scapegoating: the flexible friend of hegemony

scapegoat4all:

just revisiting this a few years on. interesting to see what i thought then and how things are now with more condem years under our belt.

Originally posted on scapegoatsanctuary:

Predictably enough the riots have created a space in which people feel permitted to voice yet more stereotyping and denigration of several groups.  Most notably to me, perhaps because I’m sensitised to it, is what I’ll call, “single Mum bashing”.  Single Mum’s and the underclass (assumed to be the same thing by many despite any number of easily accessible studies that show the diversity within that ‘group’) are allegedly raising entitled, ill disciplined and reckless youngsters with no sense of personal responsibility or social conscience.

Hmm.

So that’s a problem of single Mums and the underclass right?

Wrong.

This reads, to me, more like a description of our society as a whole.  The people at the ‘top’ are modelling low standards of criminality from politicians expense scams that have gone unprosecuted (theft is fine, you can get away with it), to the bankers ridiculous behaviour that was conducted without scruples…

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and a year and a half passes….

i just came to wordpress to set up a blog and realised i already have one.  i’d entirely forgotten about it.  and it seems i used to use capital letters and everything!

quite a few things have changed, not just my new disregard for capitalisation.  i am no longer a benefits claimant – well not out of work benefits anyway just the pretty much exact same amount but in working tax credit instead to top up the piss poor wages my job commands.  but hey, i’m doing the right thing right?  i’m still a scummy single mum but at least i’m one of the ones who works and they’re marginally less despicable?

i was going to set up a blog to journal about my dysfunctional family, headed by my narcissistic mother and found this one instead and the irony of it’s title hasn’t escaped me – i was indeed the scapegoat from birth.  perhaps it’s no coincidence i also ended up in society’s scapegoat categories?

i’m currently experimenting with going no contact with my family.  except for my dad turning up uninvited on my doorstep on some odd pretext the other day i’ve stayed out of their presence for over a month now and have kept my son away from them for a few weeks.  my parents are soon going away for a month so this will be easy to maintain for a while.

i’m processing a lot.  much of it is old stuff, some of it is new – like realising my sister who i kept taking abuse from and going back to over and over in the hopes she could somehow make it past the madness of our family into full separate adulthood is actually a full blown narcissist herself.  i’ve wasted years and heartache trying to get blood from the proverbial stone in a kind of sad re-run of my fruitless pursuance of my mother’s love in childhood.

i’m done with it.  

so now i’m ‘out’.  there will no doubts be loads i’m going to lose, loads of ways of punishing me, trying to drag me back into drama, guilt trips, headwrecking and who knows what and i think i maybe need to keep recording stuff to keep me sane and avoid getting sucked back in.

my family are seriously messed up people.  they look ok on the surface.  they play nice people at church and in their communities, restricted though they are, but they are seriously, irredeemably messed up and i need to remove myself from them and the abuse that inevitably comes from being around them.  i need the guts to remove my son too.

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Hmm…

Well my blogging didn’t last long did it?

Now I am full of ideas i want to write about but short on time and energy what with being a single mum and it being school holiday time.

For one thing i want to write about the work of Adrienne Rich on compulsory heterosexuality and the lesbian continuum and thank her for making me realise something essential about my own life and allowing me to link it to the lives of other women who lived before my time. I want to write about being single and 36 and having no intention of ever getting married. I want to write about how that is perceived in a heteronormativity obsessed society, about who it threatens and how they retaliate.

Lots really. But so little time or energy.

So for now i’m just going to share my poem:

In Memory of Adrienne Rich:

I am One
of a very long line
of Women
who got Out.

I am not alone
but the latest in the line
Separated
merely by time.

I have no peers-
strange but true.
One by one they have fallen
but I have always slipped through.

The butterfly collectors
failed
my wings will be
pin Free

this uncolonised land
is little known
a Quiet Resistance
expects no applause-
only to survive,
intact
and call itSelf
Home.

I am One
of a very long line,
of Women
who got Out.

Hopefully there will more to come soon. Thanks to those who read and please say hello.

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Wading out of my depth

I nearly deleted the term hegemony from my last posts title.  It is an intimidating word for me.  It reminds me of writing essays and having to gloss over my lack of understanding of some of what I was reading and writing about.  I now think my lack of understanding had little to do with my intelligence levels and a lot to do with my lack of experience in society.  In some ways university is wasted on the young because they have no context upon which to hang the knowledge they encounter.

I was a little older than most when I made it to university but i was still young.  I’d been raised in a mixed class family and was more confused (and in denial) about what class was and did than I realised.  I was ‘female’ in a patriarchy and uncomfortable with some of the things that seemed to mean to some people but not yet clear as to what it was going to mean to me and my life, which I could still naively envisage as different, separate from and an exception to my social and political environment.  I was political in theory but hadn’t really yet felt the utterly political nature of my interactions with society and it’s institutions.  In effect I knew hypothetically what power was and could rant about injustices ‘out there’ but had not yet really experienced the exercising of it or more poignantly the force of it against me.

In such a state of being it is hard to really grasp the meaning of a word like hegemony beyond a parrot like recitation of what I was told by the books I read and the people who taught me.

Now as a 35 year old ‘unmarried mother’, with a ‘disability’ and a more defined value and belief system that has little in common with the dominant values and beliefs society tries to impose on me the word makes a lot more sense.  It is brimming with the relevance and context that my life has uncovered in it first hand.

I’ve long felt at odds with the social, cultural, economic and ideological assertions of those who dominate the public voice in this country and known it as a force upon me to be resisted and battled with and circumnavigated.  I’ve known it to be the rhetoric of a dominant group with their own self interest at heart.  Yet never have I felt myself so alienated from and by it as I have since the last election and it’s devastating result.  And since then the proponents of it’s ugliest beliefs and statements have felt freer and freer to state them in terms that would have not long ago been met with disgust and shock but now find an increasingly receptive audience.

The riots were a gift to these people and not one that they have looked in the mouth.  It has moved things on to a whole new level to a construction of reality and justice that i find nothing in common with.  I am now completely outside.  I now feel a disgust and fear growing in me along with my usual anger and sense of injustice.  That ideology of the dominant group has now got so much power that it is becoming an unstoppable force that terrifies me as to how far it is willing to go in crushing anything that contradicts it or lives outside it’s definitions of who is deserving, who is good, who is right.

The group it serves is getting smaller and more powerful by the day.  More and more of us will fall into the category of ‘them’, the ‘other’, the underclass, the degenerate, the de-humanised wrong ‘uns who need not be shown compassion or be represented in democracy.  It doesn’t bode well.

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scapegoating: the flexible friend of hegemony

Predictably enough the riots have created a space in which people feel permitted to voice yet more stereotyping and denigration of several groups.  Most notably to me, perhaps because I’m sensitised to it, is what I’ll call, “single Mum bashing”.  Single Mum’s and the underclass (assumed to be the same thing by many despite any number of easily accessible studies that show the diversity within that ‘group’) are allegedly raising entitled, ill disciplined and reckless youngsters with no sense of personal responsibility or social conscience.

Hmm.

So that’s a problem of single Mums and the underclass right?

Wrong.

This reads, to me, more like a description of our society as a whole.  The people at the ‘top’ are modelling low standards of criminality from politicians expense scams that have gone unprosecuted (theft is fine, you can get away with it), to the bankers ridiculous behaviour that was conducted without scruples or any concern for others and who not only got away with it but were bailed out by the state (selfish, reckless behaviour is fine and profitable and you can get away with it).

The culture of taking what you can get and there being no consequences is not restricted to the so called underclass but is rife all through society and in the end it is the people at the bottom who suffer the consequences of it as the top guys get bailed out and continue making money whilst the services that the poor, the disabled, the struggling rely upon get slashed and burned to recoup the losses.

To see this as a class problem is silly at best and exploitative and opportunistic at worst.  It is the same mentality and crimes just acted out within the arena available to each man.  A 200K bonus for one, a pair of JD sports trainers for another.  Likewise JSA for one and billion pound bailouts for another.

If you want to find terrible parents who don’t take care of their kids you can find them throughout society, though some obviously have money to throw at the gap to make their neglect invisible.  Most of us don’t get to send our children to boarding school when they get in the way of our ‘lives’ or to send them to boot camp or military school when they ‘go off the rails’.  When good parents’ children have problems they desperately want to help but find their options are extremely limited without that kind of money to throw about.

If you want to find people who live off the state and have no respect for society you can – some of them are married, some are not, some have children, some do not. it is not restricted to one type of living arrangement.  Some are politicians, their dodgy expense claims and the mates they make back hand deals with.  So again it’s not a question of class either.

If you want to find good parents with strong values and excellent parenting skills you can find them throughout the classes and ethnic groups and household sets ups, white, black, asian, working or middle class, married or single, straight or gay, etc.  Good parenting is not the characteristic of a particular class or sexuality or household arrangement.  Though we do know that the level of poverty and education of the mother has an impact on child outcomes across the board.  A factor we could actually have an impact upon if we looked it square on.  In fact recent moves will have an impact on this, sadly it will be a negative one.

Scapegoats have been around forever.  The current favourite is single parents.  We know what scapegoats were, they were a thing to throw the communities shit at and chase out of the village as a symbolic way of renouncing the ills of society but of course the ills did not belong to the scapegoat so it achieved nothing other than making the crowd feel good about themselves and comforting them with a false simplistic idea of what the problem was (not them) and how to fix it.

Amidst the non sequitur  rhetoric of the ‘broken family’ we hear the unquestioned fact that children lack male role models.  This bemuses me somewhat.  Men are the ones who commit most violence, who commit most burglaries, who riot, who engage in street violence and violence in the home against ‘their’ women and children, who take reckless decisions in the banking industry bringing the country to it’s knees and then expect to be bailed out etc etc.  And it is these role models children need?

In reality we have no shortage of the modelling of maleness in this society.  What we need is BETTER male role models.  We need men to stop modelling the exact behaviour that these kids were engaged in.  It isn’t women teaching that violence and total disregard for others is good and the mark of a strong human being.  It is men.

Turning this round to be the fault of women (and of course those who dare to live without a man are the worst) is predictable but it is a lie and a lie never changes anything – even if the crowd have a whale of a time chanting it and slinging their own failings upon it as was always the case with scapegoating.

This is male violence and entitlement, perpetrated by men, role modelled by men at EVERY level of society.  It is men who need to start behaving better and setting better examples and to stop excusing each other for greed, violence and social immorality.

We are not, in my opinion, suffering from ‘broken families’.  We are suffering from a broken society.  Things can only stretch so far before they snap.  The gap between rich and poor reached that critical point.  Young men in the poor camp fought back using the same ethics, methods and objectives as the men in the rich camp have modeled to them – smash and grab, take what you can because you can, assume you’ll get away with it.

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A little about me….

I am a 35 year old woman, a feminist, a single parent, a daughter, a sister, a british citizen, an anthropologist, a benefits claimant, an example of what not to do and a reasonably happy person.

I am now also a blogger.

Whether I have anything of interest to say and whether anyone will read what I say is yet to be seen.  So I figure, as usual, I had best just be myself and try not to care too much about audiences.  If anyone listens I hope they will talk back.

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