Wednesday, October 18, 2006

abuse of male privilege

i had made a list - a list of the unearnt, undeserved privileges that i have as a well-to-do brahmin woman. i hoped - almost prayed - that some men at least, after reading that, would make a list of the gender-bestowed privileges that they have.

because this is what happens when a man abuses his male privilege and uses it to hurt a woman.

every time some guy says "but i'm a nice guy!" and expects to be trusted implicitly, i want to bury him in the mound of "nice guys" who do hurtful, vicious, unthinkingly dumb things.

no man has ever introduced himself to me, or any woman of my acquaintance, saying "you know what? i'm not a nice guy, i do bad things. so please don't trust me - treat me as an aberration in the world of nice men". pretty much most men consider themselves nice people. "nice men" who happen watch porn, leer at women, "eve tease", or exploit vulnerable women and children sexually.

more than dealing with god, i find that dealing with men is a daily act of faith, with more immediate repercussions if i misjudge. each time i let myself be seen in the company of a man, i know its a risk. i know if anything happens to me, that fact - that i was With A Man - will be the first excuse to humiliate me and pain me further.

men know this almost better than women. the man who abused me was a father of a nice little girl. every father and husband i know has taught his daughter and wife to never trust other men. my own father says every single man is guilty until proven innocent. im sure my husband will, with the same concern for my safety, say the same thing.

women are taught, as a policy decision, to mistrust men, but are expected to make a "personal" exception for every single male who chooses to enter their lives. questioning any man provokes "righteous" anger. a woman is expected to automatically wipe her mental slate clean and start from ignorance all over again.

she is confronted by two choices : compliance or refusal. either way is a hard way.

in compliance, the more she walks away from her lived experience, from all the knowledge that she has developed from first principles, the more the rift between her resolutely rose-tinted world and reality. and reality has a way of catching up and giving you a nasty jar if you try to leave it behind. a woman conscious of the rift rails against the social order that expects her to be such a hypocrite to herself and others. a woman who doesnt perceive the rift eventually falls into a dark painful abyss.

so there is the other option. to refuse to wipe one's mind blank. to face the blaze of anger that will surface each time a man's code is studied. this is a choice that especially most women who have undergone abuse make. to always warn ones self of the danger of trusting blindly. of unquestioningly accepting someone's word about their morality. (oftentimes, not even an open, explicit claim, but an implied one which is much harder to disprove or analyse because of its chimeral nature.)

it is both hurtful and infuriating to repeatedly have to make this tradeoff. and to be judged after being put in a situation that doesnt offer healthy choices in the first place.

were i a man, i guess i would want to crucify each one of my kind who sustained and reaffirmed such a screwed up social system. collective responsibility, while distinct from personal responsibility, has a way of hitting home.

I am not an angry girl
but it seems like I've got everyone fooled
every time I say something they find hard to hear
they chalk it up to my anger
and never to their own fear
and imagine you're a girl
just trying to finally come clean
knowing full well they'd prefer you
were dirty and smiling

- Ani DiFranco & Tracy Chapman

also posted on sthreeling.

my life , feminist issues, brownskinspeak

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"nice men" who happen watch porn, leer at women, "eve tease", or exploit vulnerable women and children sexually.

isn't it a lil unfair to brand all men as abusers / rapists?

i used to watch porn in college. for one, there is the curiosity about sex. and then in the absence of a sex life, i'd naturally want to mastrubate sometimes. is that wrong? i really don't know.

and honestly, if there is a lady who in some way attracts me (it might be her dress, her face, her anatomy, sometimes nothing, sometimes, everything!) i'd love to steal a couple of glances. is that leering? i mean, weren't the 2 sexes made to attract each other?

2:26 am  
Blogger Krish said...

Ummm...the first post of yours that I agree to the dot of i and the period at the end..good one!

2:44 am  
Blogger ChasingMoksha said...

nice men" who happen watch porn, leer at women, "eve tease", or exploit vulnerable women and children sexually.

isn't it a lil unfair to brand all men as abusers / rapists?

She did not say "all" men, she said "nice men" who (who, meaning if the shoe does not fit, it does not fit). However, the fact that you own it as an all speaks volumes.

3:30 pm  
Blogger m. said...

dharmabum: i don't think i've said anywhere on my blog that ALL men are abusers or rapists. that's a misrepresentation.

also, about watching porn in college. you say it was an adolescent thing. 1. why is it significantly lower amongst women as compared to men, and 2. why are you upholding it as an adult?

and no, i dont think the 2 sexes were created solely to serve as sex objects for each other.

krish: gosh, miracles etc etc!

moksha: *grin*

11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

misinterpretation, probably. apologies on that account.

nobody ever knows why stuff was created and all that. and i myself only said 'attracted' and not sex objects'. and i think there is a difference there. i think man & woman make a good combo, thats all.

and how can u vouch that watching porn is lower among women? is that a fact - i'm curious?!

and no, i am not upholding porn or anything. i only said it is natural to go thru it in one's adolescence, considering the kinda exposure kids have today. yes, there are adults. i suppose like so many other kinds, there is this kind called 'sex addicts'. aberration, i suppose.

11:03 pm  
Anonymous panaah said...

'M'- I totally agree with you... instead of saying 'he didnt deserve you' like most grls do.. i just say 'he was a man afterall' to all my girl friends who got heart broken :)

i believe in balance and i m sure if there are some not so nice men there should be some nice men also .. well if there is negative there has to be something positive too... somewhere.. just not on this planet :) or maybe men are just neutral beings!!

2:14 am  
Blogger Falstaff said...

"were i a man, i guess i would want to crucify each one of my kind who sustained and reaffirmed such a screwed up social system"


I think the challenge is to develop standards of evidence on 'niceness'. There's an important difference between not trusting a stranger and never trusting a man at all. Personally, I tend to assume that women I meet will be distrustful, but hope / expect that I will have the opportunity to prove that their doubts are not justified, in other words, to earn their trust.

But that implies the existence of some objective counterfactual. Nobody, man or woman, is nice all the time. We all have bad days - times when we're insensitive or unkind, times when we get angry. So the challenge is to draw the line between an acceptable level of disappointment and behaviour that is outright abusive.

I think the danger is that the mistrust of men, when taken too far, interprets every negative incident as a sign of 'male' behaviour, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Panaah's comment is a telling one - "i just say 'he was a man afterall' to all my girl friends who got heart broken". But do we have any real reason to believe that patriarchal attitudes were the sole / primary reason for these break-ups? Can we assume that same sex couples never suffer heartbreak? Everything is not about gender. And it isn't only men who do hurtful, vicious or unthinkingly dumb things.

I'm not implying that you're personally guilty of this kind of overcompensation (how would I know?). I'm saying that while some mistrust of men is (sadly) justified, there's a real danger of being closed to the possibility of ever trusting anyone - and that's a risk to guard against. If you come to a relationship seeking evidence that the other person is untrustworthy you're likely to find it. Guilty until proven innocent is an interesting notion, but how can you prove someone innocent? They may not have done anything wrong yet, but they're always potentially guilty.

Ironically, that's exactly how patriarchy has made its claims about women being moody or less intelligent stick. If you're convinced that women are untrustworthy and temperamental, sooner or later you'll find yourself proved right. And of course, the fact that men around you are equally flawed will be safely ignored.

5:05 am  
Blogger m. said...

dharmabum: yep. check out any survey/study. porn watching is much higher amongst men than women. that's why porn is also made to cater more to a heterosexual male audience.

panaah: ah, i still have hope, having met some very decent specimens :) plus,i think saying "men will be men" is a very convenient excuse for not-nice men to continue doing shitty things. and i dont see why life should be made so convenient for 'em!

falstaff: first, thank you for taking the trouble to write that. :)

i do agree with you that we should accept that sometimes people have "off" days. its how one deals with them that matters to me. you seem to be implying that there's a very subtle difference between that and abusive behaviour. that i totally disagree with. its no gentle continuum from feeling extra flirtatious to raping because one happens to feel more aroused one day. there's a very definite cross over point.

i brought up the "guilty until proven innocent" bit particularly because i think its wrong. its unfair to everyone involved. as for the "men will be men" thing, to put it briefly: yeah right! it's a very damaging attitude that reinforces a bad message for men, and helps women feel martyred. im not for it at all.

8:47 pm  
Blogger Falstaff said...

m: Ah, I didn't realise we were talking about things as extreme as rape. Physical violence, sexual or otherwise, is always unacceptable and clearly the "I was having an off day" excuse doesn't work.

When I was talking about hurtful, vicious, unthinkingly dumb things, I was thinking more along the lines of flirting with, or, at the outside, sleeping with someone else. Or maybe getting really angry at someone and shouting at them / calling them names. All ugly things that one shouldn't stand for in general, but that could happen because you were not thinking straight.

Agree with you about the 'men being men' argument being a bad one. It's not just that it gives men a convenient excuse. It also creates a disincentive for men to act decently.

10:06 pm  
Anonymous Pink Panther said...

M., Your views are so so wrong. Can't start to explain. But yes, men are superior to women in many ways (physical strength, for example). So it's natural that they will "exploit" women.

Have you ever seen a deer argue that a lion ought not to prey on it?

10:41 am  
Blogger Krish said...

Oh..I do believe in Miracles(with a capital M ;))..but having said that, let me proceed further!

My take on Porn..
I don't think it is anything that I would oppose, till it is taken with consent and choice..rather than force..after all its my decision to watch it or act in it. I don't think anyone can lecture me on what i should do or what i shouldn't. Now,I don't think watching porn itself isn't any degrading to women- but being forced to watch or to work(act is a rather silly word there i guess).

Society and its values keep changing with time..Kissing in public wasn't in the least accepted some decades back- now we see protests against people trying to stop it and we do see people speaking against such acts..but what doesn't change is my right to live without force..n Porn doesn't interfere with it. I find your argument that porn watching is high amongst men to be self negating. Should I think that it is coz women don't have the freedom to watch porn as much as men do, the reason for men topping the list?? I would like to know where has the survey been done?? Had it been done on respondents from a cyber about taking a survey from places like Girl's hostel and boys hostel?? If the survey claims the same, would you agree to my argument that the same patriarchal society is forcing women from watching porn??

Survey results alone doesn't shouldn't be taken into consideration while making a value judgement. While value judgement isn't the most cherished thing to do, it is atleast acceptable for the TINA factor.

6:16 am  
Blogger m. said...

pink panther: gee. thanks for the enlightenment.

krish: misquoting again - i didnt say a survey. theres volumes of research, statistics and analysis on this subject.

6:54 am  
Blogger Krish said... are missing the woods for the trees..what I am more interested in is not in the outcome of the survey..i mean the numbers..but the reason for such an outcome..Should i take it that you see this result as an indication to claim men in general are more pornific and women less? Is it a validation for an argument that men by design watch more porn than women and that women don't watch porn because they are good(as per your judgement- let me not define what is good here..i just take it as opposite to what men are by your opinion) get my point?

7:59 am  
Blogger jo22 said...

Hi M, I like your blog.

Krish: Men watch pornography because it is (mostly) made by men and caters for male tastes. Men have evolved to find degradation of women exciting, and pornography reinforces this. Women are often horrified by depictions in porn and can't quite believe that this is how men see us. The few women who do enjoy pornography have often had their sexual boundaries violated, and have learnt to eroticise their own pain. Pornography is unhealthy for all concerned, but its treatment of women is by far the worse aspect of it.

A short answer to your question: men watch porn more than women because it doesn't upset them as much.

4:10 am  
Blogger Krish said...

@Jo22: This reason of "made for men and made by men" doesn't make sense to me. Coz, then I would expect a lesbian show than an act of men and women- you know I can very well be excited with just a woman(or may be even two) to be more prominent than the usual stuff.(sorry to use the word usual stuff. It is out of unavailability/ignorance of a better word and not in any derogatory sense). I don't find anything derogatory in porn..seriously..then I might as well find Discovery Channel as derogatory as Porn.

My own hypothesis is that, people find sex in open revolting and that masquerades as opposition to porn. Now, say for example, I perform the same acts that I would shoot a porn film with, but blacken out the video, but have only the audio- would it still be porn and or derogatory to women?

I don't buy your argument that men watch porn more because it doesn't upset them as much as it upset women as well as your "few women who enjoy porn" bit. Porn is a blatant form of voyeurism and nothing much than that. I find the answer to assume a moral high pedestal(self assumed) for women and looking from there. While it might be perfect to think high of oneself, it is harmful to think low of others :)

I beg to find an answer to this evolution view of yours...If men can find woman's degradation in porn as exciting, then why hadn't the woman evolved to find man's degradation in the same porn exciting?? Is it that Woman don't want excitement in life? or is it that Porn is degrading only to Woman and so a gay-ish porn isn't degrading(in your opinion)

At the last I couldn't genuinely find porn to be any more degrading to woman than it is to man. I don't think Porn is any degrading. It is thought to be degrading only because, we tend to place sex(as in the act of intercourse) in such a high pedestal and think too much about it and give it undue importance.

6:01 am  
Anonymous AJ said...

Poweful stuff :) came in Via Smithy's referral. And I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with some of the other more sensible male replies in here (NOT pink panther :) Trust is an expensive commodity to dole out to anyone. The more of it you hand out to anyone of ur acquaitance, irrespective of gender, the more power they have over u to hurt u.

My female friends number as many if not more as my male friends, and they ALL hve been subject to the same "trust" test; The trends you speak of , are not of gender, but of upbringing, moral code, and liberal stance of mind. Yes, you still find some pricks who are hypocritical definition of "nice"..the ones " who sustained and reaffirmed such a screwed up social system." but I can quote more than one woman who has subjected me to the same emotional trauma of betrayal and expectancy of compliance. I totally agree wiht the dont-trust-anyone stance; just not with the fact it is only men who harbor culprit among their ranks.

As for the porn debate, its has quite a simple scientific explanation - men are more stimulated by visual images, as are women by text and descriptive stuff. Take a survey of the number of people reading soft porn like M & B to more hardcore stuff, and you may find women topping that list :)

Some find porn degrading and abusing, some just see it as a medium of entertainment. I too had some level of guilt associated wiht porn when i was in India, but its unbelievable how "industralized" it is in the US. it is not degrading in any sense - people consider it a profession, just as anything else. you want to watch, you watch. if you find it offensive, dont watch it :) But please, lets not be judgemental on our private sexual pervesities!

6:38 am  
Blogger m. said...

jo22: hey. thanks for dropping in- and linking! i popped over to yours... oh wow. you have AD's men possessing women? sigh. how i envy you... ive been dying to get my hands on that one! :D

aj: hey. thanks for dropping by. just saw smithy's rec. cough. blush :)) i guess the trust thing is very very personal and very very personalised huh. very simply, i find my life becomes miserable if i live in constant suspicion!

krish: ill try and reply to you in the next post.

7:15 am  
Anonymous Vi said...

Patriarchy is often a hard thing to fight or even acknowledge because it's all over our history--history that is conveniently written down predominantly by men. It goes past the cultural aspect and is, for a large part psychological. I've seen the mistreatment and belittling of the woman in the US. Even though many people would like to believe that gender bias doesn't exist here anymore, I've come to learn different.

1:47 pm  
Blogger Sriharsha Salagrama said...

krish says (about sex), It is thought to be degrading only because, we tend to place sex(as in the act of intercourse) in such a high pedestal and think too much about it and give it undue importance.

One wonders how something can be degraded by putting it on a pedestal.

2:37 am  
Blogger Sriharsha Salagrama said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:40 am  
Blogger Sriharsha Salagrama said...

oh krish... and it is one thing to not be judgemental about a person's sexual idiosyncracies, another thing altogether to remain unjedmental about another persons perversity! Dude, please try to read what you have written!

2:44 am  
Blogger Krish said...

@Sriharsha:Umm..seems you didn't get the point..When I said degrading, I meant Porn and when i said high pedestal, I meant Sex..Hope you can appreciate the difference between the two. and Dude, I do read what have written- It would be great, if you can do the same too!!

Well, as for the second comment of yours, I am still trying to understand what you are trying to say!

@m.: Sorry for taking this reply to comment here. I didn't intend to do that!

2:47 am  
Blogger Sriharsha Salagrama said...

Still dont get it: how do you establish a causal relationship between Sex being placed on a pedestal and porn being considered degrading?

2:53 am  
Blogger Sriharsha Salagrama said...

krish: (my second comment clarified): It is one thing to say that i shouldnt be judgemental about someone's desire to have intercourse standing on tip-toe. That would be an example of a sexual idiosyncracy.
Paedophilia would be a sexual perversity. I do think I would be inclined to feel judgemental about that. Most people would consider a sexual perversity to be something that they should, would and could feel judgemental about.
In fact, one would not call something a perversity unless it amounts to "turning away from or rejecting what is right, good, or proper". I'm sure a lot of people would be inclined and more than willing to be judgemental about THAT!

3:06 am  
Blogger Krish said...

@Sriharsha: I didn't want to take this debate any further. But I would just clarify on what I said- Please read my entire line of argument and respond.

I have always maintained that unless forced, nothing(absolutely nothing) can be judged by others. If I am doing something out of my own volition and with consent(you might agree that minor's consent can't stand scrutiny- so that excludes Pedophilia) then who are you to be judgmental about my actions?. Who gave you the right to lord over me?. Who gave you the right to decide what is good for me, bad for me and (of all Lords) Proper for me. What do you have in you to force me to toe your line? Why should I accept your notion of what is right, good and proper(and that too for me).

Just because a lot of people(and I don't understand why should I consider this "lot of people"- who are they to decide) would feel judgemental that orgy is bad, doesn't make it bad if I have willing people to participate. Unless I force someone to do something, none can question me. And oh please, don't take pedophilia here- Analogy doesn't suit!.

This right, correct and proper thing isnt constant. As I have said in my earlier comments, kissing in public wasn't proper some decades back. Is it anymore? Didn't we see protests for and against? As you say, that might have been a perversity for that generation. Why wouldn't you accept their right to be judgemental about it? Why would you protest that? Why should burqha not be a perversity- as per your definition, that might be turning away from what is right, correct and proper(for whoever it might concern). Please don't take a moralistic stand on issues- coz morals are subjected to change.

As for the causal relationship between Sex and Porn is concerned...well, I don't want to repeat the already said words. Please read my earlier comments!

3:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

~ Krish,
We call it "inspired monarchy". :)

8:44 am  
Anonymous icarus said...

A certain writer of 'fantasy' novels called it the dichotomy between body and mind. Since Krish hasn't specified what he means by "placing sex on a pedestal", let us suppose this refers to how one views (No pun intended!) sex. If one thinks of the sexual act as a virtuous expression of love, then how does he/she reconcile him/herself with lust? Against the mental backdrop of this 'pure' notion of sex (which contradicts the reaction of one's body), wouldn't any sexual arousal that is produced by pornography seem degrading?

I remember an interesting article in the Deccan Chronicle which stated that a majority of men picture other women and not their spouses in their sexual fantasies. This detachment from one's self, if true, validates such a theory, does it not?

Apologies for the unrelated comment!

10:22 am  
Blogger m. said...

vi: hi. that is one of the bug bears of women of colour - that the us is held as the ideal towards which we must work. most of us are convinced that gender based violence there is as rotten (if not worse) as in our countries.

krish, harsha, icarus: please dont derail the thread! :S there's a post on porn if you want to chew on the subject. also planning to post next again on the subject.

9:04 pm  
Blogger Krish said...

May be this will be most useful if we need to chew on the subject![;)]

11:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prolly you would love this ad!:P

11:14 am  
Blogger jhantu said...

yet another feminist blog/post

5:51 pm  
Blogger m. said...

jhantu: gee... what gave me away?!

anon & zegreda: if you cant disagree in a more civil manner dont bother trying to speak up here.

8:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The owner of the blog can be sarcastic, but the commenters cant? Well it is your blog after all.

10:09 pm  

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