The War on Terr’r Part 6: The Wiener as a Weapon (On Rape, Sexual Assault, and Patriarchy)

30 May

And by rape you know what I mean. A judge does not have to walk into this room and say that according to statute such and such these are the elements of proof. We’re talking about any kind of coerced sex, including sex coerced by poverty. You can’t have equality or tenderness or intimacy as long as there is rape, because rape means terror. It means that part of the population lives in a state of terror and pretends… that it doesn’t.

I am guessing that my astute readers will recognize that quote, but in case you didn’t, it was a portion of Andrea Dworkin’s speech, “I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape.” I am also guessing that a lot of you have been wondering why, in my War on Terr’r, I have yet to discuss the most significant form of terrorism that women face: sexual assault. I was saving the shock and awe for the endgame; the War on Terr’r is about to become an occupation, meaning I’ll still be fighting it but won’t necessarily want to say so all the time, and so this topic seems like a fitting one to address before I declare major combat operations over.

Let me start off by saying that I’m going to talk about patriarchy in this post, which I rarely do. I often find myself, when I think about things like rape being a tool of the patriarchy, feeling as if I have lost my mind because I can’t figure out how these things perpetuate themselves, can’t separate the chicken from the egg. I generally avoid referring to the patriarchy because I consider doing so taking a shortcut, but I have to here, despite my discomfort. The reason I avoid referring to the patriarchy is that it’s often an incomplete explanation. Yes, we live in one, but why does it continue to exist? Why does a ship with no one at its helm continue on the same course? Are rapists consciously trying to uphold a vast and oppressive social system when they act, or (more likely) are they taking out inchoate aggression on an individual victim? Are men who use pornography making a conscious choice to promote women’s subjugation in our society, or (more likely) are they allowing their selfishness to override their humanity for a few minutes at a time? All of the senses in which women are degraded and devalued in our society are related to each other, but why do they seem to dovetail so perfectly? How can something that seems pre-planned operate with no organizing force? Is the organizing force simply the hatred of women? If it is, then whence does that hatred come? This train of thought is circular, it goes nowhere, and it drives me up the fucking wall because I believe the only way to extirpate something is to find its root.

But let’s get to the point. Sexual assault is terrorism. Rape is terrorism. But who decides what sexual assault is? Who decides what rape is?

People seem to think Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it” guideline for identifying obscenity works with rape and sexual assault. We’ve all seen movies, or heard stories, from which we find out what a rape is “supposed” to look, sound, and feel like. Strange men in alleys with weapons rape, gangs of frat boys rape. Women walking alone after dark get raped, women who get too drunk in bars and at parties get raped, women who don’t learn to fear and avoid men they don’t know get raped. Rape is violent, loud, and unexpected, and it could be lurking around every corner.

What does that image of rape do in service of the patriarchy? It allows all but that very small proportion of rapists whose actions have threatened the patriarchy itself off the hook, and it does a fairly sound job of controlling women by making them afraid to venture out alone or overstep the bounds of acceptable female behavior (i.e., it’s an effective terrorist tactic).

It’s estimated that only 21% of women who report having been raped report that a stranger attacked them. Does that simply mean that for every 21 stranger rapes, there are 79 acquaintance rapes? I wish the numbers were that “low.” First, let’s remember that that’s 21% of reported rapes. Women are highly unlikely to report a rape in the first place, but they are even more unlikely to do so when their experience doesn’t match our cultural conception of what a rape is, especially once they see how acquaintance rape victims are treated by our justice system, media, and society in general. Spousal rape? Druggings? Forget it. Those have hardly even been deemed crimes yet. Rape, being the most serious form of sexual assault, is the most likely form of sexual assault to be taken seriously and to be prosecuted. It’s a fairly sad commentary on the progress women have made toward a safe, equitable relationship with men when even the most serious form of terrorism they face is often ignored.

Stranger rape threatens the patriarchy’s ownership of women’s and children’s bodies, and so women generally have men’s support when they find themselves victims of rape at the hands of a stranger, if you don’t take into account the fact that the rapist’s attorney will most likely be allowed to call the victim a lying whore in court (gee, thanks, guys). Acquaintance rape, including spousal rape, is a whole ‘nother story. Because of the way our legal system works, women are assumed to have consented to sex unless they can prove otherwise, which is a fucking travesty if there ever was one. Lack of consent in a stranger rape is easier to prove than in an acquaintance rape, but the onus is still on the woman to prove she did not give her consent. In the case of acquaintance rape, the victim usually has virtually no way of proving that she did not provide consent. Know what that amounts to? I don’t believe that most men think about this consciously and plan to take advantage of it, but it basically means that our culture and our legal system are telling men that women are available for raping, especially if you know them.

So, we have none but the most cursory of protections from our legal system. We’re the weak, men are the powerful, and the institution that promises the weak protection from the powerful is run by and for the powerful, which means it operates at the expense of the weak. Men decide what rape is, and men have decided that the only kinds of rape they will make any kind of serious effort to help us avoid are those that threaten their ownership over our sexuality. There it is, and my head feels like it’s going to explode; I doubt that any individual man would say, “Fuckin’ A right. The whole plan is to set up a system where I can rape anybody I want, but I can also put motherfuckers in jail who rape the women and children I’ve set aside for myself to rape,” but that’s nonetheless the way shit works.

Does rape, then, really amount to terrorism on the part of men aimed at using fear to manipulate women’s behavior? This is where things get very complicated and very contentious. It’s also where most anti-feminists get their straw men from. Andrea Dworkin has been accused of saying that all heterosexual sex is rape, and feminists are often accused of saying that all men are rapists. That ain’t the fucking deal. The deal is this: men know that women live in a precarious situation in this society, know that women are vulnerable and lack the protections and power they have, and some of them use that knowledge to their own advantage. That means, in concrete terms, that some men sexually abuse some women knowing that they can get away with it because women don’t have the power to fight back, don’t have the might or even the support of the justice system behind them, don’t have any other option but to acquiesce. That means that some men coerce women into having sex with them, some men take advantage of women’s fears to manipulate them into performing sex acts they do not want to perform, some men purposely create fear in the minds of women in order to get them to comply. Fear isn’t limited to the fear of violence: it includes the fear of being abandoned, the fear of financial destitution, the fear of being left to raise children alone, the fear of being mistreated in one’s own home, and so on.

Are we to differentiate coercion from actual physical force or the threat of violence? I don’t think so. I think that when a man uses fear to coerce a woman into having sex against her will, a rape has occurred. I’m not as radical in my view of heterosexual sex as some people are; I believe that consent is possible and that there is such a thing as un-coerced heterosexual sex. Maybe I have to believe that because I’m not a lesbian, but I still do believe it. Patriarchy places women in a position in which all of our choices are limited, but I think the intent of the people involved in a sex act is the crux of the question of whether a rape has occurred. Now, that doesn’t mean that I excuse the behavior of men who are so ignorant of their own privilege that they don’t understand that coercion is tantamount to rape. Rather, it means that I’m charitable, that, despite vast amounts of evidence to the contrary, I believe most men are human beings and that most of them don’t want to hurt us and don’t want us to do things we don’t want to do. It’s the men that, knowing we do not want to do something, use force, fear, or dishonesty to make us do it anyway that are the terrorists.

To recap, not all heterosexual sex is rape, but sex that has been coerced through the use of actual force or through fear (of violence, poverty, abandonment, etc.) is rape, and is thus a form of terrorism. Individual men are instruments of patriarchy, not its architects, but that does not remove their responsibility to acknowledge and address their own privilege, nor does it excuse their patriarchy-enforcing behavior.

Rape is meant to force women into boxes, to limit their actions, to remind them who’s the fucking boss, but it doesn’t always go as far as rape. Sexual assaults of any kind have the same effect. Let me tell you two stories.

When I was 11, I was walking home from school down Fulton Road, alone, when a white truck drove up on my left. The shitbag driving it slowed down, honked, and then raised his pelvis up so I could see through the window that he was having a wank, and then drove off. I was fucking TERRIFIED. I only knew one person who lived on that street, and she lived 1/2 mile away, and the entire street was fucking deserted. I was positive this motherfucker was going to come back and kidnap me and do who knows what to me in his fucking chicken shack or whatever. I went home and was too afraid to even tell my mom because I didn’t know how to explain what the guy had done. For months I refused to walk home on Fulton Road, opting instead for a potentially more dangerous route that was also much longer, and I never again walked down that road alone, even though I lived in that town for 10 more years.

When I was 16, I was at a party with some people I knew, and one of them had brought his friend, Eric. I sort of tertiarilly (I love coining words) knew Eric through the dude I was dating at the time. He was basically kind of an alpha-male asshole and was constantly doing shitty things to people that he got away with because people thought he was cooler than they were, and because that was how people who did shit on boards acted back then (and still do – I’ll be writing about the misogyny inherent in the skateboarding world shortly). Anyway, someone wanted to take some photos, and this motherfucker decided that he would get his dick out whenever he was in a photo with a girl, myself included. I don’t pretend to know what he thought the effect of doing that would be, but it scared every girl he did it to and made all of us quiet all night. It put us in a sort of tailspin because we didn’t know what was going on or what we had done, just that we had been disrespected and insulted and that his intent was to show us that he had the power turn us into victims, and so he was in charge.

These two incidents can be called sexual assaults. “Sexual assault” is a nebulous term because the patriarchy (in the guise of the justice system) gets to define it, but any act that is sexually aggressive in nature and is intended to create fear in the victim can be called a sexual assault in my book. (I don’t know that the law is even the appropriate way to deal with these sorts of incidents, anyway. I think these call for vigilantism. See my suggestions on dealing with sexual harassment.)

That’s what the wiener does for men who misuse it. I know I’ve got some readers who are into wieners (I’m still on the fence), but they can be and are used as weapons by terrorists. The wiener may be cute to some (I really don’t get you two, seriously), but it can also be used as a tool (!) of oppression against women who are seen as having transgressed whatever arbitrary role the penis owner has decided he would like to impose. Men can flash us, masturbate in front of us, or play stupid jokes on us and other men with their wieners, and the net effect is always the same: they’ve asserted power over us by creating fear in order to manipulate our behavior.

That means that all sexual assaults, up to and including rape, are acts of terrorism aimed at taking away our freedom as women and as human beings. That also means that the War on Terr’r won’t be over until Ms. Dworkin gets her wish, and not just for twenty-four hours.


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61 Responses to “The War on Terr’r Part 6: The Wiener as a Weapon (On Rape, Sexual Assault, and Patriarchy)”

  1. Me June 7, 2008 at 11:59 AM #

    Well, I suppose I’m into weiners because I haven’t had any experiences like the ones you describe here. The acts of terr’r I’ve encountered have all been verbal, minus some butt-pinching back in junior high. I also don’t really see how a guy flashing his junk is much of a threat unless you’re alone, because if there was an Eric Sorenson in my midst, my first reaction would be to ridicule his genitalia. Vienna sausages, anyone? But, hey, I live to shame @ssholes, and should it get out of hand, I believe that an armed society is a polite society (and the state I live in seems to agree), and so sk8er boi’s little weapon would be no match for the one I’m packing.

  2. Feminist Avatar June 7, 2008 at 11:59 AM #

    Patriarchy operates through the replication of social values from one generation to another. So, that you are brought up to believe the world works in a certain way, you can’t imagine another way of doing things, and you pass on that belief system (whether or not you want to). I have oft thought that it is not its survival that is suprising, but why things change.

    I have lots to say about why all sex can be conceived as rape and why men like to show off their penises as a form of terror, but I pretty much cover it all here: http://letterbyafeminist.blogspot.com/2008/03/follow-up-to-anti-sex-rape.html

    On another note, despite it being none of my damn business, I hate the banner of the rather ugly dude with the fists. I keep thinking he is there to rescue us and I don’t really want him to, thanks all the same. But that’s just me.

  3. Nine Deuce June 7, 2008 at 2:26 PM #

    Feminist Avatar – I know that patriarchy is perpetuated in such a manner, but that it seems to work so seamlessly as a comprehensive social system is what often seems odd. I suppose I expect things to change and am surprised when they don’t, so maybe my cognitive dissonance comes from our having differing viewpoints on change and continuity.

    As for the banner, I put it up to go with the War on Terr’r as it comes from my favorite silly, hyper-patriotic movie, but the time may have arrived for a new one. He’s only here as back-up, in any case.

  4. Izzy June 7, 2008 at 3:13 PM #

    I’m so glad you quoted that speech. It’s my absolute favorite. And this post was every bit as good as I was expecting.
    The state of consent by default is one of the things that irks me the most. Enthusiastic consent model, ftw!

  5. bonobobabe June 7, 2008 at 3:58 PM #

    After taking a break from all media and thoroughly enjoying not being manipulated mentally and emotionally, I decided to seriously curtail my online activities. I’m whittling down my list of blogs to read, but yours will certainly remain.

    Your blog is vibrant, your posts are great, and you’re just, like, totally awesome! (Uh-oh, 80’s flashback).

  6. bonobobabe June 7, 2008 at 4:09 PM #

    Fear isn’t limited to the fear of violence: it includes the fear of being abandoned, the fear of financial destitution, the fear of being left to raise children alone, the fear of being mistreated in one’s own home, and so on.

    That’s why I feel that single most important weapon in a woman’s arsenal against the patriarchy/sexism/exploitation/whatever is to NOT BE FINANCIALLY DEPENDENT ON A MAN…EVER. That means not only should a woman have a job, she shouldn’t put herself in a position where she does anything or has anything that requires two incomes for its continuation. That includes having children, and living in a better home/neighborhood than she can afford on her income alone. It’s really easy to become attached to the good life. I have a co-worker who is only just now applying for divorce from an asshole…she’s in her 50’s. She lives in what I consider a fucking palace. She just signed a lease for an apartment that is more than twice what I am paying for mine. We make similar salaries, and I know that apartment is eating up most of what she makes in a month. But she said, “I have to live in a “safe” neighborhood, and I have to keep Christopher in the same school district.”

    See, some young girls see that kind of shit and they think, “I just need to find a better man than she did.” “I bet they weren’t really in love the way X and I are.”

    But I see that kind of shit, and I immediately think, “It’s marriage that’s flawed. It’s financially dependence on men that’s the problem.”

  7. Me June 7, 2008 at 4:25 PM #

    I can’t really say I’m surprised that things don’t change much, as I’ve seen more depth and intelligence in the eyes of livestock, than in a fair amount of humans. Besides, the way things are benefits men, and people are generally pretty selfish, so why would they change? Yeah, I’m a bit of a misanthropist. I also laugh at people who think that Obama is going to change anything.

  8. chlorophyll June 7, 2008 at 4:37 PM #

    The worst imagery I’ve ever seen in porn is the guy slapping the girl’s face with his dick. Porn is seriously a vehicle in which insecure, undesirable (or just really perverted) men get to indulge in visual fantasies of getting to abuse the very women that wouldn’t ever give them a passing glance in real life with their penises.

  9. Nine Deuce June 7, 2008 at 5:03 PM #

    chlorophyll – I’ve seen something like that, too, when I was fairly young, and was pretty well traumatized by it. In fact, I think it might have been one of those, “Holy shit, men hate us!” moments that helps lead people toward radical feminism.

    Me – Had I not been 16, I would likely have had a much different reaction to that dude. Unfortunately, guys who do stuff like that know that adult women are less likely to be cowed by such behavior, and he got away with it at the time.

    bonobobabe – You are 10000% on point. I’m all for avoiding financial dependence and I recommend it to any and all. Also, thanks for keeping me on the short list!

  10. Donna June 7, 2008 at 8:16 PM #

    Ok, my first thought is this: it’s correct that you state sexual assault as a form of terror. I am on constant alert. I’m not *paranoid*, but I take precautions. My friends don’t. In fact I haven’t seen one friend of mine who seems concerned about safety. In fact one of them works at her school past dark sometimes, and others of us are concerned for her. She actually said to my mom “Why would anyone notice me?”….a couple of people I knew were kidnapped.. He later dropped them off and threatened them not to tell where’d they been. Interestingly, this MO had worked up until my friends; they promptly called the police.

    We hear about prisoners beating up child molesters, but we never hear about them beating up a rapist of an adult. (This just occurred to me.)

  11. Me June 7, 2008 at 9:27 PM #

    You must’ve had a normal life…I had to learn at an early age to stand up for one’s self, because trying to ignore people only makes you a bigger target, and I found I couldn’t rely on adults to help, even the ones who are supposed to be there for you. While I wouldn’t have had a firearm at age sixteen, I still would’ve at least said something, since I was already dead tired of people’s stupid shit.

  12. Konservo June 7, 2008 at 10:03 PM #

    Tradition evolves as the species evolves. Various ways of thinking and social norms are passed down like genes. It’s dangerous, however, if we think that somehow a forced or planned society would be better in any way. I don’t disagree that sexism is a retarded (literally) way of thinking, nor do I disagree that rape and sexual assault are moral reprehensible to highest degree, however, it’s naive to think that primitive men somehow colluded to oppress women. As a species we adapted to our environment in such a way as to maximize reproduction and survival, not just of the species itself, but to reproduce the traits and characteristics which would facilitate this process of survival, reproduction and adaptation. This in no way is meant to legitimize rape, but it might be worth investigating, even though it’s painful to think that our species might be the product of a group of abusive men who raped women and thus assured that their genes would be passed down through the generations.

    On a side note, there is evidence in the Odyssey of a pre-established matriarchal society which was coming into conflict with the patriarchy that we see more clearly in Homer. Particularly, when Odysseus washes ashore on the island of the Phaeacians, it is before the queen (Arete – I believe her name is, a Greek word which is commonly translated as “virtue”) that Odysseus must bow and beg for assistance.

    But anyway, I’m just saying that human-kind has adapted before, and unless we are fundamentally different beings now, we can adapt again.

    Evolving, though, it seems to me, should not be forced (and I know you didn’t say anything to that effect, but it’s a logical suggestion that many socialist and fascist thinkers have entertained (and no, I’m not saying that I think you are a socialist or a fascist)) but rather it should naturally occur, and I believe it will.

  13. Nine Deuce June 7, 2008 at 10:20 PM #

    Konservo – I don’t doubt that there were cave men raping women in order to ensure the survival of their genes. As a historian, however, I think it’s fairly dangerous to trace modern problems back to such remote origins. I think it makes things seem far simpler than they really are. That’s why these sorts of things occupy so much of my mental energy, because they are so complex and because it isn’t possible to put them all down to a single source or pinpoint their origins. What I’m interested in is how patriarchal norms are perpetuated through the actions of individuals who are not conscious of the entirety of the system they are supporting but only of their own interests. It’s one of the most interesting features of oppressive social systems. You would think that so many individuals acting in their own self interest would lead to chaos, but it does a marvelous job of reduplicating entire social systems, to the point that those social systems appear to be the product of some directing force even when they are not.

    I’m aware that there is evidence of matriarchal societies in pre-Homeric Greece, which is interesting, but I don’t know that the evidence is definitive. Claims have also been made that Chinese society was matriarchal before the Shang dynasty, but those claims are based on Marxist ideas about the trajectory societies follow through history rather than actual evidence. I suppose confirmation of the existence of matriarchal societies would be encouraging, because it would offer alternatives, but I don’t know that those alternatives would be practicable in the modern era. As far as I know, all known matriarchal societies have existed under primitive conditions.

    The modern world system is the product of, or at least operates in tandem with, patriarchal social structures. That’s my main point of divergence with a lot of other radical feminists: a lot of radical feminists believe that the only alternative to patriarchy is a complete restructuring of all of human society. That would be nice, but I don’t see it happening, so I’d rather try to figure out a way to reach equality from within the current system that we live in (not that I don’t believe that this system wouldn’t see drastic changes on the way there).

  14. bonobobabe June 7, 2008 at 11:05 PM #

    Well, I’m one of those radical feminists who think the whole system needs an overhaul. Have you read “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn? That book helped me to see that it’s all connected. Civilization, The Patriarchy, etc.

    As for people acting in their own self interest, what I find fascinating is how often women will do things that are totally NOT in their best interests.

    Also, society as a whole is actually not acting in its best interest. It’s not in our interest as a species to pollute the water, air, soil, etc. It’s not in our interest to destroy the planet.

    I think it’s funny that people think that males’ behavior is due to their having such long term goals as continuation of the species, yet men are raping and pillaging the planet making it unlivable for the next generation. It seems rather assbackward.

  15. Nine Deuce June 7, 2008 at 11:38 PM #

    bonobobabe – I’ll check it out. I just don’t know how realistic any systemic restructuring really is. Plus, most revolutionary movements, of which primitivism would most definitely be one, usually entail a lot of death and suffering.

    People acting in their own short-term self interest is, as you say, not in their long-term self interest, but people are stupid. You have people thoughtlessly acting in their own self interest and accidentally perpetuating an entire social system that works in their favor in the medium run, but that also, as you point out, works against them in the long run.

  16. madaha June 7, 2008 at 11:52 PM #

    the stuff from bronze age Greece actually is more suggestive of matrilocal society, not necessarily (and probably not) matriarchal.

    Whatever to Augustus Pontifex Maximus.

    As if genes for raping (!!??) excuses fuck-all, if they even exist, which we should not assume. (“ass”-“u”-“me”, remember?)

  17. Konservo June 8, 2008 at 12:08 AM #

    oh jeez… :roll: there isn’t supposed to be a smiley in my last post, it’s supposed to be a closed parenthesis.

    You would think that so many individuals acting in their own self interest would lead to chaos, but it does a marvelous job of reduplicating entire social systems, to the point that those social systems appear to be the product of some directing force even when they are not.

    Yep. This is what Friedrich Hayek calls catallaxy, he applies the term to his main field (economics) as well as biological and anthropological/sociological orders.

    That’s my main point of divergence with a lot of other radical feminists: a lot of radical feminists believe that the only alternative to patriarchy is a complete restructuring of all of human society.

    Other radicals feel that a complete restructuring is needed too, so then it becomes a question of who’s vision to construct. Personally, I don’t think that a restructuring can sufficiently replace the existing order. For if the independent actions of humans across the globe over several generations produced the societal order that we have inherited, that process transcends any one group of people or set of actions. It seems to me rather presumptuous to think that a new social order could be planned in advance and imposed upon the order which arose through such an intricate natural (natural in the sense that the order was not preconceived by humans before its “physical” manifestation in society) process.

    I feel that she who is most qualified for any particular opportunity or job, it doesn’t matter if it’s a mechanic or the President of the United States, should get the job if she desires it and takes the necessary actions to qualify for the position. This, it seems to me, would benefit everyone in society and lead to the personal satisfaction of the individual. I don’t think that we should be so concerned with equal representation, inequalities as far as payment or the ratio of women to men in high-level positions are merely symptoms. They are effects and to treat inequality as a cause will not achieve much but infringe upon the rights of others (i.e. if we try to force equal representation and we make sex or race the criteria instead of merit). The challenge I see, is getting the (I’ll call them) “traditionalists” to recognize the merit of an individual which can only be seen once the bias and prejudice is suppressed.

  18. bonobobabe June 8, 2008 at 12:14 AM #

    I guess some people think of primitivism as a revolutionary thing, but most primitivists know that you can’t go back. There are too many humans and not enough unspoiled land.

    Where primitivism shines, I think, is in showing people that there is another way to organize themselves. There is a myth that humans lived short, painful, dreary lives before they figured out how to be “civilized.” But there was never a case of, for example, native americans willingly leaving to live like white people, but there were always white people running away to be with the natives. Primitive people didn’t jump at the chance to become civilized; it was forced upon them at the end of a sword, or gun.

    There is some evidence that early humans were egalitarian, and only after agriculture did they start becoming hierarchical.

    So, I think it’s nice to learn about primitive humans because they lived close to the land, close to non-human animals and didn’t try to run the show the way civilized humans did and continue to do.

    As for a complete restructuring, I don’t think it will ever happen, even though I think it needs to happen. Civilization is like violence (in fact, that’s what civilization is predicated on). Once you bring it to the table, you can’t undo it. We’ve had a taste of power, and we won’t go back. Same with patriarchy. Men love the power they have over women. Men in charge love the power they have over other men (and women). They will kill before they’d give up the power.

    So, even if something drastic happens due to the whole peak oil/global warming thing, we won’t restructure anything. The people remaining will enact the same bullshit they’ve always enacted.

    Yeah, I’m ever the optimist.

  19. Nine Deuce June 8, 2008 at 1:00 AM #

    bonobobabe – You’re right. There is actually quite a lot of evidence that “civilization” leads to social differentiation. Pastoral nomads tend to have much more egalitarian social structures than agricultural societies do, and I can think of several examples of nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples settling into agriculture and quickly stratifying.

    I suppose it is valuable to learn about alternative social structures, but it still seems to amount to wishful thinking to me. I’d rather put my energy into trying to figure out a solution to what we’re facing now, which, as you’ve said, primitivism can’t deal with. I, too, am an optimist in that I hope we can figure out a solution that will minimize the number of people who have to die.

  20. Nine Deuce June 8, 2008 at 1:29 AM #

    Konservo – I’m going to shock everyone else and agree with everything you’ve said, though I’ll be adding some qualifications.

    About revolutions – social structures grow organically and develop their complexities over long periods of time. To think that one can apprehend the entirety of that process and come up with a viable alternative is, in my mind, the pinnacle of hubris. See most revolutionary leaders for examples. What often happens with revolutions is that the revolutionaries, once they’ve had their revolution, find that the institutional structures they’ve done away with were what was holding society together at the seams. And so they end up reduplicating them and packaging them in new terminology. I suppose, then, that that makes revolutions part of the organic growth process, but whatever. What it leads me to is the conclusion that revolutionary programs generally don’t anticipate everything creating a new social order from the ground up entails, and so they usually end up doing nothing more than speeding up reform (if that). Revolutions are generally a huge waste of resources and human life that accomplish very little in the grand scheme of things, so I’m not for ‘em.

    About affirmative action – I agree with you that she who is most qualified ought to get the job, but it isn’t as simple as that. Libertarians (and Republicans) love to talk about the best man/woman getting the job, but there is usually an unspoken assumption that the playing field is even. I’m against affirmative action for two reasons: it was implemented by low-level bureaucrats with no discussion, analysis, or consensus (see John David Skrentny’s The Ironies of Affirmative Action or Hugh Davis Graham’s Collision Course), and it has been used (quite brilliantly, I might add) as a wedge issue for 4 decades to divide the white from the non-white working class. As such, it has allowed conservatives to paint themselves as the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s (and many other Civil Rights Movement leaders) crusade for a colorblind society, all while pulling money out of the programs that would make such a society a possibility.

    Let me elaborate. I do not believe that anyone deserves to be guaranteed equality of results, but I do believe we ought to be guaranteed equality of opportunity. And I don’t mean just some bullshit law that says that people aren’t allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, whatever. It’s either dishonest or naive to claim that there is anything resembling equality of opportunity in America today. Real equality of opportunity would mean FEDERAL school funding, equal across the board, that provides EVERY student in the country with the kind of education that would allow her/him to compete for college admissions and jobs. What I mean is that all of our citizens ought to be protected from the kind of dire poverty that prevents them from providing the kind of home in which a child can be healthy enough and safe enough to learn. I don’t believe that federal money can solve every problem, but I do believe that it’s only when we’ve guaranteed each child in America a place to live, food, health care, and an education that we can claim to have afforded anyone equality of opportunity. The problem is that we’re impatient. It would take at least a generation of such a program to see any real results, and there’s no way it would last that long; Republicans would start whining that the money being spent wasn’t producing any results within a year.

    But affirmative action is fucking brilliant; it keeps the otherwise progressive white working class voting against their own interests (meaning voting Republican) out of indignation at the unfairness of group preferences, and it keeps liberals at each other’s throats instead of working together to pass legislation that would make equal opportunity a reality.

    Way to go, Nixon. I think that motherfucker might have been the political genius of the century, and here’s why. He knew that African Americans were pissed off that they were seeing so little progress after the Civil Rights Act passed in 1965 because it had removed only one institutional obstacle to equality, and left several, such as extreme poverty, segregated schools, and unequal school funding, in place. He knew that the Democrats were planning to try to remedy that by passing sweeping social legislation that would do its best to create the kind of equal opportunity I’ve described above (Johnson’s Great Society program). He also knew that white people were getting pissed about the riots and were losing their patience with the struggle for black civil rights because of the urban riots taking place.

    So he took care of all three problems at once. He put a damper on the riots by offering limited affirmative action programs to blacks (which worked: the riots stopped), he appealed to racist whites in the South with his whole “silent majority” “law and order” (read: we’ll but them black people back in their place) Southern Strategy, stoking their anger (without them knowing he had done it) by quietly approving racial hiring preferences in federal contracts, and he got white working class voters to desert the Democrats in droves, effectively destroying all hopes that Johnson’s Great Society would ever come to pass and creating a chasm between white working class voters and non-white working class voters (who approved of the new affirmative action programs) that has lasted until today. And Republicans get to talk about a colorblind society. Fucking genius.

  21. Konservo June 8, 2008 at 7:30 PM #

    Real equality of opportunity would mean FEDERAL school funding, equal across the board, that provides EVERY student in the country with the kind of education that would allow her/him to compete for college admissions and jobs.

    I don’t disagree with that, as long as it doesn’t mean dumbing down the curricula.

    I don’t agree with preferential treatment based on sex, race, religion, creed, etc. or what is known as “affirmative action.” When I say that the best woman or man for the job who wants and works to get the job should be the one who, in fact, does get the job, I have in mind an “aristocracy” in the original sense of the term, i.e. the best people to be in a position of power are given power, (not in the modern sense where it has come to mean something like “the rich have the power” or “plutocracy”). Who the best people to govern are can be decided by the people (after all, they are the governed, they can decide who is best to govern is/are). But a major problem is, in a society where prejudice and bias, spin and lies, etc. affect people’s judgments, it’s hard for one to show her or his merit. The result is that occasionally idiots who people “want to have a beer with” get elected.

  22. lindabeth June 8, 2008 at 10:29 PM #

    I only recently had the epiphany that our rape culture is a form of terrorism. It keeps a class of people living in fear. It is also not done for the ‘pleasure’ of the event itself, necessarily, but for its symbolic value-it is not to force ‘sex’ but to indicate control, power, etc. based on sexual domination.

    (for example, the 9/11 attacks were not for the purpose of killing people, but the purpose was bigger-to make a symbolic statement and/or instill fear. Rape is not about forcing ‘sex’ (and from that, gaining sexual pleasure) and it’s not necessarily only about the event itself, but I think it’s also about what the act symbolizes: sexual power over the victim personally, and women as a class generally).

    Just some preliminary thoughts.

  23. Windstorm June 8, 2008 at 10:46 PM #

    Brilliant post, as usual, N.D. “Individual men are instruments of patriarchy, not its architects, but that does not remove their responsibility to acknowledge and address their own privilege, nor does it excuse their patriarchy-enforcing behavior.” – Nine Deuce

    Perfectly stated.

    Bonobobabe, I too agree with you completely. It’s about the money, absolutely.

  24. A Man June 17, 2008 at 3:30 AM #

    I don’t think that many people understand that patriarchy is necessary, maybe even a necessary evil. I don’t think that Western Civilization exists without it.

    If a man cannot know his own children, especially sons, what incentive has he to work? If he cannot raise his son to follow in his footsteps and inherit his wealth, why should he save? Without these incentives, why should a man do little more than support himself? Why marry? Why father children? Why pay taxes? Why work at all?

    Western Civilization and all its wonderful amenities find their source in patriarchy. Men take risks, build, invent, and struggle to become successful, to marry pretty women, and produce handsome sons that they know are their own. And to those sons they leave their land, houses, tools, and gold.

    I do not deny that some women have suffered—and continue to suffer—at the hands of some men. But I see no alternative but a return to the cave. And who wants that? Without Western Civilization, all women would be vulnerable, hungry, thirsty, and dead by thirty. Women (and men) would certainly suffer more from the absence of patriarchy that because of it.

    • Imaginary September 28, 2009 at 7:20 AM #

      You’re completely right. Some womin, far removed from us, have suffered at the hands of men, far removed from you.

      The Western Civilization AS WE SEE IT NOW could not exist without patriarchy because it was/is built with patriarchy in mind. Why couldn’t there be a society where my sisters and I don’t have to live in fear? Of being raped. Of being beaten. Of being killed. If there was no hope for a society free of this, then there would be no hope that life would get better. I doubt mass femail suicides would be very beneficial to patriarchy.

  25. GXB January 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM #

    “A Man”, even though you’re long gone: WTF? If you’re relying on civilization and “progress”, then we have DNA tests that can tell you which child is so unlucky as to have a one-dimensional father. Also, why does a man have to marry and father children? Why does a person’s wealth have to come from his/her parents? It’s so nonsensical…haven’t you even heard of matriarchal societies? Or clan-type societies in which the entire village raises each child? It would work better for each woman to have a subordinate man to help her raise her child, anyway, even if it’s almost as abhorrent an idea as the patriarchy you propose. Slight differences in individual strength are irrelevant: men would act subservient to women if that were the norm.

    You’re like the blind man who only knows about the elephant’s tail. You’re afraid that the elephant can’t exist unless it can swing back and forth in midair. If you know about the whole elephant it makes a lot more sense…

  26. aquarianrabbit March 6, 2010 at 6:37 AM #

    Nine Deuce – your blog is seriously a lifesaver and sanctuary for me. Every day I learn more and more about feminism, sexism and misogyny, and the more I learn, the more I can’t go on living the life I used to live. I’m so grateful for your blog!

    Also, Konservo makes me nuts. I’ve been reading over the archives and every time I see his name, I groan. And not in a good way. Please, go away.

  27. Immir March 6, 2010 at 1:03 PM #

    When I was younger, about 15 or so, I was lying in a park with my friend and we looked up to see an old man sitting on a park bench, like 10 metres away from us, with his dick out- wanking away- staring at us. I reckon that would have been bad enough, but I was stoned out of my mind as well and it made me have a nightmare trip for the next three hours….
    But there have been SO many other things. It’s stunning what a teenage girl can go through and not think it is anything out of the ordinary. WE HAVE BEEN GROOMED

    **Nine Deuce- I can’t tell you how much it means to me that I’ve found your writing. I’ve been thinking about this stuff for AGES now, deeply & it sometimes seems that I’m completey alone in my thoughts. I mean, I’ve read great books, like ‘The Beauty Myth’, ‘The Centrefold Syndrome’ and others, but nobody I know shares any of these veiws let alone notices what’s going on.

    Anyway- it’s been hurting me alot. And then I find your site and you say things like this:
    ” How can something that seems pre-planned operate with no organizing force? Is the organizing force simply the hatred of women?”

    It means so much just to hear that from someone else & to have those topics discussed and addressed. I’m touched. Thank you.**

    (It’s tempting to believe that a group of people got together and organized these actions against women, because it’s all worked out so perfect, so seamless & invisible. But it truth, I think no-one could have predicted how perfectly it would work. It’s TOO deep.. to genius for any group of people to have consciously dreamed up)

  28. EmilyBites March 22, 2010 at 5:25 PM #

    The awful thing is, when you try to explain to your average (self-appointed, natch) ‘nice guy’, that as a woman just walking around, living your life, you are living in a CONSTANT state of heightened alertness (and yes, FEAR) regarding sexual violence, they have a tendency to scoff. As if you’re being melodramatic. But I am, and we are living in a rape culture. OF COURSE I’M SCARED, MORON!! Then they tell you that you seem so…unattractively angry. OF COURSE I’M ANGRY, YOU TECHNICOLOUR FOOL!

    Then you nearly swallow your tongue in your haste to give them the 7008 examples of OVERT sexual threats that have been made to you in your life. And that’s not counting the less explicit ones: you bend over, men check out your arse. You walk down the road, they stare at you. You cross the street, they shout at you. Groups of them say disgusting things to you that you ignore. And when you do, they start their ‘Oh, you’re too good to talk to me, bitch? I’ll knock you down a peg or two’ rant.

    I honestly feel like as soon as I step out of my front door into a public space, men are saying to me, verbally and physically, ‘I could rape you, you know. I could fuck you and I can touch you and I think it’s HILARIOUS the way you jump when all I do is shout ‘Oi, sexy!’ or pinch your bum, because we both know…I might rape you another time! And if I don’t rape you, I will be wanking to images of other women being raped. And you look just like them: wank fodder!’

    You know when you walk past a crowd of blokes outside a pub, and one of them says ‘Give us a smile, gorgeous?’ or ‘Nice arse!’ what they’re actually saying is: smile to please me, or else I’ll hurt you; nice arse I’d like to fuck – and I don’t care how you feel.

    It’s a veiled threat, but it’s definitely a constant threat and any ‘nice guy’ who says it’s not meant that way is being totally disingenuous. As soon as you react angrily to one of these jerks, saying ‘Don’t talk to me/touch me,’ or the perennial favourite of mine, ‘Fuck off’, they get nasty. Because you dared to question their right to your body. I actually had a guy recently shove me bodily against the wall in a club, because I had the temerity to object to him having grabbed my breast not once, but twice in a queue, and hiss at me, ‘Oh yeah, what are you going to do about it?’
    So, what did I do about it? I complained to the (male) bouncers, who didn’t care (they merely demanded to know why I hadn’t reported it to the doorman on the door at the time), and my friends just looked really embarrassed (at my ranting, unsexy, harpy-ish aspect, obviously). No one else in the queue was going to stick up for me, or shame him.

    When I was very young (13 and upwards) I used to feel scared and sick when men would roll down car windows to whistle at me in my school uniform, but at the same time I knew I was supposed to be flattered, because it’s flattering, right? Lots of men saying they’d be willing to fuck you. I was so confused I didn’t know what to think, and I really believed that being desired by men made me better. I had some bad sexual experiences with much older guys because I was too young to realise that they thought I was dirt – I was sexual toilet paper and they knew I was easy to use and toss away. No repercussions.

    And that’s why they laugh at you, because they can act with impunity, and get nothing but support from their buddies. That’s why they laugh so much while they’re abusing you in public. That’s what really kills me.

    Funnily enough, they don’t do it when I’m walking along with a male friend or my boyfriend. Because obviously I belong to him, therefore it would be disrespectful to touch another guy’s stuff.

  29. Immir April 17, 2010 at 10:02 PM #

    Great post above, EmilyBites.

    And yeh, tell me about it guys. Guys totally scoff when you mention the problems of violence against women. And then you say something about rape and they practically roll their eyes and say “here we go, pulling out the ‘rape’ card to make me feel guilty…”

  30. Muhammad November 22, 2010 at 7:30 PM #

    I gotta ask, how is skateboarding misogynistic? I’ve been skateboarding for 10 years and I’ve been on flow for several companies (so I’m certainly not shit) and I know pretty much everything about skateboarding (I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but I’ve been obsessed with skating for a decade)…I’m not saying you’re wrong, I just can’t think of anything misogynistic in skateboarding off the top of my head.

    In fact, I’ve seen some fucking terrible grip-tape with pictures of half-naked women on it but I don’t know any guys who actually like that cheesy crap.

    • Nine Deuce November 23, 2010 at 6:07 PM #

      The skateboarding scene in the US is characterized in part by a gross attitude toward women.

  31. Muhammad November 24, 2010 at 8:09 PM #

    Nine Deuce, if you wanna see what modern American skateboarding is about then you should watch skateboarding videos like:
    -‘Filmbot Files’
    -‘Lakai: Fully Flared’
    -‘Rodney Mullen vs Daewon Song: Almost Round Three’
    -‘Modus Operandi’
    -‘Yeah Right’
    …all that jazz…there are too many skateboarding films to mention. These films contain *nothing* but beautiful skateboarding, nothing more. There’s nothing to do with sex in these awesome movies, it’s completely innocent, there ain’t any discrimination or chauvinism. That’s why I love skating, it’s so pure and innocent. If you don’t believe me you can go ahead and watch a big skateboarding hit like ‘DVS Skatemore’ and point out the misogyny…maybe there is misogyny in these films but if there is it’s so damn subtle and infinitesimal that it may as well not exist. Haha…I tell you what, I’ve watched these videos religiously, non-stop, I’ve memorized them from beginning to end, trick for trick, so if you can find any misogyny in them I take my hat off to you and concede defeat. I’ve met a lot of the people that are featured in these iconic skating movies and they seem like sound fellahs to me.

    Compared to the amount of males in skating, sure, there ain’t as many women…but that’s the choice of women, they’re free to skate if they want to. Lol, actually, once I was walking home with my deck and some irritating drunk woman got all up in my face and was like “Hey man! How come girls can’t skate?” And I was like “Well, you can if you want, I’m not gonna stop you”. I don’t like people who drink alcohol, they try to speak to me when I wanna skate.

    There is no “attitude” that goes with skating, there is no genre of music that goes with skating, there is no fashion sense that goes with skating, it’s literally JUST about the physical act of skating. Trying to attach a set of beliefs or behaviours to skating is like trying to attach a set of beliefs and behaviours to stamp collecting or an interest in martial arts. I’m a skateboarder, but you wouldn’t be able to guess that I’m a skateboarder if you met me.

    You’ll get these poser dick-heads who carry a skateboard but they don’t actually know anything about it and they can’t even do a tre flip or any basic trick, they walk around with their shitty bleached emo hair greased up and stuck to the front of their pimply face, holding their deck by the trucks like an idiot…those guy, they ain’t skaters, they’re fucking posers trying to be cool who don’t know nothing. That’s not me, I actually love skating, I can actually skate, I’ve been on flo so I’m not shit and I ain’t no misogynist. I’ve been doing it for a decade and I’m not gonna stop until I can’t use my legs no more. I don’t care what anybody says, skating is fucking fascinating.

    Salaam :)

    • Nine Deuce November 24, 2010 at 9:55 PM #

      I’ve been around skateboarders since 1991. The culture is misogynistic.

  32. skeptifem November 25, 2010 at 12:21 PM #

    CKY/Jackass emerged out of the skateboarding scene. Theres nothing pure about it.

  33. Muhammad November 25, 2010 at 12:23 PM #

    Sorry, when I said “I don’t believe you” I meant I don’t agree with you. I’m not implying that you’re lying about anything here haha :P

    But seriously, what *specific* aspect of skating is misogynistic?

  34. Muhammad November 25, 2010 at 12:23 PM #

    No offence, but I don’t believe you. If you’re hanging around guys who can just about muster a little shuv-it then you’re not hanging around real skaters, you’re hanging around wannabe posers who want to be “too cool for school!”. If your friends don’t know who Benny Fairfax is or who Shane O’Neil is, they don’t know anything about skating and they have nothing to do with “skating culture” (even though there is no such thing). I’m not bashing your friends, but if they don’t know these things then they’re not too much into skating. If you’re not into skating yourself, if you’ve never seen a skateboarding video, if you’ve never read Thrasher magazine or Big Brother magazine, if you’ve never been on a skateboard and tried to learn a complicated trick, then (no offence) but you don’t really know anything about skating. Hanging around with some guys who carry skateboards and actually immersing yourself into the complex sub-culture is VERY, VERY different. I know you think that skating must be some silly tom-foolery, but it is mind-blowingly complicated tom-foolery.

    There is no “archetypal” skater, if you look at skaters like Jamie Thomas and skaters like Terry Kennedy, they couldn’t be more different…one is a flamboyant, loud black guy who raps and one is a born again Christian who preaches at church and says drugs are sinful, they’re both extremely famous skaters and they both have their following of skaters who idolize them.

    If you’re saying the skaters YOU hang out with represent American skateboarding, that’s not a good enough argument. Your friends don’t represent the American skateboarding scene, unless you hang out with everyone at The Berrics (which I doubt). A couple of guys you know is an infinitesimally small portion of the skaters in America, and I’m assuming they’re not relevant to American skateboarding in any way…have any of the guys you know even been sponsored by any skating companies before? If not, they’re nobodies (no offence, just being honest).

    The culture is not misogynistic because the culture doesn’t exist in the sense you mean. Skateboarding doesn’t come with a personality, a genre of music, a style of clothing or a race, skateboarding is literally based around the PHYSICAL ACT OF SKATEBOARDING. Skating culture? The Berrics, that’s skating culture. Pier 7, that’s skating culture. Macba, that’s skating culture. Drinking alcohol, smoking weed and listening to Primus, that’s not skateboarding culture, many people do stupid shit like that, whether they be skaters or not.

    I don’t mean to be vitriolic, believe me, but you are attacking something that is very close to my heart and you are saying the thing I see as so positive and creative is in fact misogynistic and hateful. Could you tell me what part of “skating culture” is misogynistic, please?

  35. GXB November 25, 2010 at 12:23 PM #

    Oops, wrong email–>icon. Sorry, that actually was me coming back from the dead (i.e., developing as feminist in real life).

  36. GXB November 25, 2010 at 12:23 PM #

    Hey Muhammad,
    It’s not as if anyone wants you to feel guilty about the act of skating itself because of its misogynistic culture. But you should acknowledge “poser dick-heads who carry a skateboard” as part of skateboarding culture, and if you /see/ evidence of misogyny like that skateboarding tape, divorce yourself from it personally (okay), discourage it in people you know (better), but please don’t pretend it doesn’t exist, ’cause that doesn’t help.

  37. Muhammad November 25, 2010 at 9:36 PM #

    skeptifem, I’m not trying to be rude, but please don’t try to school me on something you don’t understand. CKY and Jackass are NOT relevant to skateboarding culture. Skateboarding media doesn’t mention that crap, those aren’t skateboarding videos so anything that appears in Jackass or CKY is not relevant to the skateboarding world. You won’t see people throwing up and hitting each other in skate videos, you won’t see people running about naked in skateboarding magazines.

    Skateboarding culture = Blind: Video days, H Street, Plan B, Thrasher, Sneak Preview, The Berrics, etc.
    Jackass =/= Skateboarding culture.
    The guys that Dine Deuce associates with =/= Skateboarding culture.

    You can’t learn about an entire sub-culture by watching Jackass on MTV. That’s like watching Planet Of The Apes and calling yourself an Anthropologist. None of you can possibly comment on skateboarding culture, because none of you know anything about the things that influenced and shaped modern street skating culture; ‘Goldfish’, ‘Mouse’, ‘Mosaic’, ‘Video Days’, etc, etc. Even if any of you did consume skateboarding media, you wouldn’t understand it because I don’t think any of you know the difference between a varial heel and an inward heel, you don’t know the difference between fakie and nollie, if you don’t understand the most basic and vital parts of skating how on earth do you expect to school me on what you think skating “is all about”?

    And what is “skating culture”? The sub-culture of skateboarding splinters off into other mini sub-cultures, so which “skate culture” are you referring to? For example, certain companies only sponsor skaters who dress and look a certain way and listen to a certain genre of music; case in point – the skating company DGK mainly sponsors black and hispanic guys who wear baggy pants and DGK plays mostly hip-hop in their videos…but the skating companies Zero and Fallen only sponsor guys who look like silly punks who wear tight jeans and have long hair and they only ever play rock in their videos.
    So it’s retarded to think skaters conform to *one* lifestyle. When you say “skating culture” you’re talking as if there is ONE homogeneous entity, something you can point at and say “that’s skating culture”…the sub-culture itself is so diverse, there are mini sub-cultures within the culture itself. So Nine Deuce, when you say “the skateboarding culture is misogynistic”, which one are you talking about?

    I have a really good idea, check it out man: How about we all stop being opinionated on things we don’t understand? That sounds fucking swell.
    Sorry if I’m being rude but I find it really annoying that people would insult something I love so fucking much when they don’t even understand it. Just keep to what you know (feminism) and stop insulting things that just emanate positivity and make people happy. Please, everybody, stop commenting on skating unless you are a skater.

    • Nine Deuce November 26, 2010 at 3:30 PM #

      I went to high school with several of the people that you mentioned, and I’m far more familiar with skateboarding culture than all that. Skateboarding itself isn’t misogynistic, but the culture surrounding it is and has been since as long as I can remember. I’m not going to get into a bunch of braggart nonsense here about all the pro skateboarders I know/have known, but you can stop being patronizing about it and assuming you’re the only one who knows anything.

  38. Muhammad November 26, 2010 at 6:22 PM #

    “but you can stop being patronizing about it and assuming you’re the only one who knows anything.”
    I remember that in one post you were talking about how annoying it is when some guy comes onto your blog and starts trying to tell you what feminism is all about and giving you the same old pro-porn shit and MRA prattle, that they think they can read a book or two on the subject and they think they’re experts and they think they can give you the low-down on this gender-equality schtick…that’s like what is happening here, people are trying to school me on something I know more about. Technically, relative to anyone else here, I AM “the only one who knows anything” when it comes to skating. I understand that this is making me sound arrogant but it needs to be said.

    Believe me, I know this is making me sound condescending and patronizing, I don’t care, I need to nip this shit in the bud. Brian Anderson said it best: “People who don’t skate or just watch the X-Games will never understand or know what we really do”.

    I’ve been through all of this before, you’re not the first non-skater who’s tried to define skating culture for me. I’ve had “Hey Muhammad, gimme a week and I could do everything you can do on that skateboard!” and “Huh? You skate? Oh, that means you like Slipknot and Blink 182, right?” and the BEST one – “Skating’s pointless man, it won’t get you girls”…really, I was so grateful to receive that little gem of wisdom. How fucking generous. I tried to keep the fact that I was a skateboarder a secret at school because it attracted negative attention and it would get me beaten up, there were no other skaters there and I would have stood out like a sore thumb.

    As stupid as you might think it is, when you insult skating, to me, it feels like you’re insulting one of my family members. That sounds ridiculous but that’s how it makes me feel and that’s why I might be coming across as slightly peeved, because it feels kinda personal. I now hate the comedian Alan Carr because he insulted skateboarding on his show…is that silly of me? Yeah, but I don’t care. It annoys me. I’m a skate snob and I don’t care.

    • Nine Deuce November 26, 2010 at 7:58 PM #

      I’m not insulting skating (but I also won’t watch the X Games). I grew up in Southern California in the 90s and spent my entire youth hanging around with skateboarders (I didn’t skate because I’d become terrified of injuring myself after a few mishaps). I know several of the people you’ve mentioned in previous posts on this subject, and I know that the culture doesn’t revolve around Blink-182 or Slipknot or whatever other ridiculous things jocks think of when they think about skateboarders. Still, I think the culture I’m referring to might be different than what it might be like where you live. Southern California is awash with skaters and there isn’t the same opprobrium attached as there is in other places. In fact, being a skateboarder most definitely will “get you girls” there, which is obviously sad as it means skaters are just punk jocks in a lot of the region. Obviously there’s nothing inherently misogynistic about riding a board with wheels on it, but the way that the scene developed in Southern California left no place for women other than groupies/joke butts, and there was plenty of sexism to go around. As for the Jackass thing, it really technically does have something to do with skating as the whole thing originated out of the old Big Brother videos. I suppose it’s arguable whether Big Brother was really a skateboarding magazine or just an asshole party, but it’s definitely been the most beloved skate magazine in history.

  39. isme November 26, 2010 at 10:01 PM #

    “Technically, relative to anyone else here, I AM “the only one who knows anything” when it comes to skating”

    I see you have downloaded that program that allows you access to the life history and experiences of everyone who visits a blog. I didn’t think that was out yet.

  40. Muhammad November 26, 2010 at 11:04 PM #

    Okay, I get what you’re saying, specific skaters you knew around southern California exhibited misogynistic behaviours, alright. I’m well aware of Californian skating since Pier 7 and 3rd and Army are iconic skate spots and I know some Californian skaters myself (I’m British). But what I’m saying is that the skateboarding culture is extremely multifarious in nature, so when you say “the skateboarding culture”, it sounded like you were saying it as if it was an easily-identifiable, one-dimensional entity. Skating from 1991 is nothing like skating from 2001 and that’s nothing like skating from 2010. Nowadays, skating is just like any other marketable product, different skate companies appeal to different splinters within the skating sub-culture (which I think is a bit silly); ‘Bastard’ and ‘DGK’ appeal to mainly black skaters who like hip-hop… ‘Habitat’ and ‘Alien Workshop’ appeal to [EDITED: do not use homophobic language here] skaters who are into avant-garde black and white photography and Corduroy pants… ‘Zero’ and ‘Fallen’ appeal to little grom kids who have just started skating and are impressed by guys flying down huge stairs. I’m just trying to illustrate how skate culture is so heterogeneous. But then there are companies like ‘Lakai’ and ‘DVS’ which are neither here nor there. I skated for ‘Casual co.’ and ‘Landscape’…but I was fucking lazy so they dropped me like a hot potato.

    Yeah, everyone who knows anything knows that Jackass (and CKY) are connected to skateboarding but when you actually look at the skateboarding media, it doesn’t reference Jackass…most of the people in Jackass can’t skate.
    Skateboarders are many things, the legendary skater who is erroneously credited with inventing my favourite trick – Jason Lee – is the star of ‘My Name Is Earl’, he co-starred in ‘Vanilla Sky’ with Tom Cruise and all that shit…some skateboarders are artists like Corey Sheppard, some are musicians like Terry Kennedy, some have PhD’s like Ocean Howell, some had eating disorders like Rodney Mullen…trying to say that Jackass is associated with skating and therefore jackass defines skating and then conclude skating is not “innocent or pure” is a non-sequitur. Jackass doesn’t define skating. (that was directed at skeptifem).

  41. Muhammad November 26, 2010 at 11:38 PM #

    Sorry for rambling…

    @isme, when I say “everyone here” I mean the people I’m actually addressing, not everyone on the planet that could possibly stumble upon this blog. Since nobody here actually skates, they don’t really know anything about skating. If someone doesn’t know about basic skateboarding terminology then as far as I’m concerned, they don’t know anything about skating. If someone doesn’t know the alternative name for a tre flip, they don’t know about skating. If someone doesn’t know the difference between a b/s boardslide and a f/s lipslide, they don’t know about skating. This is basic stuff and anyone who knows about skating would know those things.

    @Nice Deuce, how these particular blokes acted doesn’t reflect American skate culture. Like I said, skateboarders are a vastly multifarious community. The skaters you know/knew represent a diminutive portion of the entire skateboarding community. Also, these days, many of the pro’s in America aren’t American…some of my British friends are now famous on the American skateboarding scene, Benny Fairfax, Paul Shier and Danny Brady. The rest are Mexican, Brazilian, French and Spanish (I read Kingpin which is a European skate mag).

    • Nine Deuce November 29, 2010 at 6:42 PM #

      Do you really believe there’s a place for women in the skateboarding scene other than as spectators/groupies? I know there are a few notable female skaters, but I mean in the general sense.

  42. Muhammad December 1, 2010 at 9:48 AM #

    I dunno, women are free to skate as much as they want. I think it’s great that women get into skating. I have some female friends who skate and they’re good. However, some girls (and I witness this first hand ALL the time) only take it up as some kind of fad and they just do it for like 2 months then quit. The guys I skate with aren’t alpha-douches and they treat female skaters just the same as male skaters, but it seems to me that girls just aren’t as into skating because girls usually don’t feel like breaking their ankles, dislocating their fingers or chipping their teeth.

    I usually skate in central London and in the park we skate there are always swarms of teenage girls loitering around in the skate park, getting in the way. They’re not skateboarders, they’re just girls who sit about in the skate park and giggle EVERY day. Me and my buddies get so pissed off because they have no reason to be there, it’s a skate park, not a social club. It’s like they *want* to be groupies or something. We’re not forcing them to get in our way and mingle about in the skate park.

    I’m not being misogynistic, I swear, but generally speaking, females aren’t physically capable of doing what the male pro’s do. I know that sounds sexist but it’s hard to deny when you look at the difference between male skaters and female skaters. The female pro’s are never as good as the male pro’s…I think that’s just generally accepted in skateboarding. Women can be good at skating but the things that male pro’s are doing nowadays in skate videos like ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Stay Gold’ are absolutely ridiculous and I can’t ever imagine women doing those things.

    The best skateboarders in the world are guys like Paul Rodriguez, Daewon Song and Mike Mo…I really, really, really cannot imagine a woman doing the mind-blowing stuff that these guys do. When you watch female pro’s, their skating is always a lot more basic and they skate smaller stairs and handrails. Men and women are built differently, so this isn’t surprising.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think female pro’s will be idolized in the same way male pro’s are, but it’s not due to sexism, it’s due to the fact that male pro’s are just better. The male pro’s have set a ridiculously high standard and the bar has been raised really high in the last couple of years, so if women want to be just as good they’ll have to pull their socks up.

  43. GXB December 2, 2010 at 12:26 AM #

    Is there some reason, in your mind, that the next serious female skater who comes along must only be about as good as all the other women? The only relevant difference I know of is that women have a lower center of gravity on average than men, proportionally speaking. That makes us better able to balance than men, and affects the physics of flying through the air. It seems to me that this would make a woman naturally better at skating if she were to decide to take the risks. But I bet a lot of women who might be great at skateboarding do gymnastics or dancing instead.

    Anyway, you may believe you don’t treat women any differently, but if you think female skaters have so little potential, I find it hard to imagine this attitude doesn’t come across whether you realize it or not. I find that your claim that women don’t skate as much or as well to be pretty good evidence that the problem is that skateboarding is a boys’ club.

  44. isme December 2, 2010 at 1:27 AM #

    “The only relevant difference I know of is that women have a lower center of gravity on average than men, proportionally speaking.”

    Hips are different, which means they have to adapt the stances used in sowrdfighting, for example, as it’s all based around men.

    “Unfortunately, I don’t think female pro’s will be idolized in the same way male pro’s are, but it’s not due to sexism, it’s due to the fact that male pro’s are just better.”

    Female sports are never idolised the same way men’s are. I find it hard to believe that, purely by coincidence, female skateboarders are penalised by physicality the same way female everything else is by scoiety.

    “The male pro’s have set a ridiculously high standard and the bar has been raised really high in the last couple of years, so if women want to be just as good they’ll have to pull their socks up.”

    Er…yes, women would have to work hard to compete with the best of male athletes, because the bets male athletes have to work hard to be the best.

  45. Muhammad December 2, 2010 at 5:31 AM #

    “I find that your claim that women don’t skate as much or as well to be pretty good evidence that the problem is that skateboarding is a boys’ club.”

    For fuck’s sake, no GXB, skating isn’t a “big boy’s club”. It’s skateboarding, not the federal government. I knew someone would accuse me of being sexist for stating the truth but I’m not going to lie and say “women are generally just as good at men in skateboarding” just to protect your feelings and make you feel better. You don’t skate so you don’t know the difference between male and female skating, the difference is massive. Anyone who knows anything about skating can deny it. The fact that I say “men are better at skating” is not evidence that skating is misogynistic, I’m saying it because it’s TRUE. Do you want me to lie to make you feel better? I’m not going to say women are just as good at skating because I’ve never seen a woman skate a 15-stair handrail, I’ve never seen a woman skate a triple-set, I’ve never seen a woman do a complex manual trick. Even if skating was a “big boy’s club”, how would that make women worse at skating? I don’t even understand what you’re saying. You’re saying: “Women aren’t as skillful in skating than men, therefore skateboarding is sexist”.

    “Anyway, you may believe you don’t treat women any differently, but if you think female skaters have so little potential, I find it hard to imagine this attitude doesn’t come across whether you realize it or not”.
    No, that’s a fucking stupid argument. I don’t treat people worse if I think they’re not good at skating. I know men who aren’t good at skating but I don’t treat them like shit, I’m usually courteous and I try to help them the best I can if they ask me for advice on how to do something. I don’t say to them “Hey, can you skate that rail over there? No? Well, fuck off then, if you can’t skate I don’t wanna be your friend!”. I’m just polite to people I meet despite their ability to skate. It just turns out that I’ve never seen a female skater as good as someone like PJ Ladd, that’s not my fault, there’s nothing I can do about that. It doesn’t make me sexist. The fact that you don’t like it makes no difference, your hurt feelings won’t suddenly make women just as good at skating than men.

    Sorry if I’m being rude but this discussion is just so ridiculous. Why are you people trying so hard to make skateboarding seem misogynistic? Can you please just drop it? I don’t mind you criticizing misogyny and products of the patriarchy but skateboarding is not one of them. Skateboarding is not sexist, just deal with it. I wish women were just as good at skating, but alas, they’re not…whether you like it or not makes no difference. If you knew anything about skating you would be agreeing with me right now.

  46. Muhammad December 2, 2010 at 5:32 AM #

    Sorry, I meant to say: Anybody who knows anything about skating cannot deny it.

  47. Fede December 3, 2010 at 3:55 AM #

    Okay, Muhammad? It’s time for you to stop and think about what you are actually doing in here. If you can do nothing but turn a discussion about misogynist tendencies in skateboarding culture into an insistent assertion that today’s female skaters are technically inferior to male skaters, then you are missing the point entirely. Are you sure you would not prefer to be in a skateboarding forum?

    Ask yourself why you feel the need to take up so much room here with that assertion. No one is disputing that female skateboarders are few and far between. No one is saying that those few are technically as good as their male fellow skaters. It has been argued, however, that the scarcity of good female skaters may not simply be the result of physical shortcomings in women. You are of course free to disagree with that point, but I just wish you would stick to it.

  48. Muhammad December 3, 2010 at 3:12 PM #

    Jesus Christ on fucking stilts, this is doing my head in. Why is this causing so much confusion?

    “Ask yourself why you feel the need to take up so much room here with that assertion.”
    I wouldn’t have to talk about it so much if people didn’t accuse me of being sexist and calling skateboarding “a boy’s club” just because I highlighted an observable discrepancy between male and female skaters, I had to clarify my point because GXB was calling me sexist just because I was speaking the truth.

    The reason that I pointed out that female skaters aren’t as good as male skaters is because 9-2 asked if there was a place for women in skateboarding, so I had to point out the fact that female pro’s aren’t as good as male pro’s, okay? Of course, I knew people would accuse me of being sexist, and they did. I knew people would try to make out as if skateboarding is somehow misogynistic, and they did. So I had to explain that male skaters are indeed better than female skaters, I had to elaborate because that assertion does sound sexist to people who don’t know anything about skating. I don’t know why men are better at skating, but that’s just how it is. I still haven’t seen any evidence that skateboarding is misogynistic (despite the desperate and feeble attempts).

    “It’s time for you to stop and think about what you are actually doing in here.”
    Really? YOU people need to stop and think and ask yourself; “why can’t I let this drop? Why do I have the incessant need to make skateboarding appear misogynistic when it clearly isn’t?” What revelation am I supposed to be reaching? What is it I’m not getting? Someone attacks skateboarding for no reason, then I respond based on my knowledge of skateboarding…I’m not confused here. If you’ve got a valid criticism of skateboarding, go ahead, enlighten me.

    “Are you sure you would not prefer to be in a skateboarding forum?”
    Me? but I’m not the one who initially brought up the topic of skateboarding and skateboarding culture, that was Nine Deuce.

    I’m not the one who is figuratively flailing about and changing the subject, I’m just responding to what people say about skateboarding. It’s people like GXB who are changing the subject and attacking me personally and implying I’m a subtle misogynist just for stating facts.

    I don’t even know why we’re still talking about this. If no-one has any well-informed criticisms to make about skating (which is what I *ORIGINALLY* asked for) then there’s nothing more to say. Please, don’t drag this tedious discussion on any longer. Don’t just carry on pointlessly digging around for an argument just so you can have an excuse to be confrontational.

    • Nine Deuce December 3, 2010 at 3:55 PM #

      It’s not causing confusion, you’re refusing to listen. In any case, this discussion is closed. This post isn’t about skateboarding.

  49. GXB December 4, 2010 at 12:32 AM #

    Muhammad, you misunderstand my attempt to help *you* consider the evidence that is before your eyes every day with a question in mind: “Why are there not many female skaters, and why are the female pros less accomplished than male pros?” You think you have answered the question, but you have not, because you can conceive of no reason. Actually, I’ll give you credit for recognizing that men are more often willing to risk injury unnecessatily, but not for stopping to wonder if society pushes men’s macho complex to ultimate harm both for men and women. You know ND’s and my conclusions: I don’t consider your pontificating useful until you demonstrate that you have considered other arguments.

    Also, there are several people responding to you, of course we’re taking on different aspects. You think I was attacking you by taking your presented ideas and actually trying to think them through? Come on boy, have you noticed the context you’re in, a discussion of serious daily attacks by a misogynist culture of which skateboarding is but a microcosm? Despite the fact that you sound like 4/5 of the other male commenters I’ve read on every feminist blog that doesn’t stop that traffic, I still have trouble believing that logic will fail to get through. (There, that’s an insult for you, I hope you can be satisfied with one.) But that renewed hope is why I respond sometimes.

  50. Muhammad December 4, 2010 at 3:01 PM #

    GXB, so society pushes men to act more macho and take up physically risky jobs and hobbies? Okay, fine. But that’s not skateboarding’s fault. That mentality of men being macho and more physically active (sports, war, construction work, etc) existed before skateboarding did. How is any of this skateboarding’s fault? Skateboarding didn’t create this mentality. Do you expect skateboarding to come along and wipe out gender roles that have been moulded into place for centuries? It’s a hobby, not a revolutionary ideology.

    If women don’t really want to skate, why does it even matter? How is the lack of female skaters detrimental to anybody at all? You can’t expect men to MAKE females take an interest in skateboarding, that’s up to females to decide what hobbies they take up. If girl’s don’t want to skate, who’s gonna make them? Do you expect fathers to say to their daughters
    Dad: “Get on that skateboard Hannah and smith that rail!”
    Daughter: “But Daddy, I want to play the cello!”
    Dad: “Get on the fucking skateboard!!!”

    Skateboarding itself never discourages females from taking part. Interestingly, one of the girl’s I know took up skating and me and my (male) friends were cool with it and she came skating with us but after about 30 minutes she said “I’m bored, I wanna go shopping” and we all laughed, then she said “What? I’m a girl!”. She’s since given up skating.
    Skateboarding culture doesn’t tell girls “Don’t skate! Shop for clothes and makeup instead!”. Us skateboarders welcome female skaters but if girls are worried about what society thinks or are more interested in “girl things” then there’s nothing skateboarding can do about that; that’s society’s problem, not skateboarding’s problem. Skateboarding wasn’t invented to flip society upside-down, it’s just a harmless hobby…like collecting stamps or playing darts.

  51. isme December 5, 2010 at 12:12 AM #

    “Skateboarding itself never discourages females from taking part.”

    You don’t think the assumption that men are always going to be better skaters than women doesn’t count as discouraging?

  52. Muhammad December 5, 2010 at 8:00 AM #

    “You don’t think the assumption that men are always going to be better skaters than women doesn’t count as discouraging?”

    I never said “men will always be better at skating no matter what happens”. I’m saying that so far, when you actually look at male and female skaters (pros) then males are better. Again, I’m not saying that to hurt anyone’s feelings, I’m not saying it because I want males to be superior, I’m saying it because it’s true. If women find the truth discouraging then that’s unfortunate, men can’t MAKE women better at skating, that’s up to women. What do you people want me to do? Do you want me to lie? Do you want me to pretend that females are just as good at skating than men when it clearly isn’t true?

    Just because men happen to be better at skating, that absolutely does NOT mean that skateboarding discourages females. Women are generally smaller and have less muscle mass so it would obviously be harder for a woman to pop a large ollie, that’s not men’s fault.

    So yeah, I don’t see how skating discourages women from taking part.

  53. sam December 5, 2010 at 1:08 PM #

    Posting with ND’s permission, because Muhammad is laughably wrong about skateboard culture.

    Bitch Skateboards

    Skateboards themselves are vehicles skateboarding men use to express the jubilant hatred of women overripe in their subculture.

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    [...] women into sex they do not want by means of emotional manipulation, physical and psychological terrorism, and plain old brute force. They push their partners into sex acts that they might not want to do. [...]

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