Thursday, February 19, 2009

Accountability and Profeminist Men

I have been thinking about the matter of feminist accountability among profeminist men, and how profeminist men speak honestly and challengingly about misogyny to other men without pretending to speak for women, or deluding ourselves that we can and do speak for women.

I thought about this matter especially when reading the following quote by Andrea Dworkin, which I most recently encountered here. For me, Dworkin is speaking to something that often goes unchallenged: men's ways of engaging women, men's attitudes about women and how they are expressed interpersonally to other men, and the ever-present issue of whether men think we know more than women do about women's lives and conditions under white and male supremacy, among other ideologies of inhumanity.

So, let's begin with the quote. Because Dworkin is so enthusiastically and misogynistically misread and misunderstood by so many men, in my experience, I'd like to note that she is CRITIQUING the matter of women being called stupid, when men who say or do exactly the same stuff, or worse, are called smart. THAT'S the issue. OK, boys, read on:

Women have stupid ideas that do not deserve to be called ideas. Marabel Morgan writes an awful, silly, terrible book in which she claims that women must exist for their husbands, do sex and be sex for their husbands. D H. Lawrence writes vile and stupid essays in which he says the same thing basically with many references to the divine phallus; but D. H. Lawrence is smart. Anita Bryant says that cocksucking is a form of human cannibalism; she decries the loss of the child who is the sperm. Norman Mailer believes that lost ejaculations are lost sons and on that basis disparages male homosexuality, masturbation and contraception. But Anita Bryant is stupid and Norman Mailer is smart. Is the difference in the style with which these same ideas are delivered or in the penis? Mailer says that a great writer writes with his balls; novelist Cynthia Ozick asks Mailer in which colour ink he dips his balls. Who is smart and who is stupid?

Andrea Dworkin, Right Wing Women, 1983

Next up is a review of Robert Jensen's book, Getting Off, the title of which repulses me, personally and politically. I know it's being marketed to white young men, but the whole cover design (which may have not been designed or chosen by Robert Jensen himself, but rather by the publisher as is usually the case) for me is counter-productive to the issue of men using pornography.

You can find the review here.

Conversation about this topic is welcome.


Anonymous said...

(Shoot, lost my comment! Here's the redone version)

I do agree that the title (and subtitle) are unfortunate, but I disagree with that linked review so much. Her argument is based on a mistake--he's not directing the book to women, or telling them what to do, but to men, especially hetero and/or white men. Maybe it's because I've read other articles of his, or have heard a couple interviews, or have spoken with him online about the book a couple months ago, but I quite liked it. I found that he was very cautious in his writing, and covered most of the things I feel he didn't get, or express, before. I'll post a comment I wrote to him, if that's ok:

"I've only read some opeds and articles of yours before; Getting Off is the first book I've read of yours. I'm finding myself agreeing with your words more, and finding little fault in what you say in it. Which isn't surprising, you've had time and experience for your beliefs and analyses to develop, and people in general are better able to express themselves in a book, as opposed to a 600 or so word oped. I remember feeling uneasy at a couple feelings I got reading some of your short pieces, not so much with what was said, but what I felt was missing--I've not gotten this feeling with the book . And one can hardly expect another to express themselves fully and uber-clear in a 2-4 page magazine article. So, it may have been word contraints, or your development over the years, or both. And I've also found myself looking for how you aren't guilty of things that those who disagree with you (esp pro-porners) accuse you of, and finding it easily in the book. If anything, I think you take a lot of care to be measured and thoughtful in what and how you say things. Which, although I'm more into the "abrasiveness" and passion of Dworkin, is very articulately and can be a great stepping stone to get men to radically change. I am honestly dumbfounded at how people can twist your words so cruelly."

One of the latter things is the absolutely hateful, contradictory things that are said by people about his sexuality, eg the same people accuse him of being antigay and lying about his heterosexuality to gay men, or lying about his gayness to straights, etc. I could dig up links, but one of the prominent asshats is Ernest Greene.

I've been meaning to write a post on this book; maybe this'll motivate me! :)

Julian Real said...

Hi demonista! Good to see you here.

(I hate it when a comment, or any writing--or thought, for that matter--just "disappears"!)

Thank you for your input on the issue of Robert Jensen and his attitude toward women as expressed in his latest book. I'll have to stop by your blog to see what else you've written about this.

It's totally fine with me if you want to include any writing here with your comments. I enjoyed reading your remarks to Robert J. on how you experience his work, and on how it has been received, and/or misperceived by others.

I don't know Ernest Greene at all. I suppose now I'll have to go google him! (See what you've made me do! LOL)

Winnie said...

Thanks Julian!

Aghhh! I advise not googling him--he's a pornographer, whom I heard of through fellow pornographerr RenEv. But holy shit, the man is a horrible person. I say that based on the things he said, and by looking at porn of his online (^shivers^). He does a lot of sadopatriarchal ("sadomasochistic") porn, esp with women presented as submissives/masochists. And he supports pornographers sexually humiliating Sarah Palin in "spoofs" eg Hustler doing a film on her. And he works for flipping Huslter!

If I get around to posting about Jensen, I'll let you know.

Julian Real said...

I'll take your advice and skip seeking out more information about the fucking asshole named Ernest Greene. May he rot in hell, the sooner the better.

(And I don't even believe in hell!)

Please do keep me informed of any future posts about Robert Jensen.

I'm concerned about your name coming up as anything other than demonista here. I welcome you to email me if you know how to prevent that from happening in the future. A techy I am not.