Mr. Griffin’s “Reign of Terror”
“The Invisible Woman, Gender, Crime, and Justice” begins to detail some of the pernicious defects presently taking place inside this country’s Criminal Justice System in addition to the substantial tolls these failings extract from the ill-fated parade of our fellow citizens who one by one become entangled in its web are ensnarled then later un-rehabilitated and now worse off than they were beforehand are spat back out once again becoming grist for the systems mill. If the data is correct this is an all, too frequent occurrence that takes place more so as an artifact of prevailing social politics and policies vs. any single individual’s proclivity towards crime. In other words, what we have here in America is not really so much of a “crime” spree as it is an “incarceration” spree.
However, “The Invisible Woman” is not to be confused with “The Invisible Man” which simultaneously is both a tale of hegemonic masculinity as well as the story of a lone white male character named Mr. Griffin who subsequent to discovering a method for producing invisibility makes him-self vanish. Whereupon in a twisted self-absorbed conviction that his “imperceptibility” somehow translates to omnipotence he sets, off on a “Reign of Terror” to frighten the nation, (The Invisible Man, 1933).
Nevertheless, Mr. Griffin’s “Reign of Terror” pales in comparison to the duplicitous state of play in this nation’s putative system of justice including its progeny the criminal justice system and its progenitor America’s vaunted political system. In which, a decidedly homogenous kaleidoscopic of patriarchal self-vindicating white male egoist elites as well as a few token females and minority persons use their influence and power to protect and preserve the extant social formation described by Mike Donaldson in his essay about gender systems and the formation of social-constructs. Mr. Donaldson does this in terms what he calls non-autonomous gender systems or to be precise “Hegemonic Masculinity”. Additionally he asks the reader this question “why, in specific social formations, do certain ways of being male predominate, and particular sorts of men rule?”
Mr. Donaldson, “If there is an independent structure of masculinity, then it should produce counter hegemonic movements of men, and all good blokes should get involved in them. If the structure is not independent, or the movements not counter-hegemonic, or the counter-hegemony not moving, then political practice will not be centred [sic] on masculinity … and what do we men do then, about the masculine images in and through which we have shaped a world so cruel to most of its inhabitants? — the ways in which the ruling class establishes and maintains its domination. [Their] ability to impose a definition of the situation, to set the terms in which events are understood and issues discussed, to formulate ideals and define morality is an essential part of this process. Hegemony involves persuasion of the greater part of the population, particularly through the media, and the organization of social institutions in ways that appear “natural”, “ordinary”, “normal”. The state, through punishment for non-conformity, is crucially involved in this negotiation and enforcement.” (Donaldson, 2012)
In essence, Mr. Donaldson is telling us that on the one hand that non-independent patrimony will not work to cure itself, whereas on the other that the non-independence of patrimonial systems would likely appear to be a “given” in that it is these very kinds of systems that have persisted over time despite innumerous occasions for change as various tumults and fluctuations of social-structure and related nation-states have occurred the world over throughout history. Moreover, I would go so far as to say he is arguing that at least on some level a plurality of those belonging to such non-independent patrimonial systems are cognizant of the systems overall nature and goals.
Power then is genderized. Else, what are we to make of the fact that essentially all social-constructs, agencies, and institutions boast patriarchal stripes that are clearly visible to anyone wishing to see?
Early in her book Ms. Belknap notes that even those who by definition are seeking to establish causal connections and facts regarding crime and its causes have shown an astonishing ability to leave girls and women out their criminological studies and furthermore that when researchers dained to include girls and women more often than not the scheme of the attachment was usually chauvinist and stereotypical. Indeed, she points out that until recently criminology was a decidedly male dominated field that still resists a sincere discussion about the “invisibility” of girls and women in the study of crime, (BELKNAP, 2008).
While not precisely on topic, the following recent remarks and positions may afford some context vis-à-vis the probable nature of the “genderization” of the criminal justice system. Because the criminal justice-system is both a product of and exits within the greater framework of American society it only seems fitting to include some fresh examples of some of the kinds of thinking taking place on the national stage by various members of America’s elites and lawmakers.
Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO), “Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.” (salon.com)
Rep. Joe Walsh “some girls’ rape easy” and “pregnancies are never life-threatening”. (Jaco Report)
A remark so shocking to the consciousness it prompted the following response, “On Tuesday night (Oct. 22), Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock made the most compelling case for atheism this Episcopal priest has ever heard”, Rev. Susan Russell, Episcopal priest and activist from Pasadena, California, (huffingtonpost.com).
Sadly, the list goes on. Leaving one to wonder how is it, that such callous and obtuse persons’ as these are able to maintain such a low need for cognition. But more importantly by what means is it even possible that sufficient numbers of the general-public lend an ear to this tripe so as to make it possible for these misogynists’ to not only show themselves in public but also even more incredibly ask for and receive positions of leadership. Perhaps that is a discussion for another time, or is it? I suspect there is a linkage between this kind of thinking and the goings on in our public institutions.
The view of girls and women as having a “monolithic experience” leaves out the obvious fact that in addition to their gender girls and women come from myriad backgrounds, classes, cultures, and “race’s”. Yet most likely, it is precisely this myopic perspective that drives current policies in the criminal justice system and its treatment of women. A situation, that depending on one’s point of view may or may not need redressing.
You know like say for instance if its, “a legitimate rape”, and even though “some girls’ rape easy”, “it [must be] something that God intended to happen”, but not to worry because “pregnancies are never life-threatening” and if it’s God’s will well then it’s got to be good right…??? Maybe, I just don’t get it.
Hence, the fact that girls and women come from myriad backgrounds, classes, cultures, and “race’s” means it is only logical (if one sincerely aspires for the truth) to attempt to understand girls and women’s “experiences” in light of this diversity. The concept of “multiple consciousness”, the idea that each of us is born with more than one identity is one such approach.
In “The Invisible Woman, Gender, Crime, and Justice”, Ms. Belknap notes the five major “strains” of feminist theory as well as some of the criticisms these have received from politicians, academicians, and the media. Since feminist theory essentially seeks to identify and expose culturally based gender inequalities in addition to promoting gender parity it comes as no surprise that those “invested in perpetuating gender distinctions” have little trouble finding ways to discount and discredit it. Yet as the author points out feminist theory tends towards inclusion not exclusion, meaning its holistic approach would be more likely to benefit both genders rather than just one, (BELKNAP, 2008).
From the invisible to the eye, or the invisible to the mind the issues surrounding gender crime and justice, if addressed can only benefit us all. “Alle, alle auch sind frei”, or for the non-polyglots among us… olly, olly oxen free. Come on out girls we (men) are lost and need your help to find our way.
BELKNAP, J. (2008). Invisible woman, the, gender, crime, and justice. (Third ed.). Belmont: Thomas Wadsworth. (BELKNAP, 2008)
Donaldson, Mike, Author Affiliations1.University of Wollongong Volume 1 / 1974 – Volume 41 / 2012 SpringerLink Date, Monday, January 17, 2005
Jaco, Charles. “The Jaco Report: August 19, 2012”. Fox News. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
The Invisible Man, a 1933 film directed by James Whale and produced by Universal Pictures.
- What About the Men? Why Our Gender System Sucks for Men, Too (drhiphop85.com)
- Spokane City, County join forces to revamp criminal justice system (krem.com)
- UN expert: judicial corruption threatens rule of law (jurist.org)
- “Effects of change in California criminal justice system difficult to discern” (sentencing.typepad.com)
- Social Media and the Criminal Justice System – Friend or Foe? (melbournecriminallawyersblog.com)
- Judges Confirm That Bail Bond Agents Play An Important Role In The Criminal Justice System (prweb.com)
- UK News: Warning over child custody deaths (walesonline.co.uk)
- Why Won’t The Candidates Talk About Prisons? (article-3.com)
- Warning over child custody deaths (standard.co.uk)