Men aren’t as confused as the media say

October 1, 2018 by Joshua
in Awareness, Perception

Gender symbols

My response to a popular social media post is below. I don’t pretend it’s the final word, but it expresses something missing.

The post I responded to

Guys ask why women are so pissed off. Even guys with wives and daughters. Jackson Katz, a prominent social researcher, illustrates why. He’s done it with hundreds of audiences:

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other.
Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?

At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’

Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?

Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.

Hold my keys as a potential weapon.
Look in the back seat of the car before getting in.
Carry a cell phone.
Don’t go jogging at night.
Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights.
Be careful not to drink too much.
Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured.
Own a big dog.
Carry Mace or pepper spray.
Have an unlisted phone number.
Have a man’s voice on my answering machine.
Park in well-lit areas.
Don’t use parking garages.
Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men.
Vary my route home from work.
Watch what I wear.
Don’t use highway rest areas.
Use a home alarm system.
Don’t wear headphones when jogging.
Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime.
Don’t take a first-floor apartment.
Go out in groups.
Own a firearm.
Meet men on first dates in public places.
Make sure to have a car or cab fare.
Don’t make eye contact with men on the street.
Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.”

― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help

(The first man to minor in women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in cultural studies and education from UCLA.)

My response

I’m not sure what men he finds because they don’t match what I’ve seen, nor what data shows.

For a person to portray men as clueless about what it feels like for overwhelming force to threaten his life, bodily integrity, sexual integrity, etc suggests that person didn’t look or isn’t aware of his or her biases.

A quick search showed “A new study reveals that men are often the victims of sexual assault, and women are often the perpetrators.” NPR host Hanna Rosin wrote in Slate.

Wikipedia’s page on Crime in the United States cites Bureau of Justice figures that

In terms of gender, males were more likely to become crime victims than were females,[34] with 79% percent of all murder victims being male. Males were twice as likely to be carjacked as females.[34]

“More men are raped in the US than women, figures on prison assaults reveal” reports the Daily Mail, citing Department of Justice figures.

Consider the ratios of men to women imprisoned for, say, cannabis. It’s nothing like the ratio of using it. The guy who said ‘I stay out of prison’ may have been joking, but behavior that women might get a warning for consistently results in men imprisoned, their lives ruined, and, yes, themselves raped.

Anecdotally, I have been mugged at knife point, as well as by a gang with the leader threatening me with a wrench in my face, as well as by two people wielding a large rock who shoved me to the ground, and more. Police have threatened me while going about my regular life. I practice most of the safety precautions the women listed and know many women who don’t practice many of them. If you consider sex without consent sexual assault, then women have sexually assaulted me, using various forms of coercion, intoxication, and more. I’m scared of reporting such things because I learned the results, as many men do:

Denise Hines, Ph.D., a research assistant psychology professor at Clark University and a research associate at the Family Research Laboratory and Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, reported

when an abused man called the police, the police were more likely to arrest him than to arrest his abusive female partner. The men who called the police were arrested in 26% of cases, whereas their abusive partners were arrested in only 17%. Half the time the police arrested nobody, despite the abuse, and in 8% of the cases they arrested both the abuser and the victim. In those cases where the police did identify the abused man’s female partner as the aggressor, in 29% of cases, they refused to arrest the abusive woman. In 39% of these cases they said that there was nothing they could do and left. One abused man said:

The [police] first response was to arrest me, even after she turned on them, they did nothing.

The trans men in this Washington Post article illustrate what many men know, that calling police led to police coming after them — they were surprised at men’s condition after presenting as female for four or five decades, despite popular conception that men’s perspective is pervasive.

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2 responses on “Men aren’t as confused as the media say

  1. You’re scared to report sexual assault that happened to you? Because of statistics and anecdotal reporting? And what type of “coercion” are you speaking of?

    I’ll be frank in stating that as a straight male, no sexual contact with a woman has been in any way coerced or precipitated by intoxication and I firmly believe that this is the case for the vast majority of men with women overall. I won’t deny the jailing and prison statistics, and the consequent rape or employability issues involved there. In no way do I want to challenge your presentation of men as being “unaware”, because the crux of your argument is intact and I support you.

    I do not agree that the more egregious, blatant, and highly objectionable conduct seen by Harvey Weinstein for instance is exhibited by women – it’s not underreported in my opinion – the fact is, women have way more sexual options, a far easier time getting dates, and are trained extensively from a young age to think of themselves as targets of sexual attention and aggression.

    • Thanks for asking about my fear, since it’s leading me to think of a post to clarify, so I’ll follow up with a post to explain that part in more depth.

      In the meantime, if you don’t mind my being possibly too brief, my fear is of outcomes like the next paragraph above explained: men who report being victims often end up further victimized by a system in many ways blind to men’s suffering — or blaming them for it. That researcher reported patterns of abused men being arrested, their abusers left free — as far as I can tell for sexist reasons. The media don’t report patterns of sexism hurting men on anywhere near the scale they do sexism hurting women, to the extent that many people believe there is no sexism hurting men, nor that any women bear any responsibility for sexism that hurts men, so people dismiss it on a wide scale.

      I’m scared of that institutional sexism.

      As for the coercion, I hope you don’t mind that I’m not ready to share such things publicly.

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