I freely admit that I have a certain dislike of the commentary on Alas a blog. In the past, both the site owner and the posters have engaged in tactless attacks against male victims of rape and abuse, belittling their experiences and resorting to open mockery and insults whenever anyone attempted to defend them. The one attempt to address male rape in a devoted thread devolved into a demand for male victims first pay tribute to female victims before they would even be acknowledged. The site owner went so far as to create a a “male privilege checklist” in which he called rape against boys and men “negligible.”
While there have been many instances of hypocrisy on the blog over the years, none have reached the level as this latest instance. Mandolin posted an email she received from a reader. In the email the reader states:
I am currently dating a dude (bio and identified as such), and have been dating this dude for over two years. I tend to go to sleep a couple hours after him, which occasionally, and very consensually, results in my waking him up for a bit with nightnight sex, if he’s up for it. Tonight I started feelin’ it, looked over at him, saw how cute he looked, and found myself thinking very distinctly, in my inner stand-up comic voice, “Oh I am so gonna rape you– wait, what!?”
Now, I did not mean rape literally. What I meant was “wake you up with sexual advances that will lead to sex if accepted.” But my inner monologue went ahead and made a) a joke about rape that b) belitted what rape actually means and c) treated rape as rape-as-compliment!
My point in sending this e-mail is, how horribly pervasive rape culture can be — I look at someone I love, sexually desire them, and want to give them a hopefully pleasant midnight experience, and my broseph inner monologue compares that to rape. As if rape is just surprise sex! If they don’t want it they’re moody! Also I’m only doing it because they’re totes hot right now!
I’m just so, well, terrified that rape can come into my innermost thoughts as “boy, you are gonna love this unexpected goodness!” I spend a good part of my day finding and analysing the evidence of rape culture that show up in advertising, television, and social interactions, and yet my uncensored self still uses “rape” casually and incredibly inappropriately. Horrible and amazing, and something I’d love a comment on, if any of you have got the time.
To which Mandolin replied:
That’s really intense. I think we all have moments like that where it becomes weirdly clear how much our brains have been “colonized” by the dominant culture. For me, they’ll often be about internalized fatphobia, directed at myself and at other women.
I don’t know if there’s a way to get rid of such things entirely. Writer Nisi Shawl describes those quick-thought rising-from-your-subconscious bad reactions as being sort of your “lizard brain,” although obviously that’s metaphorical. We all have those kinds of bad reactions, but the point is to know why they’re bad, and then sculpt your action in the world around that.
Would you like us to post this on our blog and open it up for comment from others? People might learn from this, or have more substantive comments to add than mine — or feel relieved at seeing the ways other feminists experience and cope with mental “colonization.”
What follows in the comments is little more than applauding the woman for “the courage it took for [her] to write what she did [and] to embrace this level of vulnerability takes a kind of bravery that few people have and that many who might have it are unwilling to act on.”
Let us imagine for a moment that a man wrote an email stating that he looked at girlfriend and thought “Oh I am so gonna rape you– wait, what!?” The reaction from the feminists on Alas would hardly be to applaud the man for noting how pervasive “rape culture” is. No one, absolutely no one, on that site would ever commend a man for admitting he fantasized about raping his girlfriend.
Yet, not only do the majority of the comments do just that, no one, not one single person, bothers to acknowledge that this woman is writing off very dangerous thinking as essentially not her fault or responsibility. “Rape culture” is to blame. She does not spend the day thinking about her own behavior, but instead “finding and analysing the evidence of rape culture that show up in advertising, television, and social interactions, and yet my uncensored self still uses “rape” casually and incredibly inappropriately.”
It is not just that the posters and Mandolin are ignoring the reality of what this woman admitted to, but they are all gleefully jumping on the “rape culture” bandwagon without ever discussing the gender of the potential victim and the potential rapist. The only person who acknowledges male victims is Schala, who gets promptly banned from the thread by Mandolin who states, “Okay, enough what about the menz for this thread.”
So on a thread where a woman professes that she wants to rape her boyfriend, discussing male victimization is talking about “the menz”?
Granted, this is not to be unexpected. The reaction on Alas to any acknowledgment of female-on-male violence is at best indifference, and when it comes to sexual violence it is generally a lack of acknowledgment beyond “it’s extremely rare” followed by, as Mandolin did, a “shut up” admonishment.
It would be unfair to say that the thread is pro male rape if for no other reason than there is a total lack of acknowledgment of male victimization. However, it is fair to say that they (everyone who has posted on the thread sans Schala) has apologized to some extent for the what the anonymous emailer’s male rape fantasies. It is disturbing, not only because of how easily and quickly the posters excuse the woman’s thoughts, but how no one actually acknowledges what the woman said. Instead, they rationalize this woman’s clearly dangerous thinking by absolving her of any direct responsibility for her thoughts. It is not her fault, but the “mental colonization of her mind.” Curiously, Mandolin has never applied this notion to any man or boy accused of rape or to males in general. She does not absolve any males if or when they have such thoughts about women.
To the contrary, not a single person on that site would hesitate to at least question the thinking of a man who sent an email stating that he fantasized about raping his girlfriend. The nicest responses would likely be warnings to the man’s girlfriend that she needed to get away him before he acted on his thoughts. The less than nice comments would call the man a rapist outright. There certainly would not be any suggestion that people be respectful of him for revealing tender and personal details (something rather ironic given how cruelly male victims of rape have been treated by feminists on Alas a blog).
Speaking as someone has been victimized in the manner the anonymous emailer apparently wishes to boyfriend and speaking as someone who knows many boys and men who have been raped by women (whether the posters on Alas acknowledge such acts as rape remains unclear), I find it terribly sad to see people engaging in that kind of excuse making. I do not mean sad as in regrettable, but sad as in utterly pathetic and disturbing on a level that I thought was attainable only by those who conduct such nuanced and rationalized discussions about their sexual fantasies involving children. In the past I have not gone so far as to actually think that feminists in general would hold such permissive views about sexual violence against boys and men, but apparently my opinion was too generous.
As I said before, I will not go so far as to say that Mandolin and her posters are pro male rape, but they apparently support male rape fantasies, and to be completely honest I am not certain where that support for women fantasizing about violating males ends.