I’ve been staring at this trying to figure out what to say but I don’t think there is anything. Patriarchy hurts men too.
My honest to god biggest fear of 50 Shades of Grey is not that people will watch it, because people will, but that abusers will use it to brainwash their victims more than they already do. That more women will be left wondering why this isn’t making them happy when it’s supposed to. And more women will be hurt in worse ways because “this is what everyone else wants.” [x]
Dear Carolyn: I don’t know how to deal with my mom and her recent irresponsible decisions. She is in love again with her on-again-off-again boyfriend. To mark this new development, he recently gave her a very expensive “commitment ring,” or, as I like to call it, an “I cheated on you, so here’s a blinding diamond to forget about that” ring. She says in another life it would be an engagement ring (not sure what that means) and she is “sooo happy.”
I’ve witnessed two-plus years of the emotional roller coaster this man has put her on, but apparently my mom has forgotten all about that. I am 27, she is 57. I would define our relationship as more of a best-friend relationship rather than a traditional mother-daughter relationship.
This has proven to be difficult at times, in that she tells me everything, the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet, knowing all this guy has put her through, she walks back into his arms and expects me to be their No. 1 cheerleader.
I have explained to her that I want her to be happy but that she is setting a bad example for me and my siblings, as well as making a decision that will likely lead to heartache for her (again) and she needs to wake up! I’ve been supportive, diplomatic, and tried tough love. Mom seems unwilling to hear or accept the truth. What do I do?
— Mother Is a Teenager
My first question is: is this relationship (and before I even ask I’m going to say that in my humble opinion most on-again off-again relationships are) abusive? I don’t mean physically (although if it is then all the more reason to get your mom out), I mean emotionally.
There are a lot of kinds of abuse but the kind that the on/off-ers are familiar with is the kind where the abuser makes things just good enough, just loved enough, to make the abused want more. Then the abuser can start messing around with their partners head, treating them less well than they deserve. The kicker and the reason this is so common in on/off relationships is that the abuser makes it clear that while their partner is ‘oh so very important’ to them, this relationship is not their highest priority, they have the power to leave, the power of disinterest. By maintaining the power to leave they remind their victim that their weakness lies in their loving and perceived inability to leave.
If you can convince your mother to leave her emotionally manipulative boyfriend then kudos to you, please write a movie, essay, short story, whatever, just teach the same lesson to the rest of us. It’s really hard to convince victims of emotional abuse to see their relationships the way we see them. What I’ve found is more common is that the people in these relationships wake up one day and aren’t willing to take it anymore.
“I remember I was in New York at the Trump Hotel and I woke up and I just knew I was over it. It was a different day. I felt different. I didn’t feel lonely,” [Rihanna] recalls. “I felt like I wanted to get up and be in the world. That was a great, great feeling.”
Try to be the wake up call in your mothers life. Ask her how she would feel if your boyfriend treated you the way her boyfriend treats her, but remember that bullying someone into leaving their abusive lover doesn’t empower them, it just continues the cycle of bullying. She needs to see it for herself and take action, you need to be around for her if/when she decides to leave but make it clear that you aren’t going to get involved in his muck anymore. You’re still family and when she calls you can talk about the weather and your brothers and sisters and the big sports news of the week but you aren’t going to talk about that mess of a boyfriend. End of story.
Today Perez Hilton released the court documents describing Chris Brown’s violent attack against Rihanna. I am lost for words and will now attempt to cobble together a post it. First the transcript. Huge trigger warning.
“Brown was driving a vehicle with Robyn F. as the front passenger on an unknown street in Los Angeles. Robyn F. picked up Brown’s cellular phone and observed a three-page text message from a woman who Brown had a previous sexual relationship with.
A verbal argument ensued and Brown pulled the vehicle over on an unknown street, reached over Robyn F. with his right hand, opened the car door and attempted to force her out. Brown was unable to force Robyn F. out of the vehicle because she was wearing a seat belt. When he could not force her to exit, he took his right hand and shoved her head against he passenger window of the vehicle, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion.
Robyn F. turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F.’s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle.
Brown looked at Robyn F. and stated, ‘I’m going to beat the sh– out of you when we get home! You wait and see!’
The detective said “Robyn F.” then used her cell phone to call her personal assistant Jennifer Rosales, who did not answer.
Robyn F. pretended to talk to her and stated, ‘I’m on my way home. Make sure the police are there when I get there.’ After Robyn F. faked the call, Brown looked at her and stated, ‘You just did the stupidest thing ever! Now I’m really going to kill you!’
Brown resumed punching Robyn F. and she interlocked her fingers behind her head and brought her elbows forward to protect her face. She then bent over at the waist, placing her elbows and face near her lap in [an] attempt to protect her face and head from the barrage of punches being levied upon her by Brown.
Brown continued to punch Robyn F. on her left arm and hand, causing her to suffer a contusion on her left triceps (sic) that was approximately two inches in diameter and numerous contusions on her left hand.
Robyn F. then attempted to send a text message to her other personal assistant, Melissa Ford. Brown snatched the cellular telephone out of her hand and threw it out of the window onto an unknown street.
Brown continued driving and Robyn F. observed his cellular telephone sitting in his lap. She picked up the cellular telephone with her left hand and before she could make a call he placed her in a head lock with his right hand and continued to drive the vehicle with his left hand.
Brown pulled Robyn F. close to him and bit her on her left ear. She was able to feel the vehicle swerving from right to left as Brown sped away. He stopped the vehicle in front of 333 North June Street and Robyn F. turned off the car, removed the key from the ignition and sat on it.
Brown did not know what she did with the key and began punching her in the face and arms. He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to Robyn F.’s left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness.
She reached up with her left hand and began attempting to gouge his eyes in an attempt to free herself. Brown bit her left ring and middle fingers and then released her. While Brown continued to punch her, she turned around and placed her back against the passenger door. She brought her knees to her chest, placed her feet against Brown’s body and began pushing him away. Brown continued to punch her on the legs and feet, causing several contusions.
Robyn F. began screaming for help and Brown exited the vehicle and walked away. A resident in the neighborhood heard Robyn F.’s plea for help and called 911, causing a police response. An investigation was conducted and Robyn F. was issued a Domestic Violence Emergency Protective Order. [x]
This week the music industry welcomed Chris Brown back with open arms like the prodigal son himself and when the media dared to mention that which should not be forgotten he fired off at them:
DEAR MEDIA.. Ur plan is not working. I’m not going anywhere so get used to me [x]
Thank you Perez Hilton for once again keeping it classy:
Fine … but he has to get used to the fact that there is no media conspiracy to keep him down. In fact, if you took a poll, we’re sure EVERYONE would agree that they would love to stop talking about it all together.
But as soon as it stops, as soon as one person just lets what he did slide, then it’s like telling the world what he did was alright. And it wasn’t. It isn’t. It NEVER WILL BE. [x]
This is the problem with people who say ‘Yes, but I really like his music.’
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it trivializes misogyny.
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it conveys the message that whatever men want to talk about is more important than misogyny.
When the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject to something that’s about them, it conveys the message that men are the ones who really matter, and that any harm done to men is always more important than misogyny.
And when the topic of misogyny comes up, and men change the subject, it comes across as excusing misogyny. It doesn’t matter how many times you say, “Yes, of course, misogyny is terrible.” When you follow that with a “Yes, but…”, it comes across as an excuse. In many cases, it is an excuse. And it contributes to a culture that makes excuses for misogyny.
Then the report came out of Brown’s ‘pick-up line’
‘Can I get your number? I promise I won’t beat you!’
He and his friends laughed, then one yelled, ‘That’s his new line!’ [x]
Chris Brown, it is a big deal that you are coming back into my world because I don’t want you here. You do not deserve it.
And of course we all know that Rihanna and Brown are talking/seeing each other/recording together again .
It wouldn’t be surprising if Rihanna got back together with Chris Brown. Most women return to their abusers, repeatedly. What’s wrong with this scenario is that it is so public and has so many young impressionable eyes watching and unfortunately taking note. Furthermore, the conversation around domestic violence in the wake of the 2009 beating will surely be shut down for the most part because many will say, “well Rihanna got over it, why can’t you?” [x]
All of this is happening during a week where my brain is also processing XXL’s decision to run a video starring Too $hort teaching middle school boys how to commit sexual assault, Chris Brown being welcomed back to the Grammys as if Rihanna did this [to] her face all by herself, Virginia literally trying to pass a bill that rapes women with a foreign object, the assertion that women in the military should “expect” to be raped, and the Republican party voting against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
It has been a triggering week to say the least. TGIF. [x]
Why I stand with Dr. Richard Dawkins:
The skeptic community is embroiled in an acrimonious debate concerning whether “Elevator Guy” was obtuse and harmless or sexist and harassing in his overture to Ms. Watson in an elevator in Dublin. When I arrived to this debate, quite late, “Elevator Guy” had been repeatedly insulted and his motives thoroughly debated (in commentary long on assumptions and emotional intensity and short on facts). Some “feminists” derided his actions as sexist and emphasized the potential for sexual assault, citing statistics and research on rape. Others, siding with Dr. Dawkins, argued that this perspective constitutes “hysteria” (admittedly a sexist term) and serves not to elevate women, but to demean men by presupposing that they are all potential rapists. Some “feminists” shot back by accusing their opponents of ignorance on issues of sexism and male privilege.
While I certainly do not doubt or have any desire to minimize the experiences of Ms. Watson and other women who repeatedly receive unwanted sexual advances (and threats), I believe that the entire issue is overblown.
First, I disagree with the notion that this event was unquestionably an act of sexism:
Sexism is the belief (and more importantly, the differential treatment that results from such belief) that one sex is superior to the other. In the American historical context, men have long been (incorrectly, obviously) regarded as superior to women. (Undoubtedly, Christian doctrine played a large part in promoting this view.) It is clearly apparent that “Elevator Guy” dismissed Ms. Watson’s statements concerning her discomfort with unwanted male pursuit and her intent to retire for the evening. He is thus rightly chided for being obtuse, selfish, and disrespectful. Concluding that his actions were sexist, however, requires demonstrating that he disregarded Ms. Watson’s stated intentions because of her sex. While there is certainly a long history of men ignoring women’s preferences concerning sexual advances, I am not convinced that the fact of this history alone is sufficient grounds to state with certainty that “Elevator Guy” is sexist or misogynist.
I also resent the assertion that my position is patently callous or sexist. I recognize that I not only enjoy male privilege, but that I also experience what could be termed “double male privilege” due to my sexual orientation. As a gay man, I do not relate intimately with women and thus am unaware of the personal concerns that they may express only in the privacy of their romantic relationships. Nor must I heed such concerns when pursuing romance, since I pursue men. Nevertheless, I remain unconvinced that merely believing that this issue is overblown makes me (or Dr. Dawkins) ignorant or insensitive concerning issues of sex inequality.
Certainly men must recognize the legitimacy of female discomfort in enclosed spaces. But when some “feminists” suggest that “polite” and “considerate” men decline opportunities to enter an elevator in which a woman stands alone, I do not see an argument promoting respect and equality for women. Instead, I see a rather insulting assertion that women are frightened, helpless, victims-in-waiting unable to defend themselves. This perspective also limits men – presumably even gay ones like me – by implying that a woman’s right to not feel any level of discomfort, whether justified or not, transcends a man’s right to ride in the elevator. This is not equality; this is a reversal of who has privilege.
Second, and much more importantly, I believe that Dr. Dawkins has been unfairly pilloried:
Dr. Dawkins entered the debate shortly after it began, sarcastically comparing the incident to the appalling oppression of women in fundamentalist Islamic societies. I believe he intended to express that the incident hardly merits the attention it has received. After his comment was widely panned, Dr. Dawkins clarified his position, requested additional information, and acknowledged that he could be mistaken. Whatever your opinion of his tone, a close reading of his three comments does not reveal him to be the domineering misogynist he has been made out to be.
But I am no longer chiefly concerned with my ability to convince others of my perspective on whether or not the elevator proposition was sexist. A much more pressing matter is the extreme, divisive reactions that Ms. Watson and some of her supporters have recently posted on Skepchick. In “The Privilege Delusion,” Ms. Watson refers derisively to Dr. Dawkins as a “stinking rich” “wealthy old heterosexual white man,” states that she will boycott his work, and thanks her supporters for “bravely battling [Dawkins] and the hoards of clueless privileged people who didn’t get it.” The open letters to Dr. Dawkins are more severe: “I look forward to watching your legacy crash and burn,” wrote Mindy, who concluded with “you don’t get a second chance.” Another letter opened with “Dear Dick” and accused Dr. Dawkins of making the skeptic community “blatantly unsafe” for women.
Language such as this, dripping with negative emotional reactivity, eclipses the legitimate perspective the writers wish to express, reveals as hypocrites those who have targeted Dr. Dawkins for his tone, and threatens to split apart a movement that already has more than enough challenges. (Dr. Dawkins now faces retribution in the actual press.) Further, the ferociousness of the accusations of sexism and misogyny directed at Dr. Dawkins and others only serves, rightly or wrongly, to provide ammunition to the real “men’s rights activists” out there who believe that feminism is about revenge rather than equality.
We can do better than this. The first responsibility of any skeptic is to be skeptical of his own perspective. That ability, along with a healthy dose of modesty and humility, has been abandoned in recent days. It is long past time to either debate this issue reasonably or simply let it go.
First of all I’d like to point out that in my previous post I never so much as suggested I knew anything about the intentions behind ‘Elevator guy.’ Was he harmless? Was he harassing? Who knows? Who cares?
I don’t care what his intentions were; I have no desire to insult elevator guy. I just want him to understand how he comes off so that next time he finds a girl ‘interesting’ he’ll remember to take a moment in her shoes and introduce himself in a different setting. I don’t want to shame him, I just want men to view the world they live in through a womans eyes before approaching one. I think that would actually fix a lot of things.
In fact we could even say that in this instance Elevator Guy is getting screwed over not by feminism but by patriarchy. Patriarchy leads to jokes and media which encourages the demeaning of women and the acceptability of rape, which leads to rape and a culture in which all men UNFORTUNATELY must be treated at least a little bit like Schrodinger’s rapist. Every time I think about this concept I die a little inside, but really it’s because I know that it’s true.
Elevator guy didn’t attack or even touch Watson. He sounds like he was doing what he thought was right, keeping his hands to himself and speaking politely. The thing that screams sexism to me is that he wasn’t aware of how the exchange would feel to Rebecca; he had no idea he was Schrodinger’s rapist. He didn’t know that patriarchy was about to slap him on the behind and then repeatedly in the face all over the internet.
Not all men are rapists. I know that. In fact the only women I know who doubt that are the ones who’ve been raped.
A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?
They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.
Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better. And more, these people who really are rapists are constantly reaffirmed in their belief about the rest of mankind being rapists like them by things like rape jokes, that dismiss and normalize the idea of rape.
If one in twenty guys is a real and true rapist, and you have any amount of social activity with other guys like yourself, really cool guy, then it is almost a statistical certainty that one time hanging out with friends and their friends, playing Halo with a bunch of guys online, in a WoW guild, or elsewhere, you were talking to a rapist. Not your fault. You can’t tell a rapist apart any better than anyone else can. It’s not like they announce themselves.
But, here’s the thing. It’s very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys, at some point or another someone told a rape joke. You, decent guy that you are, understood that they didn’t mean it, and it was just a joke. And so you laughed.
And, decent guy who would never condone rape, who would step in and stop rape if he saw it, who understands that rape is awful and wrong and bad, when you laughed?
That rapist who was in the group with you, that rapist thought that you were on his side. That rapist knew that you were a rapist like him. And he felt validated, and he felt he was among his comrades.
You. The rapist’s comrade.
And if that doesn’t make you feel sick to your stomach, if that doesn’t make you want to throw up, if that doesn’t disturb you or bother you or make you feel like maybe you should at least consider not participating in that kind of humor anymore…
Well, maybe you aren’t as opposed to rapists as you claim.
(Chris, that also goes for racist and homophobic bigotry too)
My argument isn’t that men should stop getting on elevators with women; that isn’t fair at all and would probably be very counterproductive. My argument is that we should stop teaching girls to live in fear and stop teaching boys that being feared makes them men. It’s that cycle that’s the problem.
I wish I lived in a world where men could invite me back to their hotel rooms on elevators and I could consider going or not going with no fear. Imagine it, that would be a fantastic world, but that’s not the world we live in.
So let’s change it.
Instead of saying let’s put up curtains and disallow men from being alone with women so women can feel safe, let’s just stop saying that Chris Brown is an acceptable example of a man. Let’s change the messages we send our sons so that in the next generation there are only men who you would want your daughter to be on an elevator with. Then women won’t be afraid and won’t treat future Elevator Guys like Schrodinger’s rapist. And then maybe they can be invited to hotel rooms and have coffee. Or other stuff (but I won’t make you think about your future daughter doing that…except I just did, HA!)
I don’t think your position is “patently callous or sexist,” Chris. I just think you’re not being part of the solution. And as they say, “if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.” I don’t want to punish you, I want to recruit you. I want you to help me create this world where my daughter can have sex with a stranger in a hotel room. I want future Elevator Guy to get some because my daughter is going to be awesome!
Lastly why, Chris, do you call feminists ‘feminists’? Do you think they’re fake?
Oh, and also, I do not associate with the skeptic movement.
Possible trigger warning – rape, assault.
Alright dudes, go with me on this.
Close your eyes (but not really) and imagine that you are living in the world I’m about to describe. In this world there are people who have a third arm in their chests (think Zaphod Beeblebrox from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).
We’ll call those people Zaphods for short. So there are two types of humans, Zaphods and Homo sapiens, which we’ll call Homos for short. You’re a Homo.
Zaphods are potentially dangerous of course, sure. They’re about 50% (more limb…) more dangerous than you, Homo. They’re bigger and stronger (think Beeblebrox pictured above but 6’7″ and bursting with muscles). They can be scary, but also nice, attractive, smart, fun; remember they’re human too.
But, from infancy both you and Zaphods have been told, “Zaphods will be Zaphods. They/you have more testosterone; they/you just need to get that aggression out somewhere. It’s just nature.”
And little Zaphods are told “Don’t be a sissy. Don’t cry! Who cries? Homo’s cry! You’re not one of them are you? Dirty creatures, you know the only thing they’re good for!”
So when you get a little older they start punching your friends at lunch; you’re told to look the other way or you’ll be next, so you do. And then you get a little older and your friends start telling you stories of being followed out of bars and having their ribs broken in alleys. So when you’re walking alone at night and there’s a pair of Zaphods walking behind you, you calmly cross to the other side of the street and try not to draw any attention to yourself.
And you know that 1 in 6 Homos have been assaulted by Zaphods. Your dad told you the story of when he was burglarized and beaten by one back when he lived in New Jersey. Your college roommate got her arm broken by one at a party. Last week you read a story about a 13-year-old girl in Texas who was ripped literally limb from limb by 18 Zaphods in a trailer park. Your neighbor across the way is a Zaphod who goes to your church, then goes home, drinks a martini and beats the kids senseless.
You’ve heard countless stories of innocent situations turning ugly in the seconds. A nice Zaphod asking to buy a Homo a beer at the pub, then when the Homo says ‘no thanks’ and excuses himself to the bathroom the Zaphod follows him back there and leaves him bloody and bruised on the floor next to the urinals.
You keep getting chain e-mails from your aunts and uncles about how to drink at a party without making yourself a target. There are pamphlets on campus telling you to never get too drunk, to be careful and carry pepper spray.
But then when you confide in a Zaphod friend that you’re sometimes nervous around other Zaphods he goes off saying, “Don’t judge me based on what happened to a Homo on the other side of the country! I didn’t do that; besides I bet that Homo was just making the whole thing up. What self-respecting Zaphod would touch that ugly Homo? And also, they should stop complaining; there are people starving in Africa, you know!”
And in the small town where that 13-year-old was brutally murdered all her neighbors, Homo and Zaphod alike, are saying “Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking? She dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” Blaming the young victim for not being able to prevent 18 grown Zaphods from deciding to kill her.
So now that you’ve lived 21 years hearing the horror stories from family and friends you start to change your habits. Now that everyone on the news has told you that you’re a victim waiting to happen you don’t go for a run after dark like you want to. Everyone tells you that you should take a cab to Sam’s party but you can’t afford it so you just stay home instead of seeing your friends. You stay late at work and have to cross the parking lot alone and you peer around every car; when you pass a van you go out of your way to walk on the side without the big sliding door. And all the while you can feel your heart in your throat and you’re clutching the pepper spray your mother bought you last year.
Your family and friends and the media tell you over and over again that by being alive you are a potential assault victim and your adrenal glands remember that sick feeling you had when you imagined the pain that little girl in Texas felt.
It gets to the point where just standing on the subway platform with a few Zaphods puts you into fight or flight mode, your stomach churning busily until you’re safely seated, until you realize he’s on the same car as you, and then he’s getting off at the same stop as you, and then he’s exiting through the same door as you; with each passed chance to part ways you sweat a little harder, clutch your jacket a little tighter, pray to god a little truer.
When cops tell you that you’re dressed like you were asking for his attention you wonder,”Who would ask for attention like that? Who would ask to feel this way?”
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Richard, please don’t try to pretend that there is only one form of misogyny. It comes in all shapes and sizes. In fact a very common one is rich old white men.