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Believing men is not "a feminist imperative"

(75 Posts)
DonkeySkin Sat 06-Dec-14 09:38:05

For those who were arguing in the Shia LaBeouf thread that feminists have an obligation to support men who claim to have been raped by women.

The logic appears to go something like this: if our first reaction was to question and disbelieve a female victim of rape, it would be heinous and anti-feminist. If we do this to a man claiming ‘rape’ by a woman, it is therefore just as bad, and lends credence to people who do it to women. The premise of this position is that a man penetrating a woman is a two-way street; the balance of power, on both an individual and societal level, is not such that women are disadvantaged, and so we can make the same assumptions of males and females in the case of rape. The implication is that men and women have equal access to the rules of the ‘consent game‘, and so we can make identical assumptions in both cases.

FloraFox Sat 06-Dec-14 10:03:10

I agree with this.

BuffytheFestiveFeminist Sat 06-Dec-14 10:13:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

meditrina Sat 06-Dec-14 10:18:51

I think that's a load of claptrap.

Victims need to be believed. The person at fault is the rapist.

The sex, race, and age of the victim do not reduce 'victimhood'

Factors which turn people to on the path to becoming criminals themselves may indeed be gendered, and reflect many unfairnesses. But that's a separate question, not to be conflated with how the actual criminal act should be regarded and the victim supported.

I assume this is a TAAT? Why did it need a separate thread?

FloraFox Sat 06-Dec-14 10:55:16

Women can't be rapists.

Mitchy1nge Sat 06-Dec-14 10:59:43

women can't rape men in England and Wales (and probably Scotland)

it's sexual assault or sexual assault by penetration here

don't know how the offence is defined in other countries

Mitchy1nge Sat 06-Dec-14 11:05:44

flora women can be rapists, that is convicted of rape, if they play an important role in helping a man or men commit the offence

Greysanderson Sat 06-Dec-14 11:12:36

Thought the shia thing happened in America where women can be charged with rape?

FloraFox Sat 06-Dec-14 11:32:01

For a woman to be convicted of rape there needs to be a rapist who will be a man, not the woman.

Mitchy1nge Sat 06-Dec-14 11:37:49

well technically if you are convicted of rape you are a rapist, although yeah as I said, in England and Wales women can and (v rarely) have become rapists in that sense when their role was central to the commission of the offence

but other criminal legal systems in other parts of the world have their own definitions of rape

cailindana Sat 06-Dec-14 11:38:55

I agree with Buffy. The installation the LeBoeuf set up was very strange but the fact that he was sitting there silently gave absolutely no one the right to treat him like shit, be that shouting at him or sexually assaulting him. I have absolutely no reason to disbelieve him so on that basis I believe that what says happened, happened and on that basis I am sorry that it happened to him and hope he's dealing with it ok. I also hope that some action can and will be taken against the woman who did it to him.

The "We believe you" campaign" is designed to address and fundamental inequality between men and women, such that women are disadvantaged and silenced.

That doesn't apply here, IMO. He was assaulted, it's wrong, therefore we should have sympathy for him.

If the claims that he made it up are true then I'd worry about his mental health.

Mitchy1nge Sat 06-Dec-14 11:40:12

I haven't read about this Shia LeBoeuf but it sounds like it would be sexual assault if it happened here?

prashad Sat 06-Dec-14 11:49:53

The United Nations, the dictionary, and the law in the country it happened... all state that women can rape men.

Lol at the radical feminists trying to claim exclusive ownership of the word.

cailindana Sat 06-Dec-14 11:53:33

Prashad I'm not sure if you have trouble understanding English, but you don't seem to be able to read posts properly. Is that an ongoing problem you suffer with? You seem to make things up and laugh about them, it's really odd.

AnyFucker Sat 06-Dec-14 11:53:37

Glad you find it funny, prashad

You are alone also in that

AskBasil4StuffingRecipe Sat 06-Dec-14 11:58:38

It's not radical feminists who claim ownership of the word prashad.

It's English law.

Look it up.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sat 06-Dec-14 12:00:49

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Mitchy1nge Sat 06-Dec-14 12:00:56

did it happen in the states? there is no federal definition of rape is there?

DonkeySkin Sat 06-Dec-14 15:43:42

The writer isn't saying that men can't be victims of sexual assault, nor is she pronouncing on what actually happened in the Shia LeBeouf case. You can believe Shia or any man who says he was assaulted by a woman, if you like. But there is no obligation on the part of feminists to believe men who claim they have been victimised by women, and declining to do so certainly does not invalidate the feminist analysis of men's sexual violence against women.

She's responding specifically to all those articles and comments that claimed feminists were obliged to believe Shia (or at least make a formal show of 'believing' him) or stand condemned as hypocrites. This view arises from a liberal gender equality framework, as expressed by meditrina above:

'Victims need to be believed. The person at fault is the rapist. The sex, race, and age of the victim do not reduce 'victimhood'.

This is technically true but disappears the entire material and social context in which rape occurs. Men and women aren't equivalent sexual actors - they are not interchangeable physically or socially. If they were, we would see societies where women used rape to control men, and then blamed them for it. Rape and violence are wielded by men against women on a large scale: men are biologically and hence socially empowered to use their penises and fists to control women in ways that women could never (and have never) done to them. Pretending that this isn't relevant to the feminist analysis of rape (of all things), and taking the position instead that we should simply 'believe everyone' strikes me as a spectacular own goal for women.

To those who, like meditrina, think it is most useful to analyse rape and sexual assault within a gender-neutral framework, what is your response to this part of the piece?

rape – aka penile penetration – is used by men to control the free movement and behaviour of women in every single society on earth. The converse scenario where women oppress men as a group with the act of “forced envelopment” has literally never happened, and it never could. Can we envisage a world where men are hasty to get home before dark, lest a woman force him to fuck her? Do we think a society has ever existed where men’s typical concern when left alone with a woman has ever been that he is vulnerable to being “enveloped” by her? If not, why not? Do we think a woman who has been raped while drunk by a drunk man technically “raped him too”? If not, why not?

NB: meditrina I started this thread because I think the writer hits on a crucial point for feminists that goes way beyond the Shia LeBeouf farago. The liberal framework that positions men and women as equivalent sexual actors makes feminist analysis of sex-based oppression essentially impossible. It trips us up on so many issues (domestic violence, porn, prostitution, sexual pleasure, even things like child custody) and allows men to perpetrate these weird reversals whenever it seems like women are making any headway on them.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sat 06-Dec-14 19:33:56

As a point of information, sexual assault laws vary by state in the US. In the state I live in, these laws are gender neutral as written; I believe that is also true in California where the alleged assault took place.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sat 06-Dec-14 19:52:50

There is a federal definition of rape that is used for purposes of gathering crime statistics from various jurisdictions:

The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

PuffinsAreFictitious Sat 06-Dec-14 22:28:58

Bad troll hunting Puffins sad

vesuvia Sat 06-Dec-14 22:29:36

Patriarchy wants, and works towards, the dilution of feminism into a one-stop shop for everyone who suffers under patriarchy, including some men. I think this is a problem because, in my opinion, feminism is not the appropriate framework for consideration of issues not about women and girls.

If something bad happens to an individual man, feminists can offer belief, sympathy and support through common decency and compassion of a just being a decent, empathetic person. This reaction does not need to come from a feminist's feminism. I think empathy for men should not come from a feminist's feminism, it should come from another part of their personality.

At a class analysis level, I think feminism is failing women if it diverts its attention away the feminist imperative of focusing on women and girls.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sat 06-Dec-14 22:30:46

I agree Vesuvia, that's pretty much how I see it as well.

vesuvia Sun 07-Dec-14 00:23:04

revising the last sentence of my previous post, to now include a word I missed out:

At a class analysis level, I think feminism is failing women if it diverts its attention away from the feminist imperative of focusing on women and girls.

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