Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael

Feminism and Mass Incarceration w/ Aya Gruber

July 15, 2020

On this edition of Parallax Views, is there a connection between the rise of mass incarceration through what has been called the carceral state and elements of feminism? Aya Gruber says there is and joins us on this edition of the program to discuss her provocative new book The Feminist War on Crime: The Unexpected Role of Women's Liberation in  Mass Incarceration.

In this conversation we discuss:

- The meaning of feminism and it's history.

- What is the carceral state and the prison-industrial complex?

- The dilemma/paradox Aya Gruber faces as a a feminist and civil libertarian-oriented attorney/public defender.

- Feminism and punitive ideology in light of Tara Reade's accusations against Joe Biden

- Alliances between feminism and right-wing/conservative movements, particularly the "tough on crime" right wing of the Ronald Reagan era. The Violence Against Women Act and the Clinton Crime Bill

- The origins of "carceral feminism"; the idea of "dominance feminism"; second wave feminism's relation to the carceral turn; welfare rights, racial equality, and economic models of feminism being overlooked in favor of a model of feminism that turned towards the carceral apparatus; first wave feminism's relationship to the proto-carceral state and surveillance states through the temperance movement and vice crusaders

- What are the problems of taking up the governance tool of criminal law in the feminist struggle?; the Reagan era and the restructuring of the populace's moral compass vis-à-vis neoliberalism; domestic violence prosecution and arrest; has this all had negative effects on women and particularly women-of-color?

- Hillary Clinton's "Superpredators" comment; the pervasiveness of the "Superpredators" mindset amongst Democrats; the Biden-Schumer strategy that made the Democratic Party the "crime control" party and Bill Clinton's Presidential run; Joe Biden's 1994 Crime Bill; Bernie Sanders voting for the "crime control" bill and his attempts to speak out against it; the O.J. Simpson trial and the Violence Against Women Act

- The Combahee River Collective and the feminist civil war; the role of black feminist (and black lesbian feminists) in feminism and their opposition to racism and white supremacy alongside white men; conflict between the Combahee River Collective and white feminism?; black women and their relationship to feminism; the unwillingness of black feminism to give up on the struggle against racism; the welfare rights and domestic violence shelter movement; there was always dissenting voices against carceral feminism 

- Aya's idea of neofeminism; what it neofeminism means; is the story Aya telling the story of white feminism vs. black feminism?; neofeminism as a critical theory rather than an identity-based theory; claims of subordination beyond gender, intersecting identities, and their relationship to feminism

- The problem of sex trafficking; the white slavery discourse of the 1800's and how it was racialized; Chinese sex workers and the first federal anti-immigrant legislation; the Robert Kraft scandal and policies directed at ending sex slavery; the weaponization of criminal law

- What Aya Gruber wants folks to get out of the book; is she anti-feminist?; misconceptions about the book; the history of policing and its complex relationship to feminism; Aya's message to millenial feminists; achieving gender justice and shrinking the carceral state WITHOUT becoming a rape apologist; feedback for the book

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