Women as reason: Women, terrorism and misogyny

August 31, 2019

From the September-October 2019 issue of News & Letters

by Terry Moon

After the two mass shootings back to back in Ohio and El Paso, all are talking about domestic terrorism as if it’s something new, or worse than it was before. But now the link between mass shootings and our misogynistic racist society is becoming clearer. From 2009 to 2017 in more than half of the mass shootings in the U.S. an intimate partner or a member of the shooter’s family was a victim.

Chicago demonstration against abortion bans, May 23, 2019.


Women’s groups have been begging—for decades—that the FBI recognize anti-abortion fanatics as domestic terrorists. For decades they’ve refused. In the U.S., terrorism is defined in Title 22 Chapter 38 U.S. Code § 2656f as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”[1] There could hardly be a better description of the U.S. rabid anti-abortion movement that has murdered and maimed doctors, other healthcare providers and people just sitting in a clinic, as well as burned, bombed, and otherwise vandalized health clinics. Walking into a building for healthcare is now fraught with physical obstacles and mobs of screaming bullhorn placard-waving zealots yelling “murderers” and threatening women with death.

We’ve gone far beyond the argument about whether leaders’ hateful language—like Donald Trump saying women who have abortions should be punished and depicting women and their doctors as “executing babies”—incites violence against abortion providers. They know it does, and that’s one huge reason they do it.

In the U.S. there are organizations and websites that wallow in hate against women. Websites for incels, 8chan, anti-abortion websites, and a president who compares any woman who challenges him to an animal. Hate speech aimed at women is so common that it is hardly noticed, considered background noise. Bitch, motherfucker, cunt, rape you to death, it’s all thrown at women online, walking down the street—especially if she dares to talk back, or react negatively against a slur or touch. Rape? It’s her fault. Try to control your own body? You’re a murderer, damned to hell, no exceptions allowed for rape (that was her fault anyway, even if it was by her father, even if she was 12 years old, even if she was incapacitated—HER FAULT, the bitch!).


Hatred for women spews from the highest levels. Why else cut off immigration for women who have been abused—who are running away from their homes for their very lives? Why else try to destroy Planned Parenthood, which delivers vital healthcare to hundreds of thousands of women—abortion being a small part of what is offered at one of the few places poor women in the U.S. can go for complete gynecological healthcare? Why else destroy access to birth control, or preach that abstinence-only works when it doesn’t and cover that up by calling it “sexual risk avoidance”? Because they want women to think that sex is risky—because they want to make sex risky. Why else allow Catholic hospitals to hide the fact that women can’t get all the services they need?

One huge reason all this continues is that if hate speech—certainly a part of terrorism—and terrorism against women were taken seriously, then there would have to be repercussions against those in the highest levels of government; Trump for obvious reasons, and so many more officials. If hate and terrorism against women were taken as seriously as white nationalism—which itself is not taken seriously enough—then all major religions would have to be transformed. All those idiot congressmen who blather that raped women can’t get pregnant, or that there is “legitimate rape” as opposed to, what? or who make laws that give rapists the right to have custody of raped women’s children would be thrown out of positions of authority.

Hatred against women is so woven into the very fabric of our society that to get rid of it will take a revolution—one whose aim is to transform all human relationships and to make them actually human. It’s long past time to make that kind of transformation a reality.

[1] “Definitions of terrorism,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_terrorism


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