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Member since: Sat Sep 15, 2012, 01:49 PM
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How anti-feminism is anti-men

How often have we been told speaking about issues like rape and other violence against women amounts to "man-hating" ? Yet some of those same critics turn around and insist predatory behavior on the part of men is somehow natural, as is supposedly the case for all "great apes." This article gets at that paradox and shows how the feminist goal of including men in efforts to find solutions to sexual violence assumes a far more positive view of men.

Our colleague Cliff Leek convincingly wrote about the importance of involving men in rape prevention work. Today I want to go back to a ‘debate’ on Fox News earlier this year, in which feminist writer Zerlina Maxwell raised this issue by arguing that rape can be prevented if men learn not to rape – an idea that was shot down (no pun intended) by Fox News host Sean Hannity as an unrealistic liberal pipe dream. Rather, Hannity and Gayle Trotter of the ‘Independent Women’s Forum’ – a conservative think tank – argued that the right to carry concealed weapons is what can protect women from being raped. Although clearly being an attempt to intervene in the gun control debate by these conservative thinkers, their arguments reveal some of the underlying assumptions about sexualized violence and masculinities in mainstream discourse – assumptions that are in strong conflict with findings from research.

Earlier this year, Zerlina Maxwell made the case on Fox News that carrying guns are not the solution when it comes to protecting women from rape and sexual assault. She tried to re-frame the debate, arguing that instead of focusing on what women do (or wear, or not do), we should talk about how we can teach men not to become rapists (as Cliff Leek pointed out, there are numerous amazing initiatives working with men all over the world now). However, Hannity, Trotter and a number of conservative bloggers on the internet were quick to reject the idea of even having this debate. Even worse than that (and as if to confirm Maxwell’s call for connecting constructions of masculinity to violence against women), some corners of the internet went on to harass Maxwell for her supposedly naive, dangerous and ‘men-hating’ comments, sending her not only racist and sexist messages but even death threats.

Taking a step back and looking more closely at the content of the debate and its underlying premises, it becomes clear just how contradictory, misguided and ideologically charged the anti-feminist backlash against Zerlina Maxwell and other feminist activists is. Although Maxwell was accused as a ‘men-hater’ for drawing attention to the importance of taking men and masculinity into account when looking at gendered violence, her argument is actually one that is far more positive towards men than is the anti-feminist case: Essentially, Maxwell argued (and feminists have done so for decades) that men don’t have to be the problem but can be part of the solution – by learning and by teaching other men and boys how to reject violence and how to treat women (and other boys and men) with respect – and by asserting that men have the ability to change. In contrast to this nuanced and positive argument that sees men as potential allies, the anti-feminist solution can be summarized as: ‘Women need to shoot men’. In other words, the anti-feminist position must assume that men are always and necessarily a danger for women and there is nothing we as a society can do about it. Often, these discourses then fall back onto what Martha McCaughey calls the ‘cavemen mystique’: biologistic arguments that claim that violence and a ‘natural’ urge to rape are inherently programmed into men’s brains. In this way then, the anti-feminist view of the likes of Hannity and others is far more insulting towards men than that of the supposedly ‘men-hating’ feminists like Zerlina Maxwell, since the former must assume that all men are born potential rapists, unable to change, whereas the latter strongly and explicitly reject this assumption.

The claim that guns will protect women from rape is also revealing of the misconceptions about gendered violence on a different level. Thinking that women could protect themselves by carrying concealed weapons and shooting their assailants implicitly assumes that rapists are monstrous predators, lurking in dark corners and park, attacking women at random (an image also connected to racialized discourses of Black masculinity in the US). However, although some women are sexually assaulted by random strangers, the vast majority of rape and sexualized violence is committed by perpetrators known to the women, girls and boys they victimize (the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that less than 15% of rape victims were victimized by strangers): Rapists are far more often husbands, boyfriends, friends, acquaintances, fathers, uncles, ex-lovers or dates, coaches, priests or teachers than they are the random attacker ingrained into our popular culture. In other words, in order for firearms to be an effective solution to ending rape, women (as well as girls and boys) would have to be prepared to make use of them in their bedrooms and nurseries, at college parties, bars and in dorms, and often against people they trusted before the assault. The anti-feminist discourse has to ignore these realities and pretend that sexualized violence is the problem only of a handful of ‘sick’ men – it has supposedly nothing to do with the majority of ‘normal’ men they see themselves as. In other words: Paradoxically, the potential for violence and the urge to rape women are both inherent to men because of their ‘nature’, yet rapists are always a minority of others and sexual violence does not having anything to do with masculinity at all, the argument does. Go figure.

The inherent contradictions of the conservative case against connecting masculinity and violence as well as the ignorance towards the reality of rape and sexual assault found by numerous studies show that only a feminist analysis of gender and violence can move us forward towards eliminating rape and gendered violence. Clearly, the majority of men never become rapists and would strongly reject the notion that they would sexually assault another individual even if they could get away with it – disproving the anti-feminist argument that rape is simply part of ‘male human nature’. At the same time and as pointed out, data shows that rape is not a problem of only a handful of perpetrators, either. Rather than pretending that carrying firearms or telling women what to do or wear can be the solution to gendered violence, Zerlina Maxwell’s suggestion that we should figure out how toxic constructions of masculinity result in (some, but still way too many) men becoming perpetrators of sexual violence and creating educational tools to address this connection of masculinity and violence is well called-for.


I was recently shamed for talking about sex

I responded to a question about intercourse with a discussion of my own perceptions of sex based on my own experiences. Someone who has accused me and other members of this group of "pathologizing male sexuality," being a "prude" and "sex-negative," responded by telling me I had given "way, way, way TMI." I was in a subthread discussing with another woman the issue of PIV sex, and we were exchanging our different views on the subject. (I am for it). This man felt compelled to enter the thread and tell me he wasn't interested in my "sexcapades." I had not asked him to be interested. I was discussing a topic about human sexuality, so naturally my post included a discussion of sex. I spoke in general terms and saw no reason to pretend I did not have or enjoy sex.

I felt his lecture that I had spoken inappropriately about my "sexcapades" was an effort to shame me. I found it ironic that I have so often been accused of not liking sex because of my concerns about objectification of women in the media and violent porn. I have been told I simply can't bear the fact that people are attracted to one another and having sex. That point is of course absurd, as members of this group well know, but to them have a person who has made those very charges turn around and scold me for my "sexcapades" showed me that my entire sexuality is a rhetorical target.

While people often speak of "slut shaming," the fact is women can be shamed for any sexual choice or the perception that our views are linked to our sexual choices. Calling someone a prude, or sex-negative when they have not identified themselves as such, is part of the same process of shaming women for enjoying sex. Advancing feminist positions that certain men dislike means that they may target our sexuality as defective, either excessive or inadequate. Women's sexuality is a subject of attack at all points: when she turns a man down for a date, chooses not to have sex with him, has sex with someone besides him, or challenges him on the idea that misandry is pervasive opens her up to scorn and shaming. The term "slut shaming" is not adequate to describe the phenomenon because we can be simultaneously called prudes and sluts. What is under attack is our womanhood. Expressing ideas or behaving in ways some men don't approve renders us sexually defective, as less than full women.

Add to that other rhetorical practices, using the c word, associating weakness with the vagina through the word "pussy," and the far too common online practice of threatening women with rape. For some men, a woman's purpose is to provide sex. Any deviation from what they see as acceptable behavior for a woman renders her defective, a slut or a prude. In targeting our sexuality, those men who find our feminist ideas so objectionable attack our very womanhood, indeed our personhood. I realize I have been shamed for my sexuality all along, since I was called a prude when I first raised concerns about objectification. This was simply a continuation of that shaming process. Whether a prude or someone who discusses "sexcapades," I was defective. Daring to speak my mind pathologized my sexuality and ruined my value as a woman, as a person.

. . .

It has a collection of folks with a particular outlook on life that he might appreciate.

"We are all responsible for equality"

A simple but powerful statement from an artist and LGBT activist. http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=4961698

Her words, I believe, extend to all forms of discrimination and equality. Rather than arguing about terminology, perhaps we might think of it as this: What can I do to further equality (race, gender, sexuality, etc. ..)? What can I do to make sure I don't worsen inequality? How can I listen to members of historically and currently oppressed groups to understand the ways in which discrimination affects their lives and try to make sure I'm not part of the problem?

Your version of unity is one that ignores an already existing divide

I wrote this in another thread.

The divide already exists.
As 1strongblackman explained in another thread. http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=4925485

What you don't want is to hear about the view on the other side of that divide.

Moreover, Democrats argue on every issue under the sun, from Snowden to Obamacare, Hillary Clinton, and everything else. Yet some members single out the voices of people of color and feminists to denounce as too "divisive."

First people argue Democrats all already on racism anyway. It's an already settled issue. Then you say you don't like to see Democrats divided. These arguments contradict each other. They do not hold up to scrutiny since there are scores of others subjects around which people agree and disagree that you don't object to.

This strikes me as a demonstration of entitlement: if it's not about white men, they don't think is important or legitimate. Every time someone tells people of color, feminists, and members of other subaltern groups that there concerns are illegitimate or too divisive to be discussed, they only deepen that divide you want to pretend doesn't exist.

See this on the Irish. http://www.amazon.com/Irish-Became-White-Routledge-Classics/dp/0415963095

"Separate but equal" hawt, ethnic babes.

For the Plessy Ferguson Champagne Suite of Caucasian Corner.
Only the best will do for DU.

Hold on. I've got something here

Please, proceed, governor.

Privilege = shit you don't have to put up with

People are making a lot of assumptions about what they think people mean when they say "white privilege." It doesn't mean you don't face hardships in life, that you can be judged or race alone, or that your class, gender, and sexuality doesn't matter. All it means is that those of us are white don't have to put up with shit that people of color face everyday.

If I had been wearing a hoodie and walking through that gated community in Florida, Zimmerman wouldn't have feared I was a burglar or represented a danger to him. He would have seen me as a harmless person out for a walk because I am white (and female), and he wouldn't have followed or killed me. If a cop pulls me over, it's because I've been speeding, have expired tags, or made some other moving violation, not because he doesn't believe I could actually own my car. Virtually all African American men have been pulled over by cops simply because they are black, even when they have committed no violation. Those are two examples of shit I don't have to put up with as a white person.

As a straight person, I don't have to worry about having the crap beaten out of me because I kiss someone on the street. I can marry in any state in the union, and that marriage will be recognized everywhere. LGBT Americans face obstacles in both instances--shit I don't have to put up with.

As a middle-class person, there is shit I don't have to put up with (shit I had to put up with when I was poor). I can buy food when I need it. My electricity isn't turned off. I have a place to live. Poor people have to put up with way more shit just to get by every day, while rich people don't have to worry about bills and retirement like I do. I am more privileged that some in terms of class but less privileged than others.

As a woman, there is shit I put up with that men don't. I have a lack of certain privileges as a consequence of my gender. So while I am privileged in terms of race and sexuality, I face some obstacles from sexism.

That I carry privilege in certain areas of life doesn't mean I can't express my views or that people are judging me exclusively on my race. It doesn't mean I am the bad guy, personally responsible for an entire history of oppression. It just means there is shit as a straight, white person that I don't have to put up with.

RadFem Joe Biden

"Radfem" has become a catch all phrase to describe feminists some members on DU don't like. Its use generally bears no ideological distinction. However in recent days a couple of members have offered their definitions of what these awful radfems are: They are "loud" and "like all extremists, hog the publicity." Another member insisted they "beat people over the head with rape culture."

Enter the Vice President of these United States, Joe Biden. Like a good "radfem," Joe is loud and talking about rape culture.

WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden used some dramatic anecdotes on Tuesday to urge colleges and universities to do more to prevent rape and sexual assault on their campuses.

Unveiling a White House report with recommendations on what campuses can do to address the issue, Biden said frequently the assailant is someone known to the victim. He told an example involving a young woman who was pulled into a dorm room and raped by a man that she knew.

"No man has a right under any circumstance other than self defense, no man has a right ever to raise his hand to a woman, period, end of story. It is assault, if they do," said Biden. "To get that through to our daughters, and our sisters, and our friends, is still such a culturally difficult thing to do."

"I can't say often enough it doesn't matter what coat she was wearing, whether she drank too much, whether it was in the back of a car, in her room, on the street, it does not matter. It does not matter if she initially said yes and changed her mind and said no. No means no, wherever it is stated," said Biden.

Video at link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/29/joe-biden-sexual-assault_n_5235811.html

The federal government has authority over this matter through Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. Rape is indeed a Civil Rights issue, and colleges and universities have been investigated and sanctioned for violating students' (largely but not exclusively women) civil rights by failing to prevent and adequately investigate sexual assault.

Thank you, Vice President Biden, for discussing issues some here insist are not "political" or important enough to merit public attention.

You denounced all isms

which I took to mean concern about racism, sexism, and all forms of bigotry. Naturally you have to reduce it all to sex because what else could possibly matter? Equal pay for equal work, an end to rape culture and hate crimes, and end to discrimination in employment, and a racist death penalty and penal system that disproportionately targets African Americans, or marriage equal for LGBT citizens. Those are all "isms" that you insist reasonable people have "moved away from." No, reasonable people have not. Some white men and their female allies who can't be bothered to concern themselves with the lives of anyone but themselves have moved away from it. For people who care about the society they live in, sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism are still issues of great concern.

There is a resurgence in bigotry and denial is key to its maintenance. We saw a very clear demonstration of that with the recently banned Vashta Neranda. He began by insisting that he had never seen social messaging teaching women to cater to male egos and concluded by wishing for Seabeyond to be raped and killed. Both positions exist on a continuum of sexism and misogyny. In some ways, denial is worse because it refuses to even allow the issue of inequality to be addressed. That someone who makes such denials also manifested intense hatred for women was not surprising to me. Both attitudes are part in parcel of maintaining privilege of men and subordination of women.

The fact is, you wouldn't give a shit about this woman if she hadn't denounced feminism. I seriously doubt anyone here knows anything else about her, and certainly not her views on monogamy. Nor can I think of a reason why anyone would give a shit. The argument here was in opposition to feminism. For you to try to distract your hostility toward "isms" with some appeal to sexual liberty is weak. Even if libertinism were the same as liberalism, which it is not, it is not the subject of this thread. Her position is right-wing because to denounce feminism is to oppose human equality. That she defends herself as valuable by saying she is 50 percent male shows that she has internalized misogyny, which is indeed sad. I get that guys of a certain political persuasion prefer women who keep themselves to fields like entertainment and pornography that compete with men in no way, but the fact is the world is full of highly-educated and accomplished women. They are in those positions because of the "isms" you so malign. Unfortunately, too many Americans are ignorant of the history of their own nation to understand something so basic, and that clearly includes this starlet and those who share her views.

That you denounce "isms" while using an avatar of MLK is particularly I can't even begin to fathom what that is about.
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