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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let Us Now Excuse Famous Men: Schwarzenegger, Strauss-Kahn and Male Entitlement (an article)

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From the article:

Sadly, both Schwarzenegger and Strauss-Kahn have benefited from the long running trend of excusing bad behavior by men on the grounds that it’s simply what men do, and can’t be expected to change. This trend is helped along by a stiff undercurrent of largely unquestioned and unexamined misogyny in our culture, which makes offenses committed against women seem unworthy of serious outrage. Some of the inability to understand the treatment of women may also be attributable to what scholar Russell K. Robinson calls “perceptual segregation” : members of a relatively privileged group (e.g., men) interpret acts of discrimination toward a less privileged group (e.g., women) as being less serious than members of the disadvantaged group do (6). Put together, these factors create a culture that either actively, or through unawareness, sustains attitudes of male entitlement and misogyny, which in turn sustain the assumptions of the culture that created them. We get the both the belief that everything men do is by definition what they had to do, and that if they do it to women, it really doesn’t matter much anyway.

 This culture, our culture, is one in which misogynistic language and comments rarely attract much attention – where in fact, the abuse of women by some famous men is seen as a sign of virile righteousness. In this culture, somewhere between ¼ and 1/5 of women consistently report that men have raped them, and yet it is women who are lectured to about the need to prevent rape – usually by restructuring their entire lives so as not to attract those uncontrollable male urges we’re always told about. It’s a culture where it’s common for male sales persons to entertain clients by taking them to strip clubs, giving their female counterparts the choice of either coming along despite possible objections, or not going and thus being disadvantaged in the quest for clients and for the all important perception of being a “team player.” In fact, recent reports indicate that a German insurance firm rewarded top male salesmen by giving them access to prostitutes at a corporate-sponsored orgy (7). Ours is a culture where women still are not paid equally to men for equal work, are still disproportionately saddled with childcare duties, and still lack autonomy in reproductive health and choice. It’s a culture where male elected representatives can vote to redefine rape in order to deny abortions to rape survivors – one legislator even proposed to eliminate all abortion coverage on standard insurance plans, even for female rape survivors, and then went on to suggest that women should “plan ahead” by buying supplemental coverage just in case someone rapes them one day. Finally, it’s a culture in which the continuing existence of sexism is enabled by the fact that so many men dismiss suggestions that it still exists, and that something they have just said or did may perpetuate it, with reactions ranging from defensiveness to condescension.

There’s a standard narrative about the way feminism has affected relationships between men and women – especially in heterosexual relationships. It goes something like this: A long time ago, men and women fell in love.  Their relationships weren’t perfect (what in life ever is?), but they worked, because men and women each had distinct, well-defined roles. But women’s liberation changed everything, and made women aware of desires and needs they never knew they had, and bewildered men didn’t know how to respond. This narrative is broadly accepted, even across the political spectrum, but there are elements missing from it. It either directly or implicitly blames a movement to end inequality for problems that were caused by inequality, for starters. But it also ignores the fact that the happy days of male and female relationships weren’t equally happy for women, as well as the sense of male entitlement that frequently has caused the unhappiness. This is the attitude that unquestioningly assumed that women existed to be helpmates and sources of spousal and maternal wisdom, rather than to live for their own purposes. It’s also an attitude that rationalizes different, unequal roles for women and men based on assumed essential differences, including differences in sexuality, and uses these assumed differences to gloss over disrespectful or even violent behavior. Men who are unfaithful to their wives couldn’t help it, based on this model, because they simply have a greater need for sex than women do. The time-honored tradition of bachelor parties also is based on this idea – it frames the man’s commitment to one woman as a supreme sacrifice because of the man’s presumably greater sexual appetite, and such a noble sacrifice surely entitles him to an evening of doing whatever he wishes to women’s bodies. 


Yes, it’s true that there are differences between some of the behaviors discussed here. The use of sexist language is, of course, not the same thing as rape. But both behaviors are made possible by the culture of entitlement, and the way it shapes and then excuses the masculinity of many men. A culture in which many men see nothing wrong with making misogynistic remarks, with subsuming the rights and feelings of women to their own, or excusing the sexist behavior of other men is exactly the kind of culture where high frequencies of sexual violence will occur. The behaviors lie on a continuum that is more fluid than most people may want to acknowledge. Many rapists have previous histories of other sexual offenses including groping and street harassment, and studies have shown that men who profess belief in various “rape myths” (such as that women dressed a certain way are “asking for it”) are more likely to commit rape themselves.

Ironically, Maria Shriver recently wrote a blog post titled “Is the Model of Masculinity Changing in America,” in which she wondered if new models of masculinity would replace the swaggering bravado of much traditional masculinity. Let’s hope so, Maria. The kind of masculinity that defines itself by subordinating women is full of shit, and it’s time to stop making excuses for it.


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7 comments:

  1. DSK is the man who makes me really ashamed to be a French citizen such as is the rapist transmale and photographer of XXboys project Kael T Block.

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  2. There is absolutely no excuse for Schwarzenegger or Kahn. NONE

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  3. Wonderfully written article. and I dont' know if I'll get hell for the article that is about Hillary Clinton and another female worker at the white house brushed out in an orthodox israel newspaper, because it's 'unseemly' women are present at such an important function with men(the taking out of Osama bin Laden). The author takes on patriarchal religions for invisibilizing women altogether except in the most constricted roles(like you mention, helpmeet, wife, fuck object), but ALSO takes on liberal men for altering female imagery also by lengthening their legs, changing their facial/breast structure thru photoshop too, just the way they erased Hillary Clinton, and laughed about it not being such a big deal because she's 'not that attractive' in their eyes....

    There is NO EXCUSE for what Arnold Scharwzenegger did, and IN HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD, right under his wife's nose. Bad enough what Bill Clinton did to Hillary, making her a laughing stock, but the thought of doing it in one's household with a trusted servant, and IMPREGNATING HER, is repulsive to me...along with all of the other Arnold Schwartzenegger policies that stopped gay rights/same sex marriage, allowed big business to do their thing at the expense of ordinary CA citizens, cutting back on healthcare for all, In Home Support Service workers for disabled and elderly to retain their independence, assaults against the unions, including those of teachers, nurses, police, and firefighters, and all manner of other things Schwartzenegger has done to hold all us ordinary folk back..this is the icing on the cake.....having had to live under his rule for 8 years!

    Just like Hillary, I dont' know why Maria Shriver put up with him as long as she did...but at least she came to her senses when she found out and LEFT the jerk! Now I hope she gets a big share of his money!

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  4. Hillary Clinton took it because she loved her husband. People make mistakes and she forgave him. I've been trough worse with dyke girlfriends. I had one who fucking sold herself to men for cigarettes and pocket change...and pocket lint. So, Hillary forgiving Bill is not a big deal. No, I didn't forgive my ex...she slept on the couch for 5 months and then cut the neighbors throat to try to hide what she was doing. She is still in prison to this day which is good for her nasty ass self!!!! She asked my step dad if she could give him a blowjob. He told her hell no! Just goes to show that not all so called dykes are what they seem to be.

    People have problems and so be it. You can't blame men for all of your problems. Did you ever think that maybe the problem could be YOU?ditivers

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  5. Anon@3:32am

    You have to ask yourself what informed your ex, and the answer IS patriarchy and patriarchal systems, systems that insure women hate themselves and other women, regardless of sexual orientation.

    dirt

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  6. Hillary 'took it' from Bill because she KNEW she couldn't rise in political power without attachment to him...divorced women have even less power. And I know many speculate she probably had a gf or somebody on the side...but we'll never know....she did lose alot of credibility with many dykes and feminists I know because she did the ole 'stand by my man thing'.

    All I can think of and said was that I absolutely supported her bid for the presidency and relishing the thought that she said to Bill: "You WILL support my campaign and be the First Husband! You're MY boy now!" I could see him serving tea, or having tea with all the other First Wives of heads of State, while she ruled the most powerful nation in the world! To me, that would have been the ultimate revenge!

    Nonetheless, I am glad that Obama allowed her to become Secretary of State. -MasterAmazon

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  7. The strass guy is in the wrong for sure. Just because he's a violent prick and i wish someone like that would try and get abusive with me so I'd have the perfect excuse to crack his face open...

    But schwarzenegger is ok, I still like him. he slipped up morally, but it's hardly the crime of the century. women cheat on men all the time too. and his wife knew what he was like, she can pretend it was a shock, but whatever.

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