Thursday, 10 October 2013

Why I will happily censor you

Since writing the Thunderf00t/rape apology posts and publicising them on social media, I've blocked quite a few people and left YouTube comments turned off on one video  -  and inevitably that's lead to lots of  "But freedom of speech...!" and "You can't tolerate any disagreement!" and "What about MY opinion?!"... 

You know how it goes.  This post contains some thoughts on that.

From my point of view, what's going on is this: 

Some people - mostly feminists - are saying that women are pretty well-versed in taking the precautions they can to avoid being raped, and it's now high time that men took some responsibility for preventing rape from being committed.

That's the argument, as clearly as I'm able sum it up in one sentence. It's the argument that the protest placards and the soundbites ("Don't tell me what to wear, tell them not to rape" etc) are referring to.
I don't think there's any need for an analogy. 

 It's an argument that naturally leads to a legitimate discussion: "What can we do? What are some effective ways men can help prevent rape? How can we at the very least avoid making things worse?" And that's a discussion I'm perfectly prepared to have, because it's something that could be productive. 

But it's not the discussion that's being offered. What's offered - over and over again - in response to the sentiment "It's high time that men took some responsibility for preventing rape" is some variant of this:

"No it isn't.  That can't be done.  It won't work. " *

And if that's your argument -- or if your argument amounts to "Yes but for now let's get back to lecturing the women" -- damn right I don't want to read it. You're not helping anyone, and your comment is going to get deleted and you're probably going to get blocked from any virtual space that I control.  And I'm fine with that, because you're a waste of everyone's time.

There is one other related discussion that does interest me, and it starts with this question:

"Why are so many people (mostly men) so very resistant to the idea of talking about rape prevention (as opposed to rape avoidance)?"

The comments here are open.

*And not to forget: "This is not fair, not 100% of rapists are men, I'm not an MRA but I'm afraid I just must take this opportunity to derail because blah fucking blahdy blah"

EDIT: But now I see Eseld has already dealt with that:


Rude as HECK said...

Because they believe that the underlying message is "You- as a man- are potentially a rapist", which makes them feel accused of something.

The underlying message is not there, and the accusation is non-existent, of course.

Magicthighs said...

I think that some men are of the opinion that it's unreasonable to ask them to do anything to prevent rape unless women have done everything they possibly can to prevent being raped.

noelplum99 said...

"Why are so many people (mostly men) so very resistant to the idea of talking about rape prevention (as opposed to rape avoidance)?"

Good question.
Probably many factors involved but I have to say that, in my experience, advice aimed at any group which implies the group, taken as a whole, has a problem, never seems to be well accepted (even when it is justified).
This is something i have been dwelling on the last few days (actually put in a video but still set to private) and I think that in some ways our thinking has become more clouded yet entrenched as a result of us giving more (legitimate and justified) thought into the principles underlying equality.
To elaborate, I think it is widely appreciated, even outside if philosophical and/or social justice circles, that perhaps the most valid perspective of equality is that of treating individuals AS individuals and not on the average qualities and characteristics of some group to which we belong or are ascribed. I think it is heartening how widespread the acceptance of this principle is, perhaps on the back of how manifestly reasonable it sounds.
However, whatever our political and socio-political persuasion there will always be points at which principle must, to some extent, stand aside to pragmatics and practicality and this something that people seem to have a real issue with. It seems eminently sensible to me, given the predominence of rapes are committed by men and the potential benefits of targetting limited resources, that some gendered targetting has practical benefits that may be significant enough to ignore the lofty principals of ignoring such factors and addressing people in a gender neutral way.
It seems that some cannot get theur head roubd that. Happily they have bought into this excellent mantra if equality through individuality but they have bought into it to such a degree that they wish to see it applied to such an extent it ends up misapplied. It happens everywhere and the regulars of Pharyngula froth thenselves into as much of a rage of a practical argument in place of a principled one as they do in a Thunderf00t comments thread and I think it is always to the detriment of having an honest discussion as to how far we should extend these principles for our benefit and how far we end up extending them for their own sake.
So I think that has, in some sense, aggravated what is already a touchy subject generally, that of applying criticism to groups we regard ourselves as members if.

noelplum99 said...

@Rude as HECK

I am not sure I entirely agree with you there. Sure the 'potential rapist' message is not a fundamental component of the argument and is overplayed in many camps but many mixed messages are given by ham-fisted, sometimes oft lauded and distributed, approaches to the question.

As a case in point, I know elsewhere on this blog Mike has sung the praises for the Schrodingers Rapist blog entry that has caused some commotion. Yet, whilst there us much in that blog to take on board, stuff that has been unfairly criticised, it has one central issue that is ugly in the extreme. Specifically, the blogger gies at lengths to stress that she is addressing 'good men', not rapists, and that her commentary and advice is aimed at helping those 'good men' better understand the position of women (though she overprojects her own opinion gender-wide imo) and act in better ways. No problem so far really, until we come to the end where she lists the advice.
Her advice?
don't rape (amongst others)
Recall, she has stated this us advice for 'good men' and not rapists. Is it not apparant that such commentary is bound to act like a red rag to a bull? I personally find it hard not to be insulted by that.

Interestingly, when I outlined those concerns in a video, after thousands if views and hundreds of comments very very few people substantially disagreed with me despite those concerns being voiced alongside positive remarks for other aspects of the blog. In other words, strip away the ugly, perhaps slightly misandric, rhetoric from the blog and have the arguments presented by someone held to be somewhat (boringly) fairly neutral and the toys generally ceased being thrown out the pram and the points were largely accepted.

Well, that was how it came across to me, anyway.

Dixie said...

***Her advice?
don't rape (amongst others)***

Can I assuage your feelings about being a red-ragged bull? You can ignore the "Don't rape" 5th point of the Schrodinger's Rapist essay because you're a good man who would never do such a thing. You even spent your youth thinking twice about sitting in a train car when the only other occupant is elderly.

That makes 38/1736 words to ignore. I'll even add the 59 words earlier in the piece that upset you about her carelessly speaking for more than herself and mentioning murder where it didn't belong. (The two together = 577 characters with spaces, easy to edit down to one under 500-character YouTube comment.)

Now you're not red-ragged, and you've said that you're on board with the other four points made in over 1000 words. In light of of the current discussion--rape prevention rather than avoidance--what would you suggest to replace those 38 words? What new, not "(boringly) fairly neutral" point would you make in pursuit of prevention rather than avoidance?

Should good men have anything to say to other good men who have unknown deficiencies?

Would you have said anything to a fellow 20-something who sat in the train car with a single elderly person?

Does the bystander effect have any place in the discussion among good men so that "Don't Be That Guy" is a legitimate starting point?

Are there any venues--university campuses, for example--where posters can show a change of "Don't Get Raped" to "Don't Rape" by striking through the word get and the d that makes the verb passive voice?

noelplum99 said...


Thanks for your response.

You wrote
Can I assuage your feelings about being a red-ragged bull? You can ignore the "Don't rape" 5th point of the Schrodinger's Rapist essay because you're a good man who would never do such a thing......

.....That makes 38/1736 words to ignore. I'll even add the 59 words earlier in the piece that upset you about her carelessly speaking for more than herself and mentioning murder where it didn't belong......

.....Now you're not red-ragged, and you've said that you're on board with the other four points made in over 1000 words.

I find that a rather startlingly dismissive approach to the concerns I had with that piece. I can't think of many people who would happily put their concerns aside on the basis of word count and the point that Starling says that she acknowledges her audience are "good men" but still feels the need to inform us "don't rape" will colour my perception of her whether she expresses that over ten words or a thousand.

That said, when you talk about de-redragging me, that isn't really necessary. For all my shortcomings I do at least try and seperate arguments from the person who is making them, to the best of my abilities. So, for me, the piece has left me with negative assumptions about Phaedra Starling and her perception of men, even those she considers as good men, but I don't let that spill over and colour my perception of the issues involved. My point was that for many people that is not the case and that writing such as that can harden them to real valid issues rather than bringing them on board.

What new, not "(boringly) fairly neutral" point would you make in pursuit of prevention rather than avoidance?

Not so much a new point, because I have said it half a dozen times now (not here though), but one of the steps to take would be to stop saying things like this:

Are there any venues--university campuses, for example--where posters can show a change of "Don't Get Raped" to "Don't Rape" by striking through the word get and the d that makes the verb passive voice?

Let me say that I like these poster campaigns, I can really envisage that they do some good. However, my thoughts are that people such as yourself really need to stop advertising them as "telling men not to rape" because that is just a glib, simplistic and unnecessarily patronising bastardisation of what they are about. If you are Thunderf00t, aiming to turn people away from such campaigns, then that is a great way to (un)sell them but I assume that is not your goal and it is not my goal either.
These campaigns, such as I have seen (there has even been such posters at our local leisure centre) start from the tacit understanding that men consider rape, sexual violence and non-sexual violence aimed at women as wrong but then go on to show situations that explore consent and behaviour that some men may not have considered constitute rape/sexual assault and, consequently, the possible impact on others as well as themselves.

If I may quote you from

"Don't Be That Guy - a behavioural marketing campaign sends the message that sex without consent is sexual assault. We are sending a visual message to men between the ages of 18 and 25, graphically demonstrating their role in ending alcohol facilitated sexual assaults. Don't Be That Guy shifts the emphasis to men to take responsibility for their behaviour. Studies involving 18-25 year old men revealed that 48 per cent of the men did not consider it rape if a woman is too drunk to know what is going on."

Not "48% of men were oblivious to the notion that rape was wrong".

So that would be my starting point, since you brought up the "Don't be that guy" campaign (which seems a great campaign btw), stop misselling it in a way which hardens people to it.

Kestra said...

On (male) resistance to talking about rape prevention rather than avoidance, I think it is in part embedded in how many men view sex.

They see it as something women have that they want to "get", especially younger men who are sexually inexperienced. The idea of sex being something you do *to* someone rather than something two or more people do *together* is a very strong cultural meme, with a strong slant towards the male point of view vis a vis sexual relations.

This is also seen in the attitude that penis-in-vagina sex is "real" and anything else involving genital contact is *something else*. I hate to bring up a hugely polarizing example, but in the Stubenville case, the rape those boys were convicted of, the thing they bragged online about doing, was digital penetration. Which lead to a revolting backlash of (mostly men) insisting THAT'S NOT RAPE!!! Because they really don't think that it is. Gross, immature and humiliating maybe, but Rape? Clearly, there is a huge education gap here.

For me, it comes back to education. REAL sexual education should not be limited to what STIs are and how they are transmitted, plus "Oh yeah, don't get pregnant." It should include topics like what arousal is, how it works. What an orgasm is. The anatomy of genitals and how they work. Most people I know have very little understanding of how their own reproductive systems work, let alone their sexual partners, and I think that is disgraceful.

From the male point of view, plenty of young men are expected to "know what to do" and plenty of young women are afraid of being sexually assertive because that's what "sluts" do. Good sex should include two enthusiastic partners, not one active and one passive. Changing this paradigm is going to be a long, slow, cultural campaign, but it *can* be changed! It should! Sexually assertive and participatory partners have better sex! Even since I became sexually active as a teen a few decades ago, cultural attitudes have been shifting away from women as sexual gatekeepers and towards an emphasis of sexual satisfaction for all genders, but I live in a liberal East Coast city. What about all those teenagers learning about sex from nothing other than porn and their friends in rural schools with abstinence only programs? How are they supposed to magically know about the importance of consent if it is never taught? Osmosis?

Tetsubo said...

Inspired by our esteemed host I did a video on my own YT channel about this topic. I stated that if men stopped raping, almost all rapes would cease. Not all, but about 99% of them. I received similar resistance as did our host. Just saying that men shouldn't rape was somehow seen as 'controversial'. I am baffled how that is so. I am not saying that all men are rapists. I am saying that most rapists are men. Which is a statement of fact. Yet... some men really don't like that fact. Too bad.

Tony Host said...

Yes, EXCEPT, in much of thirdwave feminism (the loudest most extreme part, which of course therby gets ALL the attention) every man IS labeled a potential rapist, sometimes ACTUALLY PHRASED AS "All men are rapists". Naturally this makes one a BIT defensive, and media plays into antifeminist hands because thus sort of sensationalism attracts attention, therefore readers, therefore ad revenues. I realize that these defensive men are not responding to what is actually being said, but they ARE responding to what media and MRA has TOLD them the "REAL" implication is. Thirdwave and anti-male has held the spotlight too long by dint of sheer volume, and this does NOTHING but create unnecessary antagonism and a false dichotomy of "us vs. them", as if ANY sane men WANTS his mom daughters sisters and friends to suffer violation or somehow doesnt care! This (perceived or real, they are the same) implication also alienates men. And how can men be expected to engage in productive dialog with someone the "mainstream" has convinced them would like nothing better than to castrate them indiscriminately. It seems that rational feminists (the "silent majority" not in fact but silenced by the media in favor of extremists) are reluctant gainsay the hateful message of these vocal few, perhaps for fear of being shouted down like men are, or being branded as a traitor, or wishing to be "feminist-ier than thou". Whatever the reason, it should stop. It DOES NOT hurt the cause of feminism to acknowledge that men can be valuable allies and that "yes, we really DO want to talk, not just blame and accuse". It will take time for men to unlearn the message thatvfeminism is the enemy, theybwill NEVER unlearn it if some feminist continue to portray them ALL as such. Some feminist say they dont want to "collaborate with their oppressors". Fine, but men do not want to collaborate with those that a sensational media and fearful pateiarchy have TOLD. them desire their destruction. Men now FEAR feminism, either rightly if they are expecting to continue their neanderthal ways unchecked, but oft wrongly, as this manhating, castrating, irrational force they have been portrayed as. This fear is not a kneejerk reaction, like "o noes, I cant subjagate the wimminz now!" It is a rational response to their perception of what feminism has become. Men need to be helped to understand, feminism is not AGAINST men, it is against inequality and it is FOR your wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, female friends. MRA have made this us vs. them and aome women have enabled this by BEING the caricature that ALL feminists get portrayed as. How easy to point to a Dworkin or Solanas and say "There, that IS feminism" Who WOULDN'T run the other way, and fast?

Tony Host said...

Maybe I am just HORRIFIED by the idea that half of men think "passed out means yes" but I would like to know if the question SAID "too drunk to kni w what is going on" or something more like "visibly intoxicated" I personally admit to making out (ni further thank god) while BOTH my partner and I were a bit tipsy..not as inhibited and therefore mm prudent as we should have been perhaps...but two beers does not make someone unable to consent, nor me unable to know that only vocal enthusiasm is a green light. I DONT mean to minimize the issue or pretend it doesnt I said..maybe I just dont want to believe half of men are either that stupid or that evil.

Tony Host said...

It isnt all that "baffling". You have an audience of men. Bothbparties know who is being addressed. Lets avoid rape and all its emotional baggage for a sec. Ok..we all know men commit almost all robberies..especialy violent ones. Lets saay the area is a high crime neighborhood and concerned citizens havev shown up to see what they can do. The speaker begins by saying "people living in this city are the ones beating and robbing old people, so the answer is, all you bastards here need to stop all your beating up and robbing of people!" See why they are mad now? I realize it is NOT a perfect analogy. But suppose there are several intimidating looking persons in the audience with no manners. They may be approaching old or frail people alonenin the middlenof the night, loomingnover them, andforcefully saying "gimme some money" Maybe they are asking for a handout for some food, but they are ACTUALLY intimidating these people to give them money against thier will with implied threat of violence. You dont tell said persons" stop robbing people" ...not even once. You EDUCATE them to see why their behaviornis not acceptable. The "dont be that guy" campaign is a perfect example of doing it right. Yes, tell guys no means no, make them examine inherent disparity in intergender interactions, talk about what consent means, make THEM realize how to change their behavior. If they arent irredeemable sociopaths they can and will long as the first words of the conversation arent "stop being a horrible person" this just makes them shut down and srop listening. They KNOW they arent a bad person, they CANT be doing this bad thing you say they are. These are their thoughts. Instead of judging them as a person, with the implicit label of rapist (which IS the implication,"dint rape" implies you think them capable of rape, which they dont (yet) think they are) instead make THEM examine their behavior and attitudes and once they UNDERSTAND their own actions and attitudes better, let them decide what kind of man they want to be

Tony Host said...

Not to get OT. But I was thinking of the idea of some men thinking sex with a drunk woman isnt rape. I just saw a video that made me nit want to live on this planet anymore. The more I think of it the more it seems these guys CANT be that stupid. I am starting to think, especially after those students who molested a drunk girl said on video "she IS SOOO raped" and "song of the night is "rape me"" that they know GODDAMN WELL what rape is, are PROUD of committing rape, and are rationalizing..not for themselves since they are PROUD of rape, but for get out of responsibility. These teenage bastards have NO conscience morals or self respect. They arent THAT stupid..and neither are other men who use the "drunk excuse". Apparently I was right my whole life, most people ARE worthless bastards.