2009-06-19 07:26 pm
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If I believed all men were rapists...

I came here today because I don't believe that rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we are not just in armed combat against you? It's not because there's a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence. --Andrea Dworkin, "I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape."

If I believed all men were rapists--

If I believed all men were potential rapists, and not in the sense of "I must treat all men as potential rapists because the consequences for misjudgment are so severe" but actually that each and every man had it within him to rape, and not in the sense of "given bizarre unlikely scenarios like aliens made me do it, they were going to wipe out Earth if I didn't! or similar" but in reasonably commonplace and likely circumstances--

Do you think I'd be sitting here?

Do you think I'd make speeches, presentations, online posts, and not bullets, knives, an army?

Do you think I'd be learning statistics and arguments instead of combat techniques?

If all women, or all feminists, or most feminists, or all self-identified radical feminists, or any significant portion of all women believed, really and truly and deep down in our souls, that all men were rapists, that all men were potential rapists, do you think there would be a single man left alive by our choice? Do you think we would hesitate to declare war on those who would have, by their own nature, declared war on us?

Do you think women so weak and tender and ineffectual in our anger that the worst you would suffer would be sensitivity training, mandatory sexual harassment workshops for work, reprimands for rape jokes, the "reverse discrimination" of expectations of humanity? Do you think we would even have expectations of your humanity?

Do you think that if tomorrow all women woke up with the realization (true or untrue) that all men really truly hated us enough to want to and be able to and try to write their dominance and power on our resisting bodies, do you think that we would hesitate to move from education to annihilation? Do you think us incapable of becoming valkyries, furies, harpies, avenging angels, every mythological embodiment of men's fears of women's anger? Do you think "Battle of the Sexes" would be metaphorical, merely a joke and an aggravatingly gender-essentialist board game?

Do you think I would have men in my life by choice? Do you think I would have a man as a friend? Do you think I would associate with men if I believed all of them capable of this?

Do you think I would stand in front of a classroom mostly of men and plead with them, with you, to believe that rape is a men's issue, to do something to fight the rape culture (not in so few words), do you think I would bring presentation notes to that classroom and not a gun if your criticism that I was "treating all of the men in the classroom like we were rapists, like all men were rapists" was true? Do you think I would be talking to you, Random Privilege-Soaked Dudebro Douchebag #3-Today, #3112-Total, if I thought you were a rapist?

What's that? No? You actually have a tiny glimmering of understanding that maybe perhaps mass-murder/suicide is not exclusively the option of (white, conservative) men who believe themselves to be systematically persecuted and hated by the universe?

Then next time you feel the urge to accuse some woman of saying or believing or acting like all men are rapists, rethink. Think again. And shut the fuck up.

(This essay is mostly the outgrowth of in-person, offline talks with guys, and is not in any way aimed at or principally about anyone online. If you have made this argument, consider this your free non-personal stupid-argument check, less an attack [gods know I've made stupid arguments before] and more an opportunity for personal growth. All-out warfare is not recommended. This argument may also apply to literal interpretations of the term "class warfare" and people who really truly believe that "all POC have hatred of whitey must-kill urges hard-coded into their beastly animalistic [&c. &c.] DNA"--see also "white men do not have the monopoly on violent expressions of anger in face of perceived persecution." (And possibly other axes as well.) However, as a white upper- or upper-middle-class person, I do not feel qualified to write the "you really think I'd leave it at snarky comments online?!" class- or race-aligned essay.)

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2009-05-20 07:19 pm
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(no subject)

I've been getting better at commenting at sites I like, when I think of things to say, but not so great on the posting, so--two in one! I'm going to repost a (pretty long) comment I made over at the Hathor Legacy, on a post called How to Use Circular Logic to Back Up Your Bias. Discussion topic: how to "prove" that movies about women don't do well, by defining any movie starring women that does do well as an exception. (See also: men from the ages of 18 to, what, 25? 30? is the best demographic to advertise at because they spend the most on random branded shit if it's advertised at them [so shows that accidentally end up with lots of older women watching instead of young men must frantically shoo the women away so they don't lose advertising money], women only go to certain movies because their boyfriends and husbands made them, women don't buy drinks men buy drinks for women, &c.) Comment follows.

Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing is painfully relevant here. Take all of the excuses on the cover, adjust them so they're "That movie was about women, but" instead of "She wrote it, but", and I already recognize all of them.

That movie wasn't about women. That movie was about women, but it shouldn't have been. That movie was about women, but look what else it was about. That movie was about women, but there was only one woman in it. That movie was about women, but they weren't really that great of characters, and it was just a popcorn flick. That movie was about women, but it only did well because of the.... That movie was about women, but it's an anomaly.


Even when male and female characters get equal time and focus, the movie's assumed to be about him. Even when a movie's main characters are all or mostly women, "that doesn't count" when it's time to run the numbers. (There was an article a while back which listed all the Fox shows that were about angsty solitary male characters saving the world all by themselves. Sarah Connor Chronicles was on the list.)

Well, sure it starred a woman, but that was just because of some PC crap. She was really just a man with breasts, when it comes down to it. (Ripley should have been a man.)

The Devil Wears Prada was about women, but it was also about fashion. You can't expect us to let icky girl cooties into our movies like fashion and motherhood and feminism and romance and family, do you? (Note how carefully the Disney princess [and non-princess, like Mulan] movies are excluded from discussions of the conventional "girls will watch movies starring boys, but boys won't watch movies starring girls" wisdom. And women just aren't worth targeting, except in the soap opera and rom-com industries. Oh, and fashion shows. And cooking shows. And, really, any home and garden show without manly things like construction.)

Elizabeth and Storm and Leia and Hermione and Sarah Connor and Rose and and... none of them count, we're all just watching for the guys, amirite?

When was the last time movies about men had to be Great Works of Art in order to "count" in this kind of discussion? I'm reminded of the Wuthering Heights re-classification, after it was discovered to have been written by (gasp!) a woman, from a book about the nature of good and evil and the influence of nature versus that of nurture on our moral character, to a romance. Because it's written by a girl, don'tcha know.

It was a movie about women, but it only did well because of... the explosions, the aliens, the cursing, the sex, the men. Because the real question to ask when it comes to movies about women that do well is, what got the men watching? (Apparently the idea that red-blooded straight men can like watching good-looking women having lives or saving the day [even without gratuitous nudity!] is as weird as the idea that there exist any red-blooded straight wome who can watch movies just to see the good-looking men.)

And, of course, fall back on "that's an anomaly. So's that one. Yes, that one too. And that one. All of the many high-grossing movies about women are anomalies!" excuse when all else fails.