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Ann

Richard loves the overgeneralizations. While he was busy refuting the "all men are evil" statement, he attempted to replace it with "no men are evil": "I don't know any men who believe they have a "right" to sex or to a women's body. Zero. Where do you get these ideas?" Richard, perhaps you should engage in a dialogue with some of these men of whom you think so highly. No, all men do not think they have a right to a woman's body. But a lot do. I bet at least half of the women reading this blog have heard the old "but baby, I need it" blue balls argument from a high school boyfriend, or worse, "if you won't give it to me I'll have to get it from someone else." That is coercion, obviously stemming from the boy's belief that the girl SHOULD be giving it up to him, just because he wants it. It's not rape (yet), but it doesn't fall too far short of it.

And if Richard (sorry to pick on you, buddy, but you kind of asked for it) is seriously suggesting that prostitution is commodifying anything other than the woman herself, I would like to hear what it is. If these poor men are just going to keel over dead if they don't get an orgasm RIGHT NOW, there is always the good ol' right hand, which has been there for them since they first figured it out at age 12. Or, god forbid, a RealDoll. "Sex" is not something that can be separated from the woman. It is not a "service" she is providing, it is HER OWN BODY. And with it, her dignity. I do not know of a single industry in which women can purchase the dignity of men.

Ann

Incidentally, I would looooooooooooove to see a post analyzing the phenomenon of the RealDoll. And, if you get to thinking about prostitution, how 'bout that Stud Ranch that Heidi Fleiss is opening in Vegas?

p.s. to my previous comment: Prostitute/john is a specific relationship, too, not a metaphor for all of humanity. In the prostitution industry, men DO have complete control over women's bodies; that's the point. But all women are not prostitutes and all men are not johns, so it's no more than a knee-jerk reaction to try and make statements about Gender Relations In America based on the state of the sex industry. However, as the author of the original Guardian article pointed out, prostitution and its power relations could not exist if society as a whole did not make room for it. The simple fact of the argument on Laurelin's blog proves that; people like Richard could not possibly see prostitution as anything other than exploitative if he hadn't been conditioned to accept men's power over women. As feminists, it should bother us that Richard (and the millions of others who believe as he does) isn't bothered. His attitude is pretty indicative of the prevailing cultural atmosphere.

But geez, Richard, it's insane to think that the prevailing cultural atmosphere is exactly the same as every individual's attitude. Nobody but Andrea Dworkin is trying to say that all men think they own all women. Most men I know are very nice and do not think they have a right to anything. But enough of them do that prostitution is one of the biggest industries in the world, if not *the* biggest, and enough others (Richard included) have internalized the attitude that even if they don't act on it themselves, they are implicitly giving it their approval. So those of us in good relationships with respectful men can smile and be happy for ourselves, but we've just won the battle, not the war.

Laurelin

Thank you very very much for your comments Ann, and thanks for the post Happy Fem. As HP pointed out, I was not trying to suggest that all men think they own women, or that all men think they have a right to women's bodies. I thought my wording was very clear on that, but obviously not clear enough for Richard. Prostitution is a huge industry that sells women's bodies, and it exists because of the demand and the patriarchal ethos that regards women as sex objects. It is a grim reality that must be discussed if women's rights are to be upheld and respected. The idea that because I criticise the men who are involved in, or use the sex industry I somehow think all men are bad and dangerous is frankly insulting to both my feelings and my intelligence. I am also shocked that a presumably intelligent person is using such tactics to undermine arguments he disagrees with, rather than producing counterpoints. It is a dishonest approach.

Thanks again HP. I appreciate what you did here.

Andrea

I've recently discovered that to some, to criticise some men is to criticise them all.

Richard

"Look, I'm the happy feminist."

Yes you are! And that's why I like to visit here. :)

"But that's not to say that being a happy feminist means closing my eyes to the very real exploitation of women based on their femaleness that still exists in many parts of the world."

Yes, and I agree with that. Women in many parts of the world are horribly treated (let's talk Middle East, Africa, many parts of Asia) and I detest that. However, what I do not hear from you that I hear from most (yes, most) other bloggers who feature their feminism, is a palpable sense of short-tempered bitterness and churlishness peppered with a disproportionate sense of oppression in middle America. They are hunting – and hard - for signs of oppression, and finding real or perceived slights in life, something never difficult to do. If I scouted for evidence of “oppression” in my own daily life I would find it. I might even be able to think women caused some of it. The question really is whether such a focus is worth my (or society’s) time, or would it just turn me into a bitter, cynical old man closed into himself and loving the hate (okay okay, you say I'm already there ;)

Female genital mutilation in Africa, for instance, is something worthy of condemnation, disgust, and activism to stop. Women modeling sexy lingerie for clothing stores, not so much. Young girls denied basic education because of their sex is reprehensible, separate boys/girls sports teams, not so much. A sense of perspective and proportion seems lacking in much of feminist dialogue today, and the only folks who seem unaware of this are the feminists themselves.

We are coming up soon, in February, to feminists’ Vagina Day (V-Day) when women around the globe are suppose to put on a play about their vaginas to help wipe out man-on-woman domestic violence. Okay, the cause is worthy even if the tactic is quirky. However, a quick look at the official V-Day website, and I find this gem about rape: “Men must acknowledge that this is their creation, their Frankenstein, their responsibility to end. Most men don't rape but most men contribute to the continuation of the culture that foments rape.” Ooookay. So me, my Dad, my uncles, my four nephews, my closest male friends, all my male acquaintances – we are fomenters of rape (or at least *most* of us are) according to Worldwide Feminism.

I mean really. Can’t you feel the love?

Richard

If Laurelin was speaking only of men who hire prostitutes she should have said that.

“Men have power over women while women's bodies are seen as something they have a right to, while women's bodies are available to be bought and stolen.”

I really don’t think your emphasis of the single word “these” in a prior sentence alters the absolute meaning and absolute tone of the above sentence, but that's just me. At best, they contradict one another. But if she says she wasn’t saying “all men” then I’ll take her at her word.

will

I really haven studied feminism much. I only recently started reading blogs. Many of the self-described feminist ones are very interesting and raise many excellent points.

But I have been surprised at how many people are itching to call someone a misogynist or a woman-hater whenever you do not subscribe to a specific set of beliefs. Dont you dare discuss the possibility that fathers seeking custody of their children might, sometimes, make a better custodial parent than the mother. Don't you dare discuss that ob/gyn doctors shouldnt be forced to perform abortions.

One of the reasons that I enjoy HappyFeminist is that dialague appears to be more open without the insults and name calling about those that disagree with you.

The Happy Feminist

Obviously, I can't defend every statement ever made by a feminist any more than a Christian can defend every statement ever made by his or her fellow Christians. Human beings, regardless of ideology, have a tendency to be judgmental or hostile to opposing viewpoints so, if you have encountered that attitude, I would attribute it to human nature rather than feminism itself. That having been said, I have NOT sensed in the feminist blogosphere that "palpable sense of short-tempered bitterness and churlishness peppered with a disproportionate sense of oppression in middle America."

With regard to this quotation from the V-Day website:
"Men must acknowledge that this is their creation, their Frankenstein, their responsibility to end. Most men don't rape but most men contribute to the continuation of the culture that foments rape.”

I don't really know much about Eve Ensler, her play, or V-day, so I am not prepared to endorse any of that at this point. I found the quotation you mentioned on the V-day site however at http://www.vday.org/contents/victory/success/0305041 , in a section called Victory/Success Stories. This is a section in which "visitors to this site share their stories of struggle and victory." This particular quotation is contained in a testimonial apparently written by a MAN. The theme of the story is "most men don't have a clue." I am not sure what he means by the quoted statement so I can't necessarily going to defend it but I think it needs to be put in context.

Amanda Marcotte

Great post. I get this a lot and I've decided that anti-feminists are the real man-haters who think all men are alike and women just need to tolerate the worst of it with a smile.

Tara

Bitter and churlish?

I guess it beats bitter and fat.

By a little.

And yeah, it's always great to have a man around to tell feminists what to do and how to spend our time.

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