helenic: (tales of gods and monsters)
[personal profile] helenic

I should know better than to open up this can of worms again on LJ, but there are two really worthwhile discussions going on which you should read:

On rape and men by [livejournal.com profile] cereta, challenging the non-sexist or non-sexist-identified men who always protest that "not all men are like that" to stop telling women they're wrong about their own experiences, and start actually challenging sexism where they encounter it.

You're the guy who would never rape a girl passed out on your bed (who, for that matter, knows that such an act would be rape), or the woman in the village your battalion/troop/whatever is overrunning. You're the guy who wouldn't do such a thing even when his buddies were heckling him, telling him he's a fag and a pussy if he doesn't. Even more, you're the guy who would stop his frat brother from raping that girl, and get her home. You're the guy who would stop his comrades, or at least report them.

Now, here's my question: where the fuck are you?


It's a challenging post, and the thread is full of heart-warming stories of men who didn't rape someone, which didn't particularly surprise me. I know an awful lot of men who are prepared to be decent when in a situation with a drunk or vulnerable woman; who will not only fail to rape her, but will look after her and make sure she gets home okay. That's not really the issue, for me. The issue is that I also know an awful lot of men who aren't prepared to be decent in those situations, and most of my friends have been raped or sexually assaulted once or multiple times, because no-one is prepared to challenge the sexist fuckwits. To tell them to shut up when they make rape jokes. To get them to chill out when they're drunk and yelling at strange women. To tell them to their face that they were out of order when they groped a woman in a club, or pestered someone for sex after they'd already said no, or carried on messing around with her after she passed out.

Before you join in the next conversation about rape protesting that "not all men are like that", think about how much you've done lately to challenge the idea that men are entitled to look at/comment on/touch/fuck women's bodies and if the woman objects or resists she's a stuck-up bitch; as [livejournal.com profile] cereta put it, "the idea that if a woman is not actively preventing a man from sticking his penis into her (and even then, if she's an enemy), he is doing nothing wrong, and hey, who can blame him?"

The second post I want to point you at is Perusing Penises in the Park (no, seriously) and some street harassment stories, [livejournal.com profile] khalinche's response to [livejournal.com profile] cereta. This is not so much about sexual violence or living in fear of rape, but the ubiquity of sexual harassment, especially if you live in the city:

I suppose the point of this long, long post is to do what I always try to do - tell a story. Today it's the story of what it's like to live with the constant possibility of having your appearance or person commented on, loudly, by strangers, and of being on your guard many times a day. It is not about my fear of being raped, because that doesn't figure in my life as much as in those of some of the commentators at the linked post. It is about men feeling that they have a right to talk and shout to me about what they want to do and what they think of my body. It is about trying to get through to the men who don't do this quite how common it is and how it affects the lives of most women.


I had limited success expressing this a year ago; and the number of men who told me then that I was wrong, that this was nothing to do with gender, that if I'd only been more sensible I could have avoided it, only proves how necessary this conversation continues to be. [livejournal.com profile] khalinche's post is excellent, and deserves a wide audience.

Edit: Talking about this in IRC, I ended uo looking up this post by Kate Harding, which has a lot of practical suggestions on how men who aren't like that can act to confront harassment and sexism where they encounter it, and why it's important that they do.

on 2009-06-11 01:09 pm (UTC)
nanaya: Sarah Haskins as Rosie The Riveter, from Mother Jones (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] nanaya
I thought a sizeable number of the comments to your post last year were extremely blinkered, because I'm not sure how much more "reasonable" you could have made your presentation of the subject.

That said, I've read both the posts and they are excellent, but I'm very glad you've linked to them again.

on 2009-06-11 01:50 pm (UTC)
nanaya: Sarah Haskins as Rosie The Riveter, from Mother Jones (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] nanaya
It's an excellent phrase, and one I may well keep for future use.

on 2009-06-11 01:14 pm (UTC)
khalinche: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] khalinche
Thank you for the link, and for the compliment, and for having the energy to continue the discussion! But it is on lj, not dreamwidth. People directed to my dreamwidth will get a blank page and a list of thesis-related tags.

on 2009-06-11 01:30 pm (UTC)
khalinche: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] khalinche
What a silly title I gave that post. I wonder if anyone has spotted the Tom Lehrer reference?

on 2009-06-11 01:51 pm (UTC)
nanaya: Sarah Haskins as Rosie The Riveter, from Mother Jones (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] nanaya
It's a FANTASTIC title!

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Posted by [personal profile] seph_hazard - on 2009-06-11 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand

on 2009-06-11 01:52 pm (UTC)
kerrypolka: Laurie Juspeczyk (bullet argument!)
Posted by [personal profile] kerrypolka
I still get so angry whenever I remember some of the responses you got to that post that I can't even go look at it. I just remember that I thought it was a brilliantly well-written, well-argued post and that I came out of the comments wanting to punch about twenty-five people in the face.

So, uh, well done on not punching anybody.

on 2009-06-11 02:10 pm (UTC)
biascut: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] biascut
Ditto! There are still a few names I see around and think, Oh, I remember you...

on 2009-06-11 02:31 pm (UTC)
bard: While playing Shylock (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] bard
With me it's as much a job thing as a personal thing. Professionally, I've been an access security officer (bouncer to normal people) and am currently a pub landlord. In both jobs, one of the things you do is have a word with someone who is exhibiting sexist, racist or other harrassments; my pub's quite nice, so it comes up maybe two or three times a month.

Privately, it's more rare; partly because I have the instincts of a bouncer but on the Underground, I don't have the legal mandate of one. Most recently, for example, I was involved in a fracas at Leicester Square station. A man was having a domestic with his girlfriend. A white woman suddenly involved herself, shouting at the man (who she thought had said, to her, "Move, you stupid effing bitch"). He claimed he'd been talking to his girlfriend.

Point one: that doesn't make it ok.
Point two: it does mean I can't really do anything about it, because in the eyes of the law, if I did, I'd be in the wrong.
Point three: that kinda sucks.

When the white woman kept hassling him, he started getting aggressive back. Eventually, she shoved him, he raised his hand, I grabbed it, put him in Wristlock 3 and folded his knee so that he dropped from standing to kneeling. I then suggested that violence was not the answer and asked the woman who was shouting at him to kindly fuck off. She did. His girlfriend had already evaporated to outside the barriers: I suggested to him that picking a fight with me would be a mistake, he fumed off and that was all there was to it.

Should I have involved myself when he was arguing with his girlfriend? Hmmm. Probably not due to lack of context and supporting data. Should I have stopped the third party from harrassing him? Hmmm. Possibly. Should I have stopped him hitting her, even though she started the physical confrontation? Absolutely.

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on 2009-06-11 03:15 pm (UTC)
sinsense: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sinsense
I could not agree with this comment more. I actually shook my laptop screen at one point.

on 2009-06-11 03:27 pm (UTC)
kerrypolka: Laurie Juspeczyk (bullet argument!)
Posted by [personal profile] kerrypolka
I just remember yelling "Oh, FUCK YOU" at my screen a lot and sitting on my hands.

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on 2009-06-11 03:25 pm (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] emperor
I approach this subject with a little trepidation, because I don't want to piss anyone off. I think sexual harassment is shit, and I'm sorry that women are exposed to it. I'm fortunate that the circles I move in don't on the whole accept sexist crap in conversation; I think I'm at least not-bad at confronting it when I see it, but the fact I don't recall it happening very much makes me worry a little I'm missing it. I'll try and pay a bit more active attention to the subject, and see if I have been.

on 2009-06-11 05:10 pm (UTC)
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] wildeabandon
I think trying to pay more attention and confront things when you see them is a good start.

And on that note, there's a meme, which I've occasionally noticed you participating in, of jokingly referring to "surprise buttsex", as though it were funny. And I've not ever said anything, because it's just a joke and I'm feeling pretty uncomfortable even saying this here. But it's not funny, and I wish you wouldn't.

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on 2009-06-11 06:15 pm (UTC)
biascut: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] biascut
Oh, I am so with you on the "surprise buttsex" thing. I haven't come across it in any of my immediate social network, but it's about two degrees away, and every now and then I see it and think - how is that a joke? Am I the only person for whom that is not separate from non-consensual sex?

I don't like "butthurt" as an adjective for people being pissed off, either. It seems to come from the same place.

on 2009-06-11 06:52 pm (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] emperor
That's a fair point; sorry.

on 2009-06-11 03:56 pm (UTC)
kerrypolka: Laurie Juspeczyk (bullet argument!)
Posted by [personal profile] kerrypolka
I love, love, love the point that [livejournal.com profile] cereta made in comments (in comments, I think?) that one has, effectively, two options:

a. working actively toward fixing sexism (and racism and all the other isms)
b. not doing this (and therefore passively contribute to -ist society)

Turning up and saying, "but I haven't done anything horrible!", that isn't enough. You are still doing (b) and therefore acting harmfully. If you want cookies you are going to have to work for them, because what is perceived as "not doing anything" is still maintaining the status quo, and the status quo is fucked.

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on 2009-06-15 10:20 am (UTC)
sevenhelz: photo of me snuggling a cat. my face is not shown (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sevenhelz
Thankyou for the link. I'm happy to hear Trinity's voice again, as well as the main post.

on 2009-06-15 10:04 am (UTC)
sevenhelz: photo of me snuggling a cat. my face is not shown (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sevenhelz
Thankyou for this. I first saw the link in the backupproject community, then you and lightcastle both posted it. I'll link it myself when I've got something to say, or when I decide I haven't.
Much love
x

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