Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Monday, July 31, 2006

A response to AW

Posted by Raznor

Well, I'm at a point at my thesis that I really can't do much more before meeting with my advisor later today, so I thought I'd write this response to a comment AW left in this post. First some background info.

Over at Feministe, Zuzu wrote a post about the uselessness for women to try to follow the "be careful so as not to be raped" advice that is so prevalent, finishing with this:

So, which is it? Don’t go to bars, don’t leave the house, or don’t stay home?


In the comments, ginmar made the observation:

[H]ave you noticed how rapists get the community’s sympathy whiel the victims get slammed? Have you noticed pregnant single mothers are either sluts or lying sluts who just trap men? Any of that ring a bell? I could go on.


AW responded:

No. Doesn’t ring a bell in the slightest. Not everyone lives in the same circumstances as apparently you do. Your community is pretty shit isn’t it.


To which ginmar responded angrily, saying:

Aw, troll. Go read Our Guys, Virgin Or Vamp, or any other books on rape. I’m not your fuckin’ mommy.


This devolved into an argument and eventually AW got banned.

I'll pause here for a moment and say a word about ginmar. For those like me who frequent a lot of feminist threads, ginmar is a pretty familiar face. She is a passionate radical feminist, and has a very confrontational writing style, that may appear rude at first. But she is also very intelligent, and I've found adds a lot to a discussion so that she'll often leave me questioning my own internal assumptions.

Anyway, when weekly rob came in and defended AW against ginmar (after AW had been banned) I felt compelled to reply by saying

the thing is, when aw says “your community is shit” he’s not implying that he’s lucky and lives in a good community and expressing sympathy to poor ginmar for happening to live in a shitty community, he’s giving a snarky condescending comment that ginmar doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And it requires at best a willful ignorance and blinding by his male privelege. AW is a man coming into a feminist space. He has to do the work to attempt to understand the perspective of the women here, not the other way around. And if he refuses, then what can he possibly add to the conversation?


Well, being banned from Feministe, AW decided to come to my blog and post

This is unfair really. I am in fact doing exactly what you say I'm not doing in your first sentence. I'm very lucky to live around the enlightened people who make up my community. It's partially self-selecting, since I'm mainly in a very large university town where I have a pick of people to hang around with, and don't have to mix with sexist idiots. But I realise not everyone else is so lucky.
And I meant what I said. Not what it was taken to mean. I genuinely think the people who have those opinion (blaming rape victims etc) are Shit. I expected her to agree.

I was also suggesting that blanket statements, rarely contain any sizeable truth, since the variety of human experience and etc is very very wide.

You say that I have to do the work to understand those women around me on the feminist website, rather than they working to understand me. And that's fair enough. And I would have explained what I meant - as I just did above - had I not been summarily banned. I tried to explain myself, but was prevented. So I hardly feel it is a case of me being willful.


Well, earlier in his comment, AW shows himself to being a Muse fan, thus I am now predisposed to liking him. So I'm willing to concede that AW had the best of intentions. Nonetheless, with maybe the elimination of the word "willful", I stand by what I said.

I'll ignore the fact that no matter how much AW defends it, his initial comment seems very snarky to me. Anyone who posts on web forums will come across a time when a poor choice of words will make a comment seem much different than intended. But even giving him the benefit of the doubt, it shows a profound ignorance of something that is extremely obvious to people like Zuzu and ginmar - that is that it is his male privelege that allows him to ignore the prevalence of rape. Maybe he's not noticing slut-shaming that victims of rape go through, but slut-shaming is something that can easily remain hidden from those not on the receiving end, and it serves a purpose to keep victims of rape from speaking up. And sadly, this goes on even in progressive communities.

Maybe AW is right about his community, and it would be great if he were. It would be nice if there was a community where slut-shaming does not go on for victims of rape. But the thing is, AW is not in the position to be able to determine that about his community. And until he realizes that, there is not much he can add to a feminist discussion.

14 Comments:

Blogger Rhiannon said...

Actually as a victim of molestation, rape, etc (and I really mean the et cetera) I've never once been slut-shamed... I have had people thinking I was my *8 years younger* sister's mom and snark behind my back, I've had people call me slut, bitch, whore, and even gold digger but never in relation to the abuse I've suffered, in fact, I've only ever gotten sympathy for it.

Whereas I wondered for a long time if it was something I was doing.. was I painting myself with a bullseye since the age of 5? Did being molested at that age mark me to be the universe's victim? Was there some defect in my personality, was it my scent, was it the way I dressed and did my hair, or.... whatever.

So I suppose for a long time you could say that I was kinda "slut-shaming" myself... but no one else ever did that to me. I did that to myself.

So AW has a point & I took it the way he says he meant it, the first read through (I always say that intent does not travel well in the written word, unless you're Hemmingway or the like).

Not everyone's experience is the same... that doesn't mean that slut-shaming doesn't happen, it just doesn't happen to every victim and isn't prevalient in EVERY aspect of society.

The fact of the matter is that rape is so generalized and thrown into a mold that I don't fit, that sometimes I feel like society doesn't think I have the right to claim to have been abused. Sometimes when I talk about it to others I get the feeling they're thinking "oh, that's not really RAPE..." or " That's not as bad as violent rape" or whatever.

I appreciate that there's someone out there who sees that there are different situations and that the molds society forms to identify situations aren't always 100% accurate.

7/31/2006 11:54 AM  
Blogger Rhiannon said...

And I'd post this on Feministe except I'm afraid they'd ban me.

7/31/2006 12:02 PM  
Blogger Raznor said...

First of all, I don't see how you'd get banned from feministe for posting that.

But you raise a good point. I suppose slut-shaming is maybe a bit too specific of a phrase, but I couldn't think of a better one.

But the problem with slut-shaming, or the larger picture of it, is not that every rape victim gets blamed, but that enough do so that when a woman is raped she is afraid to speak out about it.

Also, it seems to me that society is comfortable with condemning child molesters and child rapists. Society is also comfortable condemning stranger rape. What society is uncomfortable with is acquaintance rape, which is far more common. Therein lies the problem.

I'd go on, but can't think of how to expand on this thought.

7/31/2006 12:17 PM  
Blogger Elyce Rae Helford said...

Being a feminist educator and English professor, I cannot stress enough the importance of communication skills. I read a statistic (and as a prof I should have the citation but don't) that tone is misinterpreted in something like 80% of emails. This kind of B.S. conflict comes up in SO many lists, groups, blog comments... I'm quite inclined to agree with you that AW was looking for trouble, and found it. But when you're not looking someone in the eye, it is SO much easier to be cold, snarky, and given to overstatement. I'm guilty of it myself at time.

7/31/2006 6:36 PM  
Anonymous AW said...

Don't get me wrong, while I maintain the point that you've explained, I wouldn't suggest that my first comment wasn't snarky. It absolutely was, but only with the intention of being mildly so, and the snark in the comment was about Generalisation, rather than anything else. Blanket statements just aren't that useful ever.

Also, you left out this passage posted before it devolved into an argument (and it didn't really, I defended my position, then was rapidly banned, leaving people to pick over the few words I'd got in). Which really pretty much explains what my original point was:

All I’m saying is that no-one that I know would think those things. No one I know would ever give any sympathy to any rapist, nor blame the victim. No one I know thinks that all single mothers are sluts, or lying sluts who try to trap a man. Especially not those who are single mothers, or who’s mother was. None of these ring a bell except as things that other shit people think. And people would be shut down, hard, if they expressed such stupid ideas.

Is this impossible to believe? Do I live in heaven? No, lots of people think lots of stupid things. Just not those stupid things.


So even if my first, off the cuff comment, was snarky, and widely open to misinterpretation, this one really wasn't. It lays out that I'm talking about the attitudes of people in my community, and that while they're not perfect, they don't believe the things Ginmar was attributing to 'community' in general.

And I have checked up on this, I've talked to a lot of people recently, and exactly None of them think that a rape victim is ever to blame. No-one I've asked thinks anything generalised and bad about single-mothers at all.

To elyce: Yes, exactly communication is important, and in the written word is especially difficult, especially across cultural divides. Even ones within societies.
Now, I'm not, and haven't ever demanded the 'right' to go stomping into people's blogs, and shout out my opinion, and expect people to immediately grasp what I'm saying. I understand fully the ease with which people can be misinterpreted, all I want is a chance to explain and if neccessary expound my viewpoint. So that everyone can understand what I meant rather than reading the words that I wrote and taking it to mean something else.

Thanks rhiannon for understanding me, and by doing so, indicating that it is possible to mean what I meant to mean, with the words I used. With respect to banning, if that wasn't a joke, I'd like to say that they wouldn't ban you for what seems like a reasonable post, but I was banned, initially for calling rape apologists 'shit', and then they decided it was due to some unspecified 'ignorance' shown apparently by the fact people in my immediate community do not engage in 'slut-shaming' and so I am assumed to believe it doesn't exist. And Rob did get told off for posting pointing out that I hadn't said they were shit.

Just finally about this, I'd like to say, to the outside observer, who doesn't know me or my thoughts, or motivations, I am likely to be one of the following three things: Troll. Sexist idiot who wants to downplay the existence of these negative attitudes in order to maintain them. Innocent poster, caught up somehow in a minor controversy, and widely misinterpreted.

If I was a troll, this would have been full of random stupid abuse, so we can ignore that.
If I really did believe things like "That we’re all hysterical bitches who don’t know reality?" and I was really "wav[ing] [my] dick around, told [them] that we didn’t know reality" as one poster and ZuZu said, respectively; Why would I deny it? To make friends with people then perform a classic 'bait and switch' and hope people changed their minds too? That would be inane. Who would do that? It makes no sense.

In actuality I'm just someone, who had a minor point to make about Generalisation, who has been misunderstood, banned, attacked posthumously (so to speak), and I've been ignored in both the very polite logical e-mails I've sent (except a note from Jill to say she's away) and also the comments I submitted written directly to the moderator to clear my name. If this were really a troll vs blogger situation, or even idiot vs blogger, why would they not even defend their decision to me, in response to my polite messages?

AW

8/01/2006 6:15 AM  
Anonymous AW said...

Also, it seems to me that society is comfortable with condemning child molesters and child rapists. Society is also comfortable condemning stranger rape. What society is uncomfortable with is acquaintance rape, which is far more common. Therein lies the problem.

Yes absolutely, and I notice you feel society does condemn stranger rape, which may not be agreed with by everyone. If I understood what some people were saying on Feministe, that's they think that it isn't or if it is, then ineffectively. Though that's certainly the case here, that it's condemned.
However, again only in my community, but everyone I know condemns all forms of rape. Many of them also condemn all acquaintance rape, without being bothered with the details. But some of them are hung up on the whole 'innocent until proven guilty thing' in which I feel they have a point. Obviously when there is a rape, it's a terrible thing, and the rapist should be punished. That should go without saying.
But if, as can often be the case, there is little or no evidence, then can you really be sure? And it's just not ethical to punish people without reasonable belief that they definitely did it.

So while everyone here condemns rape, the burden of legal proof and certainty, makes it a very difficult situation when it's an acquaintance. And I don't see a magical bullet to get rid of it.

8/01/2006 6:26 AM  
Blogger Ross said...

Roofie colada, anyone?

8/01/2006 9:03 AM  
Anonymous AW said...

Well pharmacalogically active ingredients that can be detected sure make it a hell of a lot easier to get them (as in convict). That's for sure.

AW

8/01/2006 9:33 AM  
Anonymous weeklyrob said...

Raznor,

You said in Feministe that ginmar was right, if only I'd read the thread carefully. And you said here that I was defending AW against ginmar. I disagree on both counts, and it's very frustrating to me that no matter how many times I said it, people kept misreading me. I gave up on Feministe, but since you bring it up here, I'll try one last time.

1. "Rob defended aw against ginmar": No. I never said that AW or ginmar was right, close to right, wrong, maybe wrong, had good, bad or indifferent intentions. In fact, I never said a word about either of them except for the fact that AW's comment about a shit society wasn't an ad hominem against ginmar, and that ginmar's comment that AW was an "ignorant fuck" certainly was an ad hominem against AW. If anything, that was a defence against Zuzu who had said that the comment was an ad hominem.

I never said that she SHOULDN'T insult him (or that she should), or that she had no reason (or she had a reason), or that he's a sweet guy (or not). All that was beside the point. He was accused of something he didn't do, regardless of the content of the post.

No matter how many times I explained that, I still had people (like ginmar and like you) trying to tell me how wrong AW was to act as if shaming didn't exist. That was simply beside the point.

2. "Ginmar was right": ginmar, llike others, completely ignored what I actually said, and posted how it's "telling that you’re not at all uncomfortable with his arrogance, his ignorance, and his attitude, but you do have a problem with me refusing to sit still, once again, for an asshole with an attitude and a dick. " She then told me how illustrative this was of privilege.

All that was wrong. I tried to re-re-re-explain myself, only to realize that no one was listening. The problem was that I had "defended" a tiny portion of an unpopular person's post, and the only thing to do was attack. Not READ, but attack. I gave up.

8/02/2006 4:12 AM  
Blogger Rhiannon said...

No one asked me, but IMO Ginmar strikes me as someone who is WAY too sensitive and easily offended and goes on the attack too readily and is too stubborn to admit she made a mistake and apologize. It's agree with her or go away, at least that's how she came across in that particular post. The whole thing struck me as a kind of "good ol'girls" club... And, of course, the "regulars" (of which I'm not) buddied up and defended her cause she's "one of them, right or wrong".

That's why I hesitate to say anything against the group mindthink... even Rob who wasn't defending or condemning anyone was attacked simply for pointing out an error in their reasoning.

It's like highschool all over again. Say anything that doesn't sound like total agreement with the click and they're on you like pirana.

Of course, it's was only that one post that struck me that way, most of the other posts seem to be less... Orwellian.

8/03/2006 6:01 AM  
Anonymous AW said...

I think there's really two things here, so I'll post about them seperately:

First of all there's the issue of why I was banned, and whether I was trolling.

I think I've laid out quite clearly evidence that I wasn't trolling. I was just commenting, slightly snarkily, on the gross generalisations in her statement.

I was banned with the initial reason given as a comment taken out of context, and mischaracterised as an attack on either Ginmar or the blog's own community.
Rob was criticised merely for pointing that out.
They haven't bothered to reply to my e-mails, and clearly don't care about any sort of fairness, or anything like that.

Really it just doesn't stand up at all.

AW

8/04/2006 7:16 AM  
Anonymous AW said...

I think there's really two things here, so I'll post about them seperately:

First of all there's the issue of why I was banned, and whether I was trolling.

I think I've laid out quite clearly evidence that I wasn't trolling. I was just commenting, slightly snarkily, on the gross generalisations in her statement.

I was banned with the initial reason given as a comment taken out of context, and mischaracterised as an attack on either Ginmar or the blog's own community.
Rob was criticised merely for pointing that out.
They haven't bothered to reply to my e-mails, and clearly don't care about any sort of fairness, or anything like that.

Really it just doesn't stand up at all.

AW

8/04/2006 7:17 AM  
Anonymous AW said...

Ok it ate a long well structured post I wrote at the same time, so I'll have to re-post it tomorrow.

AW

8/04/2006 1:55 PM  
Anonymous rossimus said...

This has to be a Raznor's record! Have there ever been 13...nay 14 comments ever on this board?

8/04/2006 10:19 PM  

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