Ass-smacking dude.

Yesterday, Robyn Shepherd wrote about an unpleasant experience she had with a man who decided to wallop her on the backside while she was walking to work.  When confronted, the first thing the young man did was lie:  “Ma’am I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  This kind of lie is interesting, because it shows that this particular man is comfortable lying directly to the face of people whom he knows to have knowledge of the truth.  The second thing the man did was become outraged:  “How dare you disrespect me in public!”  This kind of outrage is also interesting, because it shows this man’s sense of outrage is utterly unmoored from any moral sensibility.  Most of us, if we were to become outraged – how dare you! – would do so in response to that which we perceived as unjust.  Anyone with a halfway functioning moral compass understands that if you hit a stranger, that person is, at a minimum, well within her rights to disrespect you in return.  Civilization functions because most of us internalize this implicit moral bargain, and the way we feel others ought to treat us bears at least a passing resemblance to the way we treat other people.

So I’m glad that Robyn confronted this young man.  The more men like him are humiliated, the better off we’ll all be.  But…

…there’s a notion I’ve heard expressed by some feminists that’s completely wrong, and worth flagging here:  The idea that predatory men act on behalf of, and for the benefit of, men as a class.  I don’t know how many feminists actually believe this, but I’ve heard it said in reference to the problem of rape, and I assume the analysis would be extended to the behavior of the man Robyn described.  Suffice it to say that this analysis is 180 degrees opposite the truth.  Men such as the one described above don’t do what they do on behalf of other men.  In fact, I think one of the sordid motivations for his actions was an unconscious desire to poison the well and disrupt the development of other people’s relationships.  It’s not “on behalf of other men.”  Look closely at his biography, and you’ll see a bully extending his leg to trip up the weaker man.

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47 Responses to Ass-smacking dude.

  1. Miguel,

    I agree with your post. Right on and I’m glad Robyn confronted that guy.

    But the second part of your post is, IMHO, the more important question regarding feminism and sexual assault/rape culture.

    I actually blogged about this in this post:
    http://easilyenthused.blogspot.com/2011/04/feminism-is-except-when-it-is-not.html

    Over at Feministe a commenter “Sheezlebub” was unable to demonstrate how non-rapist men actually benefit from the “rape culture.”

    I’ve been looking to run into her again to try to engage her about that – but hell, I’ll be happy if ANY feminist could answer that question successfully.

  2. Floreat Magdalena says:

    An interesting point is that apparently around 3-4% of the male population are sociopaths (around 1% of women). That’s maybe 1 in 25 men who lack conscience or empathy and think and feel completely differently to most men. Yet I’ve never heard this fact discussed… It may explain a few things.

  3. La Lubu says:

    Do you have a cite for the “some feminists” who claim that the men who do these acts are doing so on behalf of other men? I ask because the standard opinion isn’t that their acts are done on *behalf of other men*; merely that the behavior affects women *as a class* negatively—which can have the side effect of indirectly benefiting men *as a class*, though most men do not have a direct hand in such behavior. It’s why so much emphasis is placed on ally work and working towards proactive response (as silence can be interpreted as assent—even when a particular individual intends his or her silence equivalent to shunning).

  4. John E. says:

    I don’t know how many feminists actually believe this, but I’ve heard it said in reference to the problem of rape, and I assume the analysis would be extended to the behavior of the man Robyn described.

    It would be interesting to know who is making such a claim.

    Can you provide a citation?

  5. Here’s your feminist saying that rapists raping are doing so to the benefit of all men:
    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/08/10/why-blame-the-feminists/

    “Sheelzebub 8.13.2010 at 1:13 pm

    Oh, FFS. Look, I’m White, and I don’t get all offended when someone points out that I have racial privilege. I don’t try to blur the issue by saying that some white people have power, but not all and that you’re finding me guilty because I’m white. Same goes for sexism.

    Men have privilege. Yes, some men are more powerful than other men but it does not negate the fact that culturally, economically, and socially, men are have more power, more credibility, and more wealth than women. Men benefit from the sexual double standard. Men benefit from rape culture. Men benefit from the double-standards around housework and working outside of the home. Being uncomfortable with a few commercials ain’t the same when you have that kind of privilege. It just isn’t. You can split hairs all you goddamn well want to but as a group, men have privilege.”

  6. Lynet says:

    Count me in as a feminist who doesn’t think that non-rapist men benefit from “rape culture”. At all. If anything, you lose, because you have to navigate a world where women are more likely to look at you with suspicion.

  7. I don’t see an important difference between arguing that perps act on behalf of all men and saying that perps indirectly benefit men “as a class.”
    As for a cite, at least on the subject of rape, the idea that the perps act on behalf of all men is an idea expressed by Susan Brownmiller in “Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape” (Simon & Schuster, 1975). I don’t have a copy of Brownmiller’s book on hand, but only the anthology, “Feminism In Our Time” by Miriam Schneir (Vintage Books, 1994). Here’s part of Shneir’s summary of Brownmiller:

    [Brownmiller's book] is an almost encyclopedic survey of the long-neglected topic, viewed in unwavering feminist perspective.
    Brownmiller concluded that rape “is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” She saw rape as an “exercise in power” that perpetuates male domination of women…”

    And here’s a passage Schneir takes directly from Brownmillar’s book, chapter six:

    The Greek warrior Achilles used a swarm of men descended from ants, the Myrmidons, to do his bidding as hired henchmen in battle. Loyal and unquestioning, the Myrmidons served their master well, functioning in anonymity as effective agents of terror. Police-blotter rapists in a ver real sense perform a myrmidon function for all men in our society. Cloaked in myths that obscure their identity, they, too, function as anonymous agents of terror. Although they are the ones who do the dirty work, the actual attentat, to other men, their superiors in class and station, the lasting benefits of their simple-minded evil have always accrued.”

  8. Danny says:

    Let me know when you get that answer. If for no other reason feminist men (or profeminist, or ally or whatever they are called), you know the ones that supposedly “get it”, would be evidence against the thought that simply being a man equals benefit from rape culture.

    Sure other men who rape (which is a small portion of us mind you) would benefit from it because they would benefit from the fear that such things force onto women. But for the rest of us, those of us who side with feminists, want to work for equality in some other fashion, or just want to be left alone how do we benefit from this?

  9. Danny says:

    …which can have the side effect of indirectly benefiting men *as a class*, though most men do not have a direct hand in such behavior.
    By chance what are some of those indirect benefits?

  10. Danny says:

    Like +1 for the first sentence.

    Like +1 for giving some proof of it.in the second sentence.

    Thanks.

  11. John E. says:

    Brownmiller concluded that rape “is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” She saw rape as an “exercise in power” that perpetuates male domination of women…”

    Perhaps Brownmiller is wrong…

  12. La Lubu says:

    I don’t see an important difference between arguing that perps act on behalf of all men and saying that perps indirectly benefit men “as a class.”

    If women as a class limit their freedom, their choice of work, what and how they speak or otherwise express themselves, etc. in reaction to assault or reasonable fear of assault—that indirectly benefits men as a class.

    The telling part of this story to me wasn’t the ass-smacking. It was his reaction to being called out for it—denial, and expressed in such a way as to make Robin feel “gaslighted”. It didn’t work on her, but that denial, that treating the victim as if she were crazy….that’s standard operating procedure for the ass-smacking dudes of the world. And the general reaction of the public is either (a)”well, he could be telling the truth; we don’t know, we weren’t there”, or (b)yeah, it happened, so what. She shouldn’t have been there, doing that, wearing that, acting like that, at that time, etc. He did it, but it wasn’t his fault. That’s the price of admission.

    And that folks, is rape culture. Shit happens, including rape. Rape culture is when it isn’t recognized as an undeserved trauma, but as something that a person brought upon themselves. I really recommend the Rape Culture 101 at Shakesville. Spend some time following those links; they’re all taken from news stories, examples of the attitudes out there. The constant dysfunctional messages women are bombarded with.

    Ass-smacking dude is an individual. He doesn’t do what he does for the benefit of anyone but himself. But he doesn’t exist in a vacuum. He does what he does because he knows he can get away with it; that his actions won’t be taken seriously (“it was just an ass-smack, geez!”). Meanwhile. There are teenage girls getting into arguments with their mothers over being let out of the house—that don’t have the freedom to develop their independence (as their brothers do). Their parents are trying to protect them from rape culture. There are employers who won’t send women and men to the same conference or distant jobsite because….what if “something” happens? So, Joe and Pete get to boost their experience and resume, while Mary doesn’t—because the employer is worried about protecting (usually himself, but women can be sexist too!) the company from the “something” that may happen if the team is Mary and Joe, or Mary and Pete.

  13. Lynet says:

    Hm. You have a point. Rape culture harms women, and men can indirectly benefit from less competition as a result.

    On the other hand, rape culture harms women, and men can indirectly lose out, because they live in a society that is less efficient, because women have been restricted from contributing. Or men can lose out on potentially good relationships with women (not necessarily sexual ones), because women are too busy doing the rational thing under the circumstances and protecting themselves.

    Still a toss-up whether non-rapist/non-harassing men actually benefit overall, if you ask me. But whether they benefit or not, the men who speak out against this stuff can have an imaginary cookie from me :)

  14. Danny says:

    If women as a class limit their freedom, their choice of work, what and how they speak or otherwise express themselves, etc. in reaction to assault or reasonable fear of assault—that indirectly benefits men as a class.

    So for all the men out there that don’t want women to be limited in their freedoms (male feminists at the very least) how do they benefit from that? Because surely Hugo Schwyzer would not be reaping benefit from this limitation when a part of his reasoning is that he wants men and women to be equal. How do the actions of a rapist, and fear said rapist incites, benefit his cause, his teachings, and any men who stand with him? If anything the action of rapists, and the fear they incite, would be a direct contradiction (meaning that it wouldn’t be a benefit but a detriment) to what he’s trying to do. And that’s not even counting the rest of us who may not identify as feminist.

    And considering that only a small portion of men would benefit from such a thing how is that this small portion of us suddenly becomes representative of us? Its amazing how quickly it becomes okay to monolith certain groups of people.

    If anything its a matter of if it could benefit some men, depending on what type of man we’re dealing with. The guy in this post doesn’t exist in a vacuum but from could benefit some of us to does benefit all of us is a pretty serious leap.

  15. La Lubu says:

    Danny, did you read Hugo’s post on not being the ‘dirty old man’? About how he was hopped up on booze and drugs on the job, as well as sleeping with students? And how the reaction to that was advice that he be more discreet, from the old boy network?

    Because that is a prime example of him benefiting from rape culture. Sleeping with students is an abuse of power. Think about the assumptions that were going through the minds of his ‘helpful’ colleague or of the administration. Why did they not think of Hugo’s behavior as problematic as long as it was “discreet” (translation: plausibly deniable. Now, where did we see denial before? Oh yeah! Ass-smacking dude!). Hugo got to keep his job, after behavior that would have gotten most people fired. That wasn’t just a function of his sex, but also his race and class position. Meanwhile, women academics have an excruciating time trying to get tenure without any of those problematic behaviors (but….that would be getting on to another topic. just sayin’.)

    I can’t help but wonder if it was helpful to Hugo (in keeping his job) that he was sleeping with students, rather than merely getting high. That the assumptions about him were different (than that of someone with only a substance abuse problem), and that opening that can of worms could damage other professors too—the ones that were more discreet. I’m thinking along the same lines of police brutality and the “blue wall of silence”—the ‘we’re “all” doing it, so just shut up about it and nobody gets hurt.’ I think his sleeping with the students humanized him to male faculty and administration in a way that being stoned would not.

    So. Color me skeptical.

    Anyway….Danny, you’re giving me individualistic examples, but the problem is structural in nature. This is not a problem that is going to be solved overnight, because it can never be solved individually—only collectively. Think about what you said: Its amazing how quickly it becomes okay to monolith certain groups of people.

    Because, you’re right. But when it comes to rape culture….it isn’t merely feminists who are treating men as potential rapists, or probably copasetic with rape. In fact, it isn’t primarily feminists that are doing so—it’s primarily sexists (both men and women). Like in my employer example. That’s what I mean by this is institutional, this is systemic, this permeates the air around us….. A twelve-year-old girl was raped in Texas by dozens of men. When the story first broke, the buzz was “where were her parents? what was she doing out alone, late at night? dirty little slut. throwaway girl.” Now that more information is broadcast, a different picture emerges.

    Fighting rape culture is counter-cultural. People who are counter-cultural suffer repercussions for it. The impact of those repercussions varies according to one’s station within the kyriarchy. You, Danny, have a choice to make in a way that I don’t. I have no choice but to fight—the status quo doesn’t work for me. I’m a working-class woman. You have more opportunity to turn away; fight if or when you want to, to the extent that you want to. You can leverage your committment in a way that I can’t.

    I don’t want allies that feel guilty. Guilt is useless—worse than useless. I want allies that have energy and put one foot in front of the other. You, and other men that want to see the structures dismantled….that’s what you’ve gotta do. You gotta *not* be “Don” in Hugo’s example. And when you do that, when you effectively counter the structures—you will suffer consequences. Folks in the labor movement did and do. White allies in the civil rights movement did and do. LGBT folks who are up and out of the closet did and do. That’s what you gotta ask yourself—am I willing to take some blows for justice? Because you will. You will definitely lose some of your privilege by stepping forward, apart from the wall of silence. For one thing, the “Dons” of the world will no longer regard you as a friend. They will not have your back (as Don said to Hugo). Pace.

  16. Jim says:

    You will not get an answer. Sheezlebub lives in a high-minded, right-thinking, true believer bubble. One the subject of men avoiding contact with small children because of fears of accusations, and experienced that as a form of societal oppression, she was all sneery and said she wouldn’t believe a bit of it until she started seeing news reports. As it happened at the time the British press had run of these articles, and the subject had come up in a number of US magazines and these articles had ben discussed on various blogs. Now it’s not her fault for not reading every word that gets published, but she is at fault for talking as if she knows what the situation is when she clearly can’t because she doesn’t care to find out. Privilege Denying Princess.

    So don’t expect much of an answer. She’s not up to the demands of intellectual honesty it would require.

  17. Jim says:

    “Do you have a cite for the “some feminists” who claim that the men who do these acts are doing so on behalf of other men? ”

    Every one of them that uses the term “rape culture” is making this claim. That claim is implied in that term. Those that do not use the term are not.

  18. Jim says:

    “If women as a class limit their freedom, their choice of work, what and how they speak or otherwise express themselves, etc. in reaction to assault or reasonable fear of assault—that indirectly benefits men as a class. ”

    This shows the inappropriateness of class analysis in this context.

    If a woman distorts her behavior in response to this threat, she limits her income. That harms her family, including her husband. He does not gain by this; it harms him.

    That does not invalidate your example of woman’s male co-workers benefiting form the restrictions the situation. That absolutely happens. What it invalidates is the attempt to class her husband with her co-workers on the basis of one incidental and in this case irrelevant common criterion.

    People have been saying for as long as I have been alive that societies that repress the women of those societies suffer for it. It’s a pretty undebatable assertion. And that’s the whole society, men included. It’s self-destructive behavior.

  19. Jim says:

    “Because that is a prime example of him benefiting from rape culture. Sleeping with students is an abuse of power. ”

    I saw him tie himself in knots trying to determine how rapey the situation was. He was completely oblivous to what was really going on, fraternization, and who the real victims were, all the other students, not the student who was getting special access to him. But then, pentential self-flagellation over fraternization doesn’t bring you anywhere near the same number of brownie points. Besides, if all you have is a hammer, every situation looks like a rape.

    “Hugo got to keep his job, after behavior that would have gotten most people fired. That wasn’t just a function of his sex, but also his race and class position. ”

    Oh really? It may be different at post-secondary level, but sex with students has only recently even been prosecuted or even considered problematic when the perp is a woman. Women get a pass on sex with subordinates all the time. Half the time the male subordinate gets blamed for the whole thing, because he’s the man and under the sexist assumptions of society, only he has agency. Even if he’s a 13-year old kid. How much of a rape culture is there that licenses female teachers and instructors to rape their charges? And to what extent is the women in that rape culture where they have license to prey on children a fubnction of an “oppressive” denial of women’s agency, just how much are they oppresed by that?
    Hugo was definitely protected by his race and class that is what was protecting him.

    “When the story first broke, the buzz was “where were her parents? what was she doing out alone, late at night? dirty little slut. throwaway girl.”

    And the tribalist solidarity of that reaction was obvious from the first. That’s what was driving the reaction and the hideous sexist victim-blaming was just the instrument. Sexism didn’t drive that, it licensed it.

  20. Lynet says:

    That much is certainly not true. “Rape culture” can have meaning, even if you don’t think it’s something non-rapist men benefit from — and even if you do believe that non-rapist men benefit from rape culture, that doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge that there are many men who don’t want to benefit from such a culture.

  21. Lynet says:

    Forgot to add — ‘rape culture’ can also be contributed to by those who don’t benefit from it and indeed clearly lose out. Women perpetuate rape culture frequently. We’re not saying this is something only men do, out of benefit to themselves; we’re not even saying that the men who rape or harass are trying to benefit men when they do so. We’re saying it’s culture — something people buy into without thinking.

  22. Lynet says:

    To be fair, you can benefit from rape culture without wanting to.

    To be even more fair, even if you were benefiting from rape culture, that doesn’t mean we can’t acknowledge that you don’t want to.

  23. Danny says:

    So in all fairness Lynet other than stating “men benefit from rape culture” what other proof is there?

    Somehow, someone, somewhere it was concluded that being a man means you benefit from rape culture. How was that conclusion made? I’m not saying it cannot be true, just wanting to see some proof that it is.

  24. Danny says:

    People have been saying for as long as I have been alive that societies that repress the women of those societies suffer for it. It’s a pretty undebatable assertion. And that’s the whole society, men included. It’s self-destructive behavior.
    Precisely so how does rape culture benefit men as a class when in the end it ultimately damns all of us?

  25. Lathe of Heaven says:

    you have to navigate a world where women are more likely to look at you with suspicion.

    Yes, this is a disadvantage for the great majority of men. But you underestimate how much of an advantage it is for women. By promoting the idea of “rape culture” – a “”rape-culture”-culture”, so to speak — women are now free to criminalize any man whose attention or advances are unwelcome in any way. This pretty well sums up the state of play:

    Finally! all those unattractive men can now simply be made to go away by force of law! except, of course, as the hard-working sexless drones who will pay the taxes to support universal day care. Lord bless, the feminist utopia is nearly here.

  26. Danny says:

    Danny, did you read Hugo’s post on not being the ‘dirty old man’? About how he was hopped up on booze and drugs on the job, as well as sleeping with students? And how the reaction to that was advice that he be more discreet, from the old boy network?
    I’ll go check it out.

    But as Jim says apparently things differently in college because if that were a high school I’d bet money that he would have gotten off that lightly if the higher ups (the so-called old boys network).

    Anyway….Danny, you’re giving me individualistic examples, but the problem is structural in nature. This is not a problem that is going to be solved overnight, because it can never be solved individually—only collectively. Think about what you said: Its amazing how quickly it becomes okay to monolith certain groups of people.
    Actually I was talking about male feminists in general (although I should have said maybe “men like Hugo….”). You’re saying that the structure in place (rape culture in this case) benefits all men. But back to Hugo (not to pick on the guy though) how exactly did that benefit his feminist efforts? (I’m even wondering if the events in that post predate his feminist efforts.)

    As one commenter says:
    I would have fired you and you wouldn’t have gotten another academic job again. No feminist I know of would have ever given that advice… it’s shocking what passes for advice among younger and older men who work in academentia.
    I’m willing to bet that most feminists would not put up with that sort of behavior, especially from someone claiming to be one of them. Hell if I were a position to do so I would have fired him too.

    You, Danny, have a choice to make in a way that I don’t. I have no choice but to fight—the status quo doesn’t work for me. I’m a working-class woman. You have more opportunity to turn away; fight if or when you want to, to the extent that you want to. You can leverage your committment in a way that I can’t.
    Do I really? I fully agree that keeping women down hurts everyone. If I actively perpetuate the fear that harms you even after recognizing the harm it does to you it also puts me in a “protector” and “provider” role because the system is so jacked up. Holding both of us undeniable positions. That “more opportunity” you speak of does damage to all of us. Not trying to say I have it as bad as you, just pointing out that I (and lots of other men like me) don’t come out as scott free as some imply we do.

    Look I’m not trying to say that no man can possibly benefit from it. I just don’t think that blanketly declaring that being a man means you benefit from it fits. You’re saying this structure benefits men simply by being men. I’m saying that’s not true.

  27. Lynet says:

    I haven’t concluded that, myself :)

    You might accidentally benefit from rape culture, without wanting to, if you got the job because the woman who was your main competition limited herself in certain ways to avoid being raped. So I think it can happen. But I’m not at all sure that men benefit, overall.

    I’m also not sure that it matters. You can accidentally benefit from rape culture and still be vital to the fight against it. If you don’t want to benefit from rape culture, and you try to avoid perpetuating rape culture where possible, you’re on the right side whether you accidentally benefit from rape culture or not.

  28. Lynet says:

    I will gladly agree to a world where no-one gets prosecuted for sexual harassment unless they’ve been explicitly asked to stop, and haven’t — as long as, in return, we can all agree that explicitly asking someone to stop coming on to you is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

  29. I’ll sign up for that world too.

  30. Danny says:

    I can dig what you’re saying but I just think that it would do us a lot of good to not just blanketly presume it to be true. I think that speaks to properly identifying the problem. And no offense but I also think its pretty easy to say that something doesn’t matter when you not the one being assumed guilty by gender association.

  31. Lynet says:

    Both good points.

  32. Darque says:

    To me rape culture is very much like the idea of original sin. No matter the extenuating circumstances you always are benefitted by/beholden to it.

    Just like the idea of original sin, I fail to see how guilt has more than superficial benefits to a movement. Guilt, a short term attractor, is also a long term force for alienation. While I also appreciate the seeming bravado that the feminist movement uses in applying analysis regarding rape culture, I have a sneaking suspicion that its overuse is also somewhat detrimental.

    Ass-smacking dude doesn’t benefit me. Rapists don’t help me out. I wish those people would drop dead.

    But then again, when do either my intentions or words matter? Even if I make these statements in congruence with the goals of feminism, nay, with the goals of a collective, benevolent humanity, I will still have to go further to prove I am not one of the collective, scumbag many who benefit from rape culture.

    To me, the common experience of the gender equality (or progress, or w/e) movements, online, is a tendency toward alienating behavior, speech and thought. People embittered by years of mistreatment by harsh power structures behave in hostile ways toward people that resemble the ones in power. I, a bearer of a penis, also white, also heterosexual, also cissexual, also able-bodied represents the height of that power structure. But if people continually expect me to be the face of the oppressor, how does that help me not be that face? Moreover, if the bitterness that consumes one person (even with justification) spills over and poisons our common ambition to create a greater world for each other, how are we supposed to accomplish anything?

  33. Brian says:

    This is fundamentally the same mistake that Miguel is noting feminists commonly make; believing that gender is a zero-sum game. It isn’t, not remotely so.

    Rape culture (whatever it is/isn’t) benefits the ~5% of men and ~1% of women (I know these numbers are only right within a factor of two, whatever) who are (or will become) rapists. Everybody else only loses.

    The position Miguel takes down flows from “If rape culture harms women, it must benefit men.” That analysis is wrong, wrong, wrong. But the “If rape culture harms men, it must benefit women” position is just as wrong, wrong, wrong. I suppose it’s a comforting answer to “Why are we in this situation?” to say “Well, it benefits a bunch of people.” than to say “Well, we’re dumb, and engage in the bystander effect willy-nilly.”

    But we’re dumb, and the easiest way for people to cope with how much rape goes on is to pretend that it doesn’t.

  34. Jim says:

    What meaning does it have then? It is an inflammatory term; it had better mean something pretty horrific.

  35. Jim says:

    ” Rape culture is when it isn’t recognized as an undeserved trauma, but as something that a person brought upon themselves.”

    This exactly describes the experiences of almost every male victim of rape. It is so institutional that female rape of males has only recently been considered a crime at all. Male rape survivors have documented significant tram form delaing with rape victim services.

    Which is what makes
    ” I really recommend the Rape Culture 101 at Shakesville.”
    worse than useless.

  36. I’ve decided to deconstruct the Rape Culture 101 blog post and why it is a bad reference.
    http://easilyenthused.blogspot.com/2011/04/deconstructing-rape-culture.html

  37. Jim says:

    And I noticed the snarky little lecture you got for it over at Feministe. I decided right then to go look at oyur post and to expect to like it. See you there!

  38. Lathe of Heaven says:

    I am certainly not making the mistake of believing that “rape culture” helps or hurts group X or Y or both or neither, simply because I don’t believe that any such thing exists. To me, “rape culture” as, say, following from Brownmiller, is an utter crock, an hysterical (literally) fantasy that has no overlap with any recognizable reality.

    What I’m talking about is how the fantasy is being promoted, and how that promotion is manipulated, ie not “rape culture” but “”rape culture”-culture”. The promotion of the fantasy has now been shaped by feminists into a blunt misandristic instrument with which to keep all men in a state of fear and intimidation. Women lose out in the long run, as they are now discovering, by being forced to live in the society which has been ruined by this pernicious lie. But certainly in the short run there is no doubt that “”rape culture”-culture” benefits women directly at the expense of men.

  39. Lynet says:

    It refers to a collection of ideas which contradict the idea that women have the right to control their own bodies at all times. For example, the idea that a woman who gets drunk at a frat party can’t complain if someone “has sex with” (i.e. rapes) her while she’s unconscious (and yes, if she’s unconscious, it’s rape. Hopefully that doesn’t need saying — but when it does need saying, that’s another example of rape culture).

  40. elementary_watson says:

    I think the idea you’re criticizing is more general than rape: If you (general you, not you you) (knowingly and voluntarily) drink yourself into unconsciousness in the company of strangers/people of less than trustworthy character, and something bad is done to you, well, you should have known better.

    While I agree that this attitude is quite an unempathetic (read: somewhat douche-baggy) one, but it is not as strictly linked to rape as you imply.

    I also see another danger: Is it “rape culture” if a mother tells her daughter something like “Listen, dear, when you’re going on this date with the muscular guy cheating on the wife he battered recently, please don’t drink more than one beer/glass of wine and keep the mace always at hand”?

    Telling young people to be careful before they go out at night is, IMO, very sensible (we all were naive, stupid, immature and irresponsible once); telling them after something bad happened to them that they were asking for it is the problem, but I’ve seen quite few feminists equate the former with the latter.

  41. Jim says:

    “It refers to a collection of ideas which contradict the idea that women have the right to control their own bodies at all times. ”
    Okay. Got it. That’s a succinct definition.

    Feminists are mising about half the action, then or more:
    http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Hax-My-boyfriend-s-female-friend-is-way-too-1332268.php
    It’s in the very first paragraph.

    Now ask yourself how likely the equivalent action on a woman is. And no, grabbing a breast is not equivalent. Not even. Next ask yourself how much social sanction there is for this kind of thng, whether positive or negative.

    As one of the commenters sidewiys mentioned, maybe he was expected to feel “lucky” or flattered.

  42. Lynet says:

    I was thinking, after I wrote that, that my definition was wrong for exactly the reason you state — men also have the right to control their own bodies, and sometimes that is disrespected, too — jokes about prison rape definitely count as ‘rape culture’ even if they’re only referring to men being raped.

  43. Jim says:

    Yeah, but with that correction, that’s still a good and useful definition you gave, and thank you for it!

  44. Jim says:

    Another problem with the term I just remembered is the use of ‘rape” in so broad a sense. Do you remember that smirking over the term “birth rape”? I think that may be part of the trouble here too.

  45. Jim says:

    Also this:

    “It refers to a collection of ideas which contradict the idea that women have the right to control their own bodies at all times. ”

    does not take in things like staring and street harrassment and catcalls, which certinily also get called rape culture. Those do not represent physical control of another person’s body.

    But they are still aggressions, that really can indirectly limit a person’s freddoms, and we need a term for them.

  46. Lynet says:

    Verbal sexual harrassment doesn’t represent physical control of another person’s body — but it does represent a forced sexual interaction. So maybe the principle should be that “People always have the right to decide for themselves whether they want to engage in a sexual interaction.”

    Obviously we have to leave room for people to initiate sexual interactions; I don’t think it’s ‘rape culture’ to approach someone and ask for a date, for example, at least not if you’re serious about the offer and you’re willing to take ‘no’ for an answer. So we should make an exception for small initiations of possible sexual contact that people can say no to. But if you’re just casually dumping someone into a sexual situation — like, say, yelling something obscene as you walk past on the street — then that’s a forced sexual interaction with no redeeming factors.

    Street harassment is also a case of sex-as-power, of using sex as a way to humiliate women. This is often considered to be central to rape culture, this idea that sex is something that represents dominance of men over women, rather than something that people do together for mutual pleasure. Which makes sense — if you’re not conceiving of sex as something that women can enthusiastically consent to, and engage in without being diminished as people, then your basic definition of sex is already closer to rape than it needs to be, which can make rape seem more acceptable.

    “Birth rape” did cause controversy among feminists, precisely because it doesn’t actually refer to rape, strictly speaking, and many feminists are leery of using the word ‘rape’ figuratively on grounds that it might water down the definition. I mostly looked cautiously at that one and decided not to take sides.

  47. Jim says:

    “Verbal sexual harrassment doesn’t represent physical control of another person’s body — but it does represent a forced sexual interaction. ”

    Bingo – excellent formulation. That’s why it’s still unacceptable.

    “Street harassment is also a case of sex-as-power, of using sex as a way to humiliate women. ”

    There is verbal harrassment and visual harrassment. There is manilpulation and humilaition on boht sides, and then someone who is not particpating in either wanders into that poisoned atmosphere and gets slimed with it.

    ““Birth rape” did cause controversy among feminists, precisely because it doesn’t actually refer to rape, strictly speaking, and many feminists are leery of using the word ‘rape’ figuratively on grounds that it might water down the definition.”

    That’s what i was referring to, and since I was ever asked to take sides, and since my opinion didn’t really matter, I neither took sides nor formed an opinion. But generally I don’t like wide, expansive, cheapening over-use of terms.

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