Monthly Archives: October 2010

Rand Paul Supporter Wants Apology. Like Rapists, Batterers: It’s Her Fault

She made me do it!

How many times have we heard that?

We’ve probably all seen video of Rand Paul supporter, Tim Profitt, stomping on a woman’s head for expressing her right to free speech. (If you haven’t, see video here).

Now he says she should apologize for making him stomp on her head.

This is right in line with a man who insists the Yale Women’s Center brought the “no means yes” rape threats on themselves: “The sole purpose behind this building is to give hatemongering academic feminists a base to spread their propaganda and recruit new members… (the frat) most likely did it because feminazis always go out of their way to harm men… it might explain the motivation behind their actions.”

Oddly, these are not uncommon sentiments.

Rapists share a similar viewpoint: She dressed provocatively! She made me rape her.

The attitude echoes among wife batterers: She didn’t have dinner ready! She bought the wrong brand of beer! She made me beat her.

They all share the narcissistic quality of distorting themselves into an image of perfection, while projecting their own failings onto others. In their book, women constantly make men do terrible things to them.

In a world where men are given greater privilege, less-evolved men simply expect to have greater license. It’s natural, to be expected. Women must obey their husbands or be disciplined (beaten). Men have more right to women’s bodies than women do themselves. Uppity women who want change can expect torment for their efforts. And sometimes, when you’re bigger and stronger, and you can stomp on a woman’s head: might just makes right.

Georgia Platts

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My Son Wants to Be Snow White for Halloween

“One day early last fall, I returned from work and discovered my son in a dress. And not just any dress. A Snow White dress. I can’t say it was a complete shock. Luke had been telling my wife and me for more than a week that he wanted to be Snow White for Halloween. Whenever Melanie or I gently suggested an alternate costume, he would calmly respond, “No, I think I have to be Snow White. I dropped my bag and made what I hoped was a suitable fuss over the costume. My face still taut with manufactured glee.

I read about this man’s conundrum in salon.com several weeks ago. It reminded me of an episode from Roseanne when DJ wanted to be a witch for Halloween. His dad tried every which way to dissuade him and explain that girls are witches and boys are warlocks. But DJ wanted to be a witch.

Both of these dads felt threatened and worried that their sons might end up with bruises or black eyes for their choice of costume. But the dads’ discomfort went beyond fear of bodily harm. Both were emotionally twisted into knots. Snow White’s dad wondered if his discomfort was due to seeing “the dress as a threat to my legacy, an insult to generations of men who fought wars and presided over propane grills?” 

But as a progressive dad, he wondered why he was so troubled. 

Why? It’s called “gender ranking.” 

We value males and male things over females and female things. Boys are seen as devaluing themselves when they take on feminine accessories or behaviour. That’s why many women think back happily on a time when they were tomboys, but most men weren’t – or won’t admit they were – sissies.  

If we valued males and females the same, a Snow White costume wouldn’t be a problem. 

Actually, valuing males over females wouldn’t be a huge problem if it were just about guys in dresses. But devaluing the feminine leads to all sorts of problems that I will go into greater depth later: Women don’t expect as much for themselves, including pay. In societies and subcultures where masculine is valued over feminine we find high rates of rape, wife battering, gay bashing, daughters-for-sale, and female infanticide.  STDs are more widely spread. Women’s sexuality becomes repressed. Even the feminine value of compassion is diminished in the face of masculine go-it-alone “personal responsibility.” The list goes on. 

Dressing up like Snow White may seem petty, but ranking males over females is not trivial, at all. 

Georgia Platts 

Quotes are edited for length. See original text at salon.com.  

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Mind of a Rapist: Trying to Bridge a Gap between a Small Self and a Big Man

“I was in control for the first time of my life. I just felt like I had a little more power for once.”

“It could have been anyone. It could have been a guy. I was just mad.”

The first quote comes from Cary Stayner, who raped and murdered three young women in Yosemite. The second is from David Burpee, who raped a 17-year-old after having a fight with his girlfriend over getting fired.

Different rapists have different motives. These two are characteristic of the “Walter Mitty” type.

Walter Mitty is a fictional character. He’s an ordinary, ineffectual man who tries to bridge the gap between who he is and who he wants to be by imagining himself in situations of grandeur: a wartime pilot, an ER surgeon, a killer.

Walter Mitty rapists do something similar. They see themselves as less than the “big man” they yearn to be. And they have limited notions of what men are. To them, masculinity means power, dominance, aggression, violence, virility. They use rape to bridge the gap between their sorry selves and the dominant men they seek to be, whether it’s not-so-powerful Cary Stayner or David Burpee getting a tongue lashing from his girlfriend because he can’t hold down a job.

I was reminded of the Walter Mitty rapist after the Yale frat-boy chants of “No means yes, yes means anal,” near the women’s dorms and the Women’s Center.

What’s the connection between rape-threatening frat boys and the Walter Mitty rapist? The intent is the same: both are trying to create personal identities as superior and “manly.” The process of achieving that goal is the same: expressing sexual dominance.  The degree of harm is the only difference.

But does rape really create superiority? The dehumanized act actually points in the opposite direction.

Georgia Platts

Doctors Let Woman Die to Protect Fetus

A Polish woman named Edyta died because doctors refused to provide medical care. Each physician she approached worried that treating her colon condition could lead to miscarriage or abortion. Eventually her disease worsened until she miscarried, anyway, not long before her death.

Recently, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe failed to pass a resolution meant to keep incidents like this from happening. Unfortunate, because if she had lived in Italy, Hungary, or Croatia she could have expected the same outcome. Doctors in any of these countries can refuse medical care on moral grounds.

Apparently, letting a person die is not a part of their moral compass. At least not when a fetus is involved.

Meanwhile, the Vatican censored their top bioethics official because he defended doctors who aborted the twin fetuses of a nine-year-old child who was raped by her stepfather. He felt that saving the girl’s life called for mercy. The Vatican thought otherwise.

This is what happens when fetal rights come before human rights. Are a fetus and a human being really equivalent?

My brother-in-law was completely against abortion until his wife’s life was threatened by her pregnancy. When the doctors told him he may have to choose between his wife and his unborn baby he knew he would choose his wife. He talked about how his wife was someone who he loved, who he had strong connections to. Losing her would be too great an emotional loss. And, she is an actual human being.

Meanwhile, many think that embryos and humans are equivalent, and protest stem cell research. Yet if a research center caught fire and you had to choose between saving a one-year-old child or a vat of stem cells, which would you choose – thousands of “lives” or one child?

I wonder if doctors and governments would prioritize a fetus or an embryo over a human being if men were the ones who had babies.

The doctors’ refusals remind me of the Arab guards who forced girls back into a burning building to save themselves from seeing women who weren’t properly covered. In each case women were forced to die to preserve men’s moral sensibilities.

Whatever that means.

Georgia Platts

Men Are Naturally Attracted To Unnatural Women

Pam Anderson before bleaching & surgery

Ask a guy why he looks at porn and he’s likely to say that men are just naturally attracted to women. But the women in porn don’t look too natural.

Actually, women in fashion magazines and billboards don’t look too natural, either.

Women and men can both learn to admire a feminine ideal that ends up frustrating both men and women.

Most women have to starve themselves to be ideally skinny. Many models are so thin that they have stopped menstruating. Isn’t the natural instinct to stay alive and well?

And how about fake breasts? If men are naturally drawn to breasts, why do so many women go under the knife and mutilate themselves so that men – and society – will find them attractive?

Then there’s the preference for blondes. Few women past puberty are true blondes. But unnaturally bleached hair is the top color of choice, both for men and for women who want to look beautiful. Well, at least peroxide doesn’t require enormous amounts of money or risk much bodily harm.

So models go through all their pain and suffering, but it’s not quite enough. Next, the malnourished, plastic-chested, bleached out images go to be photoshopped and airbrushed to look even more fake than they already are.

So women try in vain to match ridiculous notions of beauty. Then get depressed because nothing they do seems to work.

But the models don’t look like “themselves,” either!

At the same time, male students have told me that all this hurts them, too. “What’s wrong with me?” they wonder. “Why can’t I get women who look like THAT?”

Well, those “picture perfect” women don’t actually exist.

So women can never achieve the ideal. And men can never have the ideal woman.

Meanwhile, to many men are left feeling “naturally” attracted to something that isn’t natural.

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Yale Fraternity Chants “No Means Yes.” Men? Or Scaredy Cats?

The boys (not men) of Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) chanted, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” at the Women’s Center on campus last week. See video.

What was their motive?

When people do things like this – put others down – they’re trying to create an identity for themselves and for the people they are targeting.

“No means yes.” While rape has a sexual component, it’s mostly about power. In this chant, the guys were celebrating images of men overpowering women. “Yes means anal”? If she says yes, then do something she didn’t ask for (and presumably wouldn’t want) turning even “yes” into rape.

Chanting in front of the Women’s Center – a safe space for women who have been assaulted or abused – makes that message stronger.

Afterwards, the frat offered an apology that let them off the hook. And which actually helps them to feel powerful: We can do anything so long as we apologize.

How sorry are they? Frat boys shouted the same slogans in front of the Women’s Center in 2006. In 2008 a different fraternity bellowed their love of “Yale sluts” in the same location.

Here we have boys desperately trying to assert their manhood. Intimidating women to create a sense of male superiority that doesn’t exist in nature – otherwise they wouldn’t need to try so hard. It all screams “insecurity!” There must be a big gap between the men they want to be, and the boys they seemingly are, to make that much effort.

Guys in frats are often pressured to hurt women to prove their manhood. “Bros before ho’s.” Sociologist, Michael Kimmel, studies men. And he says that many of these pledges don’t want to do the hurtful things to women that they are pressured to do.

But aren’t men supposed to be strong, confident, courageous?  Don’t men follow their conscience instead of following the crowd?

What we see here is not courage but bravado. Trying to appear more brave than they really are.

This is supposed to prove their manhood?

Are women that threatening? Really, these guys are just scaredy cats.

Georgia Platts

Related post: Ever Wanted To Be A Woman? What Men Say

Should You Ask Why Your Lover Loves You?

We often ask our lovers why they love us.

That may not be such a good idea.

When people become analytical – making lists of pros and cons, what they like and don’t – they can end up misleading themselves.

Social psychologist, Tim Wilson and his colleagues, found that analyzing our feelings can actually make matters worse.

Unfortunately, we don’t always know why we feel the way we do. So we might latch onto reasons that are easily identifiable, and easier to verbalize, than what’s really in our hearts. Our reasons sound reasonable, but they aren’t necessarily correct.

Now comes the bigger problem: After looking at our list, we may change the way we feel, at least temporarily, to match what we wrote. Maybe the list doesn’t seem too spectacular and we reassess our feelings.

Wilson gives a couple of examples. Suppose you enjoy dating someone, and you wonder why: What is it about this person? As you think about it, you start to notice that you and your partner don’t have much in common. With so little in common, you can’t have much of a future! So you change your mind about the relationship.

Then there’s that episode from Friends when Ross makes a list to sort out his feelings toward Rachel and Julie. He loves Rachel but can’t figure out why, so he writes down whatever comes to mind: “She’s just a waitress… She’s a little ditzy.” In real life, Ross would have concluded that he did not love Rachel as much as he thought, because all he could think of were negative traits. (But when he thought about Julie, all he could think was, “She’s not Rachel, she’s not Rachel.” Perhaps fiction is more forgiving.)

If you ever do chose to list the reasons why you love your lover, consider that you may not know, or may not be able to articulate, your real reasons.  

Fortunately, the effects of “reasons-generated attitude change” are temporary. So at least don’t do anything rash based on your new perspective.

I once asked my husband why he loved me. He said he didn’t know. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t push the matter.

Georgia Platts

Source: Elliot Aronson, Timothy Wilson and Robin Akert. Social psychology. Pearson/Prentice Hall. 2007

“Whore”: The W-word?

Do women see the word “whore” the same as African Americans see the “N-word”?

At Wednesday’s California gubernatorial debate, Tom Brokaw suggested the two were equivalent, asking Gov. Jerry Brown why he had not expressed outrage at his aide’s suggestion they brand Meg Whitman with the term for catering to law enforcement in exchange for an endorsement. 

Brown retorted, “I don’t agree with that comparison,” and added a weak apology. 

He went on to ask why Whitman wasn’t outraged that her campaign chair had once called Congress “whores” for similar dealings with public employee unions. Whitman strangely called that “a completely different thing.” 

Now Salon columnist, Joan Walsh, has asked: Is “whore” the N-word for women?  

The fact that no one says “the W-word” to avoid saying “whore” suggests that people don’t find it quite so offensive.

But then, our society is more offended by racism than sexism: People are more upset by racist than sexist jokes.  And few complain about calling women ho’s in rap music because they don’t want to sound racist. But sexist is fine.

Maybe it’s not as offensive. But maybe it should be.

Georgia Platts

Relevant posts: Why Are We More Offended By Racism Than Sexism?

Repressive Female Sex Culture

“After I’ve just gotten laid, the first thing I think about is that I can’t wait to tell my crew who I just did. Omigod, they’re not going to believe I just did Kristy. They’ll all be high-fiving me.”

Guys routinely celebrate having sex. The messages they give each other pretty much translate to, “Sex is great! And more is better!” 

But what do women hear? 

After anticipating “high-fives” for his sexual success, the young man above adds: “And Kristy? She’ll probably ask me not to tell anyone, to protect her reputation.” 

Men and women receive very different messages about sex. 

In fact, the term “hookup” is deliberately ambiguous. It can mean anything from kissing to intercourse. So if a guy says he hooked up, he’s hoping other guys think he went “all the way.” But if a girl hooks up, she hopes her friends hear, “I kissed him.” 

At one northeastern college, men returning to the fraternities after a night at the dorms are said to be strolling the Walk of Fame. But women returning to the dorms from a frat are taking the Walk of Shame. 

A few years back a fraternity at Dartmouth published the names of all of the women the brothers had had sex with, making disparaging comments about them. 

Is sex something to avoid? Something dirty? Or something to pursue with a vengeance? It all depends on whether you’re male of female. 

When it comes to sex, men are celebrated but women risk punishment. 

Many think sexual repression is not a problem in our society – that these notions never reach the subconscious. Yet women can come to turn off sexual feeling, whether they realize it or not. Not feeling can be safer. 

Sex therapist, Lonnie Barbach, says that highly repressive societies create women who have difficulty climaxing, while women in non-repressive societies have regular and satisfactory orgasms.  

In 1972, when women were more penalized than they are today, a Playboy foundation survey found that more than half of single women under age 25 found their first sexual experience neutral or unpleasant. Only 20% found sex highly pleasurable.

Things may not be as bad today. Indiana University’s recently released sex survey found that 58% of women in their 20s had had an orgasm the last time they had sex. But when that compares with 96% of their male counterparts, we see the tell-tale signs of continuing repression.

But really, should we be surprised?  

Men who slut-shame don’t seem too worried that women won’t enjoy sex with them. After watching sex-craved porn stars, and thinking that accurately reflects women’s sexuality, perhaps they assume women can’t help but come back for more. No matter what.  

Some will interpret my observation that men are more sex-positive and more promiscuous as prescribing male behavior to everyone. As one reader put it“But I don’t want to run around like a tart!”

Actually, I want to have a conversation about the positives and negatives of so-called men’s and women’s ways of doing sex. It is certainly not better to treat people like currency – the more you bang the higher your status. But what can women learn from men, and what can men learn from women? 

Georgia Platts 

Sources: Lonnie Barbach. For Yourself. Anchor. 2000; Michael Kimmel. Guyland. Harper. 2008

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Sex Lessons from Mom and Dad   “Cock” vs “Down There” 
Sex: Who Gets Screwed?    Are Women Naturally Monogamous?
Surprises in Indiana University Sex Survey

Cheerleader Ordered To Cheer Her Rapist, and Other Stories

In 2008 a high school cheerleader joined her friends for a post-football game party. But the fun turned into a nightmare when, she says, four young men sexually assaulted her. A grand jury initially declined to indict, but Rakheem Bolton was eventually charged and pled guilty to simple assault.

Bolton was also on the basketball team. But the 16-year-old refused to root for him. So school officials ordered her to cheer Bolton on, or go home. When she refused, she was cut from the squad.

After suing the district attorney, the school district and the principal, an appeals court ruled against her. 

The school had no problem with her attacker playing on the team. Too important to win! Cheerleaders, however, won’t gain the school any glory. 

The courts often see the world through the eyes of the powerful, too. 

Who gets punished? Well, who’s powerful? 

Case 2: Child Abuse Called “Art”

“Hypothetical question: How would you feel if, as a young teenager, your father asked you to strip down naked so he could film you talking about your confusing, puberty-warped body? Oh, you wouldn’t like it? Really? What if he called it ‘art’?” Asks NYU LOCAL reporter, Keyana Stevens.

New York University purchased the archives of artist, Larry Rivers. But one of his daughters wants to destroy the film entitled “Growing,” telling the New York Times that her father’s coercion in making those films led her to develop anorexia. “It wrecked a lot of my life, actually.”  

But she had no control. And initially NYU refused her request.

Only public outrage turned things around, leading NYU to reject that part of the collection.

Case 3: DA Sends Abusive Texts to Abuse Victim 

In the midst of prosecuting a man accused of domestic violence, District Attorney, Kenneth Kratz began texting the “hot, young” (as he put it) victim hoping to start a sexual relationship.  

Experts called the messages disturbing and unethical, given the power differential between the prosecutor and the young victim. Not to mention heaping abuse on top of abuse.

At first Kratz seemed likely to avoid punishment. State legal regulators said his actions were not technically misconduct. The state crime victims’ rights board, which Kratz had chaired, wasn’t investigating. And Gov. Jim Doyle stayed silent. 

Once again, publicity and shame came to the rescue: Kratz chose to resign.

When it comes to punishment, too often the powerful don’t have to worry as the powerless suffer. Except those rare cases when shock and publicity intervene.

What a sad state of affairs. 

Georgia Platts

Source: “DA keeps jobs despite texting “hot, young nymph” violence victim.” San Jose Mercury News. September 17, 2010

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