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I can't really comment on this...

...because everyone is saying OMG YOU NEED TO READ IT OMG OMG SO IMPORTANT and it's really bothering me and I don't like it, and I'm not even sure how to say why.

I know I'm the exception to everything everywhere all the time. But this is so not my life that all the "read fifteen pages of comments because if you don't get this you need to, NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW" is... kind of making me feel a bit ill.

I've always been safer around men than women. But yet I am always told by the good people, the proper people, that my fear of women is misogyny and my feeling safe among men is delusion and going to get me raped. And I just... I can't parse it. I can no longer parse my experience being the height of privilege and ignorance any more. I can no longer parse how imagining women parting my legs is fear -- for a reason -- and men doing it is because I've let them, and yet I'm supposed to think back and find close call after close call. 

And there's one that sticks out in my memory, but it didn't happen because of gender, it happened because I denied being kinky and looked to him to change me, and when he touched me I froze up and he stopped. And I'm supposed to see this as man and woman and see it as victim-blaming if I say it was me... except I think it was me. My desperation to believe his touch would alter me, my refusal to listen to the part of me going "No, no, no," because I hoped so bad to be sane. 

(And yet when I compare this stuff to reparative therapy, despite that I was desperate for exactly that and looking for it in relationships and in churches, I'm co-opting queer experience.)

But that can't be me, it must be men and entitlement.

The Exception will be sitting this one out today.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 13th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
For the most part I liked the post, though I think there are a lot of reasonable critiques to be made of both its content and its tone.

Many of the comments upset the everliving hell out of me. Because, yes, I have been sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, and blown off because "boys will be boys"; I have also been abused extensively by women, generally have felt safer with and better understood by men.

And that's without getting into the comments with the smug "the more I think about feminism the higher my Kinsey number gets" (how nice for you), the heterocentricity, the erasure of atypical survivors and the free pass given to female perps .... Not to mention the comments that go in the direction of "men are all potential rapists", which I find genuinely triggering of the damage complexes around the assault.

Reading the comment threads left me feeling like I wanted to go join Ren in the violent misanthrope bin, and that's before it got to fifteen pages of what I can only assume is more of the same.
Jun. 13th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
... and then there were some of the responses, like the one about how every man someone had talked to about rape issues had been an apologist, and I'm left with ... which one of us is the fucking space alien here?
Jun. 13th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
The thing is even the post bothered me. I didn't really want to say anything, though, because it's not like that stuff doesn't go on. I just kind of was "well, this is my weirdness with her tone, or something, and I don't want to pop in with the tone argument." But the more I see people who, like me, are denizens of the antipodes pass it along without commenting, like we did at your place, about how not perfect it is (and how the comments are so awful it's hard to even read them), the more uncomfortable I get.

I really do... eh. I don't know. Maybe it's that I've long since been done my "feminism 101" (gods, I loathe that term) and most of the internet hasn't, so they need a nudging reminder that yes, something termable as "patriarchy" exists, and that's part of why creepy stuff happens.

But... eh. For me personally, I'd much rather talk about things like that time I froze up as complicated. I mean, yeah, part of it I'm sure was patriarchy, was at the very least the idea that romance cures female brokenness. And yeah, part of it was probably also "you let him in, why are you not OK with a kiss?"

But the thing is, looking back on it, I really don't think most of it was heteronormative pressure. I think it was that I'd somehow decided he and I could love and desire one another as "normal, whole people" did, so the whole trip was premised on the idea that the broken two of us would learn to be vanilla together.

And when the time came for that to be real, I froze up. I couldn't demean myself that way, especially when I discovered my savior was actually just as broken as me and probably more. It was the knowledge that going ahead would be violating myself that made me sickest.

And so... it's not that there wasn't cultural shit there. It's not that he didn't wonder why I'd brought him if I didn't mean to do whatever. It's that... for me, the discussion of the sexism in it can only happen if it happens alongside a discussion of what it means to be so self-hating you make your own reparative therapy and try to live by it and what happens when it fails.

It reminds me of intersectionality. I'd say it IS intersectionality, except that that would open up the can of worms about whether kinky people are TWUELY OPPWESSED or whether we just think oppression is chic, and I can't have that discussion over a memory like that.

But I will say I can't really talk about it in a way that reduces it to male entitlement and men wanting cookies for not raping women. That's not everything that it was. Everything that it was is a commentary on many more things, including a commentary on stigmatizing sexualities. And THAT conversation goes pear-shaped as soon as it exists, in a lot of circles anyway.

Edited at 2009-06-13 10:10 pm (UTC)
Jun. 13th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I think it's fair to say that the more I read the comments, the more problem I had with the original post -- and I think it's because I read the post that the writer wanted to be there, and only after the fact picked up the things that she did write.

And part of that is that my experiences were, at least on the surface, matching the normative story of assault, and I suffered a lot from the absence of some set of narratives that would let me come to a clear understanding that what happened to me was unacceptable. So someone saying, "Where the fuck are those stories?" has a certain immediate appeal to me, enough that I could miss the bit where the only stories actually being asked for were explicitly gender-lensed in a way I find problematic, heteronormative, and silencing of people who don't have a story as ... prosaic and normal ... as mine appears to be.

And there is a perverse sort of privilege to be had in having one's assault or rape experiences fit a narrative. I mean, mine is nearly textbook for what that post was talking about: older, more experienced boy puts constant pressure on fragile girl's boundaries until she caves. I could tell that story over there and get all the patting and "Oh, how awful"s that I wanted.

But I don't want them. And part of the reason I don't want them is that I don't want pity. But a big part of the reason is that you couldn't tell your story true and get the same treatment, and Little Light couldn't tell hers, and the guy I knew who was raped by a woman who told him he should be grateful for it couldn't tell his, or ....

You know?

Maybe I'll write a post about my victim privilege sometime.
Jun. 14th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
The thing is, for me... I can't even quite figure out what it's saying. Because on the one hand she wants the stories of men who take drunk girls home instead of raping them, but on the other, she's saying they're not really out there because rape being systemic means they're pretty much not.

Which is about where the whole "systemic" thing loses me. Because how do you say you want to hear about it and in the next breath say "but most of you are actually not good guys?"

So it's like "I want a solution to the systemic problem by hearing about the exceptions." Which just makes the Vulcan part of my brain go "Either this is highly illogical, or I have missed a step. Please elucidate."

Which of course the comment thread fails spectacularly at doing, and it's all very emotionally loaded anyway. So all the Real Women, who have Real Stories of What Happens When You're Really Drunk get their Story on, and I sit here going "eh?"

Also the term "exceptionism" makes me want to boil people alive.
Jun. 14th, 2009 12:26 am (UTC)
In case it helps, my original interpretation of the post included something like:

"One of the reasons this persists as systemic is the way we only ever talk about the bad people. We need to change the basic nature of the narrative by changing what the normal stories of human interaction look like."

And yes, the exceptionalism things. It's like the snide "not my Nigel" thing, where having a human being for a partner rather than the sort of rabid carnivorous ape that turns up in the narrative set is a reason to be mocked. That's one of the places the original post contradicts itself - "We need to change the stories" but also "Don't you go thinking you're so special for having a different story".
Jun. 14th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
Okay, yeah, that does help. It just... it reads to me as skeptical and snide. Which is possibly just my weird reactions to things (hell, my reaction to the very common narrative of people getting taken advantage of when drunk is generally "There are people who LIKE getting drunk? And in GROUPS? Fascinating!" Though, of course, I do not think anyone should get raped or harassed while doing anything whatsoever, and it's truly horrifying that this STILL apparently doesn't go without saying.) but that's how I read it.

Sort of "I know you're really-o truly-o part of the problem, because good dudes are fairy tales. But if you are, let's hear it!" Which read (perhaps wrongly) to me as an ND sort of dare. "Okay, if you really do D/s without hating women, let's hear it, and if you can weather our ritual of Klingon pain sticks, then we'll stop." I only read a few comments because the whole thing made me feel rather slimy, but that doesn't seem like what she actually meant. But it's very much how I read it.

It's sort of that whole "I know you're privileged, so you have to accept that my insulting you to your face is tough love. If you do, then we're good."

Which... in some senses, yeah, I do think people need to be made to confront social advantages that they have.

But I'm increasingly leery of "Yeah, this IS systemic and you DO have privilege, but I'm not going to go into specifics of what I mean by that because I'm 'not here to educate you,' but you have to be profoundly affected by my words and rush off to change the world because I slapped you in the face and you were a big enough person to understand why."
Jun. 14th, 2009 11:33 am (UTC)
I've been struggling to put into words the problem I had with that post, but I think you've actually captured it here:

Sort of "I know you're really-o truly-o part of the problem, because good dudes are fairy tales. But if you are, let's hear it!" Which read (perhaps wrongly) to me as an ND sort of dare.

It comes across as "prove you're an ally by accepting you can't be".
Jun. 14th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, THIS. Which is what I hate about the whole "ally" discussion really. It's like "Never 'want a cookie', because we won't like you. And by the way, we'll get frumiated at someone who isn't you every two weeks, and rail against our icky, icky 'allies.' We won't mean you, but if this bugs you, you're not patient enough to truly be on our side."

I find it very rude, honestly. I do agree with the basic point -- that "being an ally" is just "behaving decently," and that when people trumpet their basic decency for some kind of credit, it's tacky. But I also think that

  1. allies can and should be proud of behaving decently in a world that tempts them not to (rephrased: there is a difference between being proud that you did the right thing and wanting attention for making the right noises)
  2. people can and should thank allies, or those who are trying to get it right, for their help or sincere attempts to help. The "cookie" concept is eating up basic expressions of gratitude and I don't like it. Whatever happened to "Thank you for having my back?"

Edited at 2009-06-14 02:23 pm (UTC)
Jun. 13th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
yes, this.
Jun. 13th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
I simply dislike being held accountable for the sins of my group. It's illegitimate when the majority does it to the minority (but why do you queers get so violent after you lose a political battle? Well, I didn't suport and am not responsible for everyone who engages in sodomy), and it's ilegitimate when the minority does it to the majority, as here

And FWIW, this queer doesn't think you're appropriating at all to draw an analogy, but tihs queer is also firly supportive of BDSM (obviously)

Jun. 15th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)
I've always been safer around men than women. But yet I am always told by the good people, the proper people, that my fear of women is misogyny and my feeling safe among men is delusion and going to get me raped. And I just... I can't parse it.

One thing I've learned while slogging through a good handful of years reading again and again how I am everybody's asshole, the white straight male:

"No amount of statistics will ever win an argument over first hand experience."

For example: You can give me chapter, verse, lunchbox and action figure how women make less than men and are under represented in the work environment. In every job I've had since I was old enough to work, I've only had 2 male bosses. The majority of my teachers and professors were female. And where I'm at now, I work for a woman owned business / president of the company, and my immediate superior is not only a woman but my age as well. Telling me that I need to be ashamed of myself for wage disparity and the lack of women in the power roles of education and the workforce... never resonated with me because in all facets of my life to this point: that statement is false.

In the same vein, if I say "there are X million men in the US and there were Y hundred thousand rapes in the US." Those figures don't make someone who was the victim of rape, rest easy just because "statistically" there are X million non rapists.

Now, to the post you linked to. Yeah, hey how about that. Nothing new on the sexual serengeti. Men are born rapists, there's no such thing as a "good guy" and all "Good guys" are really sleeper agent rapists ready to spring if the chances arise.

And really, Puddin, saying for "good guys" to stand up and then telling them to shut up if they're not going to march in your particular parade is not only threatening to take your ball and go home, but just... stop it. You're embarassing yourself.

Really? This passes for breaking thought? Well, I guess so since these days a riposte "fuck you" will get you a seat at the local Algonquin Round table. However, this sort of intellecutal shorthand is just new code for confirmation bias.

Their argument is always couched with "not all" and "but statistically most rapes are done by men..."

Change "rape" into "suicide bombings" and "men" to "Muslims" and see how far that ship sails.

Generalized statements like the linked-to writer wrote are tempting, but empty calories.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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