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First of all, hey everyone! I’m a new addition to the blog. 🙂 Aida, from Puerto Rico, rising junior at Brown, found this blog through Irene. Hopefully I’ll be contributing steadily. Anyway–I also wanted to let y’all know that I added two websites to the blogroll: Genderfork and Sociological Images. Now, for my first contribution–cross-posted from my personal blagh, found here.

In response to this (blog entry that just has an embedded video) and this:

The author here grosses me out.

That guy isn’t real. Somebody decided to make him up so they could write the “write fuck me on your chest and smile” line, claiming female = victim and that somehow, if only men would understand and be sensitive to this, it would be okay.

Most men aren’t anything like this guy, and for the rest of us the author has done nothing to improve our understanding of “what it’s like to be a woman.” If the author were listening, I’d respond: “Being a grownup means taking the fuck me sign off your chest and telling people ‘no’ or ‘piss off’ whenever necessary.”

Giving a reality check to a straw man, kind of annoying.

*

I see where the commenter is coming from, but I think it’s a *very* shallow reading of that clip. The message I got from this video/scene was different. Writing “fuck me” on his chest would be about drawing a parallel between the symbolic gesture and the reality of inhabiting a woman’s body–a body that is unfortunately read by some as “willing” just by virtue of being female. If the guy had actually gone out with the FUCK ME on his chest, it wouldn’t have been the same thing/feeling…but it wasn’t about him actually doing it. It was about showing the parallel between that and walking around with an INVISIBLE (yet oh so visible) marker of “oh yeah, sure, fuck me, that’s great, I really want it from you, thank you.”

A man walking naked with FUCK ME on his chest would be seen as abnormal, whereas a woman just walking around would not be. Violence against women is perpetrated because it’s, in a way, normalized. This is the narrative that we’ve been given; people assuming a naked man with FUCK ME scrawled on his chest wants and is ready for sex is not realistic, but people assuming a woman walking down the street wants and is ready for sex IS realistic. This whole scene is about the psychological impact; it’s about the female character trying to show this man how it feels by creating a “story” that APPROXIMATES that feeling. Taking that story to reality wouldn’t work, but THINKING about it and thinking about what it MEANS would certainly make an impact.

Woman is not inherently “victim,” but the truth is that in society, many times there is a strong correlation between the two. And if it’s not “victim,” it’s still the receiving end of violence, be it symbolic, physical, or both. And that being said…yeah–if only men could understand and be sensitive to the realities of living in a body marked as “female,” we would probably have less scenarios like this. A man would be way less likely to invade a woman’s privacy like what happened on The L Word if he understood how that shit felt. A man would be less likely to leer at a woman and think it’s okay to grab her ass if he understood how that felt. Obviously it would only be a start. Someone’s knowledge doesn’t predict what they will do with it.

But the thing is, there’s no real way to understand, FULLY understand, unless one has lived through it. Anything else is just an assumption, removed to a certain degree, or a sympathetic thought. No one can TRULY and wholly understand or “feel” what someone else is feeling. We have approximations, yes, and a “common language,” yes, but these are only approximations. Still, these approximations are valuable–very valuable. They’re the closest we have to the real thing, and they are important. And even if we can’t feel exactly what someone else has felt, there are probably huge overlaps, and we can sympathize and find solidarity.

Finally, the “…telling people ‘no’ or ‘piss off’ whenever necessary” comment? Telling people “no” or to “piss off” when necessary is a right (and sort of one’s duty to a certain extent), but to have that right respected? A totally different ballgame. Women usually don’t have the privilege of not having to worry that their “no” may not be respected or even taken seriously. Saying “no” doesn’t necessitate or equal a respect of that “no.” Just because a woman screams NO and fights back, does that mean a rapist will stop raping her? Just because we say NO, does that mean a mugger will suddenly return all our money and leave us alone? Just because a NO is necessary doesn’t mean it will WORK. There are various situations when saying NO just isn’t enough.

And sure, most men aren’t like the guy in the video, who will set up cameras all over your house…but that’s not the point. Most men aren’t rapists, or murderers, or robbers–but we still have to talk about those that are, and represent them in the media, and show that they exist. We still have to show that women are hurt, not to normalize that violence, but to show the realities of the world and that they are NOT ACCEPTABLE. We have to put these things in the forefront so people cannot ignore them, so people have to acknowledge them and get educated and DO something about it. The fact that a (presumably) Average Joe (whatever that is) cannot relate at all to this clip and feels that it provides NO insight into how it feels to be a woman is VERY distressing to me.

Addendum: By this post, I don’t mean to say that ALL women are a certain way or feel a certain way. No monolithic understandings of men and women apply. Kthx.

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Man and/but/or Feminist

Man and/but/or Feminist

Miraploy’s comment on orkinson’s vm post ticked me off from the get go. To be honest I have an extreme dislike of most men that call themselves feminist (what about me? self-hatred?), or rather if that is the first thing out of their mouth before saying something misogynistic or sexist (ah, a qualifier. I don’t hate myself!).That said Miraploy made it easy for me to explain something I’ve been thinking about– Those man-but-feminist-types (it’ll be clear in a bit). So I found the easiest way to detail what I meant, was to do a close reading of Miraploy’s comment.

I’m a man, and I came upon this post by accident, so maybe that disqualifies me from commenting.

Obviously it didn’t. See, the man-but-feminist first humbles himself, pretending to be, or actually is, aware of his privilege. This statement should never be made. Why would you comment (either on the internet or the material world) saying you might not be able to comment, or shouldn’t comment. It is a sure sign that a big, ol’ BUT is about to pop up.

But I consider myself a feminist and I think your post is ignorant and lacks context.

What!? Why is it a BUT? As if man and feminist are incompatible in some way. As if there is if there is some essential quality in men that prevents them from caring about women, or women’s equality/liberation/rights/desires/(etc etc etc etc). Also the man-but-feminist will attempt multiple times to exert his feminist-iness on you until you understand. And quickly a switch to attacking the post (or in the real world discourse a person used). Who the hell, gets to say whether someone’s opinion is ignorant! But even more how does a person of privilege call someoneelse’s position ignorant.

Traditional feminism, second wave, or whatever you want to call it before it imploded, was all about rebelling against the historical patriarchy and establishing women as equal to men, putting them on the same playing field and giving equal importance to their needs, or conditions, or whatnot. So on this basis, I think your critiques are horrible.

Thanks for the context. Thanks for throwing your knowledge, and thanks for not critically engaging in what was written, but instead using facts, your knowledge of textbook feminism (which looks pretty lacking anyway, btw’s), etc to disprove a real, live woman’s experience.

I had written a bunch of shit addressing every single point in your post, but it got deleted when my browser crashed.

The man-but-feminist always has a lot of facts to back up points. This is what he thinks about when he isn’t listening, and then tells you you are wrong.

So I’ll just address where I think you’re most wrong, and that’s on sexuality. Female sexuality is defined in terms of what men want. That’s how biology works. It’s OK if you don’t want to have sex with men, but the human race is built for males and females to have sex together and reproduce. And that’s not necessarily (though it can be…) oppressive or patriartical.

The man-but-feminist always knows. He won’t even admit that this knowledge comes from something he read, or heard, but rather is pure objective fact. Often with calls to science and rationalism to back him up, the feminist-but-man knows more about you than you. Oh also! A good dose of biological determinism (in this case) or poorly understood social constructionism (for the more hip man-but-feminist) come in here.

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah

The man-but-feminist never quickly gets to his point– he can’t just prove you wrong, but provide enough bulk for you to have a lot to respond to. I may have made up this quote, but I skipped a similarly sized passage. This was just more entertaining than those long, droll sentences.

But last word on that topic. In this culture, female sexuality has historically been ignored, vm is in the tradition of trying to oppose that. Has it gone too far? Next paragraph… But this type of message is still needed. There are places in the country, much less around the world, where female sexuality being under lock and key is the norm. This message is the symbol of western feminism and is worth promoting as part of a multi-front battle against sexism.

Hazaah! Suddenly his points of knowing more about you than you have a purpose. Our glorious knight-but-feminist will liberate all of the worlds women from their primitive captors. In this case he saves them so they can enjoy sex (hopefully with him, perhaps). The man-but-feminist isn’t an ally towards a feminist vision, but feminism’s golden messiah who will deliver women to safety on his celestial, anti-sexist penis.

Has it gone too far? I don’t think so. Does it reduce females to their genitals? Yes. Is that bad? No. There are plenty of media that reduces men to just their genitals. If you don’t think so, you’re not watching enough mainstream media. But you raise this point in #9.

“Stop bitchin!,” exclaims the man-but-feminist. Men have it bad too, it sucks for all of us. This point always comes up, rarely with any acknowledgement of differences of levels of privilege and oppression.

You might be tempted to say, well it’s bad for both men and women, nobody should be reduced to just their genitals. I disagree. Art exaggerates, art caricatures, art reflects both our cultural fears, cultural sins, and amplifies them. I don’t know where you’re coming from, and so arguing this point here might be pointless, hence I’m not going to bother. But my view on this is, ridiculing or insulting people is ok, so long as it is in the name of art.

Translation: Don’t be a feminazi! Art is cool. It makes me think, but mostly makes me laugh. I don’t care how uncomfortable/oppressed/angry/sad/(insert emotion here) it makes you don’t critique!

I can also give a 2 hour long lecture on the biological and sociological history of this type of ‘reductionism’, but suffice it to say that this type of thinking has always been part of us, and always will be. It is integral to how we think as human beings, and when used by educated people will not be taken as more important than it actually is. That is, people do not actually think women are just vaginas despite what vm says.

” I know science!” “I also know a lot!” This point never grows old. It will be repeated until you tire of reading the comment, and then a new comment will pop up.

Though you seem to be the perfect fit for me. I’m OK with having sex with just your clitoris if you’re ok with my micropenis.

“I want to have sex with you,” says the man-but-feminist. Man-but-feminists can’t help bringing this up when sex is the topic. The proposition is always given with a bit too much sarcasm to be sarcastic if you know what I mean.

Also! The powers of the inevitable, and holy vaginal-orgasm-you-gotta-have-this-phallus argument are ever so persuasive.

#7: I agree, materialism has nothing to do with vaginas. I don’t know why vm has so much of that shit.

The man-but-feminist has to agree on something, or else he can’t prove he is a “man, but a feminist.” Conceding on the one point, that he managed to desex, degender, and/or depoliticize, he can agree whole heartedly: “I too dislike consumerist materialism. Now back to how much you are wrong, and I am awesome.”

#9: You’re a huge hypocrite aren’t you.

Gotcha! The man-but-feminist will try to find someway to just straight-up call you wrong, but not with detailed (but please lord concise) arguments, but with a name. Appealing to your sense of guilt about some privilege you posess is easiest. Hypocrisy is such a loaded word, that is really hard to throw around. Responding with an insult is the easiest way to avoid making a solid argument. (Oh and the argument’s have been so solid so far, haven’t they, or at least excessively long).

“Dark hordes,” to use the words of Bq. Homogenization.”

Uh huh.

“Now you can have whatever you want, men, because women are in cahoots with you because of this stupid play.”

“Uh huh” “Uh huh” Dismissed! Even better than the one word insult, is the complete dismissal of what has been said, with a “uh huh,” or something of the like.

All this is not to claim that I think I am some perfect feminist. I am a man AND a feminist. Or at least I try to be. I read. I listen. I’m down with women’s liberation and equality. I am generally sucessful in treating women like human beings. Not to say I don’t have, and haven’t had, my man-but-feminist moments (hours, days, weeks, years). But to say that I try. I think the biggest differences between the man-BUT-feminist, and the man-AND-feminist is that the man-AND-feminist remembers that he is an ally for women seeking equality/egalitarianism/autonomy/liberation, that being an ally is about recognizing privilege, and that the most important tool at an ally’s disposal when talking to women (or who ever you are an ally for) is to SHUT THE FUCK UP & LISTEN. STFU&L is important before ever making a comment, that will hopefully keep the man-AND-feminist from becoming a man-BUT-feminist.

*Check out the male privilege checklist if you aren’t sure what sort of privileges you have.

**A helpful guide to privilege.

***Also note: Almost sorry, Miraploy, to use you as an example. Your comments just embodied everything that I had been thinking about lately. And I mean, the words did come directly from you (minus some blahs! but they were just filler for blahtastc stuff) I don’t have any worries really though. I’m sure (after your attempt at criticism) you can take some constructive criticism, you’re a big boy.

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