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Playing the Devil's Advocate

Trigger Warnings: Discusses rape.

In my previous post, I've said that it was written in a fashion to make it seem as if it were aimed at men, and specifically at a certain type of man. That said, a recent article has made me feel more than a tad shameful about my decision to write the essay in that fashion.

It's true: women can rape. Women can be abusive. I've been aware of this fact for a very long time, but it's one of those things that I've ignored, for many reasons.

The main one is the fairly obvious one: I haven't wanted to be dogpiled. I haven't wanted to be accused of going 'But what about teh menz?!' I haven't wanted to be accused of playing Devil's Advocate.

But here's the thing: When the issue of rape comes up, when we start discussing rape in society, and rape culture, and how to stop rape - discussing female-on-male rape is something that we do need to take into account. We do need to ask 'what about the men?' We do need to play Devil's Advocate. Because this isn't a matter of privilege. This isn't a matter of sexism. This isn't a matter of feminism. This is a matter of straight-up, being a decent human being, and wanting other people to not get hurt.

I'm not saying sexism doesn't factor into it - clearly it does, otherwise we wouldn't have those ridiculous double standards regarding sexual freedoms, 'bros before hos' and the one in six. But when we discuss stopping rape, lowering the rate of domestic abuse, and emotional abuse within relationships, regardless of whether you feel men can be feminists or whether they're just allies, it's time to shelves the 'what about teh menz?!' attitude and let them into the discussion.

Rape isn't a 'women only' issue. And while it is tiring and frustrating to have our concerns dismissed by people going 'Oh, but men get raped too!' and getting told that our voices should be ignored because of it, we do still need to accept that we're not perfect, and that men have a say with rape culture too, and that our perpetuation of the myth that 'women get raped, men should shut up about it' has done a lot of harm to men.

That's right, the feminist movement made a mistake. And that's okay - we're human, we're allowed to make mistakes. But to rectify it, we have to let men in. And I know it's hard - believe me, as somebody who has a virulent dislike of most male feminists, and would much prefer that they label themselves 'allies', I know - but it still needs to be done.

It's not easy, and it's not fun. But neither is being accused of Devil's Advocate, just for saying the obvious.

-Freya out.

vain now your world
apology pulled myself
is way too fast nothings
from the inside out and

The ever wonderful emeriin has given me links to http://1in6.org/ and http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/ for people who want to read more into these issues.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 23rd, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)
This subject is really stressful for me (as I had to pretend when I was thirteen that I had no male friends - at that point male friends were all I had - because the guy abusing me wanted them too) but these links might be useful: http://1in6.org/ http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com
Dec. 23rd, 2011 12:55 am (UTC)
Shit, em, I should have put trigger warnings up - I'll do that in a sec.

But the second link you're doing is where the third link goes to.
Dec. 23rd, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
Fuck, sorry, my computer must have messed up and gave me the last link as heartlessbitches again. Ignore me. >.
Dec. 23rd, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
Don't worry - I just put the link up as a link to the homepage. :-)
Dec. 26th, 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing this Freya. I have never labeled myself a feminist and won't be starting now. I am not an MRA either. I am a long-time civil liberties and human rights activist - which includes fighting oppression regardless of who or where it is directed. I've got the death threats, denial of service attacks and cyber-stalkers to remind me that once you've pissed certain people off, you know you're doing something right. I consider that to be label enough for me.

With regard to sexual violence issues, I don't consider myself an ally. I am a male survivor of rape at the hands of a female rapist who drugged, raped and blackmailed me into silence. I was successfully able to fight off a second rapist who was male, but only barely. I am a survivor and a stakeholder in the struggle to end sexual violence. This is as much my fight as that of any feminist. No one needs to invite me to the table. I'm already there and it can get so frustrating to hear some feminists (NOT referring to you) chastise men for not being involved when the overwhelming majority of feminists themselves do nothing outside of talking on the internet. Obviously, internet advocacy is important and helps create awareness, but it is not the be all and end all of survivor advocacy. It is the barely even the tip of the iceberg. Personally, I spend time speaking out on behalf of two survivor organizations in front of college audiences, high school students, church groups and have allowed my own story to be adapted for stage use by a survivor theatre in the U.K. as well as a by a DV/rape crusader who incorporated a video interview with me into her one-woman show. In addition, I volunteer as a speaker trainer for one organization and give time as moderator for one the world's largest online survivor forums - and yes, I also blog about it too and have for years. I lived this and deal with the after effects daily.

All forms of violence can and should be fought and the victims/survivors treated with compassion and maturity regardless of gender or political identification.

A lot of people have much to answer for in the manner in which they have minimized, mocked and outright enabled sexual violence by willfully silencing and re-wounding certain types of survivors. They will have to live with the role they played in helping to promote such silencing and minimization. Obviously, sometimes it makes sense to have more narrowly focused campaigns. However, the "what about teh menz" meme has devolved from a legitimate criticism of certain types of derailment to a callous and heartless excuse to outright mock and taunt male rape survivors for sport at any time - even on feminist blogs where the author actually WANTS to talk about male survivors in a supportive and positive manner. It has to end and has no place in any campaign against sexual violence.

It shows a lack of compassion and maturity and contributes to rape culture by further shaming male survivors and female survivors of female predators. I've interacted with plenty of survivors who have felt bullied and minimized in such a manner when NOT engaging in derailments. At present, the mere mention of one's status a male survivor of rape or a female survivor of a female predator - even when attempting to relate solidarity with female survivors - can get you mocked, insulted and even threatened.

Thank you for speaking out.

Edited at 2011-12-26 05:30 am (UTC)
Dec. 26th, 2011 10:05 am (UTC)
There are times when it makes perfect sense to call men out on it, but there have been times when I've been on the 'net, seen the issue of male rape been brought up, watched the commenter been dogpiled and all I've been able to think is, '...Really? That's your reaction? Since when was the reaction of a supposedly egalitarian movement one that silenced those we're meant to be equals with?'

I'm so sorry that you had to suffer through that. I know from speaking to other male survivors how hard it is to manage dealing with that pain when all the organizations and safe spaces for rape are geared almost solely towards women. It is amazing what you're doing though, and it's something that I think is just as important as protests and marches - education. Misogyny, racism, disregard for other human beings and their consent - these things aren't inherent, they're taught.

So thank you for everything that you're doing.
Dec. 26th, 2011 10:06 am (UTC)
Excuse me - a moment's thought made me realize that that shouldn't read 'perfect sense to call men out on it' but should read 'perfect sense to call people out on it'.

I've got a lot of reprogramming of my own thoughts and own internalized misandry to do. It's not easy, especially when it's eleven at night, and I apologize.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )