The Harm Men Do Women in the Bronx

Cassie Rodenberg in Scientific American:

JohnBased on ethnographic fieldwork conducted while residing next to a crack house in El Barrio, New York, for almost five years, this article analyses how the social and economic marginalization of second- and third-generation Puerto Rican immigrants in the inner city has polarized violence and sexuality against women and children, both within the family and on the street. Traditional working-class patriarchy has been thrown into crisis by the restructuring of the global economy and the expansion of women’s rights. Unable to replicate the rural-based models of masculinity and family structure of their grandfathers’ generation, a growing cohort of marginalized men in the de-industrialized urban economy takes refuge in the drug economy and celebrates a misogynist, predatory street culture that normalizes gang rape, sexual conquest, and paternal abandonment. Marginalized men lash out against the women and children they can no longer support economically nor control patriarchally.¹

John’s girl, Diane, jumps into cars. She sits on a bucket seat ripped from a SUV. There, in its place left on the side of the road, she waits for men to drive by, stare, comment, gesture. Men like the punk rocker look, so she rips her tights, more than the day typically does, for show. She’s had a good run of not being raped, so she figures she’ll be fine. John sits on cardboard next to the bucket seat anticipating her return. Sometimes he get impatient and leaves to get food. As if staying would do anything. Her money buys them the crack and heroin, the rented room. These things, this discontent, come outs when she smokes crack. It becomes unreal that you do everything. But it is expected. It is the way things go.

More here.

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