Posts Tagged ‘sexism’

Friday, October 31st, 2014

“I’ve watched men go through two phases, myself included. First, you have to unlearn being sexist. Then, you have to come to the realization that your silence is approval of sexist behavior. That second one is hard. Both involve having to make peace with the fact that your previous self was responsible for harm.” — Shabbir Imber Safdar

Integration Phase: Thoughts on Rape Culture and the existence of Lady Privilege.

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

As my rape culture post has circulated on Medium, and the conversation has continued, I’ve found myself annoyed. The men who are talking, nearly invariably, debate. They argue the definition of consent, they argue the definition of rape, they tell me I’m being too hard on myself and others, they worry about the definition of rape being too broad, they dominate the conversations with their resistance, their confusion, and their privilege.

Not all. Most. Overwhelmingly most.

I’ve found myself seeing patriarchy, seeing questioning as confrontation, seeing a culture who does not want to give up its rape not wanting to give up its rape. I’ve found myself caught between wanting to be heard by the power population who has the most weight to throw around, and being utterly fucking exhausted by including them.

More than a few times I’ve caught myself demonizing a friend in my head because they are a man who is asking me to clarify myself. And more than a few times I’ve responded internally to the support and the bravery of women who identify with what I’ve said, claiming their own rape culture transgressions and vowing to cease them, with ‘why the fuck aren’t more men doing this?’.

Especially when I know, personally, multiple men who I strongly, strongly suspect relate with my stance on this issue, and aren’t speaking up. *Yes I’m looking at you.*

I think one reason more men aren’t coming forward in support of this idea is that it’s unbelievably tricky for men to voluntarily be accountable for violence. Of any kind, but especially of this kind.

When, in my life, I’ve taken accountability for being an abuser, for being violent, and now for being a rapist, I’ve overwhelmingly been called a fucking superhero. Though I feel a bit like I’m flapping in the wind and it’s not even close to easy to be putting myself out there the way that I am, in this way, I have it easy here, and I know it.

I have rarely seen that happen for men who have done so, or more to the point, who are struggling to do so and are stumbling through it. I think it’s important to weigh this, as we move through this conversation. To consider that, in our culture, it is more ok for us as women to stumble through taking ownership of our violence.

Yes, we are discussing an indoctrinated violence that begat violence that was perpetuated by patriarchy and we are part of a rape culture which severely effects us as women. In the existence of rape culture, it is men who have the privilege. When I see women taking this on and speaking out about newly seeing themselves as having raped others, part of me is scowling. Why the fuck is it that the underprivileged rape culture population is the one that seems to be showing the most contrition for the existence of it in ourselves?

Well, I wonder if it’s in part because in transforming views on rape culture by blowing the lid off of its pervasiveness and paving the way for a different view of common behaviors by calling ourselves out for having them, it’s us that actually has some privilege.

I wonder if, actually, in the cause of exposing how pervasive rape culture is in our lives, and how much of a HUMAN issue it is, I just really wonder right now if we as women, with our vulnerability and courage, are in fact the ones who have the most weight to throw around to tip this god damn thing over.

Listening: The Secondary Trauma.

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

“If you are a man who is becoming upset/depressed/overwhelmed/hopeless/defensive when you listen to the women in the world/your life talk about their experiences, you need to talk about it. With another man.

I really, really mean this. You absolutely need to talk to another guy. A guy you are friends with and who you trust is ideal.

If you don’t have that kind of guy in your life- and, seriously, you are not alone in that area- then you have the very hard, critical work of figuring out how to make that kind of friendship ahead of you. If you are feeling a restless helplessness over all of this, that can be your challenge.

And if you are a guy who has already figured this out- if you’ve already figured out the circle thing and the male friendship and intimacy thing and how to be supportive of women thing- then my personal challenge to you is to go and find the guys in your world who haven’t totally made this connection, and pull them into your circle. Mentor them. Teach them how to do what you’ve figured out to do.

Seriously, I can’t do that. Your girlfriends and lady friends and moms and sisters and classmates and bosses can’t do that. But you can, and that is absolutely invaluable.

Women need men to learn how to be emotionally connected to other men. We need men to learn how to draw emotional support and nurturing from other men. Not to do that in absence of us, but in addition to us. Because men being isolated and lonely- it really, really is killing us.

Men and women, it is really killing us.”

Notallmen/Yesallwomen, secondary trauma and relearning everything for the sake of not killing each other

Tech: The Newest Frontier of White Supremicy

Monday, June 9th, 2014

I was just talking with an old friend about the ‘boys club’ we were a part of when I worked with him in tech.

This article, in my opinion, is spot on – and I relate to the experiences of invalidation, lack of support, and having the sexist and marginalizing behaviors of others defended against rather than questioned; by myself, included.

At the time, I thought this was normal. Thanks to a lifetime of choosing to date within this, and another sexist white-male dominated field (law), I am finally getting fed up, I no longer believe ‘normal’ is this case.

The Newest Frontier

In defense of the men

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Lately, I’ve been observing a few racial and feminist activists on twitter complaining about white people and men (especially white men) butting into their conversations about their experiences of oppression. It’s been an interesting ride.

I mirror a number of the sentiments and questions those white people have posed to black activists, and very much dislike the judgement focused on ‘all whites’ in response to them asking.

At the same time, I absolutely want to be more educated and more empathetic to the oppression that surrounds me, because as a white-cis female, in many respects I have had the opportunity not to have to look at it.

I want to look at it. So I can reduce the ways I unconsciously encourage the status quo of dehumanizing people of color and QUILTBAG‘s. Because fuck that. I worked through my distaste for how white people I identified with were being railroaded and vilified and kept watching.

Ultimately I learned a fuckton developing an understanding of what it means to be an ‘ally’, and where best my voice fits in the social justice chorus (hint: It isn’t in the conversations of black women feminists).

One of the many indirect things I have learned from having looked deeper at this, is that sometimes the reason men insert themselves into feminist conversations is not because they don’t see feminism as viable or because they don’t recognize that something is wrong; it is because they do not feel they have voice on the issues of their own sexual and physical abuse.

They see women speaking of their own oppression in the patriarchy and want to let them know, in that completely inappropriate moment, that men suffer physical and sexual abuse as well. They want to be recognized as going through the same things as women are.

In many ways, this is an exercise of their privilege and power to make yet another conversation about them, and it’s not ok to do that. Which is why, for the most part, men will find that this is not an effective way to be heard.

I recognized the need for men to have more safe places to talk about their stigmatized life experiences, even though they like, own everything and everyone and have all the stupid power and all that. Just as I need safe places to talk about my issues even though I’m like, white and cis and pretty and all that.

So a few weeks ago I started a conversation on Facebook inviting the men in my life to discuss their abuse stories, and immediately, the first thing a dear friend of mine feared, was that I was being sarcastic and insincere.

My opening a space for him had triggered his lifetime experience of abuse and subsequent neglect and dehumanization.

This, too, is rape culture, people.

We don’t talk enough about sexual assault against males (or other identified genders besides men and women, for that matter).

I know it happens because this study Slate talked about says so, and also because I’ve unconsciously sexually assaulted men in my past.

If you are a man who thinks they may struggle with the remanence of abuse experiences in his life, is a nonprofit specifically for men, offering tools for thinking about childhood or teenage sexual experiences that may have caused or contributed to current problems.

The site exists as a safe haven for men in specific, and the information here is humanly universal. The depth and quality of it is priceless, and I am very, very glad it exists.

Sadly, it is not enough that this wonderful site exists. We also don’t talk enough about lack of resources for men who are victims of domestic abuse or the realities of the anti-male bias in our court systems.

Plenty of options and resources are openly available for women suffering from physical domestic violence, but for men, as told in this piece published by the also amazing website The Good Men Project, the situation is all too often hopeless and bleak (and utterly heartbreaking).

This story indirectly mirrors my own teenage experiences, in which I would periodically break down in rage and hit my boyfriend. Many times this would happen in front of others, often at parties. I would be held back, and he would be encouraged not to hit me.

This went on for years, until one day, he pinned me down and beat the shit out of me.

When that happened, most of our friends rallied, I was granted a restraining order from him, and the court system prescribed mandatory therapy and kicked him out of the state.

Over the years as I’ve healed, become more aware, able to better control rage when it comes (much more rarely than before), and moved away from behaving like this, I consistently see the effect this double standard has on our society.

Most recently, it showed up in the form of a male lover, when, after being told I was violently triggered for the first time in years and isolating myself because I feared I would potentially hit him, said “That would be ok.”.

No. That would not have been ok.

Years ago I experienced a breakup in which violence was not a concern from me (the other woman, however, had assaulted him and was having fantasies about beating and knifing him.. but I digress); I wanted nothing to do with him under any circumstances.

However, that person chose to file a restraining order against me which disavowed even the existence of the other women, letalone her presence during the confrontation surrounding his infidelity in which he claimed I did what she did.

Though it was a dick move from a calculated self-serving lying jackass, had he actually been in danger, very few people would have believed him over me. Simply because he was a he. And that’s not ok.

Patriarchy is fucking *everyone*. Tear it down.

We need more safe spaces for men to be heard and understood about their experiences with abuse.

We need more education, dialogue and awareness of this problem and the needs of men and boys in abusive situations.

We need more awareness of female violence and resources to help women who hit people as coping mechanisms.

Shame needs secrecy, silence and judgement to exist.

It cannot survive being spoken and recognized.

Note: For another look at the machine of patriarchy, rape culture, of women needing to be the gatekeepers of sex, of the commonality of acceptance of rape in our society, and the reactions to sexual scarcity that I’ve been writing about lately, check out my friend’s thoughtful fairy tale version from an imaginary male child perspective: Rape: A Fairy Tale