The Bad Men Project

If you’ve managed to avoid the Good Men Project thus far, lucky you. I only learned about them recently due to the shitstorm they’ve managed to stir up by being bleeding idiots.  It started with an essay called, “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too.”  I wish the writer was being sarcastic, but alas no, under the guise of discussing why rapists rape the article goes on to claim exactly what the title says.  Rather than retracting and apologizing and doing the soul-searching that ought to follow such a ridiculousness, they then followed it up with a second piece by an admitted (but non-convicted) rapist about how consent is just so confusing and labeling people who rape as bad people and, well, rapists is just not fair.  For a good description and rebuke of the piece, complete with the article itself in quotes, check out the following, but be wary of triggers as it’s full of rape-apologism and awfulness:

And just when you thought the Good Men Project couldn’t get any worse….

I wrote this in the comments section, but in case you don’t want to wade through the many, many outraged responses, here are some of my own thoughts on it, and on the issue in question:

Once upon a time, alcohol and other substances enabled me to do dangerous, irresponsible, and stupid things that I was able to rationalize or convince myself weren’t that bad, but it didn’t put any ideas in my head. Nothing came out that wasn’t already there, which is why I never raped anyone. As for the things I did do, part of my recovery is taking responsibility for them and recognizing that there is a difference between an explanation and an excuse. The explanation is that I am an addict, but there are no excuses.

This guy claims to be only offering an explanation, but the fact that he mentions his victim’s behavior (“actually flirting”) and that she later entered recovery screams victim-blaming and undermines any possible claim he could have on rationality. As if either of those facts have anything to do with what he did to her. Moreover, the fact that he still questions whether he’s a rapist despite the fact that she straight-up told him speaks to a complete disregard for his victim’s experience and humanity. The comparison to his friend’s experience? BS. Yeah, he made a different call: the wrong one.

I know plenty of women who got sober after being assaulted or raped, sometimes as a result of the experience. They realized they were putting themselves in danger by being vulnerable around guys like this one, but they are also clear on the fact that just because you’re vulnerable doesn’t mean anyone has to take advantage of you. Forgetting to lock your door doesn’t make anyone rob you, and the fact that you learn a lesson from it and never forget again doesn’t retroactively excuse the burglary.

Though inadvertently, the essay in question does bring up one point that I do find interesting and worth discussing, and that’s the vulnerability and perceived un-rape-ability of addicts.  Between the common dehumanization of alcoholics and drug users as a whole and the (reasonable) perception of them as liars, addicts make the ideal rape victims (this is particularly true when they also belong to other “un-rape-able” groups such as sex workers or women of color, who are in turn perceived as likely addicts).  Sexual assault is all too often seen as the “natural” consequence of intoxication for women, and for people who struggle with addiction this is even more potent; rape is understood as the punishment for their lack of self-control and discipline.  What’s ironic is that so frequently it is the other way around: many people of both genders develop addictions in response to experiences sexual assault and/or childhood sexual abuse.  Based on my own anecdotal understanding, I would venture that most women and a substantial proportion of men who suffer from addiction have experienced some form of sexual trauma.

If you’re interested in learning more about what’s going on with the GMP and the responses to their rape-apologism, here are a few pertinent links. I particularly recommend the first one, and the Yes Means Yes blog and book in general. I kept the later in my bathroom for months and it’s awesome.

Good Men Project’s Rape Faceplant

What In Holy Hell is This

Nonsense at the Good Men Project

The Good Men Who Only Occasionally Rape Project

My Hero

“I heard police or ambulancemen, standing in our house, say, “She must have provoked him,” or, “Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight.” They had no idea. The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured. She did not provoke my father, and even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict. Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it.”

-Patrick Stewart (via Shevilfempire)

Thought Crimes

Something that really aggravates me is when people say hate crime legislation punishes people for their thoughts, for what’s in their heads.  First of all, hate crime laws aren’t the only laws that do so: how about possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute? What is intent if not another word for thoughts? And how about the distinction we make between manslaughter and murder? Again, thoughts!  So punishing people for thinking certain thoughts is hardly unprecedented or unheard of in our legal system.

Secondly though, I don’t think that’s really what hate crime laws are punishing.  When we declare someone guilty of a crime, we do it on the basis of the effects of their actions, not their intentions (thus manslaughter is a crime and victim impact statements exist).  When someone commits a hate crime, the effects are far larger than those of the same actions committed randomly, because there are repercussions for a much larger number of people.  An act of random or personal violence impacts the victim and generally those close to them (family, friends, etc.).  Perhaps in an abstract or indirect way the people physically or geographically close to the crime are affected (higher crime rates affecting property values, for instance), but that’s about it.

A bias crime, however, involves everyone who shares the characteristic(s) of the victim that led to their being targeted.  When one person is attacked because of their religion or race or sexuality, it makes everyone else of that religion, race, or sexuality more aware of their difference and the ways it puts them at risk.  It reminds them of their marginalization.

Along with the psychological effects, there can be physical consequences too: it is a well-established fact that stress is bad for one’s health, leading to heart disease among other problems (which is why African-Americans have higher rates of hypertension and heart attacks than comparable whites), and what could be more stressful than being perpetually primed for attack?  Human bodies aren’t meant to be constantly on guard, and doing so is rough on them.  There are lifestyle consequences as well: members of the targeted population change how they live in ways both large and small, from taking cabs more often to moving cities, in an effort to protect themselves.

Shouldn’t someone who triggers all this be punished for it?  Shouldn’t they be held accountable for all the lives they’ve touched?  Are these really such difficult and complicated questions?

(Latin) American Graffiti: The Walls Speak

A few of my favorites, mostly from Argentina:

  • True, crickets don’t work. But ants can’t sing.
  • Poverty is a time bomb.
  • Fight hunger and poverty! Eat poor people!
  • If you’re surprised by a storm at sea, pray, but do not stop paddling toward shore.
  • God lives, it’s a miracle!
  • Everybody makes promises but nobody keeps them.  Vote for nobody!
  • Blessed are the drunkards, for they will see God twice.
  • The revolution is the orgasm of the people.
  • When a politician says yes, he means maybe, when he says maybe, he means no, and when he says no, he means it’s not political.
  • A war may begin with a small detail…like a speck in the sky dropping bombs.
  • In ’73 we were on the brink, and today, we can proudly say that we have taken a step forward.

And best of all:

  • Tremble Fascists…Maradona is a lefty.

White Like Me

I’m reading the most amazing, exciting book about white privilege and being antiracist.  At first I was somewhat disappointed in it because it seemed like it was just privilege 101, but once I got past that and into the discussion of how whites can fight racism it really grabbed me.  My mind started racing in the best possible way.

For instance, I’ve long seen how men and boys define themselves as not-women and not-girls, and I’ve seen how this limits them as they cut themselves off and deny themselves anything perceived as feminine, be it therapy or close same-sex friendships or playing in the school orchestra or making art.  I’ve never thought to apply that to other systems though, other privileged groups.  Yet here is this book, explaining how whites do the exact same thing, and its just as sad and limiting to be not-black (or not-asian, etc.) as it is to be not-female!

Mirrors by Eduardo Galeano

A history of the world according to the lost, the silenced, the forgotten, the oppressed: women, Muslims, Jews, people of color, LGBT folks, the colonized and the impoverished.  Stories that may or may not be factually correct but are nonetheless true.  History told as it was lived: fluid, messy, complicated, and often cruel.