Discussion between a college-age feminist, an MRA, and a couple atheists (plus my thoughts)

Feminist (AwesomeRants) vs. MRA (Janet Bloomfield) (DP)”:

Haven’t watched but maybe a couple of Drunken Peasants videos so far, though I am a fan of T.J.’s Amazing Atheist YT channel.

I really liked this discussion, though I’d like to see more including Tori of the AwesomeRants channel fleshing out her ideas in greater detail (maybe having her on as a guest by herself). Because feminism is still rather new to her, so she’s totally learning and taking in this stuff and forming opinions as she goes, just as any of us were back in college. Opinions will necessarily shift and change over time. That’s life. And she’s a particularly smart and thoughtful young woman, having watched several of her videos in the past. I don’t always agree with her, but I respect that she’s actively seeking to learn and possesses a critical mind that appears willing to challenge even her own biases. She’s good people, so far as I can tell.

And so is T.J.

Know less about Scotty and JudgyBitch/Janet Bloomfield. But overall, I gotta say that I agreed in places with everybody in this video, now paused at the 46:26 mark. Many thoughts sprang to mind while watching this…

Ya know, I agree with T.J that there are philosophical differences among people that can be so great that perhaps we’re better off going our separate ways, at least in that respect (in this case, in terms of romantic relationships). Some people desire very intuitive, intimate partnerships where their partner is capable of reading their body language and is sensitive to moods and whatever else. While to an extent I grasp all of that, I’m personally more in line with Janet’s thinking in that I have no issue with asserting myself when something troubles me, at least not anymore. Those who are less direct and expect their partner to take cues can be really confusing to the uninitiated. And I’m here to say that those types aren’t always female despite the feminine association with what might be minimally considered coyness or playing hard to get (some are also the types who need the stars aligned and the wind blowing in just the right sort of way . . . yep, grown men can be that way too, even heterosexuals, truth be told). Plenty of people out here even like it like that on the whole, whichever way they may individually lean.

Me personally, I’m a pursuer who also enjoys being pursued by those I’m attracted to. If I’m not interested, as an adult, I can and will state it. If I’m in a committed relationship with someone I’ve chosen to engage with him because we share certain values in common and aim to respect one another’s boundaries. So yeah, in that sort of setup consent is established, unless it involves some freaky shit that we have the sense to realize ought to be discussed with our partner(s) in advance. But that’s talking about an established relationship. What about in cases where relative strangers are involved? And that’s where I come down more solidly for the need to be assertive and to work hard at avoiding putting yourself in potentially compromising situations where you might be overwhelmed and/or taken advantage of. Goes back to that notion of knowing thyself … but it’s a learning process. And it’s young people primarily the ones wrestling with these sexual questions and problems.

We live in a culture that glamorizes and pedestalizes youth and beauty probably more than ever before, setting young people up to be targeted by adults all the more so. And that’s where these sort of conversations veer off for me, because youths are naive and do struggle to know how to react and can be overwhelmed to where they’re paralyzed with fear and uncertainty. Or they (how often seemingly?) enthusiastically consent to things that aren’t actually good for them, because they can’t see far enough into the future and are too inexperienced to predict the consequences. Living and learning…  Do we as older (ha!) people not bear a greater responsibility to be mindful of not leading young, naive people intro troubled waters? I guess I’m asking if we shouldn’t position ourselves in their lives as friends rather than as predatory foes and/or intellectual combatants. Yet a substantial portion of the population were corrupted by adults in their youth, so this is happening and it’s an inquiry seriously needing to be addressed, and not just by gender ideologues.

People possess a tendency to manipulate and use those whom they’re able to, which is to say humans tend to be opportunistic, and that can and does shake out in myriad ways across the spectrum, ranging from sexual abuse to physical domination to intellectual and emotional trickery to applying strong social pressure. Women are not immune to behaving in these ways, which I’d guess is common sense. But there are gendered differences when it comes to the ways it tends to play out.

Clear and obvious example: When was the last time you heard of a female prowling a neighborhood, sneaking into a random house and accosting a stranger sleeping at knife- or gun-point, demanding sex? When we do hear of these select cases, males overwhelmingly are the perpetrators. Most of us chock that up to common sense. Deceptively manipulating someone into marrying you so you can get your hands on their money? More commonly associated with female behavior. Different ways that abuses of power can and typically do shake out between the sexes, quite obviously.

Part of the issue is this expanded definition of what legally constitutes rape. That’s a problem since all offenses, from extreme violation and mistreatment on over to miscommunications between mutually drunken idiots, wind up falling under the same banner, undifferentiated. IMO, this is the major question confronting us as a society in this respect: determining what’s worthy of legal prosecution and what’s best handled interpersonally and socially. Not all offenses are created equal, as we know. Someone breaking into my car when I’m not around and stealing my stereo isn’t perceived by me to be as great of a violation as experiencing a home invasion where I am present, tied up, and tortured. Different degrees of trauma will arise there. Crude as these comparisons are, the same holds true for sexual violations. [Nothing I say is intended to be taken strictly literally unless I expressly state that to be my intention. Understand here that I am NOT implying that raping a person who’s passed out cold is in any way comparable to jacking my car when I’m not in it. No. That does not qualify as a lesser form of “date rape,” which I’d define as involving mostly coercion and manipulation rather than physical force and/or the lack or absence of the ability to affirmatively consent, which admittedly in some cases gets pretty hazy as well. Big reason why we have to be cognizant of the situations we’re putting ourselves and others in when we’re out drinking or doing whatever and playing in the hook-up culture. I could say a lot more on this and related subjects, but it can wait for a future blog post.]

What makes it so terribly complicated here are the untold number of nuances involved in our sexual and social interactions. This is no cut-and-dried matter that can be effectively reduced down to positive affirmations granted each and every step along the way, not if we’re to actually enjoy spontaneity with our sexual partners. That’s not what most of us want either, whether male or female. What we do want is to be shown more respect, and that’s a two-way street. Obviously though, some people override concern for others in pursuit of their own jollies. Not uncommon, especially among the horniest demographic.

But here’s the thing: in my quite adequate number of sexual partners and experiences, I’d say that the vast majority of men aren’t interested in raping someone. If you state it plain and let them understand what they’re doing is pushing in that direction, they’ll back off. Don’t even have to go that far even with most men — an emphatic “NO! I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU!” backed up by unyielding body language turns them completely off. And I didn’t even have to go that far much of the time.

I can understand how we might at times send mixed signals to males, so it does help to state our intentions upfront and either stick with them and act accordingly, or abandon them and decide what risks we are willing to take. But admittedly, part of the problem with the hook-up scene is that you’re often dealing with strangers, people you really can’t say with certainty are going to treat you with respect behind closed doors. It’s a risk, and it’s one I think more young people would be better off trying to avoid, from the sounds of it. But then they’re being bombarded with so much sexuality in our popular media and mixed messages encouraging them to behave in these ways.

(If I were a parent, I’d follow my stepdad’s lead and not subscribe to cable television. Even without kids I haven’t subscribed to cable this time around since at least 2008. But now most households have the internet, so who knows how to protect young people from being swayed by so much poor advice and sexual over-stimulation? Not to mention their exposure through their peers at school. Crazy times…)

More than feeling on a side in these gender-bent debates, I just mostly feel sorry for young people having to learn so much the hard way. It can be really rough out there. Sometimes you think you have the situation under control, but then later learn otherwise. Alcohol consumption certainly complicates matters there. And, like I said before, there’s no shortage of older people willing to take advantage of youthful naivety wherever they find it. Sad, but true. Apparently a fact of life.

I don’t know what to tell young people today. Part of me wants to say don’t follow in my footsteps since it contains some hard lessons that could really mess up the tender-hearted. But then again, how else does one learn but through trial and error? Some potentially expensive consequences up in there though, like becoming pregnant or contracting an STD or getting seriously traumatized by a scary individual. These are the risks we take with sex, especially with relative strangers. Leads me back to what Tori was saying about being sensitive to our partner’s needs and wants — yes, that’s a fabulous idea, and it’s best carried out by waiting to get to know people for a while before engaging in sexual activity, that way you can better gauge how they are and what their intentions may be. It’s this promiscuous, drunken hook-up culture where strangers come together that’s causing a lot of confusion and problems.

While I understand many of us don’t desire a return to past gender roles or social pressure for us to be monogamous to one partner throughout all our life, that doesn’t mean there’s greater value in swaying to the opposite extreme of rampant reckless sex among strangers and seeing people as nothing but instruments to be used to satisfy our own selfish sexual pleasures. It’s that mentality, in a nutshell, that appears to be fucking us up. Nothing necessarily wrong with hooking up for sex, but it’s risky behavior and the odds are, I’d say, that 1-5 out of 100 (if you play your cards right) will be so selfish that they disregard your boundaries and perhaps even safety in striving to gratify themselves. And then there’s always that stray “free radical” to worry about who may seriously prove sadistic and dangerous (think: Looking For Mr. Goodbar). While it’s true that a person can be sexually accosted while minding our own business, the risks dramatically go up when we retreat into private spaces with people we don’t know well under the implicit assumption that sex very well may occur. Especially when boozed up. That’s not meant judgmentally, just pointing to the potential hazards here.

These are hard truths for young people to come up against, yes. Add it to the mountain of other things we grew up lied to or in the dark about. The truth is that the hook-up culture is potentially dangerous, and you have to go into it with your eyes open rather than being too trusting of strangers. Naivety extracts a cost eventually. We like to imagine some perfect world where this no longer occurs, but how could that ever be when humans are so complex and varied? Threats will always exist, and no amount of education can fully eliminate them. Because some people don’t care that they’re breaking the law or seriously upsetting or harming someone else. Some people can be very cruel and unconcerned. Or just selfish and willfully oblivious. I don’t know how we protect younger people from reckoning with this fact of life, aside from aiming to not contribute to it and sharing our own stories in case they’re open to learning lessons vicariously through others. Some lessons one indeed would be better off not having to learn in the harshest fashion, and I’m glad I gleaned as much as I did from others I was fortunate enough to read or hear directly from back in the day.

As is commonly said, why reinvent the wheel?

Anyway, moving along in their talk above about the rights women possess in the West compared to men… The genital mutilation argument continues to garner my sympathy and support (as does selective service requirements). As for choice when it comes to creating and supporting a child, with the technologies available to us today, I can understand there needing to be some sort of way for both males and females to sign on to the pregnancy being taken to full-term and both agreeing to share in providing financial/household, emotional, psychological and otherwise nurturing support toward any offspring we’re bringing into existence. I agree with this for enhancing equality between the sexes, but also because I think this would help create checks and balances both legally and socially that are sorely needed. Using kids to take advantage of each other through the courts is a messed-up way to behave. Shouldn’t be a parent if you’re going to act like that. It’s not fair. Kids don’t deserve to be used as pawns between adults. So my concern is with the upbringing of future generations being brought into this mess more so than between the sexes battling it out today, seeing as how I don’t and won’t have kids of my own (thanks to technologies).

I love my right to choose, so I want to see others enjoy it as well. No reason to be exclusive — we can work it out somehow. Can’t we? If I become pregnant and the man expressly states he doesn’t want to share in parenting, am I not agreeing to single motherhood? Of course I am. But I may require of him to help finance it and partake in at least some aspects of parenting regardless of his will. That’s not a fair arrangement. Gonna have to upgrade that. So many children being born to disinterested, unhappy parents has been a problem for a long time — why continue it if we don’t have to anymore?

Social checks and balances to discourage certain behaviors have always existed among social beings, playing out in varied ways across cultures—and while acknowledging abuses of unfortunate circumstances did occur and could be unduly harsh (here thinking about the treatment of single/widowed mothers in past times, as well as those with legitimate brain abnormalities who wound up vilified, though, interestingly enough, shamans of old are often compared with those labeled as schizophrenics today and are claimed to belong to the same lineage — goes to further demonstrate the power of perception at any given point in history)—but we now live in the time of plenty in great grids where agricultural innovations make it possible to support massive populations, many of whom if thrown back on our own (primitive) devices at this point could not survive; this continues because our government stepped in and plays the role of Big Poppa. And this all costs tax-paying citizens a fortune (though not as much as corporate welfare, it deserves to be declared, to put it in sharper perspective). We’re getting hosed by our governments and would benefit from nearly anything that extracts its involvement from our lives and personal business. We can and likely should figure this shit out among ourselves and figure out ways to get the Government to back the fuck off and let us do so. But that requires cooperation, coming on the heels of decades where competition became all the rage. The cooperative spirit has been effectively undermined, and these are some of the consequences. Better ways are called for.

Interesting talk. Glad to see it didn’t devolve into some shaming match.

The night’s gotten away from me.

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