Saturday, April 3, 2010
Introducing Sexist Man, who discusses his practices of Voyeurism as Violation and Pornography Use as Privileged Patriarchal Behavior: Intro and Days 1 through 7
[this rather creepy image is from here]
Through a mutual friend, I have found out that this Sexist Man welcomes the sharing of what he writes on his blog. I believe he is exploring what he does earnestly, with wishes to make himself less sexist, but I'm not sure I agree with his methods for holding himself accountable. Or, rather, I don't know if that's the kind of accountability that works and is most meaningful (meaning, I guess: "effective") for the oppressed. Nevertheless, I think his posts will be useful for many men who are struggling, sincerely, to be less sexist in their daily practices. And Sexist Man has a fairly good analysis of what sexism is and does.
The title above says what this particular post is about. So anyone who doesn't wish to read about a het man's descriptions of his violating behaviors towards women, that are not physical--that don't involve him touching a woman, please don't read on. I think some of this content is very disturbing. One of the things that's so disturbing to me about it is how normal what he's doing is. What' unusual is him taking any time at all to be self-critical and accountable. His blog entries each contain profeminist self-examination, which is why I'm cross posting it. I haven't corrected the typos.
This man's blog is called "Sexist Man" and the URL is: http://sexistman.blogspot.com/ I link to it on the far right, down in that long, long list that is A.R.P.'s blog roll. On with his comments about his behaviors...
Here is his introduction to his blog/journal. I take his title to be sort of an anti-hero, in profeminist terminology.
A site where I reflect on my sexism. It serves three purposes:
- to train myself in seeing my behaviour as it really is instead of getting lost in the sexual pleasure of it,
- to give me something to do on the internet that keeps my mind on the reality of porn and sexism so that the choice to look at porn is put in its real context, and
- to put something on the internet that some other men may read and reflect on when they are next about to play out some sexist habit.
This blog contains descriptions of behaviour that is abusive to women. It is described with regret and analysed with what aims to be an anti-sexist ethic but the contents may be upsetting or triggering for some people. Take care before reading any post if you think you may be upset by what is written in it.
Comments are moderated. I will reject any comments that perpetuate the sexism I am trying to grow out of. I intend to accept comments that are genuinely trying to have a useful discussion.
[And here are some posts:]
Friday, 19 February 2010
from my little book - 3
I objectify women. I don't imagine their experience of the world but just view them as objects that affect someone else's experience. It's not totally true. There are a number of individual women whose experience I pay proper, respectful attention to but women as a group I still objectify terribly. I also feel it would be possible for me to live my life without any empathy towards women at all.
Even with random women who I don't know, I actually have some ability to relate to them as real people. And I do respect women's intelligence and qualities in many ways. But when I see an opportunity to get some sexual pleasure from seeing a woman's body, I disregard the woman's subjective existence totally and just perve on her without remorse. Afterwards, I feel guilt but at the time I suspend any feeling like that at all.
It's a conscious choice. I feel myself doing it. I step back from my empathy and understanding of my actions and just do what my cock tells me to do. And I devote intelligence and planning to it, setting up perving opportunities and devising ways to not get caught.
There are limits to my behaviour, which is partly why I've been able to keep it up so long. I will not touch a woman in a situation like that and I make a huge effort to stop her from ever knowing that her privacy has been violated at all. For years I was able to avoid dealing with the clear abuse that it is to perve on women like that by concentrating my awareness on the things I limit myself from doing. But that is a delusion, obviously.
The prupose of this writing is to confront myself with the conflict between my understanding and my behaviour. I understand how porn harms me, my partner and my relationships but I still look at it. It's total selfishness.
So I'm writing about:
- what I get out of porn, why I do it
- what it does to my partner
- what it does to me
- what it does to models etc. in the industry
When I look at porn, I can see women's bodies and sexuality without knowing them at all. That in itself is harmful because it reinforces a view that the bodies of women I don't know are available to me for my sexual pleasure.
I also get to indulge whatever fantasy has been published in porn material. This is a selfish practice too, and out of keeping with the idea of consenting relationships.
This disrespect for consent and prvacy carries over into my interactions with real women. In a situation where a woman is exposed and vulnerable, my thoughts run along the lines of my sexual experience of the situation instead of about her saftey or welfare needs or just her comfort and me being friendly.
It takes an effort to be in the headspace of being critical of my sexism. Wherever I am and whatever I'm doing, most of the time I'm open to sexualising some woman's body when I see her. I notice myself doing it but it's not the same as being critical, analysing what I'm doing and challenging it.
There are lots of things to write about what's wrong with porn and with ogling women but there's a fundamental thing that I don't think about much. That is the basic practice of getting my sexual pleasure from all those random women (without even their consent). In a way, it's really just getting sexual pleasure from my own fantasies but it's using those women as the fuel for my fantasies. (Sometimes the fantasy is not obvious and it can seem like the situation is sexual inherently but that can just be a widely held fantasy that I've been taught in my culture.) So there's the idea of using all these women to fuel my sexual fantasies, and there's the selfish practice of just going around grabbing sexual gratification from everyone I fancy.
There is also the betrayal of my real relationship. Our relationship is monogamous, so the rule is pretty simple: we only have sex with each other. But even without that total restriction, say in a polyamorous relationship, it would still be unacceptable to get lots of sexual gratification form random people all the time. I don't see it the way some people seem to, where every instance is like a crime committed against my partner. It's more that the attitude is not in keeping with the relationship we've got. An analogy might be living in a share house where we all share the cooking and all eat together. If that's the relationship the household has but one perosn keeps eating junk food and not wanting a meal and not wanting to cook either, it makes it hard for everyone. So this is like that, only sex is more fraught with emotional upsets, so we need to be even more careful to behave well with it.
I can't believe that I can keep doing what I do - looking at porn, perving on women, etc. - while knowing that this is what I'm doing. It horrifies me, but I do it. And every time I do that, I'm practising my ability to keep doing it depsite knowing how bad it is.
Even at intervals of one day, I get completely out of the frame of mind for thinking about sexism and porn. It takes a serious effort of concentration to bring my attention back to it again.
I haven't wanted to look at porn in these few days while I've been doing this. That's pretty normal for me. For a while after a bout of porn watching, while the consequences are fresh in my mind, I usually have little desire to look at porn.
But I've still been perving on women. I stare at women's cleavages or look up their skirts. Of course, it's actually gross and I also know about what a cold and threatening thing it can be.
I suppose my behaviour is as though it's really important to me to get that glimpse of this woman's breasts or undies. In a way I feel rich when I'm in a place where women don't cover their bodies very carefully and I see their nipples and things more often. But also I feel a certain gratitude when women prevent me from seeing their bodies without making any kind of fuss. (I mean that they just wear sensible, non-revealing clothing that takes away the issue for me.) But of course it isn't up to women to hide their bodies away, it's up to me to learn what is sexual and what is just a woman being there with no sexual meaning at all.
I was thinking yesterday or today about how, when I've got a new mindset in place, it will be a whole different experience walking around. As it is now, I see sex everywhere. Not always but anytime and all around me. Just about any sighting of a woman can be extrapolated in my imagination to become an imagining abut a sexual situation.
That is what I am giving up, fundamentally. I'm instating a situation in which most of my interactions aren't about sex at all. It's complicated by the fact that there is a sexual aspect to lots of relationships, even ones that don't involve actual sex or flirting at all. But there is a difference between understanding that and just taking sexual gratification from random situations that don't have a sexual element.
It's horrifiying, the extent to which I really do see women as sex objects. That's what "internalised" sexism is, I suppose. I have actually learnt this stuff on a deep level and a simple belief in equality is not enough to overcome that. I believe in lots of things women have the right to (I mean like all the normal stuff that men expect) but I actually take part in denying them some of those rights every day.
I guess that some women probably think about sex a lot but I can imagine most women get bombarded with messages about their sexuality so much (and, more directly, with sexual attention and harrassment from men) that what they really want is to have completely non-sexual interactions a lot of the time. Even just to be distracted by a woman's cleavage denies her that non-sexual interaction, but the old look-up-and-down and all that is even worse. I do both of those things habitually, and worse things sometimes too, like changing where I'm sitting to get a better view up a woman's skirt.
Naturally, women are also taught to objectify themselves their whole lives and so most women participate in their own objectification is some way. But this is all about me changing my behaviour, so I don't need to say much about that. It is useful to recognise it though, so I'm not confused when I see women doing things that seem to play into their own oppression.
I really want to have comfortably non-sexual relationships with women. And to have that means giving up the practice of reading sexuality into every situation that contains a woman. That is itself a learned practice. I didn't always do that. Obviously there is something natural about having sexual fantasies and I don't know where the instinct ends and learning begins but I'm sure it's not inevitable that I should read every sighting of the shape of a breast as a sexual expreience.
But on some level, I do experience it that way. Just now I watched a couple of people crossing a pedestrian crossing, and I imagined seeing them all as just sexual beings. It was absurd and made me smile but, subtract the men and that's kind of what I do all the time. But the difference between a "being" and an "object" is that beings have their own plans for what they will experience but an object is only there to be experienced by someone else.
So sexual objectification involves making someone into scenery (men gloat about "enjoying the view" at beaches). That's part of the more general sidelining of women as intelligent people and participants in democracy etc. Who knows which came first - in a way it seems more natural that it owuld all develop together as a manifestation of men's selfishness (and their active decision to indulge and enforce it).
This is actually the longest I have kept up a daily activity to deal with this shit. Usually I go a few days (not even consecutive days) and then it sort of fades away. To my mind, that is the worst part of it - I'm just not facing it at all but actually tolerating it.
I see my ability to carry on being so selfish as a manifestation of the sexism I'm brought up in. Of course I have a human tendency to be a bit selfish but it's totally sexist of me to allow myself to carry on the level of abusive behaviour that porn use entails.
Primarily it's abusive to my partner because it makes her feel inadequate as a sexual partner, and it also deprives her of my sexual attention when she wants it, some of the time. I have told her that it has nothing to do with her not being sexy, or attractive or sexual enough but that is really obviously not going to be enough to stop her feeling that way.
I am told that the porn industry is also abusive to the women who appear as models, and that it preys on women whose sexual identity is affected by past abuses. I haven't read enough to say more about that but the main point is that my porn use is a sign that I don't care if that's the cse. It's all about me feeding my own little sexual desire, by whatever means I can find around me.
[Day 6 was skipped by Sexist Man, as he notes below...]
I've already missed a day. It just slipped quietly by. We both noticed at one point in the day but then forgot again. I can feel the difference from having gone longer without bringing myself back to this headspace.
After I do this writing, I walk around for a while in a very conscious state. I notice my behaviour and can decide to be a decent person. But gradually it fades and I slip into the easy habit of allowing myself to behave in a creepy or even intimidating way just to grab a bit of tenuous sexual pleasure.
When I see a woman in the distance, I straight away start scanning her for chances to see her genitals. (First, in fact, I assess whether someone is a woman or not. I can do that from a great distance, although sometimes I'm wrong.) I check to see whether her top has a low neckline or gaping arm-holes and whether she is wearing anything underneath it. Even if she is I will still look though, because it may be a lacy, see-through bra or it may fall forward and expose her nipple as she leans over.
I know it's pretty gross but I want to put it all down so that it's out there in front of me and I can't just quietly do it without consciously noticing that that's what I'm doing.
I also look for wet or see-through tops. Tops that are not going to expose the woman's breasts but are still quite figure-hugging or revealing, like bikinis or tube tops also cop a long stare from me. I imagine bikini tops coming untied and tube tops being pulled down.
There are actually clips I have found on the net where one perpetrator films while another runs up to a woman in a top like these and pulls it down to expose her breasts. On some days, I find those clips very arousing. It's straight-out sexual assault and I doubt it's strictly legal to publish them. If someone described to me their enjoyment of something similar that held no sexual interest for me, I would be absolutely appalled. But I can somehow prevent that reaction because I focus so completely on my own sexual experience of it.
And I also look up women's skirts. I have actually changed direction on the street to follow a woman in a short skirt, keeping a short distance behind and waiting for the wind to lift up her skirt. I have (not just as a kid but also still these days) done the unsbutle look-under-the-desk at a girl's undies. I have placed myself at the right distance behind a woman on the stairs so I can look up her skirt as she climbs the stairs.
I think the idea that someone is so pathetically obsessed that he will go to those lengths would be the most frightening thing for me if I was a woman. And of course it is directly oppressive to try to make a random act that someone does, like walking up a flight of stairs, into a sexual situation that she hasn't chosen to take part in.
To do that and expect to get away with it with no punishment is a really clear sign of internalised sexism. I certainly don't expect to be able to treat men that way. But I definitely do anticipate that I can treat women like that and that nothing will happen to me.