mirrorshard: (Portrait)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
Lots of people have been posting about this recently, with good reason. However, everyone I've seen posting recommendations has been either female or transmale, so here goes.

[livejournal.com profile] cereta has been hosting a discussion about rape and men's attitudes to it. I'm not going to attempt to summarize or quote; read it.

[livejournal.com profile] khalinche tells her own stories, and asks: where are you? Where are the Nice Guys who Aren't Like That when women need them?

[livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon asks for shared stories - go fill in the poll/.

This is not an exhaustive list.

In comments to [livejournal.com profile] khalinche's post, she asks why straight cis-men aren't commenting much. Since I'm rather curious too, here's a poll.

NB: "participation" means reading at least one post I linked above, preferably all of them, posting at least one comment, and sticking around to read any followups. Less than that is either "listening" (good-ish) or "driveby" (bad).

If you haven't seen any of these posts linked to yet, read them then fill in the poll! There is no onus on you to participate immediately. Considered reflection is good. You have no obligation to participate at all, but it would be a Good Thing to do.

"I", of course, means the person filling in the poll.

"My friends" means male friends, specifically. I am not interested in female sexism here. Nor is anyone else.

[Poll #1414756]

Date: 2009-06-12 11:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceb.livejournal.com
I am not interested in female sexism here. Nor is anyone else.

*hands up* I am (but not here, it's a completely different discussion).

ETA: your final questions are missing "No - about the same as I am"
Edited Date: 2009-06-12 11:36 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-06-12 11:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Whoops, yes, you're right. I FAIL.

And whilst I'd be very interested to read that discussion, it's one I really, really didn't want to have here and now!

Date: 2009-06-12 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceb.livejournal.com
Quite; it's not a response to [livejournal.com profile] cereta et al.'s posts, it's a separate issue.

Date: 2009-06-12 03:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
Yep, that's why I didn't answer that one. Even with that option, I'd find it a very difficult question to answer, mainly for the reasons other people have brought up, and also because you don't always know your friends well enough to make a definitive judgement about this sort of thing. It can be very easy to assume that all intelligent, reasonable people think as you do, or to extrapolate that, say, someone with generally liberal views is equally liberal in all areas (e.g. "well we've talked about racism and homophobia and anti-disability prejudice so surely we must be on the same page about sexism too"). We (all the people discussing this on various posts) seem to be using two systems here: sexist vs. non-sexist as an either/or equation, and the concept of a sexism continuum. Then we get to definitions of sexism. It's fair enough that [livejournal.com profile] mirrorshard doesn't want to have that discussion here, but it's awkward because it makes it even less clear what definition of sexism we're using.

I'm not trying to sabotage you here, by the way! I vaguely considered writing a poll for the post I'm planning to write later (which will engage with female sexism, by the way, though that's not quite what I'll be calling it, I'm trying to move away from the more aggressive name-calling model I'm seeing floating around), but I don't think I could get one together that would be anywhere near watertight on this topic. Possibly one about "Which of these terms do you identify with: non-sexist, feminist, egalitarian" etc., divided by gender, but I don't have enough men reading my LJ to be worth putting it up there, plus it's difficult to get all the different gender/orientation options in.

Generally I'd say that my friends and I have roughly similar views on sexism, and that we're a pretty non-sexist bunch, particularly compared to the rest of the population. Attitudes towards gender equality are something that I try to sniff out very early on when meeting someone, and I am unlikely to make or remain friends with someone sexist (/racist/homophobic/prejudiced against people with disabilities). Sexism tends to be one of the easier ones to spot. At a crude level, I am extremely unlikely to warm to someone who is standing around making sexist jokes and talking to my breasts. I wonder if women are more likely than men to select opposite-gender friends this way, since women are more likely to be bothered by sexist behaviour in men, and more alert to the possibility of it, than vice versa?

Date: 2009-06-12 11:42 am (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
I think you might have wanted a "I did participate, but these things were in my mind anyway" question? I find myself inclined to tick some of the boxes on the second question.

Date: 2009-06-12 11:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Please feel free; other people have answered both.

Date: 2009-06-12 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnightmelody.livejournal.com
I am confused by 'female sexism'. In the last question, should I consider whether my male friends are sexist-in-a-way-that-favours-men, or whether they are sexist in general, irrespective of what gender that favours?

Sorry for my lack of terminology.

Date: 2009-06-12 11:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
By "female sexism" I mostly meant "do not derail the discussion by trying to broaden it out". It's not official terminology, or if it is I'm probably using it wrongly.

I'd say the first of those, in context.

Date: 2009-06-12 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnightmelody.livejournal.com
Ah, in which case my answer is an emphatic 'Good grief, no, and far less than I am'. :)

Date: 2009-06-12 12:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shreena.livejournal.com
Hmmm, I don't know. Is "Women are better at childcare" sexism in favour of women? It's praising women, on the surface but I'd argue that ultimately it's favouring men.

Date: 2009-06-12 12:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Mm, it's hard to separate those. And whilst it sounds like praise, it's also treating women in a very broad and generalizing way, which I'd very briefly summarize as "women are not interesting or important enough to treat as individuals". Attention gets paid to the apparently-rare men who can do this, rather than the apparently-evil women who can't.

Date: 2009-06-12 12:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shreena.livejournal.com
What about "men are worse at childcare" then?

I know a lot of men who talk about how bad men are at multitasking - i.e. childcare and housework - and I think it's totally sexist even though it's generalising about men and, on the face of it, favouring women.

Date: 2009-06-12 12:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
We appear to be getting derailed into the argument I said I didn't want to have, so let's hold this one off for some other time?

Date: 2009-06-12 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shreena.livejournal.com
I'm not convinced it's a separate issue.

In any case, to explain my voting at least - I think my male friends are sometimes sexist and I don't really know how to exclude "female sexism" from that as I think it's all part and parcel of the same thing.

Date: 2009-06-12 11:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spencerpine.livejournal.com
I tend to think the role of men in these discussions is to listen, not talk. It's a reaction to Internet discussions on sexism that always seem to be dominated by men, which have led me to shy away from posting.

It's not necessarily the right thing to do, but it does tend to be what I do.


Date: 2009-06-12 11:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Mm, I can sympathise with that one.

Also, a lot of the time I just don't have the time to comment - I'm too busy reading all the really interesting things other people have said. Because there are more than twenty pages of interesting comments on [livejournal.com profile] cereta's post.

Date: 2009-06-12 11:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] randomchris.livejournal.com
In the last questions, when you say "I" and "my friends" it's not clear whether you're referring to the respondent's opinion of themselves or of you.

Date: 2009-06-12 11:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
"I", of course, means the person filling in the poll.

"My", by extension, means their friends.

Date: 2009-06-12 12:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wildeabandon.livejournal.com
"I", of course, means the person filling in the poll.
Actually, it might be worth clarifying that in the preamble. I answered it that way, but then wondered about it afterwards.

I was a bit hesitant about saying that my friends are more sexist than me. I think it's true on average, although I also have male friends who are less sexist than me. I'm still only just becoming aware of what male privilege I have, and feeling my way through it a bit.

Date: 2009-06-12 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
I did put it just above the poll, but it's obviously not prominent enough - will edit in something to emphasize it.

That question's never going to be an easy one to answer, but then I wasn't really interested in asking easy questions. I'm not completely sure how useful averages are in this sort of thing, since the extremes always tend to be more prominent and more influential.

Date: 2009-06-12 12:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oneplusme.livejournal.com
In my case I'd say that I wouldn't want to drop random, ill-informed and undistinguished comments on a stranger's blog.

The sexism question is tricky. Whilst I wouldn't consider myself to be so (and certainly consider myself to be vastly less so than the men I know of my parents' generation), I have little doubt that I am at some point, and worse, that I'm not aware of so being. The same very much applies to racism.

On the topic of sexual assault, the problem is clearly not that all men are potential rapists. It's that a sufficient proportion of men are rapists, that the rational response of any potential victim is to act as if all men are potential rapists at all times. And given the severity of the consequences of rape, the requisite proportion is likely vanishingly small, and certainly much smaller than the true proportion of rapists in the male population.

That said, I suspect that (human beings being notably irrational where risk is concerned) the actual response is to treat all strange men as potential rapists. Given that, as with child abuse and murder, rape-by-strangers is probably vastly rarer than rape-by-acquaintances, this may not be the most effective response.

(The preceding has undoubtedly lent significant weight to the "ill-informed" judgement with which I began.)

Date: 2009-06-12 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
[A]s with child abuse and murder, rape-by-strangers is probably vastly rarer than rape-by-acquaintances

I've had somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen female friends talk to me about suffering child abuse or rape. Given the strong underreporting that's doubtless involved, that's a lot of people.

And not one of them was talking about a stranger.

Date: 2009-06-12 01:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roz-mcclure.livejournal.com
The statistics are a few years out of date, but according to the Child & Women Abuse Studies Unit (http://www.cwasu.org/page_display.asp?pageid=STATS&pagekey=35&itemkey=37), 97% of rape crisis hotline callers knew their attacker before the assault. I usually see about 85-90% quoted as the percentage of acquaintance rapes versus stranger rapes.

Date: 2009-06-12 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
Of course, there's the problem of where you get the stats from. Some are based on whether or not the rape was prosecuted, which is going to skew the figures tremendously in the direction of stranger rape. Rape crisis hotlines will give a better picture, but I'd imagine that those aren't perfect either. At the very least, male victims are less likely to call such hotlines, and there will be factors such as how much lasting trauma the assault/rape caused and how far the victim/survivor feels the need to talk through it, or how far the victim/survivor feels that it is not permissible to talk about it. From what I've heard, anything experienced in childhood is more likely to cause lasting trauma, but child abuse victims are also more likely to have had "you must never tell anyone about this" forced upon them. People assaulted by strangers may find it less disturbing long-term than people assaulted by someone they knew and trusted (this one's a guess, mind you), but they are also more likely to consider it as rape/assault (as opposed to all the people who can't bring themselves to think that what their beloved husband just did to them was actually rape), and less likely to feel inhibited about talking about it.

Date: 2009-06-12 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] libellum.livejournal.com
On the topic of sexual assault, the problem is clearly not that all men are potential rapists.

I disagree. All people are potential rapists. Everyone has to be careful about consent, especially in situations where you have more power than the person you're with.

Date: 2009-06-12 02:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oneplusme.livejournal.com
Just to be clear, I didn't mean that there exists some common category of people who are never potential rapists in any situation - I absolutely agree with you there.

What I was trying to get at is the existence of two related problems. The first is, obviously, the occurrence of rape. The second is the fear thereby induced, and the effects that this fear has upon the mental and physical health of women, and upon their freedom of choice and action.

My thought was to question whether it might be possible to address the latter even in spite of our lamentable (current and almost inevitably future) failure to address the former, given the harm that such fear does both to society and to women's potential to live fulfilled lives within said society.

Then again, this point is probably coloured by the more general problem of fear of crime massively outstripping its incidence. Given the horrific under-reporting of rape, it is probably one of the few crimes where this mismatch does not exist.

Date: 2009-06-12 02:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
I think that stranger rape accounts for something lik 2% of all rapes. Partners, family members, and friends are at the top of the list. I think it's worth looking at why public perceptions of rape are so inaccurate in that way, but I'm not sure I have the energy to go into it just now as it's fairly complex. Brief version: denial of the validity of rape under pretty much all circumstances except stranger rape due to victim-blaming; people not wanting to think that someone they trust, like and even love could do that to them.

I'm going to try to write a post over the next day or so about the significant proportion thing.

Date: 2009-06-12 01:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] webcowgirl.livejournal.com
Too much reading to fill in a poll! Only have five minutes in total for goofing off and now must return to work. :-(

Date: 2009-06-12 01:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khalinche.livejournal.com
Thank you for the link and for broadening out the discussion. It did seem very significant to me how few men felt moved to comment on the OP (this is gradually improving), especially since much of the thrust of [livejournal.com profile] cereta's post was to exhort men to participate more fully in anti-rape and anti-misogyny conversations both with women and among themselves.

Date: 2009-06-12 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
I can think of a variety of reasons why this could happen.

1. Her readership is disproportionately female. (I have no idea, I don't know her, but I know that this is true of my readership.)

2. Women are more likely to refer their friends to read the post since they feel more urgently concerned by it.

3. Some men won't respond because they are the ones we're all complaining about, who treat women as sexual objects they're entitled to paw at. Which is probably a good thing for everyone's comfort, and avoids unnecessary flame wars with sexist idiots, but it does mean that we're not getting the overall picture.

4. Some men won't respond because they are worried that they'll get jumped on and accused of being sexist, and/or are not sure how it would be appropriate for them to respond, and/or feel that the post is primarily in the "safe space for women" category and it's not their place to speak up.

5. Women are more affected by this problem as victims than men are, more likely to worry about it, more likely to feel passionately about it, and less likely to zone out when seeing it come up.

I wonder where the best place would be to post something like this in order to get a good response from non-sexist men as well as women? Probably a community dedicated to discussing egalitarianism etc. with an even balance of male and female participants. If anyone knows of one, point me to it!

If and when I get around to posting about this myself, may I link to your post as well?

Date: 2009-06-12 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khalinche.livejournal.com
Sorry, I was unclear: I was moaning about a lack of straight cis male participation on my post. The points you make still stand, apart from the first: my lj friendslist is fairly equally divided gender-wise. Certainly, most of the people who have linked to it have been female or trans, but that doesn't mean that their friendslists are likewise mostly composed of female people. I do see what you mean about arseholes being dismissive by their silence, and how you don't want to be arguing with them anyway, and how genuinely conscious men might feel intrusive. But I wrote that post partially because I wanted to show to people who don't get harassed what it is like when it's a normal part of your life, and how it influences totally mundane daily routines. I'm not unhappy with any of the responses I've gotten -everyone has had good, well-expressed points to make - but it was very striking how few straight cis men seemed to want to talk about it.

Date: 2009-06-12 05:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
*nodnods* And what I wanted to do was find out some of the reasons behind silence, because a poll is much easier and anonymous to everyone except me. That hasn't been all that successful, because only a small proportion of my friendslist have filled it in so far; I don't know whether this is because they haven't seen the post, didn't click through the cut because it wasn't an interesting subject, or saw it and decided it wasn't something they could do.

Date: 2009-06-13 06:07 pm (UTC)
deborah_c: (Default)
From: [personal profile] deborah_c
I have referred three people to the post. Of those, one is someone with whom I had been having a similar discussion, and is female; the other two are male.

My son was upset to discover that not everyone shares his view of the world: he can't imagine people behaving the way that [livejournal.com profile] cereta talks about. We had a long talk, and he really does get it, and understands that if he ever sees friends or schoolmates behaving that way, stepping in and stopping it is the right thing to do. He's nearly 13.

The other... is a highly intelligent student friend, who is generally lovely, someone I feel safe with, and who I thought would almost certainly be one of Those Guys. I'd been out for dinner earlier, and the context of my mentioning the article was an apology on my part for things I'd said which I later realised could be misinterpreted -- reading [livejournal.com profile] cereta's post made me very sensitive about issues of consent and badgering and so on.

His reaction (to reading it) was not one I'd expected: he was angry because (he said) he has lots of stories of being That Guy. I explained that I've been sexually assaulted more than once, and he told me that I'm the exception, and that doesn't really happen much. (Also that drunk girls go to parties to have sex with people and boast about it afterwards.) We had a very heated discussion for an hour or more; I think he still believes that actually, most men are entirely honourable and women are unreasonable in being afraid. I rather despair, if that's the enlightened end of the spectrum :-(

Date: 2009-06-13 09:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
I admire your son's response immensely.

The other... mm, it's always a real shock to find out someone who's otherwise lovely has something unpleasant about them.

"Most men are entirely honourable; most women are wrong; I know this because I'm a man" - I don't understand how this can be a convincing argument for anyone. I'm wondering, though, if it ties into something [livejournal.com profile] libellum said in a comment (http://khalinche.livejournal.com/345558.html?thread=1703638#t1703638) to [livejournal.com profile] khalinche's post, about needing the experience of being a victim to tell the difference between good intentions and bad.

Date: 2009-06-13 11:12 pm (UTC)
deborah_c: (GaFilk 2006)
From: [personal profile] deborah_c
Possibly. I certainly used to be a good deal more trusting before the first of my sexual assaults. I resent that I no longer am, and that that is still necessary. And I hate the implication of [livejournal.com profile] libellum's comment, as a mum to two coming-up-to-teenage daughters :-(

Actually, I say "the first of", but that's not even accurate. "The first of the more major and frightening of my recent" would be more accurate, because the more minor and pervasive stuff (like getting groped on the Tube, probably more often than not if I'm travelling in the rush hour) just gets filtered out unless I actually think about it hard. And somehow I have childhood abuse filed in some entirely separate category; I'm not sure why.

Date: 2009-06-13 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Oh, of course... PTSD. I should have made the connection before. It's at least as bad from protracted low-level stress & trauma as from single stressor incidents, and they all contribute to it.

It's sad, and offensive, and enraging that the trauma is so common and so gendered. And I hope very much that your daughters can resist it.

Date: 2009-06-15 10:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynsa.livejournal.com
I wonder where the best place would be to post something like this in order to get a good response from non-sexist men as well as women?

In a way, though, I don't think it matters that the stories being told are coming largely from the women; or it's even better, since many of the stories are so sincerely praising remembered acts of kindness from That Guy. As long as there are guys out there reading, I guess, that's the kicker--hopefully there are guys reading the thread and seeing how these acts are being remembered with tremendous, almost shameful gratitude, long, long after the fact.

It's possible to be a hero in someone's life with such simple, decent acts. Kinda heartbreaking, really. Such an incredible discussion.

Date: 2009-06-12 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
You're entirely welcome! I haven't yet gone through all the comments to [livejournal.com profile] cereta's post to find something useful I could say and a place to say it, and I'm anal about doing that before speaking most of the time.

Date: 2009-06-12 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] herringprincess.livejournal.com
Read the posts and some of the comments, filled in [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon's poll, but didn't comment. Didn't have anything to say that hadn't already been said and feel awkward posting comments on stranger's journals :-)

Date: 2009-06-12 05:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khalinche.livejournal.com
This is all totally understandable, but FYI I am a great big attention-seeker and love it when people I don't know comment on my journal, so don't be afraid if you feel like you have anything to say. If I didn't want non-friends to comment I wouldn't have made it a public post.

Date: 2009-06-12 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wildeabandon.livejournal.com
What [livejournal.com profile] khalinche said. Obviously if you'd rather not comment that's absolutely fine, but strangers are entirely welcome on my public posts.

Date: 2009-06-12 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] friend-of-tofu.livejournal.com
Thanks for this. I will probably make my own post on this topic once I have written it, but since I'm at union conference this weekend, it'll probably have to be written in fits and starts.

Date: 2009-06-14 07:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangederby2.livejournal.com
Hello. Google isn't helping me here or maybe I'm too tired and not asking it the right question. Can someone tell me what cis means so I can confidently fill out the above poll. Thank you.

Others may put this better than I, but...

Date: 2009-06-14 09:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirabehn.livejournal.com
Not trans; in the right sort of gendered body for other aspects of your gender.


Date: 2009-06-15 07:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] strangederby2.livejournal.com
I didn't think I had anything of use to contribute to this discussion but if you are after input then I can repeat a txt message conversation I had with a friend this weekend while discussing this post.

For a long time I've made the mistake of assuming that rape is a very rare occurrence. I've tried to analyse why and come up with the following. When I first began to hear about rapes on the news I started with the thought that “this was a monstrous act”. This very easily became “The man who did this was a monster”. Then as the thought percolated away in the back of my brain it became associated with the idea that “monsters are rare”. “I mean they must be. I'm not a monster. None of my friends are monsters”. I can see how this would lead to a totally unrealistic view of reality. For me anyway. All I can add is a big thank you to cereta, khalinche, wildeabandon and all the many others for posting.

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