What Men Do

Posted by – August 28, 2007

In the ‘astonishing, but not surprising’ category: CNN does a report on Iraqi women who have ended up prostituting themselves due to the war, asking sometimes as little as $8 a day. The point of course was to do a human interest story, or a feminist story, or a reality of war story, but some guy, dick in hand, instead wants to know if it’s true & how he can get in on the action. Another comments:

You are a fortunate man to find ass here in the IZ so quickly. I live here and it took me 4 months to get my connections. We have a PSD team contact who brings us these Iraqi cuties but dangerous it is.

Now that’s class. Don’t keep reading that message board if you’re an actual person with actual compassion, please.

There are days guys wonder why women hate them en masse. This is why, sensitive New Age guys. Please do something about these fuckwads & then get back to me about your problems.

(via The Cunning Realist.)

20 Comments on What Men Do

  1. suzeallyn says:

    I usually don’t hope someone contracts a STD, but in this case…

  2. suzeallyn says:

    …On the other hand, no. He’d just spread it around to others.

    Maybe he’ll get run over by a jeep.

  3. nikki says:

    I made the mistake of going to that site and reading some of those comments. An STD would be too kind for them and the jeep would be too quick.

    Maybe something painful that takes a long time to do them in? I dunno, maybe forcing them to sell themselves cheaply just to put food on their table?

  4. jadecath says:

    Wow.

    The trouble with “do something about these” is that, from our POV (speaking from sensitive-guy mode here), it’s just as frustrating as it is for you. Approaches like “let them know this is unacceptable”, “use peer pressure against them”, etc. seem hopeless, because that type shows absolutely no interest in what we think of them – the very fact that it bothers us proves they’re doing something right. Viciousness proves your manliness, you know, and manliness is everything.

    That leaves us with impersonal approaches like trying to create laws and policies to stem it. Worth doing, but uphill.

    Well, it’s probably not quite that hopeless. If Mr. Not-A-Jerk amps up his verbal frustration, it can have some peer-pressure effect on Mr. Only-Sort-Of-A-Jerk, who may pass mild disapproval on to Mr. Mostly-A-Jerk, who will throttle back on the approval he’d been giving gives to Mr. Truly-A-Jerk, whose opinion Mr. Vile-Waste-Of-Carbon actually cares about.

    Also, those of us who can demonstrate that we’re perfectly happy believing that manliness is -not- everything might be able to take a little wind out of the sails of the “manliness is everything” ethos.

    But it’s a long, frustrating process trying to get change to trickle down that way.

  5. Leah B says:

    Quote:
    “There are days guys wonder why women hate them en masse. This is why… ”

    You’re basically saying it’s okay to hate ALL people with penises because SOME people with penises are bad. It’s a fucked up thing to say, and I doubt that you believe it because you’ve said the opposite before.

    Yes, these soldiers are straight-up fuckwads. It’s the perfect word. They deserve more than harsh words. But to give tacit approval to the attitude that “all men are pigs” is offensive and sexist.

  6. helenboyd says:

    here’s the thing, Leah: instead of arguing with a feminist about hating men, what are you doing to keep men from doing stuff like this? what organizations are there that try to get these women money so they don’t have to prostitute themselves?

    while you’re right in saying i don’t agree with sexism in any form, & that there are many decent men in the world, the issue here is institutionalized sexism.

    let’s call the men here “privileged” & the women here “desperate.” would i be wrong in saying that it’s understandable why the desperate hate the privileged? because basically that’s the way it breaks down on gender lines; the perpetrators of the violence & exploitation are men. the people on the receiving end of that violence & exploitation are women.

    these guys make all men look bad, absolutely. but you know, i’m not sure that’s my problem. because there are all kinds of women who make all women look bad, too, just as there are trans people who make trans people look bad.

    the issue is not so much saying, “but i’m one of the good ones” but saying instead, “what do i do to stop this?” then, then, we can have a conversation.

  7. Leah B says:

    I just don’t think “We hate you, but not because of anything you did” is a good way to recruit people to your cause. If I were to follow your reasoning, I would hate all feminists because some of the most notoritous feminists hate men. Instead, I oppose feminists who give feminists a bad name, and support feminists who recognize the diversity of all people.

    The reaction you describe, that the desperate hate the privileged, is definitely understandable. But it is not the only reaction, and it is not the path forward. Consider the civil rights struggles of the 60s (and beyond). The Black Panthers, Malcom X, and the seperatists had great points to make, and they spoke to the frustrations of the oppressed, but where did that get us? Not until Martin Luther King Jr. urged unity did we really see our cause advanced. Why? Because he didn’t make enemies out of allies. Because there were decent people out there who didn’t like to be vilified, people who were sometimes also frustrated with society’s injustices.

    I don’t know if you realize this, Helen, but YOU are a leader. People look up to you (I certainly do) — we look to you for guidance. Many of us are men too, and when you turn around and slander us — when you paint us with the same broad brushstroke that you do our mutual enemy (or even let it pass when others do), it hurts.

    Your problems ARE our problems. We don’t suffer from them like you may, but we want solutions too.

    And key to any solution is a conversation. Conversation shouldn’t have to wait. We don’t by waiting for someone else to take action, we must take action ourselves, and encourage our friends to do as well.

    So to all the sensitive new age guys out there, join us in advancing the equal rights and just treatment of women worldwide. Take action!

  8. helenboyd says:

    Whoever said it’s okay to hate or slander people? I didn’t say that. I was explaining **why** that is sometimes the case, & why, sometimes, it can feel easy to hate “all men” when there are some who are so shitty.

    I wasn’t painting all men with the same broad brushstroke. What I was asking you to do is put down your allegiance to these men as men, & hate these particular men as much as women do – not who they are or what they are, but what they do. (Thus, the post’s title.)

  9. helenboyd says:

    I was also saying: I don’t understand anyone – black, white, male or female – who wouldn’t be full of rage in reading about this kind of exploitation.

  10. Leah B says:

    After I posted my comment, Sobe pointed out that I might have been reading things into what you were saying, and that the internet and text-based media can foster misunderstanding, and it seems she was right.

    The two lines I objected to were the title “What Men Do,” and “There are days guys wonder why women hate them en masse. This is why.” The former seemed like a bit of a generalization — I certainly don’t think of this stuff as “what men do,” or even “what soldiers do. The latter I read into a bit. Prejudice just pisses me off, so even when I understand it, I can’t just leave it there. I feel like doing so is giving cover to that POV.

    You had a point to make, and that point didn’t have to do with “our problems” as you pointed out. I suppose taking a moment to say “This is why women feel this way… but that doesn’t justify misandry” might have taken away from your main point. I sensed a little aggression, or maybe resentment, towards men in your comment “then come to me about your problems,” but it seems like I was off base. Sorry if I read you wrong there.

  11. helenboyd says:

    No, I think you read the aggression & resentment just fine. It was directed at these particular men who do such shitty things, though, not at men in general.

    I suppose there was some hostility to the idea that some ‘sensitive new age guy’ was going to get upset with me for directing my hostility at all men – which is, ahem, exactly what happened.

    I guess what I’m saying is that as cool as some guys are, the numbers aren’t in your favor, & I’d appreciate it if ‘sensitive new age guys’ could accept that – that not only are they exceptions, but also that so many women have experienced violence at the hands of men, or exploitation, or sexual abuse, etc., that we’re really not completely insane for being suspicious of all men’s motives.

  12. suzeallyn says:

    There are days when I feel the entire human race could just go fuck a duck.

  13. Leah B says:

    1) “I suppose there was some hostility to the idea that some ’sensitive new age guy’ was going to get upset with me for directing my hostility at all men – which is, ahem, exactly what happened. ”

    2) “I was explaining **why** that is sometimes the case, & why, sometimes, it can feel easy to hate “all men” when there are some who are so shitty. I wasn’t painting all men with the same broad brushstroke. ”

    You’re saying two things here, 1) that you’ve got hostility toward all men, and 2) that it’s understandable that some women, but not you, are hostile toward all men. I really don’t know what to make of it.

    If you’re got hostility against all men, you’re painting us all with the same broad brushstroke, Helen.

  14. helenboyd says:

    or 3) I had hostility toward all men for the 10 minutes after reading those shitty posts on that website, and 2) it’s understandable for anyone to paint with a broad brush faced with asshole behavior like that, but that 3) it passes.

  15. Leah B says:

    That makes a lot of sense (and I’m not saying this in sarcasm).

  16. Leah B says:

    I just realized as I was reading this back to myself that I completely misread a passage and it totally explains my confusion. When you said “I suppose there was some hostility to the idea that some ’sensitive new age guy’ was going to get upset with me for directing my hostility at all men – which is, ahem, exactly what happened. ”

    See, I thought you were saying that “exactly what happened” is that you directed hostility at all men. NOW I realize that you’re saying I’m a sensitive new age guy who got upset at you. So I thought you were talking out of both sides for a second. Oy.

    So yeah, first of all, I’m not new age. And my “sensitive” status must be thrown into question by the sheer amount of heat I’m giving you on this. A sensitive new age guy would have folded, and I’m calling.

    If you’re trying to make a point about what objectification feels like, you’re doing a good job of it. Please, quit trying to categorize me. I’m not some “typical guy” or some “sensitive new age man.” I’m a living, breathing individual like you, and I don’t deserve to be disrespected because of my dick. It pisses you off that people do this to you because of your vagina, so why are you doing it to me?

  17. helenboyd says:

    What frustrates me is how this article – which was meant to outline how shitty these women’s lives are – resulted in those message boards, & whether or not it’s okay for me to have a fleeting moment of misandry when I read things like this.

    Is it? I think it is. That’s all. I get angry at all men, for a second, because of these men & their crap behavior, & somehow, now, it’s all about how you feel. Can we examine that for a second? Is my anger really worth all this tumult? Or is the real issue what we can do to prevent women from having to prostitute themselves to feed their children? I never disrespected you. What I said from the beginning is that it isn’t about you. It’s about them.

  18. Leah B says:

    You know, immediately after posting my last comment, I felt bad because I knew I was taking it too far, getting wrapped up in semantics, sidetracking, etc. I often don’t catch myself at this until well after it’s gotten annoying. I would have edited, but alas, comments can’t be edited. So I’m sorry.

  19. helenboyd says:

    me too, Leah. but i think everyone understands why this stuff can bring up such strong feelings.

  20. kia_the_physicist says:

    Some people have addressed issues like this. See the documentary about manhood by anti-sexism activist Jackson Katz, “Tough Guise”, and also see the documentary “Beyond Beats and Rhymes”. Violence is so prevalent in today’s popular culture that I am surprised that true compassion is even possible. “Rape ethics” and masculinity must be decoupled. Because I am a young gender-confused male who strongly identifies as a feminist, jackass behavior like this jumps out at me:
    * For example, during Domestic Violence Awareness Week at my university, a friend of mine spotted a poster with a very distressing statistic about battering. On it was a silhouette of a woman holding a candle. His reaction was to remark on what the candle resembled and where she should shove it.
    * Men sure do LOVE to boast about their sexual prowess over breakfast, even when it involved getting a young woman drunk first.
    * I have been told that because I am not sexually agressive, that I need to become “sexually liberated” by watching porno. And everything about the multi-billion dollar porn industry makes me mad!
    * When the women’s center at my college had a discussion about “Tough Guise” last week, I was the only guy who stayed there for the whole thing. Another guy made rude comments throughout and left in disgust when the film criticized his favorite movie.

    I think it is up to the cultural icons of manhood to get the ball rolling on this issue. As long as sexual dominance appears to be an integral part of masculinity in our culture, jackass comments about prostitution will go unnoticed. It is up to the “manly men” to make the first move towards a solution. Because I have been on the receiving end of a lot of sexual harassment and have problems identifying as male in the first place, I can do little more than spread the word.

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