This is an abridget version of a post I made at Feminist Critics. It includes the parts pertaining men as victims of domestic and sexual violence and women as perpetrators per the stated focus of this blog. The unabridget version where I also address the other points made by Mychal Denzel Smith may be read by following this link to Feminist Critics.
Mychal Denzel Smith recently published an article on Feministing titled “The one where I need help understanding why MRAs don’t become feminists.”
I don’t identify as an MRA, but reading through his article I think I can help him get an understanding of why feminists like him don’t entice MRAs and others who are concerned with male issues to become feminists.
Apparently someone has informed Mychal that there are issues that MRAs care about and he lists them:
- “They say fathers have to navigate a family court system that unfairly privileges mothers in divorce”
- “[B]oys are falling behind in education”
- “They worry about high unemployment among men”
- “[M]en are more likely to commit suicide”
- “They argue that domestic and sexual violence against men is underplayed by the media”
- “[M]en are unfairly stereotyped as violent sexual predators”
Seemingly begrudgingly Mychal acknowledges these issues:
So … some of those aren’t completely unreasonable grievances. In fact, some of them are really serious issues that need to be addressed (I do wonder which men they’re talking about with regards to high unemployment, because something tells me it isn’t about black men).
Intimate Partner Violence Against Men
Mychal also attempts to address the issue of domestic and sexual violence against men. I wish he hadn’t.
There’s also the issue of “domestic and sexual violence against men [being] underplayed by the media.” No, we don’t talk much about men being victims of domestic or intimate partner sexual violence. And yes, part of the reason is that men don’t come forward to speak about these issues. There is shame and stigma. But that shame and stigma is born out of the idea that if they come forward they will have their manhood called into question, that they are suddenly “less than” for having been abused. They’re adhering to the strictures of masculinity that would have them deny experiencing any pain.
Note how he acknowledges parts of the issue — the shame and the stigma for male victims. Further on note how he lays parts of that shame and stigma at the feet of the victims themselves for “adhering to the strictures of masculinity.” This is similar to Melissa McEwan’s asserting that male victims of rape don’t come forward because they’re thinking “that’s something that happens to women, and eww no one wants to be like them.” It is a textbook example of blaming the victim for not coming forward. I am guessing that lamenting “oh, why can’t female victims of rape buck the slut-shaming and talk about their rape” wouldn’t go over too well.
It is not the survivor’s responsibility to change the society to recognize them.
Many slogans in the SlutWalk protests pointed out that we should focus on the rapists — the perpetrator:
- SHAME ON RAPISTS, NOT VICTIMS
- SOCIETY TEACHES “DON’T GET RAPED” RATHER THAN “DON’T RAPE”
- BLAME RAPE ON RAPISTS, NOT BOOBS.
- HOW TO STOP RAPE
1: DON’T RAPE ANYONE
2: SEE ABOVE
So one would think that talking about the perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence against men would be important as well. Even when the perpetrators are women. Apparently not:
We also don’t discuss intimate partner violence experienced by men at the hands of women because there isn’t the same history of using that violence as a means of subjugation. Violence against women is a form of social control used to ensure male domination. The same can’t be said for the inverse.
And there we have it Mr. Smith. This can’t be read as anything other than an argument as to why it is correct to not discuss female perpetrators due to the crime committed against men being lesser than it would have been if the victim had been a woman. That is the reason I as a male victim of rape by a woman simply cannot believe Mychal Denzel Smith or his feminism will help preventing more men experiencing what I did.