In yet another essay which discusses violence against women, Kumar notes that it is the deliberately poor definition of what constitutes rape and wife-beating that allows it to continue in India, despite laws forbidding it. She notes furthermore that women are often blamed for the attacks against them due to their "easy virtue" or due to being "a loose woman who could not by definition be raped" (1995:70).

In a commentary on the Rodney King case, Butler speaks of the same pastiche of power and language use against a minority member:

If racism pervades white perception, structuring what can and cannot appear within the horizon of white perception, then to what extent does it interpret in advance 'visual evidence'? … According to this racist episteme, he [King] is hit in exchange for the blows he never delivered, but which he is, by virtue of his blackness, always about to deliver" (1993:16, 19)


It is noteworthy in each of these cases a feared danger to the hegemony is imputed to the Other, always discursively defined as either women or minorities, and symbolically and physically defeated, frequently through application of the very violence supposedly presented by the Other. This trope consistently insinuates (frequently against what could be considered evidence to the contrary) the abused victim is in actuality the hegemonically dangerous victimizer. Thus we see the dominant paradigms of the nation-state discursively expressed and reinforced within the societies discussed in the readings. Butler also notes clearly, concerning the King case, the collusion of the representatives of the dominant hegemony in this act:

Attributing violence to the object of violence is part of the very mechanism that recapitulates violence, and that makes the jury's 'seeing' into a complicity with that police violence… In this sense, the circuit of violence attributed to Rodney King is itself the circuit of white racist violence which violently disavows itself only to brutalize the specter that embodies its own intention (1993:20, 21).

Thus it can be seen in our readings that within a society in change, fear and the desire for control over one's life and environment are often turned upon the Other, oppositionally defining the sacred or hegemonic cultural norm by powerful ownership of the language of discourse, which is then used to create, and via an act of collective societal effervescence, destroy or control the profane or polluted. Furthermore, collusion of 'accepted' or 'good' women or minorities in maintaining these boundaries can be assured through these means, due to a fear of:

the spectacle of a terror which threatens us all, that of being judged by a power which wants to hear only the language it lends us. … [we become] accused, deprived of language, or worse, rigged out in that of our accusers, humiliated and condemned by it (Barthes 1957:46).

These impulses may be decked out in the trappings of fundamentalism or nationalism, but they remain at heart an insecure reaction consisting of a violent pastiche of alarm and lack of control in the face of a world suddenly too complex, too varied. By forcing simplistic and essentialist definitions upon that which the nation and hegemony fears (such as "such segments of society as do not give back an image of the state's founding fathers to themselves" [Heng & Devan 1998:344]), a justification for necessary societal self-defense can be made. This also enables the state to engage in a satisfying and self-justifying collective effervescence, to "reenact periodically the state's traumatic if also liberating separation from colonial authority…" (Heng & Devan, 1998:343).

Fundamentalism is not an adaptive or empowering long-term impulse. It is instead the simplistic assessment and definition of a problem as it is perceived by the mainstream hegemonic paradigm. The societal effects inspired by this trope are insidious — by tarring any who are at all loosely allied with the scapegoated victim(s), such behavior effectively isolates the target one wishes to 'punish.'

It takes great courage to invite attacks or vitriol similar to that being suffered by the victim(s) of societal chastisement or violence. Indeed, this fundamentalist/essentialist view of the world invites an unhealthy form of group-think that chastises innovation and true self-analysis, both societally and individually, and forestalls any attempts to either get at or constructively deal with the true roots of the problem.

True, if the goal is merely short-term gain (such as striking out vengefully against perceived benefits to a despised minority, or maintaining male privilege) fundamentalism is an excellent ideological technique, since any counter-hegemonic discourse is forcibly subsumed to the selfish desires of the individuals or nation-group insisting on the dominance of their hegemonic paradigm.

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