Originally posted on July 23, 2007
One of the biggest issues in advocating for male victims is trying to get people to accept the boundaries males set. Society teaches males that they have no right to boundaries by virtue of their gender. Males are taught at a very young age that because they are male they should be capable of dealing with any kind of violation, so there is no need for personal boundaries. Part of existing as a person is the creation of personal limitations, a defining of what one is comfortable with. In order to truly exercise one’s rights as a person one must be allowed to do this without shame or fear of mockery. Of course, there are those who relish the notion of bringing shame against men. One such person recounts an event in which a woman used the men’s restroom at a baseball game and the reaction of the men who were all in the restroom:
As I approached one of the large urinals I saw a 20’s ish young lady moving out of the restroom. I have to presume that there was a line for the women’s room and she had decided instead to use the men’s room.
For me it was amusing and not an issue.
I heard several men responding to what was happening (not positively). One in particular said: “She had a smirk on her face” in apparent anger at “his” male space being violated (I’m guessing).
While not attributing too much meaning to what happened, it seemed and seems amusing to me to see what it can feel like when men have “their space” invaded and feel disempowered faintly, faintly in ways that women and girls and sometimes even boys may face in many other ways more frequently from (some) adult men.
The delusions of frequent female disempowerment aside, it is interesting to find someone relishing in the violation of men’s boundaries while complaining about the violation of women’s boundaries. When the author is later called on his clear double standard, he defends in it a rather odd way:
you seem to be confusing different standards with double standards, and oversimplifying the situation while you’re at it.
If all else in our society/world/reality were equal, it would be a double-standard. Unfortunately, things aren’t equal–most rape, for instance, involves men raping women; as such, pseudo-private, enclosed, sometimes lockable-from-the-inside spaces are considerably safer for women if they are gender-specific. (This is an extreme example, of course, and there are lots of other reasons we might want to have gender-specific restrooms.) So, there are different standards for men and women as regards gendered spaces like bathrooms because, in part, of the real-world power differences involved.
It is interesting that he mentioned rape, because the sentiment he holds in support of women violating males’ boundaries is exactly the same sentiment female rapists and abuser hold when they violate men and boys. They feel male boundaries carry no value and need not be respected as males are “different” or because of some deep disdain or hatred against males. The author’s sentiment is also one of the main reasons why male victims of abuse are subjected to blatant sexism and discrimination from the support community.
The other intriguing element of this statement about rape is the complete failure to understand the multitude of reasons why men would not want women violating their space. For some it is simply a matter of privacy. For others it is a cultural and social norm. And yet for many it is a response to having had women violate those boundaries before. It could range from a mother forcing her son to be nude in front of her to having been raped by a woman. It could also be an extension domestic violence or of controlling spouses or partners. Or perhaps it is just a feeling of disempowerment by having their boundaries completely ignored. And one must factor in the other group of males: boys. Apparently it is also appropriate for a woman to violate the privacy and boundaries of the boys who also use the men’s restroom.
The most curious element of this sentiment is how it plays in reverse. If males feel disempowered by this act, this implies women in turn feel empowered by the same act. If they did not, they would not use the men’s restroom. One must wonder then why women would feel empowered by violating a man’s or a boy’s boundaries. The title of the post is “Being ‘in Control’.” Indeed, it would seem that the author’s sentiment is that males have no right to be in control of their own spaces. Women should be able to violate them at their leisure, even to the extent of exposing boys to potential female abuse. The double standard then is not just about violating boundaries, but about who gets to set them.
Again, this sentiment is exactly the same notion one sees used by female abusers and rapists. It is the notion that their wants and desires trump any male’s–including boys–need for privacy and personal boundaries. It is sad to see someone who gleefully supports the violation of another person’s rights purely out of spite while mocking them for feeling violated. However, what is most distressing is that this sort of feeling leads to allowing abuse.