Monday, July 05, 2010

Denying Women's Right To Their Own Boundaries

In a comment to an excellent post titled Why even street sexual harassment is hard to get over at Iced Tea and Lemon Cake, a commenter using the name Jen wrote:

You are insane if you think you are making a valid point. This concept of ‘education of womens feeling and rights’ misses the mark entirely because of your subject emphasis; is rape. (And rape culture? You must be kidding!) No shit it’s not accepted! No shit it’s not tolerated! But it will happen because BAD PEOPLE EXIST. Not because men lack the proper sensitivity. If you had real world experience you would already know this and you would not have to make up stories and ‘friends that said’ to state your clique and bigoted opposite view point. Poor writing my dear. Now be a real woman and leave this post up! Take the criticism as harsh as you like to hand out!
Here's my comment of response which I wrote on that post:

Jen, just because you refuse to get the point of this post doesn't make the woman who wrote it insane.

Clearly your personal values differ greatly related to unwanted actions taken against women by men. If you are okay with certain actions that only applies to actions taken against you. Just as men have no right to cross women's personal boundaries, you have no right to nullify other people's personal boundaries.

The willingness to nullify another person's boundaries is needed for people to justify the types of sex crimes you would never mock. Bad people don't just exist, they are formed by the beliefs they hold and the standards they are held to.
I had additional thoughts about this comment by Jen which didn't fit into a comment. Since this type of comment is echoed in many similar ones girls and women get when they speak out against boys and men treating their sexual boundaries as meaningless, the mindset behind it is worth analyzing.

By invoking the "you are insane" argument Jen is abandoning logic for personal attack. Jen is refusing to think about any perspective except Jen's own perspective and justifies this refusal by declaring those who think differently as insane. This is laziness and entitlement at it's extreme since Jen feels qualified to make a mental health assessment of someone Jen has never met and most likely without any mental health training.

Jen has no interest in getting the point of this post and instead wants only to vent anger against someone who speaks out against having her personal boundaries violated and who puts the full responsibility onto those who take the unwanted actions. Speaking out against those who dismiss sexual harassment and the harm it causes would not be seen as insane if Jen didn't agree with those called out in this post.

Jen has chosen to make contradictory claims. 1) Bad people exist. 2) The behavior of bad people is not tolerated, is not accepted. The problem with these 2 claims is that if this behavior were not tolerated, those who report it or discuss it would never be met with responses like Jen's. The way many people dodge this contradiction is to either deny that the behavior happened (behavior is a lie) or to deny that the behavior is in fact bad (impact of behavior is a lie). Jen does this by making the allegation that the author has made up stories. This allegation has as it's only possible foundation the belief that bad people do not exist, something Jen has specifically claimed not to believe.

If Jen truly believes that bad people exist and their bad behavior is not tolerated, Jen would always hold the bad people 100% responsible for their actions. However, in Jen's comment all the anger is directed at a woman who disclosed being subjected to sexual violence.

The claim that "bad people exist" is not only false since it implies that bad people spring fully formed bad, it also allows those who make this claim to justify apathy. If boys don't learn values which make the difference between them being willing to sexually harass and/or sexually assault girls and/or women or not being willing to take these actions then we can ignore boys and men's values when it comes to how they interact with girls and women.

Since most people understand that we teach children right from wrong and that a toddler's shoplifting isn't caused by innate badness and also shouldn't be ignored, it shouldn't be a challenge to understand this concept of learning when right and wrong involve respecting or violating other people's personal sexual boundaries.


Bookmark and Share
posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:28 PM   5 comments links to this post


At July 05, 2010 3:09 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Many women become angry whenever the issue concerns challenging male behaviour and one of the reasons is because these women believe that they themselves will never be subjected to male violence. Instead supposedly 'deviant' women invite male violence.

However, this misguided belief will not prevent any woman from being targetted by a male if he so decides.

Men learn as boys they are entitled to violate girls' and women's boundaries because our male dominant society demonstrates time and again that women are worthless compared to the male.

We must continue to challenge this women-blaming attitude and put the focus where it rightly belongs - with our male supremacist society which teaches boys and men they alone are entitled to have their boundaries respected and also teaches males that they alone have the right and power to treat women as subordinates.

Males who deliberately stand too close to a woman or who deliberately engage in unwanted touching are demonstrating their dominance and power over women. But whenever a woman/girl challenges this male abuse she, not the male is viewed as accountable.

Men and boys must never be held accountable or responsible for their misogynistic attitudes or belief that women and girls exist to serve male sexual interests. Challenging such behaviour goes right to the centre of male entitlement and this is why so many women refuse to accept the truth. It is much easier to agree with the male abusers than call them out on their violent and abusive behaviour.

Likewise claiming the woman/girl who dares to challenge male behaviour as being 'unstable; or mentally insane' is commonly practiced by male perpetrators and their apologists. It is designed to divert attention away from the male perpetrator(s)'s behaviour and on to the female victim.

Not forgetting of course that male supremacist society commonly dismisses women's anger and women's refusal to meekly submit to male sexual violence as 'a woman being insane, psychotic or even hysterical.' The dominant male group believes they alone are the knowers of truth and despite fact this 'truth' is male-centric and male-defined it is commonly perceived as objective and gender neutral.

At July 05, 2010 8:55 PM, Anonymous said...

hey, thanks for the link. i feel bad letting that comment through, to be honest. i know it probably angered and triggered people who HAD been through sexual harassment (not to mention rape) and felt like they were insane for being traumatized. but you guys really rocked in refuting her claims. so much that she hasn't come back to troll. :)

At July 05, 2010 10:48 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


I don't regret that you let that comment through because it typifies one of the common responses people get when they speak out and you didn't leave it there unchallenged.

Those who feel like they must be insane for having trauma from sexual harassment don't come to that conclusion randomly. They get there because this message is reinforced by people who think like Jen.

At July 06, 2010 10:31 AM, Anonymous Melissa said...

The fact that people can be so obtuse in this day and age is quite frankly shocking. It makes me especially angry to see a woman uttering such nonsense.

At July 08, 2010 2:11 PM, Anonymous m Andrea said...

I doubt if "Jen" is really female. While women do spout misogynist crap, there is a certain type of nonsense which even they won't spew.

That wasn't just mere victim-blaming, that was an outright statement claiming the male right of access to female bodies. He said "bad people do bad things" not "bad men do bad things" which minimizes just who is committing all the sexual violence while suggesting that "we can't stop them and we can't stop men wanting to rape women".

Nope, it's a dood. Even a female wouldn't say that. He also indicated he knew what rape culture is, and that society finds rape culture unacceptable. But rape culture exists precisely because all those rape permissive myths ARE accepted by society, so his comment makes no sense. Most misogynists nowadays realize that an outright denial of sexism would eliminate every shred of credibility they have, so they tend to minimize sexism instead.

He also spent a great deal of his brief comment telling the author of the post how to do feminism right. lol


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home