Discussion of Benjamin and Violence as it Relates to Gore, Intent, and Consent

So we did something a little different for this post: I asked questions to Wren and Julia, and I recorded their answers. So here’s that.

  1. Benjamin makes an implicit distinction between gore and violence, saying that gore ≠ violence, but how much do you believe gore adds to violence?
    1. Wren: She remembered Niles saying something important about bloodshed and its ability to impurify the body by mixing the self with the outside world. This kind of action is a way of taking away the power of an individual to be distinct from the world around them. She noted, however, that gore is not necessary for violence to occur, and stated the definition of violence to be an action that shifts or maintains the power dynamic between individuals, groups, etc.
    2. I added here that I believe gore adds to violence in that it makes it more noticeable for the general population: gore is something that everyone can see, and because of Western society’s eternal classification of death as an evil (even as the relative goodness and badness of most other things has shifted), gore is far more recognizable as a bad thing, as “true violence”. However, with something like, as I will bring up later, microaggressions (I specifically brought up racially-charged ones), not everyone can recognize those kinds of actions as racist, or as violent. This can easily account for the shifting in definitions between Benjamin and contemporary society, as it is much easier to see and recognize gore than other forms of violence which do not employ it.
  2. How far can Benjamin’s definition of violence be stretched? Meaning, is there any instance of violence that would not be an example of trying to take/maintain power?
    1. I mention this question because it got us about a specific topic: intent. I gave the example of racially-charged microaggressions and how those are instances of violence, as it maintains the power of a societally-accepted superior race, most often being white folk.
    2. Julia: She asked the question: is it still violence if there is no intent behind it? She brought up my microaggression example and stated that many times, microaggressions come from a state of ignorance rather than true intent to maintain racial power, or be racist. Wren and I both responded similarly, saying that while intent does matter, the effect of that action upon a power structure is what is the most important when evaluating violence; just because someone didn’t mean to be racist doesn’t mean that they weren’t still upholding a racist power dynamic.
  3. Before we ended the discussion, Wren did want to note a distinction between violence and BDSM scenarios in which both parties are consenting. I brought up another question, though, about the relationship between consent and violence, asking if emergency surgery is violent since a person, in our example scenario, could not consent to being operated on.
    1. Julia: She said no and brought up that consent can be implicit in life-or-death scenarios, or in a kind of power-of-attorney situation, as Wren noted. It is implicit in our society (for better or for worse) that life is the most important thing, and unless there is a Do-Not-Resuscitate order, it is important for medical personnel to imply consent to be saved. However, if a person did not want to be operated on or did not want to be saved, that emergency surgery could very well be a kind of violence, as there was no consent for that person to be stripped of agency by anesthesia and have their survival placed in the hands of a surgeon. This conversation also reinforced the conclusion we came to about consequentialism from the previous question.

We ended our discussion here as we talked for about an hour, but yeah. Some of the Benjamin went over our heads, especially mine, so I wanted to hear their thoughts about it all.

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