Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Where Did Men Learn That Sexual Predatory Behavior Is A-Ok?

Maybe men learned that they could be good boys and be sexual predators from watching "educational" films like Are You Popular? (New) copyrighted in 1958 where nice boys lie to girls and pretend to like them to get sexual contact. And where nice boys go to school and declare open season on any girl who trusted him enough to allow him any sexualized contact (parking) or who was sexually violated by him. And where nice boys are right to openly scorn the girls they exploit. And where nice girls aren't bothered to know that the boys they want to be popular with are so shameless that they openly treat some girls like nothing more than fertile dirt.

The "easy" girl, Jenny, who isn't truly popular with anybody for any reason other than sexual exploitation is shown asking one of the boys for the promised math paper she needs to copy. So not only is she "easy," she's clearly a stupid girl who wants to falsely present herself as being as smart as a boy. When the boy gives her his math paper to copy before snubbing her openly, the narrator finds nothing wrong in his behavior.

The nice girl who is new to this school not only can't go parking with the boys, she can't tell them she had the lead in her school play at her old school. To be nice and popular with both boys and girls she has to lie by diminishing her accomplishments. Later in the film, her date (one of the boys who has parked with Jenny) is talking to the girl's parents and says he hates to admit that she helped him find props for the play he'd been unable to find. The only reason he admits this seems to be so that her parents will trust him with their good daughter.

He is presented as completely wonderful when he is no such thing.

All these boys are presented in ways that to me make them seem like candidates for cheating on their proper wives with the "easy" girls at every opportunity. This film supports a value system which says that boys and men aren't required to have sexual ethics. If they can get what they want from a girl or woman then that's fine because she's the one responsible for stopping him. No questions should be asked of these boys and men except for requests by other boys and men for advice on how to get more.

Despite the overt message of this film, there's nothing nice or fine about these boys. Not back when this film was made and not now. Yet people continue to blame the girls and make excuses for the boys. People continue to express puzzlement about how nice young men can be guilty of rape. This educational film gives them their answer.

Nice young boys can rape girls who seem like Jenny because these girls are to blame for how boys and men treat them. If she's viewed like Jenny then it can't be rape because she's no innocent victim.

With messages which still echo the views advanced by this old educational film, is it any wonder that rape victims feel guilt and shame while most rapists feel none?

I remember having to sit through educational films and although I don't know if this particular film was in circulation when I was at the age where dating films would have been shown (some of the films I had to watch were made decades earlier), the message of this film is one that was well-ingrained in me by the time I started dating.

That message kept me from recognizing some serious warning signs in my boyfriend's behavior and that message helped keep me silent after I was raped. Being raped was bad enough, but being treated like fertile dirt by all the boys who openly talked about the "easy" girls would have been far worse.

More than one subsequent sexual exploiter said when pushing for sex I didn't want to give, "It's not like you're a virgin." And I'm sure I'm not the only one who has encountered boys and men who used the message contained in this film to justify coercion and forced sex because the girl or woman he was with wasn't someone he believed he had to respect or because he believed it was her job to stop him if she really was a good girl.

Messages like this also help to explain why a man such as Allan Stokke would, in his role as a defense attorney for alleged rapists, attack alleged victims' character and then, in his role as father, fiercely defend a girl's right to not be subjected to demeaning treatment on the web without viewing himself as a hypocrite. His daughter is one of the good girls while most rape victims are not.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   4 comments links to this post


At June 06, 2007 7:51 AM, Anonymous thinking girl said...

thanks for this MArcella.

I keep going back to Andrea Dworkin's analysis of "woman" as a social category whose proper and right use is male (sexual) gratification - so that when men do use women for these purposes, it is not misuse or abuse, but simply proper and right. This construction of "woman" is part of what I think goes on with rape and pornography, as well as general exploitation of labour etc.

At June 06, 2007 9:00 AM, Anonymous Jeff said...

I think that for me, I "learned" that predatory behavior was OK because it was pretty much the only model of sexuality I was ever exposed to. I grew up in the 80s and early 90s rather than the 50s, but we still had the imagery: sex was adversarial, something men tried to take from women. The archetypal image of adolescent male sexuality was the boy with his arm around a girl, his hand slowly moving down to her breast. We had the examples of rapes that weren't called that, but were okay because the protagonist of the film was the rapist, and because the victim enjoyed it (a common example being the mistaken-identity rape, as found in Revenge of the Nerds and Sixteen Candles.) We didn't have many images of sane and respectful sexuality, and those examples we did have were in the context of marriages rather than dating/courtship.

At June 06, 2007 9:22 AM, Blogger Seeing Eye Chick said...

Women are partially to blame for this social stratification of good girl and bad girl.

Read Odd Girl out.

Nice = Girl, Nice is code for avoiding display of conspicuous skill, attractiveness, or flaunting any innate value or acquired skill or knowledge.

but an Anti-Girl Qualities basically amount to being too much of anything which could be too pretty, too smart, too skilled at any task or academic discipline. A personality trait, habit or pivotal event that overshadows her female-nature.

Girls bring each other down in this self imposed glass ceiling. And I believe that this is very convenient for male culture. Because if women/girls are busy knocking each other down, how hard can it be for a boy to pick a girl up out of the proverbial dirt and make her feel *lucky?

Society in general reifies this behavior.

Masculine traits of leadership are indicated as unacceptable and unattractive for a *proper woman or girl. A woman who displays too many of these masculine leadership traits or displays a few of them improperly, is labeled a sexual deviant of some sort, a fake woman, one step up from a transexual I suppose, some inbetween gender that defies nature and social convenience.

Its reflected even in popular cultural references: Song Lyrics from Broadway: You Cant Get a Man with a Gun, the themes present in movies where the smart girl plays dumb so she can have friends or date or both. Legally Blond?

And the idea that there is nice girls and bad girls goes back to this idea. You need a wife for status and a mistress or prostitute for gratification. These are mutually exclusive categories in that world.

The pure woman bears children who are not defiled or prone to carrying deviant traits. You can leave her in the house with a reasonable expectation that she will not have sex with another man. That her lack of desire to anything but bear children will ensure that she will not prowl for more satisfying sexual experiences especially with partners outside her marriage.

A loose woman should not be rewarded with a household or protection from social criticism though, we dont want her adding her *filth to the gene pool, or gaining status reserved for Good girls. A loose woman is capable of gratifying herself and if she is left unsatisfied, is not prone {according to popular belief} to stay at home and accept inferior sexual technique from her lawfully wedded spouse. She will find other[s] to satisfy her carnal lusts.

These two categories must be kept separate or else one might convey undue status to the other, and the other might pollute the thinking and comportment of the proper women.

A loose woman might give a proper woman ideas.

So in a way, by keeping these two catagories separate, its the divide and conquer routine.

In some strange way, society is acknowledging that *loose women represent intellectual freedom as well as sexual freedom, That they must be kept away from proper women, or else the proper women will be educated about their bodies, what is possible, or even inspired to take on unwomanly attributes without regard of the threat of social censure.

Proper women who have attained public protection and high status as women dont want to loose that. So it behooves them to also reject perceived *loose women in order to maintain the status that they themselves have cultivated by either following the rules or pretending to follow the rules of proper society.

At June 06, 2007 11:16 AM, Blogger Seeing Eye Chick said...

I have written on the idea of a Western Sexual Caste System in my Feminist Blog, and I migrated some of those posts to the River beneath the River blog. But here is a quote that should add some food for thought on this discussion about the social acceptance of predation on women:

"...the idea of the Western/American Sexual Caste System.

Caste systems are traditional, hereditary systems of social restriction and social stratification, enforced by law or common practice, based on endogamy, occupation, economic status, race, ethnicity, etc.
[from wikipedia, the hyperlink didnt take}

In the U.S. women are stratified by class {economic wealth} physical attraction, race, and sexual experience. That at least has been my experience."

It has been my observation that a woman's sexual- caste is determined usually by the most graphic and *shameful sexual act that is known or assocatiated with her public persona.

Sorry to keep posting but Til now I hadnt seen any other sites that discuss this so frankly and with intelligence. Also I would have posted this earlier, but I had to dig through some blog archives to find it.


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