[Note from PRLF: “More Postcards of the Hanging - The Horrors Perpetrated Against Women...", by Bob Avakian is being published here in reference to the prisoner’s letter “The Emancipation of Women Challenges Patriarchy & Pornafication in Prisons”]
…At the same time, millions of women and girls are enslaved in prostitution and in the degradation of the ever more vicious and violent pornography–many forced into this as well, not only out of economic hardship, but literal brutality.
A number of years ago I gave a talk called Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution, and in that I spoke to the fact that a comrade in our party had pointed out to me in relation to an earlier talk I gave, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, that there was a very real and vivid parallel between the situation of women, particularly in pornography and prostitution, and the phenomenon that I described in beginning that talk, "Revolution."
I began that talk with descriptions of the postcards of the hanging. Now, think about this: Literally, in this country, up until the 1950s and into the early 1960s, in many of our lifetimes, Black people were being repeatedly lynched. But that's not all. Usually this took place in the South, and many times when these Black men, in particular, would be lynched, it would be done in a carnival atmosphere. People would be notified in advance that this was going to happen. People–whole families, including little children– would come to picnic at the site of the lynching. And when the Black man's body was lynched, mutilated and burned, pieces of the mutilated body would be handed out to some in the crowd as trophies. This is the fucking history of this country, and I know it's hard to hear, but we need to face the reality of what the history of this country, and how it's been built, actually is. And then, photographs would be taken of the burned, mutilated and lynched bodies of these Black men, and postcards would be made and they would be sold around the country.
And this comrade pointed out–and I spoke to this in Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution–that what goes on, particularly in the increasingly violent and vicious pornography, is very much along the same lines as the postcards of the hanging: the titillation of men through the physical torture and degradation of women, which is becoming more and more the norm and more and more mainstream in pornography. We should all think about the fact that one of the most popular forms of pornography, as it's being more and more mainstreamed, is rape pornography, depicting literally the woman being raped.
And this comrade also pointed out–and I think it's very important to think about– that you can do in this society today to women what you could not do to any other group without a huge outcry. I mean, think about what's depicted in pornography, even so-called soft-core, let alone hard-core, vicious and violent pornography. Imagine, if someone made a film depicting Black people in grotesque caricature with gigantic teeth and a big smile eating watermelons and dancing around saying, "Yessuh Massa, Yessuh Massa." Can you imagine that you could have that done without a huge outcry? No! And that's very right. It should not be able to be done without a huge outcry. Or imagine if you literally showed lynchings and depicted them as a source of titillation. But yet you can do what I've been describing in pornography, and not only is there not a huge outcry, but it's being more and more mainstreamed. And, by the way, it's multi-billion dollar business, it's not just some sleazy old men in San Fernando Valley who are turning this out. This involves big banks and financial institutions. It involves big hotel chains, involved in multi-billion dollar business.
And it's becoming more–as I said, more and more mainstream. Even in the television programs, which are not pornographic themselves literally, how often do you hear, when talking about guys, "Oh, let's watch some porn." It's part of–it's just integrated into the stories–it's just perfectly natural. And then think about the content that I've been just touching on and can't really give full life to. I mean, it's just so disgusting, so outrageous. Think about this content that's being mainstreamed.
And along with this, women are subjected to continual assaults on their right to abortion and even birth control. Don't let these people tell you, these so-called right-to-lifers, that the issue is the killing of innocent babies. The issue is the control over women, exercised by forcing them to be mothers, whether or not they want to be at that time. Now, to have children, to raise children, can be a really beautiful experience if that's what you want to do and if you feel in a position to do it in the way that you feel it should be done. But to have it forced on you is virtual enslavement. Not to even have the choice as to whether you will do that. And here's the key to how you know–or one key to how you know–this is not about killing of innocent babies: Try to find one of these rabid anti-abortion groups that is also not opposed to birth control. You'll have a very hard time. They're all opposed to birth control, because the issue is not the killing of innocent babies, it's the control and subordination of women who are regarded as getting all out of hand these days in this society, which is another reason why we have, or a contributing factor to why we have, this vicious pornography. So the goal of these attacks on abortion and, yes, on birth control, the right to them, is to deny women the ability to determine something as basic as when or if they will have children and raise children, or be part of raising them–forcing motherhood on them, once again, and enslaving them in that way.
Along with all this, millions of women and girls, millions every year in this country alone, are raped, assaulted, battered and abused, often by those who claim to be their intimate lovers, while the half of humanity that is female is everywhere treated as less than fully human. Once again, I think about the experience of Black people and slavery. You know what was one of the main terms that slave owners used to describe the slaves? "Talking tools." Because this is how they regarded them, and this is how they were treated. They were put on the auction block to be sold, and their physical attributes were examined: their teeth; if they were women, their reproductive potential; their body shapes; their ability to work hard; their musculature. All this was examined in the most degrading way.
And you think of the same thing with women today, reduced to objects to be used by men, treated as brood animals to turn out babies and as unthinking flesh to be consumed and plundered, with their bodies and body parts used to sell products, pimped out and beaten into submission, plundered to portray and promote sex as conquest and domination by men instead of shared pleasure based on mutual affection and equality. All of this degrades and demeans not only the women who are directly subjected to the most extreme forms of this, but all women everywhere. What kind of system is this, and why should anyone accept that this is the best possible way the world could be?!
And those whose sexual orientation is different from, and seen as posing a threat to the dominant gender and sex relations–lesbians and gays, bisexual and transgendered people, or those who are simply unsure about their sexuality and questioning it at a given time–are harassed, bullied, often bullied to the point of committing suicide, brutalized and even murdered. And despite certain changes in law and government policy, the reality of LGBT people being discriminated against, insulted and even assaulted continues as a marked feature of the culture and society, bound up with deep-seated structural relations of this whole system, closely connected to the patriarchy and male supremacy that oppress women.