Train Wrecks: Derailing with the Tone Argument and “Free Speech”


I’ve used it before, but this image is just too perfect.

I had a commenter recently who latched onto my use of the term “derailing” and started throwing it all over the place with little regard to its meaning. I figured that meant it would be a good time to tackle derailing as a subject, and cover my “favorite” (read: least so) derailing tactic.

So, what is derailing? It’s a form of trolling that involves distraction from the original topic. It can take different forms, and can vary a bit from topic to topic. Obvious derailing is obvious: If the subject is misogyny and you launch into a diatribe about how the thing we should all really be worrying about is racism against white people, you’re a derailer (also a racist).

If we’re talking about rates of domestic violence, it’s derailing to start talking about the crimes of female dictators. It doesn’t matter that it’s an attempt to prove “misandry” and therefore disprove theories of patriarchal influence on domestic violence. It’s wildly outside of the subject at hand. Being able to loosely tie something to the general topic of misogyny does not make it on-topic for each individual discussion of elements of the patriarchy.

Derailing can also be a trickier line to follow, where a derailer might think they’re being on-topic, but they are in fact bringing up something completely irrelevant to the conversation. This mainly presents through the basic logical fallacies. If someone is talking specifically about the misogyny that prevents women from pursuing careers in computer science, it would be derailing to start making blanket statements like, “Schools don’t forbid women from taking those classes!” Of course they don’t. No one said they did. What’s being discussed are the social burdens that discourage women from pursuing those goals, the subtleties that keep women out of the profession. It has nothing to do with official edicts, we’re talking about social pressures. Argue that those social pressures don’t exist all you want, at least you’ll be on-topic (though still wrong). It’s a strawman, you’re fabricating an argument to distract from the real topic, and that’s derailing.

So what isn’t derailing? Disagreeing. Asking (or demanding) to bring things back to the topic at hand. Rebutting. Rudeness. Becoming angry, hostile, emotional. And this last one deserves its own little spotlight.

The tone argument is one that comes up a lot in call-outs. It declares that unless the minority is being nice enough, polite enough, gentle enough, an oppressor doesn’t have to listen to them. But validity does not rely on kindness, and it’s disingenuous to expect people to be calm and kind when you’re oppressing them.

This derailing tactic can be particularly insidious, as it may be factually correct, and can therefore pretend relevancy. The minority in question may very well be extremely angry or otherwise emotional, but that’s not pertinent to the discussion at hand. How things are being argued is not the point; what is being argued is. The tone argument places the onus once again on the oppressed person, and blames them for not winning flies with honey. But the fact is, a person who doesn’t want to listen is just not going to listen, regardless of how kind you are. You can be sweet as honeysuckle and people will still say you’re bitter, hostile, and unreasonable. It’s the content of your argument that’s ruffling their feathers, they’re just blaming it on your tone to shirk responsibility.

Everyone takes a different approach to their own oppression. Some people prefer to calmly educate those who offend, and more power to them. Sometimes it even works, sometimes people legitimately listen and adjust their behavior. But the fact is, minorities owe that education to no one. Google exists for a reason, there are literally millions of resources available to people who want to learn why something they said might be bigoted. By demanding an education, and a kind one, they’re saying that their time is more valuable than that of the minority in question. It’s insulting and lazy.

It’s important to realize that bigotry, however unintentional, is an act of violence. That’s why we become volatile in the first place. When you say something misogynistic/racist/ableist/etc., you are attacking minorities. These attacks are something we live with constantly, a never-ending slew of assaults on our very selves. And sometimes, your words will be the straw that breaks our backs. After a lifetime of grinning and bearing it, we’ve finally said “enough.” And maybe that’s uncomfortable for you, because you’re used to us silently tolerating those innumerable offenses with good humor. But your discomfort does not compare to our oppression. You owe us the basic respect of introspection. So when we tell you to stop derailing, what we’re also saying is, “Start examining yourself.”

Often, derailments get defended with the “free speech” fallacy. It’s where people declare that their right to free speech allows them to say whatever they want to say, wherever and whenever they want to say it. This is objectionable on a base level:


Succinct.

If the best defense of your argument is “It’s not illegal for me to say this!” then you’re standing on some pretty shaky ground. No one is infringing upon your rights by telling you that you’re derailing or that your contributions are unwelcome. Believe it or not, you don’t have the right to comment on this entry telling me how wrong I am. You can because I allow you to, but I have the right to not publish your comments. Because this is my private space, and I can control it however I see fit.

Ultimately, derailing is just about believing that your own words always take precedence, regardless of whether or not they’re applicable to the subject at hand. It’s privilege at its finest.

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“That’s How It Happened”: Taking Rape Victims At Their Word

TRIGGER WARNING: This entry is about rape, and I do discuss moderate details about my own rape. Please proceed with caution.

I had an interaction with a commenter on here recently that was so triggering for me, I deleted the thread. It was on my post about sex-positive feminism. And look, there’s plenty to criticize in a lot of what I post; I’m far from infallible, and sometimes I don’t realize how wrong I am until I’ve thrown my opinion out there, and have gotten some backlash. My biggest error there is probably that I’ve only known a small proportion of sex workers, and don’t have the right to speak for them as someone not in the trade. So rip me a new one, where warranted. But where is it not warranted? In my discussion of how sex-positive feminists abuse and alienate rape victims. I’m not going to relive the entire thread, but here are the relevant pieces:

Reader: I don’t like the term “unjustifiable kinks” because what happens between two consenting adults requires no justification.

Me: We’re never going to agree on this point. Rape is rape, it is not a “kink.” Rape-play normalizes rape, convinces men that rape is just a deep-dark fantasy all women have. It’s the justification my rapist used when he raped me, that he was just giving me what I really wanted. It’s not kinky. It’s damaging.

Reader: This is patently untrue. Men who commit rape don’t care about what the woman wants – their whole aim is to make that woman submit to them; they don’t want her to want it, secretly or otherwise. Rape is about power. Ideas about female rape fantasies may be exploited by such men as an excuse for their actions, but it is never the motivation behind what they do.

Me: You say this in direct response to me telling you this is why I was raped, that my rapist was showing me how I “enjoyed” it. I was going to formulate a reply to all of this, but that is so delegitimizing and cruel I’m done talking to you. You do not get to tell me that my rape didn’t happen as I say it happened, that is triggering, disgusting selfishness.

Reader: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be cruel. I actually wasn’t saying your rape didn’t happen as you say it did and I never would do that. I was saying that the excuse a man gives to rape a woman is a rationalization, and not a true reflection of his motives. We see this with all the insidious, disingenuous things rapists say to their victims. They are not truly reflective of what the rapist believes, they are just mantras exploited to justify unjustifiable actions.

Except no. So many rapists don’t even think they’re rapists. They aren’t telling you a lie, they honestly believe they aren’t rapists. They honestly believe it’s about seduction and secret desire.

My rapist doesn’t think he’s a rapist. In fact, he probably thinks he’s a pretty awesome dude. You can try to attribute whatever motives you want to him, but you weren’t there, you don’t have my insight. You didn’t have his gin-soaked breath in your ear, whispering about how no one would ever give it to you like he did. You didn’t have his grubby hands shoving you aside after it was over, spitting out sex-shaming slurs and insisting that you know you loved it. And I shouldn’t have to fucking outline any of this, because it’s not my job to convince you of my rape’s circumstances or legitimacy. If a rape victim bares their trauma to you, you don’t argue with them about it! Do you have any idea how hard it is to share something like that? Really fucking hard. I’m a habitual over-sharer, and I’m still so nervous about posting this that I’ve gone over it for days, and still want to vomit when I look at the “publish” button. Because there’s a tiny little part of me that fears that my rapist might find my blog. He might read my words, know I’m talking about him, and track me down to punish me for calling out his “seduction” as the rape it really was.

And yes, I do believe rape is about power. I do believe it’s about domination and wrath and violence. But you’re being fucking naive if you don’t think there’s a reason rapists use sexual violence to exercise those inclinations. They could just beat us bloody, but that’s not enough for them. No, they need control of our sexualities, and sometimes their motivation is “proving” that you desire them. It’s actually the same logic used when people with penises are raped–if they get an erection, they must want it. It becomes a punishment for assumed desire, even if it’s really only your body desperately trying to protect itself, or reacting to instinctual stimuli. Then you have the added shame and self-doubt that accompanies those reflexes, which mingles with your rapist’s taunts to haunt you for ages to come.

The point is, it’s not just justifications to help them sleep at night. They aren’t losing any Z’s to start. Some of them really, truly believe the things they tell their victims. And it’s not anyone’s place to tell a victim they’re wrong in how they interpreted their rape.

Of course, there’s real irony in a sex-positive feminist dismissing a rape victim in a post where I accuse sex-positive feminists of dismissing rape victims. But it’s the sort of irony I fucking hate experiencing, like when men make rape threats while telling me misogyny isn’t real. It really shook me to my core, regardless of what good intentions the commenter may have had. Intent isn’t magic, and those comments were flat-out inappropriate. You can’t, can’t say things like that to rape victims. We are already so ignored by society, you can’t claim to be on our side while taking away our voice. Our experiences matter, and part of our experience lies in what we know or suspect our attackers’ motives to be. It may be easier to imagine that rape is only about violence and not sex, but that doesn’t change the very messy reality.

Once again, I’m at the point where I just beg you all to please, please respect rape victims. Do not talk over us, do not dismiss us, do not over-analyze our attacks. Do not think that you know what happened better than we do. Do not correct us, quibble with us, or spar with us. This may be an academic discussion to you, but it’s our lives, our trauma on the chopping block, and it takes a lot of courage to put ourselves out there. We need our allies to stand strong with us, and part of that is knowing when to stand down.

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Snippet: On Call-Outs

Call-outs are always a source of contention, because they’re often so unwelcome by those who deserve them the most. People don’t like being told they’re wrong, and hearing it in a social context is even harder than in professional or academic scenarios. That’s because there’s this pervasive belief that the magic of “personal opinion” grants people the right to stereotype others. It’s just their opinion that all fat people are lazy. It’s just their opinion that women aren’t suited for leadership roles. It’s just their opinion that the mentally ill are evil. Like somehow opinions can’t be bigoted? Or like somehow that bigotry is acceptable?


Yeah it was rhetorical.

When someone calls you out on problematic behavior, they are doing you a favor. They are providing you with an opportunity for introspection, and in so doing, they are risking their own safety. They’re exposing their underbelly to you, telling you what hurts them and trusting you to stop. It’s a vulnerable position to be in, regardless of how toughly they may be trying to present themselves.


She’s lying.

And that presentation may not always be palatable to you. Sometimes they may be angry, hostile, and confrontational. Other times they may be extremely emotional, pained, and sensitive. Not everyone can remain calm and neutral when presented with prejudice, and it’s not their job to be. It’s your job to not be bigoted in the first place. And if you fail at that, you can’t cry wounded when a minority objects to your bigotry, however harshly. It’s hard to be calm and kind to your oppressors, particularly when triggered by prejudice.


She’s trying.

Likewise, it is the highest form of jackassery to take pride in staying calm and collected while a minority lashes out against your oppressive behavior. There is no call for smugness simply because you aren’t upset by your own bigotry. All you’re doing is displaying your lack of empathy; you’re proud of yourself for being a terrible human being.


Would you like a reward?

You also can’t expect someone to stay silent just because of circumstances. If you say something bigoted at a party, it’s not the minority who’s starting a scene by calling you out; it’s you for being a bigot in the first place. If you post something bigoted on your Facebook, it’s not the minority causing trouble by objecting, it’s you for victimizing them with your words. You can’t expect any circumstances to silence a minority when you are engaging in bigoted rhetoric. Staying silent grants your words passive acceptance, and no one should be forced to accept hatred.


They aren’t asking for much.

So the next time you find yourself called out for problematic behavior or language, take a step back. Reflect on not just what the minority is saying, but on your own words and actions. Calm your defensive reflexes, and try to walk in their shoes for a moment. All they’re asking for is some respect–surprise them by giving it.


Delicious.

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I’m Not Sorry Anymore, Men: More On Misandry, Coded Misogyny, and Whiny Manchildren

My most popular post to date is still an oldie written way back in 2011: Sorry, Men, You Are Not Oppressed: The Magical Mysteries of Misandry. I expanded on the content of that post in 2012: Sorry, Men, You’re STILL Not Oppressed: Reexamining the Fallacies of “Misandry.” This post is yet another expansion, something to bring things around to my evolved view of the “misandry” debate. But remember my comment policy; anti-feminist comments will not be published on this entry. Hit up misandry 101 for that shit, the MRAs have already made it theirs.

I’ve always contended that misandry just isn’t a thing, because of how it’s framed by MRAs. Misandry is supposed to be just like misogyny, except men are on the receiving end instead of women. This definition falls flat, because misogyny is the systemic oppression of women by men, and men are not systemically oppressed by women. (But I’ve tackled all this before.) Men suffer from coded misogyny, but not misandry.

So let’s talk about coded misogyny for a moment. What is it? It’s the system by which men are punished for not meeting arbitrary standards of maleness as established by the patriarchy. It’s the system that strips male rape victims and domestic violence survivors of their rights to justice, because it paints female perpetrators as too weak or delicate to abuse, and male victims as inherently feminine (and therefore at blame) for being victimized. It’s the system that promotes stereotypes of lazy, uninvolved fathers, and enforces those standards in family dynamics. It’s the system that tells men they need to be tough, not engage in outward displays of emotion or weakness. It creates a false dichotomy between maleness and femaleness, imbuing each with characteristics that neither binary gender dare confuse. And when men cross that boundary into thoughts and behaviors deigned “female,” they suffer from the only systemic sexism: misogyny.

But men don’t like to hear that they suffer because of patriarchy. It’s too risky for them to acknowledge that they’re hurt by the same structure that imbues them with cultural power, because that would require relinquishing that power to solve their problems. For MRAs, the concept of coded misogyny is just too complicated; it muddies the waters of their woman-hating, power-hungry oppressiveness. They’re so busy scrambling to stay on top that they tokenize male victims of the patriarchy, while throwing women completely to the wolves. For MRAs, it has jack-all to do with equality; it’s about men and only men, again.

MRAs are obsessed with the concept of misandry. They are convinced it’s the invisible scourge of our time, oppressing men and elevating women at every turn. What evidence to they proffer? Precious little. They seem determined to build a social movement on the SCUM Manifesto and a few tongue-in-cheek mugs.

Because nothing says “oppression” like snarky dishware.

The truly spectacular thing about MRA propaganda is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Call feminists “man-haters” enough, do it while belittling our struggles and elevating your own social status, and a few of us are bound to start man-hating. It’s a natural reaction to oppression, and not one I’m going to blame a woman for having.

This is how I started to realize the positive impact of the concept of “misandry.” It provides a defense mechanism for women who are tired of all the same male-supremacist bullshit. It can be wielded as a shield, as a “do not enter” sign, telling men they’re not welcome in our spaces. It also serves to weed out the troublemakers from our everyday lives. A man not disturbed by “misandry,” a man who gets that being sick of the culture of manhood doesn’t mean we’re sick of each individual man, that’s the kind of man who’s worth being around. He’s not in it for ally cookies, he’s not in it to play “Nice Guy” only to whine about being “friendzoned,” he’s legitimately there for the sake of our company. This sort of man is hard to come by, but the only sort really worth the effort.

This is why I’ve become a political misandrist. I don’t hate individual men, and my treatment of them hasn’t changed, but I hate the culture of manhood, and I resent being forced to swallow it. I don’t need any more fair-weather men in my life. Either be confident and feminist-supporting, or find someone else to associate with.

So what exactly do I mean by “political misandrist”? I mean I’ve chosen to reclaim the term, and imbue it with real meaning. It’s the only way that misandry can be real, in this sort of flipped-on-its-head, purposeful reclamation. Someone crying misandry in a discriminatory sense is still talking about a fantasy, but some women have chosen to create personal meaning of the word, directly in spite of having it used against us. It’s taking power in something used to oppress us, which is reclamation to the core.

Now I’m certain this will result in MRA cries of “I knew it!” like they’ve revealed my deep, dark agenda under all my PC platitudes. But the thing is, they can’t make me feel bad about this. My ~misandry~ is something they created, it’s the child of their own constant, entitled whining. I’ve had to listen to them piss and moan on that original post for two and a half years, and it’s never improved. I still hear about how I’m destroying gender relations, I still get told I’m unintelligent and ignorant, I still get threats of assault and rape. Let me repeat that: Men threaten to rape me, while telling me misogyny isn’t real. So why should I feel bad for hating the culture that allows this to go on? Why, exactly, should I feel bad for being fed up with all the boarish bullies, the whiny neckbeards, the fedora-adorned Nice Guys? Why should I play nice while they play dirty?

Remember, men, you’re the ones who started this fight. Want it to end? Start treating women–even ~misandrists~ like me–with real fucking respect.

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Some Truth Bombs About Rape: Statistics and Facts for the MRA Crowd

Much of this was originally a comment I left in reply to some MRA bullshit, but as it’s relevant in a lot of the arguments people try to make to discredit women who talk about rape, I figured it deserved its own post. Since this post is to serve as a link for educational purposes, I’d like to remind MRA’s and other anti-feminists that privileged comments are to go in this entry, per my comment policy.

I generally tend to speak of rape as the big scary Law & Order sort of deal. This isn’t out of any attempt at deceit, but rather is because I simply hadn’t gotten around to posting about the sort of rape that most people don’t think is rape. But right now I’m going to tackle the CDC report on rape–which catalogs many different kinds of rape–and what those numbers mean in terms of victims and victimization.

Now it should be known that the CDC reports more male victims and more female perpetrators than any other legitimate source. (RAINN reports that 90% of rape victims are female, and the US Department of Justice says that 91% of victims are female, and 99% of rapists are male. So this CDC report is the most male-lenient report I can tackle, which means that these numbers are as close to MRA-friendly as any honest researcher can claim. Keep that in mind.

Let’s talk about how women are over thirteen times more likely to be raped than men, by that Law & Order definition. This is what the CDC refers to as the only real “rape” that occurs, and it is overwhelmingly perpetrated against women. But I’d class this simply as “violent rape,” as other sorts of rape rely less on using brute strength to overpower the victim.

So there are other statistics, right? Because yes, forced penetration and coercive sex are rape, and should be included in the statistics. I understand the survey counting them separately, but they should still be under the “rape” umbrella in the CDC charts. So here are those charts:

There is no data for “forced to penetrate” for women. This is one of those statistical anomalies, because people simply haven’t bothered to record this information. Remember, some women have penises, and are forced to penetrate. You can also be forced to penetrate with something besides a penis. Still, let’s go ahead and give it to the MRA’s and just leave that count at “zero,” since we don’t have the proper statistic. This would mean that only men are forced to penetrate, so male victims do in fact outnumber women in this regard. Now don’t get too excited, because this is not a trend.

Sexual coercion is also rape. Women are almost three times more likely than men to be victims of sexual coercion. So, those final numbers, including the inarguable social standard idea of rape, being forced to penetrate, and coercive rape:

FEMALE RAPE VICTIMS
Total victims: 37,332,000, broken down as follows:
Violent rape (survey defined “rape”): 21,840,000
Made-to-penetrate: Not recorded (“0″)
Coercive rape: 15,492,000

MALE RAPE VICTIMS:
Total victims: 13,838,000, broken down as follows:
Violent rape (survey defined “rape”): 1,581,000
Made-to-penetrate: 5,451,000
Coercive rape: 6,806,000

Now, let’s examine the numbers on victims: First, there needs to be a clarification here, based on these numbers:

25% of male victims (3,459,500) aren’t men, they’re boys. This is in no way an improvement, in regards to personal experience (personally, I find child abuse beyond horrifying, and I would think–though I’m not an authority–that it’s worse/more damaging than rape of an adult). But this does require examination through a different lens, as pedophilia and the rape of post-pubescent people have nuances that deserve separate examination, because of how motives and victimization occur. Pedophiles are not driven by the same forces as those who rape adults. I’ve never talked about child rape because I have no experience with it. By these numbers, roughly 3.5 million of male rape victims were attacked as children under the age of 11, and roughly 4.5 million female rape victims were attacked as children under the age of 11. So, though a male rape victim is statistically more likely to have been victimized as a child than a female victim, a female child is still statistically more likely to be raped than a male child. But I really don’t want this to be a pedophilia discussion, because that derails from the original point.

So, let’s look at the total numbers for how likely men and women are to experience rape in their lifetimes:

Approximately 31.3% of females will experience rape in their lifetime. That is nearly 1 in 3. Of these females, roughly 7 in 8 will be raped post-puberty, as “women.” This is approximately 27.5% of all women.

Approximately 8.76% of males will experience rape in their lifetime. That is almost 1 in 11. Of these males, roughly 3 in 4 will be raped post-puberty, as “men.” This is approximately 6.57% of all men.

Females are roughly 2.5 times more likely to be raped than males, and women are roughly 2.9 times more likely to be raped than men.

There are a lot of numbers in that report, and they support me when I say that women are far more likely to be raped, and that rapists are predominantly male. Here’s one last screenshot:

I’m going to break down these statistics into real-world numbers for you, covering all kinds of rape (violent, coercive, made-to-penetrate, child and adult):

FEMALE RAPE VICTIMS
Total victims: 37,332,000, broken down as follows:
Violent rape (survey defined “rape”): 21,840,000 (21,425,040 committed by men)
Made-to-penetrate: Not recorded (“0″)
Coercive rape: 15,492,000 (14,330,100 committed by men)
By the above statistics on perpetrators, 95.8% of rape committed against females (35,755,140) is by males.

MALE RAPE VICTIMS:
Total victims: 13,838,000, broken down as follows:
Violent rape (survey defined “rape”): 1,581,000 (1,475,073 committed by men)
Made-to-penetrate: 5,451,000 (1,133,808 committed by men)
Coercive rape: 6,806,000 (1,161,848 committed by men)
By the above statistics on perpetrators, 26.9% of rape committed against males (3,725,065) is by males.

TOTAL RAPE VICTIMS OF EITHER BINARY SEX: 51,170,000
PERCENTAGE OF VICTIMS ID’ING AS FEMALE: 73%
TOTAL NUMBER VICTIMS OF EITHER BINARY SEX ATTACKED BY MALES: 39,480,205
PERCENTAGE OF MALE RAPISTS AGAINST VICTIMS OF EITHER BINARY SEX: 77.2%

In case this isn’t getting through, take a look:

Women are still far more likely to be raped than men. Rapists are still far more likely to be male than female. And rape culture continues to make justice nearly impossible for all victims, by dismissing the attacks of women, and feminizing then dismissing the attacks of men.

Male attitudes about rape are horrifically disturbing. 33% of men have admitted they would rape if they knew they could get away with it. 25% of men believe that date rape is acceptable if the man pays for the date and the woman enters the man’s apartment at the end of the date. And if you’re worried about false rape reports, take comfort in knowing that you are 631 times more likely to become an NFL player than you are to be falsely accused of rape.

Combine those statistics and ask yourself for a moment: If men think rape is acceptable under the right circumstances, and they are almost never falsely accused of rape, how many men claiming innocence are actually rapists? Answer: A metric fuckton, whether they admit it to themselves or not. And remember that 97% of rapists will never spend a day in prison. No wonder female rape victims are 20 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-victims.

And of course, none of this tackles how rape culture brainwashes women to see their rapes as simply the natural order of sex. Part of the problem with our sex-positive culture is that it pressures women into agreeing to sex, regardless of their true desires. It paints sexuality as the default so that women’s consent is no longer seen as necessary for a sexual encounter. It includes the blatant “no means yes” culture of pursuit–in which men are encouraged to pursue the “hard to get” woman regardless of how many roadblocks she throws in his path–and the “come on, baby” wheedling of any boyfriend or husband who wants to avoid blue balls. Consent within relationships is culturally designed as the default, so that any woman withholding it is painted as frigid, and her male partner’s attempts at “thawing” her are seen as normal. When you calculate all of those interactions, rape rates for women skyrocket. But there are no statistics for it, because so many women don’t even realize that the bullying, the begging, the pressure constitutes coerced consent, constitutes rape.

Yet, in all my discussions of women being raped, I have never once argued that men don’t get raped, or that male victims should be ignored. I’ve never said that men who are raped suffer less than their female counterparts, or that their violations are any less serious. But the reason men get dismissed when they say they’ve been raped, the reason their attacks are deemed “impossible” or an effect of their own weakness is because the patriarchy established and enforces ideas of what manhood is. Patriarchy says that “real men” don’t get raped, because patriarchy insists that there’s even such a concept of “real men” versus “pussies.” Versus feminized men. It’s that feminization that is demonized, and that, my friends, is misogyny at work.

Some people seem to think being “egalitarian” will solve the problem, but you can’t enforce equality until you have it. Make society treat women as people. Convince the world that a crime that primarily victimizes women is no less awful because of that fact. Get people to understand the devastation of rape, and that it is not a crime of sex or femininity, but rather one of power and dominance. Destroy the social constructs that say women and men are completely different, and should be held to different standards. Prove that our culture cares about all victims of all crimes. You can’t do that by “what about the menz?”ing. Stop. Realize that you aren’t being “egalitarian,” you’re destroying progress, and ultimately doing a great disservice to all rape victims, male and female alike.

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Snippet: A Culture of Victimhood

When you talk about oppression, there are a lot of derailing techniques people use to try and silence you. One of these tactics is trying to guilt or shame you into silence by accusing you of “playing the victim.” The idea is that you should feel embarrassed to be a victim, and should be striving for something better. Problem is, this ignores the realities of oppression.

Minorities are actively victimized by society, that’s what oppression is. It’s a system by which privileged people take advantage of minorities, both passively and actively victimizing them. Passive victimization is what happens simply by not challenging privilege and benefiting off of it in blissful ignorance. Active attacks are those actions which directly victimize minorities, such as using slurs or arguing in favor of minority oppression. All of this is at the expense of the minority, making them the victim of prejudice.

Admitting that you have been victimized is not weakness, it’s strength, because it is the first step necessary in demanding equality, and that takes bravery. But privileged people don’t want you to obtain that equality, so they paint victimhood as something to be ashamed of. It’s easier to throw out what’s seen as an insult than it is to self-reflect and examine the abuse they’re inflicting on others.

There’s something deeply disturbing about people who use the term “victim” as an insult. It negatively frames that victim, while not placing any responsibility on the aggressor. Defining victims by what’s been done to them but not aggressors by what they do is an extremely backwards sort of logic. Equality demands that privileged people challenge their privilege, but letting them skate on their bullying behavior does exactly the opposite. It allows them to continue victimizing minorities, to continue being oppressive.

The truly ironic thing is that anti-SJers are the ones who truly “play the victim” because that’s what they’re doing: Playing. Oppressed people are legitimately victimized, whereas privileged people are pretending they experience victimization at the hands of minorities. They whine about “reverse prejudice,” complaining that they are victimized by those with absolutely zero social power to actually do such a thing.

It’s not the victim’s job to stop being victimized; it’s the aggressor’s job to stop abusing. And until privileged people do that, they are creating victims out of us. And admitting that is nothing to be ashamed of. Admitting that is what makes us survivors.

Posted in human rights | 2 Comments

Sex-Positive and Woman-Negative: The Misogynistic Pitfalls of Sex-Positive Feminism

Sex is one topic never far from the lips of society. Sex sells, and nearly every aspect of our culture is trying to sell itself. Feminists sometimes try to sell the movement under a “sex positive” flag, but it more often than not uses the same oppressive, misogynistic methods that we should be dismantling.

Sex-positive feminism is, on the surface, a fine idea: Feminism that doesn’t shame women for having or enjoying sex, well that’s obviously a plus, right? I agree that slut shaming is not an acceptable practice, so shouldn’t I be a sex-positive feminist? If only it were that simple.

There are a lot of problems with sex-positive feminism, and I’m sure I’ll forget to touch on some of them. That said, I’m going to try to tackle a few basic problems with the movement:

  • Heteronormativity – Sex-positive feminism focuses on supporting and promoting sex between DMAB men and DFAB women. It ignores trans* and intersex people and same-sex couplings. This is largely because it’s trying hard to appeal to straight men. Sex-positive feminism tries to convince the world that feminists aren’t the anti-sex, man-hating prudes many think us to be, and it resorts to heteronormativity to try and accomplish this.

    PIV (penis in vagina) sex is the flavor of intercourse most men consider under attack by the feminist movement, so it’s the one sex-positive feminists rush to defend. PIV sex is discussed as the norm, the default. This leaves many trans* folks, intersex folks, and same-sex-partnered women on the fringes, once again ignored by a culture that already paints them as deviant.

  • Justifying unjustifiable kinks – “Kink shaming” is a phrase sex-positive feminists like to lob about, accusing anyone who disapproves of certain kinks of being prejudiced against kinky people. This prevents them from examining the problematic nature of some of those kinks. Any activity can be claimed a “kink” and basically be given a get-out-of-misogyny-free card. Rape fantasies, male dominance, everything gets blanket coverage under the theory that you can’t help what your kinks are.

    But some kinks deserve criticism, some kinks really are just harmful misogyny, and we shouldn’t be forced to accept them just because somebody gets off to the subjugation and abuse of women. Sometimes kinks exist for toxic reasons, and they can be dismantled and replaced with healthy sexual practices if the person involved is willing to examine their motivations. Not every kink is created equal, and ones that rely on the oppression of a minority should be questioned, challenged, and rejected.

  • Ignoring the complications of consent in a patriarchy – MRAs like to quote feminists who’ve called all PIV sex “rape.” But they do it to villainize all feminists without bothering to recognize the actual point that’s being brought to light. It’s not that every man forces every woman down bodily and ravages her while she screams protest, it’s that consent within a patriarchal society is difficult, sometimes impossible.

    One such difficulty lies in the distinction between requesting sex and coercing it. Coercive sex is rape, and a huge amount of PIV sex is based on subtle or overt coercion of the woman involved. Even the wheedling “Come oooon”s of a husband at his wife claiming a headache are coercion, and constitute rape. If consent is not 100% free of social and cultural manipulations, it’s not really consent, and it can be hard for women to be free to offer that sort of consent.

    Women in our society are inundated with the message that we should consent to sex when a man demands it of us. (This is ironically juxtaposed with the insistence that we not have too many partners so as to be considered “slutty” by the man currently making the demand.) Women who use “excuses” to deny sex–headaches, being tired, wanting to go on more dates first–are deemed “frigid,” those completely legitimate reasons discarded and ignored. This is when a woman’s relenting “okay” becomes coercion. If the answer starts out “no,” it should remain that way, but men are trained not to take “no” for an answer.

    Sex-positive feminists ignore these complications, and delegitimize the experiences of coercive rape victims. They support the normalization of that sexual persuasion that turns women’s “no”s on their heads, that makes those women believe their own reply is less valid than that of the male making the request. Sex-positivity focuses on exactly that: The positivity of the sex itself, not that of the humans participating in it.

  • Support of the sex industry without support for its victims – The sex industry is a wide net to cast, consisting of sex trafficking, prostitution, pornography, and everything that falls on that spectrum. Sex-positive feminism ignores many of the complex negativities of these industries in favor of normalization and acceptance.

    For example, sex-positive feminism often argues in favor of legalizing prostitution, without turning a critical lens on how even legal prostitution still victimizes women. Women in the industry have often been the victims of childhood sexual abuse, partner abuse, or drug addiction, making even voluntary participation the result of abuse or manipulation. Their profession also puts them at increased risk of violence from the men who hire them, risking everything from rape to robbery to homicide.

    While sex-positive feminism doesn’t explicitly support sex trafficking, it ignores how that practice is unavoidably tied to those aspects of the sex industry that it does support, like prostitution. Many women who wind up prostitutes have been trafficked into that lifestyle against their will. Legalizing prostitution will do nothing to stop this abuse, it will only give glancing consent to it. This also crosses into racism, as women of color are trafficked into Western nations from foreign countries.

    It also supports pornography, which is another misogynistic institution. Women who participate in the porn industry often have similar abusive, addictive histories to those involved in other sex trades. Even if a woman enters the industry sober, abuse-free, and of her own volition, the industry itself still caters to men, and thus thrives on the degradation of women. The very sex acts performed are designed for male consumption, heedless to the lack of pleasure it would bring about from the women involved. The end result is almost always male orgasm, often through the abuse of women.

    Even “soft core” porn contributes disgustingly to rape culture, and it’s impossible to support these institutions without supporting misogyny. Likewise, you can’t support the sex industries without disenfranchising its victims, those women who are raped, assaulted, driven to addiction, and otherwise harmed.

  • Shaming sex-negative rape victims – The very notion of sex-positivity relies on a rejection of sex-negativity, which is sometimes a valid reaction to sexual assault. An insistence on sex-positivity shames rape victims who have painful, negative associations with sex as a result of their assaults. It forces those women to try and “get over” their negative associations with sex before they may be ready, all in the name of not seeming anti-sex to men, the very people who victimized them to start.

    Not all rape victims respond to their attacks with negative associations to sex, but it is a common response, and one that’s painful enough without our “allies” there to shame us. And imagine trying to reestablish a positive relationship with sex within a culture that supports rape kinks.

  • It’s not right to build the feminist movement around men, and that includes creating a sex-related form of activism designed to appeal to straight, cisgendered males. Feminism by definition is supposed to be about women, but sex-positive feminism is inherently male centered.

    In all, I suppose I almost have to consider myself a sex-negative feminist. Not because I’m actually anti-sex, but because I’m against the culture of sex as it currently exists. I have sex (currently with a cisgendered man, even) and I enjoy it and believe my consent to be legitimate. But my sexual interactions have not always been so healthy, and I’m still grappling with the reality of that.

    Sex-positive feminism is an oversimplified approach to very complex problems. It takes the oppressions mainstream feminism is already too apt to overlook–those of women of color, trans* and intersex people, and queer women–and completely sweeps them away. It silences victims, supports victimization, and encourages misogynistic behavior. In short, it sells out the roots of the feminist movement, in favor of male approval.

    Aside | Posted on by | 8 Comments