Violence, history wars and ecofeminism

It's funny that we use the term 'history wars' for debates about history, since one of the common themes in these debates is about violence, whether violence was practised by certain people or states, and whether it was legitimate. Historians like me, who are critical of the use of violence and anti-war,  are thus described as being engaged in a 'war', just like those who believe war is legitimate.

The use of metaphors in this way is interesting and often seems to serve particular ideological purposes, including to discredit caring (e.g. pacifists engaged in metaphorical 'wars', breastfeeding supporters engaged in metaphorical 'nazism').

There are many ironies because people who believe in the legitimacy of certain wars, and indeed tend to glorify wars in some ways (eg John Howard and Anzacs) are also likely to deny that there was a 'war' on Indigenous people in Australia, to minimise the violence of invasion, and ignore the resistance to it.

Anyway - I haven't been keeping up this blog as much as I aimed to. I may reincorporate it back in the old blog - there were particular purposes in starting this new one, to do with the question of whether 'civility' means compromise, as discussed previously. However, I'm feeling now it's better to just have one blog and try to negotiate the uneasy position of being an outspoken, politically engaged and fallible 'private' citizen, and an employed academic who teaches students, in one blog. So this may be my last post on this separate site.

I'm just touching on some issues raised in recent Twitter debates about violence and masculinity, in regard to the rape and murder of Euridyce Dixon. I won't keep saying her name in this context, because there is something awful about the rape and murder of a particular woman becoming grounds for Twitter and Internet fights, when I think of her grieving family and friends. But I wanted to say her name once. She was a human being, a person of joy and creativity, humour, wit and wonder. I don't know that I honour her memory by engaging with disrespectful people on Twitter, as I have been doing. Perhaps ignoring them would be better, but I think those like me who have these fights are trying to make the world better, to say that male violence is not inevitable, that we can create better societies.

The debates turned to history - was 'western civilisation' built on violence? Was Indigenous society any better in this regard? Have there been peaceful societies where men and women were relatively equal (from my reading of the secondary sources, I believe so)? Some of those arguing with me on Twitter suggested that violence has served a good purpose - possibly they are saying it ensured the strongest and smartest societies or leaders survived, although their reasoning was not as clear as that. Generally their tweets seemed to be more about attacking me and finding faults with what I'd said, rather than putting a coherent view of their own.

It was about the usual suspects - identity politics is bad, blah, blah, why can't we all just be individuals, patriarchy never existed/if it did, it doesn't now, the wage gap isn't real/women choose lower paid careers, some jobs even pay more to women, etc etc. Jordan Peterson was mentioned.

Here's where the streams come together (and the blogs consequently I guess): I recently had my big party for my birthday and finishing my PhD, and it was lovely - just great. It also led to a couple of conversations about my PhD and why I chose the ecofeminist approach. People weren't necessarily criticising it directly, but rather suggesting it was confrontational, and might put off those I was trying to reach, for example people working in health services in country areas. This is similar to the way feminism is seen as 'anti-men'. Essentially the problem is posed as 'you're going to offend people' rather than 'you're right or wrong'. My gut feeling is that this is ultimately about not offending the powerful, even though it may not seem like it (conservative rural health workers aren't 'powerful' in that sense). It's something I've known about since I embarked on the the thesis but have never really been able to have in depth conversations about.

'Don't walk in dark places at night' - 'don't use terms like ecofeminism'. It's all connected, and it passes as common sense - don't knowingly take risks or offend people - but it's not. It's something quite deep and complex, which I would like to explore further.


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