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Friday, December 23, 2011

Conversations of a Genderous Nature


Seems there was something of a kerfuffle over at The Good Men Project. Resident writers from many sides came out in support, condemnation, or some combination thereof on the subject of Male Guilt.

Now, as a self-avowed Masculist, I willfully acknowledge that my bias skews towards men in this discussion. As a man who has suffered, not just at the hands of woman, but from society in general for no better reason than my gender, I can attest to my own prejudice hard-learned from experience.

I don't deny my privilege, nor do I deny my power. But I refuse to deny my own suffering.

Which is why when a prominent, self-described and widely acknowledged Feminist -- AKA Hugo Schwyzer -- makes the argument that all men, by virtue of being men, are guilty of rape until proven innocent, I can only register one emotion.

Disgust.

Stop your inner-dialogue for a moment. Drop your preconceived notions of gender-relations, and think about the italicized statement. Think hard.

Would we accept such reasoning towards Black men? Gay men? Gay Black men? Transgender men? Men of religious minorities? Men in wheelchairs? Men with mental disabilities? What about just men in general? Our fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, nephews, friends, neighbors, coworkers?

Are we as a people, and a culture, really expected to believe that one's gender is the sole factor in determining guilt or innocence? Is this proposal to engage in gender profiling somehow "different" than the bigotry of previous attempts to institute profiling against racial minorities and Muslims? Is it really that likely that a homosexual man, or a man in a wheelchair, or a man with a mental disability is a rapist to the point that we must consider them guilty and require them to prove their innocence? Are the mental gymnastics required to perform this feat of cognitive dissonance possible in a nation based on principles of liberty, & justice for all?

Actually, considering events recent & past it makes perfect sense after all.

But I had guessed that those figures invested in social justice, like Feminists, like Hugo Schwyzer, like Amanda Marcotte, would be far more enlightened, understanding, and compassionate.

Guess I was wrong. Again. So it goes.

My favorite Masculist on the web, Toy Soldiers, has an excellent piece on the whole issue.

He makes the keen observation that in the conversation linked at the beginning of this post, nobody is listening. Especially those coming into it from the outside (Marcotte, Schwyzer, and others).

They are hearing the information. But they aren't actually listening.

If they were, men like Tom Matlack, Toy Soldiers, and others could talk about our negative experiences with women and with society based on our gender without feeling attacked, or pressured to constantly qualify our statements so as not to offend anyone. Because, y'know, the audacity of our having lived a life that doesn't conform to standard victim metanarratives is dangerous and offensive to "real" victims.

(Someday I would love to hear how my writing about being falsely accused of rape, and the flawed structural apparatus that allows false accusations to destroy people's lives is somehow dangerously offensive...)

My girlfriend & I have often discussed the problems of Feminism. She has said that I actually am a Feminist -- because I support equal rights for men and women -- but as I have had to so often correct her, I am not a Feminist. Feminism used to mean equal rights for men and women, but based on articles by people like Marcotte, Schwyzer, and a host of others who have attacked me, my gender, and refused to even listen to the experiences of men who have been victimized (particularly when their victimizers were women), I cannot in good conscience agree that Feminism means gender equality anymore.

Maybe when Jaclyn Friedman puts Hugo Schwyzer on blast, and Naomi Wolf isn't stripped of her Feminist-credentials for believing in Julian Assange's innocence, then I'll believe.

But in the meanwhile, I can only communicate one emotion...

Disgust.



Cheers

4 footnotes:

Mira said...

You know what? I've heard that rape argument before, but it just doesn't make any sense... It's not how people around me perceive things, and I've read about it only on the Internet, so I guess it was easy for me to just go WTF? and move on.

But seriously... WTF? Are the people who believe men are rapists aware of the fact that, well, majority of men AREN'T rapists? (Even if majority of rapists are men)

I mean, I hate sexism but I never understood (female) people who claim to see every man as a potential rapist, until proven otherwise. I mean, seriously, WTF??? I'm all about being cautious in interaction with humans (because there are the bad ones), but do you see all people as potential murderers until proven otherwise? I mean, wtf?

And wait... You were falsely accused of rape???? Or are you talking in general terms here?

RVCBard said...

Hugo Schwyzer has his own problematic aspects, not the least of which is that he's a man with, to put it delicately, a problematic history and some pretty shitty habits who has somehow managed to make a career for himself as an authoritative voice in feminist discourse.

I find Schrodinger's Rapist (which is, incidentally, by a feminist and not a Feminist Spokesperson (TM)) a far better and more nuanced depiction of how women negotiate risk in a patriarchal, sexist, and misogynist culture.

Zek J Evets said...

Mira,

Well, I'm not sure if it "counts" as a false-rape claim since I didn't end up going to jail, let alone court or whatever.

But it certainly was scary, and damaging to my sense of trust for the opposite sex. Took years to undo.

RVC,

Yeah, Hugo does have a lot of problems. Honestly, after a bit of research I see that taking shots at his ignorance is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, especially considering he apparently attempted murder on an ex-girlfriend of his!

But anyhoo, I've read the post you linked and while I conceptually see the point being made, I don't really agree. Perhaps only because she sounds kind of condescending, like an asshole coming down from the clouds to educate us po' menfolk.

Or maybe it's because I feel that as "Shrodinger's Rapist" I feel projected upon, as if I represent the sum total of a minority of men who commit sexual crimes, and then I'm asked to circumscribe my social interaction (without talking back!) because it's The Right Thing To Do.

But I'm uncomfortable with submitting myself to gender profiling, even with the consideration of sexism, racism, classism, etc. Putting myself in a separate hidey hole does not negate, or alleviate the hidey hole women use to avoid being sexually assaulted.

Instead, I think I'm better served just not raping people and leaving all that other baggage behind.

Sorry if that was a rant by the way! I just get extremely upset being lumped into a stereotype.

RVCBard said...

Instead, I think I'm better served just not raping people and leaving all that other baggage behind.

We have a winner, folks!