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Posts Tagged ‘Feminism’

2257 (from the “Let’s Think About This for More than 30 Seconds” file)

Posted by A birch tree on July 20, 2008

It has come to my attention that certain parties are attempting to silence Stop Porn Culture‘s new slideshow (which I will not link to, as I have been informed it contains explicit images) by using US Code Title 18, Section 2257 to declare it and other such anti-porn information and demonstrations by activists such as Gail Dines (who has a great non-pornographic presentation viewable here) illegal.

2257 says:

(a) Whoever produces any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, or other matter which—
(1) contains one or more visual depictions made after November 1, 1990 of actual sexually explicit conduct; and
(2) is produced in whole or in part with materials which have been mailed or shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, or is shipped or transported or is intended for shipment or transportation in interstate or foreign commerce;
shall create and maintain individually identifiable records pertaining to every performer portrayed in such a visual depiction.

It goes on to talk about specifics and penalties. In a nutshell, this means that anyone who produces pornographic shit needs to have records verifying who the victims are and how old they are (because remember, porn magically becomes a safe industry after a woman turns 18).

The parties opposed to antipornography activism, in a full-out defensive breath-holding temper tantrum, are claiming, with much mock indignance on the part of pornography victims performers, that people who put together such slideshows that include pornography for demonstrative purposes are in violation of 2257 in that they don’t have the aforementioned identification documents on site.

I smell Male Logic(tm)* at work. Taking a clear, valid law and messing around with the meanings of words and the original spirit in which the law was intended in order to punish the people that they are opposed to, but whose goals the law was intended to help along, while at the same time not insisting on the same application for industries and activities they favor, is pretty classic. They use a process I like to call “I couldn’t find a flaw in the first thirty seconds on thinking about this idea, so it must hold water”. It’s the same kind of thinking that gives us “Men are hardwired by evolution to love big breasts” and “Women are underrepresented in science and engineering and other high-prestige, high-paying fields because they just don’t like math.” It scratches the surface of an issue, creates a soundbite, and sends the soundbite around the world to make it gospel.

To wit: I imagine said parties would not insist that x-rated movie theatres, so-called “adult” bookstores, or pornographic video stores are noncompliant with 2257 because they don’t have the requisite identification documents on-hand. Furthermore, if 2257 were as strictly applied as some with a porn addiction and/or a financial stake in the sex industry claim they would like it to be, it would subject a dude who gets his buddies together to watch his latest porno to criminal charges and fines, since he doesn’t have the documentation in his bedside table, and would therefore be liable for presenting it to his pornsick friends.

I might accept that trade-off. Anti-porn radical feminists and radical pro-feminists are no longer allowed to show an audience an informative slideshow or video as long as individual dudes are not allowed to show an audience a titillative slideshow or video, and “adult” bookstores are no longer allowed to include peep booths, and X-rated movie theatres and video stories must get copies of all the relevant documentation for every movie they show or carry.

Of course, the pro-porn crowd (including the odd male pro-porn feminist) doesn’t promote that particular set of stringent applications because (A) those consequences only show up in the brain at around 32+ seconds of thinking and (B) they only want to use the law to protect their interests, not thwart them.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I have not seen Stop Porn Culture’s slideshow, nor any of the pornographic ones Gail Dines is reputed to be responsible for, nor do I necessarily agree with that particular method of education. The efficacy telling people to stop using pornography via showing them lots of pornography is, to my mind, rather arguable; at least in that most people (men especially) who profess ignorance of the content of modern pornography are probably liars, seeing as our society is pretty much being pickled in a barrel of porn-brine. Having said that, a number of activists, including some I personally respect, consider it to be a viable and effective method of education and communication, and it appears the pro-porn lobby agrees with them, elsewise they wouldn’t be going to the trouble of trying to selectively misapply parts of US law to lever said tactic out of Stop Porn Culture’s hands.

I suppose what really ruffles the finches’ feathers is that the pro-porn lobby seems to show so much concern for the “rights” of porn participators when it comes to using their images without proper documentation, but not when it comes to, say, their terrifyingly high rates of PTSD or the fact that 80% of them don’t even get the courtesy of a condom, much less how they tend to discount the stories of any woman who has been horribly abused by the porn industry. No no, their (arbitrarily applied) concern is over documentation. That’s obviously the important issue.

-a birch tree

*[Male Logic(tm) is merely a reference to the skewed and often idiotic twisting of actual logic that is often used by men trying to justify the un-justifyable, but its use is no longer constrained by gender. I mention this so that nobody gets the idea that the subjects of this post are exclusively male.]


Posted in Feminism, Links, Sex Industry | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

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.

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

WTF is this??

Posted by A birch tree on June 14, 2008

So I sent an e-mail to my wife, and on the “Congratulations! We decided to work, this time!” page, there was this advertisement:

WTF is this all about??

I followed the link, and it just went to some generic MSN portal page, and it took me several minutes of head-scratching before I noticed that the portal was for MSN Arabia. Which is substantially more offensive than if it had been a link to a nudie mag or dating site or something, because now instead of catering to individual misogynists, it’s catering to a stereotype of embedded cultural misogyny and saying “Hey, arab dudes, we get ya! Leave the wife locked in the kitchen and come read the news!”

I’m incensed. Too incensed to do or think or say anything constructive. Refer to Fig. 3-7.

Posted in Feminism, Media, Misogyny | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Hall of Shame updated

Posted by A birch tree on June 11, 2008

Just a quick note to let you know that I’ve added five more entries to A Hall of Shame. I figured just adding to that one would be easier than making a whole new post for every batch of hatred.

-a birch tree

Posted in Feminism, Misogyny | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Two Additions

Posted by A birch tree on June 3, 2008

I’m in a funk, still being given the runaround about my pay disparities and my discharge, still being given bullshit work assignments, still being put on watchbills I’m not supposed to be on, and still feeling dirty after writing out all the awful comments I’ve overheard without saying much of anything.

So I don’t have much to post, except two new comments I heard today that I did, in fact, respond to:

Situation one:
Dude A: “There has got to be a better way to get these creases into my dress uniforms.”
Dude B: “There is. Get married.”
Me: “Dude, do your own fucking laundry, you lazy ass.”
Dudes A&B: [nervous laughter. I put out my cigarette and leave.]

Situation two:
Dude X: “I heard they were talking about a pilot program to test out an all-female submarine crew.”
Dude Y: “The sub would have to come back right out of the docks, because they’d kill each other in three days.”
Me: “Actually, they’d probably get qual’d in half the time men do because they’re not doing stupid shit like ‘The Brain’ to each other or making the skips eat San#2 Sandwhiches and put their cocks on silver pipes.”
Dude Y: “…uh… I dunno. Did you see the Red Wings last night? Triple overtime!”

Posted in Feminism, Misogyny | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

A Hall of Shame

Posted by A birch tree on June 2, 2008

[Updated 11Jun08]

From the “What Men Really Think About Women” files…

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a member of the United States Navy. I serve on a base that consists almost exclusively of men, with the exception of some female corpsmen (and don’t even get me started about the nomenclature of Navy jobs; corpsman, fire controlman, signalman, yeoman, and on and on and on…) and civilians who work at the NEX, among some varied and widely spaced others.

In such an environment, men feel quite free to express themselves at their truest; that is to say, with no one watching them who may be offended or angered by their prejudicial, racist, misogynist words and behaviors.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been covertly collecting sexist phrases and conversations overheard in the smoke pits and elsewhere, as a bit of an experiment. You see, many people claim that sexism is limited to certain geographical regions, economic classes, occupations, age ranges, or a host of other factors which would cut the potential pool of sexists into a relatively small minority of men.

Of course, I’ve discovered that this is unequivicably false. I serve with men from California, Texas, New Hampshire, Vermont, Oklahoma, Oregon, and every state and region in between, and some further away like Puerto Rico and a small steel-making village in Russia that I can neither pronounce nor spell. I have served next to men who have been my senior by fifteen or twenty years and my junior by nearly a decade. Some of these men were high school students before joining the Navy, others were factory workers, farmers, college students, small business owners, or bankers. I know one man who came from the streets, and I know another whose family is so wealthy he drops a “small” bet of $4,000 on a horse race without batting an eyelid. These men are Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, and independants who wish to vote for McCain, Huckabee, Clinton, Obama, Perot, or not vote at all. I have served with atheists, Protestants, Catholics, Buddists, Wiccans, and agnostics.

The unifying factor among all of them are the nasty, horrible things they say about women (and, among the white men, minorities).

Now some might argue that the military calls for these people, in an attempt to deny that the hatred and derision for women is a trait drilled into all men of our culture from childhood, but to say such a thing is both wrong and offensive. All the people, women and men alike, who serve in the US Armed Forces are answering a calling that is personal to themselves, not some sinister desire to inflict their hatred onto others. Our training does not, and needs not, instill such a great hate into us as a matter of course, so the argument that the military turns men into these kinds of horrible people is also faulty.

Rather, the undeniable and terrifying fact is that the attitudes I have collected are a cross-section of America’s culture of misogyny, and I only put the Navy into it to show the vast differences among these men that are crossed by a single brow: hatred of women.

I am ashamed to say that all but one of these comments, I allowed to go unchallenged, although I did quickly remove myself from the conversation, I did not stick up for women until pressed beyond where I should have needed to be pressed. I often hold to the excuse that I am not especially quick-witted, and as often as I hear these things I am still stunned when they actually exit another man’s mouth, but they’re copouts and artificial barriers I set up to avoid having to change my behavior in the face of those whom I am otherwise safe to confront. I will alter my behavior in the future with regard to these kinds of statements.

Here are some I have collected since I arrived at this command. I will warn you that many of these are the foulest things I have ever heard escape a person’s mouth in my presence, and people who are more sensitive to the kind of language I am about to recount may be better off just taking my word for it.

The rest follows after the break.

Pages: 1 2

Posted in Feminism, Misogyny | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Paula Gunn Allen

Posted by A birch tree on May 31, 2008

On May 29th, Native American activist and feminist Paula Gunn Allen passed away from lung cancer.

I have to admit that until I read about her on Women’s Space, I hadn’t heard of her at all. But Heart’s 2-part tribute is beautiful and touching and powerful and everyone should read it.

-a birch tree

Posted in Feminism | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Superbowl

Posted by A birch tree on May 26, 2008

So I had an argument with my wife, Ari, recently about the Superbowl, or, more specifically, American Football (and, thematically, professional sports in general). She refuses to watch it, and told me that supporting it was supporting a misogynist industry and therefore was an un-feminist act due to the way the players treat women, and the way the league treats said players.

I disagreed (ok, that’s putting a certain spin on it… I suppose I actually got pissed off and defensive and turned what could have been a genteel discussion into an absurd argument), mostly on the grounds of “But I like it!” backed up with “I have no knowledge of any of the things of which you speak”.

And men consider themselves to be the “logical” gender. Riiiiight.

Well, ignorance is no excuse. I was wrong. And, as is the right and proper thing to do when one does something hideously stupid and realizes one was wrong about it, I’m making a public apology. I’m sorry, Ari.

Beyond that, I’m sharing with others exactly what I was wrong about, and how I was wrong about it, so maybe they can avoid doing or saying the same stupid shit that I did.


So, guys, here’s what I found out.

I typed “NFL Rape” into google, and, in a turn of events that will probably shock no one, came up with some 470k hits. I’ve compiled a few facts here, with citations. Note that while I’m still using endnotes, the HTML format that the Fact Dump is in, with linked superscript numbers referring down to the specific footnote at the bottom of the page, was way, way too cumbersome for me to ever want to repeat.

21 percent of NFL players — more than one in five — have been charged with at least one serious crime. The docket begins with assault, rape, and domestic violence and keeps spiraling out of control.1

Atlanta Falcons defensive back Patrick Bates was charged with assaulting his pregnant girlfriend and, three weeks after the baby was born, kidnapping the child and beating the mother with a gun. Bates finally was let go by the Falcons, pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was signed by the Oakland Raiders.1

Falcons all-pro linebacker Cornelius Bennett was charged with rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment. Bennett pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. He was neither released by the Falcons nor fined by the NFL.1

Forty-four cheerleaders formerly employed by the Philadelphia Eagles have filed suit in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court claiming opposing teams spied upon them while the women changed and showered in the cheerleaders’ locker room.2

In July 2003, Dwayne Carswell, a Denver Broncos football player, was arrested in Atlanta for assaulting his girlfriend, Nkeiruka Anyamone, reported the Associated Press. Carswell was charged with simple battery, domestic violence and obstruction of an officer.4

That athletes are treated differently in the criminal-justice system doesn’t help, notes [Ed Tapscott, vice president of the New York Knicks]. “When Joe Sixpack abuses his wife, he must go through the criminal-justice system,” he says. “But when Joe Athlete does, he is treated royally. Not only that, when he goes out and scores three touchdowns or 32 points, the acclaim of his accomplishments restores very quickly any self-esteem he lost by beating the woman.”4

(Got to love that last little bit, don’t ya? This guy believes men who beat their wives lose self-esteem from it? And then refers to said victims as “the woman”? Jesus Christ on a pogo stick.)

The list goes on and on. But, hey, a spot of light! My team, the team that I’ve been a fan of since I was a child, apparently has a better policy:

So far, only New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has taken a stand against employing players with criminal records. In the fifth round of the 1996 NFL draft, the Patriots picked Nebraska defensive lineman Christian Peter, who had been arrested eight times (and convicted four times) during college for a variety of offenses, including the assault of a former Miss Nebraska and the rape of another woman. When Peter’s past came to light, Kraft cut the player before he was even offered a contract. “We concluded this behavior is incompatible with our organization’s standards of acceptable conduct” said Kraft. 1

Great! So I can still watch when New England plays and not be engaging in the support of misogyny…. well, if they’re the only team on the field, anyway. Tip: The advertisers and the players whose salary I am helping to pay don’t give two shits who I’m rooting for.

Oh, and also only if they’re not playing in the Superbowl:

Workers at women’s shelters, and some journalists, have long reported that Super Bowl Sunday is one of the year’s worst days for violence against women in the home.3

“Well, there’s always college football…” I thought while googling, desperately trying to hold on to an entertainment venue that I knew, inside, would turn out to be pretty much irredeemable once I scratched the surface.

And I was right:

At least one recent study reinforced the connection between athletes and domestic violence. Researchers at Northeastern and the University of Massachusetts reviewed 107 cases of sexual assault at 30 Division I schools between 1991 and 1993. They found that male student-athletes, compared with the rest of the male student population, “are responsible for a significantly higher percentage of assaults reported on the campuses of Division I institutions.” Although male athletes at 10 of those schools made up only 3.3 percent of the population, they were involved in 19 percent of the reported assaults.4

An appeals court revived a lawsuit by two women who claim they were gang raped at a University of Colorado recruiting party in 2001, ruling there is evidence the alleged assaults were caused by the university’s failure to adequately supervise players. The ruling by the 10th United States Circuit Court of Appeals, which sends the case back to the trial court, said there was evidence the university had an official policy of showing high school recruits a “good time” and that it showed a “deliberate indifference” to any known sexual harassment.5

There are coverups and criminals aplenty in the college atheletics scene, which makes sense, really, given that it’s the same place pro teams get their players from.

Of course, an argument can always be made that out of the many thousands of men who have played professional football, only a handful have committed horrible crimes, and why am I still watching anything else on TV, or buying Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, or whatever, if someone can show that a few people associated have raped or beaten women? Mostly, I think, it’s a combination of factors.

  1. A guy who works for Ben & Jerry’s isn’t making a 5-7 figure salary
  2. The NFL and all of its teams has turned a blind eye to the entire affair, since these players can make them a ton of money

It’d be a different thing if the NFL was busy firing people who had been convincted of violent crimes, like just about any other occupation in the world would do. If the Ben & Jerry’s CEO was convicted of rape or domestic violence, I’m fairly sure his resignation would follow shortly. While the individual action is the same, the theme presented by how the NFL responds to those actions seems to be one of coverup and general apathy. And that is why I can no longer support that industry, and that is why I encourage all men who care about women to change the channel away from NFL games, or NBA games, or MLB games, because all the major sports in America seem to grok to the same theme: “We don’t care how our players treat women, because they make us money.”

It gets especially rotten when you get to hear what the owners think:

Ed Tapscott, New York Knicks vice president of administration and scouting, says that some athletes have difficulty making the transition from field to home. “An interesting comparison is to Vietnam vets who one day were in this survival mode, then the next day were given their walking papers,” he says. “What are athletic games if not war?[…]”4

I don’t even know how to respond to that, as a member of the US Military. I cannot even begin to imagine how being in war is in any way comparable to playing in a competitive athletic event, and furthermore, I can even less begin to imagine how either war or sporting events somehow make rape and domestic abuse acceptable or even remotely understandable. They aren’t out there punching and raping other men, dudes. Apparently, in their adrenaline-fueled fury, they are still cognizant enough to focus that rage only onto a target that can’t or won’t hurt them back. That doesn’t sound like “heat of the moment”, even if “heat of the moment” can in any possible way be mangled into an excuse; it sounds like premeditation.

And then there’s a heavy dose of victim blaming, in this case under the guise of “It’s all womens’ fault anyway, for expecting us to take responsibility for our actions”:

Violence also might be a backlash against the women’s movement, which has made great strides in promoting female independence during the past 25 years. “Men need sports in order to bolster a dying form of masculinity,” writes Mariah Burton Nelson in her 1994 book, The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football. “Men are very emotional about sports. They are cheering for a type of violence.”4

That last line is what really got me though. When I watch football, I am cheering for violence. Not only on the field, but off the field, against their wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, and random strangers they’ve never met before. Isn’t there enough violence out there without me supporting more of it?

So guys, let’s do this together. Write the NFL, tell them why you can no longer support their product, and let’s change the channel to something less thematically nasty against women. I mean, hell, most of us probably only ever got into it to start with just so we could feel masculine and “with it” when standing around the water cooler at the office or in the warehouse. When you really think about it, the whole concept is pretty dumb, especially when enjoying it involves ignoring the very real danger and pain supporting that industry can help put very real women into.

-a birch tree


  1. NFL’s Tarnished Heroes – Don Yaeger, in his book ‘Pros andCons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL,’ claims that 21% of the players in the National Football League have been charged with one or more serious crimes – Brief Article
  2. Former Eagles Cheerleaders Expand Lawsuit Against NFL Teams; Players, Coaches and Owners of 29 Teams May be Deposed to Determine If They Watched Cheerleaders Change and Shower.
  3. Does Domestic Violence Increase on Super Bowl Sunday?
  4. Illegal hits off the field – athletes and domestic violence
  5. College Football: Colorado Rape Lawsuit Is Revived

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Update to Fact Dump – Pornography and the Sex Industry

Posted by A birch tree on May 25, 2008

Just a note that a new statistic has been added to the April 14th, 2008’s “Fact Dump” post. Under “Prostitution: Working Environment”, I have added the following.

The workplace homicide rate for prostitutes as of 2004 was 201 per 100,000. Compare to the “Most Dangerous Profession” as of May 2008: Mining, with an occupational death rate of only 30.1 per 100,000.

And under “Prostitution: Effects on Prostitutes”, I have added

The average age of death for a woman in prostitution is 34 years old.

The primary sources are Mortality in a Long Term Open Cohort of Prostitute Women and NYT: Miners Found to Have Highest Death Rate On the Job (which, serendipitously enough, came out just today), but I’d like to give a hat tip to Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog for linking the study. You should check the place out; I’ve literally done nothing at all today beyond eat, smoke, make a blog post earlier this morning, and read that blog.

Something to keep in mind next time some dork dude pulls out the “Men work in all the most dangerous jobs!” canard… apparently, they (and the New York Times) don’t think of prostitution as a “job”.

Oh, and one thing I found interesting and scary and depressing all at the same time, but which doesn’t belong in the fact dump, was this quote from the NYT article:

Among female workers, 42 percent of all on-the-job deaths were because of homicide, compared with 11 percent for males.

Wow. Ok, guys? Seriously? I don’t ever want to hear any fucking nonsense about dangerous, demanding jobs in which lots of guys die, ever again Among all the other things we don’t have to worry about because we have a penis, we also don’t have to worry as much about being murdered on the job as women do. 42% of all on-the-job deaths for women are murders. What. The. Fuck.

I can’t get over how disturbed this has made me. When I started the Fact Dump, that’s, shamefully, all the were: bits of facts that were good debate points but which didn’t really manage to cross the dude-brain barrier. The more I read about feminism, the more they start to come out in living color as events, not statistics, that actually have an impact on real people every single day. Reducing women’s tragedy to a list of numbers is just as privileged as ignoring the tragedy altogether. It’s a lot easier to exercise male priviledge and dissassociate those numbers from the women they represent, than it is to actually think about the atrocities involved, and it’s wrong, and I apologise for engaging in that kind of avoidance-based thinking.

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