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My Open Letter to Men On Victim Blaming

by April 18, 2013
filed under Activism

Dear Men,

As a feminist, I love you. I don’t often feel the urge to sleep with or date you (which has more to do with my sexuality than my politics), but I do love and respect you. I love you so much that I believe you are more than the carnal urge that paralyzes your ability to control yourself when cleavage is near, as some of your fellows claim. I love you, and believe that you have more than just sex on the brain 24/7. I love you, and I believe you are smarter and better-rounded in your thoughts and actions than victim blamers (as it relates to gender based violence) make you out to be. To all male-identified humans, I have to say that it makes me sad and angry when your fellow men engage in victim blaming. I am not only saddened for the disservice it does to female-identified folks, but also for how it writes you all off as sex-crazed deviants at the mercy of your penises. It is bullshit. I love you, and I think you are better than that.

I whole-heartedly support and have been involved in the “Don’t be that guy” sexual consent campaign, and I firmly stand by my conviction that male-identified individuals have more going for them than a weak will and hyper-libido when it comes to the “fairer sex.” I get the critiques of such statements and campaigns as this: “They paint all men as rapists,” “this implies that only men assault,” or “you are excluding same-sex couples.” I agree that those issues need to be addressed (though this campaign does feature a same-sex male couple). The issue I want to address with you here today, though, is that victim blaming as it relates to gender based violence and street harassment makes some pretty shitty assumptions about all men as a group. I don’t believe that campaigns like these are saying that you all assault and harass women, but I sure do believe that that is what victim blaming says about you. As a feminist, I am fed up with it. And you should be too!

Men, I hope you are offended by your fellows who cry, “how do you expect us to control ourselves when she is wearing those tight pants/short skirt/ low cut top/walking alone/was that drunk/insert-other-ridiculousness; it’s human nature!” I am offended by this for more than the obvious reasons feminists worldwide scoff at such remarks, but also for what these statements say about you. This is not about what my queer female-bodied feminist-self expects from you, but what I hope you expect from yourself and your fellow men.

If I identified as male, I would be pissed that guys like this are taking the liberty of speaking on my behalf, crying for the pity of our gender because we are at the mercy of some inherent force that compels us to mistreat women in yoga pants. If I identified as male, I would be outright offended by the invitation for women to lower their standards and expectations of us as a gender to match the rock-bottom basement level ones we apparently hold for ourselves, as it relates to respect and basic human decency. If I identified as male, I would be outraged that other men are pushing the notion that our “natural state” is rapist. I would be aggravated by the implication that getting a woman naked is the only thing floating around in my brain and driving any interaction with a female-bodied individual. I would be slightly annoyed about the assumption of my straight-ness (If I identified as male, I would probably be queer). If I identified as male, I would expect more out of myself and my fellows than this; I would expect other men to hold me accountable as well.

To all male-identified folks who are as outraged at this degradation of your gender as I am, I hope that you feel compelled to engage with the men in your life (on twitter, tumblr, facebook, your office, strangers on the street) in some serious dialogue. Talk to as many of your brothers as you can about the ways victim blaming is fucking with your credibility, value and worth, and that you not going to take this bullshit any more. Tell these men you are offended that they think women are responsible for being assaulted. Feel free to interject a few of these statements, if need be. At the very least, invite them to show themselves and each other the same love, respect and confidence as I do. I don’t think that’s too much to expect.

Sincerely,

The radical man-loving feminist


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