Forced facesitting is considered rape

Forced silence: How men silence women

Women who are strangled rarely cooperate with the police. Non-fatal strangulation is quite dangerous as it can lead to death hours, days, and even weeks later due to complications from the lack of oxygen in the brain. [1] It also leads to injuries to the throat that do not necessarily leave a mark. If you don't know how to examine a victim's throat, what to look for in their eyes (punctiform hemorrhages called petechiae), and what questions to ask, it may seem like no harm has been done. Often the matter is not followed up. The woman may not even be receiving medical treatment. Everyone "shrouds themselves in silence" about the incident. Some women just don't wake up the next morning or at some point later.

Victims of a non-fatal attack, on the other hand, are around seven times more likely to fall victim to another attempt at killing by the same perpetrator. However, in many US states there is no specific legal regulation that would classify strangulation as a crime; thus it is a simple assault, typically an offense.

Strangulation is a widespread form of intimate partner violence and also occasionally occurs in other family relationships. Apparently it is not limited to certain geographical areas, but is demonstrably available wherever relevant data are available. In many, especially poorer countries, such data are not collected at all.

Strangulation can be done either with bare hands or with aids such as rope, belt, rope, electric cable or the like. In a recent case reported on local Florida news media, a seventy-five-year-old woman was strangled with a metal dog leash while she was walking her dog. The man who attacked them was evidently a stranger, which is entirely atypical. [2]

The vast majority of strangulation victims are female intimate partners, although children are also disproportionately susceptible. In the vast majority of cases, according to meta-studies, the perpetrators are men. [3] It does not, of course, follow that more than a small, perhaps even negligible percentage of men strangle women. [4] There is an obvious difference between “(almost) exclusively” and “(almost) all”, but this can be blurred by generalizing claims such as “strangling men”. [5]

Another point to note here is that strangulation is torture. Researchers compare strangulation to waterboarding, both in terms of the emotions it arouses - pain, fear, and horror - and the social implications it implies. Strangulation is seen as a demonstration of authority and domination. As such, in connection with its gender-specific character, it is a paradigmatic expression of misogyny.

To maintain patriarchal order

Misogyny places a certain (more or less clearly delineated) category of girls and women with hostile or negative consequences in order to enforce and monitor social norms that are either theoretically (that is, in terms of content) or practically (in the mechanisms of norm enforcement) gender-specific. Both the content of the actual norms and the mechanisms of their enforcement can vary greatly depending on the social position of the differently situated girls and women. Misogyny is thus a means of maintaining the patriarchal order. Another characteristic is the indifference and ignorance of this practice as well as the fact that many victims trivialize it or - as I will discuss below - are driven to doubts about their own perception through "gaslighting".

Since victims of strangulation are extremely reluctant to testify against their attackers, some investigators are now campaigning for the perpetrators to be prosecuted on the basis of circumstantial evidence because the crime victim was previously intimidated or, so to speak, "suffocated". This is reminiscent of Kristie Dotson's expression "testimonial smothering" for the phenomenon that a speaker silences himself because certain utterances are risky or insecure and in any case probably in vain, since the audience lacks "expressiveness" which is essential results (or appears to result) from their "dangerous ignorance". [6] It is obvious that strangulation in an intimate relationship tends to lead to a suppression of testimony as defined by these criteria in Dotson's sense. When the woman testifies, the man's demonstrated willingness to do whatever is necessary to regain the upper hand makes the situation dangerous. And as will be shown, the lack of competence in relation to the concept of strangulation is extremely widespread. This incompetence is the result of a dangerous ignorance that feeds misogyny and allows it to flourish.

Pars pro toto - Donald Trump

As Dotson's work on epistemic oppression has shown, there are a number of ways in which people can be silenced. Here is just a metaphorical note on some of the possibilities that she analyzes in depth: Words can be put into a woman's mouth. You can shut her up with respectful platitudes. She can be threatened with having to take back certain things that she could say in order to prevent her possible statement or even her knowledge of what is happening to her and to others. You can wall up and make sure that their statements are doomed and appear completely out of thin air.

You can train them not to say “strangle”, but “take their breath away” or, even better, “grab”, but preferably nothing at all. It wasn't anything: nothing happened. For example, when Donald Trump brags about grabbing women by the genitals, it becomes “locker room talk”, as if that were enough to cut off any comment. [7] Many actually saw it that way.

Trump's first wife Ivana had declared in an affidavit about the divorce that Trump had raped her. According to his spokesman, however, it was "well known and never happened." And according to his attorney, Michael Cohen, "it wasn't the word you're trying to make of it." Ivana Trump felt “emotionally raped [...]. She was not referring to a criminal act or literally, although the word can have many literal meanings. ”This is what Cohen said after vehemently advocating (to a reporter from Daily Beast) that it couldn't be have been rape because well-established legal precedents state that you cannot rape your own wife. Immediately it was pointed out that marriage rape had been criminalized a few years before this incident - shamefully late, but by no means late enough to automatically absolve Donald Trump of guilt.

So other semantic excuses were needed. The argument took place on an "emotional" level, so the problem was basically only in Ivana's head. It was not an offense "in the criminal sense", as she had to add as a denial at the insistence (again by Trump's lawyers) when Harry Hurt's book "The Lost Tycoon" was published in 1993 with a description of the incident based on her account. Trump dismissed the claims outright, but only went into one detail of their story - which I will come back to later.

Such denial can take many forms. “It's not rape, not quite, but undesirable, entirely undesirable,” is how fifty-two-year-old professor David Lurie, main character in J. M. Coetzee's novel “Schande”, describes sex with his student Melanie. "As if she had decided to go very limp, to play dead as long as it lasts, like a rabbit when the fox's fangs bite into its neck."

How is this called? If not entirely rape, then how? [8] Trump's attorney Michael Cohen warned the Daily Beast reporter who approached him about this story not to mention it at all. Otherwise, he swore to him, “I'll see you and I meet in court one day. And I'll take every penny you don't have. I will be after your Daily Beast and everyone else you may know [...]. I warn you be damn careful because what I'm going to do to you is going to be damn uncomfortable. Roger that?"

Cohen went on to say, "It is not sensible for you to want to write a story about someone using the word 'rape' 'when they talk about feeling emotionally unsatisfied."

Then he repeated, “The word has many literal meanings, but if you misrepresent it and associate Mr. Trump's name with it, rest assured, you will face the consequences. So do what you want. Do you want to ruin your life at twenty? Do it, and I'll be only too happy to take care of it. ”[9] Trump's campaign team tried to distance him from these threats. "Mr. Trump didn't know anything about [Cohen's] remarks, but he doesn't agree [...]. Nobody but Mr. Trump speaks for Mr. Trump, "said his spokesman. [10]

In the meantime, Ivana has apparently denied her earlier representation, sworn in divorce proceedings, vehemently enough for both of them. She claims that her own account is "unfounded". When the article quoted above appeared in the Daily Beast, she issued a press release: “I recently read some attributed statements made thirty years ago during an extremely tense period during my divorce from Donald. The story has no basis whatsoever. Donald and I are best friends and we raised three children together that we love and are very proud of. ”[11]

This is the man she once said about tearing out entire clumps of hair in anger for recommending the surgeon who botched his scalp surgery - which was obviously not only unsuccessful but also painful. As Ivana wrote, her husband then "rammed" his penis into her without warning (therefore not consensually). After her description, he asked her the next morning with a grin and "with threatening casualness": "Does it hurt?" Obviously, he wanted it to hurt. He wanted to get back at her that his head ached. Trump disputes only one point in this representation: the intervention against a non-existent problem, namely his beginning baldness. [12]

Ivana's press release ended with the following sentences: “I only have affection for Donald and wish him the best of luck with his election campaign. Incidentally, I think he would be an incredible president. ”(And in fact, Trump's presidency has long since reached the limits of the unbelievable.)

Broken voices or: broken voices

Sometimes it is difficult to recognize the voices of women who have once openly and publicly spoken about abuse by their husbands.

Lisa Henning was determined to focus on herself and recommended that other women do the same instead of trying to change anything about her husband's abusive behavior. She realized that she couldn't change him, she explained. So she left him and lost everything: “The important thing for me, and, I believe, for most women, is that we have to stop focusing on men and what they do and how we can change them. We have to start focusing on ourselves. We cannot control them. It has to be about ourselves again. ”This quote from Lisa Henning comes from her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990, where she appeared under the pseudonym“ Ann ”with large sunglasses and a wig. The episode was called "Beaten Upper Class Women". Henning spoke eloquently about the patriarchal forces that had left them with no prospect of legal help or the protection they expected. She stated that society was not on her side, especially since her husband was a wealthy and extremely successful lawyer. It was obvious: “Especially when you fight against the legal system [...]. It's a very patriarchal system. They are good old friends. And they are stuck together and we have a big, big problem against them. "

Part of the big problem was that her husband had legal impunity and knew it all too well. He could do what he wanted without fear of legal consequences. And what he wanted was brutal, as Lisa Henning said. As part of her divorce proceedings, she stated in an affidavit that he had brutally beaten her and, above all, strangled her: "He attacked me, choked me, threw me to the ground, hit me on the head, knocked my knee in the chest, twisted my arm and dragged me across the floor, hurled me against the wall, tried to prevent me from dialing the emergency number and kicked me in the back. ”Henning also testified that he had hit her in the car and twice the police had been called to their shared apartment. Still, she stated on the Oprah Winfrey Show, “The scariest thing was leaving him because once I broke and made it public, remember that my husband was in public - everyone knew him and knew what he did - and as soon as I made it public he swore revenge. He said, “I see you in the gutter. It will never be over. You will pay for that. "

Lisa Henning has since remarried and is now called Lisa Fierstein. In 2016, she learned that Donald Trump had chosen her ex-husband Andrew Puzder for the office of Minister of Labor. Everyone knew about the allegations. But after Senate members were shown the recordings of the Oprah Winfrey Show in a closed screening and then made available to the media, it was basically over for him. Puzder withdrew his candidacy.

But why? Lisa Henning had withdrawn her account. Lisa Fierstein claims that she - or rather her former self, Lisa Henning - invented everything freely. The lawyer who represented her in her divorce said he believed her then, but doesn't believe her now - partly because of her medical reports, partly because of her conversations. In his opinion, she is hiding today that the abuse happened, or perhaps better: he still believes the previous Lisa's testimony. "I found their story not only believable, but true," he explained. [13] Puzder, on the other hand, denied the abuse both in an affidavit for his divorce proceedings and in an article in the Riverfront Times, stating that his ex-wife Lisa Henning's allegations were "unfounded."

"There was never any physical abuse," he said. Lisa Fierstein now fully agrees with her ex-husband. In an email dated November 30, 2016, she stated flatly and, as the above-mentioned article aptly put it, categorically, “You have not been violent.” She wrote, “You know I have made a lot of the hasty decisions I made at the time have deeply repented, and I sincerely hope none of these decisions become a problem for you today. Without your knowledge, I filed for divorce on an impulse and received legal advice at the time to raise the allegation of abuse. I have and still regret that decision and withdrew the allegations thirty years ago. You haven't been violent. I will definitely confirm to anyone who asks that there has been no abuse in any way. We had heated arguments. We both said things to each other that we regret to this day. I've always been grateful that we could forgive each other for the hurts we caused ourselves. ”So much“ repentance ”- four times in two paragraphs. With growing conviction, the email continues: “You and I clarified this a long time ago.In the meantime we have left it behind and are now cultivating what I believe to be a loving and respectful relationship. This is a testimony to your integrity and decency. It wouldn't be possible if you were a violent, abusive husband. You weren't I only wish you the best in all of your endeavors. I know you would be an excellent addition to the Trump team. "[14]

Permanent, lasting damage - but without any traces

Now we understand why the senators who first saw the recording of the Oprah Winfrey Show and then read this email, pulled the rip cord. [15] The U-turn with her ex-husband is amazing. It is not an explanation, but what logicians call a proof of possibility: proof of the possibility that a woman might write such an email after appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show disguised as "Ann" around those quoted above To make utterances. In addition, Lisa Henning (as “Ann”) had stated: “Most men in such positions leave no traces. You can't see the damage I've suffered. It's permanent, permanent damage. But there are no traces. And there was never any. "

And that still doesn't exist. But the woman who said that has apparently disappeared. Read the previous paragraphs again. She tried so hard for a different focus and perspective: to focus on herself instead of her ex-husband. She found the words, she spoke them. And somehow, somewhere, she lost it again - or was made to take it back.

These allegations and recantations: There could be numerous explanations for each individual case, including the one that the original statement was in fact wrong. But when you put this and other such cases together, you begin to suspect a pattern. Male rule, especially among the most privileged and powerful, is apparently partly based on usurping control over the representation - and thus also forcing women and her to participate. This is not exactly a question of submission: rather, it bears a lot resemblance to the moral goal of driving someone insane by "gaslighting", according to Kate Abramson's enlightening description. [16] Targeted manipulation and uncertainty destroy the victim's ability to have an independent view, at least with regard to certain issues. The woman inevitably agrees with the man and not only believes his portrayal, but maybe even adopts it and reproduces it as well.

In some ways this is an extension of a general modus operandi of such powerful, dominant actors: they make statements that state what is believed and which are then treated as the official version of what is going on. Their world-directing claims (superficial beliefs, subliminal commands) target attitudes and tell people to change theirs. They are supposed to adopt (at least superficially) beliefs that we usually do not accept voluntarily. As a rule, we need arguments, evidence or the like in order to arrive at convictions: that is, evidence of the truthfulness of what is to be believed, and not just practical advantages of belief. Whether or not we can actually change our attitudes in this way upon request (and I suspect that it is unfortunately puzzlingly so): As a result, His word is not only law but also gospel.

The contribution is based on “Down Girl. The logic of misogyny ”, the author's latest book, which has just been published by Suhrkamp Verlag. The translation from English is by Ulrike Bischoff.

[1] While suffocation is also possible through an internal blockage of the airways - for example through a foreign body such as a bite of food - the cause of strangulation is external pressure on the throat or throat. It takes very little pressure (about five to six kilograms) to block the carotid artery, but it can cause unconsciousness in seconds and brain death in minutes. For comparison: Opening a beverage can requires twice as much pressure, see The International Association of Chiefs of Police, Strangulation: The Hidden Risk of Lethality,

[2] Deputies: Palm Harbor Man Used Metal Leash to Choke Elderly Woman Walking Her Dog, WFLA News Channel, April 14, 2017,

[3] John Archer, Sex Differences in Physically Aggressive Acts between Heterosexual Partners: A Meta-Analytic Review, in: "Psychological Bulletin," 5/2000, pp. 651-680.

[4] Sometimes strangulation also occurs in boys, although there is a lack of data on how common this behavior (in absolute terms as well as in comparison to other children) is in them.

[5] In order to be fair to the #NotAllMen group, it must be said that such claims are "generalizing", can be interpreted in both directions and can cause confusion. So I try to avoid them unless the context makes the intended meaning of such utterances transparent.

[6] Kristie Dotson defines “testimony suppression” more precisely as “mutilating your own testimony to ensure that it only contains content that the audience is able to testify about. There are three conditions that indicate the suppression of statements in an exchange of statements: 1) the content of the statement must be uncertain and risky; 2) the audience must demonstrate testimony incompetence to the speaker regarding the content of the statement; and 3) this statement incompetence must grow or appear to grow out of dangerous ignorance ”(Kristie Dotson, Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing, in:“ Hypatia ”, 2/2011, pp. 236-257, here p. 249 .)

[7] David A. Fahrentold, Trump Recorded Having Extremely Lewd Conversation about Women in 2005, in: "Washington Post", October 8, 2016.

[8] I'll make a few suggestions for cases where she helps him, like here, by even lifting his hips so he can take them off more easily: With so little resistance, "anything you've done to her could be done far away, so to speak" ( Kate Manne, On Being Social in Metaethics, in: Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 8, Oxford 2013, pp. 50-73, here p. 43). Now I ask myself whether the desired distance is spatial, temporal or both. It is as if she put herself in fast motion into a future in which she will not be groped and attacked. So she lets him go, agrees.

[9] Oliver Darcy, The "F *** ing disgusting" consequence. Trump lawyer threatened liberal news site with for "rape" story, in: "The Blaze", July 27, 2015,

[10] John Santucci, Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana disavow's old "rape" allegation, in: "ABC News", July 28, 2015, www.abcnews.go.

[12] Tim Mak and Brandy Zadrozny, Ex-Wife: Donald Trump made me feel "violated" during sex, in: "Daily Beast", 7/7/2015,

[13] Sarah Fenske, Andrew Puzder, Trump’s pick for labor department was accused of abusing wife, in: "Riverfront Times", December 8, 2016,

[15] So that Lisa Fierstein's e-mail was not interpreted as a mere letter of favor, she offered to speak personally, even several times, to the senators, since she was apparently genuinely dismayed by the reappearance of the recording.

[16] Kate Abramson, Turning Up the Lights on Gaslighting, in: "Philosophical Perspectives", 1/2014,
Pp. 1-30. See also Rachel V. McKinnon, Allies Behaving Badly: Gaslighting as Epistemic Injustice, in: Gaile Polhaus Jr, Ian James Kidd and Joé Medina (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, New York 2017, pp. 167-175. Your text contains important discussions of the ways in which the concept of a political "ally" can serve as a cover for gaslighting and testimony injustice.