Strawmanning Rape Culture (Part Two)


[Content note: sexual assault]

In the first half of this post, I covered three strawman arguments against the concept of rape culture. Read that post first! Then, here are three more.

“So you’re saying that all men are rapists.”

Nope. Men are more likely than women to be rapists for all sorts of reasons that are both central and tangential to rape culture. For instance, aggression is encouraged in men but not in women. Women are treated as sexual objects, there for men’s taking. Even a woman passing by on the street is considered fair game for sexual comments and come-ons, simply because she happens to exist and be attractive to someone. While women can and do become rapists (more on this later), they aren’t taught from an early age to think of men as something they should just “take” whenever they feel like it.

It is, in fact, the reactionary, anti-feminist position to claim that men are by nature rapists, and you see conservatives dancing around that claim all the time. They’ll say that Boys Will Be Boys and men can’t control their sexual urges when they see an attractive woman (all men are heterosexual, in case you didn’t know)

Feminists understand that, because of a variety of cultural factors, men are much more likely to accept and commit rape than they otherwise might be. Feminists believe this is 100% solvable.

Schrödinger’s Rapist, a common component of rape culture arguments, is also often misconstrued as claiming that all men are rapists. It is not.

Claiming that we’re saying that all men are rapists is an easy and lazy way to write off our arguments by making us seem like every boring stereotype of feminism that has ever been trotted out.

“So you’re saying that only women get raped.”

No. Women do comprise the majority of rape victims because women are systematically disempowered by sexism. Similarly, queer people, disabled people, people of color, and so on are disproportionately likely to be raped. People who lack privilege are more likely to be the victims of all sorts of crimes, but with rape there’s the added dimension of rape-as-punishment–a hallmark of rape culture. People are often raped to be “put in their place.”

Obviously, none of this means that men do not get raped. First of all, being male is only one type of privilege; a man could still lack others. Second, rape culture means that nobody is taught good sexual ethics unless they teach themselves. Women who do not understand and value consent can rape men, as can other men. I think that one of the reasons women are relatively unlikely to be rapists is because they are so strongly discouraged from being sexual aggressors, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Men are affected by rape culture. It’s the reason male rape victims face so much shame and blame; it’s the reason prisoners (who are disproportionately male) are so likely to be raped and why people still think this is okay to joke about. The recent revelation that women are not the only ones being targeted by rapists in the military is another example of this; rape is used as a form of bullying or hazing of men as well as women. That’s rape culture in action.

Rape culture affects (or at least appears to affect) women more than men because of sexism, but when it comes to rape culture, everyone loses.

“So you’re saying that rape victims are the only type of crime victims who ever get blamed for what happened to them.”

Victim-blaming is a component of rape culture, but it’s not the only component and it’s not exclusive to rape culture. It’s likely that rape culture increases victim-blaming by teaching people scripts about sexual assault that blame the victim (i.e. the “What was she thinking going out to that bar alone” script and the “Why would she flirt with him if she didn’t want to have sex” script and the “Well if a woman goes out wearing something like that, what are men supposed to think” script). Because of rape culture, basically everyone grows up learning to think about and discuss sexual assault in this way.

But victim-blaming doesn’t originate with rape culture; if it did, it indeed wouldn’t make sense that we blame the victim in many, many other situations–being sick, being mentally ill, being the victim of some other crime, being abused by one’s family or partner, being discriminated against, being poor, being unemployed. Basically every terrible thing that can conceivably befall a person is something that people have tried to blame on that person.

Why? Just-world fallacy. Believing that other people are to blame for their misfortunes helps us sleep better at night. We will be more responsible and prudent than that. We will not wear slutty clothes and go out drinking. We will be smart with our money and work hard and thus never end up poor, unemployed, and homeless. We will not be weak enough to succumb to depression; we’ll pull ourselves out of it.

If that sounds cruel, that’s because it is. But it’s also a very understandable response to the horror of a dangerous world where terrible things seem to happen to good people all the time, a world we realize, deep down, that we ultimately have little control over.

People do in fact blame victims of crimes other than rape–for not locking their car, for leaving their bike with an easily-broken chain, for going out with a laptop bag, for going to a “dangerous” neighborhood, for not being careful enough with their credit card information, for being “stupid” enough to fall for a pyramid scheme, for wearing a hoodie and being mistaken for a criminal and murdered. They blame the victims because the thought of doing everything “right” and still becoming the victim of a crime (or other misfortune) is horrifying.

This is why teaching people rational thinking is so important. Rational thinking doesn’t just help you get stuff done; it’s a necessary condition for a just society, because victim-blaming is incompatible with a just society.

Victim-blaming isn’t all there is to rape culture, though. As I mentioned when I discussed other crimes, rape is dismissed and hand-waved away in ways that other crimes are not, so the fact that victims get blamed in all sorts of situations doesn’t mean rape culture does not exist.

It just means that advocates of rational thinking and social justice have our work cut out for us.

Comments

  1. says

    To be fair, I have seen feminists, and not just extremist gender-segregationist, types, arguing that victim-blaming only happens to rape victims. It’s like they never read the comments section in an article about poor people not having money or about a black guy who got shot by the police for WWB. It’s not so much a straw man as a bad argument people really make sometimes.

    • says

      Yeah, I’ve seen non-extreme feminists say all kinds of inaccurate things, but when I learned about rape culture through great blogs and academic papers, nobody ever suggested this. I’d call it a strawman because it doesn’t seem to be the most prevalent or influential version of the rape culture argument, and I see plenty of feminists discussing other types of victim blaming all the time.

      • says

        I’m thinking of feminists in terms of people who show up in news comments, not so much the academic theorists. Unfortunately, this is the extent of a lot of people’s exposure to feminism.

        • CaitieCat says

          Right, but by definition news shows tend to pick at the extremes, especially currently, when facts have become irrelevant and the false equivalence is emperor: either a radical feminist to spark discord and ratings, or a moderate barely-feminist appeasing type, so as not to “shove feminism down people’s throats”. It’s not a good way to judge where the mainstream of feminist thought lies. :)

          • says

            I’m not talking about people brought onto news shows to discuss feminism. I’m talking about the people who turn up in the comments on news websites when they do a story about McGinnis or about Castro ro something.

          • CaitieCat says

            Ah, my apologies, I misunderstood. I read very few comment sections on the Internet, because I find Sturgeon’s Law underestimates the ratio of noise to signal in an exponentially wrong way. Thus, “news” and “comments” for me means commentators on news programs.

    • John Horstman says

      I see this ALL THE TIME, and it drives me batty, as it functionally reifies what would otherwise be a straw argument. Miri does a great job of teasing out the difference, but I’ve had to point out more than once that we blame people for others breaking into their cars if they leave something visible or for others mugging them if they’re drunk or waking in a “bad neighborhood” at night etc. The fact that victim-blaming is PART of rape culture doesn’t mean it’s UNIQUE to rape culture, and acknowledging this actually strengthens the position, not undermines it.

  2. CaitieCat says

    Just an excellent pair of posts that I foresee becoming a community resource, Miri. Well-argued, well-described. Mostly commenting to get the responses, as well as to say brava. I know there’s a subscribe-without-commenting thingy, and I’m using it on yesterday’s post. :)

  3. dezn_98 says

    A pocture perfect way to show how rape is seen in a sexist way. Is that words like “male rape” or “reverse rape” even exist and need to be used! The reason we need extra qualifications to inform people that, “yeah ken can be rape victims to! It is not just women!

  4. Al Dente says

    Thank you for both parts of your essay on rape culture. You’ve given me a great deal to think about.

  5. smrnda says

    On the ‘do you think all men are rapists?’ Part of rape culture is that rape gets normalized because it ends up being seen as an extension of normal male sexuality rather than something completely aberrant. It turns rape into a problem with an out of control sex drive rather than a problem with sexual predators who consciously and deliberately choose to rape and who are in full control of their actions. Rape culture suggests that all men are rapists because rape becomes just wanting sex too much, making this a fact and putting the burden on women not to get raped.

    • Nepenthe says

      And lest anyone disbelieved that real people in the world believe that rape is a result of men’s uncontrolled biological need for sex, Hunt stepped in to provide proof just below.

      • Hunt says

        I’ve never believed the mainstream feminist idea that separates rape from sexual drive and desire and places it solely within the realm of domination and control. You may believe that, and presumably many feminists believe it, and in some cases, a percentage I could not guess, it may be true. But I still think you can’t entirely separate sexual desire from rape behavior. If this were the case, there would exist some counterfactual world where rape would still be as great a problem as in ours while men had no lust at all for women. I don’t believe that world could exist, even if someone figured out how to cancel all male sex drive…perhaps a world filled with eunuchs. If you believe a world with male eunuchs would still have our rape problem, then I leave you to your opinion; otherwise the only conclusion is that rape depends in extent on male sexual desire. Whether it’s a “need” or not seems to be a semantic red herring. The important thing is that it motivates behavior.

        • says

          Few people suggest that rape has nothing to do with sex; just that it has more to do with power than sex. Humans are quite adept at controlling their “drives,” but for some reason it’s only men who supposedly have such a vociferous sex drive that they can’t help but rape people. Women have strong sex drives, too; they’re just socialized to express them very differently (often, not at all). And the majority of men, despite their supposedly “natural” strong sex drives, are somehow able to refrain from raping people.

          • John Horstman says

            Actually, this is another claim I frequently see (in blog/article comments, far less in professional/academic publications) – that rape is ONLY about power and not sex. I think rape is about using sex as a vector for exercising non-consensual power, for violating someone’s sexual agency. But rape definitionally has something to do with sex: stabbing someone is a violation of bodily autonomy involving non-consensual penetration, but we don’t call it “rape” unless it’s a sexualized orifice that’s stabbed.

            I occasionally see the related claim that rape has nothing to do with sex for victims/survivors, even if it does for rapists, but I also dispute this. If a violation of bodily autonomy isn’t experienced as a sexual violation, it’s generally not going to be considered rape – for example, the sense of violation resulting from a “wet willie” non-consensual finger-in-the-ear is not sexualized and is thus (generally) very different from non-consensual penetration of the vagina or anus with a finger.

          • John Horstman says

            I should perhaps note that I am firmly in the camp of believing that sticking one’s finger (or anything else) in ANY orifice of another person without hir consent is unacceptable – that this sort of behavior is FURTHER minimized if it’s not a sexual violation is a distinct, if related, issue we’ll have to address. (And if we focus on bodily autonomy, we can address it at the same time!)

        • smrnda says

          Then how would you explain rapists who also have lots of consensual sex? There are married men wh ohave sex with their wives on a regular basis who still rape. I’ve read lots of research on rape and this is typically one ‘just so story’ that doesn’t fit the facts,though I’d have to go digging around for citations.

          The other thing is… most men don’t have any difficulty controlling themselves even when they want sex very badly. The ‘I just can’t get sex and need it so bad’ is less likely the truth and more likely a rationalization.

  6. Hunt says

    It is, in fact, the reactionary, anti-feminist position to claim that men are by nature rapists, and you see conservatives dancing around that claim all the time. They’ll say that Boys Will Be Boys and men can’t control their sexual urges when they see an attractive woman (all men are heterosexual, in case you didn’t know)

    It’s way more than just conservatives who hold that opinion. I’ve encountered a lot in entertainment and advertising media about male sexual requirements. As far as just how male and female sexual desire and needs differ, that seems to be relegated to a few neglected studies, folk knowledge and a few courageous commentators. As nearly any male with a normal to strong sexual drive will tell you, sexual release, whether masturbatory or otherwise, can be close to a biological requirement, otherwise psychological bulkheads start to burst. “Studies show” male sex drive is qualitatively different and quantitatively greater than female sex drive. Of course, none of that is an excuse to assault or rape; however it will effect the predilection to certain behavior.

    • hoary puccoon says

      Which “studies show”? What was the between-group variance relative to the within group variance? What were the sample sizes in these studies? What, precisely, were they measuring? Hormone levels? Answers on questionnaires? What was the age range of the respondents? Were they all college students, or did the studies include men in their thirties and older. (There’s some evidence that the difference between genders at the ages of 18-25 is greater than the difference between older men and women. I can’t cite the exact study– which I realize is what I’m asking of you– but I remember specifically that on their measures of aggression, mature men and all women formed one cluster, and college age men formed another.)

      I’ve done sociological research for the federal government, research in universities, and research for a well-known advertising agency. And having seen the difference between them in the quality of studies, I would strongly advise you not to rely on “entertainment and advertising media,” if you want to get your facts straight.

    • daniellavine says

      “Studies show” male sex drive is qualitatively different and quantitatively greater than female sex drive.

      As a man who has had sex with women…

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      HAHAHAhahaha

      hahaha

      oooh…

      I wish I had “quantitatively” half of the sex drive of any of the women I’ve dated.

      Women are socialized not to express their sex drives and men are socialized to exaggerate their sex drives. I suspect that is the difference you’re talking about — the performance, not the reality.

      • says

        why do you conflate your personal (and therefore inherently biased in a number of ways) anecdotal experience with that of a society and culture of billions of people?

  7. tuibguy says

    As I was reading this, and thank you for writing it; the question that came to me is whether or not there are any non-rape cultures that are known. How do we do comparisons?

    How can we move our culture away from being a rape culture?

    • jesse says

      Seconded — is it possible to imagine a non-rape culture? Does one exist anywhere? Has it ever existed?

      If it has never existed, then you run into problems, I think. Not that human cultures have never invented anything — think of capitalism — but at least Socialists can say “well, that experiment didn’t work, here’s how we might try again.”

      I will admit to being a bit more of a cynic in the human culture department tho.

      • says

        Of course it’s possible to imagine a non-rape culture. Did you read the first half of this post?

        If rape culture did not exist, rape would still exist, but things would look very different. Rape would be much rarer. When there is enough evidence to show that someone committed rape, that person will go to jail. Although there may still a bit of stigma surrounding being a rape victim, that stigma will not be any greater than it is for being the victim of any other crime (right now, it’s much greater). Rape would not constantly be threatened and used as “punishment” for being queer, for being a woman who speaks out, and so on. There will still be researchers trying to understand what causes people to become rapists and activists trying to stop them from doing so, but the key difference will be that when someone gets raped, we’ll ask more questions about the person who raped them than about the person who was raped. We’ll ask what led the rapist to do such a thing, not what led the victim to be so careless.

        Even if it weren’t possible to imagine this, however, that doesn’t really prove anything. You don’t need to be able to provide a ready-made alternative to say that there are serious problems with something. Is there a society right now that has a high standard of living and is not severely damaging the environment? I don’t think so. Do we still need to figure out how to stop damaging the environment? Yes.

        • jesse says

          i saw that and the problem is it’s still, to my thinking, a bit vague. It reminds me a bit of old socialists talking about how they could somehow build new cultures out of whole cloth or the state “withering away.”

          Let me put it another way: is there any culture on Earth right now that is not a rape culture? Anywhere?

          If not, then is there a way to measure when we have gotten to where you want to be? That is we have X people sexually assaulted now, how low would that number have to be to not be a rape culture? Half? A third? A tenth?

          Is there some measurable way we can see if we;re getting anywhere? Because otherwise what’s the point? It becomes this never-attainable goal that is no different than saying someday we will all go to heaven.

          Like I said, I admit to being more of a cynic. I grew up in a place of activism and all that good stuff, and it i precisely because I know the history that I feel the doubts. I don’t like feeling that way. But most days I do. If the whole culture is messed, how can you fix it? It just seems utterly hopeless.

          • smrnda says

            You could take a look at different cultures or different times and see a change in the strength of rape culture.

            One example is that there used to be no such thing as ‘marital rape’ within the scope of the law. There is such a thing now, and fewer people think that a wife *must* always have sex whether she wants to or not. That’s a pretty big change. “Sexual harassment” went on but wasn’t labelled as such until quite recently, and I’d say many workplaces are very different now because of it. Many countries have legalized and regulated prostitution which is kind of related to rape culture since it puts sex workers in a position where they’re less likely to be raped.

            On cynicism, seriously, think about how shitty things were for most people just a few decades or a half century ago and see if your cynicism is justified.

          • daniellavine says

            The biggest measure would be the report rape for rape. The closer the report rate is to a reasonable and evidence-based estimation of actual occurrence the further we would be from a rape culture.

            I could point out some qualitative changes that I would find encouraging too. But it’s probably pointless to mention because you’re prone to saying stuff like this:

            Is there some measurable way we can see if we;re getting anywhere? Because otherwise what’s the point? It becomes this never-attainable goal that is no different than saying someday we will all go to heaven.

            Discouraging people from trying to make the world a better place because you’re a “cynic” seems like a pretty shitty thing to do. Maybe don’t do that.

          • jesse says

            @daniellavine — well, look, I know that other folks are always gung-ho and perfectly enthused and all that. I am sorry I ever have doubts.

            I want to believe, as they say. But most days its hard, at least for me. Maybe that makes me a horrible person. Well, so be it then. But I feel like things have gone backward at so many levels since the 70s. Take women’s health. See Texas as exhibit A. Holy hell.

            I want to say that things have gotten better. I’d like to think so. I try to think so. Then I see Sarah Palin. Or Todd Akin. People voted for that guy. In any sane world Akin wold never have been elected to anything. Sarah Palin would still be a two-bit anchor in Idaho.

            I want to believe. Lord knows I try to. Maybe it’s easy for you. It isn’t for me, and if I am honest with myself it never was. (That’s why I liked science as much as I did and still do. I never felt betrayed by Hooke’s law. THAT always works. Gravity always works. Other stuff, not so much).

            Have you never, ever , ever in your life ever felt this? If not, I envy you.

          • daniellavine says

            @Jesse:

            Maybe that makes me a horrible person.

            Cut the self pity party. I never said you were a horrible person.

            Here’s what I actually said:

            Discouraging people from trying to make the world a better place because you’re a “cynic” seems like a pretty shitty thing to do. Maybe don’t do that.

            You don’t have to believe it will work or that the world will ever get better or anything like that to take my advice. You can stay your sad old cynical self and still take my advice. All you have to do is not say stuff like this:

            Because otherwise what’s the point? It becomes this never-attainable goal that is no different than saying someday we will all go to heaven.

            You can be personally discouraged without making it your mission on earth to discourage other people.

            But I feel like things have gone backward at so many levels since the 70s.

            You feel. A fundamentalist Christian would obviously feel that things have gotten better by the exact same measures that you feel things have gotten worse. If they can get worse then logically they must also be able to get better. They had to have “gotten better” in the first place to be so good in the 70’s.

    • John Horstman says

      Yes*; fundamentally, a non-rape culture is one in which everyone’s right to bodily autonomy and self-determination is always accepted without question (such a culture would – beyond simply not accepting rape as inevitable – not malign trans people’s rights to bodily agency, women’s right to control their fertility and procreation, children’s rights to self-determination in opposition to their parents’ desires, etc.). It is a culture that does not view sex as something people “get” from each other, but as a shared activity for mutual enjoyment (like riding bikes, for example). It would be characterized by a lack of sexual stigma. (Hetero)Sexual experience and (hetero)sexual performance would not be definitive aspects of masculinity, nor would sexual inexperience and naivete be aspects of femininity (along with the paradoxical objectification and presumed sexual availability of women). Economically, it would be characterized by mutuality and equity – exploitation, gaining an advantage at another’s disadvantage, and simply taking because one can are existing, prevalent, normative, even celebrated (though also widely contested) economic behaviors that are highly congruent with (and I would argue supportive of) extant rape culture. I could go on for a while, but I’ll presume you’re getting the idea.

      In the sociology course I took this past semester, we examined the history of sexuality in the USA, and two of the articles we read suggested that many of the indigenous American groups along the Atlantic coast did not have rape cultures – something that ironically led the European colonists to consider them sinful savages. I didn’t get a big Noble Savage vibe from either of the texts, so I don’t think they were falling into the trap of idealizing the Other.

      Groups of young children who have not yet been heavily socialized can offer insight into possibilities as well – we see lots of mutual cooperation in play, freedom of association, sharing, and a general lack of coercion, as most young children have not yet learned to (nor how to) coerce and manipulate others (though they pick this one up quickly).

      *All of what follows is highly speculative. We’re in the realm of contested cultural theory, here, and much of what I’m suggesting is the result of my own theorizing through a decade in academic Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies, and Queer Theory.

      • says

        In the sociology course I took this past semester, we examined the history of sexuality in the USA, and two of the articles we read suggested that many of the indigenous American groups along the Atlantic coast did not have rape cultures – something that ironically led the European colonists to consider them sinful savages. I didn’t get a big Noble Savage vibe from either of the texts, so I don’t think they were falling into the trap of idealizing the Other.

        I would love to read more about this. Do you remember the sources?

  8. doublereed says

    I always get really confused when people strawman rape culture. It’s a weird concept, but it’s not that weird. Maybe they hear about rape culture second-hand by an anti-feminist and that’s their idea of rape culture? I can’t understand why people say such ridiculous things about it. I mean all of things you’re saying seem blindingly obvious to me.

    The weird part is the question “wait wait wait does society really do that?” and then it’s just a matter of showing them that yes, it does. But why do people fight the actual concept?

    • Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

      Because just world fallacy, usually.

      “Things can’t be -that- bad, my life is fine!”

    • Hunt says

      Because “rape culture” is an indictment against an entire culture, and therefore all members, whether by commission or omission, are complicit in supporting it. And for many people, that is too great a charge to level against their own culture, while they may agree that “rape culture” not applied as a monolithic label to their entire society can be applied to aspects of it. Often, that is where the word “culture” is equivocated. You can talk about rape culture being alive and well in college fraternities, or in high school football “culture,” or in the military. However, these things are not “cultures” or even what sociologists call sub-cultures. (And what they call “sub-cultures” are not cultures.) What you can’t automatically do is go from those instances to culture at large (actual culture), however people using the expression do that all the time. They’ll point to bad behavior within fraternities and then extend that to culture at large, and then when questioned about it, transfer back to restricted instances for proof of the generality. That isn’t being fair to the actual culture that you inhabit.

      • says

        Because “rape culture” is an indictment against an entire culture, and therefore all members, whether by commission or omission, are complicit in supporting it. And for many people, that is too great a charge to level against their own culture, while they may agree that “rape culture” not applied as a monolithic label to their entire society can be applied to aspects of it.

        I don’t see why this is the case. It’s possible to say that, for instance, the United States as a culture values extroversion, or is very individualistic, or whatever. It’s possible to say that Israeli culture is quite nationalistic. It’s possible to say that Russian culture is very family-oriented. That doesn’t mean that every single person living in these countries is an exemplar of these traits. You can’t talk about sociology without speaking in generalities.

      • daniellavine says

        “Geek culture”. I’ve heard this usage a whole lot. Please explain how this common and accepted usage of the term “culture” is consistent with the arbitrary rules you are imposing on use of the word “culture”.

        The use of the term “rape culture” is exactly analogous to use of the term “geek culture”. For example, not all facets of US culture are a part of “geek culture” just as not all facets of US culture are part of “rape culture”; nonetheless, “geek culture” and “rape culture” are both part and parcel to US culture more generally.

        Incidentally, this cavil on proper use of the word “culture” is an entirely semantic nitpick and completely inconsequential to the issues being discussed here. It seems like a bit of a diversion. We could call “rape culture” “shmape shmulture” or even “flibberdeedoo” and no part of Miri’s exposition would need to be changed because those aspects of US culture designated here by the term “rape culture” would still exist whether or not you called it “rape culture”.

  9. ischemgeek says

    I have one more: If rape culture is really a problem, why is it okay for people to joke about men getting raped but not women?

    Firstly, it’s cuturally considered A-OK to joke about women being raped – so much so that it’s a common defense to being accused of uttering rape threats. “It was just a joke, you don’t have to over-react.”

    Secondly, joking about men being raped and in particular painting prison rape as justice for, say, committing rape themselves or for other crimes is also part of the rape culture problem. People who criticize rape culture aren’t saying that it’s okay to jokingly threaten women with rape but not men – they’re saying it’s bad to legitimize rape in jest at all.

  10. says

    My only complaint with this and the previous post is that many of these are not really straw men, but rather real questions about the rape culture claim when it has not been adequately explained. My example is me. I had these questions, but they were not straw men, because you have answered them, and I am now convinced. Thank you. Actually one more quibble: I think some portions of America, okay the former Confederacy, have, maybe not a “murder culture”, exactly, but certainly a violence culture that meets all the requirements for saying the entire country has a rape culture.

    • says

      @timothycarter – I’m glad you see the usefulness in rape culture as a schema for understanding the positionality of women; that said, are you sure that the “murder culture” in southern states has to do with murder? who is committing all that murder? could it instead have to do with masculinity? “hegemonic masculinity” is an interesting idea that scholars of sociology have used for situations like that, you might wanna look into it.

  11. says

    I really love these two articles. A problem, I think, though, is the use of the term “feminists” to describe a group of people. Read Judith Lorber’s “Gender Inequality” and you’ll find that “feminism” is really just an umbrella term for dozens of species of feminisms separated by space, time, and sociocultural positionality. “Feminist” is a label people like to give themselves when they see stuff they like coming out of (or down from) academia, activism, and theory that attempts to address and understand gender and gendered oppression. This results in useless arguments like “can a man be a Feminist????” Does it matter? What kind of “feminist” do you mean? Does it not hinge on the definition of the label?

    I know everyone has said this before but from my assessment the word “feminist” is more trouble than its worth. “Lesbian feminist” or “social constructionist feminist” is specific enough to be useful, but “feminist” alone is giving more ammo to ideological angry people on the internet to work with, than it is useful for unifying (ha, “feminists”, unified?) a movement that needs to be critically rethought in light of modern analyses and research into gender construction. Have you as a psychologist read “The Gender Trap” by Emily D. Kane? How about Cordelia Fine’s “Delusions of Gender”? Or even Lorber’s Breaking the Bowls?

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