Please stop “helping”

After years of talking about male sexual victimization, I have gotten used to feminists deriding that advocacy. Few feminists take male sexual victimization seriously, and of the few who do, few of them want to discuss with any frequency. I became quite content to let feminists sit in their little “only women get raped” bubble and pleasure themselves with the glee they seem to get from saying the world is bastion of rape.

Less common but far more troubling is the “helpful” feminist. While this feminist believes what most other feminists do about sexual violence, these feminists want to “help” male survivors. They do not mean help in the traditional sense of providing resources and outreach, studying sexual violence rates against males, or even talking about male victimization as a serious issue. No, when they say they want to “help” what they mean is control how male victimization is discussed.

They want to set the rules: who gets to talk, how often they talk, when they talk, where they talk, what they talk about, and why male victimization is a serious-but-not-as-serious-as-female-victimization issue. I have posted about this before, and the common theme with all feminists who want to “help” is that they have a condition. Feminist blogger figleaf recently gave us a 2013 version of this condition:

If you really care about male victims of sexual assault then you’d better care about female victims too. And I don’t mean lip-service “caring.” I mean take positive action.

As I wrote on figlieaf’s blog, if he really cares about female victims of sexual assault then he had better care about male victims too. And I do not mean lip-service “caring” like he gives in his post, if such abject disrespect of rape victims can be considered such; I mean take positive action.

Posts like his are the reason why I do not take feminist “concern” about male victimization seriously. In my ten years as a victim advocate, no one I know who takes sexual violence against men and boys seriously would state anything as moronic as figleaf’s “condition” for addressing female-on-male sexual violence. It is so fundamentally contrary to basic empathy that I can only imagine his intent is to silence male survivors and perpetuate the feminist belief, which he appears to hold, that men and boys do not really get raped and should it happen it is not that big a deal.

That is the only logical explanation I can come up that does not question his character. The more probable explanation is that he is afflicted with whatever Todd Akin suffers from. I suppose his only saving grace is that like many people who hold impressively dismissive and bigoted opinions, he appears to genuinely believe what he wrote.

However, he does himself and feminists a grand disservice if by some unlikely chance they actually do care about male survivors. No male survivor or advocate for them with a functioning brain would ever think, after reading his comments, that he or feminists care at all about them. I do hope he realizes that at the very least.

Yet, judging by the posts on his blog and the problems with them, I do not think it will occur to him. It takes impressive hubris to tell male survivors and their advocates:

Oh, and by challenging each and every case where someone tries to find some way to blame the victim or, worse, tries absolve their abusers and assailants. You do that? Take female victims and male perpetrators seriously? You do that and people will take you seriously when you talk about female on male violation.

while clearly not taking male victimization seriously on any level. Again, no one taking this issue seriously would write something as idiotic as that.

Of course, figleaf claims that he, “[…] really, really want[s] to spend a lot of time talking about hetero situations where men’s or boy’s sexual autonomy is violated and their consent disregarded. […] And in fact I’m going to talk about how the very idea that women can never transgress men’s sexual consent or that men are always and almost by-definition always “game” is a pernicious, patriarchal myth.”

I have a small request: oh please no. Stop while you are… not as far back as you could get. You decided to head down a very dangerous road, and while you cannot turn around, you can certainly stop going forward. The place you are heading towards is the place where the Todd Akins and the Dan Savages live. It is a place where people say things they really should not because when they open their mouths they only make it worse.

If you want to show male survivors you care about them and their issues, figleaf, just keep it to yourself. Male survivors and their advocates have made great strides in the last twenty years with no help from feminists. When we asked for help, you turned us down. Now we realize we really do not need you to address this problem. I understand how tempting it is to get involved now that people are taking male victimization seriously. I understand how frustrating it is that no one is really turning to feminists for insights about this issue anymore because it is clear you know nothing about it.

Do not worry yourself about that. Keep writing the posts comparing men to raging bulls agitated by anti-feminist matadors to attack the defenseless red-cape feminism while the other raging-bull men’s rights activists and the crowd of “The Patriarchy” cheer on. It is not particularly helpful or insightful, but it will at least keep you busy.

Or you could always find an old well, you fool of a Took, and throw yourself in next time, and rid us of your stupidity.

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39 thoughts on “Please stop “helping”

  1. That is so, so right on. “They want to set the rules: who gets to talk, how often they talk, when they talk, where they talk, what they talk about, and why male victimization is a serious-but-not-as-serious-as-female-victimization issue.” And absolutely prevent any action to help.

    The student therapist interns at the rape center male survivor group were so frustrating in this kind of “helping”. A man once made an initial disclosure of abuse by his mother. It seemed a huge step to me to do that, and he was near tears… the intern promptly changes the subject to talk at length about coping and depression issues. It felt very shaming. I felt ashamed this deeply felt disclosure of something so, so secret for so long, so tabou… was ignored. The man didn’t come back. There was so much denial of men’s experience of victimization. They’d whisper to me after group about “the effects of patriarchy” and worry about them as perpetrators when there was no suggestion of it.

    I wasted so much time talking to women here in the “anti-rape movement” about male victims until I realized this is what they were doing. Gathering intelligence on this guy (me). Wasting my unpaid time, while they are paid to “talk”. They get so much funding! Gaining ammunition to shut down real discussion, action or actual helping. It was quite effective actually.

  2. When commenter Sam posted something about how feminists might possibly not be the very best situated to comment on male rape victim, Jill treated him to the usual dismissive screed about how men run everything. This brought that exchange back to mind:
    ““They want to set the rules: who gets to talk, how often they talk, when they talk, where they talk, what they talk about, and why male victimization is a serious-but-not-as-serious-as-female-victimization issue.”

    This monoply of women on gender issues goes way back and is very traditional. And not a bit progressive.

  3. This would also explain why women are suddenly becoming female MRA’s. Not out of any real concern for men’s issues but so they can get control of the movement. So they can refocus the energy back on women’s issues.

  4. cybro,

    I don’t think that’s at all true,. There are a number of women who’ve done a great deal for men’s rights, and they don’t deserve accusations like that.

  5. Wow TS, you really struck a chord with this one. I was reading “Over It” by Eve Ensler at the Huffington Post and thought the same thing when she mentioned the Sandusky debacle, and of course tied it to patriarchal systems and blah, blah, blah… I just thought, Shut the fuck up. For a woman who has never included boys with reference to sexual violence, we can THANK her and her ilk for Sandusky getting away with his crimes for as long as he did.

    PCAR is the same way. They admit to “traditionally” not dealing with boys and base every program on VAWA based studies like the NISVS Survey which came up with the absolutely ridicules statistic of 1 in 71 men raped in their lifetime. In a section called “Be My Hero” they say, “[a]busers look just like you or me. They are usually male, but women also sexually abuse children. Then right accross the page they list: Top 5 Child Sexual Abusers in Pennsylvania*:
    1.Babysitters
    2.Fathers
    3.Brothers and Sisters
    4.Parent’s boyfriend/girlfriend
    5.Other household member

    Aren’t most babysitters female? And mothers should be somewhere in there. The NISVS was written by women, the interviews were conducted by women, about 15% more women were interviewed and about 15% of men didn’t complete the interview. There was also some undisclosed criterion for who was “eligible ” for the survey.

    Do you think the results may have been skewed? Give them credit, unlike the Super Bowl and March of Dimes propaganda, at least they actually did a study. At great expense with taxpayer money.

    I’m with you TS. Next time they do a study leave us out. Give the money to Male Survivor and let us lick our own wounds instead of letting them continue to throw salt in them.

  6. This would also explain why women are suddenly becoming female MRA’s. Not out of any real concern for men’s issues but so they can get control of the movement. So they can refocus the energy back on women’s issues.

    I doubt that. Female men’s rights activists seem very concerned about how men are treated and the nonsense that feminists often support.

  7. If you want to read some classic examples of women “helping men” with feminist propaganda go to the http://www.PCAR.org website. Here’s one from xyonline.
    “Five Things Men Can Do To Not Be Creepy 21 Nov 2012 Read more… ”
    That’ll stop rape.

  8. I think cybro is probably a troll.
    Most of the women who have any voice in the men’s movement have either been there for years -where people have got a chance to examine their character – and/or accomplished something to help with men’s rights, usually long before they could even expect any kind of social or financial reward. Someone like Erin Prizzy has been around long enough and has a record that speaks for itself BEFORE she ever joined with AVFM, someone like Typhon has a web history stretching back a decade or more and has taken many hits trying to get male survivors taken seriously.

    By their works ye shall know them, whether they be a woman or a man.

  9. I hate this incessant need to mention womengetitworse or derail their own articles which are meant to talk about men with a footnote of women. Hugo and a few others have done this and funnily enough I never got a reply when I asked why they did it.

  10. Archy, I think that’s what irritates me most. I have yet to read a feminist or mainstream article about male victims that does not, usually within the first three sentences, go out of its way to assure the readers that “women are the real victims of rape and domestic violence.”

    I usually stop reading at that point.

  11. Figleaf says “Men Fighting Patriarchy Say ‘And…’ – Men Fighting Feminism Just Say ‘But…'”. I’d say: “Feminists Say ‘But…’ – Men Fighting Against Rape Against Males Just Say ‘And…'”.

  12. In the current political climate, you might say, “You cannot help male victims and be supportive of feminism too. There are just too many internal conflicts and mixed up issues to be effective.” It’s not clear to me that you can be anti-feminist either. That seems to raise a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

    It’s a tough business either way.

  13. In the current political climate, you might say, “You cannot help male victims and be supportive of feminism too. There are just too many internal conflicts and mixed up issues to be effective.” It’s not clear to me that you can be anti-feminist either. That seems to raise a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

    The easiest way around that is to just remove the politics. If the goal is to help people, what difference does it make what political views someone holds? There is no reason to play politics with something as basic as preventing violence. And in the end it only becomes about scoring points. The fights between feminists and men’s rights activists devolve into shouting matches over who is “right”, with neither side actually looking at the impact those arguments have on their broader goals.

  14. Toysoldier:
    I totally disagree with you in regards to the fight between MRA’s and feminists.
    The feminists goals DO NOT include helping male survivors of sexual abuse. At most , helping male survivors would be a ‘bonus’ added to their larger goals of helping women victims – and even more importantly for some them- indicting male sexuality, which they conflate with ‘patriarchy’. Male victims are inconvenient to the narrative.
    Once you realize that, everything falls into place.

  15. TS: If only it were that easy. The problem is feminist groups are inherently political and have been playing the game extremely well for decades. Men, raised in a “sugar & spice” matriarchal tradition, unfortunately assume women are going to protect children at all costs. To a feminist, defending their ideology that everything is the fault of the patriarchy etc. not only trumps protecting children, but deliberately allows them to fall into harms way.

    VAWA is a classic example of feminist political power. With the failed re-authorization, now is a perfect time for men to organize and point out the discrepancies between feminist ideology, i.e. patriarchy and rape culture “encourage” rape, with the reality that all criminal behavior, including rape” can be traced back to traumatic childhood experiences. Often maternal.

    Men need to adamantly point out that with the political ploy of denying maternal abuse (http://www.cwasu.org/filedown.asp?file=CSAConfTwFemProffPract.pdf · PDF file), feminists have been playing politics with abused children for decades. By negating male vicimization and denying services to abused boys, they are in effect creating the next generation of rapists. And thereby appear to be more concerned with job security than stopping rape.

    When I look at the distorted statistics produced by VAWA studies it is glaringly apparent we need a political lobby, namely a White House Council on Men & Boys. Perhaps a male survivor march on Washington would get our politicians attention.

  16. “The easiest way around that is to just remove the politics. …”

    Frankly, that’s just impossible with the degree of tension and reach of political rhetoric. And politics is how we decide things.

    While I agree, in the sense, that people need to be, can train themselves to be, self-observant enough to know what’s evidence based and what’s a political slogan, or politically convenient. It’s hard though. You have to entertain doubt that you’re “right”. You have to listen, care about, have empathy for your “enemies”. You actually seem to do this pretty well and it’s rare.

    We live in a sea of “Studies show men are the vast, vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence, and women the vast majority of victims. It’s proven fact. … etc, etc, etc.” And I’ve been told many times by Ph.D. psychologists and social workers that “all male survivors are perpetrators”, male rape “doesn’t happen”, etc. Is that politics? Sorry, I’m outta time here to answer that, lol.

  17. Clarence:

    I totally disagree with you in regards to the fight between MRA’s and feminists.
    The feminists goals DO NOT include helping male survivors of sexual abuse.

    I agree that addressing men’s issues is not a major concern for most feminists. However, I think the arguments between feminists and men’s rights activists tend to be about them getting back at each other than really addressing the problems. I think that is the reason why so many feminists get annoyed with anyone who does not want to argue with them. There is no way to score points if someone is not willing to play the game.

  18. Rev:

    If only it were that easy. The problem is feminist groups are inherently political and have been playing the game extremely well for decades.

    I agree, yet it is not impossible to stop playing that game. At the very least one can show the rest of the world what happens when people do play the game. Few things get people to support male survivors better than showing them some of the batty things popular feminists have written or said. Feminists try to do the reverse with men’s rights activists, but it does not work as well because few people take men’s issues seriously, and often when feminists do this they do it out of spite.

  19. Allan:

    Frankly, that’s just impossible with the degree of tension and reach of political rhetoric. And politics is how we decide things.

    Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Letting go of ideology is a tough thing to do, especially if it forms the basis of one’s worldview. However, I think people can set it aside for a moment. That seems well within everyone’s grasp if they are willing to do it. That is the trick, and ideologues often are not willing. Yet I think there is still hope for that, at least in terms of getting them to see what their views do.

    Will someone like Hugo Schwyzer change? Probably not, unless something untoward happens to him or some male he knows. But confronting people like him can get others to see the nuttiness of his ideas and get them to reexamine their beliefs.

    We live in a sea of “Studies show men are the vast, vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence, and women the vast majority of victims. It’s proven fact. … etc, etc, etc.” And I’ve been told many times by Ph.D. psychologists and social workers that “all male survivors are perpetrators”, male rape “doesn’t happen”, etc. Is that politics?

    Yes, it is pure politics. Those same people, when asked, are forced to admit that the studies and research has not been done on male survivors or female abusers. That lays bare the weakness of their arguments, which is why they simply repeat “it’s a proven fact.” They know it is not. Their rational brain wants to kick in, but the ideologue in them takes over. I think it is a plus to see people so readily saying “it happens, but” because not too longer ago their response was “it never happens.”

  20. “I think the arguments between feminists and men’s rights activists tend to be about them getting back at each other than really addressing the problems.”

    That’s my problem with MRA’s quite a lot too. Show me what you’re for, your vision of better, what you’d like to do that feminism prevents you from doing somehow. In more detail than “FTSU”. I’ve tried, and they quickly told me to **** off. Show me compassion for men and boys. Anger at feminists is too easy.

  21. Before I respond, let me leave a couple of disclaimers:

    1- I am a woman, and have often defined myself as a “feminist”. While I don’t at this time agree with everyone who uses that term or even think it is the most accurate term to describe myself (I would use “gender rights activist”), I do not tend to think of feminists as the bad guys.

    2- I do not follow figleaf, and therefore cannot comment on his view of the situation.

    So. I take issue with the implication that no feminist truly cares about the men’s rights movement, especially as it pertains to rape and sexual assault. While I recognize that a great many people do not understand or accept the idea that men can be raped (and likely many feminists are among this group), I feel that generalizing about “feminists” as a group is not that different from generalizing about “men”, or “survivors”, or even “male survivors” as a group.

    In my view, rape is rape. Of course it can happen to anyone, and of course it can be perpetrated by anyone. It’s awful and it’s terrible, and we should talk about it more- all of us, together. I understand that our history and culture have made it a very different subject for men than it is for women. I know that as a woman I won’t ever really, truly, fully understand what it is to be a male victim of rape. Of course I won’t. But why on earth should my female-ness and my for-lack-of-a-better-word-feminism make me somehow less able to care about male survivors?

    As to whether we are trying to control the conversation, I can say for myself that I am definitely not. Are there feminists who have majorly crossed the line in this sense? You bet there are. But consider this, if you will- I got involved in the men’s rights movement because I witnessed the men in my life muttering their frustrations into their beards. Whether it was through being rebuffed or shamed or guilt-tripped out of speaking up, I don’t know, but for some reason I have seen men I know who time and again have refused to speak up. Some of them were raped or abused. Some of them were mistreated by their educational systems. Some of them just plain saw an ad on TV and were offended by it. They were willing to talk about it with me, but none of them seemed to feel called to action the way I did. Maybe I’m being incredibly sexist here; maybe venting with friends is making a bigger change in the world than I know, and that is male activism in today’s world. But please don’t blame ALL feminists for trying to integrate men into the systems we’ve already created. Speaking for myself, I can’t think of a better way to do it.

    And finally, as angry as this little rant sounds, I do love you blog. Keep up the good work!

  22. Emily: “While I recognize that a great many people do not understand or accept the idea that men can be raped (and likely many feminists are among this group), I feel that generalizing about “feminists” as a group is not that different from generalizing about “men”, or “survivors”, or even “male survivors” as a group.”

    It is different, though. Because there’s this strand of feminist thought (and don’t deny it doesn’t exist) that belives every white, heterosexual male is born with more privledge than women and benefits from systems that oppress females as a class.

    When I expressed my story of having been hurt by women and girls in addition to men and boys, these very feminists pulled the same cannard with me:

    1) You’re still a priveledge white male.

    2) Women have it worse.

    3) You’re an anomoly.

    This strand is ever present in the movement since feminism is deemed non-monolithic and a big tent that welcomes all views. So the generalization is true since no one in the movement (at least the vocal ones) bothers to call this strand out and dismiss it as unhealthy for communicating with Male Survivors. That can only mean the “Feminism means many things” includes this gynocentric, bigoted strand.that invalidated and dismissed my experiences. Threw me out with bathwater, so to speak.

    What Male Survivor does the same thing? Tell me that.

    Other than this, I appreciate your reaching out.

  23. “I do not tend to think of feminists as the bad guys.”

    Same response I gave figleaf…

    For me it was 66/67 in Victoria, Australia. I don’t know which jurisdiction you live in but my experience at the hands of my aunt was legal and remained that way until the late nineties. Feminists opposed those legal changes when they did occur. State run counseling services became inclusive in 2002. Those changes occurred, again, in the face of significant opposition from feminists within the network itself and the government.

    The actions of feminists in our federal government in the nineties have led to the exclusion of male victims and victims of female perpetrators from taxpayer funded counseling services across most of the country. This exclusion still occurs to this day. Feminists in our current federal government are pushing legislation which will further the existing discrimination and has the potential to stop my own state’s network from being able to serve male victims.

    Even the Victorian network – unique in the world BECAUSE of it’s inclusive nature – struggles to demonstrate any real empathy for male victims in it’s outbound communications because of it’s residual feminist influence.

  24. Emily, firstly, it’s great you’re reading, and better, actually liking this blog. But rather than take this personally, talk about the general case that we are addressing. Because, nobody means ABSOLUTELY ALL feminists, NO feminists literally. Or YOU. I don’t know you.

    “They were willing to talk about it with me, but none of them seemed to feel called to action the way I did. Maybe I’m being incredibly sexist here; maybe venting with friends is making a bigger change in the world than I know, and that is male activism in today’s world.”

    I think you’re ignorant of men’s experiences. I tried to address this in a slide presentation about a historical perspective on male survivors at a rape center, to talk about the 50 year history and awarenesses developed and show how it’s really recent that males as victims has had any recognition at all. “Our” history is 30-40 years delayed. And there’s a strong counter message to that recognition too. So we’ve yet to see a generation of boys grow up hearing they could be victimized and awareness of that. All I can say, is think of the women trying to talk about this in the 60’s and 70’s. It was very tabou and difficult the first time. And there are other issues around men.

    As gwallen said, and I have said, mostly men get turned away or harmed when they do ask for help or disclose. They know it! Certainly true here in Minnesota. So, it’s often stupid to ask for help or openly be involved in activism because you get attacked, ignored, shamed, declared a “threat to children”, it comes up in custody hearings, are you safe with the grand kids, mentally unstable, etc, etc. And by and large feminists have created this, no question. (Not you personally, all by yourself.) I don’t see that changing anytime soon, but it would be great to have your help trying.

  25. “I feel that generalizing about “feminists” as a group is not that different from generalizing about “men”, or “survivors”, or even “male survivors” as a group.”

    Feminism is more then a label, it’s an ideology. Patriarchy theory, rape culture and male privilege all go hand in hand with that ideology.

    All of those rhetorical tools are primarily used to dismiss and minimize male victims of anything. Point out one instance where they actually helped male victims. (Not to mention their adherents seem to think they’re axiomatic. Nothing in science is believed so fervently as feminist theory.)

    And if you don’t believe in patriarchy theory, rape culture and male privilege then I’m afraid no other feminist will consider you a feminist.

  26. Emily, welcome and thank you for the comment.

    I take issue with the implication that no feminist truly cares about the men’s rights movement, especially as it pertains to rape and sexual assault.

    I would no feminists cares about the men’s rights movement. I think a few do. I also think that there are more feminists who are concerned about the men’s rights movement than those who support it, and I think many feminists conflate any mention of men’s issues, especially sexual and domestic violence, as an attack on women’s issues. In my experience, more feminists do not want to address sexual violence against males than those who do.

    While I recognize that a great many people do not understand or accept the idea that men can be raped

    (and likely many feminists are among this group), I feel that generalizing about “feminists” as a group is not that different from generalizing about “men”, or “survivors”, or even “male survivors” as a group.

    There is a difference in that feminists adhere to a particular ideology while men and survivors do not. One can certainly go overboard with generalizations, however, I do not think I did this. The views I mentioned are not just expressed by a handful of feminists; many of them voice this kinds of opinions.

    I know that as a woman I won’t ever really, truly, fully understand what it is to be a male victim of rape. Of course I won’t.

    I do not believe that. The point of empathy is to understand what others feels even if you have never felt it. We cannot expect people to show empathy and then tell them they can never really understand. So I do not believe anyone is incapable of fully understanding what others go through. However, a person must be willing to set aside what they think they know in order to that.

    But why on earth should my female-ness and my for-lack-of-a-better-word-feminism make me somehow less able to care about male survivors?

    Your femaleness should have no impact at all. Feminism, on the other hand, can pose a problem because it is an ideology with a host of explanations for why things happen. Ideologies can affect whether people care about other people (look at ring-wing ideology and how they treat gay people). An ideology that treats one group as the enemy can make it very difficult for its adherents to care about that group.

    As to whether we are trying to control the conversation, I can say for myself that I am definitely not.

    As an individual, you may not seek to control the discussion. However, as a group feminists are used to controlling any gender-based conservations. You need only watch an hour or two of prime-time MSNBC shows to see the idea that women and feminists have the first, second, and final say on any gender issues. It is unfortunate but nonetheless true that many feminists want that control and do not take kindly to people taking it away or denying it. That is one of the reasons The Good Men Project caught so much flak from feminists recently. It was not just the articles they published, but that when those feminists snapped their fingers and told GMP what to do, GMP ignored them and kept going.

    They were willing to talk about it with me, but none of them seemed to feel called to action the way I did. Maybe I’m being incredibly sexist here; maybe venting with friends is making a bigger change in the world than I know, and that is male activism in today’s world.

    It is also possible that they thought that as men they had to take it. Voicing their complaints to you may have been a way of getting it off their chests since “real” men do not complain. Our culture is not very kind to men who do not like their lot in life.

    But please don’t blame ALL feminists for trying to integrate men into the systems we’ve already created. Speaking for myself, I can’t think of a better way to do it.

    I would agree with you except feminists are part of an ideological group. Even though every feminist does not think the same thing, they do share the same name. When one group of feminists says something nutty, other feminists usually let that slide. That makes it hard to tell which feminists are on which side. Again, think about the right-wing’s nutty rape comments during the summer. Until the comments got major media attention, the right said nothing about them. Even when they complained, the complaint was not how stupid the comments were but how bad they made the party look.

    Feminists have the same problem, which I think is somewhat worse because of the intense hostility some feminists feel towards anyone questioning their worldview. I have had more feminists say I have a point in criticizing a feminist theory, but that I am still an asshole for making the criticism.

    I freely admit that I expect certain reactions. However, I try very hard to give everyone the benefit of doubt in the beginning. I prefer to let people speak their minds and clarify any misunderstanding before judging them. That said, I cannot ignore what experience has taught me.

  27. “There is a difference in that feminists adhere to a particular ideology”

    And that ANY class ideology when applied to governance, administration or systems will inevitably lead to exclusion.

  28. Gwallan: “And that ANY class ideology when applied to governance, administration or systems will inevitably lead to exclusion.”

    Exactly, Gwallan.

    We can keep church separated from government policy. Too bad it’s not the same for gynocentic feminism and government policy.

  29. gwallan, that’s a really important point with problematic examples everywhere.

    One way it shows up, is all the mental health services here that expressly exclude men. But, it’s completely tolerated and normalized in this industry. That just amazes me. I can’t believe the opposite would be tolerated for a second. Even a “men’s center” on our university campus would be viewed as blatantly discriminatory.

    One of many examples, look at the group offerings here by Rum River Counciling: http://www.rumrivercounseling.com/therapy-groups.html, all for women only by a female therapist who “believes that connecting with & gaining support from others with similar experiences can empower women to make changes that last.” Including the “Girls’ Empowerment Group”. Are there no boys or men on their planet? I contacted them looking into a (from their flyer) “adolescent sexual abuse group” for a young man molested by his mother, only to be told, it’s for girls only. Gee, what about the boys? I ask. Sorry, we don’t have anything. And no one else does here either but that’s no issue at all.

    TS: “Those same people, when asked, are forced to admit that the studies and research has not been done on male survivors or female abusers.”

    Actually, it’s quite difficult to get that admission or anything else. My comment about “outta time” was alluding to the ease of avoiding the admission. There’s always something else that seems more urgent when you don’t want to do something. One good excuse will last a lifetime. You have to be open to doubting yourself and your views. Feminism isn’t. It’s ideology, not science.

  30. TS: “They want to set the rules: who gets to talk, how often they talk, when they talk, where they talk, what they talk about, and why male victimization is a serious-but-not-as-serious-as-female-victimization issue.”

    I just listened to a Fresh Air interview by Terry Gross of Larry Lopez “In ‘Sliver Of Sky,’ Barry Lopez Confronts Childhood Sexual Abuse” at http://www.npr.org/2013/01/10/168964002/in-sliver-of-sky-barry-lopez-confronts-childhood-sexual-abuse in which he says:

    “What had been taken from you was a sense of self-worth and dignity, and the only way you can get those things back is in open, unjudged relationships with other people, and then you … have a chance to develop again a sense of self-worth. … So what you really want, in the simplest terms, is for somebody to believe what happened, to take you at face value and not to manipulate you in a courtroom, for example, to seek justice.”

    That really speaks to me. Really having someone listen… just to hear me. No agenda. No judging me. Just to know me. It says, I am valuable. I am worth knowing.

    And when people have agendas, and want to set the rules, and control it…. well, it doesn’t work. I know that I am not worth as much as their agenda. It says, I am not really worth much at all.

    It’s a remarkable interview that many places speaks very accurately of my experience with dealing with sexual abuse. Particularly how damaging it is, and how it’s really hard to deal with “help”. That just makes it worse.

  31. That really speaks to me. Really having someone listen… just to hear me. No agenda. No judging me. Just to know me. It says, I am valuable. I am worth knowing.

    And that is something I think many feminists. I think about feminists like Schwyzer and their utter unwillingness to listen without judging. That cannot do it. Their ideology will not let them, and they end up learning nothing about the people they attack and hate, and end up doing more damage in the process.

    And when people have agendas, and want to set the rules, and control it…. well, it doesn’t work. I know that I am not worth as much as their agenda. It says, I am not really worth much at all.

    I am beginning to think that is the point. Far too much of the commentary is overtly hostile, and there is no reason to be that way towards rape victims unless one’s intent is to deliberately marginalize them. The level of annoyance so many feminists show when anyone mentions male victims suggests that it is not the “derailing” they are bothered by, but anyone bringing up the topic.

  32. “The level of annoyance so many feminists show when anyone mentions male victims suggests that it is not the “derailing” they are bothered by, but anyone bringing up the topic.”

    Power and control.

  33. “However, I think the arguments between feminists and men’s rights activists tend to be about them getting back at each other than really addressing the problems.”

    I think that’s about right. For instance it’s funny how many people have piped in over on my post saying that I must have meant supporters of male victims must drop everything and go support female victims first.

    Because, gee, what else could I have possibly meant? I mean, yes, sure, of course, obviously if one is used to “the arguments between feminists and men’s rights activists tend to be about them getting back at each other than really addressing the problems” then there’s no other possible way to interpret what I said.

    When I’m saying “and” and you’re hearing “either/or” then we’re not communicating. When I say seventeen different ways that I mean both and someone still comes over from here to say I still couldn’t have meant anything other than “ladies first” then I’d like to suggest it’s not me who’s responsible for the communications failure.

    Here’s a little clue: the guys who really do make it a condition, or deny the possibility that men can be victims at all, like to call themselves “Good Men.” I named my blog “The Bad Men Project” because I think that whole self-sacrificing “Good Men” business is exactly the wrong reason to do anything!

    That sentence of yours is 100% on the mark. For instance imagine if I’d instead said “If you really care about male victims of sexual violence then you’d better care about child victims too. And I don’t mean lip-service ‘caring.’ I mean take positive action” would you have flipped your lid the way you did? Would others have come over from here and wasted my time trying to explain that, no, I’m obviously not saying “we can’t take male victims seriously until all child victims are taken seriously?” No. And no.

    Instead sexual violence is a web of causes and effects. Worse, it’s subject to a dominant-culture fantasy that the only “legitimate” sexual violence is really, really violent stranger rape. And only against women. That’s not recent either, it’s been the attitude since they were building the Pyramids. And with society going to such extraordinary lengths (everyone from preachers to legislators to sports figures to fucking Whoopi Goldberg) to deny the seriousness of anything less than disemboweling assaults on women then it just seems irrational for anyone on the receiving end to waltz around assisting society with that denial! To fail, as I said, to come down like a ton of bricks on denial of any kind of sexual violence. That means the clueless jerks who won’t take female victims seriously. That means the even larger pool of clueless jerks who won’t take male victims seriously. Or child victims seriously. Or gay or handicapped or elderly or trans or undocumented or domestic or military or… you get the picture, right?

    I will concede on minor point. I hesitate to do so because the amen chorus will all jump in and say “ah ha, I knew it, ritual minute of hate for figleaf.” But now that I think about it there is a benefit for advocates for male victims to take female victims seriously and that’s because it puts them on higher rhetorical and moral ground whenever an advocate for female victims attempts to claim that male victims should not be taken seriously. But again, that’s only a minor concession, and post-hoc to boot.

    Anyway, I’m going to invite you to take a look at that wonderful sentence of yours one more time: “However, I think the arguments between feminists and men’s rights activists tend to be about them getting back at each other than really addressing the problems.” You’ve said it very well though you’re not the first to say it — I’ve run into it several times in literature about male-victim support. But imagine what might happen if MRAs and feminists stopped trying to score points against each other and instead faced their real, mutual enemy: 10,000 years and counting of complete social indifference to the suffering of 99% of female victims and 100% of male ones. And for crying out loud, please imagine someone was doing it without demands and without conditions. Because conditions or demands would be bullshit.

    figleaf

  34. When I’m saying “and” and you’re hearing “either/or” then we’re not communicating.

    In fairness, context matters. You wrote, “If you really care about male victims of sexual assault then you’d better care about female victims too. And I don’t mean lip-service ‘caring.’ I mean take positive action.”

    “Then” has several meanings, so let us place them in your sentence:

    1. If you really care about male victims of sexual assault [at that time] you’d better care about female victims too.
    2. If you really care about male victims of sexual assault [soon after] you’d better care about female victims too.
    3. If you really care about male victims of sexual assault [in that case] you’d better care about female victims too.

    The second makes no sense at all, but the first and the third work. Both imply there is a condition at play. That is where people are getting that from. Now look at your final statement:

    You do that? Take female victims and male perpetrators seriously? You do that and people will take you seriously when you talk about female on male violation.

    The “and” does not mean people already take male victim advocates seriously. The “and” implies that if male victim advocates takes female victims and male perpetrators seriously people will take male victims and female perpetrators seriously. Again, that is a condition.

    No one is playing games with what you wrote. The word “and” combines ideas, so if we separate the two clauses you can see what people are getting at:

    You take female victims and male perpetrators seriously.

    People will take you seriously when you talk about female on male violation.

    The first is a command, and the second is a condition. Presented separately it is easier to see. When you combine them with “and” you imply that the former is the requisite for the latter. I am not trying to talk down to you by presenting a grammar analysis, however, you seem genuinely confused by what makes people think you are setting a condition.

    Here’s a little clue: the guys who really do make it a condition, or deny the possibility that men can be victims at all, like to call themselves “Good Men.” I named my blog “The Bad Men Project” because I think that whole self-sacrificing “Good Men” business is exactly the wrong reason to do anything!

    Catchphrases are generally a bad way to start anything, even if done in opposition to another catchphrase. The irony of your statement is that most of the people I know who are likely to call themselves “good” in one breath and in the next marginalize male survivors tend to be feminists who go by names like Jackson Katz, Michael Kimmel, Michael Flood, and Hugo Schwyzer. Even The Good Men Project had a very hard time initially posting anything about male survivors, and they still dance around it in odd ways.

    For instance imagine if I’d instead said “If you really care about male victims of sexual violence then you’d better care about child victims too. And I don’t mean lip-service ‘caring.’ I mean take positive action” would you have flipped your lid the way you did? Would others have come over from here and wasted my time trying to explain that, no, I’m obviously not saying “we can’t take male victims seriously until all child victims are taken seriously?” No. And no.

    I would have because I consider it is a false argument. For one, all children are not male, there is no inherent connection between the two. Secondly, while helping abused children is a worthy cause, doing that does little for the teenage boys and adult men who were assaulted. The UK organization Chilidline does not provide a lick of help to any grown man who is raped. That does not mean one should not care about child abuse victims, however, that also doe snot mean caring about them is a requisite for caring about male victims in general.

    Worse, it’s subject to a dominant-culture fantasy that the only “legitimate” sexual violence is really, really violent stranger rape. And only against women. That’s not recent either, it’s been the attitude since they were building the Pyramids.

    That is not entirely true. Both the Greeks and Romans had laws recognizing the rape of men and boys, and both had serious penalties for those who raped freeborn males, most notably death. Similar attitudes existed in other cultures like feudal Japan and China, although the attitudes may have been mitigated by cultural norms. Most cultures were aware of the potential for sexual violence against males, and many also recognized the potential for women to commit such acts, although it was typically framed as seduction. One can argue that every instance in which a man is subdued by a “siren call” is an example of men expressing their fear of an undesired woman forcing them into sex.

    And with society going to such extraordinary lengths (everyone from preachers to legislators to sports figures to fucking Whoopi Goldberg) to deny the seriousness of anything less than disemboweling assaults on women then it just seems irrational for anyone on the receiving end to waltz around assisting society with that denial!

    Yet that is not unique to rape. People make the same leaps in logic with many other crimes. Or do you honestly think that people mugged in bad neighborhoods never hear, “Why were you walking in that neighborhood anyway?”

    It is our nature to look for ways to explain away violence, often by placing the blame on the victim. The reason is simple: if the victim causes it, then it is avoidable and cannot happen to you.

    But now that I think about it there is a benefit for advocates for male victims to take female victims seriously and that’s because it puts them on higher rhetorical and moral ground whenever an advocate for female victims attempts to claim that male victims should not be taken seriously.

    That presumes that male victims and their advocates do not take female victims and their advocates seriously. I see no evidence to support that presumption. Saying that men are victims too admits that women are already victims and what happens to them is bad. In that sense, male survivors and advocates already have the higher rhetorical and moral ground.

    But imagine what might happen if MRAs and feminists stopped trying to score points against each other and instead faced their real, mutual enemy

    I do not think much would change because they do not have a mutual enemy. Both have two different concerns. Men’s rights activists are content to let feminists have theirs, and feminists do not want to about the other. In order for them to work together, they are going to have to drop the ideology, and while I think the men’s rights activists can do that after pitching a couple of fits, I do not think many feminists would be willing to set aside their worldviews.

  35. Internet gender politics. Bahhhh. Jargon, psychobabbble, gobbledegook.

    I’ve described some of the political dynamic existing in my country. That’s the real game. The real feminists and the real feminism are the ones driving the legislatures. The federal government here is about to engage in a power grab for all related services and systems, traditionally in the hands of state governments. Those currently operating inclusively will almost certainly lose that ability under that government’s entirely feminist policies.

    I sat in a crisis center board meeting last year listening to our CEO proudly list her feminist credentials and go on to explain that she never refers to male victims or female perpetrators in any communication because it’s more “convenient”. It’s an inclusive service supposedly. She got defensive on that occasion but will not change her pattern. Feminism itself created a situation where it absolutely is necessary to speak up about the victims THEY silenced and continue to excise from the discourse.

    Those who are attached to the field because of political ideology rather than concern or attachment to victims are there for the wrong reasons. The sooner the idealogues pack their bags and move on the better off all the victims will be. Then, at least, we might be able to get on with developing the open mindedness and thinking required to develop effective preventative strategies.

    Why on earth should I need to avoid offending feminists? I’ve been attached to one of our major political parties all my life. I don’t particularly make any effort to not politically offend folk even in my own party. Feminists and feminism are not divine. They are not above reproach. They are as entitled to criticism as any other political movement or entity.

  36. @gwallan on January 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Care to share the name of the CEO? Because, seriously, that shit’s out of line. And I’d like to land on that kind of attitude like a ton of bricks because, since sexual violence is fundamentally about power and not gender, leaving any kind of either perpetrators or victims out of the discussion perpetuates the problem.

    Note: even if one was a monomaniacal “feminist” one still ought to be concerned based on the issue of what I think is usually called retaliatory violence by victims — a phenomenon observed in both male and female victims. So your CEO is doubly out of line.

    Although it might be even more productive, if less antagonistic, to point her to the many Australian-based feminist- and general-social-service CASAs, not to mention articles from the AIFS, that seem to find it no trouble at all to discuss male victims.

    figleaf

  37. Pingback: Top Posts of 2013 | Toy Soldiers

  38. Figleaf, if I may, I’d like to address you personally.

    I would agree that it is right to care about female survivors as well. However, feminists frequently claim to not be required to care about male survivors more times than I can remember, so male advocates should surely be allowed to focus on male survivors if they see fit.

    Myself, as a survivor of four years of sexual harassment AND sexual assault by both boys AND girls, followed by nine years of mental scars, I have nothing but empathy and support for female survivors, and would be delighted to support them.

    Unfortunately, male survivors, especially if their tormentors aren’t male themselves, are almost invisible to society because unlike female survivors, their status as victim/survivor is considered unacceptable by society, in the sense that society denies their existence.

    Case in point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fns5lOisXco

    Also, when double standard concerning abuse are highlighted by a neutral site, you get bizarre reactions like this: http://casahalliwell.proboards.com/thread/795

    I’m sure (or at least hope) that any feminist who is as good as she and her movement says, should distance such thinking from themselves. For me though, these double standards do a lot of damage, and I think many others like me.

    For example, in school, we were taught about sexual harassment, but only as a female-on-male paradigm, meaning I was unable to understand what happened to me, or even recognise it as sexual abuse until I was 25. I’d also been taught not to hit girls no matter what, meaning my last line of defence against my worst abuser was taken from me. Not willing to comply, can’t hit back, can’t tell a teacher or parent, can’t tell her to go away, just having to comply, or run if a witness turned up. At least with my male abusers, I could physically fight back.

    Male survivors face the additional problem of society failing to recognise them, on top of the traditional male stoicism problem, the fear of being seen as weak or having their masculinity taken from them, the stereotype that men-only-think-of-sex-so-can’t-be-raped-especially-not-by-a-woman, their suffering being regarded as a joke by some lowlifes, or in some cases as “just desserts” for female oppression. And as well as that, many of the same problems female survivors face.

    So because of that, these different problems need to be addressed differently.

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