Posts Tagged ‘sexism

23
Sep
08

Womens only gyms.

I keep seeing ads for Curves, a women’s only gym. I have issues with this but it has taken a while for me to articulate them.

The issue I have is simple… men are not allowed by law to have mens only establishments. This was a fight that took many years on the feminists part, a fight that they won at least throughout North America. Now, the response I have heard to this is that men can have mens only gyms. On the surface that seems like a decent deal, but it isn’t. You see, a gym doesn’t occupy the same space in a mans life that it does in a womans. Generally men are more relaxed at the gym, they don’t feel pressured to look a certain way to the same degree, and they are more worried about other men judging them than they are women judging them. Also, they have far less fear of being hit on by the opposite sex. In fact, a same sex only gym for men is likely to trigger a lot of mens anxieties exactly the same way a mixed sex gym will for a woman. So, this is not actually even remotely equivalent.

So, what you really need for equivalence is a place where men are more comfortable with only men around. I guess the question is, does such a place exist? Well, it used to at least. Men used to have men’s clubs. These were nicely appointed private clubs that men would attend. Usually the men who attended these clubs had money (because the clubs were expensive) and they spent their time talking with each other and drinking, usually whiskey of some sort. They also often smoke cigars. It has been a few years since the last club in my home town was forced to open its doors to women via lawsuit.

I know the arguments already… women won’t be comfortable working out around men, so they need a private place so they can get the benefit of exercise, something that we need a lot more of in this society. The thing is, you change the character of the conversation in a place when women come in. Men are simply not comfortable talking about some things in front of women… mostly about women in fact. Now, if you are a feminist at this point you are probably shaking your head in disgust, but keep in mind that I am not a member of these clubs and wouldn’t want to be. I prefer to spend my time in the company of both sexes… but I think it is unfair that men simply don’t have that option even if they want it.

Of course, there is one local business that is men only (although they do have a monthly womens night). The local gay bath house. Thing is, again, that isn’t something for the general population of men. It is a place where men go to have sex with other men. If I wanted to sit around and swap bullshit stories with a few mates, the bath house is probably not the place to go. It still doesn’t fulfill the need for a place where men can just be men without any feminine influence.

I propose that women be allowed to have their female only gym, but that men get to have a male only club. That seems to be the only way to be fair. Of course, I will keep going to the clubs that don’t discriminate.

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10
Sep
08

Glenn Sacks

Glenn Sacks (you will see him mentioned a few times in older posts) posted a piece I wrote on his site. It seems to be getting a bit of attention (read: hate and vitriol) which I love.

Most of the criticism stems from men feeling like I am dismissing what they are saying… in fact I am not doing that at all. I am trying to find middle ground between what I feel (I have been screwed over quite nicely by the family court system, grew up feeling like males were second class citizens, hell, one of my mom’s favourite jokes is “What is fifty men under the ocean? A start.”) and what I see those I care about going through.

In other words, I try to listen to the other side and the piece I wrote reflects that. I am also very impressed that Glenn put the piece up and can’t wait for part two, even more impressive as I single him out for criticism.

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.

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.