Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bad People Doing Bad Things

This is hard to watch.

But I encourage you to try. After you watch this, who do you blame? Society? Black people? Women? Transgendered people?

Victim Blaming

This is a short post. Hopefully someone who disagrees with me will pop in and answer this question I have.

How does anyone equate this:
"Wearing provocative/slutty clothing while alone in a bad part of town is an irresponsible thing for women to do."
with this:
"It is OK to rape women who are wearing slutty clothing while alone in a bad part of town."

That's it. Simple question.

I understand it's easy to make a similar jump if you assume bad intent on the part of the original proclaimers.

I assume good faith. When people say that women shouldn't wear slutty clothes, they're grasping at straws trying to change SOMETHING that will prevent it from happening again. The rapist, the one who really deserves the blame, has already disappeared into the night. The only person left is the victim. It's wrong that it works this way - and we should try to discourage it.

And the way to discourage it ISN'T by screaming "VICTIM-BLAMER!" at the person offering the offensive advice. I should know - I was once in that position.

What we should do is to calmly and firmly inform them that clothing has nothing to do with if a woman is victimized like that. It's just not an issue.

"Common sense" tells us that the rich people hopping around in their Armani suits and British coupes should be the biggest victims of robbery and carjacking. But alas, it is not the case. Poor folks are most often stolen from.

I want to admit, up front, that I had a problem with "victim blaming" for most of my life. I used to blame the victim. Until the day my car got "broken" into and my GPS unit and CDs were stolen. I complained on Facebook and was blamed for leaving my car unlocked. When I talked to the police they actually chuckled at me when I admitted I had left my car door unlocked. (It wasn't on purpose, I had arms full of groceries and forgot to go back out to lock the car after bringing them in.)

Eventually I realized victim-blaming is in no way limited to rape.

But just a few days ago I found the cure to victim-blaming. It was called "research." In all my life, no one ever took the time to show the evidence that what women wear is not correlated to their chances of sexual assault. But no, they decided to simply call me a victim-blamer and assume bad faith rather than uninformed ignorance. Pity for them and me. But mostly them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

You Might Be an Asshole If ...

So, I took my first stab at making a comment at Feministe. I wasn't going to link there here because I don't like the idea of dogpiling. A bunch of supportive dissident feminists showing up there would quickly turn into a clusterfuck. But the thread has been closed, so I'm not worried about sending folks there.

It was closed because of an asshole infestation. I might've been one - I'm not sure.

For the relatively small commenting crowds that show up at non-controversial posts at Feministe, I feel that I could do a decent job on my own of representing dissent. The reason is that if you (as a dissenter) have one point you want to contest, and someone who agrees with you ... oh fuck it. Analogy time:

You make the complaint to the "Baker's Bureau" council that they are selling fattening cupcakes at Store #5. Valid retorts come back from the council saying that the cupcakes aren't that fattening, they don't sell many, etc. An invalid retort comes back saying that the milkshake stand next door to Store #5 is just as bad and you should go bother them.

It's easy for you to say "No, I'm talking to you about your cupcakes at Store #5, don't bring in other issues."

With me?

Now imagine another person, angry with the Baker's Bureau about Store #5 appears next to you and shouts out "Store #5 sells honey-drizzled croissants, as well, with the same calorie count as the cupcakes!"

Yes, Honey-Croissant-Person is on your side, and almost certainly agrees with you about the cupcakes. They are an ally.

But if you are just looking for an answer from the Baker's Bureau about those damn cupcakes, you don't want to start talking about croissants!

I hope that wasn't too hard to follow.

Back to the Anxiety post: My first post was an honest question: if women are more anxious than men, and this study says it's because of the way we're raised, how SHOULD we raise our children? I also threw in there a reference to the high rate of male suicide -because anxiety plays a role in any suicide.

I thought I was on-topic with this. I don't think it got off-topic until Eve posted, claiming that the anxiety women experience could be correlated to "the constant stress of being threatened with sexual violence."

She derailed the conversation about female anxiety into blaming rape culture.
Her original correlation was related to this finding about infant mortality among minorities:

She bought the story as reported hook, line and sinker. She turned "racism may affect infant mortality" to "sexism certainly affects female anxiety" with ZERO link in between.

The thread quickly went down hill from there, and I don't blame Jill for closing it. I didn't intend on stirring up that much shit, and I don't even know how culpable I am.

Eventually, PrettyAmiable turned my rhetorical question into a weapon and I knew the thread was lost. She really thought that I was asking "Do all women feel like you do?" was one I honestly expected an answer to, so she came back with a snarky "Well, I happen to know that all women feel exactly as I do all the time."

Considering that I wasn't even asking her, I knew the thread was lost.

Shortly after that, I realized that being skeptical of "rape culture" brands one an asshole. Fantastic.

I'd also like to say that I'm a little disheartened. I started this blog hoping to better understand my own experiences with Feminism, feminists, sexism and gender.

It now seems that my options are limited:
  • Read pro-feminism blogs that stringently delete, dogpile or moderate dissent
  • Read and comment on pro-feminism blogs that will quickly identify me as a dissenter and therefore disregard any rational argument I make
  • Read MRA sites that are far too misogynistic (and rarely chastise their own)
  • Read the barely-updated FeministCritics.Org
  • Suck Hugo Schwyzer's penis
  • Continue to post rarely-read and even-more-rarely-commented-upon posts at this blog and hope enlightenment comes

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Deconstructing "Rape Culture"

This post originally started out as a response to Miguel's post "Ass-smacking dude." But eventually, as I realized I had a whole lot more to say than was reasonable to say in a blog comment, and as I realized I'd probably want to link to this post in the future, I realized my blog might be a better place to lay it out.

Aside: I have read Feminism 101's post, Rape Culture 101, and I'm doing my best not to get "offended" (or as Shakesville would say, "contemptuous") when I am repeatedly told to read the Feminism 101 blog. I realize that there are a bunch of people out there who don't understand feminism and want to go online and spout all types of strawfems and logical fallacies in their anger at Feminism. These people would do well to read Feminism 101. But for the rest of us who have read the entire site and still disagree with certain points, I get really sick of being referred there. I only see two possible solutions:
  1. Start every comment, post or e-mail I write with a disclaimer stating that I have already read all of Feminism 101, along with a link to a scanned picture of a notarized print-out of every page of the blog.
  2. Have some sort of code language - like ISIREAF101AIYRMTTSIWBRPO* with a link to this blog post embedded. (*I swear I have read everything at Feminism 101 and if you refer me to that site I will be royally pissed off)
  3. Ignore people when they refer to that blog.
End Aside
For starters, I'd like to say how well the Rape Culture 101 post at Shakesville was written. Hopefully, astute readers will realize that by the title of this post, I do not agree with Shakesville's definitions and conclusions regarding rape culture -- that said, seeing that Rape Culture 101 is one of the most commonly seen links in discussions about Rape Culture, I think it warrants saying that it is an EXCELLENTLY written post and still serves a useful purpose - I"m glad it's there.

The problem with Rape Culture 101 is that the author, Melissa McEwan, buys into the Rape Culture theory and therefore, isn't a reliable, objective guide to whether it's true or not.

Luckily, early in the post, Melissa flatly states what Rape Culture is with a handy definition:
A rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm.

In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable as death or taxes. This violence, however, is neither biologically nor divinely ordained. Much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.
Tonight I'm not going to concern myself with the latter half of Melissa's post because there is so very, very much wrong with what she is saying. Just to illustrate this point, I'm going to pull out this line:
Rape culture is treating straight sexuality as the norm.
No, treating straight sexuality as the norm is called HETERO-NORMATIVE, and you know that, Melissa. The fact that you want to lump something that has already been identified, codified and vilified (rightly) in with another "bad thing" term you and your Feminist friends have come up with is indicative of the dishonesty of your cause.

However, right now I'm going to dissect the definition that Melissa provided point by point and offer some sympathy, apathy and disdain for each aspect.

Let's get to it.
A rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women.

This sentence is a summary of what is to follow. Right off the bat, in North America, this is half-and-half false. "Encourages males sexual aggression" is true. I won't argue, nor will I allow others to make an argument against this. Men are encouraged to ask for dates and initiate physical affection in North America. Dutch-dates and women initiating sex is marginal and relegated to established relationships. Men must PENETRATE, both socially, financially and sexually in popular culture.
Rape Culture 1, Real World 0

The second part of that sentence causes problems however. "Supports violence against women" has to be the most obscene public expression that I can imagine in North America. Allow me to demonstrate. Violence against women in the real world is not tolerated. Violence against women in MOVIES/TV is only done by villains (and sometimes they are defined by it.)
As a society, we DO NOT CONDONE, ENDORSE OR ABIDE violence against women by men. Unless you are operating on a bizarre, unknown definition of "violence," there is no excuse for holding that belief.
(As a side note, I fully recognize that this point would be valid in Saudi Arabia or many other countries/societies/cultures. However, the VAST VAST MAJORITY of Feminists we encounter are North American or European and cannot claim this aspect of Rape Culture exists where they live.)

Rape Culture 1, Real World 1

Let's move on to the next sentence.
It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent.
Again, it seems that the Feminists are going to win another point. And with this statement, they should. I fully agree that violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent.
I'm tempted, however to only award half a point here. Yes, violence is seen as sexy (but that works for both men and women.) The half point is being held back for "sexuality as violent."

What if sex IS inherently violent? There are loving human interactions that could be seen as violent to an outside observer. Chiropractic medicine comes to mind. A quick look at animal biology shows that as a biological process, sex is painful and unfortunate for females in many cases. But not all. Most of us could imagine the slow, loving, embracing type of sex that is often seen on soft-core porno. But for the vast majority of humans, that type of sex doesn't result in orgasms. I'm sorry that Rape Culture-ists have a problem with human physiology. No, really, I am. I'm lazy and would love to have orgasms from that slow, undulating type of sex. But that's not going to happen for me or 90% of the population. That doesn't mean that the "violent" appearance of that type of sex is bad.

Still, I will award you your point because we're tallying by sentence (and also because I know you winning this point won't matter in the end.)

Rape Culture 2, Real World 1

The next sentence:
In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself.
At this point, my kid gloves are coming off. Let's get down to it, shall we? The reason this definition is so obviously false is that it gives women's POV a power that no one should hold: to dictate reality simply by perception. Women perceive a continuum of threatened violence = therefore it exists.

This is so offensive to science-minded folk that I hope I don't owe any more explanation. I don't owe it, but I will give it:
KKK members perceive a continuum of minority invasion that ranges from "taking our jobs" to "raping our women."
Hopefully I don't need to say any more. Perception does not equal reality.

Rape Culture 2, Real World 2

Let's move on:
A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm.

Well, hmm. You've used an inflammatory word here. "Terrorism" I'm trying not to get angry at the blatant disregard for escalation in your post.

The common definition of terrorism relates to the goals of said activity. If a suicide bomber ran into a market filled with people and blew himself up to PREVENT PEOPLE FROM GOING TO THAT MARKET - that would be terrorism. If a suicide bomber ran into a market filled with people and blew himself up BECAUSE HE THOUGHT THE PEOPLE IN THE MARKET WERE FILLED WITH JEWELS AND GOLD - that would NOT be terrorism.

Rape Culture apologists want us to believe that rapists are doing the patriarchy a FAVOR when they rape. They imagine a smoking-jacket-wearing man, puffing on his pipe saying to himself "I'm sure glad that those rapists are out on my streets scaring my wife and daughters into obeying me!"

This concept is abhorent on its face. The vast majority of men and women in the world would be dancing in the streets if there were no more rapists in the world. To say otherwise is borderline conspiratorial.

Rape Culture 2, Real World 3

Next up,

In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable as death or taxes.
I must confess: I'm not sure where to start here. If we look at this statement from a skeptical point of view, if sexual violence is a fact of life, then should violence itself be a fact of life?

You are opening such an old and rusty can of worms by implying that VIOLENCE ITSELF is not inevitable. Please, if you want to end sexual violence - GO FOR THE ROOT. End violence. If you think that a world where no sexual violence can exist (yet other forms of violence can exist) you are beyond naive.

Rape Culture 2, Real World 4

And next:
This violence, however, is neither biologically nor divinely ordained.
Because you say so? Oh, OK then. My bad.

Rape Culture 2, Real World 5

Much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.

I'd like to take this last opportunity to break down into the greatest detail possible this last "take away" statement - and then retranslate this into what a rational person SHOULD read from this.

"Much of what we accept as inevitable"
Should be read as:
"Since sexual violence is inevitable, violence is inevitable, and we accept violence as acceptable, so ..."

"is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change."
Should be read as:
"since we think that people who are more powerful than us are ACTUALLY more powerful than us, we should stop THINKING they're more powerful than us and we can end their power over us."

Rape Culture 2, Real World 6

You are a rational person's nightmare, Melissa. Your expression of the entire Rape Culture theory is a SHAM. You've expressed these thoughts to tens of thousands of people on the internet as though they were gospel.

In reality they are no better than a late-night infomercial.

You lure your audience in with some great (and true) promises - but the more you talk the less you say.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Club Fem

“Club Feminista” was relatively new in town. It catered to only the most intelligent, philanthropic and enlightened people in New Carolina, and James thought he fit the bill. He parked his car around back and headed up front.

James was in his late 20s. He had light brown hair and an unassuming face. He blended in well. He was wearing a suit with a t-shirt underneath ala Gregory House. He did splurge by wearing dress shoes tonight though.

The dance club was busy.

James was a little surprised at the popularity. The sister club “Club Feministe” had a really bad rap. It had basically become a dive bar after it hit its peak in the late 1980s with regular appearances from bands like the Sexua Harris Men with folks wearing Pat Eternity suits. But that place was basically abandoned since the late 1990s.

James filed in at the back of the line and was surprised how fast it was moving. He fumbled for his wallet and pulled out his R.A.P. E-Card that his cousin had given him. James had been told the card would allow easy access to the club and even access to the R.A.P. room upstairs.

He reached the female bouncer at the door. She looked like the spitting image of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. She held her arm out and, in a Georgia accent asked “do you believe in equality of the sexes?” James replied, “Well, of course! In fact, I have this card here …”

“Great!” The bouncer cut him off and shoved him inside.

The interior was crowded. In the first corridor of the club, the hallway was lined with anyone who was ANYONE in New Carolina. Politicians, newscasters, newspaper editors, college students, professionals, librarians. James had to squeeze his way past them to get to the dance floor and bar. He had to bump a few elbows and make a few apologies to get past them.

James was surprised to see that the actual dance floor and bar was smaller than the outside led him to believe. But size notwithstanding, there was a SERIOUS party going on in here. The speakers were POUNDING, the dance floor was packed with people and the bartenders were working feverishly behind the bar. An optimistic smile slid across his face. “I think this could be a great place to be,” he thought to himself.

James headed to the bar. He quickly sidled up to an open bar stool between two attractive women and caught the bartender’s eye. He was still holding his wallet and R.A.P. E-card in his hands. The bartender, with long, dark hair pulled back into a ponytail and a tight black tank-top that did a poor job of hiding her cleavage, came to him and leaned over to hear his order.

Suddenly, she leaned back just as James was about to order a White Russian. “You’re at the wrong bar!” she suddenly exclaimed.

“Wrong bar?” James said, thinking she was joking.

“Your R.A.P. E-card in your hand. You need to be upstairs, at the R.A.P. room.” the bartender said.

“What’s up there? I like the dance floor and the atmosphere here.” James resisted.

“Trust me, if you’ve got that card you’re going to want to be up there,” she insisted, gave him a reassuring look, and headed down to serve another patron.

James knew enough to trust a bartender. When the bartender said you’d had enough, they were right. When the bartender said you should go talk to that girl, you should go talk to her. And when the bartender said you should go somewhere else, you should go somewhere else.

James headed over towards the ivory staircase that said “R.A.P. Members Only” and met with the female bouncer at the bottom of the staircase.

It hadn’t occurred to James before now, but nearly every member of the staff here was a woman. And, in fact, although the split of women and men this close to the dance floor was about 60/40 (women to men) the men weren’t doing much. They were mostly sitting around the outer edges of the room, watching the women dance. But like most clubs, there seemed to be about the same split between men: half the men were there to ogle the women and the other half were there to dance to the beat - either way they were strangely inconspicuous about their leering or dancing.

“Please, up this way.” The bouncer looked like one of the dancers from “Addicted to Love” with her slicked back black hair, vibrant red lipstick and tight black dress. She had done just enough to say “Yes, I’m a woman” but no more. Feminimalism.

Her loose grip, but quick pace brought a sense of seriousness about the R.A.P. room they were heading to. James took a quick look down on the dance floor as they ascended the staircase. He wasn’t quite sure, but there didn’t seem to be any men actually on the dance floor itself …

They had arrived at the steel door of the R.A.P. room. The Robert-Palmer-esque bouncer quickly descended the stairs, leaving James facing two very serious-looking female bouncers guarding the door. The bouncers reminded him of a picture his mother kept of him - when he was about 12 years old and dressed up for his Middle School graduation ceremony.

“Good evening. Welcome to the R.A.P. Room at Club Feminista - New Carolina. May I see your R.A.P. E-Card?”

James handed over the plastic card. It was accepted by the bouncers with ginger care, as if it were made of ice. They slid it smoothly through a card reader, and a green glow appeared at the top of the machine. A subtle click sounded from the door. The bouncers exchanged a glance that betrayed the slightest hint of relief. The bouncers seemed instantly less threatening.

James noticed their new found friendliness and seized the opportunity. From the moment he had stepped into the club everything seemed to be moving quite fast.

“I’m sorry, it’s my first time here and I’m not quite sure where I’m going,” James admitted.

“The R.A.P. Room? The R.A.P. Room is reserved for our most important guests. Anything goes in here - there are no tabs, the drinks are free. You may dance to any beat you wish. All sorts of designer CockTales are available to you here, including Raige, Mysan Dry and Genaside.”

“Wait, Genaside? Wasn’t that outlawed 50 years ago?” James asked.

Her eyes tightening again, the bouncer didn’t answer. She asked “You had a relative give you this card? What was her name?”

James tried to disarm the bouncer “Look, I’m no narc, I’m just looking to socialize.”

“What was her name?”

“Her name? It’s “he.” His name is Paul.”

The door clicked locked. “There’s been a mistake,” the bouncer announced to no one in particular.

“But the card worked. I don’t understand.”

Before James knew what was happening, the bouncers had looped their arms under his armpits and was quickly ushering him down the steps. “Are you saying Paul isn’t a member of your club?”

“Yes, he is, technically.”

“Then why are you throwing me out? My card worked didn’t it?”

“That was a glitch,” the bouncer snapped, almost rehearsed.

“I don’t understand,” James said with exasperation.

“You wouldn’t,” the bouncer replied, and before James knew what was what, he was back on the street, a few yards down from the Witherspoon-esque bouncer that originally let him in.

The line to get in the club had disappeared for the moment. James collected himself and began his walk back to his car, all the while trying to figure out what just happened. The walk brought him past the first bouncer.

“What are you doing out here?” the question wasn’t asked with concern, but with consternation.

“Well, apparently that club’s not for me,” James said.

What the bouncer heard on the other hand, sounded more like “I don’t want to abide by the rules of that club.”

What James was trying to say was “Well, apparently that club doesn’t intend to have someone like me in it.”

The bouncer, with her golden hair and fair skin pounced on James and grabbed him by the collar. “How can NOT believe in equality between the sexes?” she asked, incredulously.

“I do, I DO believe in equality … but I don’t think I’m welcome.” James stammered.

“Nonsense. We need your patronage. You are a welcome guest. Besides, I suspect you’ll get free drinks since we’re a little low on men tonight,” she said with a wink.

James felt a little hopeful - it was nice to feel wanted and a free drink is never a bad thing. He reentered the club.

He tried to focus. He was going to get a drink, head to the dance floor, mingle a little bit and just see where things went from there. He was just there to enjoy the company of the other club goers, maybe meet some new people and get a little tipsy. He still had to drive home at some point, right?

He maneuvered over to the bar and tried to get the bartender’s attention. He caught her eye a few times, but she never seemed to acknowledge his attention-getting head nods. She would just glance at him blankly like sous chef checks a pot about to boil.

10 minutes pass. On the next pass, James calls out, “White Russian?”

“Of course, just one second” she replies.

20 minutes pass. “How’s that Caucasian coming?” James asks with a smile. The bartender is obviously very busy.

“Yeah, it’s coming. Do you have a choice of vodka?” She asks.

“Stoli?” James asks, hopefully. The bartender doesn’t respond, and resumes her feverish pacing behind the bar.

For the first time in half an hour, James notices that the bartender hasn’t actually been pouring any drinks. Mostly, she has been grabbing receipts as they come out of a small, black printer at one end of the bar - rushing to the other end of the bar and impaling them on a small spike. Every now and then, she wipes down a drink menu and hands it to a customer. Once or twice she pops a Maraschino cherry in her mouth and takes a sip of water from a large plastic cup at the back of the bar. She looks tired.

She may be tired, but James is thirsty. “Hey, hey, hey. What’s going on with my drink? I haven’t seen you pour a drink since I sat down.”

“It’s coming, just be patient.” she reassured him.

“I can be patient, I’m just wondering what’s so important right now that you can’t make me my drink.”

“I have to take care of my other customers, you know,” she sounded slightly annoyed.

“I understand that, but you haven’t made one drink for them yet! Why not?”

“Well they are still deciding on their drinks,” she said.

“I have an idea,” James offered, “why don’t you make me my White Russian while they decide?” He was sure this would make sense to the bartender - he smiled to himself at his logic.

“Oh now I couldn’t do that. That wouldn’t be fair.”

James’ brow furrowed.

“They were here first,” she said, as another receipt printed out. She turned to grab it and James stared at her, mouth gaping. He decided to head to the dance floor.

James weaved through the crowd towards the tiled floor, his left hand grasping for a drink that he felt should be there.

As he got closer to the dance floor, James started to feel upbeat. This was why he came tonight, anyway. He could’ve stayed home and enjoyed some microbrews and good times with his friends at his local watering hole - but he came to Club Feminista to see some new faces. And based on his view from the ivory staircase, the dance floor was PACKED with activity.

As James got closer to the floor he noticed something odd. The floor was raised, about two feet above the floor of the club. It was kind of uncomfortable to get your leg up that high and there weren’t any stairs.

And even though the floor wasn’t packed with women dancing, whenever he tried to step up on the floor, a crowd of women on the stage would -juuuust- crowd the area so he couldn’t get his balance and get both feet up. He tried circling the floor to find a way up, but there didn’t seem to be one.

James had a surreal feeling. He turned to one of the handfuls of men lined up in splotches along the edge of the dancefloor.

“Is there a way to get up there?” James asked incredulously.

“Sure, of course. How do you think they got up there? Jet-packs?” one of the men replied.

James laughed. “Of course - I’m just being daft. There must be a way.”

Another man chimed in “Anyway, man, you don’t want to be up there now. The DJ’s playing the women’s song.”

For the first time that night, James paid attention to the music that had been pumping since he pulled his car into the narrow parking spot behind the club. It was the same beat - the same drums and cymbals - faintly like Daft Punk’s Revolution 909. The kind of beat that is at the same time obnoxiously repetitive but never gets old.

James enjoyed the soundtrack. He also felt comfortable in the presence of these other guys. He watched the women dance. He nodded his head to the music.

Suddenly, James remembered he was still thirsty. He didn’t need a White Russian, he needed water - or anything. Just a sip. He looked at his new “friends’” glasses, all empty. He looked back up to the bar, no bartender. He looked and looked, but no one had anything in their glasses. They were all empty.

There were no drinks, one song and an inaccessible dance floor.

“What am I doing here?” James wondered aloud. “There are no drinks, there is dancing but not for me, the music never changes and worst of all: no one else will admit anything is even WRONG with this place.”

It was mere seconds after the “wrong” left his lips that he was scooped up and literally thrown from the door of the club.

“Reese” stared at him. “What did you do?” she accused.

“That place,” James stammered, “is … is … BULLSHIT. Have you ever been INSIDE that place?”

The bouncer got defensive, “I don’t have to go inside. This place is important. If we weren’t important, we wouldn’t be the most popular club in New Carolina.”

James didn’t have the energy to argue. “Argumentum ad populum,” he mumbled as he shuffled toward his car.

The bouncer, with her youthful good looks, shouted after him, “Where are you going? Are you going to just abandon the entire club? What are you going to do?”

“I dunno,” said James, “maybe I’ll write a review online.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Feminism Is, Except When It Is Not

Women get to change their minds, men do not.

I'm posting this here for posterity.


There's a commenter here "Sheelzebub" who embodies the worst aspects of the liberal feminist world.

Look forward to an allegory later, but I just want to highlight some of Sheezlebub's real golden moments.

Q: "How does rape culture benefit non-rapist men?
A: First, she lists off a bunch of non-benefits, like "wag their fingers as they lecture us about our terrible judgment if we are raped." That is an action, not a benefit. Now if you said "every time a woman is raped, the men who didn't rape her get a gift card to Starbucks," THEN you'd have a point. Anyway, she lists off a few non-benefits and then she hits us with concrete proof that she has severely handicapped reading comprehension:
"Rape culture propagates the myth that rapists are creepy dudes hiding in the bushes, not your friend, boyfriend, husband, or coworker. So “nice guys” don’t rape, and since Joe/Nigel/Steve is a nice guy, he couldn’t have raped you, you see."
Did you catch that? Let me spell it out for you: Rape culture benefits non-rapists by making it easier for non-rapists to rape. The second part, about nice guys not raping is summed up this way: Rape culture benefits non-rapists by fooling non-rapists into thinking their rapist friends are actually non-rapists. Yes, Sheezlebub, because being FOOLED ABOUT THE CRIMINAL STATUS OF PEOPLE CLOSE TO YOU IS A GOOD THING.

Q: Why are you so disturbed by men commenting on how the patriarchy hurts men?
A: "I wouldn’t go into a WOC’s blog and go on and on about how racism hurts Whites too and what about the Whites and BTW you’re judging me based on mean white people who have more power than me."
Here, she betrays the "secret" motivation behind feminism for a very large number of women. Feminism is about "gender equality" but only when it benefits women. (See Correction) And here's your proof: Her analogy betrays her bias. A WOMAN OF COLOR blog would be concerned with WOMEN OF COLOR - white women ARE NOT "of Color." So bringing up comments about white-people problems WOULD be inappropriate there.
In case I need to spell it out: Feminism is about GENDER EQUALITY, not just women. If you don't agree with this definition, find a new term for yourself. May I recommend "bigot?"

Update: I've tried to contact Sheelzebub to see if she could come up with a good explanation. But she hasn't been seen online since 2007, from what I can see.

Correction: As April pointed out in the comments, this wording, and the subsequent conclusions one could (rightly) draw from it are incorrect and embarrassing to me personally. If I could reword it, I would do it like this:
Here, she betrays the unspoken bias in modern feminism: Feminism is about "gender equality" but only when it benefits women."

Dan Savage Was Not Annoying

I've always thought that one should point out when people you normally disagree with get something right.
Quiet Riot Girl has an ongoing series of posts titled "Dan Savage is Annoying" that I'm quite fond of. I never really liked Dan Savage - and although I think he gives good advice, generally, there was something about him that I didn't like. I assumed that it was latent homophobia or something. I was happy to find that another progressive didn't like him.
So, when Dan was asked this question at Cornell University - I thought I knew what he was going to say.

Cornell professor Ritch Savin-Williams said in the New York Times that he's concerned that it's not about gay youth, but about gender-atypical kids. Is the "It Gets Better" campaign too narrowly focused?

I expected Dan to say that because gender-atypical straight kids were straight that they would be OK and didn't need the reassurance that the "It Gets Better" campaign afforded them. But no, he did a good job here. In fact, he pointed out that their campaign misses out on a key of their demographic (gay kids who can pass for straight) and still didn't denigrate the experiences of the straight-yet-gender-bullied tomboys and sissies out there.

In high school I scored very low on the hetero score among the guys in my school. I didn't play any of the sports that mattered (the ones ending in -ball), I enjoyed acting in drama and never dated any of the girls from my school. One year, a guy in my English class showed the determination to call me "fag" whenever he referred to me - for weeks on end. He said it out loud, often within earshot of the teacher. "Good job on your paper, fag." "I'm not gay." "It's OK if you're a fag, fag. You can be comfortable in your faggotry around me." (This boy is now a minister at a Southern Baptist church in Virginia. I Googled him.)

You might be asking why the teacher never called him out on this. Well, she was a closeted lesbian. If she had written up the pastor's son (did I mention that) for sexual harassment of another male student - well I don't think it would've been good for her career wise. One day she asked me to stay after class. She wanted to let me know that if I was gay, that I shouldn't be ashamed, or hate myself or anything. This was too much for me. I looked her straight in the eye and said "I'M. NOT. GAY!"
Her attitude towards me changed very quickly. She had no problem with me enduring slurs - as long as I was straight. Maybe she lumped me in with all those homophobic rednecks in Appomattox. Maybe she liked to see infighting amongst the "enemy." Maybe she didn't believe me.

Either way, Thanks Dan, for getting it right.

And if anyone is wondering why I got so angry at being called "gay" if there's nothing wrong with being gay - let me put it this way:

If you own an empty hotel and someone keeps putting up a "no vacancy" sign on the lawn, wouldn't you be more than a little pissed?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Some Feminists Could Learn From Racism OR "Schrödinger’s Racist"

To start with, I want to post an odd etymological statement about the nature of words.
Racism = the prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races 
Sexism =  the prejudice that members of one sex are intrinsically superior to members of other sex
Atheism = the prejudice that members of reality are intrinsically superior to imaginary, made up beings
Feminism = the prejudice that members of society who are femenine are intrinsically superior to members who are masculine

Ok, I'm being silly. But ...

Ok, settle down boys and girls. Uncle Easy is going to tell you about a story from his youth.

It was a surprisingly warm September night when Uncle Easy, then a young college sophmore, had a hankering for a Subway sandwich. He and an Egyptian friend headed out of the small southern city they were going to school in (Easy studying English and History and his Egyptian friend studying Religious Studies) to the Subway located on the edge of town. It was located at a gas station. 
I parked my car along the side of the building and we headed around front to go inside. It was around 11:30 p.m.
Three youngish black men who were hanging around the front door leaned up from the walls and yelled something at my friend and I - we were approaching them to enter the building.
My friend said "Huh?" (Neither of us understood them.)
Two of them came towards me, bumping chests with mine. I said nothing, in shock.
The other began to punch and kick my friend, knocking him to the ground. I started to step back, so I could move around them. One produced a very very short pen knife and said "What you gonna do, white boy?"

I'm going to stop talking about the events now, they are bothering me far more than I thought they would, now 9 years later. Besides, that wasn't the story - that was the prologue.

The story here is what happened in the 9 years following. I'll tell it chronologically.

In High School, years before this event took place - you could probably call me race-ish-ist. I was dating a black girl, but I believed, genetically, that black people were more inclined (by n%) to be violent and or conniving. No stats, just anecdotes and observations. Embarrassing, in hindsight.
This event in college sent me reeling into far more dangerous mental territory. My theory, now proven by an act of unprovoked random violence by (of all the races in the world) a group of BLACKS, was cemented.

But what wasn't cemented was my actions. What do I do? What do I say? How do I deal with the "reality" that every thuggish-looking black guy is a potential attacker?

About 3 or 4 nights (it was always the nights that were worst) later, sleeping on my air mattress in my dorm, I, reenacting in my mind what I should've done, gripped the plastic of the mattress so hard that I ripped it, and my fingernails tore the flesh of my palm. I sat on the floor and looked at my bloody hand and cried for the first time since it happened.

This anger/pain lasted for a solid 2 years. Angry night-thoughts (because I wasn't asleep) would occur a few times a month.

For this period of time, I lived in complete fear. I started carrying a loaded shotgun in my car at all times. If I saw young black men at a place I wanted to go at night, I would keep driving. If I saw a black man on the street, I would turn the other way or cross the road. 

Over time, I met more and more black men in my academic experience. I realized that the fact that these good people existed wasn't really consistent with racial views. So I started blaming culture. Young black men that fit that "culture" were my new targets. Thugs. Baggy pants, etc.

That stage lasted for the next year or so. Eventually, I had enough incidental contact with young, thuggish black men that I started to get cocky. I was older now, and had gone over how I'd deal with a confrontation like that time and time again in my head. I was prepared for someone to victimize me again.

I started to test fate. Often armed with a hidden knife, I'd take opportunities to engage these thuggish black men. But take care in what you're about to read.

I realize now that what I REALLY wanted was a "round 2" for that night in 2001. I wanted to be back there, but this time to defend myself. 
I'm not a thug. If I went looking for a fight I'd be no better than they were. 

No, I had to play the "victim" ... I had to wait until they had made the violent action before I could react. I could not provoke or insult. I was going to be the good guy.

So you know what this meant for my little "plan?" Engaging thuggish black men in honest, polite, everyday conversation. I went looking for vengeance and found catharsis.

Any intelligent reader of this blog won't wonder what happened next. After a couple years of talking to young thuggish black man after young thuggish black man - the men I had been cringing at and avoiding for the previous 3 years - I never got a chance to use my defensive tactics. 
Hell, I never even got to the point of THINKING about using those tactics. What I found were mostly uneducated (but not always) poor young men who were living some tough lives. The were decent human beings. Sometimes they were filling up their baby-momma's cars with gas because she lost her job. Sometimes, they were waiting for the bus to drop off a job application. Sometimes they were having a shitty day because they spilled COFFEE ON THEIR SHIRT. No shit man, I can fucking relate.

And eventually I came to the realization: those guys who attacked us almost a decade ago weren't evil thuggish black men. They were people who did a bad thing.

After this realization (and at this point I REALLY thought I'd figured out this whole deal) I realized something wrong that I did that night. 
I looked at the ground and gave them a wide berth as we walked towards the entrance. I didn't make eye contact, I kept away from them (as did my friend.)
Maybe I was the 30th white person to do that to them that night. Maybe I was the 10,000th white person to do that to them in their lifetime. Maybe I was the millionth.

As I look back, if as soon as I had walked around the building, I had smiled at them and said something like "How's it going guys? Having a good night?" that violence might not've happened.

If I'd treated them like human beings, instead of unstable animals, I might've been able to not only stop the violence that happened that night, but stopped some violence to someone else down the road.


Ok, boys and girls, story time is over.  Make sure you brush your teeth and leave the toilet seat the way you found it. Now it's time for the adults to talk.

This is a very old post "Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced" that inspired this.

When I read that post, I instantly recognized the perspective of the afraid woman. It was exactly how I felt as I was psychologically recovering from my assault (and in case it isn't clear, what they did was wrong and I wouldn't hesitate to defend myself if it happened again and I DO think they should be arrested and charged, there is no excuse for violence). HOWEVER ...

What Phaedra Starling doesn't realize is that when she behaves in such a way, she is limiting her exposure to the vast, vast, vast majority of strangers who will never raper her and the vast majority of strangers who would never rape her. (notice, please that there is a difference - there is a possibility to come into contact with a rapist who does not rape you.)

This is all fine and dandy, but the real reason I wrote this is because of something I found on another feminist site (critical of Phaedra) that gave this statistic:
1 in 6 women will be the victim of a sexual assault in their lifetime.

Now I've heard that before, but only this post juxtaposed that with this one:
1 in 6 men will be the victim of a random violent assault in their lifetime.

Phaedra's example and I are the same. We're both the same afraid people going through life afraid of the cat in the box that we can't see.

We both thought the cat was alive far, far, far too often. And we ended up hurting people because of it.