Thursday, September 08, 2011

Every 15 Seconds a Woman Is Beaten... Tyler Shields Makes Postcards of the Lynchings

Throughout the ugly history of the U.S. there has been a long tradition of public lynchings of Black people.  The widespread terror that every Black man and boy confronted every day; he knew that at any time of night or day he could be lynched for any reason or no reason at all by a mob of white men.  It might not happen, but it always could happen and everyone knew that almost never was a white man punished.

But that is not all!  As Bob Avakian emphasizes in the opening of his historic talk, Revolution: Why Its Necessary, Why Its Possible, What Its All About, white people would gather and snap pictures of the mangled and mutilated bodies of Black people.  Out of these photos -- often with white people and children posing along side the carnage -- they would make postcards.  They would send postcards of the lynchings.  They would brag about having been there!

Bob Avakian, several years later, drew an incredibly apt analogy.  He said that today the images that surround us of women -- the pornography and violence, the degradation and humiliation, the ritualized submission and dehumanized objectification -- are similar today of such "Postcards of the Lynchings.

In these photos, taken by Tyler Sheilds, Heather Morris (of Glee) poses in 1950's style housewife attire, is bonded by an iron, swallows the excretions of the iron, and is made up to look bruised and battered.  

Okay -- what part of the 1950s symbolism is supposed to be endearing?  The fact that marital rape was still legal?  The open discrimination against women in education and the workplace?  The fact that women were dying of back-alley abortions and often couldn't even get birth control?

Oh -- I get it!  Its the fact that women were beaten and forced to do the ironing and no one even acted as if this was fucked up.

The truth is -- all this shit still goes on, but it takes slightly different forms today.  What hasn't changed is the violence. Every fifteen seconds a woman is beaten.  Every day 3 to 4 women are killed by their partners.  One out of every four women will be raped or sexually assaulted during her college years.

What has changed is that this pervasive has been dragged out into the light of day, fought against, but then declared to be over.  We are told we are in a "post-feminist" time -- we are sold the idea that the image of the battered woman that keeps reappearing in fashion and art as something fun or daring or cute or sexy.

We are even sold this idea by women who have earned a lot of respect for their tradition-challenging roles in a boundary-bending show like Glee.  This only adds to the sting and disorienting power of such "cute" images of domestic abuse.

Just as the "Postcards of the Lynchings" were a very deep part of white culture in the history of this country, so is this view of women such a pervasive part of American culture these days that it is not even recognized as horrific by many.  Just as there was -- and remains -- a need for revolution to liberate Black people, so too is the need for the kind of revolution that can liberate women more pressing than ever! 

Here is the clip from Bob Avakian on Postcards of the Hangings:

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 10:37 PM


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