Monday, 21 May 2007

A comment response

Chris Clarke wrote a wonderful piece called How not to be an Asshole

The sixth comment from the bottom is an ignorant comment from a man called Peter. There were other ignorant comments, but they were well replied to. However, comments are closed now. I take the liberty of replying to Peter here.


I'm actually unaware of anyone who uses sexual harassment or rape to support feminism. Nor do I personally know anyone who wants all men dead. Or even most men.

The definition of 'feminism' that I use, and that I live, goes roughly like this: 'I believe this truth to be self-evident, that all people are created equal'.

All people. Male, female, black, white, yellow, red, pink, green with purple polka-dots. In a wheelchair or on crutches or walking tall on two feet.

I will always regret that fear of being labelled a pedophile stopped my brother from becoming a kindergarten teacher. I regret every man who has chosen not to be a nurse or a teacher for reasons of gender-based discrimination, just as much (no more, also no less) as I regret every women who has chosen not to be a crane operator or an engineer.

You (Peter) said:
"Rape and harassment is not useful as an argument against men, but a fact only women are able to solve. it’s not men who have to solve it. and if women really want to get rid of the fear, they have to swallow it or kill all men. because harassment and rapists are a fact like drug abuse. you can’t get rid of it."

Actually, women alone can't solve it. Men alone can't solve it. The people who can stop it are the rapists and harassers. The people who can most influence it are the peers of the rapists and harassers. The people the rapists and harassers are most willing to listen to.

In the case of female rapists and harassers, that is largely going to be women. In the case of males, that is largely going to be men.
If a woman is making a nuisance of herself trying to seduce a male co-worker who's making his disinterest clear, she's more likely to back off if a female co-worker says "Hey Jill, quit it. He's not interested."
If a male is making a nuisance of himself trying to seduce a female co-worker who's making her disinterest clear, he's more likely to back off if a male co-worker says "Hey Joe, quit it. She's not interested."

You'll note a distinctive similarity in the previous two paragraphs. That's because my experience has shown that the type of person who doesn't read their target's disinterest as a signal to back off is more likely to listen to someone they perceive as a peer. And for the most part, they perceive their own gender as a peer, and the other gender as 'not a peer'.

(I initially included gay/lesbian options, but I have too little experience of gay/lesbian harassment situations to reasonably include how to stop them, so I took it out.)

Basically, Peter ... I think you've got an extremely different definition of feminism to the one I, and all the feminists of my acquaintence, use.

And my experience indicates that you're wrong about how to stop harassment and rape. It has nothing to do with killing all the men: the best way to go about it is for non-harassers and non-rapists to make it clear to the harassers and rapists of their own gender that harassment and rape are Not Okay.


Continuing to read your stuff:
"being dismissed latently and being a slave to her will for all of his life. that’s indeed the same as being raped"

Well, MY marriage is nothing like that. We're equal partners. I wouldn't accept a marriage like that, it's anathema to me. In either direction. My brother's marriage is a partnership of equals. So's my parents'. I know such unequal marriages exist, and that the inequality can go in either direction. If it's willing, it's none of my business (but creepy). If it's unwilling, it's a problem and should be addressed - presumably by the police and law enforcement agencies in the region of the participants.

"you forgot the women who sleep with men only because they feel the power, her body has over them. doesn’t she use him as a material for her?"

Out of scope for this discussion. If it's between consenting adults, it's none of my business. If not, it's another case for police and law enforcement, and it's rape.

"yes she does. and she can. he can’t"

Some men have the same level of attraction as beautiful women, and some women the same vulnerability to that attraction as the men vulnerable to female beauty. But see above: if they're consenting adults, it's none of my business. If they're not, police and law enforcement need to deal with it, and again, it's rape.

And it's out of scope for this discussion.

"you forget that sexuality is much more complex than ‘is it rape or is it not"

Sexuality between consenting adults it out of scope. Rape is not.

"It’s only women who have to understand, understand the nature of power. not the power men have over women (in fact, they don’t have), but power itself. I am still waiting for the feminists to understand."

Males have, on average, greater upper body strength, greater speed, and greater overall strength than women. Yes, small men and large women reverse that. But the dynamic exists that males have greater physical power, and the statistics bear out that (reported) male sexual violence against women is more common than (reported) female sexual violence against men.
This, plus cultural and sociological factors, means that in general, women feel a need to be cautious around men who they don't know well and have not yet chosen to trust.

This is the current situation, and is a large part of what has been discussed in this thread. (This and the consequences of it, anyway)

If you are meaning some greater definition of power - something more akin to Machiavellian politics or Sun-Tzu conflict - then that, again, is largely out of scope. If you're meaning sexual power, I understand it. I choose not to use it. If you're meaning the power a manipulator or abuser has over their victim, I again understand it and choose not to use it.

If you're meaning the power of standing up and saying 'Enough!', I do use it.

If you're meaning the power of looking at a man who's got his hand up the thigh of a twelve year old girl and telling him to stop - well, when I WAS that girl, I wish someone had used it to spare me the humiliation and shame. Humiliation and shame which I shouldn't have felt - I should have felt righteous anger. But society had taught me it was MY fault. That I was, purely by being female, a sexual lure that men couldn't resist.

I have since realised that men are stronger than that. That if just being female makes me an irresistable lure, men must be weak-willed creatures indeed. I think that that point of view is horribly insulting to men, and totally untrue. Men are as human as women, and deserve to be thought of better.

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