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May 04 2014

Please don’t rape, OK? Thanks awfully!

“At first I thought this was a parody.”

When these words appear in the comments section on some internet feminist post or other, it’s a sort of mutant variant of Godwin’s Law. You know it’s time to stop, dash off a snarly rejoinder that no one will read, and get the hell out. The “parody” put-down — a sort of variant of Godwin’s Law in that it signifies the implosion of the discourse — is a mainstay of disingenuous liberal dudes who are so insulted by feminazis that they can’t resist trying to reduce feminism to a hilarious dudejoke.

The parody put-down naturally showed up in the comments section of this article. My snarly rejoinder got rejected because I don’t have a Facebook account, so I had no choice but to just post it here on this blog.

Blogging. What a great idea. I should try that.

Anyway, the article, written by one J.A McCarroll and appearing in HuffPo, sort of touches on something the author calls “dude feminism”. I’m out of the loop; is the term “dude feminism” a thing? Whatever you call it, the practice itself is as old as the gender binary. I allude to the feminist compulsion to appease potential dude supporters by whatever means necessary in a misguided effort to appear solicitous and un-manhatey.

In the article, J.A. McCarroll identifies as problematic the current fad for masculinity-affirming feministical slogans such as “real men don’t rape.”

J.A. McCarroll, it turns out, is a dude, but for now (and I’ll probably regret this) let’s ignore that detail, despite the statistical probability that he is posting feminist shit on the internet in order to get laid.

The problem with “real men don’t rape” is, as J.A. McCarroll correctly surmises, that it subverts women’s interests into a kind of timid, solicitous affirmation of masculinity, which, according to the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, is the world’s predominant benevolent force and moral authority.

Common to all these messages is that men CAN rape, hurt, buy women, catcall or what-have-you, but they SHOULDN’T. Men, we are told, shouldn’t hurt women, not because of any intrinsic rights women may have, but because other men might do it to THEIR women, and that would be awful.[...] It looks as if men are given a privileged place in the feminist movement, one where they are praised for simply not being terrible and their much-vaunted power remains intact.

Rather than attempt to dismantle the “real man” construct — a construct of the hypermasculine that requires a weaker feminine sidekick to give itself meaning — “real men don’t rape” initiatives reaffirm the status quo. This status quo is one in which dudes soldier on as the default humans, beneficently refraining from raping and pillaging as a sort of exercise in noblesse oblige. “Real men don’t rape,” in fact, is merely an advertisement for chivalry. And chivalry, the feminist will recall with a curled lip, is that dudely codification of women and children as frail, defenseless, somewhat degraded versions of men, incapable of survival without gallant male protection. Or, to put it another way, chivalric code enabled medieval dudes to disguise their bellicosity as honor and to justify guarding their women as chattel. Chivalry was a big ad campaign promoting the licentiousness of masculinity at the expense of enforced femininity.

“But Twisty, why so harsh on the anti-rape campaign? At least they’re trying!”

Yes. By way of fulfilling the tiresome internet feminist requirement that I relax my critical standards in order to give an A for Effort, I acknowledge that any “real men don’t rape” campaign is marginally preferable to no anti-rape campaign at all, or to the universal and uncritical embrace of rape culture that appears to be the only mainstream alternative.

But see here. Chivalry didn’t work as a path to women’s liberation the first time around, and it’s not gonna work this time, either. That’s because chivalry loves masculinity, and masculinity is just a way to justify misogyny. Wrapping masculinity in some lofty code of honor still leaves women with no recourse beyond compliance with femininity, resulting in continued dependence on the magnanimity of oppressor.

Defining women’s liberation in terms of male interests is always gonna be an imperfect revolutionary technique. If we continue, like damsels poised to collapse on our fainting couches, to reassure anxious hetero cisgender dudes that their complicity is forgiven if they merely refrain from behaving like barbarians, we are supplicants. “We embrace your masculinity, but please, if it’s not too inconvenient, don’t rape us, Real Man!”

The comments on the dude’s article were unsurprising, largely composed of offended men who are insulted by the absurd insinuation that all men profit from women’s oppression. And dudes who claim to view “their wives” as “equals” but worry that any attack on masculinity — wherein is safeguarded the dudely right to prong whatever it likes — will bring about a dreaded “matriarchy.”

O the irony. Anybody who dreads a matriarchy obviously has a pretty good idea of how crummy patriarchy is. Yet somehow, when the price of fixing it turns out to be human rights for women, waste no time in heading to the comments section at HuffPo to explain what a bad idea that is.

To get rid of rape you gotta get rid of masculinity. Suck it, Parody Boy.

25 comments

  1. Kay

    Let’s see… I’ve had a little bit of experience with ‘feminist dudes.’ I was friends (of the online variety, but my whole social life is online these days) with one up until about a year or so ago, and I was very impressed with him. He was a bisexual dude and part of a social hobby that mostly comprised of women, but that didn’t seem that suspicious to me. He talked a lot about feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and I figured he might feel more comfortable with women since they tend to go easy on dudes — okay, obviously taking advantage of some skeevy privilege, but whatever, he seemed nice and he was trying. A for effort, like you said.

    And he seemed to be struggling with depression, something I have a lot of experience with, so naturally I would sympathize with him when he talked about how he felt like he was a fuckup and such. I gave him the whole pep talk about how you make mistakes and you move on from them, making a bad choice doesn’t make you a bad person, et cetera. He alluded vaguely a lot to one incident in particular — a major ‘mistake’ he had made in the past that kept coming back to haunt him. I didn’t ask about it because I could tell he was being deliberately vague, and I know how much shame can be associated with past mistakes.

    Anyway, at this point I’m almost embarrassed by how obvious the conclusion to this story is, but I’ll finish it. Obviously (it’s so obvious now that I legitimately can’t believe how stupid I was) the ‘mistake’ he made in the past was that he had raped his girlfriend. It all came out when he made one of his depression/self-pity posts talking about how it was a very difficult ‘anniversary’ for him. Naturally his friend circle (mostly women) came and offered their sympathies about how hard such anniversaries can be. Anyway, somebody who was in the know about the fact that he’d raped a girl (Did I mention that this was the same social circle that the rape victim came from? Yeah.) saw this, got sick of it and called him out. He then proceeded to post a sickening non-apology (something along the lines of ‘I can see how she would construe it as rape’ was actually said) and slunk off, never to be heard from again. Or, you know, just found himself a new circle to ingratiate himself into.

    So that was pretty much it for me and ‘feminist men.’ I have a friend who is currently dealing with another one, a guy nearly twice her age who has been very eager to tell her that he and his wife are in an ‘open relationship.’ Well, you know, it turns out that by ‘open relationship’ he actually means that he got caught cheating on his wife, told her that he wasn’t going to stop and gave her an ultimatum, and she caved and agreed that she would overlook it so long as she didn’t have to see or hear about it — but hey, minor details, right? A for effort!

  2. Feh

    Imagine my surprise when I found my rapist’s byline on a piece decrying the silencing of women. When that piece made me lose my mind and start actually talking about my rape, I was sent a letter from his lawyer. Said dude is writing for other “feminist” venues. So yeah, feminist men is a HUGE warning sign to me.

  3. ew_nc

    *coughHugoSchywzercough*

    These are the very reasons I go mental when someone says men can be feminists. I proceed to tell them that it’s only open to women because oppressed sex class, and I get shamed for how I’m blocking equality from happening with my exclusionary ways. Barf.

    Liberal dudes are just as bad as the godbags, if not worse because they trick you into thinking they might have critical thinking skills. Ever since Harold Ikowitz had a hissy fit on Twitter because I called him out for his support of Woody Allen, liberal dudes get no pass from me. IBTP

  4. Cyberwulf

    Oh, Liberal Dudes. I was online-friends with one for about four years. He was the kind of guy who thought he was progressive because he liked to argue with Republicans on message boards. Our friendship lasted for four years until I dared to suggest that when a woman has an abortion, she doesn’t have to inform the man who contributed half the DNA. Cue much righteous roaring about how I apparently have no problem with the establishment of a matriarchy. I sarcastically told him not to worry, because Roe vs Wade would soon be just an empty statute. Then he lectured me about how he’d had a problem with my politics for a long time but refrained from saying anything (because Saintly and Patient, of course), and finished by saying that if I tried to continue the argument, he’d bury me.

    This was a man who was friends with me on Livejournal for years, who was on a special filter I’d created to talk about the most upsetting, private things going on at a time in my life when I was very far from family and real life friends.

    This was on a board where he was an admin and where plenty of other members were hostile towards me.

    A year later I again dared impugn his vision of himself as a paragon of progressive thought, and he had the nerve to demand an apology from me. I told him where to stick his demands.

  5. josquin

    I find all “Real…” slogans annoying. “Real men don’t rape” sounds so superior and self-congratulatory, like they are the proud, mighty and politically correct protectors of the “weaker sex”.
    It’s almost as bad as “Real Women Have Curves.”

    signed,
    thin angular imposter

  6. josquin

    I just tried to post a comment on Harold Ikowitz’s blog, in which he used the word “frigid” to shame a woman whom he disagreed with. Apparently he is a raving idiot. I doubt he would have appreciated my comment.

    But then the Disqus disclaimer came up which basically said I would be allowing access to a ton of personal facts and info. So I declined to post. Blamers – should one be wary of disclaimers like these? They have kept me from posting anywhere online, except for a few places like here and Cute Overload. (yes, Cute Overload)
    Anyone have an opinion?

  7. Kay

    Josquin: Having been raised on the internet I tend to not blink about liberally giving away personal information to faceless megacorporations, and I use my main email address for my Disqus account. But if you’re posting in a misogynist zone, you’re absolutely correct to feel uneasy about having your real information connected to your account. My advice if you want to jump into the fray is to set up a second email account (I recommend gmail for this purpose) with a pseudonym attached to it and use that as the connection to the Disqus account rather than your main email/twitter/facebook/whatever it’s asking for. If for whatever reason the settings on that page don’t allow that and demand that it be connected to a Facebook account or something, I recommend running in the other direction as fast as possible, but I don’t think Disqus settings can work like that.

  8. Alexicographer

    @Josquin, @Kay, I’d note that gmail is weirdly enthusiastic about linking accounts, I’m not sure about exactly how (much less why). I have 2 I use openly and a third that is pseudonymous and I am moderately (though perhaps not enough) obsessive about not linking that last one to the other 2 (like I try to remember to login to it only from incognito Chrome). I once corresponded with an anonymous blogger via her anonymous gmail account and next think you know, gmail showed me her real name and her picture (!). I was shocked and scandalized (because, hello — privacy?!).

  9. wondering

    @Josquin

    If the need to post somewhere unsafe is overwhelming (I, for one, suffer greatly from SIWOTI Syndrome), there is always 10 Minute Mail – a disposable email service.

  10. AMM

    This stuff, and the s*** described in the first few comments (not to mention slimeballs like him-who-must-not-be-named) are a large part of the reason I am unwilling to appropriate the term feminist for myself.

    … masculinity is just a way to justify misogyny.

    I’d go further than that: masculinity is about being trained to be part of the oppressor class.

    It trains men to expunge empathy and emotional connection with people — in a word, to expunge their humanity. (I’m reminded of Bruno Bettelheim’s description of how the SS guards at the camps had to be trained to regard their prisoners as worthless objects — to not feel any human connection with them.)

    It trains men to accept and even take pride in being being oppressed by people higher up in the hierarchy, in return for being provided with a whole class of people who one may oppress to one’s heart’s content. (Cf.: the role of poor whites in the USA south as enforcers of a racist structure that mainly benefitted the richer whites.)

    Yes, it trains men in misogyny. It also prepares them to take their part in the machine of racism, of oppression of the poor, of people with non-standard sexual orientations or identies, etc.

    And since men are still human (whether they remember it or not), it also trains them to hate themselves.

    In short, masculinity is hate turned into a culture.

  11. josquin

    Thank you, Kay, Alexicographer, and wondering – this info is very helpful. Pretty wild about that supposedly anonymous email suddenly exposing the photo and real name. And I’m ruefully laughing at the comment “if the need to post somewhere unsafe is overwhelming”…. yes! Why would I even do that? And yet sometimes I can’t resist!

  12. Lab Rat

    @ew_nc: I’ll go you one further and say that godbags, good old boys, rednecks, bluecollar dudes, etc are sometimes almost easier to deal with because there’s nothing hidden there. The disingenuous nature of liberal dudes makes them extra trouble. As evidenced by the fact that we all seem to get sucked into their vortex from time to time mistaking them as allies.

    I think it’s kind of cool how right now in San Francisco it’s liberal dude versus liberal dude with the whole protesting the Google buses thing. That some liberal dudes hate on other liberal dudes just because they work at Google is just snark gold. Who’s self-righteousness will reign supreme? Pass the popcorn!

    @josquin: totally agree about the sloganism shit. Reducing centuries of gender oppression to a bumper sticker means nothing.

  13. emilybites

    ‘Real men’ are practically the some thing as ‘gentlemen’. Eurgh.

    The only thing stopping them raping/thumping you is their belief in their own intrinsic rightness and their good judgment: they treat the women who are worth it (ladies) very well. That’s the problem with men being encouraged to treat women with decency because men are magnanimous chaps and not because women are human. Decent treatment is generously gifted to you, but Dog help you if they decide that you don’t deserve it (see, for example, being a drunken slut).

  14. Ellesar

    One big problem I have with the idea of ‘real men’ is that if you are not a ‘real woman’ (lesbian, trans, choosing not to have kids, having kids without men around, being loudmouthed and aggressive etc etc ad nauseam) the penalities are severe. I was once berated for at least an hour (I was in a hostel and it was late at night) by a man who was described to me earlier as ‘the perfect gentleman’ (I am guessing that this includes not being a rapist?!), but as I had shown myself not to conform to his expectations (and he did not find me attractive, this was clearly part of it as he saw fit to mention it!) it was an absolute free for all for him to say whatever he liked.

    I know that my lack of conformity to acceptable womanhood has led to all kinds of abuse from perfectly ‘real’ men. I am fortunate to be large, strong and easily angered, or else I am sure it would have panned out much worse for me – those attentions from all those ‘real men’!

  15. Cyberwulf

    The other problem with “real men don’t rape” is that it easily becomes “but he *can’t* have done those things, he’s such a gent/knows feminist theory/has daughters of his own/is a pillar of the community” etc. “Real men” DO rape. Sadly, rapists don’t identify themselves by being sleazy and vile (by male standards) all the time.

  16. someofparts

    Lab Rat – What you said about godbags etc being easier to deal with because they are direct, unlike sneaky liberal dudes, is exactly what a black woman I used to work with said about dealing with the racism of white men.

    Kay – If the woman that guy raped was in the online social group he posted to, that sure sounds like some sick dog stalking to me.

    Wondering – 10 minute disposable email – bookmarked forthwith – thanks!

    A couple of great books I read have things to say on our topic here.

    First – A Distant Mirror, by Barbara Tuchman – a history of the olden days of knighthood in France. Seems that the real reason for the Crusades was to get the damn knights out of the country. Turns out they were so lawless and bloodthirsty that they ran around pillaging their own communities. It was so bad that the peasants who actually grew the food couldn’t keep the country fed because of them. So the king and the pope cooked up a plan to send them somewhere else to pillage (and hopefully get killed I’m thinking) so the rest of the country could just survive. Chivalry is a big honking PR lie.

    Second one – Beyond the Second Sex. It’s a collection of studies by women anthropologists. Each article describes a part of the world where women share real power, and by tradition no less. It’s interesting how many ways there are to do that. Talking about matriarchy made me think of it. I think the book is about fifteen years old by now, so I’m not sure how the cultures they described are doing these days. Even so, it’s still great to read about how many ways men and women in other parts of the world have figured out how to do something other than let men run amok.

    Finally, I had my own experience recently that fits with this topic. A really smart dude blogger that I follow because his politics/sympathies are decent and, in terms of engineering stuff, he’s a real whiz kid, just went stupid on me because I dared to mention my feminism. I’m a geezer so you would think I would have learned better by now, but I’m still depressed by it. I still read his blog, because I have a monster appetite for listening to real smart people bring clarity to things other folks barely get their heads around, but now he ignores my comments. I still have this ridiculous blind spot where I think that if a dude is just super duper smart he couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to be a bigot. I think there is a pretty direct connection between my own low self-esteem and my gullibility/blind spot with hyper-smart guys. Fortunately, being socially isolated by dude world gives me time and space to work on that.

  17. Ellesar

    someofparts – being really really clever is absolutely NOT the same as ‘getting it’ is it? The last man I had any sexual dealings with was super clever, but emotionally thoroughly incapable. He knew the talk – ‘any intelligent person can’t not be a feminist’, but this was not backed up by his actual treatment and attitude to women! So that affair was shortlived!

    That Tuchman book sounds really interesting.

  18. nope

    not “cis” tho.

  19. Valerian

    I don’t think men can be feminists, I’ve gotten to the point where I think men and women can’t really be friends. The power disparity, the inability to ever really know what his motivations are (does he actually want friends or is he biding his time til he’s put enough small talk in the machine and sex falls out), the fact that rape culture means society thinks women owe men sexual gratification for any kind of positive social interaction whatsoever, the fact that rape is pretty much always considered the woman’s fault (even if she’s still a little girl)… it renders the idea ridiculous if you really stop and consider it. Women and men can be friendly acquaintances, sure. Women and men can have positive social interactions. But women and men can’t be friends, in the same way and for the same reasons that my dog isn’t my ‘friend’. A male “friend” can rape me, probably even murder me anytime he pleases with damn near impunity, and I could give my dog away or have her put to sleep at any time for any reason or no reason at all. I wouldn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that I could, and that lots and lots of pet owners do. The power disparity is just too enormous. Women can’t, and shouldn’t, trust men, and I think trust is pretty important for friendship.

  20. Rae

    Wow — that is a pretty interesting point, Valerian. I plan to think on that some.

  21. Linda

    The thing with friending the Y chromosomed people is that they will, when push comes to shove, always prioritise their privilege, their patriarchal dividend, over you and the friendship with you, always. It’s all fun and games until someone’s privilege is threatened.

  22. quixote

    I don’t know. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair to slag people off for their chromosomes. I’ve been around since forever, and in those decades have met three or four men who care more about truth and justice than themselves, even when it meant they had to understand they were wrong. So I try to tell myself being a jerk can’t be a function of maleness. I’ll admit, three out of thousands isn’t very many. Ironically, if it was genetic, maybe we could select for it. (Simple little gene test at 8 weeks: end of problem.) Cultural DNA is a lot harder to deal with.

  23. Mildred

    I ended up binge-watching about 15 clips from Amy’s show. I came across one clip called ‘the one night stand’ that really didn’t compare with this account of a ‘hook-up’ in the above article. In the clip the female character basically goes through all the tv tropes, telling all gal pals and gushing over the details of the one night stand over Cesar salads, while the guy schlubs around his apartment being gross, progressively, in her delusion she starts picking out wedding cakes etc. etc.
    Is it just me or does this trope just NOT stand up in real life. I’m a late-20′s year old and I’m supposed to be the bracket where this sort of stuff is happening. All I hear from my single friends is ‘ugh when am I going to find a decent guy who isn’t totally gross?’ I’m feeling like this whole woman getting obsessed with dude after sex thing is totally unfair and degrading, and it didn’t even hold true for the comedian in question, so why keep perpetuating it? Is it PURELY to flatter male ego?!

  24. Hattie

    This status quo is one in which dudes soldier on as the default humans, beneficently refraining from raping and pillaging as a sort of exercise in noblesse oblige.

    You are the greatest!!!

  25. LizDexic

    Under the title, “Ugh!”
    (That so many “liked” this was really depressing to me)

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ztxvea4qkma3o33/2014-06-14%2013.32.18.jpg

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