Thursday, 25 October 2012

On Misogyny and Rape Culture: What is and what isn't

So there has been a whole hullabaloo in the Atheism internetiverse over the past year about the so called "rape culture" that apparently we all live in, and the rampant misogyny within our so called community, and so I would like to set a little of this bullshit to rest, at least from my point of view.

In terms of rape culture, it is largely the overblown fantasy of a few paranoid women, but not entirely. Anyone can see that on the whole, North American culture is not accepting, tolerant or condoning of rape. Rapists do not brag on their facebook about raping people unless they have a strong urge to go to jail, politicians do not proudly brag of their rape records when running for platform, and we don't see a whole lot of rape clubs around, in fact there aren't any. Yes, there are a few incidences of misplaced blame, especially the Toronto incident involving a reference to clothing, which has never been shown to have any impact on rape. I've already written a piece on why Schrödinger's Rapist is a load of horseshit and generally bad advice, and another on why blaming the victim does not mean we should not punish or blame the attacker so I will not dwell on those.

However I came across a rather disturbing article in Slate about a young woman who was sexually assaulted, then after having the courage to come forward and report it to the authorities at campus was told, among other things: "You never took your case to trial, so you don’t actually count as a rape survivor" (the dean) and "Are you SURE it was rape? It might have just been a bad hookup…You should forgive and forget." (the counsellor). This both saddens and disgusts me at the same time and although it is not representative of the populace at large (or, even to the best of my knowledge, the college populace at large), it is disgusting that we even have an example of this at all.

So my question is this. Stephanie Zvan and the A+theism social justice warrior brigade, where the fuck are you now? Where is the petition and letter writing campaign to have the dean, who quite literally embodies the rape culture that you all like to rant about, fired? You're more then willing to intimidate a volunteer out of his position for writing an op-ed on a site you don't like, but you haven't done shitfuckall about a man who literally told a rape victim to "Take a year off, get a job at Starbucks, and come back after he’s graduated". Shame on all of you, you fucking useless egotisical clicktivist fucks. This is not some under the radar post in the back channel of a college site either, this is an article in slate that made the front page on fark. If you missed it maybe you should stop spending your time hanging around the slymepit, stalking people who actually do something with their lives like Justin Vacula, and actually stand up for what you claim to represent.

Now that I've let that out of my system, on to misogyny. Oh yes the favorite word of the A+thesm crowd (or maybe that is privilege, however I'll do another rant on that someday.) Slung around like a club, it's got about as much impact as the word fuck when dropped in a rap song. This doesn't mean that  real misogyny doesn't exist, but before we get into that, let's look at what misogyny is. defines misogyny as:
hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women. defines it as:
  • a person who hates women
Ophelia Benson, who I rarely agree with, wrote a decent piece about defining misogyny in which she accurately points out that being a misogynist does not require one to hate all women. On this I agree, though several other points in that article I have contention with. But she quite accurately says that a married man can be a misogynist, he might hate women in general, but love his wife and immediate family. There are a lot of men out there who hate women for being women, and we must

However it is now time to point out some things which are -NOT- misogyny, which tend to be labelled as such regardless, and I will begin with a couple things from her article and move on from there.

Dismissal of women's issues is not misogynist, in fact dismissing women's issues because they are women's issues is not misogynist either. It may show a severe lack of empathy, but it is perfectly reasonable for a man, or woman for that matter, to say something along the lines of "I want to solve world hunger, bring peace to middle east, and figure out how to feed my family and get a better job and none of the "women's issues" things seem to affect me personally, so I don't give a shit." Callous? Perhaps, but not misogynistic.

Calling a woman a cunt or a bitch, is not misogynistic (although repeated usage of these words to the female populace at large my be an indicator of misogyny). Calling someone a "cunt " may indicate a deep seated hatred of one particular woman, but just as a person can be misogynistic even though they do not hate all women, it is possible to hate a single woman, or just feel the need to insult one person, without being a misogynist at all. Calling someone a "cunt" and "bitch" and all similar are no more misogynistic by nature then calling someone a "dickhead" is misandrist or telling someone to "fuck off" is pornographic. (I saw this tweeted and re tweeted the other day, if anyone knows the original source, let me know and I'll cite and give credit where it's due.)

The aforementioned dean, fuckwad that he is, may not be misogynist, though the number of other women stepping forward seems to suggest that he is and it's not just a case of him having it out for one particular student.

Disagreeing with feminist theory, feminism in general, any particular feminist or the way people are going about feminism is not misogynist. Vitriol directed at a feminist is not necessarily misogyny, unless it is directed at them because of the fact that they are a woman. It is possible to even deliver massive amounts of ad hominems at any given particular woman or feminist without being misogynist, unless, once again, they are related to that person's status as a woman or women in general.

Agreeing that men have rights, and are sometimes (albeit rarely) discriminated against is not misogyny, no matter how badly you want it to be.

So why this rant about semantics and splitting hairs over words? Plain and simply because I'm sick of the bullshit, I'm sick of myself and others like myself being labelled misogynist. Many of us stand up for women's rights, doing far more both in speech and deed then those who level those accusations against us. I'm sick of it especially coming from useless internet slacktivists and people who are paid to rant about irrelevant minutiae and outright bullshit instead of, you know, actually addressing the issues out there. You all are a bunch of useless cunts, and you can go fuck yourselves.

Have a nice day.

Stand up and fight

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A belated introduction

Everyone needs one of these, so I figured I should get off my ass and post mine. Since my first two posts were in reaction to specific piles of bullshit, I never got around to talking about myself. For the 2-3 people out there who actually give a shit, here's a little bit about myself.

My name, for all intents and purposes, is Shadow. I am by trade a personal trainer. In theory the majority of my job is either convincing someone that I know the best way to get them in shape, or having done the former, putting that plan into action, and improving their health and well being, and it's very fulfilling. In practice, I spend a lot of my day yelling at fat bankers and lawyers who pay me to do so, this is fulfilling in it's own way too. I also teach kickboxing, basic grappling, and women's self defense classes, this provides the aforementioned fat bankers and lawyers the opportunity to punch me in the face (which rarely happens), and the women to kick me in sensitive areas , albeit through heavy padding. This is significantly less fulfilling, but practicing at full force against a resisting opponent is an important part of the training.

As you now doubt guessed by the nature of my work, I enjoy physical activity, I like lifting weights, I avoid running like the plague, unless there is a bear involved. I have had an active career in kickboxing and Muay Thai (no they are not the same thing), and I compete at the international level at BJJ and Submission Wrestling. I have a national championship and 2 UFC expo tournament golds to my name, in addition to a bunch of other medals that you don't give a shit about. Before you ask no I don't "do mma", although I did previously have a short and painful career as a pro wrestler, during the year and a half of which I did more damage to my body then in almost a decade of competitive legitimate martial arts.

When I am not lifting heavy objects, inflicting pain on my opponents or shouting at the 1%, I spend my time on the internet and playing video games, RPGs mainly, sometimes shooters, but never sports games, I haven't played any sports games (unless you count mario kart) since the mutant league games, and I refuse to play sports games again until the ability to detonate the opposing lineman with an explosive fart returns to console gaming.

There are some things I stand for, on the internet I stand for them vocally, and in the real world I donate my time and money where appropriate to advance these causes. I am an atheist, which means, and only means, that I do not believe in a god or gods, and to the best of my knowledge, I never have. I speak out for the acceptance of the atheist in society at large, and also for secularism, which is probably the only world-view that truly stems from atheism. (Although this is not technically true, I assume all people have at least some sense of self preservation, and since the preservation of ones self as an atheist requires at least a somewhat secular society, I will stand by my assertion.)

I read books, lots and lots of fucking books, some about fitness, most about dragons and spies and things that explode. I ready 3-4 at a given time and usually finish said cycle of 3-4 books within a week or two if they're longer. Right now the 4 are "The Flexible Periodization method" by Karsten Jensen, "Stories" edited by Neil Gaiman, "The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower" by Stephen King and "A Briefer History of Time" by Stephen Hawking.

I stand strongly for free speech, and the free exchange of ideas, and although I believe everyone has the right to control how much free speech is allowed with their own domain, I also reserve the right to call you a fucking coward and a censor if you suppress dissenting opinions simply because you can.

I am a huge supporter of equal rights, and this means I support minorities, LGBTQ people, and any group which is discriminated against for no other reason than what they are. Although who you are and what you do can and will be held against you, and probably thoroughly mocked, -WHAT- you are has no effect on your value as a human being on my eyes.

My stance as a supporter of equal rights also makes me, in regards to most issues, a feminist (*gasp!*). But of a particular variety, namely the variety that believes all women should have the same opportunities and treatment as men in society. That's it. It means that I want to bring you up to my level, that I was elevated to for nothing other then being born with a penis. It does not mean I give a shit about your feelings, if you think that "being sexualized" is anything other then an evolutionary mechanism for the preservation of the species, then you need to hop a ride on the clue train (last stop is you). I also support men's rights in those rare cases where they are the one's being discriminated against, and yes I am aware this is exceedingly rare. However if you are acting like a stuck up bitch, or an entitled cunt, I will call you on it, just as I would call a man who's acting like a dickhead, a dickhead.

There's a lot more to me then this of course, however, that's enough to share for now, as I'm starting to bore myself to death with this shit. I'll post another one of these sometime a ways into the future maybe, who knows, but there are more pertinent posts to be made between now and then.

Stand up and fight

When is it appropriate to blame the victim?

Short answer - When the victim is the person at fault.

Long Answer - Let us first consider a brief thought experiment involving a child and an intersection. The child approaches the intersection, her or her light is green, the "walk" signal is on. The Child looks both ways, sees traffic is stopped, and enters the intersection. Suddenly a car that was stopped accelerates and strikes the child, injuring the child severely, perhaps breaking bones and sending him to the hospital with a life altering injury. Who is at fault for this tragedy? Of course the driver is, for ignoring the rules of the road, the driver is at fault no matter how you consider it, and we can in no way blame the child, the victim, who exercised all due diligence.

However let us now change the parameters, this time the light is red, the child fails to look and does not see the oncoming driver, who, having a green light, is approaching at a high speed, although not one exceeding the posted speed limit. The child rushes out in front of the car, and the driver slams on the breaks and swerves, but alas, it is too late, the child is struck and hospitalized as before. Who now is to blame? Surely not the driver, who was following the rules of the road and did everything within their power to avoid the accident. Perhaps the parents or the child's schoolteacher, for not adequately teaching what road signals mean and the "look both ways" rule. Let us assume for the time being that the child was aware of both the road signals and that looking both ways is a prudent practise, but proceeded none the less. Who then is to blame? Simply put, the child, who is still the victim none the less, was to blame for their victim-hood.

Is it wrong to advise the child that in the future, one should not cross lights when one does not have the right of way? Or that looking both ways before crossing the road is a prudent habit to get into? Of course not, either one should dispel the poor child's ignorance, or reinforce the fact that they were negligent. Though the ride to the hospital may not be a good time to do so.

Sometimes the blame is shared, perhaps the light was yellow, perhaps the child failed to look both ways but the child had the right of way, perhaps the child did look both ways, but ignored the sign, perhaps the driver is speeding, sometimes the blame is equally shared or split unevenly between both sides. However, if we, through our own negligence or ignorance, bring these circumstances upon ourselves, then we share the blame.

Of what relevance is this, do you ask? Well plainly and simply put, some of the A+tards don't seem to understand the concept. Let's drop the scholarly prose for a moment, since the thought experiment is done, and talk business.

There have been a few posts in a couple of A+ forum threads and blogs, which suggest that any sort of advice giving to the victim after the fact is "victim-blaming". This is actually true, however where the bullshit begins is they seem to view this as a negative thing. See this is what they fail to understand, in any circumstance in which you can influence the outcome, you bear a proportionate amount of responsibility for the result as far as you can influence the result. This means that although you may not be completely, or even mostly responsible, if you can influence the outcome, then you can benefit from advice on how to prevent a another occurrence of the same thing.

There are 2 corollaries to this:

1) The advice given must be true

2) The advice given must be applicable to the situation 

A 3rd might be that it must be presented in a manor that does not appear to be sarcastic or flippant.

Now although the following discussion applies to nearly all violent crime (which is directed, in majority at men). I'll use the example of a woman trying to avoid rape by a man for the discussion, because that is the only demographic A+ seems to care about.

Now someone is going to say "rapes are not an accident, it is a malicious act and the only person to blame is the rapist" yes, the rapist should face the full penalty of law, and more, in my opinion. However, all the talk on all the message boards on the internet will not stop the rapists from raping. Contrary to the whole "rape culture" bullshit, the rapist knows what he is doing is illegal. If the the police find out, he will go to jail. If I find out he may receive a righteous beating, but I digress.

So now we have a person, actively and maliciously preparing to perform an act of forced sex on you, are there any actions you can take to avoid it? Of course. Consider the soldier in enemy territory, where there are any number of people actively trying to kill our aforementioned soldier off. Does this person simply walk around, alone, unarmed, eyes closed,through the streets and fields? Or does our soldier move tactically, armed, practising situational awareness and with the backing of their squad or platoon?

Consider now, the rather bleak, and unlikely point of view, that every woman who steps outside is entering a war zone of potential enemy rapist combatants. I do not ascribe to this, but for the moment, let's assume this nonsense is true. What can our intrepid woman do to avoid being raped? Can she move with her "squad" of friends? Yes of course, but not all women always have that benefit, sometimes they must travel alone. Well can she move tactically? Most definitely, she can avoid dark alleyways and areas of town where there are high crime rates? Most assuredly. Can she practise situational awareness? Of course. Can she ignore the horrible advice in "Shrodinger's Rapist". Yes she can. Notice how I make no mention of dressing conservatively, as there has been no correlation proven between style of dress and rape.

Now someone is going to say "But I am a woman, and I want to walk alone through dark alleyways in the shadiest part of town, at 3 am, by myself while blasting my Ipod and playing angry birds as I walk, because I can." Well, plain and simply put, In a perfect world you should be able to, but we don't live in a perfect world, and you are putting yourself at risk for violent crime, its not a great risk, and the blame still falls squarely on the attacker, but you are putting yourself into the hands of that attacker, just the like soldier walking with closed eyes through the street. There are evil people in the world, people who are willing to do evil things to you, there are not many, but they are there. No amount of goodwill, education or chatting on the internet can stop this, telling a rapist not to rape will not make them any less likely to do so, and if you think a bunch of bloviating on the internet is going to stop someone, when the threat of a 10-25 year prison sentence will not, then you are an idiot. Knowing that those people are out there is power, and blatantly putting yourself in their hands for no good reason, is throwing that power away.

So how about the woman who is forced to take a job in a shady part of town that ends her shift in the dead of night, and has no friends to walk home with? Who doesn't do this by choice but of necessity? What can she do? Several things.

She can have a "check in" with someone when she arrives home, or at a checkpoint along the way, via meeting someone at home or phoning someone. She can learn which places on route are most dangerous, and be aware of her surroundings, and avoid dangerous situations. She can ask herself if it's worth it t put herself in that position at all by taking that job. There are many other options and I'll happily discuss them with anyone who asks.

So is it appropriate to blame the victim? Yes, if they are the cause, either in part or in whole of the circumstances which made them a victim. If it can help prevent it from happening again, or if it can help others avoid being victims as well, then its not only appropriate, but the fucking right thing to do.

Stand up and fight

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Switching on Shrodinger's rapist cat

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I'm not normally active on the blogger or the twittospheretubes, I'm normally just an observer, however due to recent developments, I can't help but add to the growing commentary about a couple of ridiculous propositions put forth by the A+Theism community and it's proponents. Be aware this is long, but I will endeavour to make it coherent, structured and to the point.

Firstly I would like to address Greg "testosterone damages the brain and is not in any way a hormone necessary for muscle repair and is also present in women, no sir it is not" Laden and his "Rape Switch" assertion.


Your entire "argument" if we are to use the term loosely, is based entirely on your own deranged assertion, and does not come into contact with fact at any point. Although a known stalker who is on record threatening people with physical violence (know anyone who fits that description?) might possibly have such a switch, it is indicative of deep psychological problems, and is has no representation on the average man, any more then suggesting that because serial killers exist, we all have a "murder" switch. Please hand in your science card at the door, and don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out.

Now, onto the more popular and at first glance, more credible "Shrodinger's Rapist" argument.  I've seen this thrown about a whole lot on twitter and the AtheismPlus forums, and before I dig into this particular cowpie, let me give you a little context.

As a part time job in addition to my main job as a personal trainer, I teach women's self defence classes. When you see TV shows with the big dude who puts on padding as has women smack up his vulnerable parts, that's me. It's a lot more complex then that, and there are several lessons and training sessions before I break out the pads and padding, but that's part of what I do, and from that perspective, I can tell you that not only is this argument complete horseshit, it's actually likely to increase your odds of rape.

Anyhow moving on to address the points presented. I will attempt to break this down bit by bit.

Addressing MissLonelyHearts' point regarding women facing a unique set of challenges when it comes to strangers, I call bullshit. When it comes to random violent crimes (including robbery, rape and murder), the victims are overwhelmingly men, now it is true that in domestic relationships, the vast majority of victims of women, and were this a conversation about domestic abuse, it would be pertinent, but since you are addressing specificity the man on the street, you are, simply straight up wrong here, and not just wrong, but Bill O'Rielly wrong.

While I cannot say whether or not women worry themselves more about it, the simple fact is, in the stereotypical dark alleyway, a man is statistically in considerable more danger than a woman. Now there is a little thing called "Situational Awareness" which I teach as part of my classes, it's a specific military term, but in this context, it basically means to have an awareness of your surroundings, including the people around you, and the location you are in, although it seems self explanitory, it obviously isn't or this post would not exist. A basic use of this tool can make sure you avoid places where you might encounter a violent situation, be it sexual assault or otherwise.

For example, knowing what parts of town to not walk around in after dark, keeping to well populated areas, not being alone if you can avoid it and so on are important lessons, and far more important then thinking "OMG A -MAN- he might rape me!" Inside your head every time a man approaches. I am 5'11, 230 lbs, hold a national Brazillian JiuJitsu chapionship and have had an active career in Muay Thai kickboxing, there are places I will avoid walking at night in large metropolitan areas, it's just the smart thing to to. (On a side note, statistically clothing has little to no impact on a woman's odds of being raped, so dress as you will, but be careful when and where you walk, regardless of your attire.)

How does this relate to MissLonelyHearts? Plain and simply that her first point is complete bullshit. It speaks of her paranoia, and not the legitimate danger to women. Not to discredit everything she says however, the habit of having a friend call you the next day after spending the night (and no, I am not implying anything other then the time itself being spent.), is a sound enough practise.

The second point, which is of the most import, is that she follows the misconception that most rapes occur by strangers, and in a public place. They do not.

According to Wikipedia which cites the Bureau of Justice Statistics website, only 26% of rapes are committed by a stranger, and although a quarter is still a hefty number, it blows the water out of this entire bullshit argument because by the same source, 56% of rapes are committed by someone who is either an acquaintance or an intimate acquaintance, meaning that the friend you left as am emergency contact is twice as likely to rape you as the person you're going out to see.

This is where situational awareness and common sense kick in. 61% of rapes occur when at least one person has been drinking, while only 3.6% occur outdoors, 31% occur in the perpetrator's house, and 26% occur in the victim's home. So what's the point of these statistics? Well simply put, getting drunk with or in an unsafe space is bad, and walking outside, not so much (as well as being excellent exercise in a nation with a growing obesity epidemic).

I won't get into exact numbers, as The Justicar did an excellent video on the topic, the simply put, the odds of you being raped outside, by the random man walking down the street are negligible. You're considerably more likely to be involved in a serious or deadly auto accident then to be raped by the man passing you on the street. ("Shrodinger's At Fault Driver" anyone?).

Moving on, the whole "when you approach me in public, you may or may not be Shrodinger's Rapist" part, is utter nonsense, especially out of context. If you don't like being hit on, fine, but if you are afraid that someone who hits on you a library is a potential rape threat, then you are simply paranoid to the point of needing serious professional help, I couldn't find a statistic on "behind the bookshelves at the local library rape" or "in the Wal-Mart changing room rape" but I would suspect it is even smaller then the odds of being raped outside, which are already practically nil. (Doing some simple math reveals you are more likely to be struck and killed by a car at random walking down the street then raped outside anywhere at all.).

Now that the paranoia has been dispelled, let's move on to a few of the points of advice MissLonelyBecauseIamInsecureandParamoidHearts has for us. The whole bit about some men never approaching a women in public is plain and simply stupid, she tosses out a few things she doesn't like about a man (tatoos, cleanliness etc.), and without any context, goes on to suggest that they make you more likely to rape someone. Newsflash to MissShallowHearts your personal preferences in a man, have nothing to do with his likelihood to rape you, you paranoid bitch.

Giving credit where credit is due, a dark alleyway is a poor choice of place to hit on a woman, however if said woman is practising her situational awareness, or just has a brain in her head, she won't go waking down a dark alleyway if she can avoid it in the first place.

Now this next line is the one that gets my goat, because it makes no sense at all, at least not in this universe. (Though in another one, possibly one where goats shoot laser beams from their asses, it might make perfect sense).

"Ask yourself, "“If I were dangerous, would this woman be safe in this space with me?”" If the answer is no, then it isn't appropriate to approach her."

This is utter, abject and complete stupidity, by definition, if you are dangerous, the woman isn't safe. Also, the most dangerous place for a woman to be in this context (In the potential to be raped.) Is IN THE HOME OF SOMEONE SHE TRUSTS ENOUGH TO ENTER WILLINGLY. Allow me to repeat that, the most dangerous place, in terms of rape, in the home of someone she trusts, the second most dangerous place? HER OWN HOME. Allow me to repeat that, the second most dangerous place, the second mostly likely place for a woman to be raped is in her own home. Pause here, and consider this.

This advice, when taken to heart by a man, makes it literally impossible for him to ever approach a woman, and the is the worst part, makes it more likely for women who take this post to heart, to be raped. Yes ladies and gentlemen, if you listen to MissParanoidHearts not only will it mean you never go on a date but that you are actually going to increase the likelihood of being raped by having your guard up at the wrong times. This is straight up sickening, and extremely sad that people follow this advice.

Now that that's sunk in, lets move on, shall we?

Her bits about listening to a woman and reading her signals are about the only parts that actually relate to the title line of good guys not being maced. They are good advice, follow them.

The part at the end about not raping and committing violent crime? Sure, good advice, although I would doubt that if an actual rapist were reading your ridiculous advice column, he would listen.

Now that I'm done dissecting this odious heap of verbal vomit, I'll add in my own personal thoughts.

I understand, if, on a night out by yourself, in the dark or even the light, that you (meaning any woman who reads this) don't want to take your eyes off of me until I'm well clear of you, or walk to the other side of the street. Just don't miss what's going on in front of you while you're watching me, if it makes you feel safer, gt for it, just don't sacrifice your actual safety to do so.

On the other hand, if you treat every man who shows interest as a rapist, you are spitting in the face of statistics, you are shitting on every woman who lives in a part of the world where random rape is a reality, and possibly endorsed by the law.  By spreading this info, you are making it more likely for your fellow woman to be raped, and contributing to baseless scaremongering, I can no more support this then I could support the aptly pointed out "Schrodinger's mugger" and treat every black man like a mugger. You are not part of the solution, you are, by your wilful and abject ignorance, a part of the problem.

No, I don't sympathise with you and your incorrect information, no I do not empathise with your baseless paranoia. No I will not put myself in a position to pander to the special snowflakes. What I will do is teach you what I know about how to defend yourself, inspire you to empower yourself and encourage you to go out and live a free and happy life.

You have every right to think of me as a rapist, and I have every right to be insulted by this opinion and call out for for being the ill-informed paranoiamonger that you are.

Have a nice day,

-Shadow of a Doubt