Feminism: Misogyny Masquerading As Misandry

[Content Note: Rape, Forced Pregnancy, TV Ultrasounds, Sexual Language]

I'm a feminist.

I believe that women should have equal rights as men under the law. I believe that women should have full and legal right to do what they want with their bodies, their lives, their fertility, and their lady bits. I believe that I live in a world that is hostile to the concept of female consent, a world where sex and pregnancy and transvaginal ultrasounds are forced on women no matter how many times they say "no".  I believe that no woman can truly be free until these issues are addressed for all women, regardless of age, race, or financial status.

You may have noticed that I said nothing in all that about Hating Men.

As much as it's fun to pretend that feminists hate men, most of us don't. I certainly don't. I don't think that all men are rapists. I don't think that all men want to rape. I don't think that the only thing preventing all men from becoming rapists is an over-arching fear of social justice. If ever I write that zombie apocalypse novel in my head, I can tell you right now that it won't have the entire planet descending into Planet of the Rapes just as soon as the police are overrun by the walking dead. I have greater faith in men than that: I believe that all men have the capability to do good, and that most men choose to do good. (This is an identical stance to the one I hold for women.) I certainly do not believe that all men are driven by the unreasoning power of their unthinking penises to rape every moist hole they encounter.

But darned if there aren't a few men who think that.

In news that is astonishingly old but which I am only now using my hoarded supply of teaspoons to address, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has decided to write this article:

If a lion and a zebra show up at the same watering hole, and the lion kills the zebra, whose fault is that? Maybe you say the lion is at fault for doing the killing. Maybe you say the zebra should have chosen a safer watering hole. But in the end, you probably conclude that both animals acted according to their natures, so no one is to blame. However, if this is your local zoo, you might have some questions about who put the lions with the zebras in the same habitat.

Now consider human males. No doubt you have noticed an alarming trend in the news. Powerful men have been behaving badly, e.g. tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive to just about everyone in the entire world. [...]

But in general, society is organized as a virtual prison for men’s natural desires. I don’t have a solution in mind. It’s a zero sum game. If men get everything they want, women lose, and vice versa. And there’s no real middle ground because that would look like tweeting a picture of your junk with your underpants still on. Some things just don’t have a compromise solution.

Now before I dive into the fun ballz pit that is this argument of fail, let's back up a little bit.

I'm a software engineer. (I'm also a woman, which makes me frequently the only woman in any given room where I work. And it also means that I am the lowest-paid and last-to-be-promoted person in my work group, despite having been in my group longer than almost anyone else. Which is something that I can't remember being addressed in Dilbert in recent years, but it's not my place to tell people which battles they should fight.) And, as a software engineer, I have a soft spot in my heart for Dilbert. I enjoy the snark, I enjoy the absurdity, and I feel an increasing compassion and empathy for Wally as I mark the passage of time at my current position.

But I also value logic and reason, which is something that a good many software engineers seem to believe is their divine birthright and yet display an astonishing lack of familiarity with it. And the blog post quoted above is a perfect example of that.

Lions eat zebras, just like men rape women! It's analogies like these that make me want to dig out a retro English police outfit, complete with inflatable novelty billy club, and style myself the Analogy Police. I'm not going to start singing "The Circle of Life" over here, but these two things are not even remotely the same. Lions eat zebras because if the lions don't eat something, they will die in a matter of days. I am pretty darn sure that never before has a man died from not being allowed to rape someone. Beyond that there comes a point where the phrase "apples and oranges" ceases to be adequate. How about "rape is a social phenomena that varies widely across cultures depending on the hostility of that culture towards the concept of female choice whereas lions as a species tend to have level consumption rates based on a shared biological need, furthermore men are not mindless robots with zero control over their ravening penises."

Powerful men tweet, rape, cheat, and offend! Has there ever been a more drastic example of false equivalence? One of these things is not like the other. A man who tweets a picture of his genitals is guilty of bad taste (and possibly sexual harassment, or possibly not, depending on the intended recipient). A man who cheats on his spouse is guilty of violating a personal trust. A man who rapes another human being is a man who forces himself on other people regardless of their lack of consent. Apparently Scott Adams sees all these behaviors as belonging on the same continuum: the Continuum of Penises. Some penises want to be tweeted, some penises forsake their spouses to go nest in other partners, some penises fling themselves wildly into other people heedless of their lack of consent. The poor man on the other end of the penis is helpless to stop the tweeting, cheating, and raping, but ultimately all these behaviors differ not by quality but by scale: weak penis urges lead a man to cheat, strong penis urges force him to rape. It's a Grand Unified Penis Theory.

It's also absolute bunk; an assertion that relies on facts not in evidence. Many sexually frustrated and unfulfilled men live their lives without committing rape; many sexually sated and privileged men commit rape regardless of the availability of willing consensual partners. We hold these men responsible not because we're a society of zebras and zebra-sympathizers, but rather because we are a society of people who generally believe that bodily autonomy should be respected, and that a man has just as much "right" to stick his penis in a non-consenting person has he has to stick his fist through their eye -- which is to say, no right to do so at all.

Scott Adams' view -- that all men are essentially rapists -- is a misandric view, a view that hates men on a fundamental level. It's a view that is frequently attributed to feminists like me. But most feminists emphatically do not hold this view, partly because we prefer logic to bad analogies, partly because we have greater faith in human beings, but most essentially because this misandric view? Is essentially misogynistic.

See, here's the thing. The Scott Adamses of the world, the men who believe that men just have these strong urges and simply can't help themselves and only just barely manage to make it through the day without raping anyone, they don't really believe this is a problem. Oh, Scott Adams may write blithely of magical castration pills that make men lose interest in sex, but he doesn't really plan or want or intend to take such things. If Scott Adams really believed that castration was the only thing keeping him from accidentally losing control and raping someone, he could do that now. I'm betting -- just a bet, mind you -- that he hasn't.

"Men can't help themselves" has always been used to place the burden of rape squarely on the shoulders of women. This isn't some new theory that Scott Adams came up with, some revolutionary new combination of crappy logic, pseudo-science, and evolutionary psychology. "Men can't help themselves" is why women are told to dress a certain way, act a certain way, live a certain way, avoid certain places, and ultimately live their lives constantly playing a defensive game of Penis Denial against every man on earth because the moment, that one second, that you let your guard down will be the moment that the rampaging penises get you.

And it will be your fault. 

It doesn't matter how many times the Scott Adams says "Obviously we shouldn't blame the victims. I think we all agree on that point." He doesn't mean it. He can't mean it. When you hold the belief that men can't keep themselves from raping, when you believe that rape is something they literally have no choice but to perpetuate, then you are fundamentally blaming victims. If you treat everything in a rape situation as constant and unalterable except the victim's behavior, then you are putting the sole onus on them to avoid rape, and the sole blame on them if they fail to not be raped. And that is the very definition of victim-blaming.

This kind of misandry, the belief that men are all rapists deep down inside, isn't a part of feminism. It's not an allied viewpoint supporting the cause. It's old-fashioned misogyny wrapped up in a wink and a nudge. It's status quo being presented to us as something palatable, a platitude that is meaningless to the speaker as anything other than an absolution from his own bad behavior. It's not new, it's not logical, it's not liberated. It's older than dirt, and it's a foundation for centuries of victim-blaming.

I leave you with this, also by Scott Adams:

Dilbert

"Free will is an illusion. Humans are nothing but moist robots. Just relax and let it happen."

You want to know why we still need feminism? We still need feminism because there are people who can read and write the above without seeing it as utterly, completely, essentially, foundationally hostile to female choice.

Note: A number of thread comments below have contained gender eliminationist and gender essentialist statements. Trigger warnings and ROT13 has been applied. 

115 comments:

hapax said...

I just about dropped my teeth when I saw this article [TW: rape, horrific misandry, implied victim blaming] linked and praised as "brutally honest" over at Digby's blog (by David Atkins, not by Digby herself, who should know better.)

The "yuck, yuck, stupid instinct-driven men just can't help themselves" tone is a vicious insult to my spouse, my son, my father, my male friends, every decent man I've ever met, and a terrifying threat to every woman who comes into contact with a man who accepts the premise.

I liked David Wong (he wrote the terrific article on "things rich people shouldn't say" you linked to earlier. I keep desperately searching this article for hints that it's meant to be a Poe, an over-the-top satire, but I think he's serious.

hapax said...

Crud. I broke the italics. Sorry, Ana!

Ana Mardoll said...

That's alright! The nice thing about Disqus is that it confines it to just the one broken comment. But I prettied it up a little, if that's right? Let me know. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

Good grief. I... I've never seen anything hit Fail Bingo so fast. o.O

That was really dreadful to read. "We're starving, and all women are various types of food." Really? Maybe... want to take the "we" out of that sentence, guy? I believe that YOU are, but I don't think you need to be projecting that onto all men.

*sigh* Everyone has their Fail-spots. There's a gal on Cracked that I love, but I have to avoid her food articles.

Michael Varian Daly said...

What about simply outbreeding Males? The reproductive technology is rapidly becoming available for such an outcome, female to female breeding. And no, I'm not 'snarking'. I'm quite serious.

Ana Mardoll said...

What about simply outbreeding Males?

Because such a view, in order to be implemented on a large-scale, would require social buy-in to the concept that men are inferior to women, and indeed so inferior that they are not wanted or needed. And feminism is generally about putting women on equal footing with men, not about trading the old, oppressive patriarchy for a new, equally oppressive matriarchy.

As above, most of us don't hate men. (Quite a few of us are happily pair-bonded with men, even!)

[TW: IVF]

Also, you should be aware that I've been through two failed IVF attempts. It's not nearly as easy as a lot of people like to make it out to be -- it can take a heinous toll on the body, and can be a terrifying and emotionally distressing experience. Please be aware of that from here on out.

chris the cynic said...

I wish I had something substantive to say, but at the moment I really don't. It's a good article and it does seem necessary to point out that whether they're saying horrible things about women or horrible things about men the proposed solution always seems to be, "So treat women badly," but I don't really have anything meaningful I think I can contribute. All I have is this:

Beyond that there comes a point where the phrase "apples and oranges" ceases to be adequate.

I propose "apples and railroad tracks".

Michael Varian Daly said...

I'm sorry about your problems with IFV. Honestly. I have some small idea of how frustrating and brutal the present process is.

And relating that in this context crates a roadblock. Do I continue to address the issue and seem a dick? Or do I 'suck it up' and forget about it?

Well, since it's your blog I suppose I should just STFU.

chris the cynic said...

My parents once went to a lecture by a woman who advocated, more or less, this. (She believed that the technology was on the horizon, depending on your definition of "horizon" she might have been right.) Outside of that one thing I learned about second hand I have never heard anyone seriously advocating for that*, I assume because most people are not in favor of extermination of a gender** even if it were by means of non-violent attrition.

-

* Unless you are right now, in which case this is the first time. I don't think you are though. So unless you say otherwise, I'm assuming you're bringing it up as a hypothetical, not a plan of action.

** I'm assuming that after a sustained global effort to get rid of males there's not going to be a lot of love for those who are male anyway. It's a question that's brought up in a lot of "Convert the entire world," ideas. After you've got 100% of the people in desired category, what happens to the people born after that who don't fit. In this case, what happens to the transmen?

chris the cynic said...

Well, since it's your blog I suppose I should just STFU.

I don't think that was what Ana was suggesting at all. Amoung other things, if she wanted you not to talk about it I think she would have said that in plain straightforward terms.

I think that she just wants you to be aware that it is a difficult and potentially traumatic process and treat it with care going forward.

I'm not sure if you're aware of trigger warnings, but it's a very simple notice of content which can be used so that people for whom a discussion is traumatic can avoid the discussion. So, in the future, when discussing IVF, you can just write:[Trigger Warning: IVF]Before discussing it thus warning anyone who would be harmed by such discussion to skip that part. Or, as Ana did, "[TW: IVF]" since people should know what the TW stands for.

JenL said...

What about simply outbreeding Males?

That seems a rather extreme reaction to "hey, guys, some of you seem to have overlooked the clue stick. Turns out, you've got a thinking mind that many men are able to use to control themselves. Chances are, the rest of you could do the same thing. In the meantime, could you please acknowledge, as we do, that not all guys are as vile as you seem to be claiming? And maybe stop claiming that feminists think all men are vile, while simultaneously defending men who have done vile things by saying all men are wired that way?"

Michael Varian Daly said...

I was anally raped at eight and have been to plenty of childhood abuse meetings and lots of therapy, so yeah I know what a 'TW' is. That also means I know when someone uses it, it generally means, "I don't want to hear about it."

chris the cynic said...

That also means I know when someone uses it, it generally means, "I don't want to hear about it."

Not here. I cannot speak of the whole of human discourse, but here it just means, "Be aware, this is what I'll be talking about," so that those who don't want to hear about it don't have to hear about it, but it says nothing about whether or not the person who used it wants to hear about it.

Michael Varian Daly said...

I'll quote myself:

"The issue at hand is the survival of the species at more than a merely survival level.

So far, no one has presented a solution that will not be undermined by insistent masculine egotism. Think that through. Conceive of your paradigm and then place it into the world. What is the first obstacle that it encounters? Someones political, economic, and/or theological interest. Examine the fundamentals of that opposing interest. If you are really honest, you'll find threatened masculine ego, individually and collectively.

The Male must End. Conscious True Men who are secure in their own masculinity will understand this harsh necessity and step forward to save the goodness in the civilization that we have built. Some Beta Males will be 'taken in hand' by my Sisters and learn to work with their more enlightened Brothers.

Of course, most men will fight, but that is what men do. I keep telling my Sisters over and over again that there is no peaceful coexistence with men, not even upon their own terms. Yes, there are times of truce and yes, some of my Sisters have established peaceful, even loving relationships, with some of my Brothers.

But as one group with another, overall, this is not possible. Men are unable to even live in peaceful coexistence with their own Brothers, much less achieve such a state with beings that they are compelled as a group to consider inferior to them as a group.

My Sisters, you can have the peace of the slave or the peace of the grave, but, believe me when I tell you that the vast majority of my Brothers will never, ever, allow you to have the peace of the autonomous being. The only way you will ever have that is when all of my Brothers are gone."

The rest of it is here: http://theexplanation-nebris.blogspot.com/2011/09/her-prophet-explains-part-one-her.html

You can dismiss me as a crank. Most do. What I'm saying is pretty unpleasant. I actually agree with Scott Adams, except of course where he says, "Deal with it," I say "End it." And that is really the two choices we as a bi-gendered species are faced with.

However there is Donna Haraway's path which is to dispense with gender entirely. [Google 'haraway' cyborg manifesto']

Michael Varian Daly said...

Note that you presume to speak for her.

chris the cynic said...

Note that you presume to speak for her.

No. I can say what I think she meant, and I prefaced by pointing out it was just what I thought. I can also say how trigger warnings have been used here in the past because I have seen it done. Ana has, for example, added trigger warnings to various things she was quite willing to talk about.

hapax said...

You can dismiss me as a crank. Most do. What I'm saying is pretty unpleasant

Well, you have done zero to convince that "the Male" cannot be trusted. (One universal "masculine ego", shared by everyone who has a y chromosome [or perhaps identifies as "male" -- it's hard to discern whether you grok the concept of gender dysphoria] How does that work, exactly? Doesn't it contradict the very meaning of "ego"?)

However, congratulations! You *have* convinced me that you, personally, and people who agree with you, should not be trusted anywhere near anyone I love or care about. (Which, by extension, includes all of humanity.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Moderator Notice
TW: Rape, IVF, Gender Elimination

Michael Varian Daly,

Reading the Comment Policy is required before posting. You can find the comment policy here: http://www.anamardoll.com/p/comment-policy.html

If you want to continue to comment here, you will use Trigger Warnings before casually tossing out comments about rape. At least half a dozen regular commenters here, including the blog-mistress, are rape survivors. If you don't agree with the commenting policy on Trigger Warnings, there's a very big internet outside this blog.

You are also about 30 seconds away from a full-on ban if you're going to advocate gender elimination in this space. There is absolutely nothing in my post that would suggest I am receptive to such an idea and I don't want or need a 100-comment derail about something that is morally heinous, socially impossible, deeply triggering, and utterly off-topic.

Regarding the above, Chris the Cynic was/is right about my reasons for mentioning that I've been through IVF. Having said that, if your response to my experience is, Well, since it's your blog I suppose I should just STFU. Then I have to say shutting up would probably not be a bad idea in this context. I'm not in a fluffy-bunny mood this week and I've got no interest in spending spoons to educate someone whose first posts on my blog are to dismissively bring up IVF, rape, and gender elimination all in less than a dozen posts.

Majromax said...

The "yuck, yuck, stupid instinct-driven men just can't help themselves" tone is a vicious insult to my spouse, my son, my father, my male friends, every decent man I've ever met, and a terrifying threat to every woman who comes into contact with a man who accepts the premise.

[Privilege warning]
I'm... actually okay with the Cracked article. It's hardly perfect, and I'm not at all a fan of its assumption of gender essentialism, but I look it as Patriarchy 101, with teen-to-twenties guys as the audience.

Cracked is hardly a feminist site. Their front-page currently links to a standard-sexist "article" on masturbation (summary: women are mysterious and when they do it it's hawt, men are simple and creepy). They're also running "6 Mind-Blowing Ways that Poop Created the Modern World."

But this article? It opens with the idea that casual sexism and abusive, near-violent sexism are a difference of degree and not kind. It outright says that culture treats women as prizes to go to "deserving" men, and it describes the male gaze without naming it.

For an audience who's probably never been introduced to these concepts before, it's mind-bending. For the community here that doesn't need an introduction to feminist thought, it's old hat and the flaws take on greater importance.

Ana Mardoll said...

A big issue for me is #1 -- the meme that all of civilization exists to get sexy fun times needs to crawl under a bridge and die for good. Besides being unfactual AND conflating "you, woman" with "sexy woman" (because most women aren't Aphrodite, Goddess of Beauty, and oh look he's idolizing us which he already noted was dehumanizing) AND erasing accomplishments by gay men, straight women, asexuals, and other people I'm probably missing...

...it ALSO always seems to carry the tag-line of "YOU'RE WELCOME". "It's all about you. All of it. All of civilization." Ugh. Feminist 101 messages are important, but when your ending point -- #1 -- reinforces a massive amount of sexism, I'm not sure the message is going to come through loud and clear.

Just my take. :)

Majromax said...

Ugh. Feminist 101 messages are important, but when your ending point -- #1 -- reinforces a massive amount of sexism, I'm not sure the message is going to come through loud and clear.

Just my take. I agree that the first half seemed to have its heart in the right place. :)


I'll agree to that. It seems like there were two or three really good points that got stretched out for the article. I appreciate the call-out of George R.R. Martin at the end, but the entire "penises make civilizations because of the wimmin" thing was just weird.

Ana Mardoll said...

OMG, yes, seconding that GRRM call-out. I am so tired of female characters who are constantly thinking about their own breasts.

For your amusement, I offer this snippet from a Piers Anthony review:

Anthony never seems happy until he introduces an impossibly buxom barely-legal girl-woman who must be introduced as a flawless physical specimen every single time she enters the scene. No mere "Bonnie showed up at the doorstep," no, it must be "Bonnie showed up at the doorstep and everyone couldn't help but notice that she had brought her stunningly spectacular breasts with her."

http://www.anamardoll.com/2011/02/review-shade-of-tree.html

Susan B. said...

I don't really have anything original to add, but I just have to note how ridiculous it is that some people who are with us in the fight to see women as individuals rather than representations of a stereotype nevertheless feel perfectly justified in generalizing all men as sex-hungry animals. The mind boggles.

Of course, this isn't limited to discussions about feminism. As an atheist who is interested in debating religion, I've seen plenty of this on both sides: "Atheists are a diverse group of people, but all religious people are like THIS." "You can't judge all Christians on the actions of just one, but all atheists think the same way."

ZMiles said...

[TW: Misogyny]

Scott Adams has discussed the glass ceiling/gender disparity in wages in his comic, but he usually comes down on the side of 'it's the womens' fault.' See: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1998-03-16/, http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1998-03-17/, http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1998-03-18, and http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2007-10-17/. Note also that the complaining character is Tina, the 'brittle' technical writer. Adams introduced the character, received a lot of email about how sexist she was, and though he professed ignorance, she's been the mouthpiece for these views (I can go into the history of Tina and Antina in Dilbert if anyone's interested; I've read almost all of Adams' books).

The existence (or lack thereof) of free will is a longtime subject of Scott Adams on his blog. He's pretty solidly in the 'free will is an illusion' camp, so it looks like that's leaking through into his comics. Of course, Adams is known to not really understand science (one of his nonfiction books has chapters on various scientific theories that he came up with, and it shows that he doesn't quite get how science works.) So I don't trust him to understand the science behind whether or not free will is real.

Dav said...

TW: Gender elimination, racism
Also quite a bit of swearing. I edited a bunch of it out though!

The Male must End. Conscious True Men who are secure in their own masculinity will understand this harsh necessity and step forward to save the goodness in the civilization that we have built. Some Beta Males will be 'taken in hand' by my Sisters and learn to work with their more enlightened Brothers.

I am Not Okay with marking certain genders as "true", in part because it's used heavily to discriminate against transfolk, and also because it's super duper loaded and completely ignores social constructions of masculinity. And hey, let's not conflate "male", "man", and "masculinity" - those have both major and subtle differences in meaning that it's important to preserve.

Nor am I particularly enamored by the adoption of behavioral patterns from other species which are widely misunderstood, and then pasting that nomenclature over various constructions of masculinity to "rank" men. Or women. Or anything else, really.

I am not your "sister", and I'm certainly not your Sister.

Of course, most men will fight, but that is what men do.

Some people fight. And, uh, most people tend not to be thrilled about the extinction of their entire cultural category.

I keep telling my Sisters over and over again that there is no peaceful coexistence with men, not even upon their own terms.

And after you tell women that they're doing it wrong, and tell them what their experiences are, how does that conversation go?

Men are unable to even live in peaceful coexistence with their own Brothers, much less achieve such a state with beings that they are compelled as a group to consider inferior to them as a group.

What are they compelled by? You admit some individuals either aren't compelled so strongly that they can't rise above it, or they've overcome the compulsion, or dealt with it. That (and dealing with the source of the compulsion) is a much more fruitful avenue to pursue.

You know why? Because they're wrong. I'm compelled by society to consider POC inferior to me. That's a narrative I'm obligated to fight tooth and nail for the rest of my life. That doesn't get me off the hook - it means I have to fight against the current. It's *my* job to make sure that shit doesn't flow downstream. The absolute least helpful thing I could do is shrug and claim that I, as a white person, am unable to do that, and suggest that if POC want to stop discrimination, they should just kill us all. (And, of course, if someone takes me seriously, I will have all the protections of society to fall back on - I'm at basically zero risk.)

Also, the way you cast women as somehow untouched by contempt for others (or themselves), and incapable of fighting or achieving anything in the presence of men is really, really problematic. We're not a different species. Our "nature" isn't fundamentally different. We're capable of the same epic successes, failures, peace, and violence as men.

My Sisters, you can have the peace of the slave or the peace of the grave

Yeah, see, that's a threat. Fuck that.

Also, "peace of a slave"? Oh yeah, when I think peaceful, I think slavery.

but, believe me when I tell you that the vast majority of my Brothers will never, ever, allow you to have the peace of the autonomous being. The only way you will ever have that is when all of my Brothers are gone."

I wouldn't accept peace under those conditions, even assuming you're right. Men don't have to "allow" me to be an autonomous being - I am one, and I will act as one, whether they like it or not.

TLDR:
I reject your false fucking dichotomy.

Dav said...

"I am Not Okay with marking certain gender presentations as "true""

Sigh.

Dav said...

Er, totally missed the mod comment on how off-topic this was.
So sorry. Please feel free to delete.

---

Also, ZMiles! I'd totally be interested in that history of Tina and Antina.

Ana Mardoll said...

*sigh* I have all the books, too, and I'd seen all those strips, but seeing them all lined up like that was depressing. Thank you for the round-up.

Tina is a particularly frustrating character for me, because I actually enjoy technical writing, but it's frequently looked down on as less skilled labor than all that important coding work! And comics like this don't help.

And I remember his Antina/Tina "I don't understand why it's sexist" stuff. *sigh*

Ana Mardoll said...

So much love for this comment, but especially:

The absolute least helpful thing I could do is shrug and claim that I, as a white person, am unable to do that, and suggest that if POC want to stop discrimination, they should just kill us all. (And, of course, if someone takes me seriously, I will have all the protections of society to fall back on - I'm at basically zero risk.)

Ana Mardoll said...

The existence (or lack thereof) of free will is a longtime subject of Scott Adams on his blog. He's pretty solidly in the 'free will is an illusion' camp, so it looks like that's leaking through into his comics.

Interestingly, I feel confused as to how one reconciles a position of "no free will" with "society should radically change to the point where all men are chemically castrated for the good of society". How is this going to come about if we're all unthinking robots driven by our inner urges??

Logic! What do they teach in these schools? /Professor

valarltd said...

TW for lots of things including rape

Over the years, I have read enough news articles from all over the world to come to the conclusion that any man will commit rape if he can justify it to himself, no matter how flimsy the pretext. When law and order break down, the weakest of pretexts usually suffices. Bosnia, Pitcairn Island, Iraq, Afghanistan, many parts of Africa.Even our own Homeland Security puts out a booklet for pastors saying "in times of unrest, expect an upswing in violence against women. Don't worry about it." http://www.infowars.com/images2/ps/pastor_fema_docs.pdf
(acquired from a minister on Live Journal, who talks about this training: http://ebonypearl.livejournal.com/141567.html )

This is why, when I write post-apocalypse scenarios, the societies tend to be male-dominated. In areas with strong, smart women in positions of power, the new society runs on inertia and is a rather more egalitarian. It becomes less so over the years as women end up with more of the reproductive labor shoved onto them. In areas where the men always ran things and still are, especially in patriarchial religious areas, women=property. And in some places, they're currency too.

I guess the primary difference between my position and Scott Adams' is that I don't think the behavior of women has anything to do with rape. Men commit 96% of all reported rapes. If women are unavailable, they turn on each other. This probably makes me a misandrist, that I know this. I grew up reading Brownmiller. While there are individual men I love, there are none I trust.

Nathaniel said...

Yeah, some of my best friends are suspected rapists.

Will Wildman said...

I'm not in a fluffy-bunny mood this week

May I note, Ana, that while your most recent such essays as this may have been somewhat less accomodating of bigotry and marginalisation, they have also been absolutely magnificent in both their insight and delivery? I don't remember exactly when it was that I noticed, but I recall thinking something like "Hmm, Ana seems somewhat less affable than usual in this one. ...And dang but her rhetorical skills are on fire."

I know things are especially rough for you right now and I hope they get better, but your writing has been glorious.

And I really wish more people (mostly men) realised that feminism and masculism are inherently linked. I'm pretty sure I twigged to that when I was about 11, when I saw an ad for young girls' soccer and thought "So, wait... girls are pushed towards doing 'girl stuff', and now we're trying to celebrate girls doing 'non-girl-stuff', and boys pushed toward 'boy stuff' and there's no celebration for boys doing 'non-boy-stuff'... hang on, this entire system is broken!"

Interestingly, I feel confused as to how he reconciles a position of "no free will" with "society should radically change to the point where all men are chemically castrated for the good of society".

I have no idea how it's reconciled, but it seems to be a pretty popular dissonance - it's the same thing that I've heard from anyone who's ever told me that if/since our lives are predestined, nothing we do matters because it will all turn out the same. I'm not sure they understand how predestination works. I'm pretty sure it's just a way of trying to justify apathy as enlightenment. Or, in this case, suggest a course of action that is pretty much guaranteed to never be undertaken and then throw up one's hands and declare 'I've done all I can'.

I wouldn't describe myself as 'okay' with the Cracked piece, but I think Majromax has a point. The David Wong article started out good (if the primary thesis really was 'culture trains men to hate women' he'd have done well) and then went off the rails more than once, especially the last bit, where I was just trying to put the Vulcan Death Grip on my monitor and shouting "Women! Gay men! Asexual men! MANY CONTRIBUTIONS HAVE BEEN MADE UNRELATED TO PIV SEX!" I too especially liked the GRRM reference, which made me think of the godawful bit in King's The Stand where a female character approaching a man just pauses for a moment to think about her breasts. (Seriously.)

"Bonnie showed up at the doorstep and everyone couldn't help but notice that she had brought her stunningly spectacular breasts with her."

*citrus-intensive chokesnortguffaw*

...Eating tangelo while reading this thread is hazardous.

Dav said...

Interesting! And sort of rage-inducing - if Scott Adams hadn't already ruined Dilbert for me already, this would do it. Although I guess his "I tried two whole stereotypes, and people don't like *either* of them!" is kind of golden.

JarredH said...

[TW: Rape]

Over the years, I have read enough news articles from all over the world to come to the conclusion that any man will commit rape if he can justify it to himself, no matter how flimsy the pretext.

You know, I really have a problem with this argument for two related reasons:
1. Men are not a monolith.
2. For very obvious and good reasons, no newspaper is going to publish a story with the headline "Man never raped his wife/his girlfriend/his best friend/any woman."

Seriously, your choice of sources for determining how (all) men will behave automatically excludes any man who isn't a rapist (or other type of monster) from your sample set, thereby limiting how widely your conclusions based on the data can be applied.

Seriously, what you're doing is exactly the same as the anti-gay industry generalizing about the overall health of the greater QUILTBAG community based on the case studies and other research that only focused on HIV-positive gay men.

Michael Varian Daly said...

I did not 'derail' anything except maybe the lock step thinking in this blog. I said I thought Scott Adams was correct, but that I had a different solution.

So ban me or not as you wish, I shall not be following your blog any more anyway. That's not some 'flounce'; all the reactions here are just depressing. They demonstrate why what little there is of The Left in this country is so utterly impotent, all speech and thought hemmed in by 'trigger warnings' and 'taboo subjects', crippling any truly paradigm breaking concepts with a Bourgeois Academic rigidity that is derived from old fashioned middle class morality with its need to 'be nice', make everything 'comfortable' and always 'look good', yet pretending to be Free Thinking. That is the most vile type of conformity.

That's the type of thinking that leads to creating vegan pet food for carnivorous animals. But denial of Nature is another key hallmark of the above mindset, one that actually alines itself with anti-Nature stance of The Corporate State.

Meantime, outside in the real world, the same Corporate State marshals the Forces of Reaction, the Navitivist Racists, the White Supremacists, the Christian Dominionists, to push their agenda, an agenda that is crushing us politically and economically and all you can worry about is not hearing 'bad stuff'.

Don't put too much faith in Occupy either. That's mostly driven by younger Privileged White Folks who are pissed they're not getting what The American Dream promised them. [The old folks are in The Tea Party] Give them some goodies and most of them will disappear like the morning dew. I'll wager some in this comment thread would be the first out the door.

And forget Obama. He's sounding all 'progressive' again, but that too will vanish once Election Day had come and gone. He's always been a Center/Right Corporatist and he always will be. That's the only type who will get into the Oval Office for the foreseeable future.

PS getting upset with me for bringing up my own childhood sexual abuse is a perfect example of your self centered hypocrisy. If that had been done to 'you' the skies would have opened with fire.

Nathaniel said...

We shall miss you like I miss my shingles. These are tears of sorrow, I swear.

Dav said...

TW: Rape

What Jarred said. Plus, it's not like law enforcement and punishment is SO AWESOME here in the U.S. that no man dares to rape. History has shown us some of the flimsy pretexts that rapists have gotten away with. And yet, the vast majority of the men in the country still manage not to rape, even in situations when they could get away with it.

I'm all about Schrodinger's Rapist, but there's a big difference between not trusting anyone 100% because anyone *could* be a evil, and believing that everyone is actually just waiting for the opportunity to be evil.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you. You are always welcome to note that you like my writing. It's what keeps me doing it instead of going back to merely ranting at the cats. ;)

Ana Mardoll said...

So ban me or not as you wish

Just to make things simple for you, I will. *shrug*

Moderator Notice

Posting bad faith accusations against blog residents ("the lock step thinking in this blog") is against the comment policy. As is continuing to mock the concept of Trigger Warnings and refusing to use them. Here are your three spoons and your perma-ban.

valarltd said...

TW: Rape

The question is not "Can they get away with it legally?" but "Can they sleep nights knowing?" Those who decide that "yep, they sure can" may not be a majority, but they are common enough that 80% of the women I have encountered in my life have a story of rape or molestation, or both. Most of them unreported, for a variety of reasons.

Dav said...

TW: Rape

Those who decide that "yep, they sure can" may not be a majority, but they are common enough that 80% of the women I have encountered in my life have a story of rape or molestation, or both.

But valarltd, that's a radically different stance than "any man will commit rape if he can justify it to himself, no matter how flimsy the pretext".

Ana Mardoll said...

[TW:Rape]

Yeah, I absolutely believe that 80% of women have been raped or molested. I just don't think that 80% of men are doing the raping and molestation.

HAVING SAID THAT, I WILL NOW SAY THIS.

There is a reason why many feminists talk about "rape culture" and that reason is because when you culturally condition men to have a positive attitude toward rape, we believe those men are more likely to rape. This is not, however, a statement on the inherent badness of all men, but rather a statement on cultural conditioning. We also believe that this conditioning can be overcome with education -- there are a lot of male feminists who didn't start out as allies.

So statements about men's willingness to rape as a monolithic group are largely less useful (in my opinion) than talking about cultural condoning of rape which is, I think, a significantly more valuable conversation to have.

lambdatau said...

Um - hi. Long time lurker, first time commenter. Can I just say, relating to Michael's comment: I keep getting this from male geek friends, the idea that sometime soon women are going to be able to procreate without men and that then we won't need men and will make them go extinct - either just by staying in our feminist, lesbian breeding groups, or by doing some proper extermination.

And I utterly don't get it. I don't think that way. I'm fairly much a feminist and I've *never* thought that way. I could say that I like men, respect their humanity and don't want them to go extinct but that wouldn't be it - I just never thought that thought. I never met a woman who even once said that she wanted to exterminate men or hoped they would go extinct. We've all wished they would shut up just once, but disappear? I've never even thought it.

Bu for the male geek mind it seems to be the logical conclusion to women not needing men. Step one - the vote. Step two - economic independance. Step three - artificial insemination. Step four - KILL ALL TEH MENZ!!!

Anyone else get that?

John Magnum said...

That pattern of reasoning seems pretty familiar. It also seems to crop up in fantasies about robot uprisings, where the very instant robots are sentient and capable of existence independent of human ownership, they begin annihilating. I don't know if there's some insecurity about privilege or what, but the line of thought that they're right on the brink of being obliterated as soon as a marginalized class has the chance does seem pervasive.

It could be used as a motive for stricter control. "If we don't keep an incredibly tight grip on them, they'll try to kill us all. Better not give them the chance." Or it could be a weird projection thing. I don't know. There's lots of possibilities.

Anton_Mates said...

Lions eat zebras because if the lions don't eat something, they will die in a matter of days.

Well, actually, lions eat zebras because they like it. Sure, they've evolved to like it because otherwise they'd starve, but that doesn't really factor into the individual lion's thought processes. You can keep a lion well-fed and it'll still kill things for fun, just like a cat.

Of course, this is why we keep lions in cages, and if they approach humans while uncaged, we shoot them. We don't blame them for things that they do, because lions have no social standing or civil rights and nothing resembling human morality. If we actually viewed men that way, then every time a man started acting creepy toward a woman we'd simply taser him and tell his keeper to make sure his restraints are better secured. And as you point out, Scott Adams obviously doesn't believe men should be treated like that, despite his ramblings about the feminazis of the future and their mass castration campaigns.


When you hold the belief that men can't keep themselves from raping, when you believe that rape is something they literally have no choice but to perpetuate, then you are fundamentally blaming victims. If you treat everything in a rape situation as constant and unalterable except the victim's behavior, then you are putting the sole onus on them to avoid rape, and the sole blame on them if they fail to not be raped.

Oh, yes. And isn't it interesting that "They can't help acting like this" only leads to "So there's nothing we can do about it" in this one particular case? Cuz when someone says that black men can't help being rapists and thieves, or that gay people can't help trying to molest children and animals, or that Muslims can't help supporting terrorism and theocracy, they usually go on to suggest all sorts of things we can do about it. Like removing various civil rights from the group in question, so that they're no longer free to act on their dangerous urges.

Yet when men lament the natural uncontrollable rapishness of their gender, they don't usually conclude that men should therefore be forbidden from owning weapons, or preemptively arrested if they approach a woman without her written consent, or anything like that. Nope, it'll be totally impossible for society to restrain male aggression until the great Cyber-Amazonian Revolt of the 2600s. I wonder why that is?

By the way, Scott Adams also argues that if Trayvon Martin didn't want to get shot, he shouldn't have dressed all urban and stuff. So I think he's pretty comfortable with the victim-blaming thing.

Beguine said...

I think sometimes when people are just starting to notice their own privilege, the faux pas and intellectual errors they make as they're groping their way out of the dark can be the most teeth-grindingly frustrating for the non-privileged group they just noticed. The ALL FOR YOU thing didn't actually irritate me as much as the 'cartoon food' thing. I mean, I have a high libido, too, and I have naughty thoughts at inappropriate times (funerals, job interviews, etc). That doesn't mean I can't control my actions. It's not that men 'can't help it', it's that society tells them they don't have to. That said, I agree with Majormax that this could still be a useful starting point for some people, even if it's three steps forward, two steps back.

Anton_Mates said...

Bu for the male geek mind it seems to be the logical conclusion to women not needing men.

I doubt it's just the male geek mind. "Women in power => kill all the menz" is as old as the tales of the Amazons, and men (and women?) love stories of sorceresses and femmes fatales who apply their exceptional gifts to destroying all the men they can find. Maybe a lot of guys think that they'd want bloody revenge if they had to put up with all the crap that women get from men? I dunno.

Anton_Mates said...

I don't know if there's some insecurity about privilege or what, but the line of thought that they're right on the brink of being obliterated as soon as a marginalized class has the chance does seem pervasive.

Particularly with a marginalized class that actually holds a lot of power within a very circumscribed sphere. Like the fictional household robots, women could obliterate most men if they suddenly decided to. A man may be 6'4" and bench-press 800 pounds and own a dozen guns, but he still sleeps next to a woman, eats food prepared by a woman, and wouldn't have made it through infancy if not for the continuous care of at least one woman. That's got to be a troubling sort of vulnerability for someone who wants to feel that men are the natural masters of the world.

graylor said...

TW: HAES issues, beauty issues

Stephen King fails pretty often with female characters, IMO. Aside from that one “thank you, men!” paen in the Stand (‘cause, y’know, the only reason men did everything of note ever is because they’re awesome and women aren’t, couldn’t be the Shakespeare’s sister thing, or the matter of winners writing history books, for instance).

I recently reread Carrie and *paid attention* rather than reading for the story. Aside from the unlikeliness of the shower scene (middle schoolers throwing tampons? yes. high schoolers? er, not so much.) there’s this little snippet that starts on page forty in the paperback 1974 edition. It starts with the phrase “she undressed” and goes steadily downhill. And, yes, her breasts—they must be admired and described and Carrie must feel ‘weak and dissolving’ when she fondles them. Oh, yeah, and there’s blood in her underpants and she was just traumatized, no biggie. Boobs: the center of female sexuality. Truths only men know.

There’s lots of additional body fail, too. In the shower scene and thereafter at school Carrie is purported to be nearly bestial, more like a pig than one of the fresh nymphs playing in the showers. The narrator gives the impression of visceral disgust.

Then Carrie gets home and she’s undressed and it turns out she’s not ~really~ fat, she could lose the weight in a heartbeat if her life wasn’t awful. And she’s really got the body of a butterfly under awful clothes. Can’t have a horror novel if there’s no hope of salvation, can we? And an ugly fat girl has no hope of a happy ending, apparently.

What makes all of this even worse is that King goes on to describe Carrie’s hobby: making her own clothing. While I am no seamstress, I daresay anyone who makes her own clothes does not need to get naked to describe herself. A simple “An empress waist was naturally more flattering, but she wasn’t certain how to wear such blouses with those deliciously sinful skirts which would show her legs to best advantage.” There, clueless but learning.

... Honestly, I don’t think I can believe in any of King’s female characters. They just don’t ring true to life for me.

graylor said...

I'm glad to hear King improved with time. I was mostly reading for cultural literacy, so I hit the biggies (The Stand, Carrie, The Shining, Salem's Lot, skimmed Firestarter, was triggered by Pet Sematary, tottered unsteadily through It,) and read the one with the shit weasels on my nephew's reccommendation. I found those books easier to read when I was seeing through the eyes of the male characters and so chose to stay away from anything King wrote with a major female character later.

I love the first half of The Stand: Abigail's appearance, for good or ill, marks the point where I stop reading now, unless I'm rereading about Trashcan Man. Dana was awesome (the pen and ink illustration of her death stuck with me), but she did seem like a sacrifical lesbian. I would have liked to have seen more of her, but considering how long that novel became anyway, no one could pick it up if King had expanded on everyone's most-liked characters. Still, for those fretting about how The Hunger Games will somehow teach young women that they, too, are capable of great violence... Dana, former college kid, bashed in a guy's head with a rifle. Even early King has women being just as violent as men, which is something.

I may pick up Rose Madder when I need a King fix next time, thank you for the suggestion.

ZMiles said...

Sometimes I debate trying to go back and find a copy of the non-extended addition of The Stand -- I read the extended edition, and I'm curious how the new material changes things. But knowing King, there might even be a More Extended addition some day. One reason I stopped reading King after Duma Key and Under the Dome was that the books were just getting so massively long. (Although I might break that rule now that book 8 of The Dark Tower has come out).

ZMiles said...

(The one with the weasels is Dreamcatcher, by the way. I didn't like it as much as his other books set in and around Derry, but I thought it was still pretty good. The evil General Whats-his-name was a reasonably scary villain, and I liked the friendship between the leads).

graylor said...

The first time I read The Stand, probably about ten years ago, it was my public library's copy, which was non-extended. It was in hardback and still unweildy, though. If King ever extends it again, they'll have to break it up into volumes, at least for the paperback version. (I've been tempted to cut my own extended PB version in half, just for ease of reading).

There is something to be said for King's short stories--he can be very creepy in a small space when he applies himself.

I enjoyed Dreamcatcher: the bathroom scene when the poor man is trying to keep the creature contained is terrifying. His friendships among men seem realistic to me for the most part (though I'm female, so that may need a grainor two of salt added).

ZMiles said...

Ah, yes. King's short stories are often excellent. I was always partial to Trucks and the Langoliers.

By the way, for another comic about software engineers that isn't by Scott Adams, see "Not Invented Here." http://notinventedhe.re/. I'm a big fan.

DavidCheatham said...

TW: Rape

Some day I want to take all the 'they're just men-hating feminists' people and pit them against the 'all men want to rape' people and have a battle royale, but I can't, because I suspect that a lot of them are on both sides and find nothing odd about that. 'Those women hate all men for no reason except all men are barely refraining from raping them!'

Anyway, I suspect the 'All men secretly want to rape' meme exists in the same way the 'Women often claim to be raped when they weren't' meme exists. Bear with my logic here:

There is a subset of men do often have women 'wrongly' accuse them of rape. (These men are better known as 'rapists'.) These men 'know' this is how women behave, and have repeated it so often that even non-rapist men think it's true, and those men repeat it.

Likewise, there is a subset of men who fantasize about rape. (And at this point I will stop, because I'm misusing a word. Because most rapes are not like these men are imagining, so I will use the 'v-rape' to mean the sort of violent physical force that society thinks 'rape' generally consists. Restarting:)

Likewise, there is a small subset of men who fantasize about v-rape. Now, these men are probably not v-rapists, and probably would not be v-rapists even without the societal and legal disapproval, as fantasies are not always things we actually want to happen. But these men think that rape is due to other men having 'lower resistance' than they do, which is due to a misunderstanding of how rape generally works, and thinking it is generally v-rape. And they repeat this idea to yet other men.

And, just like with the claim about 'women make fake rape accusations', these other men repeat this as fact. The oddity with this incorrect idea, though, is they could ask _themselves_, 'Wait a second, does v-raping someone sound like something I would even enjoy? Forget me 'refraining' from doing it, does it even sound like fun? If I was to be in a situation where I could rape someone with impunity, would I?'

The answer to that is 'no'. It's even 'no' for people with v-rape fantasies. Hell, it's likely 'no' for many actual rapists out there, who are under the impression they are not rapists. Trying to restrain someone while having sex with them would seem like a lot of work and be rather uncomfortable and dangerous, which is why rapists generally rape via some other method. (And this is why v-rape is about power, not sex, although people who think all rape is v-rape have overgeneralized that conclusion.)

For men, 'refraining' from v-rape is like 'refraining' from jumping through a fifth-floor plate-glass window. Yes, some people who watch action movies occasionally imagine themselves doing it while bored, and there is the tiny percentage of the population who have enough mental problems to do it, but it's not something men are 'holding back from doing'.

(As for refraining from other sorts of rape, I could write another post on that, but I suspect the 'men are refraining from rape' thinking overlaps perfectly with the 'rape is always v-rape' thinking.)

Silver Adept said...

There's a lot of awesome in the thread, starting with the original post. The fundamental misogyny in the "men can't help themselves!" department is offensive to the men that do, in fact, restrain themselves. I have a question, though, and it ties into the idea of "must suppress all the minorities, lest they revolt and kill us all!" (which kind of says, "Hey. Maybe the society you're in shouldn't treat them so bad that you're worried about a helot *recordscratch* minority revolt.")

TW for rape, revolt, and gender-cide

When that particular line of misognyny/misandry pops up, are we supposed to believe that the person saying that is someone who really would go out and let their penis reign supreme if societal strictures were relaxed enough to make it possible?

And if that's the case, then doesn't it follow that someone of that nature would be very, very afraid of anything that would give their intended victims enough power to turn on them and make it so they can't go out and be the Rampaging Penis?

If women can reproduce without the need of men, that eliminates the one biological reason to keep men around, and therefore there's no stopping them from killing any man that doesn't want to submit to their rule. If minorities can achieve true equality and no longer have to depend on the white establishment just "permitting" them to exist (y'know, like when white people are slated to become less than 50% of the people in the United States), then the white people should be afraid that all the minorities will exact revenge on them and kill them for all the atrocities already committed. Therefore, you have to keep them fighting each other (and the proponents and defenders of Proposition 8 did just that, planning on turning gay people against black people).

Sorry, digressed.

There are a lot of groups that deliberately want the most privileged people to feel like the barbarian hordes are outside their gates. And it's not like we don't have plenty of examples in history of this, and the things that it permits.

Anton_Mates said...

Still, for those fretting about how The Hunger Games will somehow teach young women that they, too, are capable of great violence

Wait, seriously? There are people who a) actually believe that and b) think it's a problem?

graylor said...

Alas, yes. <a href="http://manboobz.com/2012/03/28/fox-news-doctor-dude-the-hunger-games-will-make-teen-girls-violent-unfeminine/>Linking to manboobz</a> because Fox News is icky.

Self-knowledge is brought about by thinking and who knows what girls who think might get up to left to their own devices.

Anton_Mates said...

Weird. I thought conservatives were all for girls unleashing their inner warrior, as long as it was against the right people. I mean, American Rifleman has tons of those stories where the tattooed gang member menaces the little (white) lady and then she blows him away with her concealed lady-sized pistol and everything's roses. Is this a social conservative vs. libertarian distinction?

Come to think of it, though, those are usually little old ladies. Maybe girls are supposed to rely on their dads and husbands for righteous violence as long as they're young and cute, then pick up their own heavy artillery once men no longer find them hot enough to protect?

Anton_Mates said...

(I'm also a woman, which makes me frequently the only woman in any given room where I work. And it also means that I am the lowest-paid and last-to-be-promoted person in my work group, despite having been in my group longer than almost anyone else. Which is something that I can't remember being addressed in Dilbert in recent years, but it's not my place to tell people which battles they should fight.)

I'm pretty sure that issue is never going to to be addressed in Dilbert, since Scott Adams has never ever observed it. "In my sixteen years of corporate life I never witnessed or even heard secondhand that anyone had ever been denied a promotion or a raise because of ethnicity or gender. "

He lives in the Bay Area, you see, where sexism and racism aren't.

Ana Mardoll said...

Hard to say. I think some men who say they believe all other men are rapists aren't actually wanting to rape, but maybe more interested in being morally superior? If that makes sense?

I think you can see that in the classic Nice Guy mentality, "All those other men are awful, but I am nice. And I should be rewarded."

Of course, they're rarely consistent with their beliefs. "All other men are natural rapists! But I believe sexual harassment is a thing of the past!"

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Ana Mardoll said...

That makes me very angry. There's a whole thread on Shakesville about women being passed over for raises because the male candidate "has a family to support". I cannot believe no one has ever sent such a story in to Scott Adams.

Gelliebean said...

Reading that makes me so frustrated. If nothing else, he's completely ignoring the context, my guess is deliberately. I haven't seen the movie, but I have tickets for Sunday (my first trip to Alamo Drafthouse, Yays!).... But the book depicts a girl who is violent against people who are actively trying to kill her.

My feeling is that the tendency toward self-defense is a pretty okay thing to foster in any woman.

Will Wildman said...

TW: rape

Over the years, I have read enough news articles from all over the world to come to the conclusion that any man will commit rape if he can justify it to himself, no matter how flimsy the pretext.
[...]
The question is not "Can they get away with it legally?" but "Can they sleep nights knowing?"


I'm trying to piece this together and I'm getting stuck. I'm not going to get into how misandrist it is; you've said you're already aware of that. I'm just trying to figure out the consistent implications.

The question of 'can they sleep knowing' is not a simple question. You've started with the assertion that 'any man will commit rape' under the right circumstances of self-justification, indicating that Everyman aware of rape, believes it's not okay, but wants to do it anyway and is just looking for an excuse. 'Can sleep nights knowing' suggests a problem of conscience, yet the universality of the assertion in turn indicates that there are no men whose conscience would ever actually prevent them from raping. Based on the context, I'm going to assume that 'no matter how flimsy the pretext' means that there is no objective minimum pretext-sturdiness below which any man would reject the pretext, since we're already operating on the assumption that it's about finding the pretext that is adequate to 'justify it to himself'. It's - okay, this is the part where I'm stuck, because I'm not necessarily sure what kind of justifications you're talking about. Is it like the old 'anyone can be bought' thing, but instead of 'would you eat plutonium for $500 billion' it's 'would you commit rape if no one would ever find out, there was no chance of health ramifications, and aliens would memory-wipe your victim afterwards'?

'Anyone would do X under the right circumstances' is almost tautological, since it presumes 'right circumstances' exist. So when I try to incorporate the fact that we're talking about men specifically, I'm left trying to figure out what that means for people other than men. Is the indication that there are, for example, women who could be given their perfect circumstances for committing rape, be able to 'sleep nights knowing', and yet still would not do it, by virtue of not being men? Can we specify the nature of the femmepower that would intervene to give them restraint?

I've had people say a lot of horrible things about me over the years, but I think this is the first time I've been accused of being an unknowing prospective rapist, so it's important to me to understand exactly what you think makes me a monster in waiting.

DavidCheatham said...

TW: Rape

'would you commit rape if no one would ever find out, there was no chance of health ramifications, and aliens would memory-wipe your victim afterwards'?

That is the question, and the answer to that is almost universally no. And it's not even even just the conscience stopping people, which makes the premise exceptionally wrong. To get to the point of 'all men would violently rape if they could', basically people have to ignore several facts:

1) All people except sociopaths have a minimal level of empathy, and do not wish to see others in pain. Even rapists in general have empathy, hence the drugging and threats and whatnot and their firm belief they are not doing any harm or that they are 'owed' sex. (I'm obviously not saying they're right, I'm just saying they have carefully constructed reasons and ways to ignore or not see the harm they do, because, like almost all human beings, they do not like to see people in pain.)

2) Holding someone down and having sex with them sounds like a _lot_ of work, and physically seems risky. I'm not sure I want to take my clothes off in front of someone trying to seriously injury me. Although maybe this objection is handwaved under 'if they could get away with it', but that doesn't work in this specific example, unless the aliens are going to magically heal all my injuries. Contrary to popular belief, most men do not enjoy physically attacking others, and have no magical way to do it safely.

3) It doesn't sound that enjoyable, sex-wise. Speaking for myself only, I'm not even convinced I could enjoy it to the point of being physically able to have intercourse during it. As I pointed out in a prior post, I'm suspecting this entire premise is coming from people who fantasize about this sort of thing, and think all men do, when in reality even actual rapists generally don't. (And I will point out the people with such fantasies would probably immediately stop the second they tripped over point #1.)

RADROSE said...

AMAZING flounce, A+++, will lol again, thanks

RADROSE said...

Great post, Ana. I enjoy reading your comments on Shakesville-glad to see you have your own blog, too!

Ana Mardoll said...

RADROSE! Shakesville High Fivez! :)

valarltd said...

Oh yes, of course. We're at the faux-ally "Educate me" speech. With a side of "Women commit rape too." Got here faster than I expected. Educate yourself. It's all in Brownmiller and the news reports.

I'm an old second-waver. What makes you a monster? Nothing that i know of, yet. But I can't tell you from the monsters, so enjoy your lair.

Ana Mardoll said...

valarltd,

As best I can tell, Will isn't saying anything in his post that I didn't already say in the OP.

I -- personally, emphatically, and as noted in the OP -- do not believe that "any man will commit rape if he can justify it to himself". Nor do I believe that such a position is consistent with the feminism that I ascribe to.

So I have much the same questions as Will on this point.

Will Wildman said...

If the disconnect is "I don't believe all men are willing to rape, I just have to treat them as such in order to be safe", then I absolutely understand the concept of Schrodinger's Rapist. But that doesn't seem to be what you are saying.

Exactly. Heck, the latest Recommends on this thread was linking to the latest post on my blog, in which I detailed how reasonable and necessary I think the above sentiment is, because - it's not possible to tell on sight who is and isn't a rapist, and there are a hell of a lot of men who are rapists.

We're at the faux-ally "Educate me" speech. With a side of "Women commit rape too."

If you read my post and thought 'women commit rape too' was any of my point, then you colossally missed what I was saying. I know the statistics. A whole one percent of rapists are women. The other ninety-nine percent are men, many of whom are multiple perpetrators.

I was insulted because you flat-out stated that every man (which therefore includes me) would rape if given a sufficiently 'safe' opportunity. You actually made the kind of misandrist statement that the OP is trying to refute. And then you're saying I'm not an ally if I take offence to a massive gender-biased unverifiable slander. Awesome.

valarltd said...

I believe anyone--male, female, other--is capable of anything, any crime, any atrocity, provided they can justify it. History and religion teach us this if nothing else. Look at the elaborate justifications for wars and slavery. It's all of a piece.

I believe some men would only be able to justify rape if lives were at stake, while others can use "she's a different religion than I am" and sleep nights. Some will simply use the "She's mine. I bought/married/fathered her." But at base, I believe that any and every man is quite capable of finding that reason or seizing it if it's under his nose.

Ana Mardoll said...

OK. I disagree, but 'my personal philosophy is that all people are capable of any evil' is clearer for me to understand what you are saying. Thank you.

Ana Mardoll said...

(I'm all the way up to June 2010 from the beginning. Thanks for the rec.)

JonathanPelikan said...

Ana, I'm having one of those moments where I can't possibly sort out what I'm feeling adequately enough to express it all, but I figured I should try anyway. This thread has almost succeeded in making me physically ill. Not the post, the thread, and specifically the most intensely sexist things.

Certainly not trying to convince valarltd that her opinion of me is offensive and wrong, because she's made it clear that it isn't a subject on which any combination of words I can string together will do it. Likewise, she could never convince me to see from her point of view. It is an impasse and discourse is impossible.

I've been reading your blog since, uh. Bad with time. I'd say since the Narnia deconstruction started, or something around there. Mostly came here for the Twilight. I check this bookmark often, several times on most days, and it's one of the few blogs I consistently remember exist. I read your blog because it offers perspectives that literally never occurred to me because of a variety of factors including simply I am not and have never been a woman. There's also the fact that you write well, fullstop.

I don't always agree with everything here, but often I do, and a lot of times that's made me the most upset before now. For instance, rape culture. (I've said before that it's hard reading feminist blogs; not because I don't agree with them, I mostly end up on their side, but the sort of truths being told hurt to hear.) Even simple things seen with that kind of light take on a new meaning. Some of your posts or the comments on them have been upsetting to some degree, but that's entirely on me, and it has never before today even put in my mind that I might want to stop visiting the blog and reading and even commenting occasionally. This is different from anything I've seen before.

I admire your attempt to create a safe space, and you've been almost entirely successful on that score. When things come up that go against that mission, you take measured but appropriate action to bring things in line. In this thread, even. I deeply appreciate that.. This thread, however, is not a safe space for me, and in fact allowed me to understand on a very deeply visceral level about triggering. If a word can capture what this thread is, that word would probably be 'hostile'.

(Yeah, I know that the simplest response to this post is 'tab away to something else then, bro'. I really want to stay with this blog, though, and some of the comments on this thread are bad.)

Ana Mardoll said...

I'm very and deeply sorry that you've been triggered by this thread.

For what it is worth, I absolutely agree that there have been inappropriate and triggering posts in this thread. To be honest, I'm not sure what to do about it -- whether it's time for me to start deleting comments (something I've not had to do before now) or ROT13'ing them or... what.

I would greatly appreciate guidance and comments from the blog regulars, including yourself. If this thread is not a safe space in which to have that conversation, you can email me at AnaMardoll at gmail.com, or I can open a discussion thread.

The way I see it is that we can continue on in this vein -- which doesn't seem to be working very well -- or we can go to a heavier "Shakesville-style" comment policy where inappropriately triggering comments are deleted as needed. A major problem with the latter plan, though, is that we have a moderation team here of 1, instead of the 5+ Shakesville team.

[TW: Thread Issues]

Bottom line: I do NOT want this space to be a place for gender elimination discussions nor for blanket gendered assumptions of the "All X do Y" variety. I'm just not sure how to get from here to there.

chris the cynic said...

I believe anyone--male, female, other--is capable of anything, any crime, any atrocity, provided they can justify it. History and religion teach us this if nothing else.

How? This is what I do not follow, in what way does history teach us that? It's not enough to say, "There have always been people who were X, therefore all people are X," because doing that would lead to absurd conclusions. There have always been people who were female so therefore ... all people are female?

For us to be taught that anyone would turn evil we'd need to have examples not when people were justifying evil, which in no way implies that anyone is capable of any crime, but rather when everyone, unanimously, agreed to it. I don't know of many such examples. And there would need to be many, for otherwise it would seem more likely to be a fluke.

As near as I can tell, the only time history teaches us about what "anyone" will do is when everyone does it. Because otherwise every single person who doesn't do it may very well be a counterexample. More so if it always seems to be the case that there are people who don't do it.

chris the cynic said...

I don't know what to do. I do know that I very much don't like posts being removed*, especially if people have responded to them so someone looking after they've been removed sees the response but not that which is being responded to.

If you believe that they should not be left as they are, my preference would be to have posts ROT-13ed and fitted with appropriate warnings instead of having them removed.

-

*This is not entirely rational on my part and it extends far beyond posts. I have a serious hangup about things ceasing to be.

Dav said...

If you believe that they should not be left as they are, my preference would be to have posts ROT-13ed and fitted with appropriate warnings instead of having them removed.

Jonathan, I'm wondering if there *are* there adequate warnings for this thread. (Er, that could be read two ways, and I intend it in the less douchy one: that is, are there trigger warnings that could have helped prep you for the unusually awful content of this discussion thread? Or if not warnings, something else?)

Dav said...

TW: Thread issues. Plus, I added fundamentalist Christianity to the mix, because that always makes things better.

I believe anyone--male, female, other--is capable of anything, any crime, any atrocity, provided they can justify it. History and religion teach us this if nothing else.

No doubt people, as a collective and as individuals, can do some truly terrible things to each other. But you also see people standing up, in pretty much every one of those situations, to act against them. So this really only makes sense in a "we're all capable of great good and terrible evil." way, which is . . . not terribly helpful? Certainly not as a basis for categorizing whole subgroups.

I think it's also troubling because it seems to imply that the only thing that keeps us all from abusing each other even more is the artificial constraints of . . . what? Culture? Society? Law? Lack of facile self-delusional self-justification? Which implies that what we need is not to change culture, but to repress everyone via whatever means necessary until guilt prevents them from doing evil. Which sounds remarkably like the fundamentalist religion I grew up with that is super not helpful for anyone, and extra super not helpful for, say, women. Or black people. Or non-straight people.

It's super victim blame-y ("You just gave him the right circumstances - any man would have done the same!") and likely to inflame tensions between groups ("Given half the chance, they'd murder us all in our beds!").

I think your premise doesn't hold up historically, and I'm not sure what you mean by religious justification (other than some pretty fucked up "everyone is evil sayeth the LORD" stuff).

Will Wildman said...

Ana, I have just emailed you my Important Thoughts on the matter, which I'm sure you will find delightful and laser-etch into titanium sheets so that you may read them again in all the seasons of your life.

As far as this thread is concerned, here is a picture of a dachshund puppy wearing a coat of maille, and that is all I particularly feel like sharing right now.

Ana Mardoll said...

I did receive it, thank you, Will. And if I had titanium sheets and laser etching equipment, I probably would do so. ;)

I love that puppy picture. So very much.

---

Moderator Notice

For the time being, and in the interests of thread safety, I am going to ROT13 a number of comments in this thread and add some trigger warnings. If your post is edited, please do not take this personally. It doesn't mean you did or said anything wrong; it just means I'm trying to strike a safe balance between "working out moderation issues in my head" and "not triggering anyone who comes new to the thread".

And I whole-heartedly apologize for those who have been triggered already.

hapax said...

Educate yourself. It's all in Brownmiller and the news reports.

While Susan Brownmiller's AGAINST OUR WILLS is indeed a classic of feminist literature, and did an immense service in raising and framing the discussion of rape culture, it is hardly a flawless academic treatise.

It is rife with basic errors, credulity, racism, homophobia, and gender essentialism, and should be referred to only with caution as a support to your arguments.

Ana Mardoll said...

Moderator Notice

There is a new comment policy in response to this thread. Please familiarize yourself with it. Thank you.

http://www.anamardoll.com/2012/03/metapost-comment-policy-change-again.html

Ana Mardoll said...

Moderator Notice
Trigger Warning: Misandry, Sexism, Gender Essentialism Statements

valarltd,

With all due respect and after long consideration, I've decided to issue you 1 Spoon for this post, under the comment policy.

http://www.anamardoll.com/p/comment-policy.html

I want to emphasize that I respect that you tried to frame this post as your own personal opinion and not objective fact. However, this blog is meant to be a safe-space for the male commenters as well as the female ones. The opinion that "any man will commit rape if he can justify it to himself, no matter how flimsy the pretext" is not one that is welcome in this space and is one that is unfair and inappropriate to many of the men participating in this thread.

I understand from later comments that this sweeping gender essentialist statement may not have been quite what you meant. However, I do ask that commenters take care to avoid sexist commentary, because intent is not magic.

Note that this is not a ban, but a warning. Thank you.

hapax said...

Sorry, Ana. I didn't see this until after I posted.

hapax said...

Also, hurrah to armoured puppy dogs! You shall be helpless before the Power of Cuteness!

Ana Mardoll said...

S'alright. It's been a hectic night all round, I'd say.

Dav said...

It's not terribly seasonal, but I think you might need a bouquet. With spoons.

(http://basketsandblooms.org/images/catalog/Flowers/2853/291264_Large.jpg)

Fluffy_goddess said...

Hurrah for the puppy!

*ahem*

I basically agree that humans are capable of both great good and great evil, and that what people do is largely dictated by circumstances. But I also believe that we build our own circumstances. We shape the world we live in, or at least some of the worlds that we perceive ourselves as living in. So for me, saying that anything is possible in the right circumstances would not be an attempt at laissez-faire morality, but a reminder that the circumstances we live in are important. If we are living in circumstances that contain conflicting viewpoints, we have to decide which ones to prioritise, which ones to believe and live with; saying that our answers are predetermined by the very circumstances we live in rather oversimplifies what it's actually like to live in them.

None of us live in circumstances where it is unimaginable to, say, go around violently stuffing radishes up peoples' noses. Frankly, I can't picture circumstances so restrictive that it becomes unimaginable, given the demonstrable flexibility of human imagination. But that isn't an excuse, it's just an explanation. Both as individuals and as expressions of the groups we belong to, we get to decide what explanations pass muster and what explanations do not. And we (unfortunately) get to have that conversation over, and over, and over, and each time we do, we redefine our circumstances just that little bit more. Because once upon a time, you could argue in public that the genocide of your enemies was desirable, just like we run into people arguing that rape culture is inevitable. Times change. Circumstances change. They do not change because change is inevitable, but because people acknowledge that there were consequences to thinking the way they had in the past, and those consequences sucked, so they were going to change their thinking.

Or rather: just because we don't live in a cultural vacuum doesn't mean we're helpless balls pinging mindless about in a complex rube-goldberg machine. We're really more like schrodinger's cat -- both good and evil until someone opens the box. And we're the only ones capable of opening those boxes.

startledoctopus said...

his opinion also ignores critical known data about rapes: that the vast majority of them are perpetrated by a tiny percentage of the population who are repeat offenders.

fearand7oathing said...

You know, it's your blog and obviously you're free to do what you'd like with it, but as you navigate moderation issues I'd point out that when women DON'T have safe, public spaces where their right to express their fears of their oppressors (men) and the feelings of men who are supposed to be allies are privileged over those feelings of fear and anger...that, to me, is just another silencing technique feminists need to fight against.

I'm afraid of men, because men as a group do things EVERY DAY to make me afraid of them, and society supports that. When women express these feelings and thoughts, I think it's up to our male allies to recognize this and WORK HARDER, not invalidate our fears because they call into question your ally status.

I don't hate men, but I sure as shit believe men, as a group, hate me.

Ana Mardoll said...

TW: Rape, Rape Allegations

There is a significant difference between fearing men as a group because of Schrodinger's Rapist (which states not that All Men Rape but rather that I Cannot Tell If THIS Man Rapes) versus saying that any/all men are willing to rape and oppress.

This is not a place for simplistic, sweeping gender essentialist statements. There are QUILTBAG men here, including some men who were born in a female body, and who are subject to far more oppression in their daily life than I. There are men here who are people of color and deserve a safe-space from the bigoted stereotype that they rape because they are sub-persons. There are men here who are allies in every sense of the term.

The problem here was not that a woman said "I fear men". The problem is that I wrote a post saying that "the assertion that all men rape is inherently misogynistic" and someone took it on themselves to say, no, really, any man will rape because [anecdotal evidence]. Such a statement is no more welcome on this board than, say, a statement that any woman will file false rape charges because [anecdotal evidence]. A safe-space, by definition, requires holding the commentariat to a higher standard than that.

fearand7oathing said...

Schrodinger's Rapist states that all men are potential rapists, because of the misogynistic way the group "men" is constructed by society. I know that not all men rape, but I expect male allies to prove it to me, rather than burden me with trusting them bc ANECDOCTAL EVIDENCE.

As a woman, I don't feel safe in a supposedly feminist space that prioritize's men's feelings over a woman's right to fear her oppressor. That being said, I'll leave.

Ana Mardoll said...

I'm sorry that's how this situation seems to you. However, I do not and cannot believe that saying "sweeping essentialist statements about all men/women/atheists/Christians/whites/blacks/etc. are not welcome here" is somehow prioritizing one group's feelings over the other.

No one here, to my knowledge, has suggested men should not be viewed as potential rapists for reasons of personal safety, or that women should trust men beyond their own personal boundaries. Indeed, Schrodinger's Rapist has been referenced and reaffirmed multiple times. I have simply said that it is not appropriate to assert the opinion that all men will rape, given specific circumstances.

Majromax said...

[Trigger warning: rape, discussion of gender essentialism and elimination.

This post also contains math. That's not triggery, but if you're not a mathie and haven't had coffee this morning you may want to wait.

Ana, I'm not sure where the ROT13 line is in this discussion. If my post crosses it, please feel free to go ahead.]

I think that views like Scott Adams' in the orignal post and valarltd's and Michael Varian Daly's in this thread come form misplaced universal and existential qualifiers.

Let me start with the proposition "there exists a set of reasonable circumstances, for which there exists a man who will commit rape." This is, unfortunately, trivially true, and it's proven by the existence of rape.

Now, let me broaden that a bit: "for any reasonable circumstance, there exists a man who will commit rape." In a nutshell, that's the argument of Schrodinger's Rapist, and why strangers are treated with caution. "You might not be that guy, but I don't know you so I have to at least keep the possiblity in mind."

But let me flip that statement around: "For any man, there exists a reasonable set of circumstances under which he will commit rape." If true, then that is indeed an argument for gender elimination, since men would be inherently unsafe for a society to have around. It also says something pretty nasty about every man. It's a much stronger statement than Schrodinger's Rapist; it's also less useful. Schrodinger's Rapist explains why it's beneficial for women to be cautious of unknown men; what specific course of action does this statement advocate?

Now, there are two ways to reduce the impact of the universal-rapist.

The first is to argue circumstances: "Well, if aliens came down and threatened to blow up the planet unless [tw: blasphemy?] Jesus raped Joan of Arc, then of course he'd have to do it!" That's argument from science fiction, and when that happens there we rightly call out the author for writing a crap story. For the universal statement to have real meaning, the circumstances must themselves be plausible and reasonable.

The second way is the argument from the Heart of Darkness: "Well, yes, any man will rape under particular individual circumstances. But he'll also murder, torture, and commit genocide. Women will do the same too! So I'm not really specifically impugning men!" If that's the argument, then what does it really say except that the author of the statement is a pessimist? If the author isn't trying to say that all men are more likely to be rapists (and thus back to gender elimination), then the statement has no informational content and is a derailment tactic.

That said, I really do understand where the argument comes from emotionally. Start with Schrodinger's rapist "women have to treat men like they are potential rapists" and blur the lines slightly to get "men are all potential rapists", and there you go. But they really are qualitatively different statements, and there's no "of course it's obviously true!" path to the latter.

fearand7oathing said...

I apologize for not leaving as soon as I said I would, but from one feminist mod to another I felt I owe you clarification.

I simply don't see the difference between the two statements, "all men should be viewed as potential rapists for reasons of personal safety" and (the personal opinion, thus, the establishment of one woman's personal safety boundaries) that "all men will rape, given the right circumstances." To me the second is the personal, justifiably fearful iteration of the first. This is fundamentally different from "women lie about rape because ANECDOTES," because in both instances men are the oppressor.

For me personally, it looks more like, "Any man could get away with rape, given enough support by misogynistic society."

Ana Mardoll said...

Trigger Warning: Rape, Gender Essentialism

You don't have to apologize for not leaving. :)

Schrodinger's Rapist does not hold that all men rape. It holds that SOME men rape, and that women have varying trust boundaries that must be respected. So whereas I might feel safe going out to dinner with a stranger, another woman might not feel safe even being in the same room as him. It's an argument specifically against the mentality "I, individual man, am not a rapist, so you should trust me to the level I desire"; the Schrodinger's Rapist argument counters, "I, individual woman, have no way of knowing that you aren't a rapist, so I will proceed at the level of behavioral trust that makes me most comfortable because I hold more risk in this situation than you."

The difference is between "SOME men rape, and I don't know which ones" and "ALL men rape, period."

Not all men rape. The statement itself is logically absurd -- not all men have the ability and opportunity to rape. So the statement becomes "all men rape, given the appropriate circumstances". This new statement is either functionally meaningless (see above, with the Space Whale justification of Jesus and Joan of Arc) or so pessimistically universal as to be useless (which was the refined "okay, all woman rape under the appropriate circumstances, too)...

...but regardless the statement is one that I believe is inherently inconsistent with feminism*.

Which is why I wrote a huge honking OP about it.

* None of which even gets into the fact that the statement "all men rape" is deeply problematic when applied to QUILTBAG and POC men who have a long history of being oppressed under the stereotype that they are all fundamentally sexual predators. This space is not the space for that. That doesn't make it "not feminist" it makes is "not okay with calling people rapists even when they are not".

hapax said...

Amarie, I *think* I am getting what you are trying to say, and *maybe* I agree with it...

...but unfortunately, your argument is framed in terms of "sexually dominant" and "sexually submissive", which are phrases with a huge honking flock of applications, associations, and connotations which I do not think you intended.

Nonetheless, I keep getting tripped up on them, and saying, "But.. but... waitaminute, no..." And so I cannot meaningfully respond to your post.

Do you have some other way of expressing what you have in mind?

Majromax said...

[TW: Rape, gender essentialism]

I simply don't see the difference between the two statements, "all men should be viewed as potential rapists for reasons of personal safety" and (the personal opinion, thus, the establishment of one woman's personal safety boundaries) that "all men will rape, given the right circumstances." To me the second is the personal, justifiably fearful iteration of the first.

That's an enormous difference.

The first statement says: "I don't know Bob, so if I'm in a situation with him I have to consider the possibility that he is a rapist. You may or may not feel the same way alone with Bob, since you may know more about Bob than I do."

The second statement says: "Bob is a rapist. If I am vulnerable enough around Bob, he will rape me. If you are vulnerable enough around Bob, he will rape you."

This is insulting and demeaning. First and most obviously, it is insulting to Bob and convicts him of a quality he may not have ever shown.

Secondly, it's insulting to every woman who trusts Bob. "Oh, you naïve little woman, you are simply far too trusting of him! Even though he's your friend/husband/sibling, I know that his male rapist corruption is only waiting underneath the surface for a suitable moment." Through a sweeping, gender-essentialist statement, you've completely disregarded every dissenting opinion.

[Further TW: Victim blaming]
Ironically, you're also laying the groundwork for victim blaming: "of course Bob was a raving rapist lunatic monster! You should never have trusted him!"

Ana Mardoll said...

TW: Victim Blaming

Precisely. It sets up a framing narrative where no man can ever be trusted and therefore when one man rapes, it's the woman's "fault" for letting her guard down. It's the Dan Rottenberg theory: if your husband rapes you, it's your fault for marrying a man. #NotMyFeminism

http://www.anamardoll.com/2011/06/jeers-why-wont-you-women-stop-getting.html

Majromax said...

...but unfortunately, your argument is framed in terms of "sexually dominant" and "sexually submissive", which are phrases with a huge honking flock of applications, associations, and connotations which I do not think you intended.

I'm definitely not Amarie, but I can take a stab at it: Men are supposed to be "sex-seeking," and women are supposed to be "sex-providing." In a relationship, the man is supposed to provide the energy and desire for sex, while the woman acts as the gatekeeper.

A reason I like this framework is that it also neatly ties in to stereotypes of homosexual relationships: a homosexual male pairing is supposed to be hypersexual because there are two sex-seekers, while a lesbian pairing is supposed to be nearly asexual because there are two providers without a sex-seeker to give the relationship drive.

It also works with slut-shaming. A man who sleeps around a lot may be a bit comical, but it's because he's playing a positive trait to excess. A woman who sleeps around, however, is playing against type.

This gendered view is also patriarchal, in addition to the essentialist framing: it places men in the active role and women in the responsive role. Since the active male can unilaterally choose to not seek sex at any particular moment, there's little "frigid-shaming" of men.

Amarie said...

At Hapax and Majromax:

I apologize if I offended anyone. I suppose I keep forgetting to narrow down my word-choice. ^ ^

But Majromax perfectly articulated what I was trying to say. The man is the ‘seeker’ and the woman is the ‘responder’. That’s what I meant when I suggested that Gender Roles, which are accepted by so many, could have a role in perpetuating Rape Culture.

Does that sound better?

depizan said...

I've been avoiding this thread due to my gender identity, but I do also have to add that saying that "All men will rape, given the right circumstances" sounds particularly bizarre to the non-cis gendered. Am I a rapist monster waiting to happen when I identify as male? All of the time, because I identify as male part of the time? None of the time, because I'm not physically male? There is no answer to that question that is not insulting.

Silver Adept said...

@hapax, @Majromax, @Amarie -

In it's original framework, though, I feel there is some kernel of truth to Amarie's post, especially when you add some of the far-right Christian interpretations of Scripture and/or conservative political thoughts on the roles of men and women as context I do not know whether Amarie intended those contexts. I think Majormax's clarification makes it more universally-applicable (yay!), but the original may still have some truth to it.

There's probably something interesting there, too, about those other connections and applications and how they apply in how the mainstream tends to use those terms. I lack the experience and the reading knowledge to be able to more fully flesh it out, but I wonder whether or not the average person would choose to use those terms as a first thought, since most people, I would guess, are not fully up on the lingo and implications of the BDSM/alternative sexuality contexts.

TheDom said...

That was a funny post. Well-written. Nothing to add, except please do that again :)

Unicorn said...

"Free will is an illusion. Humans are nothing but moist robots. Just relax and let it happen."

'You want to know why we still need feminism? We still need feminism because there are people who can read and write the above without seeing it as utterly, completely, essentially, foundationally hostile to female choice.'

So you can't see the painfully obvious? That the whole free will thing was a JOKE! As in something tongue in cheek that's not meant to be taken seriously.

I don't know if you've noticed but Dilbert is mean to be a funny cartoon!

So essentially we need feminism because you can't see a joke when it's so painfully obvious to everyone else.

Guest said...

'I believe that I live in a world that is hostile to the concept of female consent, a world where sex and pregnancy and transvaginal ultrasounds are forced on women no matter how many times they say "no".'

Really? A world that is hostile to the concept of female consent?
Why then do we have rape laws?
Why then do we see rapists as scum?
Surely in a world that was hostile to female consent, rape would be encouraged and rapists would be accepted.
This is hardly the case.

'I believe that no woman can truly be free until these issues are addressed for all women, regardless of age, race, or financial status.'

Issues that you have made up.


'You may have noticed that I said nothing in all that about Hating Men.'


Well, do you really have to?

Unicorn said...

In case you missed it, the real joke in that Dilbert strip is that Dilbert himself is already established as being a complete failure with women, and the absurdity of the scenario where the woman is turned on despite herself is the whole joke - it is ABSURD that a woman would be attracted to Dilbert if that scenario were to happen in real life and the "free will" comments are all part of that absurd scenario.

And that's why we need feminism?

Unicorn said...

'"Men can't help themselves" has always been used to place the burden of rape squarely on the shoulders of women.'

Oh please! You really think this would wash in court: "Your Honour - my client pleads not guilty because he just couldn't control himself".

Seriously? In the Western world? Britain, the USA, Australia, New Zealand?

Maybe that kind of thing would wash in some Arab countries but not over here - who but the most misogynistic minorities would ever think that rape was ok, would ever think rape was justified because the man "couldn't help himself".

Seriously what decade are you living in? This is the year 2012. Men and women in the Western world simply do not think that way. We rightly think that rapists are scum bags who should be locked up and we certainly don't condone it!

BaseDeltaZero said...

I got an email about a response to my comment - and a rather 'interesting' one at that... has it already been deleted?

Ana Mardoll said...

Yep, four troll posts from the same troll all in the space of four minutes. He got a patent-pending "Ana Sleepy Ban" where I dug out the laptop from under the bed and blacklisted him while blearily rubbing my eyes and trying to make sense of the 803 inherent contradictions in each post.

Trolls! I simply don't understand them.

Smilodon said...

To add an anecdote to all of the brilliant philosphy that I see here. I really like how people (Ana, Majromax, etc.) have summed up the situation.

I know a man. If consent could be a kink, it would be for him. I really believe he would be incapable of finding something nonconsentual erotic. In order to make him fit the description of "all men would", I would have to fundementally change who he is as a person. Of course I can imagine that situation. If he'd been raised in a George RR Martin world, or if he had a dramatic head injury, or if some subtle event that wired him this way had been reversed. But what value is in that statement? Of course things would be different if they were different.

I don't want to discount the horribleness of living in fear. But while I understand fearing all men, I don't understand blaming all men.

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