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Posted in: Feminism

Published on Oct 09, 1995 by Phyllis Chesler and Merle Hoffman

Written for Los Angeles Times

There Is Even Less Justice for Women : Simpson: Our patriarchal society has taught us to scapegoat women for the crimes and moral failings of men.


Blacks did not set O.J. Simpson free; 10 women, eight of whom were African Americans, did that. Some people see it as payback for more than 400 years of slavery, de jure and de facto segregation in America, payback for Rodney King, Howard Beach, the killing of Black Panther Fred Hampton, the assassinations of Medgar Evers and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.--the list of black male martyrs is endless.

However, what no one is saying is that most women are as sexist as men: absolutely colorblind when it comes to gender. Women even go the extra mile. They fall in love with misogynist outlaws, both in jail and at home; they often marry and remain with men who rape and batter them and their children. When battered women kill in self-defense they usually receive harsh jail sentences and are rarely pardoned. And when women flee, as Nicole Brown Simpson did--often they pay with their lives.

Women--like men--will scapegoat women for the crimes and moral failures of men. The patriarchal family, church and state have taught them that this is the right thing to do. And the criminal-justice system has reified women's complicity.

We could not help but wonder how angry those African American female jurors were about their black brothers' acquisition of white blond trophy wives like Nicole, while beautiful black sisters go without love, money, fathers for their children, patriarchal identities as wives--especially of higher-income black husbands.

The young African Americans who, post-verdict, jeered Ron Goldman's father as he wept, one of whom said "Justice has not been served today; Mark Fuhrman is still out there," are not our brothers and sisters in feminist revolutionary struggle. Nor are the African American women in the shelter for battered women who cheered O.J. Simpson's release. They are "getting back, getting theirs" after centuries of white men walking free (if they were even brought to trial) for crimes against the racially despised. However, this thrilling "racial solidarity" against the evidence and against white racist police departments is not justice; it is merely symbolic revenge. True, there is no justice for black folk in America--but there is even less justice for women-folk in America, and even less than that for women of color.

Lighting candles in the dark as a remembrance of the victims of male violence is tender and dignified, but only symbolic. Mourning, honoring the dead is powerful only when it inspires us to action toward justice. We must light the fires of resistance in the hearts and minds of women (and men of conscience) so that no more candlelight vigils are necessary.

What should be done? Compulsory self-defense training for girls and women; compulsory military training for girls and women; swift, effective prosecution of wife-batterers, wife-killers, rapists and civil suits for money damages, in addition to but separate from criminal prosecution. We suspect that cities and countries may begin to do something about crimes of violence against women only after they have been successfully sued for money for having failed to prosecute and prevent those crimes.

Courage is not an option; it is our only alternative.


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