Archive for July, 2008

31
Jul
08

Vitriol (and pain)

I was reading old blog posts on glensacks.com today and found this: http://glennsacks.com/blog/?p=1884.

I’m making an edit here. I came across pretty hard on Glenn Sacks in the first version of this, but really wanted to say that I like him, but disagree often. Now, keeping that in mind, here is the original paragraph (I believe in taking responsibility for my mistakes but also in correcting them). Now, I’m not a huge fan of Mr. Sacks, I feel he is sometimes too extreme, too conservative, too ready to accept the male point of view, however this one hit a couple of major trigger points for me.

A quick summary looks like this: There was a study that said that 28% of college women would be raped within their college years. There was a counter to that which said that number was much smaller and was exaggerated by including a lot of things that shouldn’t be construed as rape in that category (like drunken hook-ups). There was backlash against that saying that if a woman is too drunk to make a rational decision then any sex with her is rape…

As a man, I have always had a rule… I don’t hook up with drunk girls. I have broken this rule, but only when really drunk (which worked out pretty good last time. We have lived together for more than five years and are engaged). Most of my male friends follow similar rules. Now, none of the women I know follow anything close to those rules. If the guy is drinking, so be it. If he is conscious and not puking… then he is fair game. Does that mean I can cry rape for the times I have been the more inebriated party? Seriously… there are nights I barely remember from my teenage years and some of those nights included hook-ups and even the start of relationships. This isn’t to say that there aren’t men who take advantage of girls (due to the particular sub-culture I belonged to as a teenager I have had more than my fair share of encounters with unsavoury people, including some men who are in my opinion more than capable of sexual assault) but it isn’t most of us, and it isn’t most of the girls I used to know either. Look, it’s not blaming the victim if both parties were drunk and the man had every reason to believe that it was consensual (you know, she grabbed him, started kissing him, took off her clothes, never said anything remotely resembling no or gave any indication of the same). Hell, even by the modified standards for rape (force or inebriation) you can say that any guy who ever bought a girl a drink (or handed one to her) and then had sex with her was in fact guilty of rape. That is part of how the statistics get so blown up. Here is one great quote from one of the articles “It’s pretty amazing, to think that men can only commit rape when they intend to” (from this article on the curvature). If you have reached a point in your life where you believe that it is okay to punish a man who had every reason to believe he was having consensual sex, maybe you need to do some re-evaluation. As to her claims about forced sex… of course the majority of actual rapists deny it, and yes, forced sex and rape are the same thing, but the sampling of guys asked those questions are guys who have been charged with rape, not the general populace, making this an incredibly clear case of confirmation bias.

Now, let me tell you another story about attempted rape. When I was 15 I was in the lobby of a hotel. A man came up to me and started to say something incoherent. He was drooling and very drunk, but very large. He started to gesture to his crotch and using hand gestures make it obvious that he wanted me to give him a blow job. Not my cup of tea (even if I was gay I don’t think going down on a smelly drunk guy in a hotel lobby would do it for me) so I shook my head no. He whipped out a knife and held it to my throat. At that point, I had no idea what to do. All of my power was gone, I was trying to decide if I would rather die or comply. I was kind of leaning towards die. At that moment the hotel manager (I was friends with his children) came in and saw what was going on. He forced the man out of the hotel. I didn’t see what happened after that, but the manager called a couple of other guys and they didn’t come back in for a while. I went to the hotel bar and the manager decided to let me have a drink after he got back. This was the first of two incidents in my life. The second one found me with a large knife in my hands and my assailant deciding to get the fuck out of there before I used it.

I tell this story to a: let you know that I have a lot of sympathy for the damage caused by even an attempted rape… let alone one that is carried out to completion, and b: to attempt to put the idea of a drunk couple fucking in a realistic context. You may regret the hell out of the sex the next day, you may wish you had never met that person, but to put a drunken mistake in the same context as the real thing… it is insulting to actual victims.

There was also a party where the next morning I woke up to discover that girl I had no interest in was in the process of performing oral sex on me. I let her finish and then I got up for the day. Was I raped? Technically… yes, I never gave consent. Does it have the same impact as having a knife held to my throat? Not even close. In the one case, I put myself in the situation of being passed out drunk at a party, in the other I had no expectation whatsoever of risk. Now, I am wholeheartedly in favour of taking men who start having sex with unconscious women at a party and shooting (or at least castrating) them, but it still isn’t in the same class as the knife.

I think in the end, that the feminist movement is pushing back so far because of how far they were pushed in the first place, because things happened (and still happen) like a judge ruling that a woman who was wearing jeans couldn’t be raped because jeans are too hard to remove, or that a woman who has a history of sexual promiscuity is not to be believed when she claims rape (although from my perspective that women is probably the least likely to put in a false claim, as she didn’t the last whole bunch of times she had sex…) and I understand that, but fuck, it’s getting to the point where many men I know are terrified to have sex out of sheer terror at the prospect of a false accusation (something that contains virtually no penalties for the woman).

In the end we need to take a hard look at the whole thing, from the perspective of both genders, and deal with rapists as rapists while still dealing with innocent people as innocent. After all, your life is no less destroyed if you are falsely convicted of rape than if you are falsely convicted of murder, and it is far more common.

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18
Jul
08

Sexism

I have finally figured out the whole sexism thing. My mother was really the key, also Carol Gilligan. Thing is, it’s pretty hard to argue that western society has been pretty sexist… but as a male I got to deal with a lot of the attitude that men are intrinsically worth less than women, that our points of view don’t matter, that what we like is barbaric and wrong. That while watching girls I went to school with get more attention, more benefits, just more.

How do I account for it? Simple really: when my mom was kid girls had a pretty rough time of it. The were told to be pretty and sweet, and to keep their voices the hell down, because men were talking. That pretty much sucked (it wasn’t even really that historically true… womens roles were stronger in primitive cultures). Her generation reached out and took that on, changed it. They said “Fuck you, we’ll talk, and if we feel like it, we’ll shout”, and that was good.

Problem is, they don’t realize, at least not on a deep level, that men my age grew up with them as mothers. We didn’t grow up with the same assumptions, at least not the men that I am friends with. We see old movies where a man pats his female receptionist on the bum and we find it bizarre, some kind of strange cultural artifact that makes no sense. We don’t have an emotional connection to it, hell, on some level we feel like it’s just in the movies that stuff happened. Now, there is still sexism against women in some places, my fiance is experiencing some of it at work, but it hasn’t been at all common anywhere I have worked. Sure, sometimes men make comments about the women they work with… but all of us make damn sure that there are no women in hearing range… and none of the comments are negative (pretty much the only thing you hear nowadays is when a male colleague finds a female attractive, and then the level of respect in the statement is pretty high). So, as all of us who were mothered by feminists and taught by feminists are wandering through the world, we are still told that men are sexist and that women are under-valued in society.

As an adult I have had to find my own way, from being married to a woman who was abusive and never being willing to deal with that fact because hey, I’m a man right? I should be able to deal that sort of thing, to being told over and over again that the only reason I did well at things (and this was always implicit, not explicit) was because I was a white male with a middle class education. This kind of thing messes you up, the belief that whatever you achieve is because you were born privileged, while being abjectly poor and having to fight for every goddamned thing you achieve (although with a lot of help from loving family who were also abjectly poor).

Then there is the edge case thing. Turns out that boys are more likely to have extremely high IQ’s than girls… but also more likely to have extremely low ones. This means that it is a natural that you will see more physicists and mathematicians that are male, but also more ditch diggers. To ignore that is to ignore that there are gender differences beyond plumbing, and to discount it is to live in a world that isn’t the real one.

My mother is incapable of talking about this with me… it just makes her angry. I finally even understand that (at least a little bit). What her generation went through to try and gain equality was horrible and should not have happened… but that doesn’t make it okay to treat me like I don’t count either.

I say fuck the whole thing. Lets stop marginalizing people based on gender and start treating them based on what they have to offer, lets put all forms of sexism in the past.

14
Jul
08

What the hell kind of name is Fannie Mae anyway?

So, looking through my RSS feeds today, and the only one that even mentions that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both dropped almost half their value is http://www.survivalblog.com… so it looks like only the nutcases who think we all need at least 50,000 rounds of ammo per type of gun in our bunker are paying any attention to the world… fuck.

This was posted Friday, but didn’t even seem to make a ripple.

08
Jul
08

Depression

As a rule, I am incapable of sustaining depression. Seriously, I have been depressed a few times, but it only ever lasts a couple of hours. That is pretty unusual, given that prozac is the most prescribed drug in North America. Now, it turns out that everything we thought we knew about depression is wrong, and prozac works for completely incidental reasons, which actually may allow drugs that don’t have the negatives of prozac.

I was having lunch with my Mother last week and we were talking about depression (she suffers from it periodically) and she said that she thinks depression is a lack of life force. I was surprised by this comment, because I have always believed that was the root of depression, and the reason why simply getting out and excercising can overcome it.

Well, turns out I was right… so was my mom. The latest research says that depression is caused by the death of neurons and that the reason prozac can cure depression is because it stimulates neuron growth, but so does excercise, sunlight, social activity, talk therapy, and a variety of other, much neglected things. Hell, looks like St. John’s Wort might just have the same effect without side effects (although in a milder way). Stress is a major cause of the conditions that allow for neuron death. I guess this means that the average job in North America is literally killing our brains.

Part of why I don’t stay depressed is expression. When I get depressed I write (it usually isn’t about what I am depressed over, for instance I might write a blog post about the causes of depression when something completely unrelated is bothering me) or draw, or do Parkour, or Tae Kwon Doe, or go for a walk with my dogs. I recommend the same to you, dear reader. When you don’t feel motivated to do anything, go outside and walk or run, or hell, just play. Don’t drink though. While drinking is often a social activity which helps, I’m pretty sure that alcohol contributes to neuron death… just based on casual observation of drinking and depressive behaviour.