The Sexist

Sexist Comments of the Week: Public Masturbation and the Shame Game

Last week, we discussed a public masturbator operating on Metro's Orange Line. Commenters disagreed on how victims ought to react to a public sexual assault—and why they sometimes feel ashamed.

kza writes:

It’s important to report this to the police. A cop can actually do something unlike a regular citizen. I’m not quite sure how you could blame yourself or feel shame …

Emily WK writes:

kza, telling a victim of sexual assault what they should do afterward is in a general sense not very helpful at all. Neither is dismissing their very real and valid feelings of helplessness or shame. You might want to learn a little more about sexual assault and why people who have been victimized feel the way that they do before you start proclaiming what’s best and what each person should do in a particular instance.

Until then, you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

kza writes:

I think shame comes about after doing something shamefull. I don’t believe being a victim is a shamefull act. And I know I don’t know what I’m talking about here but I’m going to go out on a limb and say the women in these stories weren’t soliciting the guy so it’s not as if they are to blame…

Emily WK writes:

kza, try this.

That’s a start for what you might be able to find out about shame and why it isn’t always what you expect it to be. Human emotion, particularly when it relates to something like sexual assault, is a lot more complicated than “You have to do something shameful to feel shame.” You’re way over simplifying it.

Nobody here posting thinks these women should feel shame. But when we live in a world where women are routinely blamed for being raped, what on earth reason do you think these women would have NOT to feel shame? Jeez, dude. Like, think for a few seconds.

kza writes:

Rape is different. People blame victims of rape so I can understand that of course. Anyone who blames the girls that had to forcibly watch some jerk off jackin off is a lunatic who should not be listened to. No person can blame them.

Emily WK writes:

You are willfully not trying to understand. Have a great day, kza, and enjoy your little bubble of ignorance. Hope it serves you well.

kza writes:

You know what Emily? I probably am wrong. I think that victims should not feel blame but in the society we live in it’s understandable that they feel that shame. I would love to live in a world where victims didn’t have to feel that way. Maybe figuring out a way to stop making victims feel blame could lead to more of them being able to take a stand and force police into actually stopping this shit. I just feel like the best way to combat sexual assualt is with 1st hand accounts. They have 0 responsibility to stop future assaults but I think they can do more to change people’s minds then people like me, a random male who gets outraged by assualts I read about online.

groggette writes:

kza, I think you’re wrong about that last part:

"I think they can do more to change people’s minds then people like me, a random male."

Whether we like it or not, men’s (or white people’s, straight people’s, able bodied, etc.) voices are heard more often then women. In general, people are more likely to listen to what you have to say on this, just because you are male. And I want to make it clear that I would never ask someone to do anything they perceive would put them in harms way, but if you see something like this going down and feel safe, you telling the creeper to stop is almost always going to be a hell of a lot more effective than the woman (who should have been paying more attention, shouldn’t have been wearing those shoes/that shirt/those earrings, is just looking to be offended, etc.) saying or doing anything.

And it’s not just with the assholes doing what the guy in the OP does. If your friends are always talking about how this or that woman (that they probably don’t even know) is a slut for whatever reason, call them out on it. Your words will carry more weight than the women they are talking about.

I agree with you that these women shouldn’t feel shame. But that doesn’t change the reality. Men calling out other men is just as effective (if not more than, at least for now) as women trying to call them out and sharing their stories.

Saurs writes:

kza and others like him are merely parroting the party line. Only in a misogynist culture can the majority of people (women) have to fight to get a powerful, vocal, furiously self-centered minority (men) to recognize that their experiences are valid and true. “Changing people’s minds” is a neat little code phrase for “getting men to appreciate that women know what they’re talking about when they talk about themselves and their lives.” It’s a nearly impossible task to actually pull off. Privileged dudes don’t recognize how fucking privileged they sound when they talk about the necessity of “changing people’s minds” or “educating people” – “people” not actually signifying people in this instance, but ignorant men who want desperately to stay ignorant.

Man becomes the default person, his point-of-view the default point of view. Women, who actually outnumber men, become a fringe group that out of necessity must work in a unified fashion to mold their opinions into something palatable for men, to work hard not to worry male insecurity, and placate their delicate, fragile world-views in order to be “believed.” Sometimes this requires that every woman a man has ever known profess the truth of some perspective; otherwise a complaint is not universal, and therefore not worthy of interest. Other times, like all paternalists, anti-feminist men need other men to explain to them why misogyny is awful; otherwise, it’s just a bunch of bitches crowing and clucking, and who the fuck cares what dumb whores think, anyway? The person of the messenger and the appearance of the packaging really become irrelevant, because they’re always lacking; women are always fucking up and making men ignore them and discount them.

Why men are the arbiter of truth and reality – those who constitute a group that must “be convinced” of something in order for it to be true – remains to be seen, as most have a vested and entirely selfish interest in disproving or ignoring sexual inequality. It’s frankly laughable why anyone should take anything a man says about sex and gender seriously. When anti-feminists feign dispassionate, would-be scientific skepticism about feminism, they’re being disingenuous; like all conservative counter-reactionaries, anti-feminist men are threatened by feminism and have every reason to be frightened of it. Women, meanwhile, have nothing left to lose. The opposite of a feminist world is the here and the now; things can’t get very much worse, comparatively speaking. The dominant culture in the United States is violent, woman-hating, racist, capitalistic, greedy, and very, very dumb. If we don’t succeed, we know what to expect because we’re living it, and each day we become more backwards and more subject to repressed, oppressive ways of thinking. Men, on the other hand, would very much like things to stay the same – barring bigger tits, more housewives, more houseboys, more male privilege. Most can probably barely fathom a world and a culture in which men do not have the final say, in which what constitutes progress is not decided and fashioned solely by men, in which the minor inconveniences they mistake for grievous injuries against themselves and all men are put into their proper proportion, in which they can actually muster up empathy.

It’s little wonder why a lot of men need “convincing,” but convincing men is probably not actually a worthwhile cause.

Photo via stevebott, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

Comments

  1. #1

    That's pretty interesting to read, and I agree with a lot of what Saurs wrote regarding the need to "convince" people, but I thought this was a bit much:

    "It’s frankly laughable why anyone should take anything a man says about sex and gender seriously."

    "The dominant culture in the United States is violent, woman-hating, racist, capitalistic, greedy, and very, very dumb. If we don’t succeed, we know what to expect because we’re living it, and each day we become more backwards and more subject to repressed, oppressive ways of thinking. Men, on the other hand, would very much like things to stay the same – barring bigger tits, more housewives, more houseboys, more male privilege."

    We don't become more backwards each day. People aren't ALL dumb. I don't think it's true that "things can't get much worse." And I never thought I'd be *that girl* to point this out, but...not ALL men would very much like things to stay the same. Look, things suck...often. And you will never hear/see me telling anyone around here to "lighten up," because in general I'm pretty pissed off myself about these topics. I just think there's a big difference between this kind of doomsday language and the acknowledgement that 1) things could be a hell of a lot better and 2) men privilege from the current system and society we live in, whether they personally revel in it or not. There are dudes on here everyday asking for things to not "stay the same", so maybe I'm just feeling sorry for them? Which is weird, since it's the internet and I don't know them? But, um, yeah. Less alienation is preferable, in my opinion.

  2. #2

    Men calling out other men is just as effective (if not more than, at least for now) as women trying to call them out and sharing their stories.

    Tell that to Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax. He got stabbed saving a woman from an attacker. Around twenty-five people walked past him as he bled to death on the ground. Several of them had cellphones, yet none of them called for help. Hugo died because no one helped him, including the woman he gave his life for.

    It takes a powerful, vocal, furiously self-centered minority (feminists) to assert that male lives are so worthless that males ought to just put themselves at risk because majority of people (women) do not think they should have to protect themselves. Privileged women do not recognize how privileged they sound when they talk about the necessity of “men calling out other men.” It takes a massive amount of narcissism and arrogance born solely out of the privilege of never having to risk one's safety or life for others to believe that males are obligated to defend completely capable women.

    Men ought not engage in chivalry, and certainly they should not be guilted into a misandrous, androphobic, feminist version of it. Being a good Samaritan is a noble ideal, but it loses its nobility when it is pushed by people too self-centered and narrow-minded to ever live up to that ideal themselves.

  3. #3

    Saurs said:
    "Other times, like all paternalists, anti-feminist men need other men to explain to them why misogyny is awful; otherwise, it’s just a bunch of bitches crowing and clucking, and who the fuck cares what dumb whores think, anyway?"

    It's inflammatory language like this that paints all antimfeminists as, not only exclusively men (we are not), but woman haters as well (they are not)leads only to division between the genders and has no hope of solving anything. Most MRA's I know genuinely like women.

    Well said TS

  4. #4

    "Privileged women do not recognize how privileged they sound when they talk about the necessity of “men calling out other men.” "

    You're right. Men shouldn't have to do ANYTHING. When a man is around his friends and one of them makes a joke about how women are just for fucking, he shouldn't bother saying anything because he might get shot for it.

    Oh wait, that makes NO FUCKING SENSE.

    I wonder how many rapes could have been prevented by men reacting to each other and saying "Dude, that isn't cool" and making the men around them realize that (a) the attitude they have, that rape is okay, is not what everyone thinks and (b) someone they respect and like disagrees with them.

    I also think it's great that at no point did kza acknowledge that I was trying my damnedest to give him information so he could understand but he insisted that he knew better than I did. Which is why I gave up in frustration.

  5. #5

    You're so right, Toysoldier, we should have realized that women being upset about sexism, street harassment, groping, rape, etc. is such an inconvenience for men. Sorry, our mistake.

  6. #6

    The public masturbator is someone with mental health issues.

    Holding this mentally ill person up as reflective of the (male) culture is typical of feminist tactics and reasoning.

    Feminists protect female child and spouce abusers by pretending that they dont exist in any numbers and expect men to protect them when the victims of these abusive women that they hide target women. Life doesnt work like that.

  7. #7

    What party line did I parrot? I got high and looked at things different. I feel I should engage in childish name calling. You're a real prick Saurs.

  8. #8

    "What party line did I parrot?"

    That despite the fact that there are real and valid societal reasons that women feel the way that they do after sexual assault, you know that they shouldn't, and therefore they shouldn't! Period! Never mind why! You say so!

    That's pretty much the party line of how NOT to change anything.

  9. #9

    "Feminists protect female child and spouce abusers by pretending that they dont exist in any numbers and expect men to protect them when the victims of these abusive women that they hide target women. "

    I'm so glad that we can focus on what really matters - when talking about a man who is masturbating in public and sexually assaulting women, let's talk about how women can be abusive too. Because lord knows if we don't, the feminists will somehow have done something.

    By the way, that whole bullshit argument that feminists claim that women are never abusers? Is bullshit.

    Let's focus on the men, though. Really. That's what is important.

  10. #10

    Except for the part where I said that I get that the feel that way! Butfuck that commentright? Onward with the outrage!

  11. #11

    Emily, we are not talking about someone making jokes. We are talking about a man stepping in to prevent an assault against a woman. So when someone says "men need to call other men out," that person is actually saying that they want men to put themselves at risk no reason other than that they are male. In context, instead women telling public masturbators who target them to stop and risk an attack, feminists think men ought to tell public masturbators to stop and risk an attack. More so, that idea presumes that men in similar situations would not freeze in shock, shame, self-blame, or fear.

    Eo, I think it is unfair and unwise to jump to the conclusion that those people suffer from mental health issues. Their actions may stem from a larger issue, perhaps some sex-related issue or past abuse or apathy, but I doubt that people who do such things do so because of an untreated illness.

  12. #12

    There's a pretty uniform outrage with anyone on a bus who would ignore the harassment of another passenger, so the onus isn't necessarily on men to correct the issue. But when the perpetrators of assault and street harassment are almost always men, it's like hiring convicted hackers to assess the network security of large corporations; get someone familiar with the territory. Or some other analogy the basis of which is a context you're familiar with and to which you are implicitly sympathetic, like pokemon cards. Did you play pokemon? Remember how psychic pokemon were weak to other psychic pokemon? Remember that? Men work the same way

  13. #13

    "Emily, we are not talking about someone making jokes. We are talking about a man stepping in to prevent an assault against a woman. So when someone says “men need to call other men out,” that person is actually saying that they want men to put themselves at risk no reason other than that they are male."

    Erm... No, I'm pretty sure "a man calling out another man" is not the same thing as "a man stepping in to prevent an assault against a woman". Emily is clearly making a distinction between the two: she says that men should react when they hear other men making sexist jokes or comments, not that they should put themselves at risk by physically intervening when they see a woman being assaulted.

  14. #14

    Men should physucally step in when someones being assaulted, women too. Everyone should help.

  15. #15

    But hallmarks of mental illness are sets of deviant/maladaptive/socially unacceptable behavior(s). Exhibitionism 302.4(essentially flashing unsuspectin and unwilling people)IS a mental illness classified under the DSM-IV-TR under Paraphilias. This guy could also be suffering from a form of Frotteurism 302.89(same classification), which is touching and rubbing against an unsuspecting, non-consenting person.

    You're right, TS, when you say there might be a history of sexual trauma, these diagnoses are very often preceeded by trauma, but they manifest in mental health issues/abnormal behavior(s)

  16. #16

    "In context, instead women telling public masturbators who target them to stop and risk an attack, feminists think men ought to tell public masturbators to stop and risk an attack. More so, that idea presumes that men in similar situations would not freeze in shock, shame, self-blame, or fear."

    I would love it if you could cite exactly where anyone has actually stated that "women should do absolutely nothing and men should physically put themselves in harm's way."

    But they haven't, so you can't, so instead you make it up and fight against this preposterous idea. It would be grand if men stepped in, but if your suggestion is that to do so would be to put himself in physical danger, what is a woman to do? Please be precise here - if a man should not interfere because he might get hurt, what EXACTLY should the female victim of this crime do so as not to get FUCKING KILLED IN PUBLIC?

    I mean, god, we might actually be asking that bystanders not remain bystanders and offer their assistance. If I saw this on a train, I'd be pretty proud of myself if I said something to the man. I'd want to. I would want to help. If you need more excuses not to, please, be my guest.

  17. #17

    And I want to make it clear that I would never ask someone to do anything they perceive would put them in harms way, but if you see something like this going down and feel safe, you telling the creeper to stop is almost always going to be a hell of a lot more effective than the woman... saying or doing anything.

    Hey look! I can quote myself! using words I actually used!! and I don't even need to "put random words in quotation marks" and attribute it to a nameless "someone". Amazing, isn't it?

  18. #18

    "Men should call out other men"

    Its as if all men if not reminded not to are liable to whip it out and go for it in public.

    Islam demonises female sexuality, the religious right demonises homosexuality, feminism demonises male sexuality.

    Feminists need to call each other out on hate.

  19. #19

    "Men should physucally step in when someones being assaulted, women too. Everyone should help."

    That is the thing, women will not.

    This not acceptable in a society of equals. I am not prepared to risk my life for women when women will not do the same for me.

    To repeat myself, women will not. To say otherwise is bullshit we all know deep down this is true. If it is socialized then great women can change and we can become a more equal and noble society where everyone protects each other. If it isn't socialized well, men will eventually stop protecting women just like in the École Polytechnique massacre.

  20. #20

    "That is the thing, women will not"

    I don't think men do either. No one cares. Not my problem. It's bull shit. But I'd still try and help someone even though they likely wouldn't have helped me.

  21. #21

    "If it isn’t socialized well, men will eventually stop protecting women just like in the École Polytechnique massacre."

    Bullshit of the highest order. Lépine didn't "stop protecting women"; he massacred female students because he was a delusional, paranoid prick who felt he was a martyr to evils of feminism (one of which being that EP accepted female engineering students, which apparently constituted some kind of crime against men). You'll find very few radfems want men to do any kind of "protecting" or to engage in chivalry.

  22. #22

    And if you're referring to the members of the press (all of whom were men) who belittled the men Lépine assaulted for not protecting their fellow students, female survivors heartily disagreed that they had any obligation to protect the other men or women who were injured. No one blames any of those men for what Lépine did. How preposterous.

  23. #23

    Emily, I would love it if you could cite exactly where I stated that “women should do absolutely nothing and men should physically put themselves in harm’s way.” As for your question, it implies that men should put themselves at risk so that women do not have to. In other words, men being killed is a fair trade-off in order to prevent women from being killed. No one wants to get hurt, however, that does not mean someone else should be obligated to get hurt in your place. If you have a better argument than "men should get hurt so women don't have to" I would love to hear it.

  24. #24

    @TS---

    "In other words, men being killed is a fair trade-off in order to prevent women from being killed. No one wants to get hurt, however, that does not mean someone else should be OBLIGATED (my emphasis) to get hurt in your place."

    Isn't this really the sticking point? The implied OBLIGATION men have to defend/protect women? It's a cross cultural archetype that men are the protectors and defenders of all of society (women and children), and if they for a minute step out of that defender population, they are immediately placed in the defendED population with the 'weaker' of the populace--women and children--and thus they get branded effeminate, weak, and cowardly. A man suggesting that maybe a woman should step forward as well is met with gasps and jeers (mostly by the people they have til that point been defending).
    It's forced chivalry and outdated gender role assignation

  25. #25

    Saurs

    What the fuck are you talking about, I am not talking about Lepine. I am talking about the men who did nothing, before feminism they would of. And what does blame have to do with anything?

  26. #26

    S, the men Lepine assaulted and held at gun-point had no possible way of doing anything productive nor were they responsible for any of his murders; they were victims, too. Feminism didn't make them inactive -- the dude with the gun, yelling, screaming, cornering people, dividing them up, treating them like prisoners, he was the reason they "did nothing." Not feminism, not bitches, not uppity women. Those men had no obligation to save anyone, nor, when interviewed thereafter, did they make any reference to feminism or chivalry, alive or dead.

    No massacre is ever the result of laxity on the part of by-standers. Massacres pre-date feminism and have continued on, much in the same fashion as they always have. The notion that a mass murderer can be stopped, if only some courageous man would step in and do his "duty," is both ridiculous and sexist. Men do not shoulder the burden of policing murderers. That the male students and faculty at Ecole didn't stop Lepine is absolutely not a political statement, nor is it an example of What Feminism Has Wrought, lest you believe that every mass murder is somehow the responsibility of evil feminists.

    Ecole is, however, an example of a man murdering women because he feels threatened by them and their very existence. It’s generally brought up in a discussion by anti-feminist dudes, however, so that they can gloat over the memory of a lot of women dying because of feminism, or so they’d like to think.

  27. #27

    It’s forced chivalry and outdated gender role assignation

    It is not exactly chivalry as that code of behavior applied to more than just women. It is, however, an outdated gender-role assignment, and it is a curious one considering that feminists supposedly oppose antiquated gender roles.

  28. #28

    Toysoldier, please provide examples of self-professed feminists who say that they explicitly support chivalry. NB that they should actually use the word "chivalry." Thanks.

  29. #29

    Back in the '80s I was driving over the 14th St Bridge with three girlfriends heading to a 9:30 Club show on a cold January night. Suddenly, one said "That guy has no shirt on." Another said, "No way, it must be a beige turtleneck." I noticed he was keeping pace with my car. When we got to the first light I looked over just in time to watch the guy pull his pelvis up into the window. He was naked--he was masturbating, kind of directing his dick at us, and going at it full throttle. Lucky for us a police cruiser came around the corner and we reported the incident. We got a police escort to the club. We were told the best tact to use was to laugh at the guy. Laughing would squelch the shock he wanted us to feel. So, when an asshole whips it out inappropriately, point and giggle at his dick.

  30. #30

    Kza, it appears you were just trying to get a clearer perspective on shame and sexual assault, you're right in that it shouldn't be something to be ashamed of, and the fact that it often is could be strange or a little confusing. Just the fact that you are a male participating in this discussion has made an impact. It's true that males have a lot of influence in changing the overall perception of gender issues- I'd like to congratulate you on your interest, especially after comments such as "It’s little wonder why a lot of men need 'convincing,' but convincing men is probably not actually a worthwhile cause". This is reverse-sexism, and as informed and elitist as she may feel, there's more meaning in asking a simple question (why shame?) than her paragraph after paragraph of hateful bullshit.

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