Why My Rape Didn’t Make Me a Mansplainer

One of the weirdest behaviors I’ve seen is when men who are raped use the horror of that event to justify their dismissive, high handed, and contemptuous treatment toward women. It’s not something I see pervasively by any means, but it has cropped up among a few of my (mostly former) friends, and it’s always made me very uncomfortable.

Rather than go into all that, though, I want to say why it hasn’t had that effect on me, and never will.

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On Missing the Goddamn Point

I’m a libertarian. My political philosophy can largely be summed up by the idea that while I think it would be nice if we could guarantee everyone’s safety and happiness, we cannot, and that attempts to do so by a central polity can reliably be counted on to generate perverse incentives, corruption, and disastrous failures. It’s less that I think private entities are automatically morally better, and more that I think public ones just can’t seem to do good things as efficiently.

I don’t want to tell people how to think. I like bringing things up, trying to invite them to think about things. I point out that de Soto’s privatization and individual recognition reforms in South America did a world of good for the country’s underclass. I draw attention to the fact that China’s economic special zones such as Hong Kong or Shenzen seem to be doing a lot better than other parts of the country. I indicate that the drug war seems to be having the opposite effect of what it was intended. The point is that I want to open the dialog, to get people to think about the real implications and side-effects of their actions, however well-intentioned they might be. Libertarians have a lot to contribute to the social discourse about how the world might be improved, in particular in the arena of civil liberties vis a vis equality before the law.

So imagine how much I throw up in my mouth when I read any libertarian thread on feminism, slut shaming, and gender-defined behavior.

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Wicked Portrayals

So, I recently watched the entirety of True Blood as portrayed thus far, and I finally watched the X Men movies, which are things I hadn’t bothered catching up on until recently when I had a big glut of spare time to myself.

I really have to say, the portrayal of characters in these things, which are held up as big Geek Culture shows, is absolutely awful in a lot of ways.

Trigger warnings: Violence, rape

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Things I’ve Learned Lately

Once again, I’d like to go into musing on things I’ve learned about recently, to see if there’s anyone who might have some light to shed on the topic.

These are solely my observations of what I’ve seen lately. I do not, cannot, and will not make any wider generalizations from them, as generalizing is part of the problem that feminists are trying to combat.

Trigger warnings – racism, spousal abuse, gendered slurs

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Self-Centeredness

One of the topics I was always fascinated by in high school was ethnocentrism. In short, ethnocentrism is judging other cultures by the values of your own culture. The stereotypical, ugly example I frequently come up with is people in the US criticizing migrant workers for not having well-developed English speaking skills (or American, as some of the more delightful ones put it).

A less toxic example is that of WWII. For the US, WWII didn’t really ‘start’ until the attack on Pearl Harbor, even though in Europe it’s broadly considered to have started with the invasion of Poland (and to a lesser extent the Winter War between Finland and the USSR).

That said, there aren’t always weighty issues that crop up in this self-centered approach. I had a funny one happen to me when I was delivering papers as a carrier in North Carolina.

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Stephen Fry’s Thoughts on Loneliness

Being an introvert is an incredibly lonely experience.

That might sound odd, since introversion is commonly described as “having to expend energy on being with others” versus extroversion’s “gaining energy from being around others,” but it is something I find true nonetheless.

Stephen Fry recently commented on some of the difficulties and loneliness regarding an introverted personality, and I wanted to ruminate on the matter myself.

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Contempt is Undermining the Argument

I was recently watching an interesting series, Tropes vs Women in Videogames, by Anita Sarkeesian. In it she discusses various tropes relating to the role of women in video games. Briefly, a trope is a theme or behavior that is repeated across a variety of literary sources. Check out this explanation at TVTropes for more information.

A device is neither good nor bad simply for being a trope – however, certain tropes are considered rather negative. Bury Your Gays, for example – in this trope, authors will kill off gay characters to create additional drama, often with undertones of ‘they died because gay is deviant.’ Given our cultural narrative in recent years, this is definitely unfortunate writing.

So, Anita is writing about certain tropes that are used in video games when female characters are involved. The series is an attempt to examine these tropes from a feminist perspective, and while I don’t agree with everything she says, she raises some excellent points that are at least worth discussing and thinking about.

So consider how hard I facepalmed when I viewed a certain response to her series by someone whose work I otherwise find quite provocative.

Further thoughts below.

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Things I’ve Learned This Week – June 2-8, 2013

1 – The term ‘microaggressions’

I picked this one up from the excellent blog This View of Life. Basically it’s a woman’s perspective on being a member of geek culture, and it’s insightful and interesting reading. The term refers to petty acts and commentary designed to make women feel discomforted in a social space. An example she gave was of being told repeatedly ‘oh, dear, you know your skirt is a bit short don’t you?’ and suchlike. Another example was of male geeks aggressively grilling her on Trek trivia in order to verify her geek credentials, rather than simply extending goodwill. What disturbed me was the notion that most of the comments on ‘you look trampy’ came from other women, who should ostensibly be allied with her in her efforts to show off her geeky costumes.

2. Women can be ‘crabby’

I’m not referring to temperament, but rather to the tendency of crabs in a bushel to hold eachother down instead of teaming up to climb out. At work, there is a young woman who got out of a relationship with a hideous young man who cheated on her and lied about it. Instead of expressing solidarity with her decision, the women at work were saying things like “well you should make him do something romantic for you when he tries to get back with you.” It was again, disturbing to hear.

3. My personal thoughts are hypocritical

I am trying to be more gender-inclusive and expansive in my thinking. Most of the employees at my place of work are women. I get along with most, and there is very little friction. There is one, however, who is abrasive and rude, and I don’t get along with her. That said, it sickens me that my immediate thoughts when she does this are typically structured as gendered slurs. “Bitch” is the least of these. I always reprimand myself and try to modify my thoughts, but it makes me nauseous that I have such ingrained habits of making gendered slurs.

 

Let’s Start by Being Honest

So, I’m a gamer, have been since I was six. NES, my dad telling bedtime stories that were basically diceless rpgs, DnD, White Wolf, next-gen gaming systems, I’ve done it all. I like gaming and it likes me.

I’ve always been a thinker, more than a doer. I pass my shifts doing dishes at work by thinking of story ideas, characters, philosophy, politics, all that wonderful brainy stuff that got me called geek and nerd. Lately, I’ve been thinking about feminism and rape culture, particularly due to a lovely blog called Go Make Me a Sandwich.

So this blog is going to be about my thoughts on this issue, yes from a male perspective. Feminism is not a one-sided issue. How men respond to it, take its lessons to heart, and what we do and don’t take from it are important.

With that in mind, let’s talk honestly about an incident in my past.

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