неделя, 5 април 2015 г.

Zizek. Gender violence as the continuation of a philosophical comedy

... And this would have been a nice Slavoj Zizek lecture. And I would have probably shared it on Facebook with some funny comment on his I-urgently-need-a-handkerchief attitude. Or I would encourage people to watch it between 4:00 and around 25:00 for his interesting and rather provocative opinion not just on universalism but also on post-colonial claims, such as the one regarding Ghandi: "no, we don't want to keep our specific identity... we want to disappear". Also around the 50:00 - the joke he did during the "free" elections in Yugoslavia.

But (and this a big but) his comments on violence against women I cannot accept. I tried not to pay attention to his casual remark that he supports capital punishment for rape. Which sounded to me like: "Oh, look at me, I am so much against rape, I believe there should be death penalty for this, so you must from now on listen to me and sympathies with everything I say regarding the topic." And the quite unfair comparison between the non-acceptance of sexual harassment and racism that followed.

This reminded me of The Pervert's Guide to Cinema and a remarkably stupid statement of his: "We men, even when we are doing it with the real women, we are effectively doing it with our fantasy. Woman is reduced to a masturbatory prop. Woman arouses us in so far as she enters our fantasy frame. With women, it's different. The true enjoyment is not in doing it but in telling about it afterwards."

But let's go back to the lecture. He then talked about India's gang rape, that happened "a few months ago". No, it had happened precisely 2 years before that lecture in LSE.

Second, regarding Ciudad Juarez series of rapes and killings - Zizek claimed there was noone punished, except for the mother of one of the victims, for talking too much. This indeed sounds shocking and amusing for the audience, but it is not true. There are convictions against perpetrators, though an absolutely insufficient number. And if the mother he is referring to is Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, she was not convicted, but killed while protesting. And women who were victims were not the vague "up to one hundred every year". They were less.

And I am not trying to underestimate the crimes here, nor to defend the Mexican authorities, quite to the contrary - even if presented correctly, these crimes sound horrific and tell us so much about the societies we live in. One does not need to exaggerate. But Zizek didn't even bother checking the facts. What he is doing is that he tries to shock, to capture the audience with some facts twisted so to serve his argumentation, in this case - about a socially symbolic ritual action. The latter is important but he did not even elaborate enough on it. As instead, he was busy trying to sound funny:

"these women are kidnapped, serially raped and then slowly tortured to death in a way which is a little bit too tasteless even for me, like first they cut off their breasts with scissors and so on..." (36:18)

A trivialization of violence at its purest form, making violence a matter of some comedy, making it socially acceptable... exactly the behavior he pretends to be challenging. This attitude is extremely well explained by Roberto Bolaño in his book 2666 in regards with the policemen in Ciudad Juarez, I couldn't help but wonder what he would say about Slovenian philosophers giving lectures at prestigious British universities and doing pretty much the same (plus the more sophisticated words).

And I don't see the difference between violence as the continuation of comedy and ethnic cleansing as the continuation of poetry, a critical article by Zizek on Kusturica's Underground.

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