For Aikin, Goldberg, and evidently too many others, anything less than the most brutal forms of assault by stranger doesn't count as sexual violence at all.
There are many, many ramafications of this. The big one being that virtually all victims to the left of Goldberg in the graph, above, are women and girls. And while there are certainly exceptions, virtually none are men or boys. Furthermore, perpetrators of sexual violence to the left of Goldberg on the spectrum are almost exclusively men and boys. And because most people seem to believe the entire range extends only from Aikin to Goldberg it really seems as if all the stereotypes about gender, from the bitterest anti-feminist to the bitterest feminist, must be true.
And if all that was to it then the stereotypes would be true.
However it's not true. Aikin and Goldberg's standards are squeezed waaaaay over to the left of the spectrum. There's substantially more. In fact I'm pretty sure even Goldberg (though probably not Aikin) understands this. But as I suggest in the chart, that public understanding still fades pretty quickly to a point that there can be bafflement or confusion (or calculated sexual-violence denial) about the so-called "gray area."
Somewhat further to the right mainstream sexual-violence advocates understand that there's no "gray area," and understands as well that workplace and street or social sexual harassment is sexual violence and. There's general (though not yet complete) agreement that young men and boys can be victims and even that for the most part, that "stolen kisses" and unwanted hugs count. Although somewhere around that point understanding fades out and sexual-violence denial begins to creep back in.
I'd like to suggest, however, that the spectrum extends quite a bit further into terrain where almost everybody will deny there's sexual violence. Although, I'd like to argue, that like the microwave background it's still there. And that perhaps, like the microwave background, the extreme right end represents the faintest traces of original sexual violence. But I digress.
I'd further like to suggest that as one begins to recognize the scope of the Goldberg spectrum the less easy it is to make tidy assertions about what is or isn't sexual violence or who the victims and perpetrators really are.
This is a long post, for which I apologize. But it's... bad. --tfl
Barge around one of those "men's rights" websites long enough and you're bound to find some asswipe so incensed by the very idea that he might have been "cuckolded" that he'll assert with callous passion that he'd abandon a dependent child if he felt he wasn't the "real" father. Because the most mature, "manly" thing you can possibly do when your fee-fees are hurt by an adult partner is to crush the emotional life out of little children who, like all children, make the only father they know the center of their universe.
I previously believed these men to be the biggest monsters in civilization and that anyone who even advocated doing such a thing, let alone committed something such a heinous crime against humanity should have DNR tattooed on his face so that paramedics and emergency room staff wouldn't bother resuscitating him should he ever come under their care.
Now I've heard of something even worse.
For nearly 30 years the London police routinely "deployed" undercover cops to infiltrate non-violent protest groups like Greenpeace and routinely supervised sexual relationships with female activists as part of their "infiltration."
These "infiltrations" lasted sometimes for years. One married officer, involved with a targeted non-violent activist for six years, attended couples therapy with his own real-life wife while simultaneously going to another couples therapist with his victim. Another, over the course of a decade, had serial multi-year romantic and/or sexual relationships with three members of a non-violent animal-rights or environmental group.
Another officer is alleged to have not only formed a relationship with a member of a (non-violent, remember) anti-war group but fathered a child with her!
That doesn't necessarily make him the worst kind of monster.
What does make it very bad is that when the police chose to terminate their investigations the undercover cops were obliged to abandon the intimate, often sexual, sometimes parental relationships they'd formed with their victims, again, over many years.
But you know what? That they did abandon their victims and the children they fathered and presumably helped raise, also possibly for years, was plenty bad enough, and certainly qualified them as... well... unqualified monsters. But even that didn't make them the worst kind of monsters.
Because rather than admit "oh, by the way, I don't love you. I've never loved you. I don't care about our friends -- in fact I only took up with you to betray them. I don't care about your parents, whom I've met and spent holidays together with you with. And I don't even care about the son or daughter I've fathered with you" the fucking miserable cowards were coached to, get this, being pretending to have deep depression and then to disappear with stories about needing to "find themselves." Perhaps by taking jobs overseas." And then erasing all traces of their non-existent former lives. Leaving their erestwhile partners humanly worried about them, concerned for them, sometimes spending years searching for them. And, of course, no doubt trying to explain to their children what's happened to Daddy.
It's that part. Nominally responsible police supervisors coaching agents to behave like the worst stereotypes of Peter-fucking-Pan "can't find yourself" male irresponsibility as the way to "extract" themselves from these undercover long-term relationships. That's what takes them across the threshold from everyday callous asshole monsters and into over the top unbeatable monsters.
SWEET mother of pearl!
Check out this YouTube transcript of the officers and members of Parliament left trying to sort it all out. The conversation between the blithe cops and incredulous MPs is just surreal!
Here's a quick and dirty transcript.
Q: What happens if a child is born as... has been alleged? What happens? Where's the responsibility for that?
A: Well, those individual cases are clearly going to be explored by the court.
Q: No... [back talk] What obligations are there for the men if a child were [pause] from a preapproved liason?
A: You're taking my words in a slightly different way. I did say, absolutely, that preauthorization, we don't do that today about relationships. Not ordinarily.
Q: What do you mean by "not ordinarily?"
A: If people become involved in a relationship it has to come back to the supervisor.
Q: The thing is, if a supervising officer knows about a sexual relationship, and a child is born from that relationship, then the Met has some... responsibility [garbled] that child, because that police officer will be using a false name that child has some sort of right to know the correct legal name of their father.
A: Our expectation is people will not engage in long-term relationships. [back chatter] They will not get involved in long term relationships and get involved in the sort of things you're describing... and are well documented in terms of those sorts of things.
Elsewhere another legislator asks "What advice does the supervisor give in those circumstances, to the officer, one to protect the employee as well as the other party involved, who very well may be a suspect but more likely might not be a suspect, because the relationship is there.
Mark Jenner lived with a woman under a fake name. Now she has testified to MPs about the ‘betrayal and humiliation’ she felt
He was a burly, funny scouser called Mark Cassidy. His girlfriend – a secondary school teacher he shared a flat with for four years – believed they were almost “man and wife”. Then, in 2000, as the couple were discussing plans for the future, Cassidy suddenly vanished, never to be seen again.
An investigation by the Guardian has established that his real name is Mark Jenner. He was an undercover police officer in the Metropolitan police’s special demonstration squad (SDS), one of two units that specialised in infiltrating protest groups.
His girlfriend, whose story can be told for the first time as her evidence to a parliamentary inquiry is made public, said living with a police spy has had an “enormous impact” on her life.
“It has impacted seriously on my ability to trust, and that has impacted on my current relationship and other subsequent relationships,” she said, adopting the pseudonym Alison. “It has also distorted my perceptions of love and my perceptions of sex.”
Alison is one of four women to testify to the House of Commons home affairs select committee last month.
According to another article an alleged police officer named Mark Kennedy...
... was at her grandmother's 90th birthday where he seemed very "comfortable".
Lily's mother said: "He seemed absolutely devoted to my daughter. He used to stay here, slob around, watching TV with us, all that stuff that you do in a relaxed way with people in the family".
"These shadowy figures were presumably making decisions about my dinner dates and whether or not I was going to spend the night with my boyfriend, reading emails, listening to phone calls - deeply personal stuff."
It's not clear whether all agents involved in these sexual relationships with members of target groups were men, but at best they were the clear majority. As yet another Guardian article says "Ten women and one man have launched a legal action claiming they were tricked into forming deeply personal relationships with the police spies. The women say they were duped into forming long-term, sexual relationships lasting years with undercover officers."
There's just... everything wrong with this story!
For those of us into consent, the false pretenses, reports of sex back to supervisors, coaching and training by supervisors, and on and on amount to absolutely clear cut violations of consent. In the U.S. anyway, they'd be actionable crimes of assault and/or criminal seduction.
For those of us opposed to that pesky social construction of gender, it's appalling that police would have calculatedly manufactured -- literally constructed! -- egregiously gendered male lassitude, depression, flight, and abandonment as their routine means of removing agents from their surveillance roles.
And if, as has been alleged publicly and seems to be documented in closed hearings, some agents actually fathered and then abandoned children in the course of their "duties" then virtually no social, legal, economic, or even corporal punishment would be adequate to the monstrosity of such behavior either by the "agents" themselves or, perhaps worse, by their knowing supervisors. Such behavior is beyond intolerable.
One last point, and it's an important one in terms of the history of feminism and men in feminism: These alleged events took place in England in the early 1980s, by men (policing back then was still mostly men) who came of age in or before modern laws about sexual assault, seduction, or male responsibility were much more than the theories of "cranky women's libbers." That today even the police themselves are uncomfortable with the allegations (See "More squirming from police chiefs today when the question of the long-term or sexual relationships between undercover officers and activists arose in public.") and are equally quick to point out that such egregious, criminal-in-any-other-circumstances behavior would no longer be condoned. That at one point it was condoned -- not just the romantic and sexual relations, and not only actual fathering of children, but coordinated abandonment of those relationships and those children -- shows how genuinely awful pre-feminist men could be. And helps explain why, in turn, those nominally infamous "angry feminists" of the era in turn might have had actual reason to be.
But more to the point, in terms of gender equality and men, can you imagine the kind of twisted horror men were raised in back then that they could blithly abandon not only social, romantic, sexual, or even familial relationships but actual parental ones? When you hear anti-feminists talking about "the good old days when men could be men," that's the kind of men they were talking about: men so amputated of humanity that they amounted to sociopaths! Thanks but no thanks!
I’m in the corner watching you kiss her, oh. I’m right over here, why can’t you see me? Oh. I’m giving it my all but I’m not the girl you’re taking home. [I keep dancing on my own]
I hear this and I am suddenly a gawky girl again on the dance floor, dancing my little hormonal heart out, desperately trying to attract a boy’s attention, and trying to hold my head up high and swallow the boulder in my chest, as I see him leave with some gazelle-like creature.
I'm not sure who started the lie but it's mostly us men who completely, 100% don't realize the only "power" women have in standard hetero dating is the "power" to answer if asked! No ask, no power. None. Period. At all. In other words no matter how gawky a boy you were, or a man you are, 100% of the "power" you might complain women have over you is power you give in the first place.
This realization, which only sank in for me back in 2007 (I first started trying to date in 1973!) was the moment I realized all the attempted "men's rights" alternatives to women's rights movements I'd been trying to get my heart into (since 1974!) weren't ever going to work because they located power where it wasn't and then complained about it. Just a little later I decided to not only drop all the variations on men's rights, men's studies, men's advocacy, etc., and even drop all the variants on "feminist allies," supporters, sympathizers, etc., and it's later variants -- especially "good men" -- and just call myself a feminist. Because that was the point when I realized men and women are both indoctrinated to the same set of artificial constructs that nominally advantage men and certainly disproportionately disadvantage women, but really continue to persist in order to control all of us.
I happen to believe, as do many others, that feminism doesn't have all the answers. But there's a giant flipping difference between "not all the answers" and "wrong." Which is why I see the work for men like me -- and I'm obviously proposing for men like you too -- as extending feminism by analyzing and challenging the consequences and not just the nominal advantages of Patriarchy for men.
And it can start with something as simple as listening to little snippets of song lyrics.
I’m in the corner watching you kiss her, oh. I’m right over here, why can’t you see me? Oh. I’m giving it my all but I’m not the girl you’re taking home. [I keep dancing on my own]
Language Log author, joint professor of linguistics and computer and informational sciences, and gender stereotype curmudgeon Mark Liberman crops up another example of the persistence of gender stereotypes...
You know all the times that men complain about women talking too much? Apparently there's a biological explanation for the reason why women are chattier than men. Scientists have discovered that women possess higher levels of a "language protein" in their brains, which could explain why females are so talkative.
Previous research has shown that women talk almost three times as much as men. In fact, an average woman notches up 20,000 words in a day, which is about 13,000 more than the average man. In addition, women generally speak more quickly and devote more brainpower to speaking. Yet before now, researchers haven't been able to biologically explain why this is the case.
There has never been any "study" showing that "women talk almost three times as much as men", although the "research" in question has been cited by dozens of science writers, relationship counselors, celebrity preachers, and other people in the habit of claiming non-existent authoritative support for their personal impressions;
Real-world studies of gender differences in language use indicate that men and women are about equally talkative. One large, relatively recent study (M.R. Mehlet al., "Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men?", Science, 317(5834) p. 82 July 5, 2007) found essentially equal counts of about 16,000 words per day in six samples of university students in the U.S. and Mexico.
Just a little editorial note here from a guy who studied the history and philosophy of science in college: The lead researcher who's lab has found increased levels of a protein encoded by a gene called FOXP2 in little girls is claiming, for television cameras, that this "explains" why women talk more than men. Except, of course, people like Mark Liberman who research and measure how much men and women actually speak say, have said, and (based on computational surveys of databases of thousands of recorded conversations. And except, of course, that the one single researcher who made the original claim based, evidently, on zero actual research, retracted her claim the day after it hit the newspapers. (Turns out she may have gotten it from... a flipping puff piece in Cosmopolitan, which in turn got it from idle speculation from a... televangelist!!!) And except, of course, that the FOXP2 guy who's in the news today has been told and thus knows for a fact that women actually don'ttalk three times as much as men do.
Well so what? I mean except that it's a 100% falsehood that persists because for those who are completely invested in gender stereotyping the information is "fabricated but true." So again, so what?
Well. The guy really has detected elevated levels of that protein in little girls. And there really might be a reason for it. (Remember, I'll never say there are no differences between the sexes -- see, oh, say, penises and vulvas!) But if the guy's going to just go grab the first stereotype that crosses his mind, as he does here, and says "that explains it," and if the "explanation" is actually, um, a complete lie, then... whatever the real reason might be for those differing protein levels will go unexplored, unreported, and un-further-researched. Which is really a shame. Because the real reason, which we might never know because the fake one is so satisfying to gender bigots, might actually be interesting, useful, and even productive.
Point being here that gender stereotypes aren't just abstractly counterproductive. They get in the way of real science, real work, and real... um... reality!
Going even further, this kind of gleeful disregard for truth in favor of acknowledged bullshit raises the question what other human progress is our fondness for stereotypes interfering with? What other bullshit about, oh, say, men is propagated by assumptions that we already "know" so well we don't bother to find out? What other bullshit about women? Of children? Of trans people? And so on?
The only good news? Other people have been studying the FOXP2 gene for years. You'll just never hear about them on the Today Show or from Glenn Beck, though, because their findings don't luridly reinforce bullshit stereotypes about how men are "less fortunate" in their language skills or how women are "compulsive chatty cathys.") $%!@#!*&!!!!
AH: So do you meet guys who pass the feminist test but then turn out to be disappointments for other reasons?
JF: Oh God. There is a type of feminist guy who is so eager to fall over himself to be deferential to women and to prove his feminist bona fides and flagellate himself in front of you, to the point that it really turns me off. And it makes me sad, because politically, these are the guys that I should be sleeping with! You know what I'm talking about?
JF: Everyone knows what I'm talking about. And some of them are even really cute! I want to say to them, "If you could be a person, like a whole, complicated person, who I feel like I could crack jokes around, then I would really like you." But they're so serious about their feminism at every moment that I don’t feel like a person to them. I feel like I'm on a pedestal, almost. I know that they're not going to disagree with anything I say under any circumstances. And I don't feel like I can make a raunchy joke about sex, because they'll be horrified. . . . I hate to be critical of our allies in any way, because we need them, but there's something about that certain kind of hyperfeminist guy that makes them unappealing to date, to me. I suspect it has something to do with our internal conceptions of masculinity, which is terrible on my part.
The turnoff pretty clearly isn't that the men are feminist, it's that they're trying to demonstrate their gender-masculine "worthiness" by performing feminism. Which boils down to them performing worthiness! And since inside standard gender construction men perform worthiness in order to "earn" or "deserve" sex, that's as essentially anti-gender-egalitarian and therefore as anti-feminist as anything else a man can do! No wonder it falls flat!
And here's the thing, which comes out even in Friedman's remarks: men massively over-interpret and over-construct what women mean when they say they want "nice" partners. They tend to think "are interested in other stuff as well as sex." We tend to think it means something like "interested in other stuff besides or instead of sex." With maybe sex sometimes as earned affirmation for "nice," a.k.a. worthy behavior. In other words our interpretation tends to be almost diametric to the intention.
That, incidentally, is why I have almost zero patience for talk about "women say they want..." and (sweet mother of pearl!) "friendzones." We tend to have such (self-indoctrinated) male certainty about what women "mean" it hardly matters what they actually do say. Which means to the extent there's a problem we're responsible for it.
I need to say a lot more about the whole male worthiness trap. All the ways out that I can see come straight out of feminist tools for analyzing gender. (Just to be clear I don't mean analysis of men by women, instead I mean feminist analysis of men by non-"nice-guy" and non-"good men" feminist men.)
While he blows it at the end with bland exhortation to become a "good man," Lore Sjöberg at Wired has a very good takedown of the desirability of being described or of describing one's self as a "nice" guy.
If someone — we’ll say a woman, but actually it’s pretty much anyone who doesn’t have a tin ear for language — has a great date with someone new, this is how she describes the person:
“Wow, he’s amazing. He’s really funny, and there’s also this chemistry, you know? Like, he was really LOOKING at me. Plus he works as a caterer so he has a lot of interesting stories. And he was so thoughtful! When he asked the waiter for more ranch dressing, he didn’t let him go until he checked to see if I wanted anything as well. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again.”
If a woman has a boring date with a new guy, this is what she says:
“He seemed nice.”
Now, I hear some of you complaining “women always say they want a nice guy.” I know lots of women — I’m even related to a few — and I can’t say I’ve ever heard any of them say that. I can’t prove it, but this sounds like one of those things stand-up comedians say about women and everyone else just repeats. ...
At any rate, if a woman does say “I just wish I could find a nice guy,” I would suggest this is the equivalent of “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” Which is to say, she’s not hoping you’ll say, “You’re in luck, I have a dead horse in my backyard!”
I think that sounds about right. In terms of dating criteria, or even friendship criteria, being "nice" is roughly the equivalent of "being able to dress and feed yourself." A good thing overall but sort of a low threshold.
Going a step further, calling yourself a "nice guy," or even a "good man" is a bit of a red flag. For at least two reasons. One possibility is you're underselling yourself horribly. The other more ominous possibility is that really ist's the, well, nicest thing you or anyone else can say about yourself. (Keep in mind that "nice" is, along with "quiet" and "kept to himself," are three things almost everyone says when they hear a neighbor turns out to be an axe murderer," being "nice" just isn't the selling point we maybe grew up believing it to be.)
As always that doesn't mean we shouldn't be nice, and it definitely doesn't mean that as men we shouldn't be good. The predominantly-male decision that women only go for "bad boys" is almost as pernicious as the decision that they're never interested in ordinary men. Instead it means we need to re-think what exactly we mean when we think about male desirability in the first place.
So in Psychology Today this guy Alain de Botton says something that ought to creep out a lot of victims of sexual violence and comfort or even delight any number of perpetrators.
Involuntary physiological reactions such as the wetness of a vagina and the stiffness of a penis are emotionally so satisfying (which means, simultaneously, so erotic) because they signal a kind of approval that lies utterly beyond rational manipulation. Erections and lubrication simply cannot be effected by willpower and are therefore particularly true and honest indices of interest. In a world in which fake enthusiasms are rife, in which it is often hard to tell whether people really like us or whether they are being kind to us merely out of a sense of duty, the wet vagina and the stiff penis function as unambiguous agents of sincerity.
Two things: First, it's totally wrong that an erection (or a wet vulva) can only mean arousal, let alone that they are "particularly true and honest" indicators. As pretty much every man who's woken up with a full bladder can tell you.
But second, as too many victims and perpetrators(!) of sexual violence can tell you, victims of sexual violence can develop or be made to develop(!) erections (or vaginal lubrication) and even ejaculations!
See for instance this post from Living Well, an Australian site for recovering male victims of sexual violence (my italics)
People who sexually abuse boys and men often use their knowledge about male bodies to deliberately cause an erection and/or ejaculate to occur. They do this because they know it is extremely confusing and embarrassing. They might also do it to try and convince both the person being abused and themselves that what is happening is not really abuse. Whatever the reasons, ultimately they know that if the boy or man was aroused, they might be less likely to tell anyone about the abuse due to feelings of shame and embarrassment.
Or see also this from (a more woman-focused but still appropriate for men) survivor-support site the Pandora Project (my italics.)
A sexual response or orgasm in the course of sexual assault is often the best-kept and most deeply shameful secret of many survivors. If you are such a survivor, it’s essential that you know that sexual response in sexual assault is extremely common, well-documented and nothing for you to be ashamed of.
This is consistent with what a number of sources have to say about the way perpetrators (relatives, fellow prisoners, priests and scout leaders, and of course aggressive hetero date-rapists) manipulate their victims into a) submission, b) co-operation, c) deep and abiding shame, and especially d) silence.
Oh, and sometimes? e) ignorance and long-term misunderstanding.
For instance if you've ever been told "You're hard, that means you want this," or "Look at you, you were soaking wet, you were loving it?" When you hadn't really been loving it but couldn't figure your way around their point about your "particularly true and honest indices of interest?" You might want to sit down and talk with somebody who can help you figure out what was (or is) going on.
Lest you think de Botton's particularly insidious form of gaslighting applies only to victims of sexual violence, it's important to get that some perpetrators really believe it themselves!
Check this out, also from that Pandora Project article
And it isn’t just about you and the way your body responded either. It may also have been one of the repertoire of dirty tricks rapists use to get their victims to feel responsible. Diana Russell writes that “Some rapists think they’re lovers” and tells us:
(These rapists) think that if a woman is stimulated in ‘just the right way’ she will enjoy it. The conquest may seem more important if the rapist believes he has turned the woman on physically, particularly if it is against her will. Getting the victim to respond physically may also alleviate the rapist’s guilt feelings.
This, incidentally, was one of the things that completely threw me for a loop about a year ago when it first started to soak in that an awful lot of my personal assumptions about sexual behavior growing up had been learned, some of it from a very early age, by people who themselves had been sometimes radically abused and by others who were themselves active abusers. Thrown me for enough of a loop that while I'm still pretty sure I've always been a considerate or at least very well-intentioned sex partner I feel obliged to question whole constellations of assumptions I've made in the past. One thing for sure, for me, personally, is that "at least I'm not like those guys" and even sometimes "at least I'm not like those gals" no longer feels all that reassuring.
Summary: if you would have found de Botton's claims reassuring, or even just reasonable, take a little time to re-think some of those assumptions.
As you've probably heard, long-time anti-abortion, anti-choice activist Cathrynn Brown, a conservative New Mexico state legislator, has discovered a new-found interest in preserving evidence of sexual violence: making it a crime of "destruction of evidence" if a victim of sexual violence seeks an abortion or if anyone pressures her or assists her in obtaining one.
Well, as you might also have heard that original language was... a little broad. Why it might somehow have been interpreted to mean she just wanted to force victims to extend the violence perpetrated on them, their partners, their children, and their extended families* for another 9 months, or, heck, another 18 years and beyond!
So she's amended her bill. Here's the text: let me know if you see any problems with it. Note: I've got some problems with it. (The quote is in its original all caps but with my emphasis added.)
“AN ACT RELATING TO CRIMINAL LAW; SPECIFYING THAT A PERSON WHO COMMITS CRIMINAL SEXUAL PENETRATION OR INCEST AND WHO PROCURES AN ABORTION OF A FETUS RESULTING FROM THE CRIME WITH THE INTENT TO DESTROY EVIDENCE OF THE CRIME IS GUILTY OF TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE; PROHIBITING PROSECUTION OF THE MOTHER OF THE FETUS.”
Somewhere out there a slightly less baby crazy but no less predatory successor to Mary Kay Laterneau* just got her wings.
Problem #1: As a non-stereotypical victim of sexual violence I’m particularly annoyed by the way Brown’s bill further hard-wires male-on-female, penis-in-vagina violence as the only kind that matters. Especially her revised version.
Problem #2: I mean, does she seriously mean she now claims in her tweet that meant all along: that no mother will ever be prosecuted for destroying evidence of assault or incest by procuring an abortion for herself? Because that's saying once again that male-on-female violence being the only kind that counts: no woman ever could initiate sexual assault or incest, discover herself pregnant, and destroy evidence of her own guilt therefore she strictly and explicitly excludes that possibility in her text.
Problem #3 is more generic and more-commonly raised: particularly given the waiting time nine months seems like an extraordinarily long time to wait to gather evidence. Nor is even hard DNA evidence on the (male) attacker be particularly determinative given the near-universal practice of defense attorneys arguing "she asked for it," "she's 'crying rape,'" "it was actually consensual." Or the near-universal acceptance of such tactics by juries.
Problem #4, also generic and more commonly raised: very, very often sexual violence, even when committed by men against women, doesn't involve vaginal penetration, let alone male ejaculation, let alone pregnancy. So while an embryo, fetus, or born person might have some value in some circumstances, it's by and large the least relevant kind of evidence police, medical personnel, counselors, or prosecutors should concern themselves with.
Problem #5 is just more about the typical anti-abortion/forced-pregnancy bullcrap that inspires these kinds of cruel stunts: Cathrynn Brown claims that by prohibiting "tampering with evidence" her anti-abortion bill "protects women and girls from incest and other sex crimes." And yet... and yet... given a) her prior complete disinterest in issues relating to evidence gathering or victim assistance combined with b) her long-time involvement in "pro-life" organizations in her community I think it's... um... really, really unlikely that she'd stand aside if a victim sought an abortion in order to obtain evidence. In other words she not only doesn't really care about male, child, or other non-impregnable victims she almost certainly doesn't care for impregnated victims either.
Problem #6: The whole thing just displays a complete incomprehension and/or dismissal of real-life sexual violence, its impact, its victims**, its assailants, its prosecution, and so on. You're free to argue that protecting "the unborn" is more important than the health or safety of victims of sexual violence (never mind justice for or even acknowledgement.) And it's possible and maybe even likely that Rep. Brown feels that way. But if so it would be mighty nice if the were able to be honest about their priorities. Instead of smarming it up with smug lies about "protection" for victims of sexual violence.
** Something I've never heard the forced-pregnancy crowd explain is how to get around the awkwardness around the Thanksgiving table every year not just for a victim the anti-Choicers wants to force to give birth but for her husband and father of her (possibly older) children, her parents, and so on.
Interesting perspective. Funny, accurate, and... kind of important.
One of the reason us men have shorter lifespans on average than women is that we have a documented tendency to avoid medical care. When I was really getting into men's consciousness in the early 1980s I remember reading that in Herb Goldberg's classic The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege and... not really registering it. Because, I mean, when we got hurt or sick my (male) friends would joke "aah, I took an asprin yesterday" while at least trying to tough it out.
Then in 1990 the Muppet guy Jim Henson died. Hard. What had started out as flu-like symptoms progressed for almost two weeks. Early on he had seen a doctor, who'd suggested... asprin!
Then according to Henson's Wikipedia, which confirms my own recollection, "At 2 am on May 15, Henson was having trouble breathing and began coughing up blood. He suggested to his wife that he might be dying, but did not want to bother going to the hospital."
Coughing. Up. Blood.
A couple hours later he agreed to go to the hospital. He was able to walk in on his own, but turns out that by that time something like five of his major organs had already failed! He'd developed sepsis from a strep infection.
Suddenly Goldberg's statistics stopped being so abstract. Suddenly it made sense why men so often die sooner than otherwise comprable women: wekill ourselves by negligent homicide!
That could have been me!
After reading that I resolved to stop doing that "I had an asprin yesterday" crap. And started going to the doctor when it looked like I might need to go to the doctor. And doing some (but probably not all) of the other stuff doctors recommend for maintaining your health.
Eating right, getting a little exercise, getting plenty of rest, develop active hobbies. Regular stuff, none of it very hard.
I'm pushing 60 and I gotta say I'm in way better shape than I imagined I'd be.
And waaaaay better shape than most of my "I took an aspirin" buddies from decades ago.
Part of why I'm healthy? Heck, possibly part of why I'm alive?
I subjected myself to the humiliation of a colonoscopy when I was 42.
They found polyps.
The kind that turn into cancer 15-20 years after they develop.
The kind that don't cause cancer if they're removed 15-20 years before they become cancerous.
That was more than 15 years ago.
I get prostate exams too.
No, I don't enjoy those either.
But I'm going to be dancing at my son and daughter's weddings.
Pretty much no matter how long they wait to get married.
Prostates go bad in a number of ways. An annual rectal exam is an unfortunate, briefly uncomfortable, but very reliable way to catch problems before they catch up to you.
Getting a prostate exam and checking yourself for testicular cancer are two of the most literally manly things you can do. Not just because those things are unique to us XY-chromosome bearers. And not even because it's manly to face the uncomfortable without flinching. But because by being manly we can defy the bullshit man-killing pressure to be masculine. Masculinity says "take an asprin and die of sepsis 10 days later." Masculinity says die before women do.
The gender distribution of sexual violence isn't as black and white as Patriarchal ideology would have us believe. A post and accompanying graphic by Sarah Beaulieu called "The Super Bowl statistic we aren’t talking about" really puts it in perspective.
We are all talking about the Super Bowl. We are ranting and raving about the Ravens and the 49ers and the fact that their coaches are brothers. Every imaginable statistic about the teams, the players, and the coaches is available on every major news site. We are eagerly anticipating the commercials, planning our menus for the Super Bowl parties, and placing bets on who will win and what the final score might be.
But there is one thing that we aren’t talking about this week.
It’s that 1 out of 6 men on the field next Sunday could be survivors of sexual violence.
While this puts the canonical statistic about 1 out of 4 women in better perspective, what I think is even more important is that it helps unify the methodology:
Just to be clear, we don’t know whether specific players have had specific experiences. We simply want to you to look at the men in your class, the men in your family, and the men on your favorite sports team with this statistic in mind.
Yes, someone can attempt to deny or dismiss the statistic about men as "fuzzy," but by doing so they inescapably deny or dismiss the corresponding statistic for women. Similarly, those who dispute how the statistics about female victims are collected and compiled are inextricably throwing male victims under the bus.
Here's a point that really matters to me (emphasis mine.)
Too much shame and stigma exists for all victims of sexual violence.
And a point that's too-often overlooked both by patriarchists and doctrinaire/conservative feminists alike:
But the stigma is even greater for men, many of whom believe they should have been able to protect themselves or fear that friends and family members will think less of them if they come forward.
There have been a handful of brave and courageous men – R.A. Dickey, Tyler Perry, Scott Brown, and Keyon Dooling to name a few – who have stepped forward and are generous in sharing their stories and experiences so that others can be less afraid to break silence. But these men are not the exception. And their stories are more common than you think.
She ends her post with a welcome and heartfelt reminder
When you are watching the Super Bowl next weekend, begin the conversation by sharing this graphic. Ask yourself whether you are open to the truth in your own life and in the lives of the men you love.
I'll just say again, as I've said in the past, that the closer we get to acknowledging this as a universal issue the further we get from dismissing this large fraction or that, the closer we get to managing, mitigating, reducing, and (why not aim high?) someday eliminating sexual violence. All of it.