Category Archives: Radical feminism

Feminist antinatalist arguments.

Although the connection between feminism and antinatalism has already been made (more notably in L’Art de Guillotiner les Procréateurs), it hasn’t really been explored in much depth. I wanted to expand on it somewhat and discuss more concrete arguments for what we can call feminist antinatalism, because I think it does deserve a category of its own.

I expect that many readers who are interested in antinatalism are not necessarily interested in feminism, so I should start by defining what I mean by feminism, because there are many different ideas out there of what feminism is about. By feminism I mean a movement by women to expose and eradicate the Patriarchy, the hierarchy by which men are superiors and women are inferiors (note that I am not saying they are actually superiors and inferiors in reality, only within the worldview propagated by the Patriarchy). I reject the view that the goal should be “gender equality” (I’ve already discussed why that’s meaningless). However, the fact that men and women are unequal, as a result of the Patriarchy, is a major fact worth talking about, as long as we understand that it is a consequence of the Patriarchy and not a brute fact.

Feminist antinatalism, following the other kinds of antinatalism, should argue that procreation is wrong based on specifically feminist premises. Based on this, I have identified five main ways in which one can argue a feminist antinatalist position. You may disagree with my classification or present new ones. We can quibble over what goes where. This is fine, and I make no claim that my way is the only way.

1. The historical case. As I’ve cursorily discussed before, the oppression of women and natalism have always gone hand in hand. I don’t feel I can really do justice to the history of this process, so I will, as always, refer interested readers to The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner. But basically, the upshot of this argument is that we cannot destroy the Patriarchy, and therefore the gender hierarchy, without also attacking natalist premises. The concept that women exist to perpetuate the species is deeply ingrained in most conceptions of gender that exist or have existed on this planet. There is no foreseeable way to advocate for women’s liberation without at the same time also arguing against natalism. Although this does not logically imply being an actual antinatalist, it does imply that procreation is wrong to some degree.

Furthermore, pushing for procreation makes women as a class dependent on men for genetic material, for resources, for support. This is contrary to the need for the kind of physical and intellectual independence that could emancipate women.

As I’ve said before, most antinatalists are not feminists. But antinatalists are in a unique position of actually being able to respond to natalist premises with a coherent and logical counter-ideology. This can be done for feminist reasons as well as for anti-feminist reasons, but I believe the latter does not detract from the former.

2. The harms of motherhood. While antinatalists argue that all lives can experience a wide variety of harms, women who undergo motherhood experience major harms specific to that role. They undergo the physical and psychological harms of pregnancy, as well as the desperate suffering of women who cannot deal with raising children (as I’ve discussed here). These specific harms are worth talking about because, under natalism, the needs, desires and bodies of women are considered to be irrelevant to the harm/benefit analysis of procreation. One of the things feminism does is expose the ways in which women are oppressed by the gender hierarchy, and this is definitely one of them. To this we must add the objectification of women as breeding machines and life-support system for fetuses, which harms women as a class.

The narrative of motherhood that we’re presented is inextricably linked with the rhetoric of gender: women are uniquely suited to care for children, women are psychologically driven to have children, the greatest expression of womanhood is to be a mother. Women are meant to be mothers and, when they do become mothers, they find their true role and their true happiness. Women can only “have it all” if they have children, otherwise they are just sad, incomplete women.

The argument here is similar to the misanthropic arguments: we should not bring more suffering into this world, and the harms of motherhood, as invisible as they are in our societies, are forms of suffering we should not want to bring about. No man who loves and respects his wife should seek to expose her to such harms, and I find any man who would do this repugnant.

3. Argument from gender inequality. There is a dramatic gender inequality in procreation: not only do women bear all the physical burdens of carrying the fetus to term, but a majority of the child-raising is still done by women. This means that women are less free to devote energies to real accomplishments or a more fulfilling career, or do anything else they value. It means they are being held down by having children. Only rich women are able to delegate the time costs of child-raising to other people, generally other women. Either way, child-raising requires an incredible amount of attention, time and resources which women could use for much better ends.

Some will argue that this is not really gender inequality because that’s women’s role and where they find their true happiness. This is still all based on the narrative of women being uniquely suited to child-raising, a myth which has no basis in reality (I don’t think most female parents are any more suited to raising children than male parents are). There is no reason to think that women can’t be happier as scientists, engineers, writers, athletes, or gardeners. All of these things have an actual social purpose, and may help relieve suffering in some way. Having children, on the other hand, adds more suffering to the sum total of existence, for no discernible reason beyond “I want one.”

The inequality does not end there, however. In society at large (e.g. in the workplace, in welfare, in homeless shelters), women who have children get special treatment, which hurts the other women (childfree or childless) who get short shrift. This is an unfair system, but it shows that procreation divides women into groups when they should be united.

Without procreation taking over women’s energy and resources, all of this gender inequality would cease to exist, and women would be as free as men to develop physically, mentally and intellectually.

4. Argument from socialization. All of us have been indoctrinated and socialized as children into all sorts of social constructs, including gender. And even if parents do not want the child to be socialized as a gender, they will be socialized nevertheless- through their own incompetence, by the media, by consumer products, by their friends, by other parents, by their school. Children will either be socialized as boys or as girls, and this has lasting consequences. Men are much more likely (90%+) to commit murder, mass murders, and rape. Women are much more likely (90%+) to be killed or raped by men than by women.

This means that a woman, whether she is a feminist or not, is giving birth to a child who will be socialized as either an oppressor or an oppressed. Every male child is a potential rapist and every female child is a potential rape victim. Either of these possibilities not only adds suffering to the world, but reinforces the gender hierarchy, and presents a cruel dilemma to feminists who want to have children. There are only two ways to resolve it: by attempting to raise one’s children without gender socialization (and failing miserably, because parents are not by far the only input in a child’s life), or by refusing to have children.

Furthermore, part of female socialization is not only psychological but also physical, through the imposition of beauty practices. Historically, these beauty practices have been gynocidal in nature, including footbinding (which crippled women for life), female genital mutilation (which removes sexual pleasure), corsetting (which can be lethal). Our beauty practices are less damageable than those of the past (apart from FGM, which is an ongoing concern), but they still reinforce the gender hierarchy: women exist in order to be pretty and serve male sexuality.

Socialization presents to us a specific kind of suffering which we should want to spare future lives from.

5. Argument against capitalism. As I’ve discussed before, natalism and capitalism go hand in hand. Capitalism is used to justify the need for procreation: while nationalism and racism sometimes take that place, capitalism is the main justification for natalism. Feminism and anti-capitalism are equally linked. Women’s labor is trivialized under capitalism under the guise that it is part of the “private sphere.” Women are massively exploited for their sexuality (or as liberals call it, “sex work”) and reproductive labor, while men are not. While all of this is not unique to capitalism, feminists have identified capitalism as the main source of this injustice.

Continued procreation continues the process by which some people (a majority of which are women) are economically exploited for the benefit of others (a majority of which are men). Anyone who’s against capitalism, like feminists are, should oppose procreation until the economic system is fair for all and ensures the well-being of people regardless of gender. Procreation gives capitalism its consumer base and its cheap labor.

In addition to these five arguments, I think other antinatalist arguments can be enriched by feminist theory. The consent argument, for example, is greatly augmented by the various ways in which the concept of consent is undermined in our societies, notably against women and POC. The ways in which natalists sidestep consent are neatly reflected in the ways men dismiss women’s consent or white elites dismiss POC’s consent. Women also have a specific perspective on the misanthropic case, insofar as they are exposed to a set of risks which men are barely conscious of.

The Big Lie that no man has ever spied in women’s restrooms/locker rooms.

Ever since laws have been proposed against men entering women’s restrooms or locker rooms, it seems that the mainstream media has been dedicating itself to the defense of a Big Lie (an absurdly false statement which, repeated over and over, becomes true): the “fact” that no man has ever tried to spy in women’s restrooms or locker rooms by pretending to be women. It is often explicitly said that this has happened zero times.

This statement is absurdly false, and anyone should be ashamed of propagating such a lie. As a matter of fact, many men have been caught spying on women while pretending to be women, and no doubt many more have not been caught. Here are some examples.

***

Meanwhile, in Birmingham, England, a man posed as a mannequin and hung around in the women’s bathrooms at a shopping mall filming women, um, doing their business. MSN reports: “The 22-year-old from Edgbaston was seen sneaking into the women’s toilets ‘dressed like a mannequin with a mask and a wig’ earlier this month… He also told police he found the sound of women on the toilet sexually exciting and said: ‘It’s good you’ve caught me—maybe now I’ll stop.’ Police found three images of women’s feet taken beneath cubicle doors on his mobile phone, and an audio recording of a flushing toilet, the court was told.”

On Monday, October 4, 2010 at 9:20 p.m. and again on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. a male disguised as a female was discovered in the Recreational Sports Facility women’s locker room. On both occasions the suspect fled the scene when confronted by staff members. In one of the instances the suspect was seen using a cell phone to photograph women inside the locker room. After each occurrence UCPD searched the area but was unable to locate the suspect. No one was physically contacted during these encounters.

North Little Rock Police arrested 39 year old Scotty Vest for sexual indeceny outside a women’s bathroom, near a playground at Burns Park. Vest was arrested Monday after police say he exposed himself and masturbated in front of three children, two 11 and one 12, while trying to lure them inside the bathroom.

Those three children ran to a group of adults nearby and asked for help. “They came up to me and they were waiving at me and next thing I know they’re running down the hill you know, call the cops, call the cops, there is this man there’s this man dressed up as a woman and he’s playing with himself,” says Mary Stafford.

MATSUYAMA, Japan, Nov. 27 (UPI) — Japanese police have arrested a man who dressed as a woman so he could enter public bath houses and watch naked women, Mainichi News said Thursday.

Police in Matsuyama charged 33-year-old Eichi Yamamoto with 17 counts of illegally entering buildings and peeping for his activities that began in April.

“I wanted to see women naked,” he was quoted as telling investigators. “Dressing up as a woman was a step to do that.”

A transvestite man caught dressed as a nurse in the female washroom at a Hong Kong public hospital has been jailed, a news report said Thursday.
Chung Kai-lun, 29, was found wearing women’s clothes and a surgical mask in the hospital toilet less than a year after being given a suspended sentence for dressing as a schoolgirl in a school canteen.

Campbell Police Sgt. Dave Carmichael said Rendler was arrested after having been caught in the womens’ restroom of an unnamed store for “several minutes.”

Police were tipped off to Rendler’s whereabouts shortly before noon on Friday, when a witness called authorities to say a man was getting out of his car wearing fake breasts and a wig and carrying a purse. The witness saw the man near a bank and thought it was a little “weird” to see a man wearing what seemed to be a disguise, Carmichael said.

According to the Megan’s Law Web site, Render has been previously arrested on charges of child molestation and indecent exposure.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University police are investigating a reported incident in which a man dressed as a woman was seen taking photographs under the wall of a women’s bathroom stall in Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts.
The incident was reported to police about 3:30 p.m. Monday (March 31).

According to a police report, a woman was in a bathroom stall on the third floor of the building and saw a hand holding a blue flip-phone camera beneath the door. She left the restroom and then returned to confront the person. At that point, she realized the person was a man dressed as a woman.

According to witnesses, Burnes was found in “stages of undress while on the stone floor and would do this in the presence of several young children.”

Police officers arrived to find Burnes wearing a dark woman’s suit including a short skirt and jacket, black leather coat, black high heals, red nail polish, green eye shadow and women’s jewelry. According to the witness, Burnes had been in the women’s section of the store with his skirt “kicked up showing his white girdle and dark thong underwear.”

Emory Police Department (EPD) officers arrested “Coco Dorella,” whose legal name is William Frazier, on Sept. 18 at the Dobbs University Center (DUC) for carrying a loaded weapon onto school property.

Frazier was reported by an Emory staff member, who said that a black male wearing a multicolored mini skirt and a wig had entered the women’s restroom, said Lt. Cheryl Elliott of EPD, adding that the DUC staff had asked him on many occasions not to use the restroom.

A 15-year-old male special education student reported being coerced into a shopping mall food court for a sexual encounter.
Police said Isaiah Johnson, 20, of Stamford, and “two other males dressed as females in the area of Veteran’s Park Bus stop” coerced the teenage boy into the bathroom of the food court of the Stamford mall on April 26, where a sexual encounter took place.

An investigation found that the suspect had gone into the rest room while two women were inside, according to a police report. The women were later interviewed and said they had no idea that the man was there.

When police interviewed the man, he claimed that he had gone into the bathroom to use the facilities.

But the investigating officer noted that the man was wearing a wig and bra. A search also turned up a pair of woman’s panties in his front pocket, according to the police report.

MILWAUKIE, Ore. — A registered sex offender dressed up like a woman, went into a women’s locker room at a pool and talked with several children before being chased down by a good Samaritan, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office…

According to the state sex offender registry, Benson was convicted in 1994 of sex abuse and was known to target girls between 5 and 9 years old. The state considers him to be a predatory sex offender.

That afternoon, a possibly middle-aged man was reported to be wearing older women’s clothing and a face mask, pretending to be a woman, La Mesa police said Wednesday.

The dressed up man came out of a stall inside the women’s restroom at the movie theater at Reading Cinemas Grossmont Center 10, said police Lt. Dan Willis.

“At the time, the reporting person, a woman washing her hands at the sink counter, was approached by the dressed up man, who asked the woman if he could shake her hand,” Willis said.

“When the woman said ‘No,’ the subject left and was walking around the lobby of the movie theater asking to shake the hands of women.

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I trust I’ve made my point. And this is only a small sample of arrests revolving around men in women’s clothing harassing women in restrooms, locker rooms, or other gender-segregated facilities. This propaganda line being pushed in the media, that no man has ever done this, is not just a lie, but an easily refuted one. Presumably, all the researchers for those shows can use Google just like I can. So how has the process failed us so miserably?

Well, I don’t think it’s in their interests to do so. It’s easy for anyone to ignore contrary evidence when their livelihood depends on it. Those talk shows that push the propaganda line are all liberal shows, and they don’t want to appear to go against the transgender lobby, which is very “hot” right now. The more they speak out, the more approval they will receive from their target audience. Why would they pass that up?

Most transwomen are not claiming to be women in order to spy on women in women’s bathrooms. However, it opens the door for violent, abusive men to claim to be women in order to access women-only spaces. They already do it right now, and if they were allowed, they would only do it more. In cases where enacting a policy may directly cause people to be severely harmed, it is better to be careful than sorry.

It’s ironic, because liberals already use this principle in other areas where freedom clashes with risk. They support gun control because the added freedom of owning guns with impunity does not erase the risk of people with bad intent getting their hands on guns and shooting innocents. They support limitations on market power because the freedom of the market does not erase the risk of corporations putting out dangerous products or mistreating workers. They oppose vouchers because the freedom of private schools does not erase the risk of children getting a bad education. So why is it that they suddenly forget this principle when it comes to women-only spaces?

The obvious answer is that they’re misogynists. Gun control, market power and vouchers do not disproportionately affect women, but women-only spaces do. It is also an attack against butch lesbians, who already have a lot of trouble with bathroom checking.

However, I doubt that they even think that far. I think that their motive is probably a combination of pure ignorance with a desire to appeal to their target audience. Seeing through the transgender dogma takes a lot of savvy, and I doubt they have the time to concentrate on any issue that much, given that transgender issues are generally a very small part of their scripts.

Reason Magazine defending pornography while pretending to be against rape.

A vile article from Reason Magazine, a Libertarian rag, and therefore a pro-pornography rag, seeks to defend pornography from a new perspective: fighting against pornography, they say, provides aid and comfort to… rapists!

The argument is so bizarre, even for Libertarians, that it makes one’s head spin. Radical feminists are pretty much the last people who would provide aid and comfort to rapists, and to accuse them of such is laughable. Likewise, people who argue against pornography do so partially because pornography has been proven to make its users more open to supporting to rape culture. But the author, Brendan O’Neill, doesn’t believe in the rape culture, like any good woman-hater who supports pornography:

“Rape culture” is the name given to a vast array of mostly harmless cultural practices—from saucy magazines to sexist banter on campus—which feminists claim contribute to a social disregard and even disdain for women’s equality and security. On both sides of the Atlantic, the rallying cry of third-wave feminists is that culture makes men wicked and reduces women to victims.

O’Neill has to trivialize pornography and sexual harassment in order to pretend that rape culture does not exist. The problem is not “saucy magazines” or “sexist banter.” This is not what feminists are talking about when they talk about rape culture. They are talking about, for one, rape. They are talking about pornography, real pornography, which is violent, abusive and often the result of rape and sexual coercion. They are talking about the objectification of women that permeates our culture. They are talking about the sexual harassment that many women experience on a daily basis. They are talking about the lack of political power given to women, the fact that men decide of the fate of their bodies. And they are also talking about the ideology of hate that people like O’Neill propagate, an ideology which trivializes and demeans women’s concerns, an ideology which refuses to confront rape culture or sexism.

There are two big problems with the idea of “rape culture.” The first is that it is built on some very shoddy statistics. As Christina Hoff Sommers, Cathy Young, and others have amply demonstrated, it simply isn’t true that one in four women are sexually assaulted or that women in the 21st century live in a “sea of misogyny.”

Now we see this author’s true colors. Christina Hoff Sommers is an MRA who posts at A Voice For Men. Cathy Young is not an MRA, but she is a known anti-feminist. At this point it is now clear now what O’Neill’s agenda is: anti-feminism. His data is no more credible than relying on the Institute for Creation Research for your data on the biological evolution of species.

The second problem is that the fetishisation of culture as the cause of violence and shaper of attitudes smashes the idea of free will and moral autonomy. And this is a boon to those who have chosen, freely, to do something awful with their moral autonomy. Like rapists.

Libertarians tend to be big believers in these sorts of superstitions: “free will,” “moral autonomy,” whatever you want to call it. Like many proponents of these doctrines, O’Neill uses the same old argument for “free will”: “if we don’t have free will, then you can’t blame anyone, including criminals!” This argument has nothing to do with pornography or rape culture, so I have no idea why he decided to bring it up here. To continue my previous analogy, it’s like arguing against evolution by saying that we can’t really know anything and science changes all the time. Whether that’s true or not, it has nothing to do specifically with evolution. Likewise, the “you can’t blame anyone” argument has nothing to do with pornography. It’s a red herring.

But to address the point, “free will” and “autonomy” do not exist, and we cannot blame anyone for what they do. However, this does not mean that there is no such thing as personal responsibility. To use a crude analogy, if a machine in a factory starts malfunctioning and becomes dangerous to use, we don’t simply say “well, it can’t help it, so we better not do anything” and put workers in danger. Clearly the thing to do is to isolate it and fix it.

Now, as I said, the analogy is crude. Machines in a factory are subject to property in a way that humans cannot (despite Libertarian doctrinal claims of “self-ownership”). Also, machines can be fixed and reprogrammed in a way people cannot be (even brainwashing remains an art, not a science). But the point remains: from a purely functional social perspective, people like Jeffrey Dahmer are “broken” machines, because murder is a monopoly that the State claims for itself. Therefore, whether you believe they should be blamed (if you believe, like Libertarians, that human beings are little gods) or that they shouldn’t be blamed, they should still be isolated and “fixed” (the prison systems we have are incredibly unsuited for the latter purpose, but that’s a different issue). There is no place for laissez-faire here.

O’Neill seems to think that the role of rape culture in feminist thought is to excuse rapists and give them an “out.” Actually, the point is not to excuse criminal behavior against women (which is pointless anyway from a deterministic perspective), but to understand it in order to attack it at the source. This is why feminists have concentrated on rape culture and have pointed out how things like pornography and sexual harassment are based on, and feed, the objectification and demeaning of women: in order to attack the causes of rape, attack at the roots, effect some permanent change. They are not interested in exculpating rapists. Rather the contrary, their interest is in permanently reducing the occurrence of rape.

Can rapists take comfort in the existence of a rape culture? O’Neill is quite confident that they do, but he hardly gives us reason to believe this. It is not only rapists who have no “free will,” and rape culture is not an exception to “free will”: none of us have “free will” and we are all constructed by our culture, amongst other things. So it’s hard to understand why O’Neill thinks that the connection between rape culture and rapists is somehow special and that therefore feminists are to blame for aiding and abetting rapists, while no one else who studies society or takes a position about anything deemed illegal is to blame for anything. Are psychologists to blame for giving comfort to sociopaths? Are communists to blame for giving comfort to shoplifters? It just seems like special pleading to single out feminists and their discussions of rape culture as being the one area where people are to blame.

If his argument was consistent, O’Neill would be attacking all social sciences and all positions on social issues, not just feminists. But his argument is not consistent, because his goal is to undermine feminism, nothing more. In this, he fails.

Strossen pointed out that in the 1980s and 90s, some men who had committed foul deeds fell back on the Dworkinite idea that the culture made them do it in an attempt to shrink their guilt. Marcia Pally, academic and feminist against censorship, wrote about how in the mid-1980s, when the court refused to declare him insane, Ted Bundy started “collecting information attesting to the negative effects of pornography,” in order to show that wicked images made him wicked. He started quoting academic research as part of his attempt to “bolster his pornography-made-me-do-it claim.”

Trying to associate feminism with Ted Bundy is about as mendacious as it gets. No feminist believes that pornography “makes” people commit rapes or, as in Bundy’s case, become a serial killer of women. This is a common straw man used by advocates of pornography. They try to portray the situation as: either watching one pornographic video makes its viewer go out and rape women, or pornography has no influence whatsoever. But neither of these alternatives are based on reality. No story can change people’s personalities or actions immediately (not even brainwashing can do that), and no story that we watch has no effect whatsoever. Rather, the implicit and explicit content of those stories gradually influence how people think and act. Repetition is the main thing here.

Rape culture does exist. But again, to say that rape culture “shrinks the guilt” of rapists is special pleading. As I already said, his argument is irrelevant to rape, since guilt, as a mass delusion, is not limited to our judgment of rapists, but extends to anything we consider to be wrong. Rape culture is no more relevant to this than the study of sociopathy or communism (to come back to the two examples I used before).

Now, logically, no one is guilty of anything. This does not mean that we should not hold anyone responsible for anything, which is the implication made by O’Neill. I don’t think O’Neill should be personally blamed for being a woman-hating imbecile. It’s literally not his fault. But I do think Reason Magazine should act on that information and stop publishing such amazingly illogical bullshit. Then again, expecting Libertarians to do the right thing is pretty pointless.

Natalism is profoundly anti-feminist…

According to The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner, patriarchy began with the rise of agriculture, when women’s capacity to procreate became vital to the survival and flourishing of rooted communities. In essence, women’s bodies became first property of the community, and then, with marriage, property of their husbands. While you may agree or disagree with this theory, it’s hard to deny that the oppression of women has gone hand in hand with women’s capacity to procreate.

If we pursue this point, we may also observe that natalism has been used politically to justify women’s oppression, through nationalism and the need for more workers, more soldiers and more consumers. That the more a society needs children, the more women’s role of fulfilling motherhood is emphasized and enforced. Another fact which cannot fail to attract our attention is that partner violence is linked with unwanted pregnancies:

[A] compelling argument can be made of the indirect mechanism through which the climate of fear and control surrounding abusive relationships could limit women’s ability to control their fertility. Lack of fertility control can lead to unintended pregnancies, which are also associated with adverse outcomes for women’s and infant health, especially in developing countries. The association between intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy also suggests serious social effects spawned by a cycle of unintended childbearing in abusive households.

The ownership of women’s bodies, the enforcement of motherhood, and partner violence are all fundamental feminist issues. Therefore I think we can come to the conclusion that natalism is profoundly anti-feminist.

Natalists may reply that partner violence is not the way they want women to have children. But since natalist arguments typically ignore women’s and children’s well-being, it seems to me that such a reply would miss the point. Indeed, to posit the creation of children as a moral principle by itself entails opposing the well-being of women and children: the health and well-being of women who go through pregnancy and childbirth, the psychological health and well-being of women who must care for children whether or not they have any ability or will to do so, and the health and well-being of children who are either born compromised or who are destined to experience disease, hardships or poverty.

Note that the opposite is not true: antinatalism is not inherently feminist or anti-feminist. One antinatalist can see women as the main perpetrators of procreation, and therefore as the enemy. Another antinatalist can see women as the victims of procreation, and therefore see antinatalism not only as an ethical issue but also as a gender issue. These two views don’t necessarily contradict each other: a victim can also be a perpetrator, as we see for instance in internalized misogyny or internalized racism. But either way, I see all of us as victims of procreation, men and women, although women suffer more in its name than men. Most of us do internalize natalist propaganda and evaluations, and that is unfortunate, but it doesn’t in any way change the fact that we are all fundamentally victimized.

Given all the facts, it’s not surprising that second wave feminists (who were right about most things) thought that motherhood was a raw deal, and tried to attack the undeservedly high status of motherhood. Nowadays, the pressure on women is even greater because they’re supposed to both have a career and be mothers. So it is perhaps not that surprising that it’s men who want children more nowadays, although the percentage of acceptance for both genders is still very high:

Lauren is part of a growing cohort of women: those in their late 20s and early 30s who aren’t sure about — or are decidedly against — becoming mothers. In a nationally representative survey of single, childless people in 2011, more men than women said they wanted kids. (On the other hand, more women reported seeking independence in their relationships, personal space, interests, and hobbies.) A different poll from 2013 echoed those findings, with more than 80 percent of men saying they’d always wanted to be a father or at least thought they would be someday. Just 70 percent of women felt the same.

Women in general are starting to get a grasp of the problem, although they are still psychologically pressured to pursue the natalist party line. And men, well, have no reason to feel particularly responsible about it. After all, the procreation is done mostly for their benefit, not their wives’. Not to mention that men as a class aren’t particularly known for their sense of responsibility: just look at the most masculine institutions we have, sports teams, the military, the cops, which all not only lack any sense of responsibility (except for an abstract concept of “sportsmanship,” for sports teams), but glorify that fact.

Pornography is not about sex.

When it comes to pornography, its biggest users, pornsick men, have a lot of trouble accepting basic facts. They can’t accept that pornography is done in real life to real women. They constantly argue that pornography cannot have any real life effects. They refuse to recognize that there’s anything wrong with encouraging others to consume pornography.

Pornography is a touchy subject for pornsick men, the same way that cocaine is a touchy subject for cocaine addicts: if your livelihood or well-being becomes dependent on a certain stimuli, then you will defend it as much as you can. Unless you hit “rock bottom,” the realization that your life has become terribly worse because of the addiction, you will reject the idea that you should ever stop or that the addiction is hurting you or others.

Add to this the fact that, for most pornsick men, hardcore pornography and its associated imagery in popular culture are the main way that sexuality has been presented and explained. This means that they are loyal to the pornographic worldview: that women are always sexually available to men, that women love violent penetration and that violent penetration is what sex is really all about, that women must look like models of beauty in order to be sexually attractive, and that the humiliation and degradation of women is the highest desirable goal. These are all basic premises of the pornographic form, easily accessible to anyone who feels so masochistic as to watch any mainstream pornographic video.

What all these premises have in common is that they have absolutely nothing to do with actual sex done by people who meet as equals, know what they want and what they’re doing. The famous analogy by Gail Dines, that accusing an anti-pornography advocate of being anti-sex is like accusing someone who’s against McDonalds of being anti-food, can be reformulated as: pornography is to sex as McDonalds is to food, a manufactured facsimile that can only be called “sex” in the loosest possible sense. The goal of pornographic directors and companies is not to show sexual possibilities, it’s to make money, and they make money by addicting people to representations of genital violence. Because you can’t get people addicted to representations of actual sex, and therefore that makes it an inferior business model. It’s really that simple.

Pornography’s closest equivalent is not sex, but masturbation. Obviously men use it to masturbate, but in doing so they come to see the women they have sex with as masturbatory aids, as adjuncts to their pornographic fantasies. To quote Gail Dines in her great book Pornland:

After one lecture a boyfriend and girlfriend came to speak to me about his porn use. She was very upset that he wanted to bring porn into the relationship. His comment to me and her was “We don’t have to watch it a lot, just enough to give us some ideas.” His girlfriend didn’t respond so I asked her how she felt about this, to which she replied, “I feel cheap. I know he watches porn and I don’t mind it too much, but I don’t want it to come into our relationship. I don’t like it when he wants me to do certain things he saw in porn. I can tell what these are just by the way he acts.” The intimacy, igniting of senses, and connections developed when skin meets skin are all either absent or overridden by the industrial product that these men have come to depend on for sexual pleasure. Trained by the porn culture to see sex as disconnected from intimacy, users develop an orientation to sex that is instrumental rather than emotional. No wonder one man described pornography as teaching him “how to masturbate into a woman.”

Men become pornsick because orgasms are a powerful conditioning tool. Pornography companies use that conditioning tool to maintain consumption, manipulating men through their orgasms.

One may reply that the sex is happening in the videos, but the pornographic storyline itself is no different from the way its users see women. Men in pornography are basically using women to masturbate themselves: there is no intimacy or connection in pornographic stories (as slim as they are), no consideration for the woman’s orgasm or even pleasure, nothing that would suggest anything beyond a man using a woman as a glorified sock. What there is, is a relation of gender, class or race: certain men have sex with certain women and their attitudes are based on what stereotypes they fall into. A white man relates to a white woman differently than to a black woman or an asian woman, a black man behaves in a certain way, “white trash” women behave in a different way, and so on. This is designed to create different subgenres that will appeal to different men. That’s not sexual behavior, that’s market behavior.

As I quoted here, there is also a case to be made that pornography, as a form of rape (as sometimes pornographic actresses do get raped) or at least something that looks like rape, is about sexualized power. Pornography certain does follow lines of power quite closely in its depictions of violence (superiors are generally the ones inflicting violence on their inferiors, and not vice-versa). But there’s no reason why it can’t be both: objectifying people usually goes hand-in-hand with having more power. We objectify women, not men. We objectify POC, not whites. We objectify children, not adults.

The problem with consent.

I have written a great deal about consent. The reason should be obvious: consent is a fundamental principle of ethics, and yet we seem to give it little respect, diluting the concept beyond all recognition. Some people also confuse voluntary agreement, or even just agreement, with consent (“yes is yes,” “enthusiastic consent”).

In a great entry on this very subject, Meghan Murphy points out the ridiculous argumentative load we put on consent:

Consent is the magical fairy dust which turns rape into sex; trafficking into free speech; and sexualized abuse, torture, and subjugation into sexual liberation — or so many people claim.

Indeed, for liberals (especially liberal feminists) and voluntaryists, “consent” seems to be the only standard of morality, but when they say “consent” they really mean “agreement.” There is a huge difference between the two: as I’ve written before, consent is a much more narrow concept than agreement. Saying “yes” does not equal consent. For instance, we recognize that sexual relations between a person in a position of authority and another person who is under their authority is immoral and improper, even if both said “yes.”

But beyond the sexual realm, which is the topic of Murphy’s entry, we can look at consent as a social problem. Consent is not a simple matter. For example, it is generally believed that the social order is in place based on the consent of the governed. Well, that’s obviously false: no one explicitly consents to whatever social order or structure is in place. But it is a fiction that serves the interests of those who are in power and those who benefit from that power, in short, those who already agree to the social order. It is those who disagree with the social order who are most likely to incur its wrath, but we then punish them in the name of that same social order they haven’t even consented to.

In short, there is an equivocation between “consent” and “compliance” or “submission.” The inferiors in a hierarchy are constantly asked to acquiesce to their own subjection. They do so because they have no other choice, as to refuse to acquiesce either means losing whatever place they already have, or losing face and risking punishment, if the former is impossible. But this is not “consent” on the same level as consent for an action between two superiors in a hierarchy. A worker agreeing to work late is not the same as two managers agreeing on a budget. A child agreeing to clean its room is not the same as two parents deciding where to go eat.

These are qualitatively different experiences, because inequality makes agreement more or less mandatory. As an inferior, you’re not really weighting alternatives, you’re managing expectations. Beyond being free from certain kinds of oppression and having certain opportunities, privilege also means not being pressured to say “yes” or to conform. It means being able to make up your own mind.

Consent as ideology cannot be distinguished from habitual acquiescence, assent, silent dissent, submission, or even enforced submission. Unless refusal or consent or withdrawal of consent are real possibilities, we can no longer speak of ‘consent’ in any genuine sense.
Dr. Carol Pateman, “Women and Consent,” Political Theory, vol. 8, p. 149.

There are some people, especially in BDSM, who believe that they can truly consent to submission. This is a bizarre concept, but it’s all part of the murky realm of “non-consensual consent” in BDSM, where consent is redefined and reframed so much that it basically reduces itself to a contract and a safe word. They are not “consenting” to submit any more than other inferiors consent to submit.

Another problem with consent in a context of inequality is that we only consider relevant consent to specific actions, not to the structures that mold those actions. We simply assume that the structures are valid and assume that any further issues are problems with the individuals involved (“bad apples,” “evil people,” “a twisted mind,” and so on). This is obviously closely related to vulgar individualism and the refusal to look at systemic issues, which I’ve written about extensively, so I won’t repeat myself here.

Consent does not exist for the inferiors, but for the superiors, who want to ensure obedience and maintain the illusion of consent. And the illusion of consent serves to justify ongoing oppression and exploitation. Pornography, prostitution, BDSM, black imprisonment, child control and abuse, workplace exploitation, and even war, are justified by a mechanical “yes,” a contract, or the belief in some hypothetical future consent.

Rebecca Bradley argues that there is no rape culture.

This entry is about a kooky “skeptic” blog called Lateral Truth, written by a woman who appears to be a female MRA, Rebecca Bradley. She pontificates on the supposed falsehoods of radical feminist “dogma” in this entry, which seeks to argue that there is no such thing as rape culture and people who say we live in a rape culture are religious fanatics who are taking over society and redefining the concept of rape in order to hurt men.

Yea… that’s a rational view of reality all right. I’m a little “skeptical” of Bradley’s interpretation of radical feminism as crazy fanatics (never mind her equation of radical feminism with SJWs, when they stand for diametrically opposite positions), when her entry is melodramatic and frankly a little unhinged. But I am not interested in her demonization of people who disagree with her because they’re actually sane, so let’s move on to her arguments.

Sacred Mantra: Don’t teach girls to avoid rape; teach men not to rape.

Blasphemy: The vast majority of men already know perfectly well not to rape, and anyway have been taught from toddlerhood that hurting girls is bad. The vast majority of men take about as dim a view of rape as most women do, regarding the act as abhorrent, and rapists as despicable. Most of the approximately 4-6% of men who do commit sexual assault will not be reached or changed by anti-rape education because they do not give a fuck about what society thinks of them: sociopaths and sexual predators come to mind. It’s like saying I need to train the local poodles not to eat my cats, because there are coyotes in the neighbourhood. What makes more sense is to take precautions against the coyotes.

It’s funny how she presents feminist principles as “sacred mantras,” as if they are nothing more than thought-stopping phrases. The concept that we should teach men not to rape is not a mantra, it is the result of a level-headed examination of the issue: blaming women for getting raped is victim-blaming, and, in most crimes, we blame the perpetrator for their crimes, not the victims. So why should we differ in the case of rape?

Bradley’s “blasphemy” is not exactly, well, blasphemous: it’s pretty ordinary pablum, actually, based on an extremely narrow concept of rape as being “some woman gets jumped in an alley by a stranger and gets penetrated.” Obviously the vast majority of men are aware that this is a bad thing. I have never seen any feminist deny that state of affairs, and to say otherwise is disingenuous. What men do not agree on are cases like spousal rape, drunk rape, rape under consent withdrawn, that sort of thing. Many men do think that they are entitled to have coerced sex with a woman if they’re married, if the woman is drunk, or if the woman previously consented and then says no. There are far more rapes in those categories than there are rapes of woman getting jumped in alleys. Of course, MRAs do not recognize these things are rape, so of course they think men know not to rape.

This also means that she believes men who rape must be predators and sociopaths, because only predators and sociopaths would not care about “not raping” according to MRA definitions. But again, this is based on such a narrow conception of rape that it is completely useless. Defining a word so it only includes those things you don’t like, and excludes things you do like, does not make an argument. The fact that she normalizes such a wide range of rapes as not-rape is an eloquent demonstration of the existence of rape culture.

Sacred Mantra: Teaching women to defend themselves or take precautions against assault amounts to “victim blaming.” “A woman should be able to walk stark naked down Main Street and not be raped.” She should have the right to wear exactly what she feels like, no matter how sexy or revealing, and not be raped. She should have the right to drink herself blotto in a singles bar, and not be raped. She should have the right to go wherever she pleases, even alone down the darkest alley in the dead of night, and not be raped.

Blasphemy: There are no such rights. Everybody, of whatever gender, needs to take some responsibility for their own safety. Sexual predators, indeed, are only one item on a menu of lurking hazards. A burly young man would be an idiot to go down some dark alleys at night, so why should a woman claim it as a right? (In fact, although violence against women holds centre stage, men are the ones who are far more at risk.) The behaviours cited above, to my mind, boil down to a demand for the right to make foolish choices without suffering consequences.

This is just imbecilic. Does she really believe that saying we have the right to free speech means that we can say anything we want without consequences?

Bradley does not seem to understand the concept of “right” at all, which makes it a rather poor decision on her part to address the issue. Having a right does not mean you are magically immune from consequences. Saying people (including women) have the right to be safe in their persons does not mean that we should expect no harm to ever come to them. A right is nothing more or less than a justification for violence: that anyone who breaks other people’s rights should be stopped, violently if necessary. It does not mean that no one needs to take responsibility for their own safety. Rights do not suspend the laws of causality.

When feminists say that women have the right to wear what they want, and go wherever they want, and not get raped, they do not mean that it’s not actually going to happen. Of course it’s going to happen, because we live in a rape culture. The fact that Bradley refuses to grant the right to women (like herself!) to be safe in their own persons is profoundly misogynistic. But she is an MRA, so it’s not too surprising that she’s a self-hating woman.

And of course men are not “far more at risk” of violence than women, unless you take violence against women out of your definition of “violence.” Again, in MRA world, women don’t matter when they’re victims, only when they’re perpetrators.

This is absolutely not to say that a woman who is sexually assaulted is at fault—terrible things can happen to anyone, no matter how careful they are; and being raped is a disproportionately high price to pay for doing something stupid or naive. Rather, the point is that exercising common sense can substantially reduce one’s chances of becoming a crime statistic. Why should recognizing that simple truth be considered “victim-blaming?” We should be teaching sensible precautions to both our daughters and our sons, not unrealistic expectations about how the world would treat them in a radfem utopia. Ironically, this sacred mantra disempowers women, removes their agency, and reduces them to objects whose sexual safety is in the hands of others: the men who are “taught not to rape.”

As I’ve noted before, female MRAs curiously fall back to feminist concepts on a regular basis: “this sacred mantra disempowers women, removes their agency” is the kind of nonsense a liberal feminist would say, and objectification is a concept used by all feminists, and yet a female MRA like Bradley doesn’t seem to mind using all these feminist concepts in her argument. To me, that would seem to invalidate her entire position, but what do I know?

Anyhow, her argument makes no sense because she fails to grasp that we already live in societies where women are bombarded with victim-blaming, and therefore her conclusion that we should keep victim-blaming women as well as teaching men is no alternative at all. Besides, she already doesn’t believe men want to rape women, so what would be the point of “teaching our sons” about not raping, according to her theory?

Her ignorance of political theory shows up here also, in that she equates basic rights with “unrealistic expectations.” Rights have nothing to do with expectations. I have no idea why she thinks she’s making a valid point by hammering her complete ignorance of what a right is.

Sacred Mantra: Women live in fear, since every man they encounter is a potential rapist (Schrödinger’s Rapist). No man can understand the burden of fear under which women daily suffer.

Blasphemy: Fear of men is another indispensable tool of rape-culture ideology. At one stroke, it seeks to demonize half of society, and turn the rest into quaking victims, flinching at every male-shaped shadow. While paying lip service to the truth that not all men are rapists, it foments mistrust of all men anyway: our fathers, brothers, sons, lovers, husbands. The truth is, there are times and places where a human of any gender would be wise to be afraid; women do not have a monopoly on either fear or risk. But be honest, sisters: do we really walk around under a burden of fear so crushing and pervasive that no man could possibly imagine it? Are we really that timid and fragile?

Bradley’s misogyny really shines in this answer. She calls women who are wary of men “timid and fragile,” “quaking victims,” as if a woman is either stupidly heedless of the risk that men pose to her, or she must be a barely functioning emotional wreck. All women are wary of men and are aware of the risk they run by being alone with men. This does not mean they are anything like what Bradley describes. I think women need a lot of bravery to live in a rape culture and affirm themselves, even on the Internet, in the face of threats of violence and harassment. I don’t think that makes them weak little flowers, I think that makes them stronger than men. We men don’t know how good we have it.

To me, Bradley appears as a simpleton who is denying the obvious. Of course every stranger is a potential rapist: you don’t know if a man is violent or not unless you know them (and not even then, in some cases). To say otherwise is just absurd.

Sacred Mantra: Believe the victim.

Blasphemy: This is, perhaps, the rape-culture doctrine inscribed in the largest letters on the radfem stone tablets. To question a woman’s claim that she has been sexually assaulted is held to be the deadly sin of rape apology, even a secondary rape. To ask for evidence is rape apology. To consider context is rape apology. Any response except unconditional belief for the accuser and vilification for the accused is rape apology. But it is fallacious in the very way it is framed: it assumes that the accuser is indeed a victim. It is also a clear violation of the presumption of innocence, and a potential life-wrecker for those who are falsely accused. In the rape-culture world, this does not matter. In the real world, it is not only unjust, it is the thin edge of the wedge.

Of course an accuser is a victim: that’s why they are accusing someone of a crime. It is also absurd for an MRA to argue that the presumption of innocence is being violated, when only 3% of rapists ever stand trial. That statistic is, again, evidence that we do live in a rape culture. But Bradley does not mention it, because it is damning. Instead, she wants you to attack the rape victim. MRAs have a burning desire to paint rape victims as liars, but they don’t have the same compulsion towards people who are victims of other crimes.

“Asking for evidence” is the standard ploy used by skeptics (real skeptics, not MRAs) to deny a rape accusation. Because we live in a rape culture, getting raped is considered an intimate and shameful crime, and few people wish to share details about it. This leads skeptics to say “look, there’s no evidence, so it must be a false accusation!”, as if someone saying they were raped is the same as a scientific claim. And if evidence is given, skeptics can use the redefinition game to argue that the rape wasn’t actually a rape. It’s a win-win situation for skeptics, a lose-lose situation for the victims.

Sacred Truth: Rape is devastation. There is nothing worse than rape that can happen to a woman—it is literally a fate worse than death, a trauma from which one can never fully recover. Survivors—or even “potential survivors” (women who have not been raped, but fear they might be eventually)—require special deference, support, safe spaces, and unconditional belief, and above all must never, ever be triggered.

Blasphemy: Some victims are devastated; others are not. There is a wide range of reactions to rape and sexual assault, from sustaining horrific emotional damage right down to being no more than disgusted or pissed off. Some women whose experience would qualify as rape under the very elastic current radfem definitions do not even consider themselves to have been raped. And by the way, many of us can think of a good many things we would consider to be worse, much worse, than being raped.

However, rape-culture ideology seeks to force all women who experience sexual assault into a uniform mold of victim/survivor – to tell them how damaged they are obliged to feel, to keep the trauma going, even to implant trauma that may not have arisen in the first place. This harms women. What better way is there to damage someone permanently than to tell her she can never recover?

One of the signs of a rape culture is the trivialization of rape, such as calling the concept of rape “elastic” (and it snaps whenever the MRA wishes to defend some act of rape), equating people’s perceptions molded by a rape culture with universal truth, and downplaying the effects of rape. Of course women will be affected by rape in different degrees.

The “sacred truth” presented by Bradley is nothing more than a straw womyn. Again she presents an equation of feminism and intelligence with weakness. No survivor of rape deserves to be treated in this way, and for Bradley to do so is offensive. Of course she doesn’t give a shit, otherwise she wouldn’t have written it in the first place. But again she presents the alternative as being stupid and ignoring any harm (if you don’t believe you were raped, you weren’t raped! if your rape wasn’t the worse thing that ever happened to you, then you’re okay!). This is, to say the least, a false dilemma.

The rational, feminist response would be to say that women deserve to be aware of rape and deserve to control their lives, that rape is rape regardless of what you feel, that rape should not be trivialized, that victims of rape should be free to heal however they wish, and that the memory of a rape is permanent, but the trauma is not necessarily so. Either way, women have good reason to be wary of men, something which Bradley seems to outright deny.

Sacred Mantra: Rape is about power, not sex.

Blasphemy: Sometimes it’s about power—sometimes it’s just about sex. Other times it may be about revenge, mixed signals, or failures in communication, particularly as the definition has expanded to include contacts that were honestly perceived as consensual at the time. Sexual assault is a complex behaviour with a whole range of proximate causes.

Once again Bradley repeats arguments made by feminists, in this case “individualist feminist” Wendy McElroy, on the supposedly multiple, complex causes of rape. As I pointed out in my entry “Wendy McElroy propagating myths about rape,” individual rapes may have all sorts of motivations, but the root cause of rape is power, the power that men have to enact their sense of entitlement on the body of women. In short, patriarchy.

Of course, anti-feminists and pseudo-feminists want you to believe that rape is complicated and not about power because they deny the existence of the patriarchy, and therefore must explain what rape is really all about. But their answers are never very convincing. Attacks against other may have all sorts of sources, such as revenge or need, but if that’s also true in the case of rape, then why do most rapes involve men raping women?

Bradley only obscures matters by portraying rapists as being sometimes merely confused or mixed up, as if it’s difficult to perceive whether one’s actions are consensual or not. Men know when they are inflicting non-consensual sex. Sometimes they do it on purpose or because they don’t care. Sometimes they do it because they are pornsick bastards who objectify women all the time and refuse to stop because they think their orgasms are more important than human rights. Are there any men out there raping women out of a honest mistake? Maybe it’s happened once or twice, but to bring it up in a discussion about rape is laughable, and offensive to all victims of rape (many of which were told “oh, he must have misunderstood” or “but he’s a nice guy, he wouldn’t do that”).

Why is this important? Because according to rape-culture doctrine, rape is always a political act that serves to put women in their place. Every rapist, from the serial shit who slips rohypnol into his date’s drink, to the fumbling teenager with screaming hormones in the back seat of his car, is apparently using his penis as a weapon to enforce rape culture and deepen the oppression of women. That is insane. Really—to paraphrase Freud—sometimes a penis is just a penis.

And here we have the stereotype again of the confused, “honest” rapist (teenagers with screaming hormones can’t be held accountable for their actions, as long as they’re men, I guess).

Since MRAs have reality upside-down, it’s not too surprising that the truth appears “insane” to them. But to be clear, radical feminists are not saying that every rapist is conscious of his place in the social order and coerces women out of political will. The rape culture is not a close-knit conspiracy where every rapist receives marching orders. If your cartoon view of the world includes the notion that social order must come from literal orders, then yes, you’ll think any such view is insane.

But that’s not how reality works. The rape culture exists because of gender roles and the male entitlement to sex that is derived from those gender roles. Men don’t coerce sex or sexually assault because they are anti-feminist foot soldiers (with some minor exceptions from the PUA camp, who do rape out of ideology): men coerce sex or sexually assault because they were socialized as men (and in many cases, pornsick men).

The fact that we live in a rape culture does not mean that all men are rapists, or that only men are rapists (despite constant protests to that effect). Again, this would only make sense if the rape culture was not a, well, culture, and instead was some kind of militia or political ideology. A culture represents, amongst other things, a typical way of understanding reality or dealing with reality. Gender roles and gender socialization are inscribed within this concept. When we say culture, we also imply counter-culture. There are men and women who refuse to submit to their roles in the rape culture. But that does not erase the existence of the culture.

Wendy McElroy propagating myths about rape.

I have written many entries in the past about Wendy McElroy’s bizarre brand of “individualist feminism” (which, as far as I know, has not been adopted by anyone else) and how irrational it is (see for instance Wendy McElroy: “pornography is liberatory” and Wendy McElroy doing a terrible job of defending pornography). But McElroy does a lot more scummy things than just defend pornography. Sometimes she also defends the patriarchy, such as in this imbecilic article from early 2015 entitled Three Myths of Rape That Need Sunlight, where she “analyzes” Susan Brownmiller’s arguments from Against Our Will.

What are these “three myths” that should be exposed? Here they are:

1. rape is a part of patriarchy;

2. men have created a ‘mass psychology’ of rape; and,

3. rape is a part of ‘normal’ life.

If you wonder why anyone who calls themselves a “feminist” would disagree with these three points, you have to remember that McElroy is not a feminist but an “individualist feminist.” “Individualist feminism” is a contradiction in terms: feminism is a systemic analysis and individualist analysis is the diametric opposite of systemic analysis. In practice she is a pretty straightforward female misogynist.

So here is her attempt at “debunking” these “myths.”

Rape is a part of patriarchy.

Regarding patriarchy, suffice it to say, those who promote the concept need to ignore many facts. For example, men and women are victims of domestic violence at virtually the same rate; men constitute the vast majority of prisoners; if prison populations are included, men and women are probably raped at virtually the same rate; they are far more likely to be murdered or die in war; anti-male violence by women is accepted in the popular culture and often causes laughter.

You can see right away how her position reduces itself to mainstream misogyny, as she uses some MRA myths here. In fact I have addressed two of these in this debunking of an MRA list. I honestly can’t believe that she’d pull the old “far more likely to be murdered or die in war,” which is just straightforward nonsense. As for domestic violence, women are almost four times more likely to be the victim of some kind of assault by a partner during their lifetime (see for example here). Women are also twice as likely to be killed by their partners than men.

As for the other two, they may very well be right, but how they demonstrate that rape is not patriarchal in nature is a mystery to me. She certainly doesn’t provide any clarification. Men constitute the vast majority of prisoners because they commit the vast majority of violent crimes, and that is a direct result of gender roles. Anti-male violence is considered funny because of, again, gender roles: women are supposed to be the victims, not the perpetrators, and showing men receiving violence from women is incongruous, therefore funny.

All of this is patriarchy in action. But because her worldview is profoundly misogynistic, McElroy thinks any situation where men lose out is evidence that there is no patriarchy. This is a common belief in MRA circles as well. But the fact is that gender roles do have as consequence men losing out in some ways. There is nothing mysterious about the fact that socializing an entire group of people with the belief that they should be aggressive, and are innately violent, may someday be bad for those people.

Her complete lack of evidence makes the next sentence rather puzzling:

If not patriarchy, what does explain rape?

But she has not disproved the proposition at all. If anything, she’s provided evidence for it!

Well, you can’t expect any sort of rationality from misogynists, so let’s keep going:

People murder for money, for love, out of jealousy or patriotism – the rationalizations go on and on. Rape is every bit as complex. Men and women rape because of sexual hunger, a need to prove themselves, hatred of women or a desire for revenge, as a political statement or from peer pressure (as in gang rapes). Men and women rape from a constellation of complicated motives, which become further blurred when there is alcohol or drug use.

The causes that she lists are all superficial causes. Of course such causes are important to understand any single act of rape, but they will not explain to you why rape itself exists, or why, in the overwhelming majority of cases, it is men who rape women and not vice-versa. In order to understand this, you need to look at the root causes, which is what radical feminists are interested in (radical comes from latin radix, meaning root).

McElroy has already rejected the radical answer, which is the patriarchy. She will not, and cannot, consider this because her intent is to belittle feminist answers by portraying them as simplistic and emphasizing the myriad of motivations behind human actions. Of course human actions can have a myriad of reasons, but that doesn’t mean all reasons are equal. Some explain more than others.

For instance, why do men believe that consent becomes unimportant in certain situations? Why are men more sexually aggressive than women? Why do men feel entitled to claim and own female sexuality? The answer to these questions lies in the premises of the patriarchal worldview, and without it the whole thing doesn’t make sense.

She’s also using “men and women” as a way to portray rape as a gender symmetrical crime, like domestic violence. But in this case it’s far, far more inappropriate and, frankly, offensive. 93% of rapists are male. This is not a “men and women rape men and women” situation, this is a “men rape men and women” situation. We need to name the oppressor in order to get an accurate global picture of what we’re talking about. McElroy is, again, using an MRA strategy (“what about teh menz??”). Usually it’s simply a misdirection, but in this case it’s manipulation. It’s just plain dishonest.

Men have created a ‘mass psychology’ of rape.

She does use the term “rape culture” once in this section, but she seems so determined not to do so that it just looks weird. What’s the big deal in saying “mass psychology of rape” instead of “rape culture”? It’s just pointlessly longer.

Anyway, McElroy spends the first paragraphs here arguing against the specifics of Brownmiller’s argument. This does not interest me in this entry, as I am only interested in her own arguments. She does this by first complaining about the established rape statistics (because there’s no fact established enough that a misogynist can’t complain about it) and then says this:

But let me take the inflated statistics at face value. A rape rate of 25% means that 75% of women will not be raped. Even assuming a one-to-one correlation between victims and rapists – that is, assuming no serial rapists – this means 75% of men will never rape. Indeed, many men would come to the defense of an attacked woman.

The foregoing math may seem obvious. But the claim of a “mass psychology of rape” or a “rape culture” makes it necessary to state the obvious.

This is her entire argument, in context. This is the way she “debunks” the mass psychology of rape. Presumably her reasoning here is that, for a mass psychology to exist, 100% of people must act on it. Or perhaps only 50%. She does not tell us this or, really, anything else relevant. Just that 25% of rapists=no mass psychology.

First of all, the percentage of male rapists is lower than 25%, and as she points out this is because of serial rapists. But what in the hell does that have to do with anything? She’s trying to debunk a point about psychology by discussing a specific action. The fact that most men are not (declared) rapists does not mean they don’t have a patriarchal psychology. Most anti-abortion advocates don’t kill doctors: does that mean they’re not really anti-abortion? Most introverts don’t become hermits: does that mean they’re not really introverts?

This is a simple category error and McElroy should be ashamed of putting forward clearly invalid arguments. Did she really think we wouldn’t notice? She could have argued that, for example, the patriarchal psychology would push a lot more men to rape than there currently are, or something. It would have been wrong, but she could have at least tried. But she didn’t even try. And then she has the gall to say that she’s “stating the obvious”! Yes, she is stating the obvious, but it has nothing to do with what she set out to prove.

Rape is a part of ‘normal’ life.

As a response, she offers the following:

In her book Sexual Personae, the self-identified ‘dissident’ feminist Camille Paglia offered a more plausible relationship between society and rape. Paglia writes, “Generation after generation, men must be educated, refined, and ethically persuaded away from their tendency toward anarchy and brutishness. Society is not the enemy, as feminism ignorantly claims. Society is woman’s protection against rape.”

After laughing your ass off from McElroy calling Camille Paglia a “dissident,” you are probably astonished that she’s actually pushing forward the essentialist theory that men are naturally meant to rape, and that they must be “persuaded away” from doing it. Like most MRAs, she believes that men are inherently “brutish” and that we must adapt to that fact. This is why I say that MRAs hate men far more than any radfem I’ve ever read does. Their views on humanity are perhaps the bleakest ever adopted, on part with the most misanthropic antinatalists there are.

But this is the natural consequence of rejecting the existence of the patriarchy. If we posit that there’s no worldview acquired through male socialization that predisposes men to violence, then the violence must be innate. There really is no other way to go (apart from outright denying the existence of male violence, but few are insane or desperate enough to go that route yet).

As such, this is not an argument. She’s simply repeating (through Paglia) her prejudice against men. I am perfectly willing to concede that McElroy believes that men are brutes who must be trained not to rape women, but a prejudice is not an argument. All it does is mark you as a bigot. If anything, it tells you that the person talking has long left the realm of argumentation and has gone straight into MRA Fantasy Land (opening soon in North Carolina, attractions include the MGTOW Roller Coaster that flings you into space, the Alpha/Beta Male Hammer Game, and Mantears drink stalls).

Since McElroy has failed miserably at disproving these “myths,” and frankly barely even tried, let’s talk about her own myths. Conveniently, she lays them down for us:

Rape is not a part of patriarchy; like all crime, it is a lamentable choice that some people make for their individual reasons. Men have not created a ‘mass psychology’ of rape; PC feminists have created a mass fear about rape. Rape is not a part of ‘normal’ life; normal life helps to protect men and women against rape.

These are all status quo myths. The only possible reason why anyone would push this line is to defend the status quo and make people not look at the reality of the situation. It’s the standard liberal, voluntaryist position that actions exist in a vacuum and that there’s no ideology out there guiding anyone’s actions. All that exists are “choices” (a nonsense concept) and wrong-headed people who overreact to those “choices.” There are no victims, just some “lamentable” (who is doing the lamenting?) “choices” dictated by human nature, so we can’t really do anything about it anyway. Society is here to protect you anyway (not sure how society is supposed to correct human nature, I thought that these anti-feminist types believed that was a communist thing).

So stop thinking. Stop confronting. Society is just a loose collection of individuals who are not linked in any way whatsoever. You are just a leaf blowing in the wind. Relax and stop thinking about rape already, you “PC feminist,” whatever that means (what the hell does political correctness have to do with being against rape or against the Patriarchy?).

McElroy’s views are disconnected from reality, but this is not entirely surprising: she started by rejecting the root cause of rape, and ends by telling us that there is no root cause of rape, only “choice.” The entire article is one big circular argument, circling the drain of liberal feminism… I’m sorry, “individualist feminism.”

So to debunk her own myths:

Rape is a lamentable choice.

No, rape is not a “lamentable choice,” because choice-talk is logical nonsense. Anyway, crime is not, by and large, the result of individual reasons but of social conditions. Inequality of money and power, population density, gun control laws, the intensity of gender roles and gender policing, all contribute to crime rates. In the case of rape, as I already pointed out, the patriarchy is a major cause, because rape (with its gender asymmetrical features) has as necessary preconditions a disrespect for consent and socialization of gender roles (such as the male entitlement to women’s bodies and sexuality).

PC feminists have created a mass fear about rape.

Apart from the bizarre label of “PC feminists,” which is semantically meaningless, I agree with McElroy’s statement. Feminists have created a mass fear about rape, as they should have. Rape is a profound social problem that reaches down to its foundations (socialization of children, widespread misogyny). We should fear it on a mass scale and want to solve the problem.

But this is quite apart from the fact that she denies the existence of a mass psychology of rape. Liberal feminists have to deny or trivialize the existence of socialization because it’s the clinching proof that their “choice” and “self-identification” dogmas are nonsense. And yet male socialization does exist and it does create a mass psychology of rape, heavily supported by the media and common misogynistic beliefs.

Normal life helps to protect men and women against rape.

This is a weird reformulation of Paglia’s terrible quote: she was talking about “society,” not “normal life.” I’ve already addressed Paglia’s quote above, so I will not repeat myself here. But I will say that it takes quite a lot of willful ignorance to state that normal life or society protects women against rape. Certainly there is public opposition to rape- within a very narrow definition of rape. But how are women protected from rape? Certainly they are not as much at risk than when they were owned by one man, but the fact that society does not support rape quite as much as it used to does not mean women are being protected. It only means that society is not putting as much pressure on women to accept rape as it used to.

Is rape a part of normal life? I don’t know why anyone would deny it unless, again, there’s a case of willful ignorance. Of course rape is part of normal life, it happens all the time as a part of people’s normal lives. McElroy clearly lived in a delusional state and it’s just weird to even have to point this sort of obvious things out. Funnily enough, she made the same comment about her weird “75% of men are not rapists, therefore there is no mass psychology of rape” argument, which is not obvious at all.

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