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Humanity

October 2009

“I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here [speaking to a conference of men]. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.”

“[Women] do not want to do the work of helping you to believe in your humanity. We cannot do it anymore. We have always tried. We have been repaid with systematic exploitation and systematic abuse. You are going to have to do this yourselves from now on and you know it.”

— Andrea Dworkin, quoted in You are what you eat.

Jody commented:

Good article. I felt like was back in stage three psych, in a good way.

The best thing was getting to the info about the author was. Go go Texas!! Smash those stereotypes!!

Nato commented:

Nice read, I especially liked the paragraph on empathy:

"Such empathy is a pornographer’s nightmare. The men using pornography are supposed to identify with the men in the video, not the women. If men ask the question, “Do women really want to be penetrated by two men at the same time?” the pornographic game is over. Women must remain less-than-human if pornography is to work. If women become anything more than -- in the words of notorious “extreme” pornography producer Max Hardcore -- a “cock receptacle,” then the men seeking pleasure might stop to ask how it feels for the real woman in the scene, the woman-who-is-a-person."

I do have a disagreement though:

While I do think the culture of masculinity he describes needs to be changed, I disagree that all males are like that, and I don't think that the answer is to abandon masculinity. We'd be better off if men had a positive masculinity to work towards, as opposed to having nothing to work towards. This masculinity would encompass both feminine and masculine virtues, which creates an academic problem; if masculinity and femininity encompass the same virtues then why not just define them as human virtues? My reasoning is that it gives men more motivation to live up to these virtues. Catch phrases like "real men respect sexual partners" have more emotional power than "real people respect sexual partners". It's about defining men and women as equal, but also hooking into our existing motivations for change.

Matt commented:

Nato, in theory, and in terms of men, sure. However, my problem is that by talking about masculinity/femininity at all you're implying exclusive distinctions – if "real men do X," you're implying "real women don't." Which might be fine for getting men to buy into this stuff, but doesn't help the underlying problems.

And I may be getting out on a limb here, but it also seems a way to avoid criticism from women – only men are allowed to define what constitutes a "real man." (Ironically, it seems that for now men also get to define what makes a "real woman.") Whereas everyone would get a say as to what makes a "decent human being."

Nato commented:

Yeah, there is a danger of exclusive distinctions (but consider 'real men put the toilet seat down'). The thing is, it's nice to have some theoretical ideas, but if we want something to happen, we should go with what works. And imho telling men to not be masculine isn't going to work.

The other thing is that adults have a say in what a decent kid is, patients have a say in what a decent doctor is, anyone who is a stakeholder ought to be able to define what's going on.

Ha ha, reminds me of the recent dinosaur comic: http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1578

Matt commented:

Okay, that's fair enough. I still maintain that "real men" don't need to identify as masculine, and "real men" are decent human beings ;).

By which I mean, I have no personal need for masculine posturing, and am happy to drop it for myself. But yeah, that's a hard sell, and any improvement is better than no improvement.

Matt commented:

Wow, here's a helpful comment I just received:

Crap sifter says: Pfft just read The Game by Neil Strauss instead of sifting through this crap.

So apparently the answer is to stop listening to women and/or acting like decent human beings, and instead learn how to manipulate women to get them into bed. Because, obviously, "being a man" is all about persuading women to let you screw them.

BALEETED.