Thursday, October 8, 2009

"The Good Man" and some notes about Man Hating

[image is from here]

I have done what I can (so far) to identify the phallusies found suffusing the myth of man-hating, comparing it to the reality of woman-hating elsewhere on this blog.

But, I do not wish to shame or silence anyone who does, in fact, hate men. Such a state of being is rare indeed, not encoded in law, not institutionalised, not found in any centuries old customs. But, it exists, because, generally speaking, it is better to hate those who harm you than to hate yourself for being so harmed. And it is better still not to hate at all. James Baldwin and Andrea Dworkin taught me that.

But, against great odds, some of us do hate men, most often particular perpetrators. I used to hate men. I don't any more, not due to any improvement in men's behavior, to be sure. Instead of hate, I feel disappointment, despair, and rage at how much power men have globally and how little of it is used to systematically stop other men from mistreating and abusing women.

Should there be a trial, perhaps a class action suit leveled against men by women in a feminist court, I hope that all men who are living their lives without regularly confronting other men on our violence against and domination of women are found guilty of being accomplices to the garrisoned crime of gynocide.

For that man who doesn't rape girls or women, who would never belittle or beat the shit out of a woman he proclaims to love, who won't use and abuse the women in pornography and prostitution, for that man who respects one woman he knows, I have a title. I call him "The Good Man". I use this term as a political parallel to the term I grew up understanding with increasing horror: "The Good German".

The notion of "a good German", references historically real European people who lived during the time of Hitler's rule. Such a person believed they were not to blame for allowing Hitler to persecute European Jews and other ethnic and political groups, who, ostensibly, did not see the Nazi Holocaust as it occurred before their eyes.

The Good German witnessed Jews in their region being arrested, shops shut down marked "Juden", families taken away in tears and terror. The Good German heard the rumbling of the cattle cars, smelled the smoke, saw the ashen sky, and still believed in Hitler and his political philosophy of economic and cultural strength through the eradication of certain people from European societies. These were the people who later claimed to not know what was going on. Exactly what part of the Nazi atrocity didn't reach them? Sure, most Germans and other non-Jewish Europeans didn't work in the Concentration Camps, weren't members of the SS, and didn't wear brown shirts. But they saw things that were bigoted and atrocious and did nothing to find out more and stop those cattle cars, liberating the people in them. They did not try and kill Nazis. They chose to believe in a myth: that Germany could be great, even if it required genocide to be great.

The U.S. is not Nazi Germany. George W. Bush was not "the new Adolph Hitler" and any who think he was, or who think Barack Obama is, are obviously grossly ignorant about European and U.S. American history and what constitutes a fascistic militarised police state operating out of the most dangerous forms of bigotry--those acted out. This is not to say that there are not similarities; clearly men's bigotry against women is acted out in innumerable ways. This is not to say that we should only feel fortunate and be grateful to be living in this time, in this place. While I am grateful that I did not endure or not survive a Germany that would have killed me for at least three reasons: being Jewish, gay, and a political radical militantly opposed to fascism, I know that the privileges I enjoy are not enjoyed by most U.S. Americans. "Fortunate" is not what I am. Advantaged is what I am.

But many of us here are impoverished, denied access to health care and education, are raped, are bought and sold as slaves, and are punished for being female, Chicana, Jewish, Arab, or Palestinian, American Indian, and Black--in this country, for example. Whites and men pretend not to notice these punishments, indignations, and insults. The smell of the polluted waters coming through the pipes of poor neighborhoods, the sight of those who lay dying from the latest beating or sexual assault or medical neglect, and who are dead from poverty or medical malpractice, the sound of those who scream at night when daddy or hubby comes home, or into one's bedroom, is not registered by those of us who are Good Men.

Instead, what is staring us in the face is somehow is registered in our minds as something other than human atrocity. Those of us with race and gender privilege are prone to making outraged note of any white woman, any woman or man of color who behaves "crazily" according to our judgments and determinations. Discrimination is real, as is bigotry. Oppression reigns this land, once running red with the blood of slaughtered American Indians who fought to keep whites off their land. American Indians still struggle against great odds, to find justice and dignity. And still the white man doesn't give up working to wipe all American Indians off this land of theirs. And all women are paying the price for his many victories utilising heinous methods of control and colonisation.

There is reason enough to hate the oppressor. And, yet, so few among the oppressed do.



Anonymous said...

This comparison of men to 'good Germans" is excellent. The thing is, Germans actually felt shame for their behavior under Hitler, men never feel shame for what they do under male supremacy. Men get angry when their Hitler behavior is exposed.

There is no moral capacity in men. It's why they create deadening ball games. It's why they can't listen to women. It's why I am beginning to think that men are inherently morally and willfully evil. Good Germans, who are we talking about here? German men, or perhaps women who don't rise up and destroy the male race might be considered as bad as the Germans who didn't stop Hitler, just a thought here.

Julian Real said...

I think that men who do not work to stop men's atrocities against women are among the most cowardly people on Earth.

I think each form of white male atrocity has its own dynamics, its own history: so Nazi Germany is one example, and Hitler was not the only leader there. The genocide of American Indians is another example of white male atrocity. Rape and battery of women is another. Men pimping and procuring women is another.

Are men who don't stop rape and every other form of male supremacist violence just as bad as men who didn't stop Hitler? Morally, for me, the answer has to be "Yes, they are." Because any other answer would make the atrocities that happen to women as a class, perpetrated unrelentingly by men, less significant, less real in scope and horror. And what it will take to get men to recognise this horror, this atrocity... I do not know.

And I also wanted to make the comparison to show how utterly innane it is that stupid white men call strong women who refuse to suck up to men "feminazis". A more ignorant and twisted term has not been created, in my view (and Lorde knows, there are plenty to choose from).

That white men cannot see our own ignorance and stupidity as such, our own privilege and violence as such--without eroticising both, is yet another reason to question how it is that we have come to be seen as "intelligent". What is intelligence without a moral compass, one that is capable of registering the heinousness of what is happening to women, even as men watch other men do it?

Anonymous said...

Julian, what are you, like, 17-years-old or something? If you are an adult, with a fully formed brain, you are in need of serious help, sir.

Julian Real said...

Hey Anonymous of Oct. 10, 12:28pm EDT

Curious: you think I'm maybe seventeen, and yet you call me "sir"?

What are ya, five?

And, if you actually are an adult, why don't you run along now and go do something to end rape. Or is playing video games more important?

Oh, and don't bother replying, because I won't be posting any more of your stupidity.