishes confusion. Form gives ignorance a shape, makes it look like something instead of nothing.
Shelter. Women are brought up to maintain a husband’s home and to believe that women without men are homeless. Women have a deep fear of being homeless—at the mercy of the elements and of strange men. The Right claims to protect the home and the woman’s place in it.
Safety. For women, the world is a very dangerous place. One wrong move, even an unintentional smile, can bring disaster—assault, shame, disgrace. The Right acknowledges the reality of danger, the validity of fear. The Right then manipulates the fear. The promise is that if a woman is obedient, harm will not befall her.
Rules. Living in a world she has not made and docs not understand, a woman needs rules to know what to do next. If she knows what she is supposed to do, she can find a way to do it. If she learns the rules by rote, she can perform with apparent effortlessness, which will considerably enhance her chances for survival. The Right, very considerately, tells women the rules of the game on which their lives depend. The Right also promises that, despite their absolute sovereignty, men too will follow specified rules.
Love. Love is always crucial in effecting the allegiance of women.
The Right offers women a concept of love based on order and stability,
with formal areas of mutual accountability. A woman is
loved for fulfilling her female functions: obedience is an expression
of love and so are sexual submission and childbearing. In return,
the man is supposed to be responsible for the material and emotional
well-being of the woman. And, increasingly, to redeem the
cruel inadequacies of mortal men, the Right offers women the love
of Jesus, beautiful brother, tender lover, compassionate friend, perfect
healer of sorrow and resentment, the one male to whom one
can submit absolutely—be Woman as it were—without being sexually
violated or psychologically abused.”
- Andrea Dworkin