Friday, January 15, 2010

To The White Men Who Are "Tired" of Women Speaking Negatively about "Men and Sex"


[this image is from here]

I found this silly blogpost today. And I responded. The post by nixsight follows, and where I found it can be seen by clicking on the link in this sentence. On his own blog, his words are not so rudely interrupted by mine. But that was then, and this is here.

Why Do Some Men Use Some Prostitutes?
opinio nation 15:35 15/01/10
I concluded from this that it’s not feminists such as Andrea Dworkin and myself who are responsible for the idea that all men are potential rapists – it’s sometimes men themselves.
Why men use prostitutes
There’s a lot wrong with that sentence. For a start, the fact that there’s no “just” in between “not” and “feminists” is telling. [It tells me that it's usually men, not feminists, who fuse sex and rape, in physical action, as well as in words.]

It’s a peculiar sort of person [does "peculiar sort of person here mean "feminist"?] who will take the words of obviously confused or disturbed individuals [ah, that ol' male supremacist semantics tactic: distort what normal men say--deny that they are, in fact, completely normal, by writing them off as obviously confused or disturbed individuals. We've seen this a thousand times. So the question then becomes, how many normal men have to do something normally before those men stop being "only individuals"?], and draw conclusions that pull in a whole gender. Or even a whole subset of a gender. [Or even a few obviously confused or disturbed individuals? If MOST men identify rape as a more masculine activity and being raped as a more feminine one--think of what men who rape men call the men who are being raped, and this will clue you in--and if men rape to feel manly, and if men rape women to make women feel powerless because men are pissed that SOME subsets of women have SOME subsets of power, then what does this person have to deny to arrive at the "reality" that rapism isn't tied intimately and atrociously to patriarchal heterosexual manhood?]

One can’t conclude from the words of a suicidal female office worker that all office workers are suicidal, let alone that all women are. [Ah, white male supremacist logic: could it be any more illogical? No, one can't. Bring in a copy of Yurugu please! But one can conclude that because men "feminise" raped people of whatever sexes and genders (intersex, female, male, and trans), and because men "masculinise" rapists, and because men rape women with derisive intentionality and misogynistic will and aggressive power used against human beings they wish to degrade, humiliate, shame, and sexually subordinate, we may--sociologically speaking--arrive at the conclusion that men rape AS men, not AS women; men rape women to prove to themselves they are manly, not EVER in order to be womanly.]

I’m getting a little bit tired of sex-negative writing at the moment. [I recommend a nap. Even twenty minutes. Really. It's incredibly rejuvenating!] For sure, there is trafficking and abuse in the sex industry [Well, now that it's been said by him, we can all go to sleep knowing THAT'S a reality! Whew! And--can ya tell: there's a "but" nearby, there's a "but" very close by, I can just tell...], and something should be done about it [he conveniently avoids the "what should be done about it part". Hmmm.], but we – and certainly, The Guardian [certainly THE GUARDIAN!]– should be at the point where the discussion is more insightful and specific, and less blunt and general. [Because, well, it's all such a bummer really, when we get, like, all, you know, blunt and general about CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN. But crimes against men: well, dull those blades and skip the exceptions: "all women are b*tches" wouldn't be too blunt or general, would it? No. Apparently not. Because whenever I hear men utter THAT phrase, or write it, or sing it, or act it out, there are no men, none, who call him out on THAT being too blunt and too general. But "men rape women" is waaaay to blunt and oh so general. We're not allowed to speak about men's atrocities against women with the same level of bluntness and generality with which men denigrate women in every medium.]

Certainly, it may say something about how objective ['racist masculinist code word' alert!--please read in Yurugu again for clarity about these tactics] a writer. [He means a FEMINIST writer who doesn't think individual women stripping at a pole for male gazers is political liberation for women as a class] wants to be when they are using data from a very limited survey [that survey being what men say about men, in their own words, about their own uses of women as wh*res--one wonders, really: if eight million heterosexual men were interviewed, and they all said similar things as those few hundred men, or, worse, if they revealed even more vile levels of misogynistic contempt for women and girls, what would then be the denial-soaked defense that "it's still not truthful about how heterosexual men feel and what heterosexual men do"?], and not giving much away about how they came across the responders. [Well, let's see. Maybe it involved interviewing men who wanted to be interviewed about their use of women in systems of prostitution. It is all explained in the report. But never mind that. That would require reading more of what feminists have to say, who quote heterosexual men directly, about what heterosexual men do, to women in systems of prostitution. Their bad. (Feminist WOMEN, of course, not heterosexual MEN! WHITE-MALE SKY-GOD forbid.]

There are many erudite and pragmatic ex and current sex-workers writing on and off the internet. [And he's not one of them. And he can't speak for them. And he doesn't get to use them to make his silly points. Or, well, yes, I guess he does. And did you notice? He broke out the silver dollar words. He's really annoyed.] There’s really no excuse any more to use the word “prostitute” as short-hand for “trafficked” or “exploited”. [Never mind that pimps do it all the time.] Even if it’s the case that the majority of people in the industry are either one of those things [those things. And could they be BOTH of those "things"??? Or only one or the other? Do women have to choose? Or is it men who get to choose that?], applying that sort of binary thinking [white male supremacy lingo alert!!!] to the issue isn’t moving discussion of it along at all. [So said HE, who stands on the misogynistic mountaintop of his own own patriarchal atrocity-denying mind!]

I’ve realised today that my relationship with The Guardian is similar to the one I had with the NME – in that I started reading both at around the same point in my life, and allowed myself to identify with them a little – but for some reason I never grew out of the former the way I did the latter. Helpfully, the paper’s online provision is sorting that out.
(Cross-Posted from Tumblr)

My posted (I think) response to nixsight is as follows:

I agree that there should be a "just" in that first sentence.

You seem more upset with writing than the fact that women and girls worldwide are being enslaved, trafficked, raped, pimped, procured, and exploited sexually. I draw this conclusion based on that "For sure... but..." sentence (fourth paragraph of your post). For as someone has pointed out, "ignore everything before the 'but'" is what such sentences generally mean.

Is one or two or more articles written in such generalisations more offensive to you than, say, the mass rape of women? Or the global trafficking of women and girls?

Have you seen the video of "Maria" who, this past December, finally spoke out about all the missing girls of Juarez? Is that "sex-negative"? And what positive spin would you like to put on that?

Here it is:
http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/world/americas/telling+mariaaposs+story+video+blog/3496637

And this?
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6637396204037343133#

I am eager to know what you feel when you watch these. My experience is this: as a white man I can afford to "not know", viscerally as well as intellectually, what is happening to poor girls and women of color globally. Also to poor boys and men of color. I can watch three minutes of the news of the catastrophe currently bleeding in Haiti and switch over to some racist, misogynist white dude on Comedy Central. (I don't, but I could.) I can pretend what is happening in Haiti is all "natural", as if NAFTA has nothing to do with it, or globalisation, or capitalism which requires poverty. I can pretend and not have ceilings crash down on my head to wake me up from this illusion.

I can be offended by those women who speak about men and sex negatively, without really considering how much "sex" that men perpetrate on children and women is, in fact, far more horrific than "negative". The white straight married man who sexually assaulted me when I was twelve, was he "sex-negative"?

28 comments:

JENNIFER DREW said...

Very similar denials, excuses, justifications etc were made by pro-prostitution apologists when they responded to the Guardian's article on 'Why Men Buy Prostitutes.' Title is typical left-wing male liberalism because women are not 'prostitutes' they are women involved in prostitution.

However, the commentators seized on fact only just over 100 Johns were interviewed and this supposedly proved not to be 'real research. Irrespective of fact other male-centered research which commonly 'proves' women are supposedly inept, incapable of rational thought, in fact any research supposedly proving women as a group are less than men is supposedly 'real rational research.' The only criteria is that such research must always be conducted by individuals who are not feminist because these individuals (overwhelmingly white males) are objective, rational and not tainted in any way by our patriarchal/white male supremacist society.

Claims feminist research is not 'real research' is a common diversionary ploy. No matter how many Johns feminist researchers interview, whether it is 10, 1,000, 10,000 always men will claim 'such research is men-hating and not representative of most men.'

The real issue is male heterosexuality continues to be constructed and enforced as to be natural and expected that heterosexual men should use force, threats of violence, coercion, manipulation, never accept women not men own their bodies and sexuality, ignore the woman's refusal, but always keep on demanding, use as much force as necessary to achieve their goal. What is that? Why unlimited sexual access to any woman or girl the man wishes. In this way rape becomes 'normal male heterosexual behaviour.'

I've lost count of the times I've heard/read men claim 'women are .... or women are ..... (insert misogynistic sexual insult) and yet apparently it is acceptable for men to denigrate women as a group because guess what? Women are never 'individuals' unlike white men, women do not have 'rights' unlike white men and women are all the same 'unlike white men.'

Julian Real said...

Precisely, Jennifer. We've gotta put all this together, all these many, many, many examples of how actual men respond to show the pattern.

It's so damned preDICKtable. You'd think they'd talk amongst themselves and come up with some new "rationalisations"!

White men always get annoyed with me when I point out, "Uh, no, actually. You're not JUST an individual". As if they don't know that... as if white men don't do all manner of things to protect The White Brotherhood. Including the ability to fend off any arguments by women of any color and men of color with retorts like "you're over-generalising".

As you note, the contempt-laden epithets white het men hurl at "other" people (who aren't white het men) demonstrates they don't quite see the rest of us as individuals. What IS that list of contempt-laden epithets that ONLY WHM use against each other? The answer: terms for the rest of us! (They have so much damned social status that any stigma has to come from associations with those they oppress.)

So what happens when a study (or, um, reality) shows that WHM are, as a group, self-serving, obnoxiously arrogant, willfully ignorant, abusive, exploitive, misogynistic, racist, and/or homophobic? Well, if they are uber-conservative they might say, "Thank you. Yes I am! And damn proud of it, too".

Or if ultra-liberal, they will say, in a heartbeat, "You are over-generalising! You are a bigot! You can't say that about ALL white straight men!!!"

Well, yes boys, we can. And we just did. And if you were honest, for once, you'd own up to it. And if you had hearts that felt what the people you oppress feel, then you'd be responsible with your privileges and entitlements and structural power. And you'd stop your oppressive ways of being human.

Julian Real said...

And I quote from the woman who has said this only to be called so many of those over-generalising (anti-individualising) contemptuous epithets by WHM. The truth-teller states:

"women insist on an individuality that has no credibility in the face of the rapist, the batterer, the pimp, nor in the media and the courts". -- Andrea Dworkin, Scapegoat, p. 126.

Nick! said...

Hi, Julian!

I'm pleased that someone has finally taken the time to critically examine something I've written - it's taken long enough - but there are a few deficiencies, and assumptions made - in your arguments in the comments over on my site.

I can see that you haven't been quite as restrained over here, which is as it should be - it is your space, after all - but there are a few things that I didn't clarify enough in my post, which I've addressed in my response to your comment, and rather than swamp your comments by reprinting them here, I thought it more politic to give your readers the option, if they want, to come find them. (Same link as you gave up at the top of the post).

If you'd rather not drive more traffic to my site, I'd be happy to copy/paste it here. Or, you know, leave it if you'd rather not have the clarification.

One thing I would like to address are a couple of the points that you make here, that you didn't make over there.

Your title: White Men Who Are "Tired" of Women Speaking Negatively about "Men and Sex"
For a dramatic deconstruction of a blogpost that is about misleading journalism, that title creates a lot of false context. I don't at any point complain about women speaking, negatively or otherwise, about men and sex. I made what I saw as a very clear and deliberate complaint about the journalistic quality of one particular article, in which the writer was speaking on behalf of men. That the writer was female is irrelevant, or was to me, anyway - I didn't really notice that she was until I was already irritated by the article.

You picked up, heavily, on my use of the phrase "getting a little bit tired of sex-negative writing at the moment", going as far as to reflect it in your title. I picked up on this in my response to your comment at my site, but should repeat here, that though I made the statement on this post, it was an accumulative feeling I had from reading the Guardian article, and this one. In both articles, a writer was allowing an individual man, or men, dictate the terms of a woman's sexuality and her right to control it; that one article took an anti-female view, and the other an anti-male one, wasn't as offensive to me as the fact that in neither case were the women allowed a voice. If we're talking matriarchy and patriarchy, my view is that we should be working to help people get to a position where they can speak for themselves... not have old women and men, and angry white guys speaking for them.

It was foolish to include the sex-negative comment without explaining that it referred more specifically to the prosecutor/judge/journo in the gang rape case, but I hadn't considered that anyone would crash-land in the middle of my post without already being aware of my previous attitudes and ideals, and with their own axe to grind. It's a lesson the internet has tried over and again to teach me, and I forget it every time.

Okay, so...

When I say "a peculiar sort of person", I don't mean "feminist". If the writer hadn't referred to herself as a feminist, I wouldn't have defined her as such. Frankly, I can't be bothered with the label. People either respect other people, or they don't. Anything else is distraction.

Nick! said...

What I actually meant when I said "a peculiar sort of person" was "a peculiar sort of person". The sort of person who can't read some level of dysfunction in the content and syntax of a statement like: "Sometimes you might rape someone: you can go to a prostitute instead." or "A desperate man who wants sex so bad, he needs sex to be relieved. He might rape.".

Does that sound like something a "normal man" would say? Or put more bluntly, does it sound like something you, or any of the men you know, might say? I'd hope not - if it is, it might reasonably say more about the region you are in than men in the UK or western world in general.

Another thing I'd like to clear up: You're talking about rape an awful lot. I get that you're preoccupied with it. But at no point did I suggest in my post that rape wasn't a bad thing, or even wasn't a common thing, as you have portrayed here. My post, and the post I was responding to, was about prostitution, and the way that the article irresponsibly distracted the reader from the problems that do exist, and the places where those problems are worst, by reframing its very spare research to make the problems look endemic across a whole field. A field, it's worth noting, where women actually on the ground, both working as and with sex workers, are more than happy to suggest ways that women in the industry would be safer, and more in control of their own destinies. The writer feels more qualified, having talked to a small sample of men who only visit that world, with deciding what the situation is, than letting the women speak for themselves. She doesn't care about making the lives of those women better, so much as she does about making her point.

I'd also like to clarify that the idealistically attributed term "All women are bitches" didn't come from me. I know you didn't directly say it did, but as you have, in my absence, adopted me as straw man for all things typically male, and you used it as an example of things a typical male says, I think I should clarify for your readers that those are your words, not mine. I'm pretty sure I've never aired the sentiment, online or off.

But then, I suppose I would say that, wouldn't I?

Further, you identify me as a white male, for some reason. A lot. I don't know exactly where you've got it from, but it isn't accurate. I don't see why it merits mentioning in your post, but you did, so for the sake of honest, open communication, I should mention that it's wrong. The supremacist thing? I'm not sure I get, but is idealistic and objective, rather than empirical, so I can see why you'd say it. You clearly see me in some higher hegemonic strata than I do. But I'll let it go, as you obviously have a lexicon that is very personal to your movement. But the race thing? Nu-uh.

Nick! said...

Can I ask, which atrocities exactly is it I'm denying? I've got a pretty clear sense of how evil the world is. Not sure where I gave the impression that I didn't.

And if I can't use the erudite (silver-dollar? Really? Oh dear.) sex-bloggers to make a point, silly or otherwise, because I am not a female sex-worker, can I ask how you get to speak for them, as a self-identified class-privilidged white male?

Also, how did you go about deciding that you weren't a "typical male"? I assume you don't consider yourself one, as you seem intent on setting yourself apart from them, but if you're not, how come? Did you decide you weren't, or did someone else tell you? It seems like the sort of personal statement one can only reasonably make by reflecting the observations of others. I mean, everyone thinks that they're atypical, so what makes you different.

I'm genuinely curious. Prior to your comment on my blog, I hadn't heard of radical profeminism, and I'm intrigued about different ideologies. I learn a lot more through discussion and debate than I do from manifestos and glossaries, so you, sir, are fascinating.

Anyway, thanks again for your comments. I honestly didn't expect to learn anything new so late in the day today!

Julian Real said...

I'm pleased that someone has finally taken the time to critically examine something I've written - it's taken long enough - but there are a few deficiencies, and assumptions made - in your arguments in the comments over on my site.

I hear ya! There's something nice about knowing that what you've taken the time to say is actually read... by somebody... by ANYbody! (That'd be me: the ANYbody. lol)

I can see that you haven't been quite as restrained over here, which is as it should be - it is your space, after all - but there are a few things that I didn't clarify enough in my post, which I've addressed in my response to your comment, and rather than swamp your comments by reprinting them here, I thought it more politic to give your readers the option, if they want, to come find them. (Same link as you gave up at the top of the post).

Most appreciated, although you would be welcome to clarify here as well, and if you'd like your full response here, for the record, I'll publish it here.

If you'd rather not drive more traffic to my site, I'd be happy to copy/paste it here. Or, you know, leave it if you'd rather not have the clarification.

I'm fine with sending folks your way. And I welcome the opportunity to clarify as well.

One thing I would like to address are a couple of the points that you make here, that you didn't make over there.

Your title: White Men Who Are "Tired" of Women Speaking Negatively about "Men and Sex"
For a dramatic deconstruction of a blogpost that is about misleading journalism, that title creates a lot of false context.


I think our disagreement is in whether or to what degree anything about that study is misleading. The fact that you readily identify it as such--in dismissive language (have you read the whole study, btw?), is a political issue, imo, not only a semantic one.

I don't at any point complain about women speaking, negatively or otherwise, about men and sex.

I'd argue that if you critique a study promoted as valuable by a woman, and mark it as misleading journalism, because the author finds it valuable and accurate, and that author is a woman, then you are, in fact, complaining about at least one woman's speech. I'm asking you to be responsible for doing that.

I made what I saw as a very clear and deliberate complaint about the journalistic quality of one particular article, in which the writer was speaking on behalf of men. That the writer was female is irrelevant, or was to me, anyway - I didn't really notice that she was until I was already irritated by the article.

Nonetheless, if it's a woman you are criticising in a social space, it carries with it the dynamics of "men criticising women in social spaces". I'm not saying you don't get to do it. Whitemale skygod knows, men do it. I'm saying that while I hear that for you, the gender of the author was irrelevant, and, also, initially unknown to you, what you post in response is politically gendered, whether you want it to be or not.

Julian Real said...

You picked up, heavily, on my use of the phrase "getting a little bit tired of sex-negative writing at the moment", going as far as to reflect it in your title. I picked up on this in my response to your comment at my site, but should repeat here, that though I made the statement on this post, it was an accumulative feeling I had from reading the Guardian article, and this one.

It may be the case that we travel in very different intellectual circles. But in the linguistic spaces I inhabit online, "sex-negative" is a coded term, both deeply liberal and profoundly masculinist. It carries all manner of anti-radical feminist meaning. Read the beginning of the chapter in Andrea Dworkin's book Intercourse for more on this.

From that book:
"critiques of rape, pornography, and prostitution are 'sex-negative' without qualification or examination perhaps because so many men use these ignoble routes of access and domination to get laid".

In both articles, a writer was allowing an individual man, or men, dictate the terms of a woman's sexuality and her right to control it; that one article took an anti-female view, and the other an anti-male one, wasn't as offensive to me as the fact that in neither case were the women allowed a voice.

I feel you are missing the point. The article and the study are about men's* misogynistic views of women and sexuality, and how men feel about both in the context of using women in systems of prostitution.

*Not "some" men's either: "men's" here is to be distinguished from "women'", not to imply "all" vs. "some". This is, perhaps, one of the most common misreads by men on the topic.

If I say "U.S. whites are racist against Blacks" context will tell you that I'm referring to "U.S. whites" as opposed to or relative to, say, Swedish whites. The reflexive reaction, "Not ALL U.S. whites entirely misses the point being made, and turns the discussion into a free-for-all, scratch that, a free-for-the-oppressors discussion about how many individuals among an oppressor group actively and willfully participate in the oppression of the subordinated group. This is usually done spuriously by members of the oppressor groups. Defensively, as in "defending the privileges and power of the oppressor group to name reality and to dictate the terms and direction of any given conversation".

If we're talking matriarchy and patriarchy,

I'd say we can only talk about patriarchy, if we're talking about Western civilisation. There is no matriarchy, so to discuss it in the context of a new study about what men think of the women and girls they use in systems of prostitution, trafficking, and sexual slavery is irrelevant and becomes a distraction device.

my view is that we should be working to help people get to a position where they can speak for themselves... not have old women and men, and angry white guys speaking for them.

The point of the study is to let men, heterosexually active UK men, mostly but not only white, speak for themselves about a subject, an atrocity, that men tend to not speak out about at all, unless it's to call out to a woman that he thinks she's a wh*re or a sl*t, or a h* or a b*tch. I am curious what your discomfort or objection is about in letting these men speak for themselves. I think it's very important to know what men think and feel, that is misogynistic and/or racist. To have these statements catalogued and discussed in a context in which women ARE respected, is unusual, to say the least.

It was foolish to include the sex-negative comment without explaining that it referred more specifically to the prosecutor/judge/journo in the gang rape case,

You've lost me. When is the discussion of the gang rape case referenced in that blogpost? Or is your point that it wasn't but perhaps ought to have been?

Julian Real said...

but I hadn't considered that anyone would crash-land in the middle of my post without already being aware of my previous attitudes and ideals, and with their own axe to grind.

Ah, welcome to the blogosphere, where crash-landing can and often does lead to flame wars.

It's a lesson the internet has tried over and again to teach me, and I forget it every time.

I recommend not forgetting it. That's why my blog states it's position on political matters from the top down. There's no way to mistake any comment here as antifeminist, however sarcastically it may be stated. And I recommend you put forth, in a clear and visible way, what your views are, if your individual blogposts are not going to clarify that each time. It will save you the grief, or, well, time, of having to respond to the likes of me! lol

When I say "a peculiar sort of person", I don't mean "feminist".

But a peculiarity of the person you are speaking critically of, without identifying at all what you find peculiar, IS a feminist.

If the writer hadn't referred to herself as a feminist, I wouldn't have defined her as such.

Well, I welcome you to find out more about the work and writings of Julie Bindel. She's well-known as a writer who is critical of sexxxism in all its manly-infestations.

Frankly, I can't be bothered with the label.

Well, I find that to be a rather privileged position, coming from a politically undefined white man. I'd wager a guess that she can't avoid being bothered because she identifies as such.

People either respect other people, or they don't. Anything else is distraction.

I'll own right now that I have little patience for comments that are not located in the actual world of oppression and suffering. That statement has little meaning for me, and falls under the category of un-useful liberal individualism. I honestly don't mean that to be insulting to you. I mean it to be a harsh critique of those sorts of statements.

Who are these "people"? Where do they live? And if disrespect is "distraction" then you must find what those men who use and abuse women have to say terribly distracting.

Nick, there are no "people" in the abstract. There are actual people. So do men treat women with respect or don't they? This study answers that question, to some degree. To take a study that reveals how men actually feel, and how men actually mistreat women based on those feelings, is important political work, imo. To critique such a study on the grounds that it presents men saying negative things about sex, is, well, again to miss the point rather entirely.

Julian Real said...

What I actually meant when I said "a peculiar sort of person" was "a peculiar sort of person". The sort of person who can't read some level of dysfunction in the content and syntax of a statement like: "Sometimes you might rape someone: you can go to a prostitute instead." or "A desperate man who wants sex so bad, he needs sex to be relieved. He might rape."

So are you saying you are more disturbed that someone notes what men say that is vile, than the vile things men actually do say about women?

Does that sound like something a "normal man" would say?

Yes, it does. Those are normal men, and they said it.

Or put more bluntly, does it sound like something you, or any of the men you know, might say?

It sounds like something many, many men say. Many men who blog and who write online and who solicit women as prostitutes, and who visit online pornography sites and speak internally in vile ways to the women they think they know because she's displayed as a thing before him. I've talked with hundreds of men about this. And they own that this is normal. This notion that "men who rape" or "men who use women" are abnormal is not founded in any social place I'm aware of. Let me put it this way:

How many men do you know who would say "I have no right whatsoever to have 24/7 access to pimped women who are splayed and displayed" for heterosexual male viewers primarily. I know about three. And you? Men will say "But I don't look at those images" but they won't say--accept for three males I know--"I don't have A RIGHT to look at them, to have visual access to them". I know of almost no men who thing they are not entitled to have this and other forms of visual and physical access to women. And, if you are among the men who do feel you are not entitled to this access, what are the settings on your computer set at right now? Are they set to rule out seeing some of those images? When is the last time you looked at the image of a pimped and pornographised woman (or women) on the internet? Honestly.

I'd hope not - if it is, it might reasonably say more about the region you are in than men in the UK or western world in general.

And it might not. We'll need more studies, yes?

Another thing I'd like to clear up: You're talking about rape an awful lot.

Not nearly enough.

Julian Real said...

I get that you're preoccupied with it.

I find that to be a rather spurious and callous thing to say. I write here "a lot" about genocide. Do you see me as similarly "preoccupied" with that atrocity? And exactly how "unpreoccupied" ought a white man be with atrocities like rape and genocide, in your view? If someone posts eight times about the disaster in Haiti, is that "too many times" in your book? Does your tendency to psychologise someone's interest in exposing harm as such, whether the harm of rape, or the harm of genocide, or the harm of poverty or racism tell me much about me? I don't think so. I think it tells me a lot about what your comfort zone is with discussing the atrocious things that we white men do, normally.

But at no point did I suggest in my post that rape wasn't a bad thing, or even wasn't a common thing, as you have portrayed here.

I guess I'm not sensing that you don't understand it as an atrocity, and I'm curious to know why that is. I hear you speaking of it as if you are speaking about the common cold. Do you see how you are doing that?

My post, and the post I was responding to, was about prostitution, and the way that the article irresponsibly distracted the reader from the problems that do exist,

Such as what? What more serious problems does focusing on men's abuses of women distract us from? What ought we be dealing with instead? What ranks way up there as horrible?

The systematic assault of women and girls inside and outside systems of prostitution, trafficking, and sexual slavery is "up there" for me. Call me preoccupied. Oh, you already did.

and the places where those problems are worst,

Do you mean, say, in Phnom Penh? I'm not clear what you mean. And given the mobilisation of "trafficked" girls and women across the globe, how do you arrive at the places where it is worse? If AIDS is awful in one place called "here", is it less awful "here" because it is spread more widely elsewhere?

by reframing its very spare research to make the problems look endemic across a whole field.

I don't think a study is making prostitution and trafficking endemic. I think procurers and pimps do that. The study is discussing how men who are active procurers or W.I.M.P.s as I call them (see my glossary to the right), feel about the women they procure. As I am hearing it, that is the same dangerously specious argument that says if feminists didn't speak about women being victimised so much, women would be less victimised. Well, no.

A field, it's worth noting, where women actually on the ground, both working as and with sex workers, are more than happy to suggest ways that women in the industry would be safer, and more in control of their own destinies.

I don't see Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap complaining about the report or the article. So why are you?

The writer feels more qualified, having talked to a small sample of men who only visit that world,

The world of men using women in prostitution, yes.

Julian Real said...

with deciding what the situation is, than letting the women speak for themselves.

Once more: the point of this study is to hear from the men. There are other studies which hear from the women. A well-known one was done in San Francisco many years ago. Should women in systems of prostitution speak for the men who use them? I think they should speak about their experiences of those men, to reveal how self-servingly W.I.M.P.s speak about themselves, often. And they ought to speak for themselves, as you say. But this study isn't about the women. It's about the W.I.M.P.s. and the implications for women based on what men reveal by way of expressing their feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior towards women.

She doesn't care about making the lives of those women better, so much as she does about making her point.

You obviously are not familiar with Julie Bindel's work. You own this, when you stated you didn't even know she was a feminist. Research her long list of accomplishments, and then tell me she doesn't care about making the lives of women better. That is the whole point of her writing about this! It's not so she can hear men speak misogynistically, just to pass time.

I'd also like to clarify that the idealistically attributed term "All women are b*tches" didn't come from me. I know you didn't directly say it did, but as you have, in my absence, adopted me as straw man

Nick, you are flesh and blood, just like anyone else. And if you don't own how your writing comes off, that's fine. But I don't have any problem pointing out how it does come off, not just to me, as evidenced in other comments above.

for all things typically male, and you used it as an example of things a typical male says, I think I should clarify for your readers that those are your words, not mine.

They are not what Nick said. They are words I've heard from many men's mouths. Not from my own mouth. I don't use the term "b*tch" as anyone who knows me can tell you. Not even for men. Not even for female dogs.

I'm pretty sure I've never aired the sentiment, online or off.

I'm happy to clarify that. You didn't say "All women are [misogynist expletive]".

But then, I suppose I would say that, wouldn't I?

You tell me. I don't know you. Do you use the term, b*tch, ever? Have you? When was the last time?

Further, you identify me as a white male, for some reason. A lot. I don't know exactly where you've got it from, but it isn't accurate. I don't see why it merits mentioning in your post, but you did, so for the sake of honest, open communication, I should mention that it's wrong.

What is your ethnicity, Nick? You didn't mention it. My experience, overwhelmingly, is this: when someone doesn't mention their ethnicity or race, they are usually white and without an embraced ethnicity. Tell me if that isn't also your experience.

Julian Real said...

The supremacist thing? I'm not sure I get,

I believe you don't get it.

but is idealistic and objective, rather than empirical, so I can see why you'd say it.

I'm basing it on what you wrote. Language carries meaning. And I could be wrong, but there's not a lot so far that is leading me to think I am. But I'm listening.

You clearly see me in some higher hegemonic strata than I do. But I'll let it go, as you obviously have a lexicon that is very personal to your movement.

No, it's well worn and common. It may be new to you, but I can lead you to many blogs--see my blogroll--that use the term "white supremacist" regularly, because "white supremacy" is a regular phenomenon, as are white male supremacists, even those who are not white.

I apologise for identifying you as white if you are not white. And I welcome you to clarify both your race and your ethnicity, if you wish to.

The main theme here is that people manifest ideologies. I see an ideology manifested in what you wrote. And one doesn't have to be white to manifest and reflect back a white supremacist/racist ideology. I see what you wrote as employing many "discursive" strategies (there's my silver dollar word!) designed to deflect attention away from the atrocity of trafficked girls and women, and the men who traffic and use them.

You are quite right, that I may well have positioned you higher up the hegemonic ladder than you are, structurally speaking. And for that I do, again, apologise. And I also apologise for appearing to disrespect any terms you used. There is a poverty of language on the internet, and good for you for putting out terms that cannot easily be texted. I'm completely serious about that.

Julian Real said...

Hi Nick,

I don't believe I addressed these questions.

I did answer most over at your blog, but am not sure they went through. Something about some code that must be put in for comments to be approved... anyway, I didn't see them after entering that code.

So I'll keep responding here. And you can copy and paste what you'd like to over there.

Can I ask, which atrocities exactly is it I'm denying?

Yes, the atrocity of men using and abusing, exploiting and degrading, dominating and controling, hurting and harming, oppressing and subordinating, raping and killing women and girls because they are female human beings.

I've got a pretty clear sense of how evil the world is.

I've not seen you identify the above as "evil". Please direct me to where you do that on your blog.

Not sure where I gave the impression that I didn't.

It starts with the disrespect you show feminists. And it goes from there.

And if I can't use the erudite (silver-dollar? Really? Oh dear.)

I apologise to you for taking issue with any terms like that you use. As noted in the "disappeared response over to your own blog", there is a poverty of language, and cheers to anyone who enriches it in online postings. This helps ensure that the world's languages will not be reduced to that which can be texted, or, more poverty-stricken still, "sexted".

sex-bloggers

I don't understand this term at all.

to make a point, silly or otherwise, because I am not a female sex-worker, can I ask how you get to speak for them, as a self-identified class-privilidged white male?

I speak for myself, Nick. Not for women. I generally quote women directly, or link to what women say, or post videos of women speaking out. I don't speak for them. Women respond here in their own voices.

Also, how did you go about deciding that you weren't a "typical male"?

And when did I ever say that? I have, maybe once, remarked that I don't think I'm a typical profeminist, but if you read this blog, you'll never hear me say I'm not a typical male.

I assume you don't consider yourself one, as you seem intent on setting yourself apart from them, but if you're not, how come?

I think your assumption is inaccurate. I'm not apart from white men. It's a point I make repeatedly here. I refer to white men, often, as "us" not "them", so how does that set me apart from them? I am part of a raced and gendered class of people, white men. That's where I'm located structurally, regardless of my politics or day to day actions. And I can be a white male supremacist at any moment, which is another point I have made here over and over.

Did you decide you weren't, or did someone else tell you? It seems like the sort of personal statement one can only reasonably make by reflecting the observations of others. I mean, everyone thinks that they're atypical, so what makes you different.

Now you're speaking for everyone?

I'm confused. Are you taking me to task for claiming to be atypical, or for being atypical in claiming not to be atypical? Believe it or not, that's a serious question.

I'm genuinely curious.

I'm utterly confused about what you're curious about.

Prior to your comment on my blog, I hadn't heard of radical profeminism, and I'm intrigued about different ideologies. I learn a lot more through discussion and debate than I do from manifestos and glossaries, so you, sir, are fascinating.

I don't seek to be fascinating, as that puts me in the category of a rare species of bird. There's nothing rare about me. And the views and values I hold dear are held dear by many people, including by not a few men. But they don't blog. I do.

I welcome you to clarify your concerns and questions.

Julian Real said...

To Nick and other readers here,

I responded to what follows--or I thought I did--over at Nick's blog.

The comments disappeared due to some code issue that I'd prefer not to contend with again.

So here is Nick's longer reply to me from his own blog, linked to atop this post in the first line.

I'll respond in parts, per usual, but only after posting his uninterrupted comment below, which may also be in parts.

Ah, Julian…

You’ve completely misunderstood me. That’s okay – it’s your prerogative as a human, and specifically as a radical profeminist, to approach your reading with a view to pushing your own stance, and that fact does pretty much prove the point I was trying to make – but you’ve made some assumptions, here and at your own blog, where you’ve tried to tear me down to what I can assume is a pre-sympathetic audience, about me personally, which you don’t really have a right to do.

I didn’t have a problem with the sentence at all. My grammar and vocabulary varies wildly depending on my mood and energy levels, and as such I NEVER pick on people’s possible issues with literacy.

What I have a problem with is fuzzy communication, which I think is making our whole planet a more confusing, dangerous place to be, and which I’ve talked about before, in various places, if you care to look.

And I also have a problem with lazy journalism, or misinformation with an agenda, dressed up as journalism. And I have a serious problem with directed and ill-defined survey taking, when it’s then delivered as a fair and balanced, scientific study.

It’s possible my poor and hurried attempt at writing didn’t make this point of view clear, so I will spell a couple of points out for you:

You can take my first sentence at face value. I don’t tend to fuck around with language, except for my own amusement. I have done before, and it’s normally obvious when I do. But in this case, no – the writer dropped the “just” because it was easier to lend weight to their point if they removed themselves from the suggestion entirely. I find that gutless, considering the statement they’re making.

Julian Real said...

And yes, you are right that the point of the “but” is to draw a line, but it isn’t to ignore what goes before – it’s to tell the reader that I am not ignorant of the issues, even though they aren’t what I’m talking about. Though I guess in some cases – by which I mean you – that concession hasn’t worked. I wasn’t being particularly disingenious with my language there, so you can look to the reader – by which I mean you – for the interpretation that you’ve found.

If I may, I’m going to clarify something that you wrote. I interpret, from your aggressive stance, that you aren’t really eager to know what I feel when I watch a video, or read a story. What you are eager for is for me to either concede and agree with your views, or – more likely – to expose myself further as… whatever it is you’ve decided I am.

We’re adults. We have complex thought processes. As such, I find your question about which I find more offensive out of two completely different things mind-boggling.

On the pages of a newspaper website, I find articles that profess to inform and actually miscommunicate about the most offensive thing there is.
In the real world, I’d have to say that any sort of non-consensual violence is pretty much equal first for most offensive – though I’d say one offends, the other sickens, actually.

Ask me to choose between the two, and I’ll tell you I don’t have to. The two arenas exist seperately from each other, except at one vital point – the point where the information distributor creates our sense of what is going on in the real world.

Bearing that in mind, an article that generalises to straining point, or paints a false picture of a situation where real, genuine people are being exploited or abused, isn’t acceptable – it’s practically exploitative and totally damaging itself.

When one approaches a subject like prostitution, genocide, child abuse or terrorism, and does anything to muddy or confuse the facts, they do the subject and the victims of those things a tremendous disservice, while at the same time lowering the quality of discourse for everyone else.

Or to put it another way, you ask me if lying about a problem is acceptable, when there is a real problem, and my response will always be that lying only serves to validate the liar’s ego, while distorting the shape of the problem makes it much more difficult to deal with.

Or to put it still another way: Are one or two articles that generalise about the threat of terrorism in a way that enhances the fear of the issue acceptable, if there genuinely are bombs going off around the world? Does lying about the danger in our own country, even with the best of intentions, help someone whose family has been shredded by an IUD in the Middle East?

If you genuinely believe that foreigners are a threat to your country, is it okay to bend the facts when you report on the subject to fit your fears?

Julian Real said...

Further to all that, you raise an interesting point: I didn’t qualify my use of the term “sex-positive”, and someone turning up pre-loaded with the notion that I might be an asshole could misinterpret that, too.

This was one of two articles in the last couple of days that aggravated me on this front, by using either unbalanced writing, sloppy journalism, or simply reporting on a messy situation, to push what I see as a sex-negative viewpoint.

The other story was this one: http://is.gd/6lSvd. My issue with it was that either the writer, the prosecutor, or the judge was comfortable with the idea that a woman who had voiced a group-sex fantasy somehow couldn’t be gang-raped, without further examining or discussing the case. Someone in that situation was pushing from a hetero-normative, monogamous and repressed point of view, and the end result was that a woman was penalised for expressing a fantasy, and her punishment was getting gang-raped without recourse to justice, or even recognition.

Now, I don’t know what your take on that is, but I think that it was the rape, and not the fact that she had a fantasy and was sex-positive enough to comfortably voice it, in a notionally safe environment, that was the reprehensible part. I know a lot of women who are sex-positive, and the thought that a sex-negative culture might allow dreadful things to happen to them, and them be held up as immoral into the bargain, I have problems with.

That is the issue I have with journalistic integrity and the lack thereof.

And though I don’t really know what you were expecting when you asked me to comment on your childhood rape, I’d have to say that he probably was sex-negative. I don’t know – is your life-experience of other men and women such that that man seemed particularly well-adjusted and sexually functional?

All this said, hopefully by now you’ve realised that I’m grateful for your comment, and that what I’m really concerned about is that we all try communicating frankly, in the hope of better exposing the places where our society, and that of others falls down. I’m interested in these things being fixed, not puffing myself up talking about how bad they are. It should, among reasonable people, go without saying that rape, trafficking and abuse is bad.

I welcome your further contributions, with a caveat: I’m not interested in people coming onto the comments for the sake of stirring up an argument, or levelling ill-thought out judgements or personal slurs against me that don’t bear relation to what I have said. Your comment stands because I’m assuming your tone grew out of not properly understanding my point of view. From here-on in, I expect a more moderate tone, and you should take this as fair warning that future lectures will be moderated.

Your intensity may serve you well in the outside world, but online, on other people’s web-spaces, it only serves to make you look aggressive, and truly, if your underlying agenda is the protection of the abused, you may want to look to managing that behaviour.

Unsolicited aggression is not the path to understanding. Everybody learns that eventually.

Julian Real said...

Hi Nick,

Your name is distinctly and wonderfully Greek. Unless you were adopted by a Greek family, what other ethnicities comprise your heritage? Because Greek, in the U.S., anyway, is white. So let me know in what ways you are not a white man, please.

Ah, Julian…

You’ve completely misunderstood me.


I'm open to you explaining the ways I've done that. Although I contend you aren't owning one rather obvious meaning of your own statements.

That’s okay – it’s your prerogative as a human,

Thanks.

and specifically as a radical profeminist, to approach your reading with a view to pushing your own stance,

As we whiteboys tend to do.

and that fact does pretty much prove the point I was trying to make – but you’ve made some assumptions,

I'm hoping you'll articulate them. I welcome you to.

here and at your own blog, where you’ve tried to tear me down to what I can assume is a pre-sympathetic audience,

Actually a good deal of my audience is rather unsympathetic, as white male supremacist trolls do come by here with rather strange frequency. I think my stance is clear by now, so what they are expecting to find at this point is beyond me.

And I'm not meaning to "tear you down" and apologise if I have. I'm meaning to hold you accountable to what you write and how you write it. I genuinely hope you can experience the difference. You are not your writing, I hope. (I hope there's much more to you than that.)

about me personally, which you don’t really have a right to do.

I agree. And again, I am sorry if you experienced me--or if I did--tear you down. That wasn't my intention. I hope, for example, that I said your post was silly, not you.

I didn’t have a problem with the sentence at all. My grammar and vocabulary varies wildly depending on my mood and energy levels, and as such I NEVER pick on people’s possible issues with literacy.

I am sorry about doing that. Poor form on my part, to be sure.

What I have a problem with is fuzzy communication, which I think is making our whole planet a more confusing, dangerous place to be, and which I’ve talked about before, in various places, if you care to look.

Ok. So that's one of the things you critique on your blog, fuzzy communication. I guess my experience was, given what you say you meant to be expressing in that blogpost, that it was, well, fuzzy.

And I also have a problem with lazy journalism, or misinformation with an agenda, dressed up as journalism.

Right. And I'd love for you to provide me with an example of journalism that avoids doing that. And I disagree that Bindel's article is lazy or misinformed.

And I have a serious problem with directed and ill-defined survey taking, when it’s then delivered as a fair and balanced, scientific study.

Again, please put forth the "fair and balanced" scientific studies on men who use women as prostitutes. I'm eager to know what constitutes such, for you. And I disagree with you that, by implication, the study was spuriously or egregiously "unfair" or "imbalanced". I think it delivered an accurate portrait of the men interviewed, on the subject at hand.

Julian Real said...

It’s possible my poor and hurried attempt at writing didn’t make this point of view clear,

I believe that is the case, yes.

so I will spell a couple of points out for you:

You can take my first sentence at face value. I don’t tend to fuck around with language, except for my own amusement. I have done before, and it’s normally obvious when I do. But in this case, no – the writer dropped the “just” because it was easier to lend weight to their point if they removed themselves from the suggestion entirely. I find that gutless, considering the statement they’re making.


Gutless? So fairness means having guts? You're confusing me. I find the term "gutless" to be hopelessly masculinist.

You're speaking of this sentence:

I concluded from this that it’s not feminists such as Andrea Dworkin and myself who are responsible for the idea that all men are potential rapists – it’s sometimes men themselves.

You're saying, if I'm hearing you correctly, that by not placing a "just" before "feminists" Bindel is leading the reader to, in your view, disingenuously believe that she and Dworkin are not part of the "who" that is responsible for the idea that all men are potential rapists.

Hmmm. Well. While I do think those few radical feminists who have focused their analytic and theoretical attention, as well as their eyes on the world of male dominance, have "added" to the view that all men are potential rapists, I see her point being that it is men's behavior, by itself, that makes that point rather sufficiently. And I fully agree with her. Feminists have been responding to the reality that men are potential rapists--or are rapists, because men can potentially rape or do rape.

This "information" is not speculative or all that theoretical, actually. It's noted in the sheer numbers of men who attempt to, or do, rape women. And those who believe they have a right or an entitlement to have access to raped women.

If feminists never existed, all men who are able-bodied would still be potential rapists, or would be rapists. One doesn't need feminism to know this. One can know it by speaking with hundreds of women and finding out how many were raped or sexually assaulted or sexually violated, or had their "No" taken for a maybe, and on and on. Or who encountered men who pushed another drink on them, because the men knew they'd be more likely to "get lucky" if they got the woman or girl very drunk. (That men think luck has anything to do with it would require, in my view, a scientific study to demonstrated this to be the case.) This is a term men use, right? No, not all men. But men who are predators, at bars and such. I've heard it many times out of the mouths of very normal heterosexual men, some who are not even predatory, but who hope, against odds, that women will fall into their lap at the party they are going to, and will, for some reason, beg them to have sex. I've heard many, many heterosexual men speak like this, Nick. Haven't you?

Julian Real said...

And yes, you are right that the point of the “but” is to draw a line, but it isn’t to ignore what goes before – it’s to tell the reader that I am not ignorant of the issues,

I don't think you and I agree at all on what the issues are.

even though they aren’t what I’m talking about.

Yes, that makes my point exactly. you don't write about "the issues".

Though I guess in some cases – by which I mean you – that concession hasn’t worked. I wasn’t being particularly disingenious with my language there, so you can look to the reader – by which I mean you – for the interpretation that you’ve found.

My experience is this: in response to a report and an article about a report on men who use and abuse women in systems of prostitution and trafficking, you find "the issue" to be HOW a woman speaks about this, not THE FACT THAT men speak about women misogynistically, and treat women misogynistically. So THAT'S my problem right there. And that isn't to say you need devote one post at your blog on the matter of how men really do treat women (badly, oppressively, disrespectfully, etc.), but if you start with a quote by a feminist who knows more than you ever will about what men do to women, and you go on only to critique the women, I call that problematic and spurious. And we get to disagree, of course.

If I may, I’m going to clarify something that you wrote. I interpret, from your aggressive stance, that you aren’t really eager to know what I feel when I watch a video, or read a story.

Please tell me as much as you'd like about what you do feel.

What you are eager for is for me to either concede and agree with your views, or – more likely – to expose myself further as… whatever it is you’ve decided I am.

I can see why you'd say that. I do. But I can only work with what you offer me. So if you state things that are respectful to women who are working to end sexual violence against women, including those working to expose men's misogyny, then you give me less to respond to critically.

We’re adults. We have complex thought processes. As such, I find your question about which I find more offensive out of two completely different things mind-boggling.

In my view, life is short. And there are atrocities happening, Nick. Rape and genocide among them. Poverty also. Ecocide too. And almost all white men, in my experience, find everything else to discuss, other than the atrocities of rape and genocide we help perpetrate. And we don't ever admit that we are assistants in the atrocities, either as perpetrators, or defenders, or apologists, or deniers of patriarchal atrocities. Or as white men who just think antiracist feminists are making a big deal out of what a few men say about how they feel about using and abusing women. I put your blogpost in that latter category, at least.

On the pages of a newspaper website, I find articles that profess to inform and actually miscommunicate about the most offensive thing there is.

I take it that you don't see men's expressed misogyny as central to the problem, to the "most offensive thing". I do. I see them as inseparable.

In the real world, I’d have to say that any sort of non-consensual violence is pretty much equal first for most offensive – though I’d say one offends, the other sickens, actually.

Which offends and which sickens? I'm confused. For me, in the world of human oppression and suffering, what happens to women as a class, and also as individuals, matters a lot. I see men's misogyny, any and all expressions of it, as fuel for the fire of men's atrocities against women. I believe in calling out all men who display misogyny in words or other actions, to try and create a firewall, a space where misogyny isn't so rampant, so that when men who carry it encounter opportunities to violate women, they won't be fueled to do so.

Julian Real said...

Ask me to choose between the two, and I’ll tell you I don’t have to. The two arenas exist seperately from each other, except at one vital point – the point where the information distributor creates our sense of what is going on in the real world.

Bearing that in mind, an article that generalises to straining point, or paints a false picture of a situation where real, genuine people are being exploited or abused, isn’t acceptable – it’s practically exploitative and totally damaging itself.


And we disagree that that is what is happening in that article and study.

When one approaches a subject like prostitution, genocide, child abuse or terrorism, and does anything to muddy or confuse the facts, they do the subject and the victims of those things a tremendous disservice, while at the same time lowering the quality of discourse for everyone else.

I don't hear the women who do this work complaining the way you are. Why is that? I don't hear the ex-trafficked women complaining about Bindel's work or the study, and I don't hear Ruchira Gupta and the women and girls she has worked with through Apne Aap complaining either. I hear you complaining. So I'm wondering why that is.

Or to put it another way, you ask me if lying about a problem is acceptable, when there is a real problem, and my response will always be that lying only serves to validate the liar’s ego, while distorting the shape of the problem makes it much more difficult to deal with.

Where you see lies, I don't see lies. So please articulate for me, precisely, what the lies are.

Or to put it still another way: Are one or two articles that generalise about the threat of terrorism in a way that enhances the fear of the issue acceptable, if there genuinely are bombs going off around the world? Does lying about the danger in our own country, even with the best of intentions, help someone whose family has been shredded by an IUD in the Middle East?

I address this in another reply in this thread. The answer, to me, is lying in that case is evil. And you still haven't pointed out what Bindel's lies are.

If you genuinely believe that foreigners are a threat to your country, is it okay to bend the facts when you report on the subject to fit your fears?

To my country? No, xenophobia and white supremacist paranoia, and men's histeria about feminism "taking over", are not ok with me. They are fucked up responses to delusions of persecution.

Julian Real said...

Further to all that, you raise an interesting point: I didn’t qualify my use of the term “sex-positive”, and someone turning up pre-loaded with the notion that I might be an asshole could misinterpret that, too.

The term is very loaded, Nick. It has social meaning, which differs, of course, depending on whether we are interrupting an anti-masturbation sermon in a Sunday church service, or whether we are interrupting the work of feminists and other women trying to assist girls and women who wish to leave systems or prostitution, or who desperately want to not be trafficked, bought and sold.

"Sex-negative" is a term used by antifeminists who think that individualism should replace collectivism as a value and approach to understanding social harm done by men to women, using what is popularly called "sex".

This was one of two articles in the last couple of days that aggravated me on this front, by using either unbalanced writing, sloppy journalism, or simply reporting on a messy situation, to push what I see as a sex-negative viewpoint.

Yes. And I've only read one of them.

The other story was this one: http://is.gd/6lSvd. My issue with it was that either the writer, the prosecutor, or the judge was comfortable with the idea that a woman who had voiced a group-sex fantasy somehow couldn’t be gang-raped, without further examining or discussing the case. Someone in that situation was pushing from a hetero-normative, monogamous and repressed point of view,

A misogynist, woman-blaming point of view. A patriarchal, male supremacist point of view. And a fucked up rape-apologist point of view. I think we are in agreement about how fucked up that was.

and the end result was that a woman was penalised for expressing a fantasy, and her punishment was getting gang-raped without recourse to justice, or even recognition.

Yes. And because the criminal justice system, and the other systems that comprise contemporary society, are infused with white male supremacist values and beliefs, biases and attitudes, this is not uncommon, although this one case is especially disgusting. This is why so many women who can economically afford to, don't prosecute their rapists. Because the courts will do this to them too. The woman's fantasy life is seen as more indicative of what occurred that what the men actually did to her. Yes, that is grotesquely unjust.

Now, I don’t know what your take on that is, but I think that it was the rape, and not the fact that she had a fantasy and was sex-positive

Hold on. No one said her fantasy was "sex-positive". Most women internalise the misogyny of the culture. Most women, especially those exposed at a young age to sexual violence or to the sexual violence depicted in pornography, fantasise to some degree about such violence occurring. And how we understand that... whether we make simplistic judgments about that phenomena as "sex-positive" is a critical matter, to me. I don't think fantasies about rape are "sex-positive" and I don't think any woman who has them should feel shame for having them. No shame at all. The shame is on the society and the men who run it who infuse society with such images, and acts, to begin with.

Julian Real said...

enough to comfortably voice it, in a notionally safe environment, that was the reprehensible part.

I hear you there. That she felt she could speak of this, hoping against reasonable hope that it wouldn't be used by a judge to dismiss the case, well. She should have had better legal counsel, because EVERYTHING a woman says about her sexual life is fodder to be used against her in a rape case. And that's disgusting and abhorrent.

I know a lot of women who are sex-positive, and the thought that a sex-negative culture might allow dreadful things to happen to them, and them be held up as immoral into the bargain, I have problems with.

I disagree, radically, with this analysis. I don't think the problem is "sex-negativity" or the lack of "sex-positivity". Because when sex = pornography, and when sex = stripping at a pole, and when sex = domination and submission, how does a society determine what goes too far? The "sex-pozi" answer is this: "Was there consent?" And to that I say this: if a culture is so thoroughly soaked in pornography such that girls and boys desire degradation and humiliation, aggression and violence as "sex", consent becomes a relatively meaningless concept. If normal sex, for many normal men, requires women to be preyed upon, and visually violated, and coerced into doing what he wants to do, and if she is socialised to meet his needs, or to fear saying no to him because he might get more violent, what meaning does "consent" have?

For more on some of these issues, see here for a post on consent, here for a post on how men, not feminists, create the impression that sex = rape,here for what one woman has to say about prostitution and trafficking, here for a post on men's dishonesty and trickery, here for a conversation between two men about their violations of other people and how it relates to pornography use, and here for a piece by a man struggling to understand his own patriarchal sexuality.

That is the issue I have with journalistic integrity and the lack thereof.

I don't see those two stories as related, to be honest.

Julian Real said...

And though I don’t really know what you were expecting when you asked me to comment on your childhood rape, I’d have to say that he probably was sex-negative.

See, I'd say he was sex-positive, and that for him sex = sexual assault, and he was positive he was going to get away with it. He was very positive about his manner of obtaining it. I don't espouse liberal understandings of "sexuality". As MacKinnon said, sex is whatever a society sexualises. In this view, we must accept that if a man gets aroused and reaches orgasm by coercing and violating a woman, while for her it was rape, for him it was sex. And if he's out to have this kind of sex a lot and thinks it is good, he's "sex-positive" right?

I don’t know – is your life-experience of other men and women such that that man seemed particularly well-adjusted and sexually functional?

I think child molestation is as normal as rape. And that each are as normal as men being thinking women exist for men. It's all very normal. Everyone in my family has been directly impacted by some form of sexual assault or violation, by men, against girls, boys, and women. Every woman I know has been directly impacted by sexual assault and violation, by men, against girls and women. So what's not normal about it?

All this said, hopefully by now you’ve realised that I’m grateful for your comment, and that what I’m really concerned about is that we all try communicating frankly, in the hope of better exposing the places where our society, and that of others falls down.

A key area of discussion then, might be how liberalism as it relates to sexuality, functions to keep rape normal. And what "consent" means in a society where women don't have the option to not ever fear being raped. And where women and girls don't have the option of not being approached for sex by men who don't care about them as full human beings.

I’m interested in these things being fixed, not puffing myself up talking about how bad they are.

If you read my blog more, I think you'll track where I'm coming from. Even if you only read the posts I link to a bit earlier in this reply. I am genuinely interested to know your responses to any or all of them. I don't expect you to read them all, but pick and choose which ones are most of interest to you.

Julian Real said...

It should, among reasonable people, go without saying that rape, trafficking and abuse is bad.

But the point of the study, Nick, is that the men who procure women are reasonable, normal men. (Please read some of those posts I just linked to, if this is perplexing to you.) So what do we do when that is the case?

I welcome your further contributions, with a caveat: I’m not interested in people coming onto the comments for the sake of stirring up an argument, or levelling ill-thought out judgements or personal slurs against me that don’t bear relation to what I have said. Your comment stands because I’m assuming your tone grew out of not properly understanding my point of view.

That is indeed the case. And I accept your parameters and guidelines for future discussion.

From here-on in, I expect a more moderate tone, and you should take this as fair warning that future lectures will be moderated.

I don't value being moderate in the face of atrocities. So I'll leave it to you to decide what you will and won't post for comments.

Your intensity may serve you well in the outside world, but online, on other people’s web-spaces, it only serves to make you look aggressive,

Understood. Thanks for reminding me of that.

and truly, if your underlying agenda is the protection of the abused, you may want to look to managing that behaviour.

I don't get the connection at all. My behavior is well-managed, believe me. As someone once said--oh, it was me, actually!!! lol--to a "profeminist" man who raped a woman, who went on to complain how the feminist blogosphere was treating him uncompassionately--"Consider it an act of great compassion that these some of these women you have betrayed and triggered haven't tracked your rapist ass down and killed you".

I think men being moderate about atrocity is a deadly serious problem to be honest. Why aren't men like you in the street demanding an end to rape? How successful, to date, has "moderate intonation" been in ending crimes against women?

Unsolicited aggression is not the path to understanding. Everybody learns that eventually.

Tell that to the pimps, traffickers, and rapists, please. I'm serious. Please do.

Nick! said...

Julian,

For some reason my website decided you were spam, retroactively. It is probably part of some conspiracy. I was particularly unhappy about it, because it vanished your first comment, which made my response to it over there look quite peculiar. I had assumed, until you got in touch, that you'd deleted it for your own reasons.

That said, and looking over your response to my response over here, I'm going to respectfully decline further comment. The discussion has quickly become circular, and it is clear that you are more intent on responding to what you believe you have read than anything I have actually said.

Further to that, I'd say that at the point where you question my right to define my own ethnicity, I don't have to treat you as a person with whom rational discussion can be had.

For the record, no: In the 1970s, 80s and 90s when I was growing up, Greek Cypriot certainly wasn't considered white in UK, and in the Anglo Saxon hegemony prevalent in England it is still enough to set a person apart. I don't know what the law now considers me, but I'm going to make the call and say I don't care.

You don't get to call my personal identity into question, certainly not more than once, and still converse with me.

You had an opportunity to get your message across to someone who would have listened, and instead have repeated the same baseless accusations at me again and again, when I'm not even the enemy that you profess to fight. I don't value that form of ideology as an engine for change at all - it is more about making a noisy mess than making a difference.

Anyway, it's been real. Have a good Sunday.

AST said...

Looks to me like you're harshing Nick's "Happy Hooker" delusion. I have only skimmed the report, but I see nothing unusual in its methodology. I'm open to hearing specific objections grounded in some knowledge of research and statistics, but vague accusations don't convince me. All I hear is "But some women like it! Let's focus on them!"

Of course, focusing on that small subset of women has the effect of not only returning johns to their much-loved anonymity, it also erases all the unhappy and unwilling women they (ab)use. Studying men who use prostituted women reveals those women, and it reveals the power structures in prostitution. But that requires studying the demand that the "willing" supply does not or cannot meet (although, having read several sex workers' blogs myself, I saw no findings in the research that were incongruent with anything I have read there).

Julian Real said...

Hello AST,

Thank you for that feedback and well-put analysis!

I want to leave this thread with your comment, or any other feminist comments that follow. I'm so done with discussing this stuff with liberal sex-pozi boys, or whatever the UK term is for "liberal". Talk about a waste of time. I'm glad you skimmed!!! lol