Sunday, April 24, 2011

On Beliefs about Men's Complete Inhumanity: a Clarification and a Call to Arms

image of button is used with permission
image of button is used with permission

NOTE: This post has been revised somewhat on 27 April 2011.

I have had several occasions over my life to discuss with radical lesbian women, and many men across a white male supremacist political spectrum, the condition of men's humanity--or lack thereof. What is agreed upon is this: radical feminists, almost without exception, argue for men's humanity; argue that men are not naturally rapists, and that human males do not come into this world ready to enact horrific and terrifying acts against girls and women, as soon as they are old enough to do so.

It is only because these radical feminists critique men's social behavior that they get termed man-haters. What seems to go unnoticed is all the men who argue--if pressed--that men are natural-born rapists, and do just simply grow up, without social influence or peer pressure, to become what men themselves call "monsters", and what I'd more accurately term "terrorists", and woman-hating, male supremacist abusers of all sorts. I find this view held primarily by men, that men are born rapists, not only without merit, but historically and cross-culturally wrong.

About the terms hurled at women who don't believe males are rapist by nature: Men hate and abuse men a great deal, but will not, it appears to me, call one another man-haters or, in the newest parlance, misandrists. No matter how many men terrorise, assault, and kill each other, "misandrist" is a term men reserve for the ladies, not the--ahem--"gentlemen".

I know some gentle men. I know some men who have been interpersonally obnoxious, condescending, abusive, callous, and cruel to girls and women but who now see that their behavior was wrong, and endeavor to do better; and most of those men do better a great deal of the time. They are a minority of men, in my experience, and I've had occasion to meet and deal with a great many men in my life.

The vast majority of men don't engage with matters of "feminism" at all, even when they are literate and academically educated. They always appear to have more important things to do, like play video games, for example. Or discuss comic book or graphic novel superheros. Or drink alcohol or smoke weed. Or discuss sports or food or whatever they wish to discuss that doesn't lead them to stumble on the topic of what men do to women systematically that is horrendous, terrifying, and sexually and socially subordinating.

This matter of taking up men's political, moral, and ethical responsibility to get other men off women's backs seems to not register in the hearts and souls of most men, who I do believe are fully human, despite their unwillingness to lift one finger to assist women in the struggle to obtain sustainable liberation from men's political abuses and social and economic degradations.

What I'm realising is that the discussion of whether the vast majority men behave they way they do due to natural causes or socialisation is in some ways a huge waste of time. The fact is that most men do behave in anti-feminist ways, or in misogynistic ways, or in ways that encourage men--interpersonally, structurally, systematically, institutionally, and as a political class of human beings--to pretend they are not waging war against women and girls (and anyone deemed not manly enough, if male).

I believe men can and will stop this oppressive and horrendous behavior but something will have to happen first. No, it's not that men will need to learn to cry. Many men already know how to do that and it hasn't gotten us very far. What men will need is to become terrifyingly afraid of women as a class, and individual women interpersonally. I mean as afraid of women as any man is of the men they are most afraid of.

What may well need to happen is for it to become legal for women to take out their male abusers (and I don't mean on a date)--whether the abuser be a father-rapist, a husband-rapist, a boyfriend-batterer, or a predatory pimp or procurer. If it became legal--let's pretend, shall we?--for women to retaliate against male abusers who assault and terrorise women and girls, using any and all means necessary--I believe something would shift quite dramatically and radically: the power men have to hurt women without negative consequence to men as a class and to male supremacist power carried on, generation after generation, by interpersonal and institutional actions.

So I'd like to propose that it become legal for women to engage in armed struggle, and in every other form of self-defence known to humanity, if they so wish to do so. To engage in resistance and revolution against terroristic, incesting, molesting, raping, battering, pimping, procuring, trafficking, slaving men. And I believe males must work with accountability to feminists, to support anti-rape, anti-oppression, pro-liberation struggles, and to take out terroristic, normally sociopathic, routinely sadistic, and unrepentantly and serially abusive misogynist men (again, not on a date). I also believe that while women's self-defence against male abusers should be legally supported, the ending of patriarchy is not women's job. It is men's.

That's my proposal. Given what men get away with doing to girls and women by the hour and by the millions, it seems rather modest, don't you think?

To any man who thinks this post is "anti-man", what do you think about what men do to girls and women by the hour and by the millions that is terrifying and horrifying? What do you think an appropriate politically organised response to that might look like? And, if you think this post is anti-man, you didn't read it very carefully. Because no where do I say men cannot willfully and collectively stop the egregious and atrocious behaviors terroristic, sadistic, normal men engage in that other men call "natural" and "inevitable". That I call these men "normal" is to say there is nothing exceptional about them. They are not a few aberrant men. They are men who are celebrated, esteemed, and honored in patriarchal societies across the globe, sometimes because they have done such violence to women. Two words: Charlie Sheen. Two more: Mel Gibson. They are unusual in their level of fame; they are normal in their misogynist practices.

A response to "GuiltyPornUser". Posted to support the work and life of Andrea Dworkin

photograph of Andrea Dworkin is from here

I am trying to steer clear of many places online--especially non-feminist and anti-feminist blogs--because what I find there is, to me, usually discouraging discussion with no interest in activism whatsoever. Often the discussions go on and on and on about the same things, seemingly for the purpose of trying to be right--to shore up one's own ego, or to make it seem like the politically oppressed group "women" are now oppressing more and more people.

I'm glad to see new people come into feminist spaces online, however, in order to go over topics that have been discussed in the past. I'm glad new voices come into discussions about important matters, like how men oppress women and how that oppression can end. Hopefully a good percentage of those newcomers will become radical activists. I have found one such site, that gives me hope that more and more women are finding their own voices and are willing to fight for freedom for all women. Not that it ought to be women's job to do so. But Lorde knows men aren't going to do that work. They're too busy looking at pictures of raped women online--because, you know, it's their white het male god-given right to do so.

What troubles me is how men, and sometimes also women, invade discussions among women for the sole purpose to derail them or be obstructionistic. This happens a lot. The men who I see do this routinely and preDICKably are called "trolls". "Occasionally, though, there are people who are not trolls, who apparently do want to learn something but nonetheless use all manner of techniques of argumentation to do what the trolls do: derail important pro-activist, anti-patriarchal conversation. Below I respond to one such person. I place that person's commentary in italics. My responses follow, portion by portion. I'm  not going to link to the source website because I don't have their permission to do so.
JulianReal Sun 24-Apr-11 18:13:29
I came here to note something simple. Andrea died six, not seven years ago. She passed on April 9, 2005. I remember the day all too well. This matters to me as I work to keep online information about her accurate.

But then I read the discussion and I am going to respond to one of the commenters who seems to me to be quite determined to "not get it".

To GuiltyPornUser @ Mon 11-Apr-11 11:09:57

I'm from the other thread, and my problem when I read Dworkin is that it seems to start with an assumption and carry on.

GPU, It starts with reality--with what girls and women experience, horribly, in reality. The theory builds from there. It's not like so much of men's theories, which men adore going on and on about endlessly, across eras. In so many of men's theories, we start with an idea, and go from there. Dworkin's theory is rooted in actual experience, across era, across region, across culture, noting differences in experience due to race and class, often.

Going straight to the third paragraph where the argument seems to begin

..."We know that men like hurting us. We know it because they do it and we watch them doing it. We know that men like dominating us because they do it and we watch them doing it."

To me, that reads as big assumptions - it uses big categories "men" and "women". Would it dilute the message if she said "some men"?

Dworkin was a political philosopher and activist, GPU, not a sociologist. It is a strategy, I believe--a pro-patriarchal one at that--for you to take what she said about horrific reality and immediately wish to move that into the realm of ideas and abstraction. Did you read what she said? Did you feel it too? What do you feel, deep down, when you read what she wrote and not toss it away into your need for cerebral processing? "Men like hurting us". "We know it because they do it and we watch them doing it". That's rather horrific, isn't it? Do you feel the horror and terror of it? Do you know a battered woman wrote those words? And a woman who was living on the street for a time, after escaping the sadist abuser? Do you empathise with the millions of girls and women who are beaten and raped by men? What does that feel like, in your body, to empathise with them, GuiltyPornUser?

Also, "men" is not a category as much as it is a real group of people--human beings each one, who identify themselves as such--if they speak English--and who behave in ways to bolster their own ideas, in practice, of what it means to be "a man". Some men beat up more feminine men; some men beat up women whether they are feminine or not. But however the beatings occur, they occur to shore up this identity and to practice the power to control other human beings. Men beat up people to practice something many men call "being a man". And the evidence for men doing that is most everywhere. Surely you can note how this has manifested in your own life.

What you are asking of her is spurious, to me. It is also functionally pro-patriarchal and pro-rape. I see you wishing she had shifted her intellectual pursuits, her mode of investigation and her approach to demanding accountability, at least, and liberation, at most, to better suit your guilt-ridden self; I conclude this based on your chosen name here. Her work doesn't exist to take care of you or make you, as a man, feel better about yourself.

You know what you do: you access still images or video clips--whenever you wish to--of pimped and raped women, who were, disproportionately, incested and trafficked girls, so that you can obtain sexual arousal and orgasm. Who gave you the right to do this? Who told you doing this was not callous and inhumane? Was it other men, by any chance? You know most (but not all) males who have access to the internet do this. So whose interests are served, and what political agenda is served, by feminists such as Dworkin writing "some men"? Her point is that MEN do it. And MEN do it to WOMEN. If I note that U.S. white men committed grievous and heinous atrocities against enslaved West Africans and genocidally mass murdered Indigenous Americans through the 18th and 19th century in particular, would you prefer I note that it was "some white men" who did this? How does that shift the history? The point is that it was WHITE MEN, isn't it? So why do we need to hem and haw our way around this point? Is it so that you don't have to come to terms with what it means to uphold and defend--in actions--your own and other men's manhood?

Going on "Pornography is the sexualised subordination of women. It means being put down through sex, by sex, in sex, and around sex, so that somebody can use you as sex and have sex and have a good time."

It's not clear to the casual user of porn that women are being subordinated.

GPU, it's not clear to the average regular purchaser of McDonald's meals that they are harming their health. That's how capitalism, advertising, and propaganda works. How patriarchy's advertising and propaganda works is to promote the brutality of women and make it look like--and be--"fun" for men. I assume it is enjoyable for you to use pornography. Is that correct?

We are told the women are happy, they smile, they enjoy what they do. Her arguments starts with the conclusion, which is great if you agree.

She is speaking about what happens, GPU. Not about what you think happens because you buy the pimp's lies about what he produces for your entertainment. If you see a woman being raped and smiling, do you assume she's having a good time? Why? Does it not occur to you that there's a director--perhaps also her pimp who is also her rapist--ordering her to smile? Do you think the conditions on pornography sets are free of sexual harassment and coercion? You are demonstrating a level of naivete (I'd argue willfully, but you tell me) that is astounding.

I think a stronger anti-porn argument for me would be empirical rather than theoretical

Have you read Dworkin's book titled "Pornography: Men Possessing Women", GPU? Have you heard her testimony before the Attorney General?

Part 1 of 4:
Part 2 of 4:
Part 3 of 4:
Part 4 of 4:

Have you read the book she co-edited with Catharine A. MacKinnon, a U.S. Constitutional law professor and human rights attorney, titled:
In Harm's Way? See here for more:

(please note from my other thread, I'm not a defender of porn)

What are you then, GPU? An advocate for women's and girls' human right to be free of men's rapist predation and pimping? What actions do you take, with other men especially, to ensure that your idea of men and women being equal finds rooting and growth in social, economic, political reality? In what ways do you organise with men to stop rape and pimping for example? To stop trafficking of girls? To stop men from beating up women the men say they love, and then taking the children who they also abuse? By "men" here, I mean the men who do such things. Do you understand how many systems are infused with ideas of inequality, such that when many women come to court and speak of their husbands being abusers, the court systems are rigged to find her guilty of trying to slander him, rather than finding him guilty of being a terrorist and abuser?

And also to
GuiltyPornUser @ Mon 11-Apr-11 11:27:42

I posted because as I have this strange notion then men and women are equal and have the right as a parent to post on this board about something that concerns me.

This is a classic example of the problem referenced above, GPU. You start with an idea: "men and women are equal" without backing that up with material evidence. It's a premise--an intellectual argument; it is an argument that has been made by many women across many eras. The problem is that men, as a class of people, won't allow the idea to find ground and prosperity in reality; men defend their power over and against women, legally, religiously, socially, culturally, economically, and, not least of all, sexually.

On the White Male Supremacist Right and Left: A Portion of the "Preface to the British Edition of Right-wing Women", by Andrea Dworkin

image of book cover and information just below is from here

The Women's Press
June 1, 1983
254 pages
ISBN: 0704339072
ISBN-13: 9780704339071
I'm not sure I've ever seen, in hand, the British edition of Right-wing Women. If anyone has a copy, hold tightly onto it! I am fairly certain it is no longer in print.

What follows is an excerpt from Andrea Dworkin's "Preface to the British edition of Right-wing Women (1983). It was reprinted for U.S. readers in Dworkin's collection of reviews, essays, speeches, and other writings titled Letters from a War Zone, pp. 185-194.

The political concepts of "Right" and "Left" could not have originated in England or the United States; they come out of the specificity of the French experience. They were born in the chaos of the first fully modern revolution, the French Revolution, in reaction to which all Europe subsequently redefined itself. As a direct result of the French Revolution, the political face of Europe changed and so did the political discourse of Europeans. One fundamental change was the formal division of values, parties, and programs into "Right" and "Left"--modern alliances and allegiances emerged, heralded by new, modern categories of organized political thought. What had started in France's National Assembly as perhaps an expedient seating arrangement from right to left became a nearly metaphysical political construction that swept Western political consciousness and practice.
In part this astonishing development was accomplished through the extreme reaction against the French Revolution embodied especially in vitriolic denunciations of it by politicians in England and elsewhere committed to monarchy, the class system, and the values implicit in feudalism. Their arguments against the French Revolution and in behalf of monarchy form the basis for modern right-wing politics, or conservatism. The principles of organized conservatism, in social, economic, and moral values, were enunciated in a great body of reactionary polemic, most instrumentally in the English Whig Edmund Burke's">Reflections on the Revolution in France. Written in 1789 before the ascendancy of the Jacobins--and therefore not in response to the Terror or to Jacobin ideological absolutism--Burke's Reflections is suffused with fury at the audacity of the Revolution itself because this revolution uniquely insisted that political freedom required some measure of civil, economic, and social equality. The linking of freedom with equality philosophically or programmatically remains anathema to conservatives today. Freedom, according to Burke, required hierarchy and order. That was his enduring theme.

"I flatter myself," Burke wrote, "that I love a manly, moral, regulated liberty." "Manly" liberty is bold, not effeminate or timorous (following a dictionary definition of the adjective "manly"). "Manly" liberty (following Burke) has a king. "Manly" liberty is authoritarian: the authority of the king--his sovereignty--presumably guarantees the liberty of everyone else by arcane analogy. "Moral" liberty is the worship of God and property, especially as they merge in the institutional church. "Moral" liberty means respect for the authority of God and king, especially as it manifests in feudal hierarchy. "Regulated" liberty is limited liberty: whatever is left over once the king is obeyed, God is worshipped, property is respected, hierarchy is honored, and the taxes or tributes that support all these institutions are paid. The liberty Burke loved particularly depended on the willingness of persons not just to accept but to love the social circumstances into which they were born: "To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country and mankind." The French rabble had noticeably violated this first principle of public affections.

To Burke, history showed that monarchy and the rights of Englishmen were completely intertwined so that the one required the other. Because certain rights had been exercised under monarchy, Burke held that monarchy was essential to the exercise of those rights. England had no proof, according to Burke, that rights could exist and be exercised without monarchy. Burke indicted political theorists who claimed that there were natural rights of men that superseded in importance the rights of existing governments. These theorists "have wrought under-ground a mine that will blow up, at one grand explosion, all examples of antiquity, all precedents, charters, and acts of parliament. They have 'rights of men.' Against these there can be no prescription... I have nothing to say to the clumsy subtility of their political metaphysicks." In Burke's more agile metaphysics, hereditary rights were transmitted through a hereditary crown because they had been before and so would continue to be. Burke provided no basis for evaluating the quality or fairness of the rights of "the little platoon we belong to in society" as opposed to the rights of other little platoons: to admit such a necessity would not be loving our little platoon enough. The hereditary crown, Burke suggests, restrains dictatorship because it gives the king obeisance without making him fight for it. It also inhibits civil conflict over who the ruler will be. This is as close as Burke gets to a substantive explanation of why rights and monarchy are inextricably linked.
--Andrea Dworkin (1983), "Preface to the British Edition of Right-wing Women", reprinted in Letters from a War Zone, pp. 187-189.
See also *here* from Rad Geek's blog.
For more on the contents of Letters From a War Zone, please see *here*.