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Response #2 for Sept. 11

“Not every man is a tyrant, but the law gives every man the right of tyranny.” This was the most powerful sentence in the video. It’s so relevant even now, because of things in the world like the “not all men” response to the “me too” movement. Tons of men went around telling stories of how while some men are awful and don’t respect women, they do respect women so therefore not all men are deplorable. But similar to how the “all lives matter” phrase undercuts the power of the BLM movement, saying “not all men” is stripping women of their voice. The idea behind it is that no, of course it’s not all men, but it is enough men. It’s enough men that women are afraid. And that’s what I think links this quote about the law giving men the right to tyranny. Too many times, we have seen in this country a profound lack of punishment for a man who sexually assaults a woman. When the concern is greater for the fact that “this criminal accusation could ruin this young man’s life” than it is for the actual physical, emotional and psychological impressed upon a woman without her consent which will also, in fact, ruin her life. This lack of response to this specific type of violence against women is exactly what they mean when they say “the law gives every man the right of tyranny.” No, not every man is going to capitalize on the fact that he won’t be punished for assaulting a woman. But even the fact that he can is a very scary thought. And it’s powerful quotes like these which force us to acknowledge how vast the difference of right for men and women in America actually is.

The other thing that jumped out at me in the video was the fact that the 15th amendment split the supporters of women’s suffrage. This made me think of Crenshaw’s idea of intersectionality. People were talking about the rights of white women and the rights of black men. Black women were completely ignored in the conversation. And of course, we discussed in class how suffragists and abolitionists originally banded together because they were political activists fighting for social reform and they thought if everyone is equal than everyone really should be equal. But with the presentation of the 15th Amendment, it became the case where some people were being given rights and they thought, “Hey, that’s better than nothing,” but of course for those that were not receiving rights the obvious response was, “No, this isn’t what we wanted, what we were fighting for.” So the two ended up being divided when, like Crenshaw says, it’s more beneficial for them to be intertwined.

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2 Comments

  1. Nora Apt Nora Apt

    Although I did not initially draw this connection myself, I appreciated your tie between intersectionality and the controversy surrounding the 15th Amendment. Unfortunately, like you mentioned, it is easier for individuals to say “‘that’s better than nothing’” than to dig deeper and fight for a resolution that includes all affected parties. As mentioned during our discussion of intersectionality, many individuals still struggle to intertwine the many perspectives relevant to a respective issue.

  2. Michael Paul Michael Paul

    I love that you bring up the idea of “enough,” that enough men have are stripping women of their voice instead of “all.” From an ethical standpoint, no one should act as a tyrant of another and it is our duty to limit the power people have over others. The suffrage movement, although has led to a lot of positive outcomes, still has a long way to go due to today’s culture, but I do believe that we are trending in the right direction.

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