Posts Tagged ‘sociology


We are not a rape society

I have noticed something very strange lately – a general claim that society is blaming women for rape and insisting that they should be constantly on guard instead of blaming men. Now, I don’t know where that comes from. I grew up with the understanding that rape was wrong and I was not to do it. Not only was I not to do it, I would be an evil person if I did it. I have no friends who claim that women should be blamed for rape, and while I have heard the claim that women should be more modest to prevent rape (an inherently stupid claim) it has never come from anyone who could be regarded as having the least credibility in society, except for one Toronto police officer, who is a dinosaur. The response to that police office was widespread and international (the slutwalk). Now, we currently live in a time (and if you are in the west) a place where rape is incredibly rare, rarer than ever before in history or anywhere in the world.

So, is this a rape society? If you lived in a time where theft was almost universally reviled, where the big question with theft was not if it was wrong, but whether or not borrowing something and then not returning (but with the persons permission to borrow it) constituted theft, where theft was the rarest it had ever been in the history of human kind, where thieves were often killed in prison by other prisoners who found them disgusting and loathsome, would you say that you were in a theft society? All of these things are true of rape today (nobody thinks rape is okay, the statement that rape is worse than murder is actually somewhat common. There are questions around consent, and what qualifies as consent, but nobody believes that sex without consent is okay, and to tell the truth many of those questions are somewhat challenging. There is less rape here and now than ever before or anywhere else. Rapists are often killed in prison, and men who rape underage people are usually kept out of general population as that is essentially a death sentence for them, usually in incredibly horrific ways). So, how do we justify calling this a rape society? Right now women have more agency than ever before, and it could even be argued that the average woman has more agency than the average man (not saying it is the case, but strong arguments could be made).

So, let’s look at where the claim might come from: how some people could believe we are a rape society.

We will start with an easy one, the 1 in 4 stat.  This is the statistic that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in college. It comes from a study funded by Ms. Magazine and performed by Mary Koss. The problem is that it’s a really broad study, and includes questions like “Did you ever have sex after drinking alcohol?”.  The study is often taken out of context, and instead of sexual assault the claim is usually “1 in 4 women are raped in college”. However, the vast majority of respondents who fell into the assaulted group did not consider themselves to have been sexually assaulted.

Okay, this one is a bit weirder, and not nearly as fact based… because it’s not about facts. A lot of women talk about how they are in fear when they go out alone, how that’s something men don’t have to deal with. First, the claim that we live in a “rape culture” is one of the key components of that fear. They believe (even though it’s obviously untrue) that they are at a large risk of assault if walking alone at night. Since most sexual assaults happen in the home by someone who knows the victim this is not a reasonable fear. By contrast, they believe that men are not worried about walking alone at night… the reality is that men are at a much higher risk of assault, robbery, murder, etc. than women are. Many of us know this, and most of my friends carry knives. They keys between the knuckles thing is actually common (and not a great idea, you can easily destroy your hands that way).

Part of it is that rape tends to get more media attention, and stranger rape far more than any other kind. Another part is that violence against women is pictured as meaningful in movies. Violence against men is simply part of the film.

Now, there is a great deal more to this, and I will happily talk about it with anyone who submits a non spam comment (as usual), however I’m in the middle of marking a class, so have to go for now.


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.



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.