Tag Archives: intolerant

backlash and progress

Combatting misogyny could be my full time job, but I am glad that it is not.

The United States are currently going through a bit of a re-shuffle with regards to national identity, which is pretty obvious to everyone on the world stage.  We’re kind of like your neighbors who are constantly fighting with each other and you’re never quite sure whether or not to call the cops and report potential domestic abuse.

Just to be clear – if you hear something that you think might be domestic abuse, you should call it in.

I kind of wish someone could call the cops to get us out of our current set of problems.

Anyway – the issue that I want to talk about is the spate of recent revelations in the media about men in positions of power acting badly towards women.

The list of influential men being accused of sexual misconduct seems to grow every day, and my suspicion is that it will continue to do so for some time – at least until the backlash comes.

It seems like every politicized event in US current events eventually results in a backlash.  We’re already seeing some of it with these sexual misconduct allegations – a lot of powerful men who fear reprisals of their own are being silent for the moment, but I predict that they’ll gather around whoever has the audacity to stand up and make the claim that this is reverse discrimination or something else just as silly.

Firstly – this is not an example of reverse discrimination.  Women are not forming mobs and lynching men.  In fact, they’re not even really calling for the lynching of the men who are actually responsible for acting like perverts, which would be mob justice, but still not discrimination.  In most cases, they’re merely coming forward to tell their stories and not calling for any action at all.

Now, I do think that actions should be taken in most of these cases.  However, we’re losing sight of the most important part of what is happening.

In case you missed it – my opinion is that the most important part of this is that women are beginning to come forward and tell their stories.

This is important, because until recently they haven’t felt safe enough to do so, and that represents a huge failure on our part as men who care for women and as a society in general.  We must capitalize on the opportunity that this is affording us.  We must do what we can to prevent the backlash and keep this forward progress.  We must empower every person to tell their story so that we can all learn and grow – together.

Some of these stories are horrible to listen to.  Some of them are just plain weird, and as a self-proclaimed pervert of the highest order, for me to say that is … something.  But no matter whether they are hard to hear or weird or even just ordinary (I’ll leave that word there for a moment…) the fact is that women are finally feeling like the social narrative will permit them to come forward and speak about the things that they have had to endure.  It is long past time that we take such things seriously.

Do I think that every man who has had allegations of sexual misconduct come out is guilty of those things?  No, I do not.  I think that a small percentage of the stories that are coming out are falsified, but I think that is a rare exception rather than the rule as many of these men would like you to believe and as men have insisted is the case since society began to view women as people.

Despite a more receptive climate than in the past, I think it would be a massive stretch of the truth to say that society is open to such things yet.  There is still a strong stigma associated with coming forward with allegations of this type, and the women who do so are courageous and in many cases, desperate.

Part of the blacklash story is that these things happened decades ago and it is not fair to the accused to have to defend their actions from such a long time ago.  There is some small amount of merit to that argument – but only because human memory is fallible.  It is very likely that the facts of an event that happened years or decades ago will become distorted in the memory of those who were involved over time.  This is a proven concept in modern psychology practice – human perception is fallible, and it changes over time.  This is one of the reasons why crimes often have statutes of limitations.

That being said, I think every single case should be investigated – even those that happened 40 years ago.  I think where there is sufficient proof of misconduct that there need to be serious consequences for those involved.  This is how progress is made.  These consequences may only be a loss of social capital in some cases, but in some cases, that may be sufficient.  If you take a man who abuses his power and remove that power from him, he may not be able to continue his abusive practices, or he may learn that his actions – while tolerated in the time when he committed them – were never really acceptable and will be tolerated no longer.

Ignorance of the law is not seen as an excuse for committing a crime, and while I look at the things that some of these men are accused of and wonder how it is possible that they ever felt justified in some of these things, I can kind of see the argument that opinions on what is acceptable have changed over time.  I can maybe see where posing for a photo with your hands someplace they ought not be without consent could be mistaken for humor – because much of the purpose of humor is to make the unbearable, bearable – but I don’t know how anyone ever felt like nonconsensually locking a woman in your office while you jack off is anything but creepy and sad.

Empathy is the thing that would have prevented all of these problems.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are interacting with.  Try to understand her motives and fears and then think about what you are about to do.  Just because you might think it would be awesome for a woman to lock you in her office and masturbate while you sit there trapped does not mean that she will feel the same way.   You have to not only put yourself in her place, but you have to put yourself in her mind.

The fact that she is on the other side of the desk means that the right thing for you to do is to go out of your way to be respectful, honest, and engaged.  You have all of the power – don’t abuse it.

Interview with a racist

This post is not even peripherally related to BDSM, but if you have been following along or you know me at all you will see how it is something that I care about, so it kind of fits.  For those of you who were hoping for a juicy story about pain and suffering or another rant about feminism, or even an instructive piece about how shibari can be employed to give an under-the-clothes reminder that is even more intimate than a collar, you might be a little disappointed.  But if want to hear about my weird day today, follow along and be entertained and just a bit frightened.

So – I was in a car accident a few years back.  I’ve mostly healed, but I still have a hard time sitting for long periods of time.  This has led me to the habit of taking a walk in the afternoon every day when it’s not raining outside, and today it’s not raining.

There is a popular cafe downstairs in the building where I work.  It’s right next door to a very popular local and independent bookstore, and pretty close to the Stanford campus as well as lots of businesses, so it’s pretty busy pretty much all of the time.  My walk was well after the lunch rush, and the tables come out onto the common area in front of the building, so there is really no way I cannot walk through the cafe to get to the elevators to go up to my office.

Today as I was passing through, I saw two young men, probably college students, of indeterminate ethnicity take a seat at an empty table next to a table with an older Caucasian woman.  They were being slightly effeminate, and a little bit boisterous, but by no means over-the-top in their behavior.  They were not dressed in rainbow colors and they were not displaying any flags that I could see, but their presence was obviously quite disturbing to the woman at the table next to them.  She put a very intense look of disgust on her face, gathered up her things, and moved to a table three tables distant.

I saw this whole thing go down as I was merely walking through, and had no intent of doing anything in the cafe at all, but I got this mental worm embedded in my head and wondered to myself – is she upset because they’re loud, or is she reacting to their apparent sexuality, or is it their race that has her upset?

Ordinarily, I’d file it away as yet another case of Peninsula old-money conservatism and just keep on going, but for some reason today I decided that I wanted to know what was going on, so I went over to her table, took the seat across from her, and said, “Pardon me, ma’am, but I can’t help but notice that you seemed uncomfortable with those young men over there and felt the need to move away from them, do you mind if I ask why?”

She looked at me over the rim of her reading glasses in a way that I don’t think I’ve seen since my English teacher would do the same thing to me in high school when I was being a smartass.  But eventually she let out a long sigh and answered me.

I wish I had been recording what she said, but I didn’t have the presence of mind to start recording things on my phone, and I didn’t have anything on which to take notes, so I’m relating what she said as best I can, from memory.  I have a very good memory though…

“Well, see, here’s the thing.  The damned gay Mexicans are ruining this country.  Those two are just another part of the problem.  They should be deported back to wherever they came from and leave all of us good folks alone.  I can’t even enjoy my book here anymore without having to hear their squealing and watch them paw each other in public, it’s obscene!”

I should mention at this point that I do not believe that either of the young men in question are of Mexican descent.  I can’t be certain, but they looked more Fillipino to me, not that it matters in the least.  They were acting slightly effeminate and were definitely well dressed, but they could just as easily be metrosexual hipsters as homosexuals; I have no idea.  I was positioned to be able to see them while she spoke at me (as opposed to to me) and I never once saw them touch each other, let alone paw each other.  They were talking in a rather animated fashion, and I could not quite make out what they were saying, but it did not seem to me that they were squealing about cocksucking or anything so interesting – I think they might have been talking about baseball…

“I remember when this area was actually nice,” she continued.  This is Menlo Park, California we’re talking about here.. it’s one of the most affluent communities in the country, and therefore the world.  “People here used to be the right kind of people you know? Like you and me.”  The emphasis was hers.  I felt like I wanted to say something about being the “right kind of people” myself, but before I could get a word in, she was off on her tirade again.

“And I remember when the Mexicans knew their place too!  The only time you would see them is if they were mowing a lawn or going to church, and I bet those gays don’t even go to church, you know, because even the Catholics don’t like ‘em.  And now we even have them in my church! It’s so I don’t even want to go anymore.”

Again, I was about to say something, and she launches into it again.

“Well, except for Margie, who watches my grandkids and helps clean my daughter’s house, she’s good people, Christian, you know.  I’m sure that she wouldn’t let her son be gay.”

I think I was actually sitting there with my mouth open at this point.  This woman was a caricature of a person that I didn’t think existed anymore.  Perhaps I’m too sheltered in my little utopian bubble of acceptance and inclusion, but this woman had no trouble at all spewing vitriol at me, a complete stranger, just because we have the same skin tone.  I wasn’t really sure what to say at this point, and rather regretting sitting down to speak with her at all.

“And that’s not even the worst of it,” she continued.  “They live in all of those new apartments and they get special deals because they’re not white and all the young white kids like my daughter who live in the same complex have to pay three times as much just because she’s white.  It’s not fair!  It’s reverse discrimination is what it is.  Obama is ruining this country and I hope they shoot him before he gets voted out.”

I won’t even go into the factual inaccuracies of that statement, I was pretty well flabbergasted that I was hearing an apparently educated and generally affluent woman condone assassinating a sitting President.  There have been rumors floating about ‘the coming race war’ since the Civil War, but it’s things like this that make me wonder if it might not become reality, and that’s a scary thing.  Mind you, I have not said a word since asking her the initial question yet.

At this point, I was almost afraid to try to say anything, but I waited a few moments, and then when she didn’t launch into another rant, I broke my silence.

“How do you know that I’m not gay?” I asked.

She had the good sense to look at least a little bit embarrassed at this point, but she quickly turned it around and gave me a hard stare, “Well, at least you’re white, and I don’t believe you’re gay anyway, you don’t have the look.”

“I don’t have the look?”

“No, I can tell.”

“You can? Just like you can tell that those young men are Mexican?”

“Well, they might be a different kind of Mexican, maybe they’re from Venezuela, that would be even worse, they might be supporters of that guy, whatshisname..”

“Hugo Chavez,” I supplied.

“Yeah, him.  He’s a communist.”

“He’s dead.”

“Good. That’s a start.”

“Ma’am, I’m going to leave now.  Have a wonderful afternoon.”

“You’re not really gay are you?”

“As far as you are concerned, I am.” I said, though I felt a little bit guilty about the lie almost directly afterwards, but I wanted to shake her confidence in her world view.  It didn’t work.

“Traitor,” she said to my back as I walked to elevator and went back to work.

What a weird day…

It’s been several hours now since that event, and I wonder what I could have, or should have done differently.  I wonder if I should have tried to persuade her to be more tolerant, or if I should have attacked her right back, but I think that perhaps what I did was the best I could have.. I was polite, I let her speak, I didn’t interrupt, but I let her know that I disagreed.  At least, I meant to, but I’m not really sure that I did.

I was off balance the whole time.  These are things that I simply don’t deal with anymore since I’ve ostracized myself from my father and his side of the family.  I feel true compassion for all of the LGBT people in other, less accepting parts of this country and the world in general, who have to put up with this shit on a daily basis.

I’m not sure how to classify this entry, but I’m still Rant.

Rant off.