Memoricide, Feminism, the Manosphere, and Discourses

Memoricido: Memoricide, to kill the memory.
History, that which is written – as the cliche goes – by the winners.

In 2005 an important term was coined, memoricidio – memoricide, by Linda G. Levine. Memoricido describes a process imposed, in her words, by ideological colonialism, ‘colonialismo ideologico’ to describe a process by which players, like ethnic minorities and women, have simply written out of history. This term is found in her increasingly well-known, in Spanish language Womens Studies circles, paper “Fronteras” or “Fronteras movedizas: la construcción de la identidad personal y nacional en Hija de la fortuna de Isabel Allende” (Movable Boundaries: The Construction of Personal and National Identity in Daughter of. Fortune) found in Letras Femeninas, vol 3, no 1, pp.169-179 (June 2005).

She notes that conservative historiographies have tended to privilege certain experiences, namely male European and North American ones. This very privileging of one set of experiences of one set of individuals, as being more memorable and important than others, becomes memoricide essentially. Because the non-privileged’s experiences, concerns, and perspectives simply vanish from history as if they never existed. Their very memory, in a sense, has been killed.

Their protests and assertions, world-views sympathies, and indeed sufferings and defeats or victories and pleasures, are simply erased. They cease to be and are not considered actors, in history. Their agency being denied, to some degree one can argue their humanity is also denied.

Here is my take on this; the phenomenon exists, it is real, whether by conscious or unconscious bias. The experiences and narratives of the privileged – whoever they happen to be – have always been esteemed and deemed noteworthy and history worthy, and reach us. Those of the non-privileged are the opposite. Someone simply decides that certain themes, people, and experiences are not deemed interesting enough to be recorded or promulgated. This is an undeniable fact on a broad scale, and can be seen as not deriving from outright malice but simply self-absorption of one hegemonic group in its own perspectives. However it can also derive from intentional malice of will and intent, deliberate policy to delete one’s enemies and perceived lessers. This too is a fact.

Now however since we are avoiding any sort of essentialism, we see that the process itself need not be confined to one side of the colonialist, political, or gender dialectic – rather it is a nuanced strategy, with degrees, that can be – and is – applied by anyone who finds his or her self in a position of relative hegemony in a particular discourse. What is simply needed is monopoly in a discursive domain. Take a subaltern (in the post-colonial studies sense) group that under a more liberal regime manages to obtain some greater measure of representation or even temporary relative political or discursive hegemony, within a narrow domain, whether popular or academic or in policy circles.

They too can employ memoricido against their opponents, as long as it can control the framing (and on framing, see George Lakoff, Cass Sunsteen, et al as well as Grindler and Bandler) of the discourse. History is indeed written by the winners, but the actual winners dimply depends on which policy is in force in a given age, in this sense all history can be seen as factional and revisionist, reflecting either conscious selection focusing, and deletions, or unconscious ones.

The irony is this, conservative historiography in many quarters, having fallen out of vogue, sees themes and individuals it once privileged being subject to the same process of Memoricido that it previously often employed against minorities whose voices were not esteemed

Without beating the point into the ground, the Online Manosphere reflects this. So too does paleo-conservative discourse. I can note this without being paleo-conservative. As to the MRA/Manosphere, with the increasing successes of Feminist discourse, action, and activism Feminists found themselves increasingly able to frame certain discourses whereas in which Male and patriarchal hegemony held sway. In all things there are winners and losers. The manosphere reflects to some degree certain male discourses now endanger of memorcido. Keeping in mind that these discourses are not elite ones, rather they are popular ordinary ones. The everyday man, and his domestic and romantic experiences and disputes.

A wise person is able to see something important here, the voices that make up the so-called Manosphere are so strident because on a very real level they reflect narratives and experiences perceived as being in danger of simply being erased. Without “taking sides”, and without prejudice to either a Feminist or MRA side, this can simply be noted as a very real situation and condition of the modern discourses on Gender and Sexuality in Anglo-Phone societies, particular Anglo-American, today.

I find it interesting to observe and memorable enough to comment on.

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