Coined by feminist theologian Elisabeth Schuessler Fiorenza, "kyriarchy" means "the domination of the lord, slave master, husband, the elite freeborn educated and propertied man over all wo/men and subaltern men." "Kyriarchal relations of domination are built on elite gender, race, class, and imperial domination as well as wo/men's dependency, subordination, and obedience."
The need for this community became apparent to me after a recent debate in feminist
about whether or not rape experienced by men is a feminist issue.
When brought up in feminist space, this topic has the effect of changing the stream of discussion away from the oppression and experiences of women. Feminism is in large part for promoting women's views and experiences, and in that regard, it is not appropriate to discuss rape experienced by men there.
On the other hand, rape in any form is an expression of power, and therefore rape experienced by men is related to the patterns of domination illuminated by feminist discourse.
Rape might be experienced by a lesbian or bisexual woman at the hands of her female partner. Or it might be experienced by a child at the hands of an adult. Or it might be experienced by a prisoner, with the involvement of prison guards or officials. Or it might be experienced by a person with a developmental disability. Or it might be experienced by an illegal immigrant working and living in a hidden sweatshop.
Each of these patterns of rape carries a different set of nuances, but they share something in common: they are expressions of opportunistic violence against people in positions of vulnerability. Each act of rape makes manifest implicit and normalized multi-layered domination in society, and it perpetuates domination by spreading mass trauma throughout affected populations.
Historically, awareness of the effects of domination-enforcement patterns like rape has arisen in single-focus discussion spaces like forums for women or people of color. These spaces are the "front line" against oppression. kyriarchy
is thus meant as a supplement
, a place where cross-currents can be identified after they are articulated in critical single-focus forums.