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Archive for the ‘Liberal Men’ Category

On trusting men

Posted by A birch tree on July 16, 2008

When I logged on today, the finches said to me “Tree, don’t get sidetracked. We’ve got a huge post on transgenderism/transphobia to research, and we’ll probably have enough grist left afterwards for another Fact Dump. You’ve got three hours, use them wisely!”

Then, just as I got started, I ran into the furor surrounding Kyle Payne. A self-proclaimed radical pro-feminist blogger and sexual assault advocate is arrested for raping and photographing an unconcious student at Buena Vista University, where he is a Resident Advisor.

I read that post and my stomach churned. I read some of the other links back, and did a quick google on the situation, and my stomach positively flipped over.

You know how they say child molestors will try to find jobs or homes where they have easy access to children? That’s exactly the kind of thing this man did; he had a rape fetish and put himself into a position to be close to the kinds of victims he fantasized about. He listened to, and probably got off on, stories of women’s nightmares from the mouths of the victims themselves, who had no idea that they were being re-victimized right there in his presence. He was finally caught acting on his deviant fantasies by the university and the police when they found his homemade rape porn on his computer (some comments in this blog claim that his computers were originally siezed in a search for child pornography, and that it is stated in the search warrant records. I haven’t looked up that information myself, but, you know what? It wouldn’t surprise me at all).

How many women poured their stories of trauma and terror to this man, only to have him masturbate about them? How many women will be afraid to take advantage of services for rape victims due to the harm this man has caused so many women? And, most importantly, how many women did he rape that he didn’t videotape?

This is exactly why men should not be working with rape victims in an advocate or crisis-counselor capacity: men cannot be trusted. Maybe, if I’m feeling generous, I might allow for the idea that “not all men” do this, and there are some loving, caring, wonderfully fuzzy happy men who work in this field for the sense of personal fulfillment blah blah blah. I can’t for the life of me figure out how someone could justify forcing the vulnerable, traumatized women who call these centers to take such a significant risk of re-victimization just because there might be a dude somewhere who has bucked his sociosexual training enough not to take advantage of every perceived position of power over women to fulfill his own sense of entitlement to, among other things, feelings of control and sexual titillation. Is a man’s desire, innocently and helpfully motivated as it may be, to work in this specific field really worth more than women’s desires not to have to worry about being re-victimized? Is this issue really so important for men that it’s worth making rape victims add an extra set of anxieties on top of the ones resulting from the rape itself, for example: “will/is/did my rape crisis counsellor get/getting off on the story of my brutal rape? Was/is that exciting for him? Does he want to rape me too?”

The only people that the whole “Women shouldn’t automatically distrust men, because we’re not ALL rapists!” meme benefits are rapists. Any man who gives a shit about women and their daily struggles wouldn’t be offended by distrust or suspicion. Any man who is trying to toss his load of priviledge and entitlement would welcome the opportunity to prove his general good-ness via a slow progression of time over which he demonstrates in all his behaviors, large and small, in all social and private contexts, that he is not a dickwad, rather than simply having the assumption made that because he has a penis he is the embodiment of all that is upstanding and trustworthy in spite of the intense rate at which crimes against women are perpetrated by penis-wielders in this society.

As far as this specific case is concerned, the ripples from this man’s actions continue to spread. Some blogs go so far as to take his actions as an indictment of the anti-pornography movement (paraphrase: “See? People who don’t use porn are the REALLY dangerous, repressed ones with scary dark sides! This guy proves it!”). Some people say the radical feminist movement should have to answer for this dude, since he claimed to be among their number and linked to a bunch of their blogs. Lots of people are really quick to blame women for either this man’s actions, or for trusting him to begin with. Fingers point. Fur flies. This man’s crimes are used to futher unrelated personal vendettas at the expense of his victims. Women who had no idea this man even existed are called to task for not denouncing him.

We live in Patriarchy, after all; everything bad a man ever does can, eventually, be used to shame, blame or discredit a woman or two. The status quo marches on.

-a birch tree

*How do I make this, and some of the above, assumptions? Pretty simple, actually: he’s a rapist, he committed rape, and he presumably got off on rape. Ergo, this man gets off on rape, ergo, he probably got off on accounts of rape his victims gave him, turning it into an even sicker form of pornography.

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Posted in Feminism, Liberal Men, Rape, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

A Bit About Male Priviledge

Posted by A birch tree on June 5, 2008

A few days ago, my blog was mentioned over at Women’s Space, in a very kind way, but a way that made me uncomfortable. I posted in the comments, but thought maybe I should put my feelings down here as well, with some elaboration.

I would like to say, for the record, that I’m really uncomfortable being the subject of phrases like “men who actually get it”, and “men who have earned safe passage through Women’s Land”, because I don’t think I have. I really only get much attention at all, I believe, because I am male, and the bar for males is so low that all I have to do is write about some relatively elementary “Well, duh!” things I discover about myself and the world I live in as I walk down the road of becoming a halfway decent human being, and I can be a relative shining star in a sea of dirtbags.

The only reason I can write about what I do is because of all the women I’ve learned from, who have sacrificed their time and energy to perform a task I should have been doing for myself all along.

My wife, Aria, has put herself on the limb for me time and time again, not because it was something she enjoyed doing; she’s sacrificed emotionally and spiritually and has spent many sleepless nights because of my obstenance, entitlement, priviledge, and misogyny. She’s done it because she’s more or less stuck with me, and desperately wanted me to be safer for her to be around in every sense.

Feminist bloggers, like Heart, The Biting Beaver (of whom I was a great fan, and miss sorely), Twisty, Red State Feminist, Polly Styrene, Sparkle*matrix, and countless others, are the foundation upon which all my ideas and writing stand. Behind this halfway mediocre, sexist man stands a hundred amazing, intelligent, women. I stand upon the shoulders of giants, and that imagery is, I feel, very apt, in that standing on women’s shoulders to receive recognition is pretty much the definition of the Patriarchy. It is only my priviledge in this society that allows me to do so, and it is certainly my priviledge that would allow me to accept any sort of accolade whatsoever for ascending an inch or two above the bar of male expectation by riding on the coattails of great women.

I do strive to one day truly earn the praise I’ve been given, but I haven’t yet. I’m not that good of a feminist out in the real world. I have priviledge, and sexism, and misogyny, and entitlement suspended like cholesterol in my very blood; the part of me everyone sees on the internet is not the whole me. My past is a testament to Patriachy in action, and my present is rife with episodes of silent cowardice and resistance, silent and otherwise, against some very basic Feminist principles, and that I feel shamed by all of them is cold comfort to the women who must interact with me.

I write to catalogue a journey I should have embarked on long, long ago and should be much, much further along with; a journey I should have begun by myself rather than by being driven along from behind by women whose options were to either teach me or put up with me. I don’t feel that any of my ideas are new, or novel, and I only get what hits I do because of the very male priviledge I’m ashamed of using: a male who, even the tiniest bit, “gets it”, is to be esteemed regardless of how recycled his words are or how shallow his observations.

Part and parcel of that is the fact that I feel a pressing need to address the fact that I have not earned any praise. I am not a good man. I am not a decent man. I am, at best, a slightly-less-neolithic man, and I cringe at giving myself even that much credit.

The whole point is that no, I don’t “get it”. Not yet. I am very uncomfortable with that kind of description because it makes me feel like I’m setting out to fool people. When those words come up, I feel fraudulent. Here, on the internet, I put forth a persona that I strive to live up to in reality, not a snapshot of who I am in reality.

I will say things that offend. I will say things that are stupid. I will fail to grasp concepts that are elementary. Even though I can say that, and even though I can see them coming in a vague, misty sort of way over the horizon, I won’t see them in specific until they’re right on top of me, and I will fuck up. I do not ask for anyone’s slack, nor will you ever hear me say “I’m still learning!” as if the beginning point of my learning was a marker in the river of destiny that I could not have moved or avoided. I just don’t want anyone to have to choose between defending my fuckups, or eating crow and feeling cheated, and in both cases having their judgement questioned because of my actions. That’s the very definition of male priviledge; men do ignorant, shitty, apathetic, and/or outright malicious things which hurt women, and women have to bat cleanup for them.

There may be other male pro-feminist bloggers out there who use the women who read and usually like their blogs as shields against valid criticism from other women who were rightly offended. If such men exist, I want to avoid them like an old cliche.

Why the hell am I rambling on and on about this long beyond the point of redundancy? Because it’s really important to me that I get across that I am so totally not enlightened. I don’t want anyone to feel, at any time, like I’ve put out a false respresentation of myself for personal gain. As I’ve said before, I’ve done many of the things that were on the Rapist Checklist (thus, I’ve raped). Hell, I’ll call out the numbers for you, since just saying the above without getting specific naturally leads one to conclude that I would be referring to some of the “lesser” numbers, and make no mistake, in spite of the fact that rape is bad and all of those numbers are rape, many people, somehow, consider some of them to be “worse rape” or “more rape” than others, so just saying “I’ve done things on that list” could be pretty misleading. What are my numbers? They are 1, 3, 5, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 33, 34, 36, 37, 45, and 51.

I’m male. I’m part of dude nation. I benefit from Patriarchy and rape and porn and institutionalized sexism and every other nasty, horrible thing that goes on here. It doesn’t matter how much I write, or what I write about, I’m always going to benefit until the revolution comes. I can’t accept kind words from women while still benefitting from their pain.

So, yeah. I think I’ve run out of words. I haven’t run out of thoughts, but I’ve run out of words. I don’t know if anyone will even get what I’m trying to say here. If the “man who gets it” actually does exist, he’s, uh, yeah, like, not me.

I really, really appreciate the praise I’ve been given, and it makes me feel like I’m getting a few small things right, maybe. But I’m afraid I can’t accept that praise, and will have to respectfully return all that praise to the people who have given it, because I haven’t earned it, and I don’t think I ever will. To accept it and keep it would be to embrace the very priviledge I’m supposed to be taking a stand against.

-a birch tree

PS: For crying out loud…. I can’t figure out how to say what I’m thinking without coming across as emo and/or self-loathing and/or fatuous and/or like, what’s the word for being all falsely humble to get pity or attention? I can’t remember and google isn’t helping. Anyway, I guess I’ll just hit the “publish” button here and hope for the best.

Posted in Feminism, Liberal Men, Musing | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

It’s Hard, Literally, Out Here for a Male Pro-Porn Feminist

Posted by A birch tree on April 7, 2008

I have a question.

I consider myself a radical pro-feminist, or a member of the Feminist Movement’s Boys Auxiliary. But I have to wonder… if the pro-porn branch of Feminism somehow became the heart of the movement, what guy wouldn’t want to affiliate himself with it, outside of the extreme right-wing “women are an individual man’s property” group?

I mean, all the things most men want women to do is right there in pro-porn feminism. Let me give you some examples:

PPF Says: Women should liberate themselves sexually
Men hear: Women should be having sex with lots of dudes, including me? Rock on!

PPF Says: Women should explore the nuances of their sexual identity.
Men hear: Women, both gay and straight, should try having sex with girls and/or guys (like me) at the same time? Kick ass!

PPF Says: Women videotaping, selling, or videotaping AND selling the aforementioned sexual liberation and sexual identity nuance exploration is empowering.
Men hear: This movement is encouraging more women to make more porn for me? And shit, they might even include me? Sweet! Oh, and more whores I can bang on the cheap, who are just doing it for the empowerment and maybe not so much the cash? Double-sweet! Oh! Oh! And if I can nab one, she’ll go with me to strip clubs and is encouraged to explore the nuances of her sexual identity for empowerment by making out with the strippers while I watch? HOOYAH!

PPF Says: The root of Feminism is about sexual liberation and sexual identity.
Men hear: The root of Feminism is about sex. With me. Hand me the fucking petition already, I’m signing up!

So, since men seem to be more or less universally on board with the distinguishing tenets of Pro-Porn Feminism, why hasn’t it conquored the world yet? Is it because there are a zillion men out there who are in favor of a wage gap and against abortions?

No, not really. It’s because, sans wage gap elimination and increasing the availability of abortion, the PPFs are basically talking about the way men already believe the world is. They don’t have to change anything, except maybe refraining from calling hired sex workers “whores” in front of their PPF girlfriends. They still own the world, and womens’ bodies are still communal property, they’re still looking at women as little more than vehicles for their own sexual titilation. And hell, who could really expect them to catch the subtle difference between watching gang-bang bukkake videos while saying “This woman is obviously liberating her sexuality, and by paying to see it I am supporting her empowerment” and watching an amazingly sexist story on Fox News and saying “Those women are obviously liberating their sexuality, and byapproving of it I am supporting their empowerment”?

Especially since, when you get right down to it, there is no difference. Because, fuck, some of those women undoubtedly enjoy being treated like that! It’s their bag, yo! We need to stop being so judgemental!

So, pray tell, what mindsets or privileges does a man have to give up in order for him to identify himself as a Pro-Porn Feminist? He has to put up a little pseudo-rant, “I’d castrate the bastard with a rusty spoon”-style, against rape? Well shit, what man doesn’t do that already? And hey, if he still gets to watch “faux”-rape pornography with his girlfriend, all the better! It’s empowering to women now when men say one thing and then do another. Who knew that women were being empowered for all those centuries?

What else would he have to do? Produce a crocodile-tear or two over reproductive choice abortion rights being threatened with roll-backs? Again, no skin off any red-blooded liberal dude’s nose, seeing as he’s looking for any way he can to get out of paying child support for all of the Feminists that his penis has helped “Empower”, so best to nip it in the bud early anyhow. Sure, he can get behind that.

I have yet to see any philosphical position in the PPF side of the movement that actually undermines male dominance, or is really in any way revolutionary. The idea that Women’s Empowerment can be found at the base of men’s genetalia is as old as the hills. And it never made any sense.

Posted in Feminism, Liberal Men, Sex Industry | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »