Feminism: Why Won't You Women Stop Getting Raped?

[Content Note: Rape, Violence, Sadism]

This morning I received a Change.org petition in my email entitled "Philadelphia editor who blamed Lara Logan for her gang rape must go". I clicked over to read the story expecting the usual depressing victim-blaming bingo, but it's really so much worse than I had expected. Don't read further if you don't have the spoons to deal with a heavy dose of WTF idiocy.

Broad Street Review (which I can't remember hearing about before now) published a terribly thoughtful-if-depressing article by SaraKay Smullens that essentially asserts that rape is a much more common occurrence than a lot of people realize and that it's high time we started recognizing this as a society and speaking up about it. There's nothing particularly revolutionary about the article if you've been following feminism and rape culture even a little bit in the last, oh, ever, but it's a good article and maybe this will be the one that makes the difference for someone and provides a wake-up call of either the "thank god I'm not alone" variety or the "dear god this must stop" variety. Both of these are healthy responses to be hoped for, and I appreciate Smullens for writing about these womens' experiences.

We must have "both sides" of the issue, though, or it's not journalism (or so I'm led to understand) so Broad Street Review also saw fit to publish a "thoughtful" rebuttal written by one Dan Rottenberg that is a spicy serving of victim blaming with a soft pinch of paternalism on top, and a side of Goddamned Hippies On My Lawn as a palette cleanser. Rottenberg (apparently) read an article that starts with a woman being habitually humiliated against her will by her sadist husband who forces her to eat his feces and culminates in a reporter who was gang raped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square by hundreds of men, and naturally decides that the real issue here is those damned low-cut tops and those hippies who refuse to keep guns in their homes.

Smullens argues that women need to speak up and speak out when they’re victimized, as Lara Logan has done, and of course she is right. But having stumbled across a CBS publicity photo for Lara Logan (above), I can’t help thinking that women also need to take sensible precautions before they’re victimized.

For example: Don’t trust your male friends. Don’t go to a man’s home at night unless you’re prepared to have sex with him. Don’t disrobe in front of a male masseur. If you take a job as a masseuse, don’t be shocked if your male customers think you’re a prostitute. And if you want to be taken seriously as a journalist, don’t pose for pictures that emphasize your cleavage.

Tl;dr version: Don't marry a man who is going habitually rape you once you are financially and emotionally dependent on him years after you two have had children together. I mean, c'mon, that's not hard, right? Don't wear a low-cut dress to a fancy dress party, and if you do, for gods' sake don't go cover news stories in Cairo afterwards. Don't you realize that you've foolishly signaled with that dress to those men in Cairo that you want to be raped in public by hundreds of violent men?

Many of the tragedies mentioned above spring from what I see as a na├»ve faith in the power of the modern sexual revolution. Women today are technically free to do all sorts of things that were forbidden to their grandmothers, which is all well and good. But in practice, rape and the notion of sexual conquest persist for the same reason that warfare persists: because the human animal— especially the male animal— craves drama as much as food, shelter and clothing. Conquering an unwilling sex partner is about as much drama as a man can find without shooting a gun— and, of course, guns haven’t disappeared either.

Earth to liberated women: When you display legs, thighs or cleavage, some liberated men will see it as a sign that you feel good about yourself and your sexuality. But most men will see it as a sign that you want to get laid.

They most definitely won't see your legs as a sign that it's 105 degrees fahrenheit outside, also known as freaking-too-hot-to-live. They absolutely won't see your thighs as a sign that you're at the Sea World waterpark and Macy's doesn't sell those thigh covering swimsuits anymore. And they're certainly not going to see that women journalists at red carpet affairs are expected to conform to certain social expectations of dress and beauty in those scenarios and that coming to the event with nothing but your eyes (and maybe a little provocative ankle) uncovered is going to kill your career deader than a doornail.

Nope, all those non-liberated evo-psych men are just gonna see you wearing a big sign saying I WANT TO HAVE SEX. And, of course, once a woman has signaled that she wants sex, or that she has had sex, or that she likes sex, she's open to any takers. The woman's liberation movement was nice and all, but you can't take all that "I want to choose who I have sex with" stuff seriously.

You don't believe Dan Rottenberg? HOW WOULD YOU LIKE SOME ANECDOTES THEN? HUH?!

Back in the 1980s two single women lived at opposite ends of my block in Center City. One, whom I’ll call Ann, spent 18 years on our block without any problem. The other, whom I’ll call Sarah, was the victim of four burglaries, one attempted rape and one molestation of her young daughter, all within a year of her arrival.

The difference in their stories seemed obvious to me. Ann kept a low profile, dressed conservatively, installed a burglar alarm, locked her sturdy front door at all times and kept a gun her front hallway. Sarah, on the other hand, dressed like a flower child (she wasn’t a druggie, but she looked like one), had no burglar alarm and only the flimsiest of front doors; and in any case she often kept her front door ajar, where she could be seen puttering around her living room in shorts and a halter.

See? God, what's wrong with you people. Dan Rottenberg knew two women. They lived in the same neighborhood. One of them had a gun in her hallway to protect her and the other one had a small child and wore shorts. Shorts, people. The one with the shorts quite naturally got burgled several times, while the one with the gun had exciting shoot-outs in her living room before "word on the street" got out that she was not to be messed with and then the gangs gave her "props", as my kids tell me it is now called. It's a cold, cruel world, folks, living as we do in an apocalyptic wasteland where might makes right, but what's the sense in complaining about it, am I right? Of course I'm right. I'm Dan Rottenberg.

The saddest thing about this article, really, isn't that it's just another "Why do you insist on getting raped?" article to throw onto the pile. No, the saddest thing is that the author read a touching and distressing article about women being victimized at all levels of life, by people who they thought they could trust -- husbands, friends, service personnel, clients, peanuts-on-a-popsicle-stick ambulance responders -- and Dan Rottenberg decided that it was his job, nay his duty, to explain to women why they should never, ever, ever be alone with a man. This isn't the usual "stranger rape" smoke and mirrors; this guy is admitting that the majority of rapes are committed by men known to the victim, and his argument is to stop knowing men.

This isn't another "leave a bar with a stranger, expect to get raped" article. It's a "get married to a man, expect to get raped" article. It's a "get in an ambulance, expect to get raped" article. It's a "show off your boobs at a red carpet event, expect to get raped in a location utterly removed from that one by vast spans of time and distance, by men who very likely never even saw the event where your boobs were displayed" article.

Dan Rottenberg, ladies, is here to solve your rape problem: Don't trust men. Ever. Not even Dan Rottenberg. Especially not Dan Rottenberg. If Dan Rottenberg sees your legs -- even briefly -- you have signaled your desire to have sex with Dan Rottenberg. And once the desire to have sex with Dan Rottenberg has been signaled, there are no take-backsies.

And now I'd like to end this article on a personal note:

Dear Dan Rottenberg,

I have a bad back. It's not a big deal, nothing to worry yourself about, expect that I'm in constant pain all the time and if I don't get massages every couple of weeks, my muscles seize up and I can't walk. I've actually found a very nice woman masseuse who helps me with my physical therapy and I'm glad she has chosen this profession despite the fact that she can't refuse service to men like you who will think she's a prostitute because she touches peoples' bodies for a living.

Incidentally, I have been to a male masseur before. He was incredibly nice and completely professional and really did help with my back, but I spent the entire time completely uncomfortable because I knew that if he raped me, I would spend the rest of my life having men like you tell me that I should have known better than trust a man to be a professional instead of being compelled by his biological urges to hurt me as much as he felt he could get away with.

But, you know what? I'm not a man-hater like you, anymore than I'm not a woman-hater like you. I'm a feminist and I believe that all people, regardless of gender, can and should be held to a high standard of "not-hurting-others-for-fun" behavior. I also believe in freedom of speech, so I think you should be allowed to say whatever hurtful, stupid things you want to say in whatever venue is foolish enough to choose to publish you. And I believe that when you do say your hateful, stupid things in a venue, people should have the right to suggest to that venue that they are perfectly willing to take their eyeballs elsewhere if that venue continues to publish hateful, stupid articles. And I believe that venue should have the right to take those opinions on board and not provide you a free platform for your hateful, stupid opinions anymore.

And I also I believe I have the freedom to say: Fuck you, Dan Rottenberg. 

So there's that.

Most sincerely,
Ana Mardoll

33 comments:

Kit Whitfield said...

Freedom to say whatever he likes? Yep.

Entitlement to a job on a publication charged with a responsibility to report facts, that therefore gives whatever he says a respectable imprimatur? Nope. Somebody else could be doing that job; somebody else who wouldn't use the opportunity to spread hate speech. 

Rapists and rape spin doctors have to stop getting away with things. This includes him. Thank you for calling the petition to my attention; I'm just sorry I could only sign it once. 

Ana Mardoll said...

Kit Whitfield 

I, too, hope the petition works. I can honestly say I haven't heard of the venue in question before, but this sort of article is seriously WTF territory. The whole "rape is delightful drama, almost as good as shooting people!" paragraph made me seriously disturbed.

Maybe he's a professional troll? Surely only a troll would work "female naivete" -- with, I think, the correct gendered spelling on naivete? -- into the title of a post about how shorts and halter tops cause men to be rapists. Surely no one could hate one's fellow humans as much as this article seems to.

Gelliebean said...

So basically he boils it down to Avoiding Rape 101: Stop Flaunting your Girlness?  How would that apply to a guy who was mugged - was he also asking for it?  Is a person who owns a nice car just asking to have the car stolen? 

Should I be made to understand that my body is rightfully assumed to be at the disposal of any passing male who thinks I haven't done a good enough job of hiding it from them?  I have a bathing suit.  I have shirts that show varying degrees of cleavage.  I have shorts and skirts to wear because I live in Texas and it's 100+ degrees from May to September.  I'm rather fond of my body.  That doesn't mean that I need, want, expect or tolerate anyone assuming that they had any fucking right to do anything with my body that they weren't explicitly invited to.  If it's hot outside, and I have no AC, you'd better believe I would have doors and windows open and be wearing shorts and tank tops. 

How hidden is hidden enough  to be 'safe?'  If I wore turtlenecks and ankle-length skirts and wimples all year-round?  If I dashed from my car to my house and never spent five minutes outside alone?  If I never looked a man in the eyes so they wouldn't think I was inviting them, and never spoke to a man without my husband standing there, and never went shopping after dark, would that be enough for Rottenberg to agree that I might have earned the privilege to, you know, not be raped?

Ana Mardoll said...

It gets worse.

He's written a follow-up column: http://www.broadstreetreview.com/index.php/main/article/about_that_column_on_sex_abuse

I would still argue that it’s irresponsible to contend, as the anti-date rape activist Robin Warshaw once put it to me, that “even if a woman is lying naked on a bed, ‘No’ means ‘No’.”

Ana Mardoll said...

@Gelliebean:disqus

and never spoke to a man without my husband standing there, and never
went shopping after dark, would that be enough for Rottenberg to agree
that I might have earned the privilege to, you know, not be raped?


I think you also have to not HAVE a husband, since the original article covered marital rape and DR's response is to "not trust male friends". How do you get a husband without him being a male friend first?? And if you go the 'arranged marriage' route, you know DR is going to say you were asking for it by marrying a complete stranger.

No, no, to be truly safe, you have to NEVER KNOW ANY MEN AT ALL. According to Dan, anyway.

Gelliebean said...

Good point.  I guess an all-female commune *might* work, as long as there were no female rapists involved.... 

I love this line from his newest post, under the "What have I learned from this experience" part: "Many women (and men) send out signals that they’d like to have sex. It doesn’t follow that they’d like to be raped. "

And it only took him 40+ yaers and a tsunami of protests before he figured that little gem out.  How nice for him.

Ana Mardoll said...

Good point.  I guess an all-female commune *might* work, as long as there were no female rapists involved....

And even then we still have to dress conservatively and keep guns on hand.

Not surprisingly, his follow-up post made me far more angry than the original one. Everyone writes something stupid once in awhile; I can even forgive an Epic Stupid article like his if the response is "oh crap, I'm sorry. I never before realized I was an idiot. I will educate myself immediately." Fine. But a stupid article to defend your first stupid article and now you've gone beyond accidental rape apologetics and well into deliberate territory.

Matt Smyczynski said...

Signed the hell out of that petition. Which, sadly, is no different than a normal signing, but maybe my disgust will somehow manifest digitally.

Amaryllis said...

Of all the stupid....

It was all stupid on a horrific level of stupid, but I too tripped hard over "all masseurs are rapists; all masseuses are prostitutes." Bwuh?

Like you, I've had back problems; like you, I've had massage therapy. And there was nothing remotely sexual about it.  I wonder if anyone's forwarded this to the massage therapists' and physical therapists' professional associations?

Also stupid: one of the follow-up articles, written (apparently- who knows any more?) by a very young woman who blames the occurrence of rape on the "older generation" who just can't be expected to understand current fashion

Carrie said...

This causes me to want to engafe in physical violence against my air mattress. Like, gee golly gosh does this make me angry. I am gobsmacked. I cannot even list the things about this that tick me off because I have to spend, like, an infinite amount of time being mad at each one and I forget where I am in the list and this makes me so mad. 

Okay, that's over. Taking a slightly different part of this anger-fest, it must suck for dudes to get categorized as Penis Toting Man Beasts all of the time. Like, Dan Rottenberg is blaming women for getting raped because men cannot help themselves when exposed to delicious thighs. If I were a man, I think I'd be deeply offended by this. How dare he take away my free will like that and accuse me of being utterly uncontrolled by my allegedly animal lusts? What a jerk! I've always been perfectly civilized and have even gone so far as to walk my female friends home later at night to protect them from potential rapists! I don't even kiss my female friends while they're intoxicated! And this guy has the gumption to claim that I shouldn't be trusted!?

Man-me is a really nice boy. But, yeah, wow. What an almost unparalled adventure in incredible awfulness. 

Carrie said...

Also also! Doesn't he realize that living in fear like he suggests, that having no safe spaces would make women victims all of the time? Doesn't he realize that that's what patriarchy looks like? Doesn't he think that women shouldn't be afraid? APPARENTLY NOT. He's just gonna mansplain that, well, if you don't want to be raped, I guess you oughtta be afraid all of the time. It's okay, ladies. At least you won't get raped. An ulcer is better, right?

AUGH DAN ROTTENBERG. You think we *should* be able to do things, but we live in a world where we just *can't* and you think we should suck it up? 

Hyperio said...

I signed the petition as well.

Dan Rottenberg is a rapist apologist, misogynist and misandrist. The fact that he is employed while much better journalists like Fred Clark (of Slacktivist) need to seek a new job makes me sad.

Ana Mardoll said...

@9f316c9283356f2a0480f40475041b6b:disqus

I completely agree, and it has always been very interesting to me that the rape apologizers seem to hate men as much or more than they hate women. It's supposed to be the straw-feminists that claim all men are rapists, not the rape apologizers, but real life doesn't reflect that -- instead, we have the rape apologizers painting all men as brutes while the feminists protest against the idiocy and hateful of that statement.

Not that I would expect it from DR, Professional Troll, but his argument isn't even internally consistent. He argues that men prefer rape over consensual sex because rape is the pinnacle of male-craved drama. (The next best thing being shooting something with a gun. Not sure how evo-psych works into something that's only been around for a few hundred years.)

Iif his argument is that men prefer rape to consensual sex, The whole OMG SHE SHOWED THIGH is a red herring because whether a woman shows some thigh or not doesn't matter. The men around her already prefer to rape her than to seduce her because Rape = Drama. Dressing conservatively would probably make her MORE targeted because if you really have your heart set on rape, then you want to make sure you pick someone who clearly doesn't want you.

Obviously, the BEST way to avoid the rapists is for us to go around stark naked all the time and send mixed signals about our availability to confuse the would-be rapists.

The fact that this isn't internally consistent with his STOP WEARING HALTER TOPS argument leads me to believe that he doesn't believe a word he's saying and instead just wanted to write an article about how women who show cleavage get what they deserve because blah blah blah EVO-PSYCH.

Ana Mardoll said...

And seconding that Fred Clark would be an ideal replacement for Dan.

Kit Whitfield said...

If his argument is that men prefer rape to consensual sex, The whole OMG SHE SHOWED THIGH is a red herring because whether a woman shows some thigh or not doesn't matter. The men around her already prefer to rape her than to seduce her because Rape = Drama. 

I suspect it works like this (trigger warnings): women who are prepared to wear sexy clothes are usually stating that they aren't ashamed of their sexuality. Women who aren't ashamed of their sexuality are harder to control. Therefore, a woman who shows some skin isn't advertising her willingness to have sex; she's advertising her claim to sexual autonomy. And clearly no red-blooded man can resist the drama that would be cutting the bitch down to size. What else does she expect if not some man to come along and put her in her place? 

Priscilla Parkman said...

Yeah, I'm guessing this publication no one has ever heard of is having an absolutely fantastic time getting all this publicity.  Trolling has gone pro.  I still want this never to happen. 

And, by the way, it took ME over 35 years to understand "[People] signal their desire to have sex; it does not follow that they would like to be raped."  Thank you, patriarchy.  Thank you, abstinence education.  Thank you, religion.

Priscilla Parkman said...

Now, where's that petition, again?  And is that a picture of his FACE?  Cuz now I'm thinking target practice.  (Right, violent thoughts, bad.) (I'd have to use darts.  I've never fired a gun.)

Ana Mardoll said...

@Kit

Huh. That makes sense, in a weird way. In that case, I suppose the "ideal" target would be someone who would sleep with anyone EXCEPT the rapist? With the idea being that the more personal the rejection, the more dramatic the "conquering"?

Yuck. I feel bad just typing that. :(

Ana Mardoll said...

@Priscilla

*offers an internet hug*

Kit Whitfield said...

In that case, I suppose the "ideal" target would be someone who would sleep with anyone EXCEPT the rapist?

Probably somebody who'd sleep with - and be a sexual prize for - the kind of person the rapist can't stand. Y'know, someone who doesn't own a gun. Or someone better-looking than the rapist. That kind of thing. That way the rapist gets to punish two groups at once. 

Gelliebean said...

Sorry, I've been thinking about this all night long and realized I still have more to say.  :-p

What if we reversed the argument and took it to its 'logical' absurd conclusion in the other direction?  Starting with a couple of ingrained assumptions that still haven't worked themselves out of the common memory....

Premise 1: Women are emotional and sensual creatures that cannot help tempting a man to sexual behavior.

Premise 2: Men are logical and practical beings that should be above weak emotional reactions.

Therefore: It is a man's responsibility to avoid any situation where they might be affected by things in a "base" way.  He is obligated to safeguard the valuable intellectual processing capacity of his mind at any costs, and must take steps to remove himself from any situations where it might be possibly compromised by a sexual or instinctual reaction to a woman's presence.  A man who allows his reason to be tainted has devalued himself and no longer has any worth to society.

Furthermore, a man who puts himself in a place of exposure to women is deliberately flirting with disaster.  He cannot be respected if there is any suspicion that he has lost his objectivity and logic.  He should carefully control every moment of his day - keep all the windows shut in case he should hear a woman pass by; never wear clothing that might attract a woman to speak with him; keep his eyes down so as not to draw a woman's attention; never EVER be alone in the company of a woman.  He must regulate every action and every decision with one thought only first and foremost in his mind: that he is in constant peril of losing everything that gives him value as a man, and that the only way he might possibly be able to avoid it is to never give a woman any hint of a suspicion of a sign that he might be available for non-intellectual pursuits.  He should live in fear of illicit contact and even avoid any relationships with fallen men who have already succumbed, because now the are suspect and unreliable, and may destroy him by association.

Let's see how well Asshole Rottenberg would like having to restrict and schedule his entire life around the attempt to never attract a woman's attention, the same way he's demanding that women do around men.

Matt Smyczynski said...

@9f316c9283356f2a0480f40475041b6b 

It does suck to get categorized as a Penis Toting Man Beast, but as a dude I feel weird bringing that up in rape discussions because it seems trivial compared to Rottenberg's implications for females. Being classified as a Potential Rapist sucks, but when I take a moment and imagine being classified as an Acceptable Rape Target, my blood runs cold.
Re: Free will -- I took a law class focused on gender/sexuality as part of my philosophy minor, and it's pretty crazy how easily men can essentially say their free will was overridden and led them to shoot their cheating wives or rape the women they went on a single date with. Women don't get the same luxury because their temporary insanity tends to look different (e.g. In one case, a woman was found fully competent because she got her kids to safety before tying her abusive husband of 20 years to the bed and setting him on fire. A man would have just set the woman on fire, supposedly).Priscilla Parkman 

I'm still religious now, but the church I went to in my teens basically taught the girls to assume the boys were all rapists, and they told the boys not to hang out with girls who show cleavage or we might lose control and rape them. Things got weird with my female friends for a while.

(That's a tad unfair as a summary, because they did try to instill a sense of respect and the idea that "no means no", but the way they handled rape kind of undermined that.)

Dav said...

Kit: "Probably somebody who'd sleep with - and be a sexual prize for - the
kind of person the rapist can't stand. Y'know, someone who doesn't own a
gun. Or someone better-looking than the rapist. That kind of thing.
That way the rapist gets to punish two groups at once."

Which may explain the high rates of QUILTBAG rape.

Eeaaghh.

Priscilla Parkman said...

Thanks, Matt (And thanks @anamardoll:disqus for the ehug)... I'm still religious, just a completely different brand.   I don't want to blame "all religion"; I just don't want to stigmatize anyone's brand.  Your comment is right on the money.  Some of them make it sound so.... creepy.  So you can look  forward to marriage so your husband can lose control and do something that's now merely uncomfortable and humiliating instead of a crime?! GACK.

I remember the way my dad used to talk about my guy friends, and bless his heart, my guy friends were, in the end, way too kind, way too wonderful, and --dare I say it?-- way too Christian! for me not to recognize the cognitive dissonance and reject the "boys are just after sex" myth.  So, the story has a happy ending. :D

Personal Failure said...

I am reminded of Golda Meir. There was a bit of a problem with rape in Israel when she was PM and several men suggested, rather strongly, a curfew for women to protect them from being raped. She pointed at that it was the men doing the raping, therefore it should be the men subject to curfew. That ended any and all discussions of curfews.

If all men are uncontrollable balls of rape just waiting to explode, we should confine them, not the women. (I don't think this is true, mind you.) I'm sure if we all started suggesting that, as men are such animals, all men will be required to go about in public with minders, will not be allowed out between 5pm and 8am and will not be allowed into bars and the like, such arguments would disappear faster than you can say "misogyny".

Silver Adept said...

I'm with Matt Smyczynski on this one - being called a Penis Toting Man Beast sucks (and makes me itch to see whether there's any way one can respond to that with accusations of being defamed or libeled, as there are plenty of untruths with just that one argument), but the implications for women - Don't associate with men, ever, or you're consenting to rape - are far worse.

I'm sure there's a wicked joke in there about how the Professional Troll's Ultimate Goal must be to turn all women lesbian through the avoidance of men, but I don't know how to (or even if I, being cis male, can) tell it to make it funny instead of cruel and antagonizing. So I'll pass on it and let someone else figure it out.

I think what Gelliebean has been talking about as a society where men must be mindful not to be corrupted by women has been done - and most people think of it fondly, with rose-colored glasses of the Victorian Era, or of the Past That Never Was in the United States. From historical experience, it sucked. So that swing of the pendulum is also pretty bad.

As and as for "rape's the next best thing to murder" (as I suspect "shooting a gun" is euphemistic for what one does when shooting weapons at anything other than targets) tack, he misses even his intended point by a wide margin - it's about power, not about the thing itself. We should have standards in place that say "Anyone in a position of power is expected to wield it in ways that are beneficial to the society, and not to themselves." So not only should rapists not rape, politicians should make laws that forbid rape and police and other law enforcement officers should take such cases seriously, instead of telling their officers that asking for a female officer is an indication that someone is lying about their accounts...

...there's a lot to be said here.

[Sidebar: Would it be too derailing to the conversational thread to mention a feeling that I get sometimes that on questions like these, men, regardless of how feminist they are, are expected to be quiet, lacking both the standing and the experience to comment, even though they're also instrumental in helping to stop the bad behavior and its justifiers?]

Ana Mardoll said...

Silver Adept, I do hope you don't feel that way here, because I do think that rape is everyone's problem, and that everyone has a voice in stopping it. And male feminists are very important voices in the discussion.

Then, too, there is the fact that rape is not solely inflicted on women!

I think it's natural to feel uncertain in these conversations. I and others have expressed before a reticence to speak up in rape discussions because we feel we weren't "raped enough". I have heard non-raped women express similar "should I participate or leave this discussion to others?" feelings.

I think those feelings are natural and should be listened to ONLY inasmuch as they keep us sensitive to what we are saying, but ultimately overcome because, yes, you have something meaningful to add.

I'm not sure if that makes any sense at all.

Gelliebean said...

@ Silver Adept, yeah, I had vague memories of that sort of thing, without ever having really studied that era much...

I was trying to take it as far as I could think of in the opposite direction to make the point (perhaps not very successful satire) that men who espouse those kinds of restrictions for women ought to have it turned around on them - if one believes, as Rottenberg claims to, that merely seeing a woman in less-than-Puritanly modest garb makes the woman so dressed then personally responsible for any violation that someone might commit on her, then maybe the person believing this is the one who ought to have their freedoms and personal choices curtailed so that they are not tempted to victimize anyone.

I wasn't thinking of anyone but Rottenberg when I wrote my earlier post, and I really do apologize if it seemed hostile or in any way trying to silence a male's point of view.  That definitely wasn't my intention at all, but after reading what you wrote I started to wonder if it might have been taken that way.

Silver Adept said...

@Gelliebean:disqus @anamardoll:disqus No offense taken, nor did I feel any was offered in here. It's more of a general feeling that I've gotten from some Advanced Class spaces, even ones that claim to be 101-friendly, that anyone wanting to participate must first self-educate to a certain level of acceptable discourse, and only then will they be allowed to participate in the discussion. Men, having privilege, have farther to go before they reach this point (in general terms, anyway). This unease about being able to speak might also be fed by the knowledge that not everyone in those spaces has education as their primary intent. Thus, asking questions sometimes generates an "zOMG How could you ask that question it's so very WRONG." response, and any further requests for help on why it's so very wrong are rebuffed with "Go Educate Yourself, since you are clearly a troll/not worth my time." For someone who wants to learn when they screw up, that kind of response can be off-putting.

Getting back to the main point, @Gelliebean:disqus , I did see that you were gunning for as far out on the scale as you could get - it just happens to be that you landed squarely in Victorian times when you did. Men were expected to refrain from displaying their passions in the public sphere, as well as avoiding being alone with a woman that it would be inappropriate to be alone with, with a few exceptions, and the culture that resulted from those rules was just as nasty to women and their rights as out supposedly more open culture is today. We might have curtailed some of the worst aspects there, but we've got a way to go.

After having read the follow-up article, it seems like the right ideas knocked on his head and made it down onto the paper, but the egotistical premise of "I'm still right, even though this volume of correspondence says I'm wrong" is getting in the way of absorbing the lessons more fully. Otherwise, he wouldn't spend time highlighting the excesses of response and dismissing the petition for his ouster.

Carrie said...

I think you're absolutely right, that men have this primordial passion that they can tap into  and basically say, "It wasn't me, it was the man-beast within me," and women cannot do that. Which is fascinating because women are traditionally categorized as locked in their bodies and as irrational and so forth. Women are bodies, men are minds, but then you get this stuff that gives men their bodies back, but only as monsters. Very, very strange and bad.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that our society's views on sex and gender are deeply harmful and hurtful to both sexes. While women might seem to suffer the brunt of it, I think that men are also seriously harmed in subtle ways.

See also, what is a little boy supposed to understand about relationships from Disney's Beauty and the Beast? Is it "give that bitch Stockholm Syndrome, bitches love Stockholm Syndrome?" To what extent are the (good) Beast and the (evil) Gaston really very different as characters? The former changes and isn't anti-intellectual. Those are good things, but both characters start in very, very similar places and augh.

Sorry, I've rather gotten off-topic. The Male Body by Susan Bordo is a great and easy read.

Carrie said...

Oh, gosh. I was so caught up in my rage against the way that females and males are portrayed that I forgot to mention that the gender binary itself is also a deeply problematic societal construction  that renders transgendered, agendered, and bigendered folks pretty well sunk, too.

Ana Mardoll said...

Carrie,

Gosh darn it, Internet Twin, but now I have to out myself that I'm currently writing a Beauty & the Beast novel because it's such a fascinating fairy tale story to me and because I think the tale wouldn't work so well with "real" people. How do you know these things???

I mention this because Terry Windling has a fascinating post on the subject: the original B&B tale is actually pretty young and was written in the 1700s. Windling contends that the French fairy tale wave -- particularly the women authors -- used the old Animal Bridgegroom fairy tales to make a strong point about why women should have the right to property, divorce, and marital choice (both in terms of husband choice and the right to refuse sex choice).

http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/forbewty.html

I actually disagree a touch on Windling's comparison between the Disney rendition and the de Villeneuve rendition (tl;dr: she dislikes Disney and likes the original, and I think they both have good/bad points) because I think it's a little more complicated than her blog post makes it out to be BUT it's a really cool article nonetheless and very insightful.

Ange said...

This post and the comments just gave me massive rage face! (Which, unfortunately, might be considered a come-on to Sir Dan...) Thanks for posting - very informative (if rage face making).

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