i have no problem with pointing out that anyone of any gender can be an abuser, rapist, pedophile etc because that’s absolutely true.
but the problem with always emphasizing “yes but it happens to everyone, not just women (or people of colour, or trans* people, etc)!” is that it depoliticizes the issue.
violence is not an accident, it is reflective of social power relations that permeate society at every level
a girl liked his status
i am so done with idiots
Seriously. If the only thing concerning you about equal rights is wanting to hit women then you’ve got issues. Fucking assholes
the bolding is mine because seriously
Is anyone else pretty fucking tired of seeing men trying to use physical violence against women as a reason why we should be happy with the way things currently are? Every man that uses this argument is basically saying, shut up and enjoy the status quo, because if you don’t, that gives us free reign to beat the shit out of you as we see fit. If that isn’t fucked up I don’t know what is.
Not that, you know, we already have to deal with a shitload of phsyical violence that’s not even taken seriously half the time with things the way they are.
[TW: rape, victim blaming]
No. No. Just no.
You are making the assumption that men are the only ones who rape.
You are making the assumption that women are the only ones who are raped.
You are making the assumption that informing women about things they can do to prevent themselves from being raped, they are saying all men are potential rapists and lack self control.
What is wrong with saying you can lower your risks of being attacked if you make yourself less desirable to potential rapists and do not provide them with an opportunity to attack you?
Tell me something. Does it hurt to be this wrong?
I’d like to know where in that quote you see anything about men being the only ones who rape, and women being the only ones who are raped. Seriously. Explain it to me like I’m two. Because what I see is a quote that is specifically about the way this culture frames the subject of rape in situations with a male rapist and female victim. It doesn’t exclude the possibility of other scenarios. If someone comments on the various types of chocolate ice cream, do you angrily remind them that chocolate isn’t the only flavor out there, what about vanilla ice cream? Or do you understand that discussing one aspect of an issue doesn’t preclude the existence of other aspects of that issue, and that it’s entirely possible to discuss a subtopic without pretending it’s the entirety of the discussion?
Yes, there are female rapists. Yes, there are male survivors of rape. Indeed, there are rapists and victims alike who are neither men nor women. That doesn’t change the fact that A: the vast majority of rapists are men, and the vast majority of victims are women, and B: this quote is a commentary on the way society compels women to structure their lives around fear of male sexual violence, rather than seeking to eradicate the sexual violence itself.
You defend “informing women of ways to prevent themselves from being raped”, but you know what the only surefire way to prevent becoming a victim of rape is?
Never being in the presence of a rapist.
That’s it. That’s the only sure way. And since rapists don’t exactly have purple skin or neon flashing signs on their foreheads, or anything at all to distinguish them from non-rapists, the only true prevention strategy is doomed from the start.
Women dressed modestly are raped. Hell, nuns get raped! Women in burqas are raped, women who have never set foot in a bar or gone to a party are raped, women who lock their doors and remain inside between dusk and dawn are raped, women who’ve taken self-defense classes and carry mace in their purse are raped.Did you know that the majority of rapes are committed by someone who knows the victim, not by strangers? I am, statistically speaking, in more danger when hanging out with a group of male friends, than I am taking a walk alone at night.
I mean, do you think rape was invented after the debut of the mini-skirt, or the advent of tops with a low decolletage? Rape is not a thing that happens only to the drunk, flirtatious, and sexily-dressed. Rape is not the product of insatiable desire that, if properly curbed by appropriate modesty and retiring demeanor, will never be provoked to a rape-inspiring degree. It is an act of violence.
If you want to pretend that we should be gender-neutral when discussing sexual violence, and be outraged at this quote for connecting narratives dictating women’s behavior to how women are taught to see men as “potential rapists”, answer me this: why do we not see features in all the men’s magazines about how to protect themselves from sexual violence? Why don’t men regularly receive advice to walk to their car with their keys held ready as a weapon if it’s after dark? Why don’t men get cautioned about leaving their drinks unattended? If the risk management strategies you support are genuinely *not* connected to presumptions of male sexual violence, why is it that only women are targeted for these bits of “advice”? We (the author of the quote and those of us who agree and pass it on) aren’t the ones creating or assuming the connection. We’re just pointing it out, to show men who’ve never had to face this issue before that the constant stream of “don’t wear sexy clothes/don’t drink publicly/be careful alone after dark/etc” that is so much background noise in our culture, isn’t as innocuous as they assumed, and that it’s not just a problem for women, because it makes some pretty unflattering assumptions about them. So, y’know, even if they can’t be arsed to give a shit about women’s safety from sexual violence, maybe they can bestir their lazy asses to give a shit about their own wounded pride.
As for what’s wrong with policing women’s behavior in the name of “safety”…good gods, where do I start? Perhaps with the fact that it doesn’t work? If ways to make oneself “less desirable” to rapists and “not provide them with an opportunity” to rape you actually worked, wouldn’t you imagine that sexual violence would occur at much lower rates than it does? Anywhere from 1 in 6, up to 1 in 3 women (depending on which statistics you’re looking at, for which groups of women, and what you’re defining as rape or sexual assault) will experience sexual violence at some point in her life. Do you really think 15-30% of women in this country just didn’t know The Rules, and thus unwittingly made themselves attractive targets and showered men with rape opportunities like confetti everywhere they went? These are lessons drilled into us from childhood onward. If The Rules actually lowered risk, the rates of rape and sexual assault would be diminishing, yes? And yet, they’re not. So I’m disinclined to take seriously any suggestions that women can prevent men from raping them by restricting their own behavior in the name of “safety”, based purely on the evidence supporting the success of that tactic (or lack thereof).
Then, of course, there’s the fact of how The Rules actually end up being used. We’ve already established that they don’t actually stop rape; in that case, what happens when The Rules fail to work as intended and a woman is raped?
Immediately, everyone and their cousin will start dissecting her behavior and examining her adherence to The Rules for her flaws and mistakes. The rapist’s behavior never receives this kind of scrutiny, but let a woman talk about being raped and everyone will tear her account apart looking for where she went wrong, what mistakes she made that brought it upon herself. Was she drinking? Did she go to the party alone or let herself be separated from her friends? What was she wearing? Did she dance with the guy or flirt with him beforehand? Was she flirting with other guys at the bar? etc. ad nauseum.
Doesn’t that seem even a little bit, I dunno, utterly twisted and fucked-up to you? That the person who carried out a physical and sexual violation upon another human being has his life and choices examined only cursorily, while the person who suffered such an attack then has to run the gauntlet of public excoriation for every single way in which she was less than perfect in following The Rules and is thus partly at fault for someone else’s choice to hurt her?
That’s what “saying you can lower your risks of being attacked if you make yourself less desirable to potential rapists and do not provide them with an opportunity to attack you” does. It opens the door to victim-blaming and is a major reason why only about 3% of rapists ever actually see jail time for their crime. That’s what’s wrong with it. It is a manifestation and an explicit upholding of rape culture. That’s what you’re defending as if it were just some harmless risk management strategies. To quote Melissa McEwan’s explanation of rape culture:
Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.
If that doesn’t tell you what’s wrong with trying to get women to prevent themselves from being raped, rather than preventing people from committing rape, then I don’t know what will.
jadelyn your commentary is superb.
Just shut up.
First, a story.
So, my first semester of my freshman year of college, I took this Intro to Women’s Studies class. The class met for five hours a week, one two hour session and one three hour session, and the breakdown of students was what I eventually discovered to be the typical sampling in any Women’s Studies class with no pre-recs at my mid-sized, southern Ohio state school. There were a number of girls who would become, or were already part of, the feminist advocacy groups on campus; there were a number of girls who would prove themselves to be opposed to feminism in both concept and practice, one of whom I distinctly recall giving a presentation on the merits of the “Mrs. Degree,” while my professor’s eye twitched in muted horror; there were a handful of girls and at least one guy I’d come to know later through assorted campus queer groups; and there were, of course, the three to six dudebros, self-admittedly there to “meet chicks,” all but one or two of whom would drop the class after the first midterm. At eighteen, I was myself a feminist in name but not in practice—I believed in the idea behind feminism (which is, for the record, that people should be on equal footing regardless of gender, not that we should CRUSH ALL MEN BENEATH THE VICIOUS HEELS OF OUR DOC MARTENS GLORY HALLELUJAH), but I didn’t actually know anything about it. I could not identify the waves of feminism. Intersectionality and how the movement is crap at it were not things of which I was aware. Never had I ever encountered the writings of bell hooks. In a lucky break, you do not need to know about the waves of feminism, or know what intersectionality is, or have read bell hooks to read this essay! (But you should read bell hooks. Everyone should read bell hooks. bell hooks is FUCKING AWESOME.)
The first couple of weeks of this class were about what you’d expect. The professor was fun and engaging, but she was not exactly pulling out the eye-opening stops on our wide-eyed freshman asses. There were handouts. There were selections of the textbook for reading. There was a very depressing class about domestic violence, abuse, and rape that was the typical rattling off of terms and horrific statistics that everyone winced at, but that nobody really internalized. The dudebros snickered in the back corner, grouped together like they would be infested by cooties if they spread out, occasionally chiming in with helpful comments like, “Dude, the lady on the back of this book is smoking,” and getting turned down by each girl in the class, on whom they were hitting in what I can only assume was a pre-determined descending order of hotness. The queer kids, myself included, huddled in the other corner making pithy comments. The up-and-coming active feminists glared at the bros, who leered back, and the Mrs. Degree-friendly crowd mostly texted under their desks and made it very clear that they were only there for humanities credit. Again, it was a fairly typical southern Ohio state school class full of fairly typical southern Ohio state school freshmen. Nobody was super engaged, is what I am saying here. Nobody, myself included, was really eating it up with a spoon.
And then one day, my professor opened the class with, “So, who here has seen Beauty and the Beast?”
Almost everyone in the class raised their hands; she was talking about the 1991 animated Disney film, and it was pretty standard fare for this room full of American kids who’d mostly been born in ‘88 or ‘89. Beauty and the Beast was in the rotation of films we’d been sat down with as children, the rotation of films we’d watched in our living rooms while our babysitters engaged themselves elsewhere, the rotation of films whose plots we’d followed while sitting next to parents who weren’t paying much attention. It was known to almost all of us, and when she asked us what we remembered about it, the participation canted up to a level it hadn’t reached in the first few weeks. People talked about the songs they still knew by heart, about the dancing candlestick and the grumpy clock, about the library they’d always wanted, about the scene at the end where Belle dances in her huge yellow dress. It had, for most of us, been a long time since we’d seen it, but we remembered it well enough. People usually do hold on to the things they see as children, after all. People usually do remember the stuff that enters their brains, when their brains are at their most malleable and impressionable.
The professor let us exhaust ourselves with our recollections, and then she smiled and said, “All right. Let’s watch it.”
In the 91 minute run-time of Beauty and the Beast, the following things occur: the heroine, Belle, is pursued relentlessly by a man named Gaston, to whom “No one says no.” (Additionally, no one hits like Gaston, matches wits like Gaston, or in a spitting contest spits like Gaston—he’s especially good at expectorating. The fact that I am about to explain some things about this film does not mean I don’t love it; the Gaston song is in my iTunes with a ridiculous number of plays. No judgement.) When she rejects his pursuit of her, he becomes enraged and concocts a plan to have her father committed to an insane asylum unless she agrees to marry him. Meanwhile, said father has been imprisoned in a castle by the Beast, who is cursed to remain a beast unless he loves and is loved by someone before his twenty-first birthday. Belle’s father, who has grown very ill, is released when Belle offers to take his place, a bargain to which the Beast agrees on the condition that Belle remain within the castle forever. He physically throws Belle’s father out of the castle without so much as allowing her to say goodbye; when she refuses to dine with the person who kidnapped, imprisoned, and threatened her father, the Beast instructs the servants not to allow her to eat anything at all. He screams at her. He physically intimidates and threatens her. He chases her out of a room he does not want her to enter in a furious rage, and through it all she is told by his assorted servants (the teapot, the candlestick, etc.) not to judge him too harshly, not to take him too seriously, not to think of him as a villain.
When Belle attempts to escape the castle in overwhelming terror of the Beast, she is attacked by wolves, whom the Beast fights off. She nurses his wounds and the story turns; in response to her kindness, the Beast begins to to display a softer side, a gentler side, a side Belle grows to love. She sings a song about how she can’t believe she didn’t see this in him before. They dance together, her in that big yellow dress. As she continues to show him warmth and kindness, he continues to stray farther and father from his original incarnation—to wit, the one that physically and emotionally terrorized her and instructed his servants to starve her if she didn’t want to eat with him—until he is in all ways but appearance a gentleman. The villages, led by the still-enraged Gaston, storm the castle, and there is a battle between Gaston and the Beast that is clearly meant to be viewed as The Battle For Belle, so to speak. Gaston loses but stabs the Beast anyway before being thrown to his doom, the Beast more or less dies, but Belle loves him, which breaks the spell keeping him trapped as the Beast and saves his life. They, in theory, live happily ever after.
The film ended, and my professor flicked the light on. She passed out a handout we’d already received, a list of warning signs for domestic abusers. This list included things like, “isolates partner from support systems—tries to keep them from family, friends, outside activities.” It included things like, “attempts to control what partner wears, does, or sees.” It included things like, “is extremely moody, jumping quickly from being nice to exploding in anger.” It included things like, “is overly sensitive—gets hurt when not getting their way, takes offense when someone disagrees with them, gets very upset at small inconveniences.” It included things like, “has unrealistic expectations of partner,” and “is abusive towards other people,” and “has ever threatened violence, even if it wasn’t a serious threat,” and, “gets romantically serious very quickly,” and “holds partner against their will,” and “intimidates with threatening body language, punching walls, breaking objects, etc.” The Beast meets almost every criterion on the list, and those he doesn’t meet (“was abused by a parent,” “grew up in an abusive home,”) are only unmet in the sense that we have no way to know, from the narrative given to us, whether he meets them or not.
My professor said, “Okay. Now let’s talk about it.”
So we talked about it. She laid it out for us fairly neatly, because—and again, I say this as someone who loves this film—the movie Beauty and the Beast is a fairly cut-and-dried abuse-apologist narrative. It is quite literally a movie about a woman who takes a ~wild beast~ and tames him with her love. It is a movie that says, “Here is a man who is literally a beast, and here is a woman who shows him love despite that! And lo, her love changes him. Her love makes him better. Her love saves him. Her love—quite literally—transforms him from the dangerous and abusive personality he is at the beginning of the film into someone else entirely.” In short, it is a movie that says, “If you love your abuser enough, they’ll stop being abusive. You just need to love them more. It’s your job to love them, to fix them, to change them.” Which is, of course, a terrible and dangerous and very pervasive lie.
There was, naturally, backlash from the room. We’d all loved this movie since we were children, and none of us wanted to see it the way she was showing it to us. None of us wanted to have to acknowledge what she was saying, both because it made something we loved feel less worthy of loving and because it made us feel shitty for not having recognized it ourselves. Eventually, one girl raised her hand and said, “Okay, I see what you’re saying, but come on. We’re all adults here; it’s not like anybody is watching this and taking it seriously, or thinking that, like, the Beast is a good boyfriend model or whatever! I mean, for god’s sake, it’s a kid’s movie.”
My professor rounded on her heel, pointed a finger at the girl, and said, “Exactly.” Just like that, the room went silent. Not a creature was stirring, not even the dudebros.
Fast forward to last night, when I’m doing my annual Christmas season re-watch of Love Actually while half-assedly reading through yet another blog post lamenting the current state of the internet, so full of feminists and social justice folk who are ~ruining everything~, who are taking things too seriously, who should just shut up. Now, Love Actually is a film that I love despite myself; it is shamelessly emotionally manipulative and deeply problematic in many ways, but I love it anyway. Perhaps it’s just that I enjoy narratives told in interconnected vignettes; perhaps it’s Colin Firth’s face; perhaps it’s the fact that I watched for the first time it at a formative age. Whatever the reason, it’s a film I keep coming back to no matter how many times I realize that many different parts of it are deeply fucked up.
So I’m watching this movie and reading this blog entry, and, as I do every year, I get to the plotline between Hugh Grant’s David and Martine McCutcheon’s Natalie, an aide with whom he falls in love. For those who haven’t seen the film, this plotline proceeds as follows: Hugh Grant, as the recently elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, develops feelings for this employee that he does not wish to acknowledge for reasons of the fact that she is his employee. They flirt, etc, and then the President of the United States, played, in a casting choice I will never understand, by Billy Bob Thornton, mentions in a very gross way that he finds her attractive. There is then a scene in which Hugh Grant briefly leaves the Thornton’s President alone in a room with McCutcheon’s character, who is there in her capacity as a low-level aide. When he returns, Thornton is hitting on McCutcheon physically, in a scene which, to me, reads very clearly as an uneven exchange between one of the most powerful human beings in the world and a very uncomfortable, very intimidated employee.
As a result of this incident, Grant’s character has McCutcheon’s “redistributed” from her position, choosing to do so through a third party and never discussing it with her. She then sends him a card apologizing for the incident and saying she is “his,” and must then apologize again, in person, before the narrative allows them to kiss. As I do every year, I find myself thinking about what that professor would say about this plotline, about how she’d point out that this is a narrative which punishes a woman for being put in an unequal, unreciprocated, and objectified position, that this is a narrative which makes this woman apologize both in writing and in speech before it forgives her. And yet, as I do every year, I find myself rooting for them. I find myself charmed by Grant’s sly smile and McCutcheon’s exuberant relief at his forgiveness. I find myself pleased when they get together, even though everything about the entire plotline perfectly embodies more or less everything I hate in media. As an educated consumer, as a self-described fervent feminist, as someone who makes it a point to look for and see these things about the media I engage with, I still want to watch this happen. I still want what the narrative tells me to want. I do it despite myself, but I do it all the same.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, nobody sat down with me after I watched Beauty and the Beast and said, “Okay, this is a movie, and it’s okay to enjoy this movie! It’s okay to think this movie is great! But just so you know, if someone in real life did to you the things the Beast does to Belle, that wouldn’t be okay. That wouldn’t be right.” When my mind was young and malleable, there was no trusted adult pointing out, “This is a movie, and it’s okay to like this movie, but the relationship it shows is unhealthy.” And that’s not because I didn’t have those trusted adults in my life! I was lucky enough to grow up with two intelligent, liberal, kind, forward-thinking, active parents; they didn’t tell me because they didn’t know to tell me. They didn’t tell me because nobody told them.
When I was 14, I saw Love Actually in theaters. It was an enlightening time for me on more than one level; I was discovering romance first-hand, as well as consuming it in films and television I had, until recently, been considered too young to watch. I was also getting schooled on the full contents of the “don’t get raped” handbook, not that any of managed to prevent rape for me in the end. I was told not to park in parking garages, because someone could hide under my car and rape me, but also not to park on the streets, because someone could come out of the shadows and rape me. I was told not to wear my hair in a ponytail, because someone could grab it and rape me, but also not to wear my hair down, because it made me look older and could entice someone to rape me. I was told not to walk alone or with only other girls, because it would leave me vulnerable and allow someone to rape me, but also not to spend time alone with or trust guys, because they could be planning to rape me. And while I was receiving this assortment of contradictory and ultimately useless guidelines, nobody was saying, “Hey, in movies like Love Actually, in these films that are so-called ‘chick flicks,’ in these movies that are targeted towards your social group of teens and young women, there are going to be scenes where shit goes down that is gross and rapey and wrong. There are going to be scenes where people the film is designed to make you identify with are objectified, discarded, and minimized, and those people are going to be portrayed as being fine with it. It’s okay to like the movie! But in real life, that shit would not be okay, and you would not have to be fine with it.” Nobody told me because nobody knew to tell me. Nobody told me because nobody told them.
It’s the age of internet; media is more available than ever before, at greater volume than ever before. Through our televisions with their endless channel options, through our Netflix accounts, through our torrents and streams and Youtube videos and DVD rips, there is always something to watch. And I get it. I get that it’s exhausting to pick shit apart looking for flaws. I get that it’s exhausting to see other people picking shit apart looking flaws. I get that it’s hard to see something you love get lambasted, or tarred with a brush you’d rather not think about, or called bad names. I get that it feels like things are being ruined, like people are looking for things to hate, like people are taking things too seriously. I even get that, as much as we’d like to pretend otherwise, it can feel like a personal attack to see a piece of media we’re attached to get put through the wringer. I get that, in seeing someone say, “This piece of media is dangerous and flawed and sending a bad message,” it can feel like they’re saying, “You are dangerous and flawed and sending a bad message for liking this.” They aren’t saying that, but I get how it can feel that way, because it’s felt that way for me. That’s what happens, when you get attached to things and somebody talks shit about them. That’s what happens when media is designed to emotionally manipulate you; you become emotionally manipulated. It’s just how it works.
But consuming media critically is a skill, and in an age where media is more prevalent than ever before, it’s a skill worth having. It’s a skill worth having because you are going to continue to be exposed to media, and it is going to continue to attempt to manipulate you. It’s a skill worth having because it makes it less difficult to see people talking shit about things you like, not more. It’s a skill worth having because some of the shit being taught en masse by media is horrible scary damaging shit, and maybe you don’t think you’ve learned that horrible scary damaging shit, and maybe you don’t think you’re susceptible to that horrible scary damaging shit, and honestly? Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’re not. I don’t know you. But I know that a classroom full of average southern Ohio state school students went silent in horror at the full realization of what Beauty and the Beast teaches kids too young to know better. I know that as someone who has spent years being taught to analyze media, as someone who has actively worked to develop the skill of understanding what a given film is attempting to wring from me, I still want to see Hugh Grant kiss Martine McCutcheon. I know that the real trick to the continued, pervasive prevalence of shit like rape culture is that it’s everywhere all the time, slipped in under the radar and riding on the fact that it’s the status quo, hidden in plain goddamn sight.
We can argue for media that doesn’t push the horrible shit we need to unlearn as a society to get to a healthier place, or we can point out the flaws in our preexisting media, or we can do both. But “just shut up,” isn’t an option. “Just shut up,” can’t be an option, because we can’t keep playing the “nobody told me because nobody told them,” card. Nothing will ever get better that way. Nothing will ever improve if we keep not telling people this shit. And yes, it’s easier not to watch things critically. Yes, it’s easier not to engage with this stuff. Yes, as always, “not learning things,” is the easier option. And if you don’t want to learn things (or unlearn them, as the case may be), that’s your right. That’s your call, and nobody can stop you from making it. It’s entirely possible to like and even love problematic media while consuming it critically, while acknowledging its flaws, but if that’s not something you wish to figure out then that’s that, and there ain’t shit anybody can do about it. But for the love of god, stop arguing that people should be quiet, should stop pointing this stuff out, should stop engaging with something in a way you don’t want them to. For one thing, you’re wasting your breath—again, it’s the age of the internet. People are going to use their platforms as they please. But for another thing, there’s a huge difference between saying, “I don’t feel like dealing with this problem,” and saying, “I don’t feel like dealing with this problem and therefore no one else should either.” One of them is a personal choice, and the other is embarrassingly irresponsible. I’ll leave it up to you to work out where the chips fall on that one.
Reblogging in full because this is definitely worth a read. Don’t be put off by the length. Read it now!
bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love.
On my Facebook page, I posted a status in the wake of this morning’s school shooting in Newtown:
“Violent masculinity has got to go… for real…”
Several people ‘liked’ it, and one person (male) posted this comment:
To which I replied:
“No, violent masculinity. Look at who commits violence: men. Why don’t we ever question gender socialization as a cause of not only shootings, but all types of violence? Most all violence is committed by men. This is not to say that women cannot be violent, but violence is socialized as a masculine trait, and quite frankly, that is insulting to me as a man.”
“Although violence is often attributed to some forms of masculinity, theres no doubt that women can commit violent acts. That’s my point: all forms of violence are bad, not just “violent masculinity.”I get it: men are bad, women are good. Ok.”
This is a response often demonstrated by men - immediately feeling accused of being “bad,” when in fact, what I’m saying is that most men are NOT violent. But society socializes us to think of violence as an acceptable form of conflict resolution for men, and when taken to extremes, it can result in shootings such as the one we witnessed today. I went on to say:
“Yeah, except that is NOT what I’m saying AT ALL.
What I’m saying is that men and boys are socialized to be violent. When acts of violence such as the shooting in Connecticut happen, we look at a myriad of issues - gun control, mental health, access to affordable mental health care, violent video games, violent movies but the ONE THING that is rarely, if ever, mentioned is the gender of the shooters. Which is almost ALWAYS male. In fact, in the cases of these mass murders / school shootings, I do not think one shooter has EVER been female.
Why is that?
Yet when women commit acts of violence, gender is almost ALWAYS the first thing brought up - this implies that violence is inherently masculine. When men DO commit acts of violence - perhaps not as extreme as this one today, but bullying, sexual harassment / assault we often dismiss it as “boys being boys,” which again, is insulting to all men as it implies we cannot control our behaviors. As if we are hardwired for violence.
If you’re taking my comment as anti-male it’s quite the opposite - I love men and think we can do SO much better than we are doing now, and we need to model a new form of non-violent, healthy masculinity soon - or at least start a discussion around this topic as we do with the issues I listed in my first paragraph - otherwise things will continue the way they are, or get worse.
Additionally: how many of these mass shooting come about as a result of sexism? Almost all of these school shootings can be traced back to shooters and their misogyny and past instances of violence against women… another way men are taught to be socialized: view women as objects, as things, rather than people.”
How many women, children, and other men for that matter - have to die before we begin to have a serious discussion in this country about the role men’s socialization plays in these acts of violence? When will we stop simply “praying for the victims” and debating over gun control and address one of, if not THE, root cause of all of this violence - our definition of manhood?
men draft men to fight their violent wars and then try to blame women for oppressing them are you serious
when men are killed they’re killed overwhelmingly by men
when men are raped they’re raped overwhelmingly by men
wow male violence hurts men too? ah better blame the feminists
It breaks my heart to share this link, because the horror of it is unimaginable. This is cruelty that was done just for the sake of cruelty; this was a crime of the sickest order, and it happened because nobody stood up to stop it.
A lesbian woman in Alabama went to spend the end of Thanksgiving day with her girlfriend’s family. What happened next, how A got to Z - nobody seems to be clear on, but what we know is that the brother of Mallory Owens, Travis Hawkins, Jr., flipped out, and beat Ms. Owens very literally within an inch of her life. Hawkins’ family stood by and watched. They have done worse than just standing there and watching this; Hawkins’ family is now threatening Owens’ family. Apparently, it’s not enough that their son has made facial reconstruction surgery necessary for the woman that their daughter loves.
The DA in this case charged Hawkins with simple second-degree assault. This is not what happened; what this is was attempted murder and a hate crime.
The story is at the following link. Trigger warning: severe violence against an LGBT person, and graphic pictures of that attack.
Mallory Owens’ story, from what I can gather, is being underreported in Alabama. It’s certainly being treated as unimportant by the legal system. I can promise you that, if the one fighting for his life was Travis Hawkins, this DA would be calling for the death penalty.
Something HAS to be done here. If it’s only that we try to share this story, so that many more eyes are on it and this DA can know that we are watching him, and that we are demanding justice for Mallory Owens. Petitions can be started. Charity accounts can be set up to help with her medical costs. Protests can be arranged.
No matter how it happens, Mallory Owens needs to know that there are people who won’t just stand by.
Please pass this on.
Dear Mr. Mourdock,
Sometimes I still flinch when I’m touched a certain way, even if it’s the loving embrace of my husband. I can’t stand to watch TV shows where rape is the central plot line. Even some seasons of the year are harder for me. Those of us who are sexual assault survivors call these triggers. We spend our lives — the lives we lead after the attack — avoiding and managing these triggers.
A congressional debate shouldn’t have to come with a trigger warning. But apparently, Richard, yours should. Because in Tuesday’s debate for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat, you said this Tuesday night during a debate in New Albany, Indiana.
“I believe that life begins at conception…The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Rape and sexual assault are complicated experiences for survivors. Some of us fight, kick, scream, and resist at every moment. Some of us eventually give in to save our own lives or to manage the horror. Some of us know that what is happening is rape, others of us just know it is wrong, but don’t have the words to describe why. Some of us push the memories down and try to forget, others of us battle openly with the nightmares and scars every day. There is no one right way to survive. There is no one right way to feel.
As we heal, we learn not to judge ourselves or to judge our fellow survivors, because we learn that judgment can wound as deeply as assault. If a woman finds herself pregnant after a rape, we do not judge the choices she makes.
I am descended from American slaves. I have foremothers who found themselves pregnant with children whose birth increased the wealth of the very man who enslaved and raped them. Somehow, through the angst and misery of that experience some of those women found a way to love and embrace the children they bore from rape. So I do not doubt the compassion or judge the choice of a survivor who carries a rape pregnancy to term.
But the whole point is choice. Consent. You see, Mr. Mourdock, the violation of rape is more than physical. Rapists strip women of our right to choose, of our right to say no, of our right to control what is happening to our bodies. Most assailants tell us it is our fault. They tell us to be silent. Sometimes they even tell us it’s God’s will. That is the core violation of rape– it takes away choice.
Richard, you believe it is fine to ignore a women’s right to choose because of your interpretation of divinity. Sound familiar?
Let me explain something to you. When we survive sexual assault, we are the gift. When we survive, when we go on to love, to work, to speak out, to have fun, to laugh, to dance, to cry, to live, when we do that, we defeat our attackers. For a moment, they strip us of our choices. As we heal, we take our choices back. We are the gift to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation when we survive.
Now let me say this very clearly to you Mr Mourdock, and to all of your shameless endorsers: we did not survive an attack on our consent just to turn around and give up our right to choose to you. Not without a fight.
Are you sure you want to have that fight?
1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.
2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true. (More).
3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.
4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.
5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are. (More).
6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.
7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low. (More).
8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.
9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.
10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.
11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent. (More).
12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.
13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.
14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.
15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More).
17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.
18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often. (More).
19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.
20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented.
21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.
22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.
23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.
24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.” (More).
25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability. (More).
26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring. (More).
27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. (More).
28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. (More).
29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.
31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)
32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.
33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
35. The decision to hire me will not be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.
36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.
37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.
38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (More).
39. If I have children with my girlfriend or wife, I can expect her to do most of the basic childcare such as changing diapers and feeding.
40. If I have children with my wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.
41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.
42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (More).
43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More).
45. Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment. (More.)
45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.
46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.
*cis male privilege
I have bolded the ones that I found most relevant (to my own life and experience) and striking.
This past Thursday, a group of men started cat-calling/hitting on a group of women in Chicago. When the women said, no, the men threw bottles and then SHOT at their car as they tried to drive away. One woman was shot in the shoulder, and the driver took a bottle in the head as she tried to drive off. Last month in Washington, DC a Transwoman was shot for turning down a man’s request for sex as she sat in her car. In August a woman in Atlanta was shot for refusing to get in a car with a group of men. In May of 2010 a young woman was shot in the leg for turning down a man’s advances.
Ok, so that was one googling, which also yielded an article on a woman in Australia who was shot in the thigh after refusing to perform oral sex. Many people will claim that these are just “isolated” incidents. But three of those took place in the last two, two and a half months. That’s not really isolated, in fact, that sounds distinctly like a pattern.
When guys complain about women not giving them a straight answer, this is why. Granted, these are fairly extreme. However, on a regular basis women who turn down men, no matter how nicely, are insulted, yelled at, spit on, hit, kicked and knocked to the ground. Most of these assaults go unreported because women know that the police aren’t going to take them seriously, particularly if they’re dressed at all nicely or “sexy.”
This is why the Schrodinger’s Rapist post resonated with so many women.
“Why are you afraid of women?” I asked a group of men.
“We’re afraid they’ll laugh at us,” replied the men.
“Why are you afraid of men?” I asked a group of women
“We’re afraid they’ll kill us,” replied the woman. -Margaret Atwood
When men ignore our boundaries, try to push or test them, we rightfully feel that they are a bigger risk for pushing even more important, dangerous boundaries, like say, raping or hitting you.
Yeah, I know, a lot of you are out there (if you’ve gotten this far) thinking, “That’s bullshit! I’d never do that!” And maybe you wouldn’t, but we can’t take that chance. And when you push boundaries or ignore our “No”s, even about small things, this puts you higher and higher up on the risk scale.
We can’t take those chances because when we’re raped or assaulted it’s always our fault. Everyone tells us so. Every single person who says, “I’d never blame the victim, but if you’re wearing a short skirt, what do you expect?” Every fucking magazine with their “Ten Things You Can Do to Not Be Raped” articles, that place all the onus on women, and none of it on, oh, the rapists.
How do you not scare women?
Respect their boundaries. Take no at face value. As a commenter said over on Pharyngula, you have nothing to lose: If she meant no, you’ve respected her wishes. If she meant “pursue me harder” or whatever bullshit, then bullet dodged. You don’t want to deal with that kind of mind-game playing, anyway.
But in all seriousness, guys, if you ever wonder why women act like their scared of you, read the above links again.
Schrodinger’s Rapist is an excellent article. If you haven’t read it, then I encourage you to read it. Trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault or rape.
What I hear when people cite false rape accusations as evidence that women lie about rape:
You know what, I think the misfortune of a few individuals is enough to invalidate an entire culture of entitlement and disregard towards women’s bodies. I think consent is too tricky to obtain every time I have intercourse. I think rape is just a term women use to describe their buyers remorse when they realize they’ve been slutty and they don’t want their catty friends to judge them for being sluts. I think rape is a concept that oppresses men, because it presumes that women can say no, when everyone knows that, for real women, no means yes. I would rather shame all rape victims into silence on account of a few people who lied because I am scared that someone might accuse me of rape, which would ruin my life, but I’ve never really given much thought to how being raped might ruin someone’s life. I think rape accusations are a way of women exercising tricky women power over men, even though the justice system regularly under convicts rape, in the small proportion of cases that are reported. I think it is ok to rape if you dont get caught. I think a mans right to stay out of prison is more important than a woman’s right not to be raped. I do not care about rape victims as much as I care about rapists. I am a rape apologist.