Stop hitting us

I have a small suggestion for feminists who want to help male survivors of abuse: if you want male survivors to think you are on their side, stop hitting us in the face.

Normally, I would not address this issue because I care far more about actually helping male survivors than playing politics. I am more than willing to challenge misinformation and  sexist rhetoric, but I find the tit-for-tat tactics boring and pointless. However, there is one very common refrain that gets to me, and it is something Joanna Schroeder wrote in response to some criticism about a poster addressing sexual violence against women. In her comment, Joanna wrote:

You want to talk more about awareness of women abusing men? Then DO SOMETHING about it other than complain and antagonize in a thread dedicated to a poster that is designed to HELP PEOPLE HELP each other.

When I see you three actually working for domestic abuse organizations, even if you wrote stories for GMP about it (I, myself, publish these pieces with some regularity, I even seek them out) then I’d have more respect for this stuff.

Instead, I see a group of men saying that a group of men who want to help men help women is somehow hurting you.


This kind of refrain does no one any good. Instead of reaching out to help male survivors, it attacks them and their advocates in a way no one ever does to female survivors and their advocates. Of the dozens of articles published on GMP about violence against women, I cannot recall a single instance in which someone stated that they would not take someone’s concerns or criticism seriously unless the person proved they were doing something in the “real world” about to stop violence against women.

That is never the criteria for addressing violence against women, and yet this refrain pops up often when people talk about male victimization.

I could speculate about the reasons why feminists do that, but the truth is I do not care enough about their opinions to even make the effort. What I do care about, however, is who the above comments were directed at.

Some of those criticizing the ad are male survivors. The reason I know they are male survivors is because they have publicly stated such. But rather than speak on their behalf, I will speak for myself. Let us pretend I have not spent the last decade volunteering my time at different organizations to help male survivors and foster kids. I did spent the first fourteen years of my life being physically, psychologically, and sexually preyed on. I am 29-years-old, meaning I spent half my life in that situation.

Even if I never set foot in a crisis center, I think I have earned the right to talk about my experiences and have my concerns and criticism taken seriously because by speaking publicly about my experiences I am “doing something”. Every male survivor who comes forward and says “This happened to me”, whether he gives his name out or remains anonymous, whether he works for an organization or just speaks out, is doing something. They deserve respect because they earned it the hard way. Their advocates deserve respect because they are talking about issues no one wants to talk about.

Telling them to prove their credentials is nothing short of punching them in the face. I do not personally care if anyone takes a swing at me because I have been hit much harder when I was younger by an ironically better class of people. But neither I or anyone advocating for male survivors should have to tolerate people claiming to be our allies punching us in the face when we say something they do not like.

All violence is a serious issue, yet people still believe that violence against males is at best negligible. There are still organizations that paint sexual and physical violence as something only men do to only women. There is a host of misinformation that masks the severity of violence against males. The very act of speaking out about it, of demanding changes to sexist language and misandrous policies, is doing something.

It is what every social movement does, so to take issue with it only when men do it on behalf of other men smacks of hypocrisy.

And before any feminists get upset, please understand that I am not asking for anything other than the basic decency that every other group gets from you. I do not want your agreement, your condolences, your sympathy or empathy, or your help. I am not even asking for feminists to defend male survivors when someone says, “If you actually are a guy who can’t figure out how to ‘defend yourself’ [from a woman] by simply grabbing her hands and holding them down by her sides: *do a push up” (which is fortunate, since no feminist objected to that statement). I simply want feminists and other women’s advocates  to stop hitting male survivors and their advocates in the face for saying things you do not like. You do not have to attack us, insult us, or mock us to disagree with us.

There is a certain level of civility and decency that is remarkably absent from these discussions. While both sides are guilty of throwing out basic civility to score points, only one side seems to do it with the condescending smugness that the above quoted remarks showed. It is unhelpful to anyone to play that game, particularly when no feminist ever asks any woman, black person, or gay person whether they are working with any group before respecting their concerns and criticism.

I said before that I would not speculate about the reasons for such comments. I am going to take that back a little. I think this happens because it is very hard for some people to see past ideological worldviews. Once you decide that you have all the answers, anything that does not match your preconceived notions is an inconvenience. More so, when one’s arguments simply do not work, which is what happened on the article that prompted Joanna’s comments, one only has two choices: concede that the other side a point or double down.

In this situation, doubling down does not make one look good. There is a clear bias against addressing male victimization. There is a problem with using gendered language. There is a problem with framing violence as something only men do to only women. Doubling down in support of those positions does not help you win over male survivors. Doubling down is simply about scoring points, and that is fine if one does not care at all about male survivors and their issues. However, if one wants those people to believe you are on their side, you have just done yourself a great disservice by disrespecting them.

That is the funny thing about respect: it works both ways. Joanna has lost mine.

Update: The Good Men Project declined to post this article on their site.

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35 thoughts on “Stop hitting us

  1. And mine as well.

    In fact, as I’ve mentioned, the whole Good Men Project site has lost my respect, allowing a moderator like her to run roughshod with those kinds of judgements. Meanwhile we get articles approved by the editors concerning top ten, 16, 20, 100 lists or whatever about how men should just buckle down and stop acting like a (insert assumption and stereotype here), and this latest piece of crap:

    http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/the-good-life-when-men-waste-womens-time/

    It’s a shame, though no surprise. Even pure intentions succumb to the mighty dollar and ideolgical absolutes. Goes for any project like that or any movement for that matter.

  2. Pingback: GendErratic

  3. TS I whole heartedly agree with this

    And frankly, Joanna is wrong when she states that things like the “white ribbon campaign” take nothing away from male survivors. To a certain degree they do. By painting DV as something (almost) exclusively done to women by men, they are adding to the collective subconscious depiction of men as the perpetrators and women as the victims. Such depictions make it near impossible for any man to be viewed as anything other than the perpetrator. Thus, when a woman abuses the man he thinks “I can’t be the victim, therefore I must have done something to deserve this. I’m the bad guy.”

    also, I can’t believe she pulled the 100 lb woman vs 180 lb man. Size is irrelevant. If a 100lb man is stupid enough to pick a fight with someone that outweighs him by over half again as much, society calls him stupid. But… apparently Joanna feels that women have a right to hit men bigger than they are? It’s the only thing I can surmise from what she’s written

  4. It is fascinating to me when feminists do the whole “what are you doing for the cause” speech. The overwhelming vast majority of women, including feminists, do exactly jack and shit for the cause outside of talk about it online. Survivor advocacy and sexual violence prevention work is done by a tiny fraction of the overall population. I have yet to meet someone with the “what are you doing” argument who was actually doing something significant in the real world.

  5. Reason I don’t help out:
    I have severe social anxiety disorder, so bad I am not even working at the moment.
    I have my time mostly trying to battle my illness’s, raise my energy levels to the point I can work + overcome anxiety, seek employment, better my life and get to a stable setting before I can devote time to any major causes.
    And lastly because I don’t think we even have a local shelter, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

    The most I can do at the moment is raise awareness with family n friends, which I do, and talk online here. But until my health gets better I am pretty much worn out and unable to spare any time, not to mention the idea of responsibility scares the living shit out of me until I know my energy stays stable for more than 3 months.

  6. Archy, the point is that you should not have to give any reason for not volunteering at an organization. There are plenty of ways to help out. If we are to take Joanna’s comment at face value, anyone who donates money to organizations is not doing a thing because they are not physically involved in helping out. It is just a bad argument from the start.

  7. True, but I often feel incredible guilt when people say that stuff, I feel like shit because I am unable to help out yet I want to see the work be done. What saddens me the most is the feeling like I am the only one that sees the value in that work though, it saddens me that so many men n women are willing to do a huge amount for women but relatively few seem to give a fuck about male issues. Anyone who is likely to be a campaigner that saw the cdc stats on abuse n rape should have immediately thought MEN need to be included too. Why am I not seeing that?

  8. Archy: I suspect you are not seeing that because despite any assurance and claims top the opposite a lot of feminists and people currently involved in activism to stop violence against women in fact DO believe that including male victims takes something away from female victims. A lot of people who claims it isn’t a zero-sum game will when pressed let it slip that they don’t really believe in their own claim…

    After nearly a decade looking at discourse around rape and DV online I can point out that despite there still being a long road ahead there has been large changes in how male victims are included in the debate. It’s been going from “not possible” and “Sorry, but you are an aberration which has no practical relevance in the discourse at all” to at least a grudgingly acknowledgement that male victims exists and that there are more of them than previously assumed. Implying as Joanna does that men (both victims and non-victims) who talked a lot about male victimization online had no practical influence on this change is rather dismissive to put it mildly. To put it more bluntly it actually pissed me off. I don’t have much confidence in the theory that feminist and other groups dealing with rape and DV had changed their view as much as they have if no-one had gone online and dared to ask “what about the men?”, “what about me?” and who persistingly continued to do so regardless of how many times they were told that they didn’t exist, that they were trolls trying to make up excuses for raping women and all the other dismissals and vilification they experienced.

  9. I don’t have much confidence in the theory that feminist and other groups dealing with rape and DV had changed their view as much as they have if no-one had gone online and dared to ask “what about the men?”, “what about me?” and who persistingly continued to do so regardless of how many times they were told that they didn’t exist, that they were trolls trying to make up excuses for raping women and all the other dismissals and vilification they experienced.

    That is was annoys me most about these kinds of comments. In most cases, the only reason many feminists even acknowledge male survivors is because so many people complained about them not doing it. It took years of people going into feminist spaces and critiquing feminist literature to get that shift. Even Hugo Schwyzer, who barely seems able to stomach the idea that sexual violence against males happened, had to at least admit it does and it wrong.

    I am not surprised by how dismissive Joanna’s comment was, nor am I surprised that she wrote it and then locked the comments. However, I am disappointed that she did not have the decency to think about her response and the way it would come across. She came across as wanting to score political points with her side rather than addressing the issue tactfully. That might win her praise from other feminists, but it hurts her and GMP’s effort to convince male survivors that they are welcome there.

  10. That might win her praise from other feminists, but it hurts her and GMP’s effort to convince male survivors that they are welcome there(TS)

    That magazine is a money maker. Who generally buys more stuff, male or female. The answer to that question will probably tell you how much they really want certain individuals around.

  11. The reason GMP is so awful is that, unlike other feminist sites, this one builds up your hopes in a possible dialogue that’s open to men before tearing them down with ruthless confem (conservative feminist) bigotry.

    Really the site is just about ad revenue and feminist dogma sells. (Incidentally their auto-refresh is a violation of the Adsense TOS as it artificially inflates page impressions. If somebody were to report that to Google Adsense, the site might find itself losing it’s biggest source of revenue. Just saying.)

  12. Titfortat, I suppose it is, but I tend to take people at their word until I have reason to do otherwise. If the editors of GMP say they want to reach out to men and hear their stories, then I will give them the benefit of doubt. But this kind of thing just does not do that. And the curious part is that Tom Matlack seems bothered that GMP comes across as a feminist space. I am pretty sure that when he speaks to men in person he does not do it with the pitch that one sees on GMP’s site. I am pretty sure he did not walk into a prison wanting men to share their stories and then said to them, “By the way, what’re you doing to check your privilege?”

    Diesirae, I think there may be that kind of angle at play. I have noticed that after GMP runs a few articles talking about men’s issues, they will run several feminist-leaning articles about the same topics. As for their auto-refresh issue, I do not know enough about how that works to know if it violates any rule. I do find it quite annoying.

  13. TS, would you be willing to write an article on how gendered language hurts male victims and female perps?

  14. No Archy, he shouldn’t. It would be a lost cause. Well, he could try. But good luck with getting past Noah, head editor.

    Incidentally, I’d rather people listen to my play instead. That’s worth more than what most mainstream media is willing to offer to male surviors.

    It’s actually ending this Saturday, Septermber 15th, 2012. The final episode airs at 10am Pacific Time, 1pm Eastern Time, 6pm UK Time.

    Here’s the link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/autistic-people-/2012/09/15/radio-drama-speak-to-me-vii–10am-pst

    Remember, if anyone misses the live performance, it’ll be available as a podcast. The link will still work.

  15. Eagle:
    No Archy, he shouldn’t. It would be a lost cause. Well, he could try. But good luck with getting past Noah, head editor.
    While I would normally try to say something in defense of GMP on a situation like this honestly I’m having a change of heart on this exact situation (for personal reasons I won’t go into). Basically fuck GMP if TS were to right such an article and they don’t want to run it. TS can run such an article right here, I would run such an article at my place, James Landrith can run such at article at his place, and titfortat can run such an article at his place. And I only mention mention the four of us because out of the all the folks commenting on this post we are the only four that have blogs. And the folks that are commenting here that may not have their own blogs can take it run with it by sharing at other places. And I bet if shared with them Feminist Critics, Genderratic, Stoner With A Boner, and some other places would run with it as well.

    In short on this particular issue of the erasure of male victims and the changing of standards of what is self defense and what is abuse/assault. Fuck the whole lot of them at GMP if they can’t handle the fact that they are not applying the standards equally.

    A part of me actually wants to say that Noah wouldn’t just shoot down such an article because of it focusing on male victims. But now, I really don’t know.

  16. A little off -topic, but not much.
    Here’s the very heart of it:
    “Emily May from Hollaback! and Vicki Ybanez from Red Wind Consulting, were both so amazing. I was flattered to be able to share a stage with them. Emily has turned Hollaback! into a global movement. Vicki, as Misty noted, “was a member, not facilitator but member, of the support group in Duluth, MN, that originally created the Power and Control Wheel that is used by most people when talking about domestic violence and abuse.” She is a survivor, and a rock star.”

    http://www.shakesville.com/2012/09/beloved-community.html#more

    This is a Domestic Violence conference which showcases the very heart of the women-as-eternal-victim philosophy. Notice the networking. I never would have believed that “Hollaback!” would be cooperating with these rad fem type of beliefs, nor that a movement mostly based in NYC would be at a West Coast domestic violence conference.

    These people will never stop hitting you because when they even deign to notice you exist, they have already predetermined you as an evil person. You , and all other males, deserve it.

  17. Clarence: “These people will never stop hitting you because when they even deign to notice you exist, they have already predetermined you as an evil person. You , and all other males, deserve it.”

    Well I’m going to hit back with everything I’ve got. It’s gotten to the point for me that, if anyone purports to support male surivors like me, they so much as utter the tropes “But women have it worse”, “You’re an anomoly”, or any other talking point in any shape or form, they’re not worthy of being my allie.

    I’m going to be doing it with my play today and from then on when I share the entire “Speak To Me” serial with other sites.

    There. Now let’s see people like Joanna ask me “What are you doing for male survivors?”.

  18. Archy, I have been thinking about it, but I know how much GMP wants to play to a feminist audience, so I doubt they would run it. I am waiting to see if GMP will run the above post. I sent it to them shortly after I posted here. My feelings on the matter is that if GMP is not willing to publish a direct response to someone’s comment, I doubt they would run something that more broadly criticizes how feminists treat male survivors.

    But as I said, this is something I have been thinking about for a while. I just have not been able to get my thoughts together on the matter.

  19. Danny, As I said to Archy, I doubt they would run it, but let us assume they did. The last article they published of mine was about how survivors of abuse wear masks to deal with day-to-day living. It basically got buried on the site. Granted, it was a short piece, but I have seen other pieces shorter than that remain in the top scroll bar for weeks. I think that GMP is struggling to decide who its audience is supposed to be. They clearly want to play to liberals and feminists, but they also want to talk about men’s issues. It seems like they do not want to publish anything that might upset feminists, particularly if it is critical of feminists and feminism.

  20. A part of me actually wants to say that Noah wouldn’t just shoot down such an article because of it focusing on male victims(Danny)

    Noah sure the hell knows who butters his bread and it aint men. :(

  21. I think that GMP is struggling to decide who its audience is supposed to be. They clearly want to play to liberals and feminists, but they also want to talk about men’s issues. It seems like they do not want to publish anything that might upset feminists, particularly if it is critical of feminists and feminism.

    I think they don’t have much choice (from their perspective at least). In order to understand GMP and its actions you have to understand its motivations and that they're quite different from yours. While you are an activist, they are a business. In the simplest terms, you write to change the world, they write to make profit. And being critical or just even not agreeing to the feminist picture, is jeopardizing the business.

    Once you understand this, everything they do makes sense. Remember how everybody was so surprised they appointed Noahbrand and annexed NSWATM? It's not surprising at all if you consider that this happened shortly after Tom Matlack’s confrontation with feminists. After that, he HAD to make a point about being a feminist ally and going to Ozy and Noah was the political strategy to accomplish this.

    Not doing that would have been like declaring GMP an MRA site and, given incidents like the SPLC, this would seriously jeopardize the revenue from Google Adsense. Feminists have clickbombed other people’s accounts (clickbomb: deliberately mass clicking of ads which Google registers as fraud and disables the account which is permanent and cannot be undone) for disagreeing with them such as Justicar.

    Bottom line: When you want to talk about men’s issues, you have to decide between letting men talk openly and freely or the site becoming just another site for and about women. GMP have made their choice.

  22. Got any proof on the clickbombing? Looks damn seedy if that happens.

    I think they would run an article that is general in nature and not targetted specifically at any single person, I’d hope they’d also run one with a reply to another author on the site as I’ve seen that many times.

    If it gets posted let me know, I wanna read it.

  23. Toy Soldier, now that my play is complete can you do an entire post on it? I’ll give you the links if you say yes. It’s seven episodes and please be patient with their length. It was the only way I could tell this story because no other story like this has been done (Male survivor of male AND female sexual abuse).

  24. @Archy
    Since it didn’t happen to me, I can’t prove it. Ask Justicar about what happened to him and I believe he knows about others too.

  25. I somehow suspect that GMP would be more likely to publish a general critique of this dynamic (how feminists treat male survivors) that a direct critical response (ehich may be perceived as an attack if they are defensive) to one of their own given their stated policy that attacks against GMP is not welcome. From their commenting policy:

    We will not tolerate attacks on the Good Men Project itself, people who question our motives, our intentions or our reason for being.

  26. Tamen, that is why I posted my comments here first. I do not have a problem with the “no attacks” policy per se, although have a problem with how it seems to be applied. GMP has a bad habit of allowing direct critical responses from their people towards others, but censoring similar responses from non-feminists. They seem to have little problem allowing feminists who are critical of them or one of their articles to have at it.

  27. “We will not tolerate attacks on the Good Men Project itself, people who question our motives, our intentions or our reason for being.”

    Meanwhile, they allow lists for men to not be a creep, jerk, etc air time and continue publishing articles heavily slanted towards a gynocentric essentialist view of how men should accept feminism, do this, do that and generally shame them into submission. I can’t count how many times, in the commentary section, sexist attacks against male commentators go unmoderated but heaven forbid a criticism of an article or an author/moderator’s own baselss assumptions get dumped into oblivion.

  28. Edit: Actually. eliminate the “Heaven Forbid” part. The sentence structure is better that way.

  29. Though didn’t Clarence say it was just a parody site?

    Even so, the kind of satire it employs is really close to home. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were hardcore ideologues like the made up one on there in this world.

  30. Pingback: A Worthy Debate | Toy Soldiers

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