On Rape - politically speaking


11 comments posted
Jumping at shadows


I think that you're jumping at shadows in regard to that particular comment. My reading of the comment was that Analog thought both Mr. Key and Media Girl were being ridiculous; while his choice of verbs was crude, I don't think he was suggesting rape.

ETA: The commenter below has hit the nail on the head. Analog's comment was of the vein that suggests an excess of arguments between two members of the opposite gender constitutes a form of sexual tension. That conclusion is likely based on watching too many episodes of Moonlighting.


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 8 June 2005 - 8:27am
As I said in my post

Someone who is not in danger of rape has difficulty understanding the implications. That media girl is having sexual tension over this is a projection.

Perhaps when two men debate, there is sexual tension, too. I could not help but feel that was the case in the comedy "Pushing Tin" that the two male main characters had a sexual tension. I certainly experienced it as that. And maybe that is what's behind some of the Kirk/Spock "slash" fiction - that they are secretly wishing that they could kiss one another.

Elsewhere I was reading about the tragedy of the workplace where people are so afraid of making a wrong move, that the relationship between men and women colleagues is growing ever more icy.

A woman protests Augusta and its sexist policies. People dismiss her as out of step. How is that will some award winning "pro-woman" firms executives continue to be part of the Augusta Golf Club. It's the same set of issues as on Kos.

"Well that's just the way it is. Some things will never change."

If you have a minute, listen to Martha Burk, another of us Second Wave feminists, who are "too" whatever. It's on streaming audio not very long.


Listen to her argument. What we're talking about is loose language. A "joke," right? Maybe and maybe not. If you have a few minutes, maybe she might touch on something that we've all seen.

Or maybe not.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 8 June 2005 - 9:41am
yeah -- this is just what I mean


I think thats probably generous, frankly. It may have been a projection on that guy's part, but likely is was just an off-the-cuff dismissive remark.


Oh sometimes, definitely -- you're seeing the point exactly. It can be one of the ways people process those feelings, regardless of gender -- but making such a dismissive, flippant, arbitrary comment out of it in order to belittle media girl (and, frankly, her "opponent") is just frat-boy tacky and uncalled for.

odum's picture
Posted by odum on 8 June 2005 - 11:07am
LInebackers ...

I reread the linebacker incident in your post. And if I were in the linebacker's position and possessed of his strength, I most certainly would deal out damage to an abusive ex-boyfriend.

Perhaps it's the result of a violent temper, but let me offer this explanation of the linebacker's perspective. As far as he's concerned, an individual has harmed somebody he cares deeply about, but has not been punished for the offense. In the linebacker's mind, this means that that ex-boyfriend still needs to be punished.

An additional explanation: Perhaps, from the linebacker's perspective, the ex-boyfriend has the potential to harm his girlfriend again ... so he makes it known that any future attempts at such behavior will be met with punishment.

Yes, it's incredibly barbaric. But it may stem from affection for somebody in your life. Is that wrong?


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 8 June 2005 - 11:08am
Linebacker follow-up

Recently I saw the film "Crash." A friend hauled me to the cinema and the film had its moments. There was a scene where the cops roust an affluent black motorist and his wife, also a person of color. It is anything but dignified.

I lived in LA and know the LAPD and seeing that scene I whispered to my friend, "and that's why O.J. got acquitted." I am not trying to revisit the O.J. trial - merely to underscore how shocked the white community was by the verdict and how open-and-shut is seemed to another group.

My point is that the experiences are different and law abiding citizens who have been rousted by the LAPD know of what I speak. You don't go to the cops. You go to the linebacker and that is why many women do not report rape. They are raped and don't report it, or they report it and there are insufficient groups say the cops.

The interesting thing about the linebacker incident. All he ever did was to say he was looking for the ex. It never went any further and soon the linebacker was out of her life. It did not end in the ex boyfriend being beaten. I think that my girlfriend would not want that on her conscience or have the linebacker getting hurt - the ex might have pulled a knife or gun. The point was made. A little uncertainty was brought into his life.

Many, if not nearly all women, live with that uncertainty. Certainly men live with it, too. Men are more violent to men than to women as our "men's rights" folks cite. Yes. That is probably true, but when a man goes after a man, the attacker is attacking another wolf. And there are, I am sure, many men that are sheep in wolf's clothing, but it may get them by. Rarely is one of the sheep a wolf in sheep's clothing - a woman who can physically defend herself.

The power inequity goes back to biology and the dynamic of penetrator and penetratee. This thread is getting away from its roots and yet it's not. The man is "on top," variety aside, and the woman is on the bottom. That "biological" fact causes many people, women included, to believe it should be that way in all things - man on top.

Maybe, but there is more to life that sexual positions and hauling sex into an argument devolves the dialog turning what should be a discussion about rights into "Adam and Eve" and original sin.

Hence, my underscoring the way humor is used and the underlying message.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 8 June 2005 - 12:06pm
big post

Although I agree with you on most things, I don't think that was a threat of rape. I think it was a crude, probably disrespectful way to reduce your (both of your) arguments to competitive foreplay. You know the whole "youre showing anger as a way to process your passion for him, that you really wanna have wild sex with him" riff. Pretty demeaning to both of you I think, and with a sexist overtone that a woman cant be engaged with seriously unless sex is in the picture somewhere, but I don't think its fair to characterize it as the "threat of rape."

Way too big a post, though -- about a billion themes worthy of discussion. That can make it kinda hard to discuss, you know? For example, I would say that the definition of rape as NOT being a crime of "sex" has not stood the test of time. In fact I think, in some ways, that let men off the hook about it.

But thats another whole topic!

odum's picture
Posted by odum on 8 June 2005 - 8:27am
I do understand

I do understand that there was no actual threat made. On the other hand, we were discussing attitudes. That during a discussion, heated or not, that it is distilled down to "you two ought to have sex" speaks to something about culture and that as Martha Burk says, it is "acceptable."

We might laugh if someone said Bush and Putin should have sex together so that the United States and Russia could get along, but we would hear that differently and it would not strike the same chord.

If a racist joke is acceptable, then so is racism. To dismiss someone's opinion with a crude remark, is to accept something about the nature of things.

Biology and male-female relationships are here to stay, at least through this century if we survive it, and you might say I am over-reacting. I would counter-perhaps, the rest of the world is under-reacting. I might be over-sensitive to meta-messages, and it is my own quirk that I strip the bark off to see what is being said, but I would counter that many folks are numb to the meta-message.

Robin Williams said it best, "joke 'em if they can't take a fuck." In humor, we see a great deal of truth. We laugh when we feel discomfort and all too often, humor is tragedy. It is commentary. What makes us laugh is what makes us uncomfortable for it is where the way things are "suppose to be" meets "the ways things actually are."

What offended me about the meta message (the jokster is not at issue) is that when women are standing up to the patriarchy, what they really want is to have it "put to them" so that they can go back and be barefoot and pregnant ... and to me ... that's just not funny.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 8 June 2005 - 10:36am
Fascinating and eloquent

I think you're especially dead on when it comes to male fears/anxieties/anger regarding "women's studies" -- as if "women's studies" were running roughshod over the business world!

Maybe the other commenters are right about the lewd remark made by that other guy, though. My sense was that he was just too excited to be able to use those words without being spanked.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 8 June 2005 - 9:00am
essentialism vs generalizations -- does "male bashing" happen?

I'm curious about your honest reactions, and I say this very clinically. There are a lot of bozo-frat-boy types in the political left. We've all been seeing this play out in Kos. Having said that, its also very human to react defensively. Many arguments among people who should be allies are essentially long strings of defensiveness back and forth.

In conversations like this, I think the "sides" are often speaking about "apples and oranges" without realizing it. Women castigate men for certain behaviors, and really they are speaking of macro-men, shall we say -- male culture. Often male group dynamics. They are speaking from the scale of community. Men defend themselves on the quantum level -- the individual. I think the default is often for men to be more individualistic and women to be a bit more communal, due to whatever training.

Agreed that men need to step back and look at the scale of community a bit more -- although it can be a subtle, nuanced disntction to make sometimes.

But I'm wondering if -- in terms of communication -- you all think there is also a place for the women in this classic-sorta conflict to realize this distinction (if you even agree tha it exists, which isn't a given of course) and try to bridge that gap a bit from the other side. There is a certain degree of generalization in this post about the way men are and male behavior that does cross the line to feeling a bit, well, needlessly insulting (which may be too strong a word). This is inevitably somewhat because I'm not used to hearing it so much anymore. Most of the feminists I know at my age these days have children -- most of them sons, and so I think their rhetoric has more clearly de-personalized organically because they are clearly not talking about or "handicapping" their own children. They haven't changed what they say, but have oh-so-subtley changed how they say it. On the other hand, perhaps this "parentally-modified(?)" feminist rhetoric contrast against the times when it truly IS personalized, and I SHOULD feel insulted.

On the other-other hand, do women need to vent, and is that accomplished in speaking explicitly in absolutist, essentializing terms? On the other-other-other hand, does this create problems in actually communicating with other elements in society?

Please understand that this sort of thing interest me to no end, I don't mean to make anyone uncomfortable by bringing it up, but I'd love to hear feedback/thoughts/impressions. Thanks.

odum's picture
Posted by odum on 8 June 2005 - 12:24pm

Thank you for the thoughtful comments, There are indeed knee-jerk reactions and apples-and-oranges comparisons. I happen to admire men for they do have a heavy cross to bear and major expectations having to do with sex-role-stereotyping...never scared, never vulnerable, never weak, always have the answers, always on the spot, always have to take charge.

I think recognition of differences is crucial. I think understand what the actual and substantive differences are, versus those that are used to "prove" a proposition, are what is at issue.

Yes. I agree.

Take an example from my parent's generation. "The average man can dig a ditch better and faster than the average woman." A knee-jerk reaction is "oh, ya, well my sister, Spike, can out-dig most men!" And then the fight begins.

But let's step back for a moment. Is ditch digging the gold standard of things?

Also from my parent's era. Women are better at repetitive work - their hands are tiny. Yet in the film of the first black units in the American Civil War, "Glory," where parts of Col. Robert Gould Shaw's diaries were consulted,

The men learn very quickly. Faster than white troops it seems to me. They are almost grave and sedate under instruction and they restrain themselves. But the moment they are dismissed from drill, every tongue is relaxed, and every ivory tooth is visible, and you would not know from the sound of it that this is an army camp. They must have had to learn this from long hours of meaningless, and inhuman work to set their minds free so quickly

If we construct human worth on digging ditches or killing our fellow men or hurling baseballs across the plate, then in standards defined as such, women must either ante-up or lose.

In the case of men, there are those who became great soldiers or ball players. So long as the criteria are described in these terms, men must (almost be definition) prevail.

To the contrapositive, if women bear babies, suckle the young, and are less physically powerful, does that make them less? Again, odum, to your point well taken, apples and oranges.

Had Dubba-ya been Alexander, he would have led the troops on the front, not bragged, as he did in the Presidential Debates, that he huddled inside the White House Bunker and peered over the shoulder of his generals in shock and awe.

How many no hitters can Dubba-ya pitch? Can he lay more spikes than John Henry?

When a woman complains she has been excluded from something because of her plumbing, that is not venting. To use a sports analogy: All blue suit players get four strikes. Pink players get one. When pink players complain about the rules, they get agitated when they are told they are "sore losers" and they want to cheat and change the rules of the game. So what happens, in my view, is women get dogged about minor points of the game. The begin to feel the "Ump" is against them because no matter how many times they take the field, they always lose.

Back to Kos.

Swing-batter-batter-batter...blue team throws perfect pitch across the plate. Strike. You're OUT! Correct call by Ump.

But why I am out, moans the person from the pink team.

Sore loser, we grumble. Why slow down the game.

Like Kos was suggesting. Let's get onto the REAL issues... right.

Blue team. UP!!!!!!!

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 8 June 2005 - 2:24pm
Yeah -- you know, he said


Yeah -- you know, he said other things that evoke more visceral rsponses in people, but the suggestion that these aren't "real" issues was the most corrosive. It was kind of his thesis statement.

People can be disappointingly behavioralistic creatures. Getting past that is such a long slog. Three steps forward, two steps back. the question is how long is a "step." If it's a hundred years, I suppose we're not doing so bad (thats my half-full for today).

odum's picture
Posted by odum on 8 June 2005 - 2:53pm