But It’s Not Really “Rape”

Originally posted on March 6, 2010

One of the issues discussed on this blog is the lack of feminist acknowledgment and discussion of female-on-male sexual violence. It is difficult to find and when it does occur feminists rarely tackle it with the same tenacity they do when discussing male-on-female sexual violence. What typically occurs is a round-about discussion concerning social norms. There is never any discussion of the impact of female violence on males, why it is so socially dismissed or why feminists rarely bother to discuss it.

The same thing occurs on a recent Feministe post. The guest poster Rachel Hills recounts a post from Feministing in which a woman “unknowingly” forced her boyfriend into sex. The legal term for such an act is “rape,” but both posts are very careful not to call female perpetrated sexual violence by that word. Instead, it is usually referred to as “sexual assault.” Hills goes on to explain about the topic:

Female-on-male sexual assault is a subject people don’t talk about much. I assume it’s because heterosexual intercourse relies on the man having an erection, which to the less progressive, educated eye makes it physically impossible (never mind that a man can physically have an erection and still not want to have sex on an intellectual or emotional level). It’s also because – as I’ll discuss further in a moment – there’s a very real assumption that men always want sex, and conversely, that women need to be talked into it.

Now, I know at least one woman who has physically forced sex upon a man who had repeatedly told her he didn’t want to have sex with her and was pretty pissed off with her afterwards – rape in no uncertain terms, if the genders were reversed. But the situation Pluralist talks about is a little less obvious than that. It’s unethical, certainly, and inconsiderate, and you shouldn’t do it, but I’d argue it’s technically not classified as sexual assault (if you disagree, please debate it in the comments).

It’s also a darn sight more common than sexual assault.

The comment “never mind that a man can physically have an erection and still not want to have sex on an intellectual or emotional level” is quite perplexing as it implies that an erection means males want sex on a physical level. One feels inclined to inform Hills that infant boys also get erections and it is incredibly unlikely that the erections occur as a result of a physical desire for sex. The feminist, or rather the female, lack of knowledge about the male body is part of the reason why so many women do not think that their actions can or should count as rape.

However, the real problem with Hills’ comment is that she essentially dismisses the notion that females can rape males. The situation Pluralist mentioned in Feministing is called “rape” by feminists all the time. It is only because the genders are reversed that feminists suddenly take issue with the claim that unwanted, coerced sexual intercourse is rape.

In other words, from a feminist perspective it is only rape if it is male-on-female.

Hills goes on to talk about women’s negative responses to men refusing sex. It matches my experiences and what I have heard from other men. Simply put, women do not take no for an answer and they will try to force men to have sex, either through coercion, derision, humiliation or physical action depending on the circumstances. It is tempting to chalk those responses up to women being unused to verbal rejection. Women do not court men, so it is uncommon for women to literally hear “no” when they make a move. However, the most likely reason for their actions is simply that many people do not handle rejection very well and will try to force others to do what they want.

What is more troubling is the amount of excuse making in the comments. Virtually none of the feminists commenting there actually consider women forcing boys or men into sex “rape.” Several feminists admit to essentially raping their boyfriends or husbands, with virtually no condemnation from anyone. Jill, who presumably invited Hills to guest post, can only manage to state:

Laura, I didn’t write the post, but it’s not clear that the man who was coerced into sex did identify it as sexual assault or rape — so your argument that we should let people define their own experiences doesn’t necessarily support your point. Since it’s not clear how the man defined his experience, the next best things we have are (1) legal definitions of rape and sexual assault, and (2) feminist definitions of rape and sexual assault. This situation doesn’t meet any legal standard that I’m aware of, but it certainly does not meet the feminist ideal of enthusiastic consent. Beyond that, though, I’m not sure it is totally 100% clear that this is definitely rape from a feminist standpoint.

Obviously, it cannot be rape from a feminist standpoint because that perspective does not acknowledge female-on-male sexual violence as rape. The feminist definition of rape does not even permit males to be victims unless they are gay or in prison. The irony, of course, is that if the genders were reversed the act would meet both the legal and the feminist definitions of rape and sexual assault. So even though Jill goes out of her way to try to discredit Pluralist’s recounting of what occurred, with similar limited information Jill and the other feminists on that thread would not hesitate to call a man badgering his girlfriend into consenting to sex rape.

Jill goes on to state:

But I’m not sure that really matters. Naming things matters, but sexual relationships are really complicated — a one-size-fits-all standard doesn’t work. Coercion vs. negotiation can also be a tough line to draw (for the record, I think it’s pretty clear that this situation was coercive — I’m talking more generally now). That’s why I like the idea of enthusiastic consent, because it helps to obviate some of these blurry lines. But I’m not sure anything short of enthusiastic consent is sexual assault. It gets even more complicated when terms like “rape” and “sexual assault” are also legalistic ones, with meanings that are better defined in settings outside of the feminist blogosphere. Point being, it would be nice if we had a larger vocabulary to deal with these concepts; in the meantime, I don’t think the heart of the issue is “Is this one situation sexual assault, yes or no?” I think the more important discussion is the one about gendering consent and sexual readiness, and how our perceptions about how men and women are “supposed” to act during sex creates really troubling scenarios like this one.

There is no need for a larger vocabulary. Most state rape and sexual violence statutes include provisions that count psychological coercion as a potential force to commit non-consensual intercourse. While such laws are rarely applied to female offenders due primarily to social biases, very few of the existing laws still maintain that forced sexual violence must be physical force, meaning that Pluralist’s account would qualify as rape or sexual assault depending on the state it occurred in.

That said, the heart of the issue is whether this situation is rape (not sexual assault) precisely because of how common it is and because of how many women seem to think they have a right to force a boy or man to have sex. Side-stepping that issue to talk about “gendering consent and sexual readiness” is akin to side-stepping the rampant sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in order to talk about the problems celibacy and lack of marriage.

It is possible to discuss whether social perceptions about male sexual readiness impacts females who rape males, but it is unlikely that it is the cause for female-on-male rapet. As was noted in Hills’ post and in several of the comments, the prompt for women to rape men who said “no” was specifically that the men rejected their sexual offer. Certainly social norms can heighten the intensity of a response, but based on the admissions on the thread the real issue seems to stem solely from women wanting sex and taking it personally when a man is not interested. That is likely why there is so much discussion about “wheddling” in relationships.The desire to get what one wants appears to trump whether the other person wants to be used in that fashion.

Discussions like the one on Feministe are enlightening as they give an insight into how people’s arguments change when it is suits them . According to any feminist definition of rape, a man coercing, badgering, wheedling or talking his girlfriend into having sex is rape. Not only is it rape from a feminist perspective, but it also is legally rape. However, for a host of reasons it is inconvenient for feminists to acknowledge that a woman coercing, badgering, wheedling or talking her boyfriend into having sex is rape, so now not only is the act only “sexual assault,” but it does not really amount to that either and what is more important is how men and women are “supposed” to act during (or more correctly before) sex.

As one commenter stated, “I also fully believe that this whole conversation is only occurring because we are talking about women sexually violating men. If it were the other way around, any argument against the idea that it was sexual coercion or assault would have been repeatedly shouted down quite violently by now.”

Apparently she forgot that when the victim is male it is not really rape or sexual assault or sexual coercion.

34 thoughts on “But It’s Not Really “Rape”

  1. They seem to at least be talking about it and slowly moving towards understanding.

  2. But are they going to admit that feminism has a lot to answer for by allowing the extremist element of their movement to shape gender debate and domestic violence policy with such theories as “All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” and “Heterosexual sex is oppressive due to a power dynamic slanted against women.”? Yeah, the fact that they didn’t speak out against the likes of Andrea Dworkin and Marlyn French means they’re going to have to do a lot more than just “Talk” about male sexual abuse victims to wash their hands free of any grime.

  3. I am not sure of that. The conversation there reminds me of some of the things I have heard convicted sex offenders state in regards to their actions. There seems to be an attempt to not necessarily to rationalize their actions, but to minimize their acts to such a degree as to render them harmless. There does not seem to be any real understanding of what it is like for a man or a boy to be forced into unwanted sex, let alone any attempt to understand how abusive coercion and manipulation can be.

    I would like to give them the benefit of doubt, but it is difficult to do so when so many admit that if the genders were reversed they would consider the incident rape.

  4. Which is why I have little to no faith in feminists ever acknowledging or even caring about the impact of sexual abuse males feel when done by a femal perpetrator.

    A commentator even exclaims “Oh my goddess”. “Goddess”? I mean, seriously. We expect people like that to ever be sympathetic or empathetic to male victims?

    It’s one thing to clean their hands, but it’s another to get them to admit their hands are dirty in the first place.

  5. Toysoldier, I agree that there was lots of rape apologia on that thread and also anomalizing of male victims… but I also think there were some signs of consciousness raising and understanding.

    These discussions have to start somewhere after all.

  6. Hi there – I think you’ve missed the point of my post. I was challenging the perception that rape was only rape if it was male-on-female, that just because a man had an erection meant that he emotionally or intellectually desired intercourse, and indeed the perception that men always wanted sex.

    In the case of the Feministing post I was responding to, the situation described seems to look like pressure or coercion rather than assault (of course, it’s possible, as some in the Feministe thread did, to argue that coercion is assault) – the male partner relented to intercourse and later expressed his anger at his female partner for her behaviour and ended the relationship. As well he was justified to – her behaviour was unethical.

    But the point of my post was to call attention to the double standards with which male and female sexual assault are received, not to say that female-on-male sexual assault does not exist. That was certainly how it was received when I first published the post on my own blog, with male sexual assault survivors coming forward to speak about their experiences, and women acknowledging their own unethical behaviour.

  7. I understand that. However, I also understand where the kind of rationalization occurring on that thread leads. I am more than willing to extend compassion to those who prey others, regardless of the means they use do it. I will not, however, excuse deliberate violence against others. There is no gray area in this matter. One either has consent or one does not. If one does and one knows this, one has committed rape. Period. We can discuss all the factors leading to the act, but we will call the act what it is: rape.

    Again, I understand that the conversation must start somewhere, but it is not the place in which feminists get to say it is okay for women coerce men and boys into sex because it is not really rape or sexual assault or sexual coercion.

  8. Rachel, I did not miss the point of the post. The reason I came down hard on the post is because the narrative in it is the typical narrative concerning male victimization: it’s bad, but it’s not rape and not really sexual assault, and while it may inconvenience a few men the real issues are social mores and expectations. That may not have been the intent, but it comes across as essentially replaying the “It’s Bad, But…” narrative.

    However, it is the discussion on the thread that presents a problem. Instead of prompting feminists to challenge the double standard, the post prompted them to reinforce it and make excuses for female-perpetrated rape. It devolved into an argument about whether males are privileged, quoting statistics to prove males are not rape victims, citing various feminist theories to prove sexual violence does not hurt boys or men and so on, all of which culminated in Jill closing the comments.

    Even if my criticism of your post is unwarranted, what occurred in the comments essentially undid everything you intended, and all without any outside (i.e. MRA) interference. The people — the feminists — you tried to have this discussion with not only dodged discussing the double standard, they actually dismissed and marginalized male victims and all but exalted women who commit sexual violence, and they did so in the most insensitive way to the digital faces on male rape victims commenting on the thread.

    How does anything in those comments help challenge the double standards male rape victims face?

  9. It was interesting that, initially, some victims of female-on-male rape were coming forward but about 1/3 through that stopped as they were chased away by the rhetoric. (Except for a few tough souls.)

    Personally, I think if your beliefs are leading you to somehow minimize/dismiss the pain of a group of people there is something seriously wrong with it. If you can take feminist principles and derive a sound excuse based on those principles to minimize the impact of rape _on anyone_ then there is something wrong with feminist principles.

    I don’t even know how ‘male privilege’ is supposed to somehow assist male victims of assault. Hasn’t anyone noticed that male privilege doesn’t seem to apply to situations in which men are vulnerable or in need of help? In those situations ‘male privilege’ translates into the privilege to have your needs laughed at, minimized and ignored.

    The male ‘invulnerability’ script means they don’t get the help women get when they need it. But the female ‘vulnerability’ script means they don’t get the kind of social training needed to succeed in risky environments.

    Both are bad for different reasons. A life cut short and a life unlived.

  10. I think what occurred on that thread happened primarily because the blog is a feminist space. Had it occurred in a neutral space I think it would have played out differently. Not significantly different, but enough that it might have curbed some of the excuse making and minimization. When people are in their “safe space” they are not very likely to challenge their own views, and it leads to the type of comments found on that thread.

  11. Dear Rachel,

    I was at a board meeting a week or so back. One of the other members, an immensely talented, respected and active woman throughout my entire city and beyond, mentioned “feminists”. What really floored me was the manner in which she used the word. Such venom! Several other heads were nodding.

    By the way that board I refer to is running a rape crisis and counselling centre and forms part part of a primarily govt operated/funded network.

    The people who work with victims are beginning to despise feminists and feminism. After viewing the linked discussion it becomes quite obvious why.

    Who do these feminists think they are? They don’t get to define the experience of male victims from a “feminist” standpoint or any other for that matter. Thankfully none of those rape apologists will be defining anything for the network in my state.

  12. “I don’t even know how ‘male privilege’ is supposed to somehow assist male victims of assault. Hasn’t anyone noticed that male privilege doesn’t seem to apply to situations in which men are vulnerable or in need of help? In those situations ‘male privilege’ translates into the privilege to have your needs laughed at, minimized and ignored.”

    Most feminism has an elite focus. A lot of feminist theory and rhetoric about “male privilege” only starts to make sense if you imagine that only the men in the highest echelons of wealth, power, success, and prestige exist. Men who are poor, working class, homeless, suicides, murder victims, rape victims, child abuse victims, war casualties, killed or mangled in workplace accidents, socially awkward, non-neurotypical, disabled, or despised for deviating what others regard as proper masculinity are beneath notice most of the time. To the limited extent they are noticed, they are simply assimilated into the elite and treated as if they were the same.

  13. I think part of the issue with the Feministe thread is that it very quickly became a discussion about whether emotionally pressuring someone to have sex with you (which is what the bulk of my post is about, after my initial statement that people do not talk about female-on-male assault) constitutes sexual assault or not. From my POV, this question is irrelevant: what matters is that pressuring someone to have sex is an unethical behaviour, whether the person doing the pressuring is female or male.

    Most people – particularly feminists – would have no trouble accepting that it is unethical for a man to pressure a woman into sex; yet it is considered harmless when a woman does the same. This was the double standard my post sought to draw attention to.

    You are correct that this is not really the discussion that took place on Feministe (probably because of the sheer size of the commentariat there), but it is the discussion that took place on my own, smaller blog, where the post was originally published, and there were thoughtful responses published on Hugo Schwyzer and Figleaf as well.

    I can appreciate how you might be antagonistic towards feminism if you view it as being solely about female empowerment and discrimination, but many feminists – including myself – do not approach it like this. For me (and many of the contributors and commenters on Feministe, I would wager), feminism is about critiquing how perceptions of gender impact and oppress both men and women (in this case, how they make invisible male sexual assault victims).

    I understand that my approach might not always be perfect (and indeed be flawed) from your perspective – as clearly we come from different philosophical starting points – but I would encourage you to view at least some feminists as potential allies rather than necessarily as enemies of men’s liberation.

  14. One quibble: at least in most US states, “rape” is NOT a legal term. In most states, in fact, the legal term IS “sexual assault”. Sometimes “forcible sexual assault”. “Rape” is NOT a legal definition in most jurisdictions.

    For the record: i’m a feminist. And i’m extremely outspoken about female-on-male (and male-on-male) sexual assault. Have been for years. And when *i* hear people scoff at the idea that men can be sexually assaulted, i explain that i have a male partner who was — as well as being a victim of physical non-sexual violence perpetrated by women (he’s had at least two girlfriends who beat the shit out of him, in addition to the one who sexually assaulted him). I also recently discovered that a good friend of mine was sexually assaulted by his wife. (It’s one of the factors that’s leading to their divorce.)

    But i DO tend to call it “sexual assault”, and not “rape” — for the same reason i tend to call male-on-female sexual violence “sexual assault” and not “rape”. Which is to say, because it’s a more *accurate* and *useful* description, both from a legal standpoint and from the standpoint of getting people to realize what “sexual assault” really MEANS. Because to too goddamn many people, it still isn’t “rape” unless it’s a stranger in the bushes.

    I understand that you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle with people who ought to be your allies. And i am deeply, deeply in sympathy there. But please, please don’t insist that calling it “sexual assault” rather than “rape” means that SOME of us, at least, don’t take it just as seriously as we take male-on-female violence.

  15. But those same survivors were pushed away by other feminist commentators on your blog trying to make excuses for their abusers or minimising their trauma. Now can you blame them for not wanting to stick around? Can you also blame them for having ill will towards feminism after getting this kind of treatment? Especially when the topic shifts to “Male Priveledge”. How dare you allow that to be brought up in that kind of topic where people are easily triggered.

    No offense, but if you do care about male victims, you’d start policing your blog during such discussions when actual survivors contribute.

  16. I think you’re talking about the republished post on Feministe here (where I have no control over the comments), not the original post on my own blog. I just searched that post (linked) for mentions of male privilege and couldn’t find any – and the one person (a man) who assumed that sexual coercion would be less traumatic for men than for women was called on his false assumptions. Nor did any of the male survivors who posted express any hostility towards feminism.

    As I wrote in my comment earlier today (which has not yet been approved, for some reason), I can appreciate how you might be antagonistic towards feminism if you view it as being solely about female empowerment and discrimination, but many feminists – including myself – do not approach it like this. For me (and many of the contributors and commenters on Feministe, I would wager), feminism is about critiquing how perceptions of gender impact and oppress both men and women (in this case, how they make invisible male sexual assault victims).

    I understand that my approach might not always be perfect (and indeed be flawed) from your perspective – as clearly we come from different philosophical starting points – but I would encourage you to view at least some feminists as potential allies rather than necessarily as enemies of men’s liberation.

  17. The discussion became about whether a woman pressuring a man or boy into sex constituted rape or sexual assault. No one actually challenged whether the reverse was true. That is essentially the problem. It is not an issue of whether or not the behavior is “unethical.” It is whether or not feminists abide by their own standards, views and positions. Where I take issue with what occurred is that virtually no one tried to address that. The few who did were talked down, ignored or had statistics thrown at them. The individual who could have reined in the discussion did nothing to either shift the discussion back on topic or address the comments occurring on the thread.

    What took place on your blog is not the issue because it does not reflect the larger feminist narrative. What took place on Feministe does reflect the larger feminist narrative (as does Hugo’s post in which he quickly and unsurprisingly frames women as the real victims) as it is a popular feminist blog frequented by many different feminists. While the posts may not reflect the general feminist narrative, the comments often do. And it is in the comments where the problem lies.

    The “potential allies” tactic is not very helpful in terms of gaining a person’s trust. Building alliances starts by taking the criticism of those one wishes to ally with seriously and understanding why those one wishes to ally with may be distrustful. In general, when trying to build an alliance it is best to play as much by the other side’s rules as possible without unfairly compromising oneself.

  18. Actually, about half the states have rape statutes. Depending on the state, the laws may or may not apply to male victims or female offenders.

    The use of “sexual assault” instead of “rape” can be helpful in terms of covering a broader range of acts since “rape” typically conjures a very specific type of attack. However, in terms of general usage, it is very common for people to use “rape” when referring to female victimization and “sexual assault” when referring to male victimization. Often it is not an attempt to cover a broader range of acts, but an attempt to diminish the effect of sexual violence on males, i.e. “it’s not that bad for boys and men.”

    Yes, it is true that some people do not use the term in that fashion. I do not, and I understand that others do not as well. Unfortunately, in general it is used that way. The reason why I objected in this particular instance is because the title of the post used “rape,” but the rest of the post does not except when referring to female victims.

  19. Nor did any of the male survivors who posted express any hostility towards feminism.

    It could be that they are feminists or that they are feminist leaning or that they take no particular issue with the way male victimization is regarded in the feminist movement. That a handful of people did not present any criticism of feminism does not discount the criticism coming from other male survivors. It simply means that the men who posted on your blog may have had different experiences with feminism and feminists than those posting here, in much the same way that abuse survivors have had different experiences with family members, family friends and various members of their community than non-survivors.

  20. Really, Rachel? View you as an ally?

    I wish I could, but won’t you agree that feminism has a lot to answer for? Specifically regarding standing idly by and allowing “All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” and “All heterosexual sex is rape because of a power balance slanted against women.”

    Yes, Andrea Dworkin and Maryln French. You remember them, don’t you? Years ago, in the 70s, they were welcomed into your fold and their works were accepted with high regard. They are still even taught in Women’s Studies, I think.

    These very people uttered those statements one way or another. Maralyn French was a feminist author and one of her characters had that as a line. Regardless, these statements were the most vile things anyone could say or write about heterosexual realtionships and men in general.

    Did anyone in the feminist movement ever stop to consider, based on those statements, how much of a negative, far reaching impact they’d have on viewpoints towards innocent men? Anyone think “That’s a little too far.” and call them out on it?

    No. As I’ve said, their writing is still regarded with high priase and they’re thought of as pioneers. Nevermind that Andrea Dworkin, if you strip away her advocacy, was a highly damaged individual who took all her rage and directed it at heterosexual realtionships. And Maralyn French, don’t even get me started on her.

    For forty years, FORTY YEARS, we’ve had these viewpoints accepted. Not a single feminist spoke out against it. Look where we are now. And the commentary on Feministe is a byproduct of it: Feminists who minamise male rape, make excuses for female rapists and criminals, employ Male Priveledge to discount their experiences. I don’t know how many of these commentators have read Andrea Dworkin or Marlyn French, but their talk is certainly reflective of their mindset.

    I’m no anti-feminist. However, I’m not going to blind myself to such disgusting viewpoints. Feminism did good, but it also needs to own up to what it has accepted into its little “flock”. We’ve got men out there and in here who have been through serious experiences with the opposite sex. Feminism should also watch their “Male Priveledge” theory because the last thing a male victim wants to hear is how he’s still privledged and it’s not like a jacket you take off. Believe me, this a paraphrase from one of the commentators on the Feministe sight who had the nerve to say this in a thread specifically intended for male victims to contribute.

    Feminism has a lot to answer for. That’s my answer to your plea to become an ally.

  21. That response is more hostile than necessary. Yes, feminism and feminists have quite a bit to address, but it is better to present that issue in a calmer way. All your response will do is make Rachel back away or continue to assume whatever it is she may already think.

    That said, I agree that feminists who want men, particularly male survivors and especially those abused by women, to consider feminists their allies should address the many problems that prosper in the feminist movement today. French and Dworkin are the least of the issues. It is more of the underlying sentiments and attitudes backed by rhetoric that presents the greater problem.

  22. I would like to disagree a little bit: When talking about homeless men, working class men, vulnerable men, male victims of crime etc. , the concept of intersectionality kicks in. So, while being “a man” means that one is seen a priori as elite, further information can lead feminists to think of one as affected by racism, classism, ableism etc. As a result, there are negative social notions which do affect men, but they have nothing to do with those affected *being* male.

    Of course, you may decide for yourself how convincing this explanation is …

  23. That explanation works to an extent. However, the problem lies in how it is applied. The same explanation does not apply to women, meaning that while feminists will acknowledge that women are affected by classism, racism, violence, etc., they also contend that these matters only exacerbate women’s problem. In other words, they acknowledge that there are negative social notions which do affect women, but they also acknowledge that being female worsens, if not causes, the problem. However, feminists do not acknowledge how being male can worsen, if not cause, being homeless, being working class, being vulnerable or being a victim of a crime, racism, classism, etc. I think that is John’s point, although I am remiss to speak for him.

  24. I agree that the “explanation” those feminists give for male suffering (i.e. separate it from being male) is less than convincing, and I like your point: To feminists, the standard man is powerful, while the standard woman is downtrodden. All cases of this being not so are attributed to other isms pretty much independent from gender.

  25. elementary_watson,

    I agree that some feminists will make the “intersectionality” concession about supposed universal male privilege, but in my experience that acknowledgment is usually very weak, to the point of irrelevance.

    Part of it, as Toy Soldier mentions, is that even when the existence of men who have it worse than the average woman is acknowledged, there is still a presumption that the privilege of elite males somehow “trickles down,” so that even men living hellish existences still benefit from the fact that most of the world’s really powerful people are of their sex.

    Another part is that quite a few feminists will continue to argue that even a grossly disadvantaged, abused, or oppressed man is still, on balance, privileged over all or almost all women by virtue of his sex. I’ve seen plenty of feminists from comfortable and sometimes highly privileged backgrounds talk about how men who’ve suffered things she can’t imagine- often including things her sex protects her from- are privileged over her, because a mere isolated incident involving having all your limbs blown off by machine gun fire or spending five years as a prison sex slave or God knows what else can’t compare to the systemic oppression she suffers as a college-educated upper middle class white professional woman. It isn’t always taken that far (though sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s taken even further), but the idea that virtually all males are highly privileged no matter how savagely they are treated is pretty strong.

    Finally, whatever individual concessions may be made about individual cases of victimized men, those cases usually simply vanish when it’s time to discuss how society, culture, politics, etc. is supposed to work on a large scale. On the level of theory- the high ground, as it were- disprivileged men are invisible again and get absorbed into an undifferentiated lump. I think this is why so many feminists who seem like they’re starting to treat male issues seriously and sympathetically so often start to give with one hand and then quickly take back with the other, as in the linked post that kicked off this discussion- the evidence before their own eyes insists that many men and boys are treated horrendously, and that in some cases it is precisely because of their sex and not in spite of it, but they’re bound by an ideological framework that insists that systemic bias against males is impossible.

  26. It’s very simple:

    People with girl-parts are always victims. They need sympathy, money, free chocolate sundaes– anything their gorgeous little hearts desire!

    People with dude-parts are always to blame for everything bad.

    And that, my chums, is called “Equality!” Isn’t it simple?

    Why, oh, WHY don’t the people with dude-parts seem to comprehend these simple truths? They must be haters. Let’s hate them back instead and it’ll be even.

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  28. I find generally feminism incompetent in dealing with mens issues, like in the situations mentioned in this section. Im not talking about individuals (Rachel) but in general. Feminism understanding of society is hampered by disputable social models like ‘ male privilege ‘ or patriarchy who show men almust in a god like status. Incapable to be defeated or suffer. And this leads to the prejudge that even if men suffer they are still advantaged and priviledged. That is also the explanation of the resistance by lots of feminist fringes against ie. shelters for men ect. Sooner they get rid of thise intellectual obstacles the better.


    plz pardon my bad english, but this is not my native language, I hope you understand.

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  32. What does one say to anti-feminists who also hold the opinion that men and boys cannot be raped by women? Any experience with this?

  33. What does one say to anti-feminists who also hold the opinion that men and boys cannot be raped by women? Any experience with this?

    I have encountered people like that and my response to them is the same as my response to feminists: male consent is not a given, and sex without consent is rape.

  34. Thanks, that was my reply to them as well. I was initially surprised to find that other men can hold a view that women can’t rape men or that an erection only occurs during full arousal. Takes all kinds, I guess.

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