Assaulting Daisy to Create “Male Superiority”

Daisy Coleman, Matthew Barnett

Daisy Coleman, Matthew Barnett

Trigger Warning: May be triggering for rape victims.

Plenty of people think rape is perpetrated by men who are sick in the head, or men who can’t control their lust for scantily clad women – especially women walking around late at night.

But as most know, rape primarily revolves around power issues. And relatedly, sexual assault is often used to create a sense of manhood and male superiority. The case of Daisy Coleman, who I wrote about recently, helps unveil the evil phenomenon.

“Manhood” is commonly linked to power, domination, virility, not being gay and, oftentimes, violence. Rape, itself, contains all of these things as a man overpowers, dominates, penetrates and acts violently toward his victim. And if he has an audience, like Matthew Barnett did when he attacked Daisy Coleman – he “proves his manhood” to others, too. That’s likely why the assault was witnessed and videotaped.

Manhood is often tied to male superiority, too. That’s because maleness still outranks femaleness. That’s why men so often feel pressured to prove manhood – to demonstrate they deserve that higher status. (Whoever heard of women feeling pressure to prove their womanhood? Who needs – or wants – to prove inferiority?) A sign of superiority comes from domination, but also denigration.

Rape is largely about denigrating a woman: putting her down to raise the rapist up. No wonder Daisy’s assailants asked her to drink from a “bitch cup” just before the assault. Next, she is discarded on a snow-covered front porch, in freezing temperatures. She is shown no courtesy. In fact, her life, health and well-being just don’t matter.

After word of the attack gets out she is further ridiculed in person and online, like being reduced to a thing that just wants the “D,” however she can get it. Daisy recalled:

Matt put on Twitter something recently. It read:

“If her name begins with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z, she wants the D.”

Others may then pile on to demonstrate their own superiority over her. Even when Daisy told her story to XO Jane, comments were closed with this note: [EDITOR’S NOTE: We have made the decision to disable comments on this article.] 

Meanwhile, high-rape fraternities pressure brothers and pledges to demean women. It all goes toward putting women down to raise men up.

But are these guys really superior? Or subhuman?

Luckily, most men don’t behave this way. And many men see thing’s very differently. Like Ted Esparza, who wrote a piece for my blog, declaring: “Real men don’t beat, rape women.”

Or, as Alex Ghanma recently wrote on my blog:

Seems to me that manhood should be about having the courage to resist peer pressure that leaves us harming ourselves and others. Men’s studies professor, Michael Kimmel says manhood is about “honor, integrity, respect and doing the right thing despite the costs.” I agree with him.

I agree with him, too.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Real Men Don’t Beat, Rape Women: A Guy’s View
Mind of a Rapist: Trying to Bridge a Gap between a Small Self and a Big Man
Raping, Shaming Girls to Impress Guys

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 25, 2013, in feminism, men, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. “Daisy should just move on.”

    Is that a joke? Of course she will naturally move on, but it won’t be done peacefully or healthily without justice. What about future Daisys? What if we just apathetically let all women freeze to death? Who will birth future children if we kill all our women?

    Matt’s improper Tweet makes my stomach turn. If she wanted the ‘D’ so badly, why would she want to be left in the cold after hooking up? Nothing makes sense. Especially upon reading about the evidence- everything pointed to sexual assault, but nothing was resolved.

    Domination mindsets kill others and perpetuate irrational fear about the world. Women often are brought up to believe the world is unsafe, much due to internalized subordination. Women are socialized as weak sexual prey, while men are expected to embrace machismo and strength (both physical and emotional.)

    I have often felt unsafe and uncomfortable at parties due to feeling preyed upon. As a teenager, I’d often enter parties expecting enjoyable conversation, some alcohol and safe fun. Instead, I often encountered intoxicated men who competed with their peers for women, often ogling at me and aggressively asking for sex. I was eventually taught to expect this, as the mantra ‘boys will be boys’ was echoed one too many times. Boys will be boys in patriarchy long as we celebrate gender oppression. Boys do not have to harass or demean women to validate themselves, but our society tends to disagree.

  2. handsomelustyblackladbrad1953

    We black men were LYNCHED FOR CENTURIES in the U.S. if even some white woman accused us-OFTEN FALSELY!!!!!!-of rape.(See:Scottsboro Boys case,1930’s;Emmitt Till,Money Miss.,Aug.28,1955,Till,14,was murdered for WHISTLING at a white shop-keepers’s wife;Mack Charles Parker,22,taken from prison and lynched by Mississippi KKK,1960,after having been-LIKELY FALSELY,according to some aging residents of the region who vividly remember the case-convicted of raping a white woman
    by a bigoted,all white male jury.)

    Read some U.S. history, otherwise FAR TOO MANY white Yanks are playing “ostrich” and deliberately failing to deal with some VERY UGLY parts of your not-so-distant past!!!!

  3. Every raper I believe has a different reason as of why they rape. There could be reasons such as growing up with no discipline or perhaps no love.Not that raping will make them feel loved but maybe its all anger build up inside. Maybe they grew up with some sort of dominance and feel the urge to finally feel power upon someone. Other reasons could be because they are sick in the head or like mentioned above to prove man hood if surrounded by an audience. So I’ve heard that the majority of rapes are actually done by people whom you are surrounded by more often/daily. I personally believe that even though there are tons of different reasons for a rapist to take action they should be punished. No innocent person deserves to be put through any of that. Even worse when its a child that has no clue as of what is going on.

    • Actually, power and dominance always seem to lie behind rape, based on studies of rapists.

      And rape disappears in cultures that aren’t male-dominated, like the American Indians of the East Coast before – and just after– Contact with Europeans.

      Here’s a paragraph from a post I wrote describing why different men rape:

      Some rape to feel powerful, others gang rape to demonstrate their “manhood” (defined as powerful, dominant, violent, virile, and not gay) to each other and fraternally bond, some become aroused by sadistically bringing sex and violence together, others seek to harm an entire race, community or nation by using sexual assault as a political weapon, still others seek revenge against someone other than the rape victim. And some misread cues.

  4. handsomelustyblackladbrad1953

    Then,there are the “fake rapes” that occur FAR MORE FREQUENTLY than most,ahem,”feminists” care to believe.(Brian Banks,NFL,for example.)

    • Debated whether to post this because it’s so negative, but decided to because I wanted to point out that it misses the point.

      When a woman falsely accuses a man of rape, she’s not doing it to create a sense of female superiority. She’s not doing it to create any sort of distinction between the genders. Maybe she would do it because she’s mad at a particular man. Or maybe she would do it because she is ashamed of having sex. But that would be all about male dominance, too. Living in a culture where men are free to do what they want but women are not. Where women are shamed for doing the same thing that a man is celebrated for. So that gets back to the problem of patriarchy and creating a sense of male dominance. This is when patriarchy backfires on itself.

  5. This article is very true. I still don’t know why up to this day rape is considered something done outside on the street in alleys. It is very outdated (no offense if anyone encountered something otherwise). I have seem many shows and YouTube documentaries stating that rape is mostly done by someone we know of, or even a close friend/neighbor/ etc. Rape COULD be someone trying to show “manhood” and “power”, but there are many more reasons and scenarios of why it happens.
    However, I do not agree with one point of this article. It states that women do not try to prove inferiority, but I think otherwise. Growing up in a foreign country I did not socialize much, but I observe a lot. I think that women are as competitive, or even more than men. Women also do not forgive their enemies/ someone they try to compete with. I know that by observing, and by encountering those situations. But this article’s main topic is rape so I do not want to go off topic.
    Many rape victims do not report of the crime, because it is done by someone they know. I think that’s why those situations go under control- because girls (especially intoxicated), think that if you know someone that knows someone it will be okay. I do not blame rape victims what so ever, but I do think that girls that party it up a little too hard should learn to be careful.

  6. I feel on this particularly case very strongly. Being raped sometimes is about power or putting down a woman, but to be honest we never looked at it any other ways. For instance a man or woman who was raped is likely to rape someone else. I know a girl who was raped by her cousin when she was a little girl and her cousin who raped her was raped by someone when he was young. If you don’t get help when your young and you don’t tell anyone you will carry that with you to your future. I am not saying its right or an excuse, but sometimes there is more to the story. Some men do it just for the control or the power, but we forget that women rape to. For this story its sad and degrading men do this to women. They get pleasure and thrive off this type of behavior. These are the people who belong to be punished. Men who believe it is okay to degrade a women and make her feel worthless.

  7. randyolderblackladbrad1953

    Let me see…rapist are THE SCUM OF THE EARTH, OF COURSEand should,when convicted,face the law’s full force.That said,it appears A LOT of dudes,especially in frats, on sports teams and other male clubs enable these folks by cheering the crime (making them accessories,to me at least),or utilizing the “boys’ code” of silence when the perp is questioned and/or apprehended.In other words,the rape itself is FAR WORSENED by the criminal’s buds’ assent,overt or covert.

  8. Ashley Steffenson

    Reading stories like this really make me worry and feel disappointed in today’s generation and society. Although rape has been going on since the beginning of time, one would only hope that a problem of this caliber would be non existent, although clearly it is still very much thriving. It not only saddened me to hear what happened to Daisy, it also really discomforts me to see the way everyone at her school reacted. To hear about the girl who wore the “Matt 1, Daisy 0” shirt is absolutely disgusting and appalling. To hear that a fellow woman didn’t stand up for Daisy when clearly this is a deeply rooted women’s(not always, but a majority of the time) issue but defended the attacker instead of the victim… is to say the least, very unsettling. The issue of rape being a complex matter of men’s values in morals, empathy, and idea of manhood is one to be carefully looked upon when trying to understand why these sort of horrendous things happen. Personally, I think the concept that a male thinks that he has to “prove his manhood” by raping a woman is mind boggling. However, it’s clear that this is the case with Matthew Barnett because he not only had one of his friends video tape the traumatizing event for Daisy but then the video went viral around her school. Upon further research, Matthew’s mother recently came out denying the claims and told press that she believe firmly in the “treat others the way you want to be treated” saying due to the recent out lash towards their family that forced Matthew to drop out of his college recently. I deeply think that Matthew and his mother need to reevaluate their life choices and instead of blaming people for their behavior towards the family over the situation, they need to understand why they got there in the first place and apply this this very same saying to themselves. Rape should not be the equivalent to proving one’s manhood and something so heinous shouldn’t go without justice just because of one’s connections or political power or status.

  9. And agree with him three!!
    I used to have a boyfriend that when his friends came around and they would act differently and demeaning to women, he would resist. I surely thought that he would jump on the bandwagon and say some of those stupid cliche’s that dudes clown women on, but he never did. He would either look away or walk away but he never participated, never lowered himself. And he was so young but so smart and such a man to be so confident in himself that he didn’t have to participate to find his own value through taking mine.

  10. Yeah, but even if a man wants power or feels powerless, don’t these guys have to lack morals or a conscience to do something dispicable like rape or batter women? Unless, like for some boys, where they grew up with an abusive father who beat their moms. There have been studies that show for whatever reason, boys who grow up in households which their fathers beat up and abuse their moms. They are likely to beat women and do the same thing when they get older. I don’t know if it’s because boys idolize their dads and think its the thing to do or learn or think it’s acceptable to take their anger out on women, because their dad did? It’s weird, because if my step dad or dad ever abused my mom or sister, I would beat the living shit out of them when old enough to do so. I guess the question becomes, is it nurture or nature as far as morals, ethics and conscienceness goes? To me, i’ve always felt it’s a mixture of both. That’s why I wonder about guys doing this rape stuff, maybe they were in bad household or influenced by bad examples, but then I wonder why nature doesn’t counteract any bad intentions they might have or have learned. The reason I say it’s both is from seeing it. I know some people who have been around or grow up by terrible parents, awful examples, aroujnd violence, in the slums, yet they still are good people and caring and don’t steal shit. Like it’s inborn in them. An old friend I knew growing up, he had a great household, nice parents, not around bad stuff, nice neighbor hood. Yet, he later on in life ended up in jail so many times, stealing shit, drugs, just doing dirtbag stuff.

    • While patriarchy plays a role, I do think that empathy and morals also play roles.

      Also, boys who grow up in violent homes don’t necessarily continue the cycle. Some do, some don’t. Part of the reason some do is the way they react to being powerless as their moms were beaten. Now that they’re gown, they beat to take back a sense of power.

      We also know that some people have more empathy than others. May be inborn, but when you constantly see your mom beaten, you can become numb. Numb your emotions because it hurts too much. And then lose empathy. And then hurt people to get your negative emotions out and regain your power.

  11. Sure a lot of it is power. But you can’t say It’s all to do with a man trying to be superior or because he fees inferior as a man.If that was the case, half of men would be rapists and I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve had moments of feeling worthless from not finding work and had moments of being depressed, hurt, etc. And plenty of other guys I know have. We didn’t go out raping girls to help ourselves and feel better. You know why? ha, It’s pretty simple, because we like most or a great number of guys, you know have that thing such as morals, and ethics and it’s obvious to us that hurting another woman is a dispicable act. These guys must have some narcisstic, or sociopathic traits and not simply having some inferiority complex, as they don’t have apparently much morals in their bones. A man can and there are men who feel inferior and all the things you said abotu how men feel, but they don’t hurt or rape women, because they have morals and obviously realize doing that is a sick thing to do. Rapists obviously lack compassion, and empathy, which I think sociopaths do. There’s some other psycological traits a rapist has to have to not care that he’s doing something evil and wants to do something evil. There definitely has to be a disconnect.

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